Lean times? Not for fast food. Americans may be spending less but they’re not tightening their belts. Entrepreneur magazine’s annual Franchise 500 ranking of America’s most viable franchises lists 17 fast-food places in the top 50 and five in the top 10, with Subway and McDonald’s at one and two. Related note: research indicates depression and anxiety lead to unhealthy behaviors.
Business owners get out their cards. Paper or plastic? With loan papers scarce these days, plastic is the answer for small business. A survey from the National Small Business Association shows 54 percent of U.S. small businesses are leveraging at least one loan with a card. More survey findings: 44 percent of small businesses have slapped the plastic in the past year to raise capital, up from 16 percent in 1993; only 29 percent pay off their cards each month. Worse, 57 percent of survey respondents said their credit card terms have gotten more usurious of late. Why the heavy reliance on cards? Ding! Bank loans have dried up. Data shows only 28 percent of small businesses relied on bank loans in 2008, down from a high of 45 percent in 1993.
SBA offers MBA. Didn’t get into Harvard? The Small Business Administration is offering a “mini-MBA” to small-business owners in five cities: Detroit, Dallas, Denver, Jacksonville and Portland, Ore. It’s an expansion of the SBA’s Emerging 200 initiative, launched in 10 cities last fall to help urban entrepreneurs get ahead. Participants share experiences and expertise, build connections with local capital providers and develop a growth plan by program’s end. “The world is coming on strong and we need to come on faster,” states SBA Acting Administrator Sandy K. Baruah. “We as a nation don’t have the luxury of leaving anyone behind in this economic race we’re in.” Is it just us? Or does it sound like Sandy’s watch stopped in the year 2007?
Sellers market for small business. Seriously. This is not a great time to sell your house. But research by U.S. News & World suggests it is a good time to put your business on the block. In the second quarter of 2008, asking and selling prices of businesses were better than they were in the same period of 2007. What gives? Michael Handelsman, general manager of BizBuySell (which supplied the data), says it’s simple supply and demand. Not enough supply, as owners wait for the economy to improve, and plenty of demand, with laid-off execs using their severance packages to shop for a small business to run. Sounds logical. But optimistic. We’ll check back with Handelsman in a quarter or two.