The economy remains mired in a recession that shows no signs of easing. To the contrary, mounting evidence suggests that it is getting worse and may not begin to show signs of improving until the middle of next year.
Like past downturns, this recession is intensely personal and gut-wrenching for many small and mid-sized business owners. Over the years, they have invested untold toil and tears to build their businesses, only to watch their efforts fall victim to forces over which they have little or no control.
Most of these stories might go untold if not for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and affiliated groups like the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce. Over the past few months, these groups have been asking members to relate their personal experiences in the current downturn.
The responses are posted on their respective Web sites or have been shared in recent congressional testimony. Although the accounts are largely anecdotal, they show clearly the toll years of greed on Wall Street and incompetence in Washington are taking on the economy. Here are some of those stories.
“For the first time in my 10 years in business, I am wondering if we will have to close or file bankruptcy,” says Vanessa Baugh, who owns Vanessa Fine Jewelry in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. Her state is one that has been particularly hard hit by the economic downturn. “I have had my line of credit reduced to the point that I have no cash influx in my business,” she adds. “No cash influx has made it near impossible to buy inventory to get ready for any sort of Christmas season.”
“We have excellent credit, are profitable and cash positive (even in this economic environment), and carry cash balances with this bank of $1 million-plus at any one time. We were looking for an open line of less than $500,000 and were turned down. As a result of this our company is now faced with the decision of whether to scale back our plans so that we can fund with internal cash flow or look for alternative equity financing.”