That being said, using credit card debt to fund a startup isn't a mistake, since it helps cash flow and even earns rewards points and establishes a credit history. "That will be very important when your business has matured enough to move to the next level and seek a bank loan," the article says.

3. Small manufacturers hire in 2012. Sage North America reports in its latest "snapshot" survey that small manufacturers are adding jobs and more optimistic about the economy.

Of the 134 small manufacturing companies polled, 73% reported that they had hired new staff in the last six months.

Sage North America, a provider of business management software and services for 6 million small and mid-sized businesses, says the findings also show that one-third of respondents plan to add staff in the next six months, indicating potential future growth in the sector. About 53% said they intend to maintain their current level of employment.

The survey was conducted by email to U.S. manufacturing executives between July 11 and August 1. Seventy percent of respondents had between 10 and 100 employees, and two-thirds of them manufactured durable goods.

When asked about the specific conditions of their own manufacturing business over the next six months:
49% believed that new orders would increase.
47% felt that production would increase.
23% believed that inventories would increase.

"Manufacturing continues to play an important role in the American economy, and for this reason, we wanted to gauge the health and stability of this sector. While the findings show slightly different outcomes than recent national reports, we're glad that our results seem to indicate that SMB manufacturers are hiring -- and will continue to hire in the coming months -- and that generally they're optimistic about their businesses," says Joe Langner, executive vice president of Sage North America's mid-market solutions.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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