Jan Hatzius is an economist at the very large business of Goldman Sachs. But recently he had some interesting things to say about small business. (As well as Goldman is doing, maybe this Hatzius guy has some time on his hands.) His point: While numbers on the big-business economy continue to improve, data emanating from the front lines on Main Street is not so positive.
The National Federation of Independent Business in its November 2009 Small Business Economic Trends report offered bleak news all around. Nineteen percent of small business owners surveyed said they laid people off in the past three months. And 16 percent said they’re planning layoffs in the next three months. Sales are down, discounting is up, profits remain low. In past recessions it has been small businesses that started hiring first and led the United States to recovery. Looks as if that’s not going to happen this time around, the big difference being banks’ continuing reluctance to loosen up their lending policies.
Bank Lending in Reverse
Evidence of the negative trend in small business lending was reported by CNN. Numbers show that since last April, the banks that benefitted most from TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, have not been lending to small businesses, in spite of urgent requests from Washington.
Help for Your Balance Sheet
A lot of small businesses use Intuit’s Quicken or QuickBooks to manage their finances. Intuit has now launched a software package called Customer Manager to help small businesses manage their customer information, including appointments, contact information, and more. It’s simpler than similar tools offered by vendors such as Salesforce.com, and it’s cheaper: just $9.95 a month for up to five users.