Did you turn a profit last year? If so, you’re in good company. A new survey of 1,000 small-business owners found that 69 percent closed the books in the black last year. Ok, we’re getting pretty desperate for good news if we’re hyping a story that says only 31 percent of small businesses lost money. The survey found some other bright spots: Nearly half of all business owners think the economy will improve or remain unchanged in 2009. The survey didn’t say what the other half thinks, and trust us, we don’t want to know. Looking ahead, seven in 10 businesses said they expect to be in business five years down the road as opposed to shutting down or getting sold. Now, that really is good news.
Misery loves company. Is it too late to start an online dating service? Consumers are cutting back on all kinds of luxury items, but online dating isn’t one of them, according to this Boston Globe article. The irony, the article wryly notes, is that millions of singles are suddenly jumping on the online dating bandwagon, despite the fact that many can’t afford to go on actual dates. Who’s got a hundred bucks for dinner and a movie anymore? So why are dating sites seeing such a huge uptick? It’s the economy, stupid. “People seek companionship during times of crisis, and stress is more bearable when there’s a special someone in your life,” says the article.
Don’t get mad, get even. Deadbeat customers drive business owners crazy. But usually the expense and hassle of trying to collect from non-paying customers is more trouble than it’s worth. A new website, featured in BusinessWeek, is trying to remedy the problem. BusinessBeware.biz is a site where contractors from all over the U.S. and parts of Canada can share stories about nightmare customers. The idea is that other contractors will know who to avoid in the future. Contractors can search for toxic customers via zip code, county or state. The service charges a one-time $5 fee, but that’s a small price to pay to potentially save thousands — and your sanity.
Want to make a fortune? Go into the fortune telling business. But be warned, you’ll face plenty of competition. “Take a spin around the San Fernando Valley and you’ll see a startling number of “Psychic” signs on front lawns,” according to this report in the Huffington Post. The economy may be in freefall, but psychic advisors are seeing their incomes skyrocket, according to other news reports. Why? Because relationship advice is giving way to financial advice. That’s right, people have been so badly burned by so-called financial experts, they’re turning to crystal ball gazers instead. And probably with better results.