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NEW YORK (
TheStreet) -- What's happening in small business today?
1. January private-company sales led by construction. U.S. private companies continued to grow sales and expand their net profit margins in January, albeit at a slower pace than a year earlier, according to
Overall, sales are strong, up 9% for the month, compared to 10.2% a year earlier. Net profit margins are above pre-recession levels at 8.1%.
Private construction companies continue to report higher sales growth now than a year earlier, validating some of the positive news coming from the U.S. housing market. However, sales from manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers are slower today.
"Nevertheless, if you look at January 2013 compared to the previous month, sales in all three sectors look to be heading in the right direction," Sageworks analyst Libby Bierman says in the report.
Credit risk also appears to be improving, with the average private company's likelihood of default currently standing around 3%, compared to 4.6% a year earlier, Sageworks says.
2. Warby Parker gets $42 million in financing. Online eyewear startup
Warby Parker is off to a strong start this year. The New York-based company's name has come in conversations with
Google(GOOG - Get Report) about becoming a partner for Google Class and is now reported to get an additional investment from
American Express(AXP - Get Report) and
J. Crew CEO Millard S. Drexler, according to
The new investors add to a strong lineup of tech investors, including General Catalyst, Spark Capital, Tiger Global Management, Thrive Capital and Menlo Ventures, in a round totaling $41.5 million in financing, which officially closed in January,
3. Sell around the globe? Tell the world. Do you sell bowling balls to Bangladesh? Or dish towels to Delhi? Maybe you send laser technology to Lisbon? If you export your goods or services around the world and have used a federal government program or assistance to get there, the U.S. Small Business Administration and
Visa(V - Get Report) want to see your story.
By entering the "
2013 SBA-Visa Export Video Contest," participants will have a chance to win up to $10,000 in prize money. Eligible small-business exporters are encouraged to submit a video that will highlight how the small business became a successful exporter, the benefits of exporting and government programs available to help them export.
The videos must be no longer than three minutes and entered in a high-resolution format. Content should also be educational, not promotional. Contestants have until April 5 to submit their videos. Winners will be announced no later than May 31.
-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York. Follow @LKulikowski
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