How many times have you hopped on a plane to visit a client or attend a conference this year? We’re guessing not many. That’s great if you need to spend more quality time with the family. But it’s not so great if you have to actually, you know, get out there and make some money. As the economic horizon starts to brighten, it’s likely that you’ll be taking to the skies a lot more. Overall, business travel is expected to climb by about 6 percent next year, following a 7 percent drop in 2009, according to the American Express 2010 Global Business Travel Forecast. You may want to start packing. And, if you’re planning an overseas trip, you might also want to invest in some yoga classes. American Express says 64 percent of international business travelers squeezed into economy-class seats this year, up from 50 percent in previous years.
Stress test. What’s the only thing more stressful than dealing with too many clients? Dealing with too few. With the first kind of stress, at least you get a pile of money for your troubles. With the latter, all you get are medical bills you can’t afford. The New York Times recently ran a helpful article that teaches small business owners how to handle stress. Our favorite tip: Learn to separate fear from anxiety. Fear, says the article, is a rational, healthy emotion that helps keep us focused. Anxiety, on the other hand, is unwarranted and irrational worrying. Translation: No matter what you think, you’re not going to end up living in a cardboard box on the side of the freeway.
Brother, can you spare a loan? We all know the lending market has been especially cruel to small businesses. But we didn’t know how cruel. Until now. Having just completed its 2009 fiscal year, the Small Business Administration reported extending loans to 25,000 fewer entrepreneurs than last year. To put things in perspective, that’s more people than the average-sized American town, which has a population of just over 20,000. All told, the SBA made 44,221 loans to small businesses, or 36 percent less than it did in 2008. Loans totaled $9.3 billion, down 27 percent from last year’s $12.7 billion. The one piece of good news is that loan volumes bottomed out in January and have slowly picked up ever since, with September coming in as the best month of the year.