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Seeking Funds for SMBs

Small and medium-size businesses have long been the salvation of IT recoveries, but this time that conventional wisdom may be falling flat.

The good news, as I reported earlier this month, is the economy surged last quarter by 5.7 percent, the largest such expansion in six years. Adding to that optimism, the Federal Reserve yesterday said business equipment output was up 0.9 percent in January, slightly higher that December's 0.7 percent.

IT output jumped 1.7 percent, marking the third consecutive monthly gain of more than 1 percent for IT gear. That has reflected in strong earnings reports from Cisco, Intel, Microsoft and, yesterday, HP, which posted an 8 percent increase in revenues and boosted its outlook for the year.

That should bode well for SMBs, which are typically the first to lead recoveries from recessions. But a troubling report in BusinessWeek underscores the fact that SMBs this time aren't leading that recovery. Instead, SMBs are continuing to let go of employees and reduce capital spending.

Only 20 percent of those surveyed by the Federation of Independent Business plan to make capital outlays. Even more concerning, 3 percent see sales increasing, -1 percent say they plan to hire more employees, 1 percent expect the economy to improve and 5 percent believe it's a good plan to expand, according to the FIB survey (PDF). And -13 percent expect credit lines to open up.

Small businesses continue to hurt, that same BusinessWeek piece said, noting a Feb. 1 report by the Federal Reserve saying that banks continue to hold back on offering credit to them.

Probably none of this is surprising, but it is rather sobering. How is this affecting your ability to sell solutions to prospects? Have you found avenues of financing for your own business or that of your clients? Perhaps you've turned to leasing, private equity or even the venture capital community? Please share them with us. Drop me a line at jschwartz@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/18/2010 at 1:14 PM


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