Perhaps you’re familiar with the various signs of the apocalypse. You know: plagues of locusts, lakes of fire and Oprah getting jiggy with John Tesh. Horrific as those images may be, small-business owners seem more frightened by the current economic picture. Two new surveys – one from Discover, the other from the National Federation of Independent Business – show that, whatever rousing talk from Ben Bernanke about “moderate recovery” (strike up the band!), small-business people think conditions are hovering around 4th-and-20. The Discover research says 53 percent of owners believe the economy will get worse in the next six months and the study by NFIB is more negative: it notes that even in the depths of the 1982 recession, 47 percent of small-business people figured conditions would improve, whereas now the number who say the same is minus 8. (Which goes to show that, whatever you say about Yanni’s “Chameleon Days” tour – Tesh on keys! – the ’80s were a damn good era.
Will work for free. In other downbeat news, jobsites like Monster.com and CareerBuilder are reporting a significant increase in the number of adults willing to do unpaid internships. And companies are happy to take them up on it. A for-profit firm accepting volunteers is illegal, of course. So if you’re currently unemployed and you want to work in a blogger’s world, shoot us your CV. (We haven’t turned a profit in years.)
SBA: what’s the big idea? So asks frequent correspondent Lloyd Chapman, president of the American Small Business League, who last week filed suit against the SBA for refusing to release information related to its close ties with large corporations. Regular followers of this blog (pipe down back there!) are familiar with the story. For years the SBA has been ladling out federal contracts earmarked for small firms to companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and British Aerospace. Now, embarrassed by the attention stirred by Chapman, the GAO and others, the SBA is cranking up the smoke machine. It recently paid $30,000 for a sit-down with APCO Worldwide, a multinational PR firm that specializes in crisis management. (Your tax dollars at work.)