3 Things You Should Know About Small Business: Dec. 13

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- What's happening in small business today?

1. Things to consider before picking a franchise. Today's franchises come in all shapes and colors, from organic gardening to furniture repair. Franchises can offer a clear business plan and solid support system, but business owners should make sure the franchise they choose is right for them.

Before signing on the dotted line, according to Business News Daily, business owners should consider how much experience in the chosen industry is needed to run the franchise, if there is a need for your franchise and whether it is recession proof.

2. Black small-business owners optimistic about 2012. Black small-business owners are more than twice as likely than their white counterparts to plan enhanced employee benefits -- including providing more access to 401(k) plans -- over the next year or two, according to a survey by Nationwide Financial ( NFS) and Harris Interactive.

The survey, released today, polled 501 small-business owners in early August.

Twenty four percent of black owners plan to add a 401(k) plan or some other employee self-funded plan, versus 11% of all small-business owners, the survey found. Other findings include:
  • 28% are likely to add health insurance (vs. 11%)
  • 19% are likely to add life insurance (vs. 6%)
  • 16% are likely to add a company-funded defined-benefit pension plan (vs. 5%)
  • 14% are likely to add disability insurance (vs. 6%)

Plans to add employees benefits could mean a growing sense of optimism. Approximately 38% of black business owners expect their business to grow in the next year, compared with 21% of all other small-business owners. They are also twice as likely as other business owners to believe the U.S. economy will improve in the next 12 months.

Also, 25% of black business owners plan to increase employee salaries in the next 12-24 months. About 18% plan to hire more full-time workers, the survey found.

Still it will be rough road ahead. Approximately 44% expect the economy to be even worse next year, resulting in 40% saying they plan to hire part-time workers or independent contractors instead of full timers, the survey found.

3. Two government research programs get the go-ahead. Congress agreed to reauthorize two research programs meant for small businesses that have been successful but were set to expire this month.

According to The Washington Post, House and Senate committees compromised to extend the Small Business Innovation Research program and Small Business Technology Transfer program for at least six more years. The programs require government agencies to set aside a portion of their annual research budgets for contracts and grants to small businesses.

Last year the SBIR program distributed approximately $2.5 billion in funding to small businesses, according to the Post, citing government data, vs. $1.7 billion in early-stage investments made by the entire venture capital industry.

The agreed-upon amendment will be attached to the final National Defense Authorization Act, which sets the annual budget for the Department of Defense.

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