Last week, when Ellen Rossiter Houpt was discussing some marketing work for her company, Carolina Corporate Wear, the topic of payment came up. Perhaps, Houpt said, she could offer some work in return - the public relations company's logo imprinted on something?
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
"They said it was something they'd consider," she says now.
It is also, she says, one of several ways she's trying to save money, like most business people in this recession. A new poll shows how far small business owners are willing to go.
Some measures are all too common in this economy, including half of small business owners cutting staff and 16 percent cutting benefits, according to the survey, conducted by Echo Research and sponsored by American Express. Like Houpt, 45 percent are open to bartering with customers or suppliers.
Some have resorted to more drastic moves, including 30 percent who stopped taking a salary and 27 percent who have family members working for free. Sixteen percent of owners have taken a second job to help pay costs.
"Small business owners are creative and resilient," says Alice Breden, a small business consultant for 20 years who consults with American Express' small business division. "They're twisting and turning and trying everything."
Houpt started Carolina Corporate Wear in 2002, and the Charlotte company has since had two full-time employees - she and her husband, Matt. "Basically, we put a corporate logo on anything and everything companies want to put a corporate logo on," she says.
Her company began feeling the bite of the recession at the beginning of the year, she says, and she and Matt did what all good owners do - looked over all their processes and bills in an attempt to find savings. They also, at times, have stopped taking a salary, although like many small businesses, that was determined more by money that wasn't coming in. "We think of it as being completely commission-based," she says.
Recently, they considered having Matt look for a second job, but decided that the energy spent finding one would be better spent finding new business for their business.
For now, they are confident they can make it until that happens. They have good credit and access to capital. They are lean. And, like 45 percent of the small business owners in the survey, they are ultimately optimistic the economy will come around in time for them.
For many, it's what they have to believe. Breden, the small business consultant, says her research has long shown that small business owners can't imagine themselves doing anything else. "Yes, it's stressful, and you get gray hair," she says. "But once you run a small company, that's all you want to do."
Posted by pstonge at 8:01 AM