3 Things You Should Know About Small Business: Dec. 14

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

1. Square hits 1 million merchants. Mobile payments startup Square, founded by Twitter's Jack Dorsey, hit 1 million active merchants, according to Marketing Land.

Square, launched early last year, is targeting small merchants. It offers free hardware to allow them to accept payment on their Apple ( AAPL) iPhones and iPads and Google ( GOOG) Android devices.

Dorsey apparently announced the milestone Tuesday via his Twitter account, according to the article.

"To put that in perspective: there are only 8 million merchants who accept credit cards in the U.S. @Square has added 1 million," Dorsey tweeted.

2. Lessons from Quiznos. A lot can be said and learned from Quiznos, the troubled franchise chain. The quick-service sandwich shop is in trouble of defaulting. While Quiznos executives scramble to save the company, franchisees are paying the price as multiple franchises close.

Franchise expert Joel Libava offers future franchise owners five lessons from the Quiznos catastrophe in his blog:
  • Don't buy a specific franchise just because it's been named a "top franchise";
  • Don't buy a franchise without talking to current and past franchisees of the franchise you're interested in;
  • Hire a franchise attorney;
  • Make sure that you have enough "fall-back money";
  • Make sure that your skills are a match for your actual role as the franchisee.

3. Small-business optimism rises. Small-business confidence rose for the third consecutive month, according to the National Federation of Independent Business monthly confidence index.

The index rose 1.8 points in November, but still settled at a "weak" 92, the NFIB says. The report is based on the responses of 781 randomly sampled small business members, surveyed in November.

>>Mobile Payments: Convenience at a Cost?

Sales in addition to taxes and regulations remain the top concerns by business owners. Sales reports improved marginally last month, but still remain in negative territory.

Approximately 21% of all owners reported higher sales in the past three months compared with the prior three months, while 29% reported lower sales. (Most of the reports on sales volume were made before Black Friday; the impact of that level of spending will show up in the December reports, the NFIB says.)

More business owners expect higher sales and an improved business outlook, the NFIB says. Hiring also improved last month, ending five months of decline.

"After so many months of pessimism, November's modest gain made it feel like spring again," NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said. "We have good reason to be optimistic about last month's report and hopeful about what it means for the future. Still, our current reality is still very much the ongoing economic winter. November's reading is still well below the average reading prior to 2008 levels from previous recoveries. More acutely, it is 2 points below January's index, which means that there has been no progress over the calendar year. We should be encouraged, but cautiously so."

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