Get Started: Small company bankruptcies dropping

SMALL COMPANY BANKRUPTCIES DECLINE

The number of bankruptcies among smaller companies dropped during the second quarter as small business owners did a better job of improving their balance sheets, according to Equifax, the credit reporting service.

The number of bankruptcies fell 17 percent in the second quarter from the first three months of the year, the fourth straight quarterly decline, Equifax said. They also fell than 28 percent from the second quarter of 2011.

"Small business owners are still steadfastly deleveraging, bringing their debts, assets and cash flows into better alignment," said Amy Crews, the chief economist at Equifax. "Business owners are better positioned to stay afloat."

The drop in bankruptcies from a year earlier was significant in a number of big metropolitan areas. In California, several areas had declines in the high 20 percent-low 30 percent range. Bankruptcies fell 29 percent in the Los Angeles area and nearly 36 percent in the Oakland and San Jose areas. They also fell nearly 35 percent in the Phoenix area.

However, the New York area, which includes part of New Jersey, had a 12 percent increase.

FIRST PERSON STORIES

Small business owners who have started or expanded their companies with help from Small Business Administration programs are telling their stories online. The SBA website has videos of owners discussing how they got financing, counseling, disaster relief and other help.

The owners come from a wide range of businesses, including retailing, manufacturing and accounting.

You can see the videos at www.sba.gov/stories People interested in submitting their own story can click on a link on the page to learn more.

DISASTER PREP SEMINARS

The Small Business Administration plans four online seminars during September to help business owners learn how to get their companies prepared for disasters including storms, wildfires, even power outages. The seminars will be held each Wednesday at 2 p.m. Eastern time. Here's the schedule:

—Sept. 5: Ten Steps to Prepare any Organization for Disaster

—Sept. 12: Protecting Your Organization by Preparing Your Employees

—Sept. 19: Utilization of Social Media During a Crisis

—Sept. 26: Surviving a Crisis Large or Small — Real Life Lessons Learned.

Business owners who survived disasters will be telling their stories in this last seminar.

The seminars are free. You can register for any or all of them at http://www2.agilityrecovery.com/npm

For more information about preparing your business for a disaster, visit www.preparemybusiness.org

BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION

People who own or want to start a business in northwestern Minnesota are eligible to take part in the IDEA Competition. Entrepreneurs can take part by submitting business plans, or a detailed blueprint for running their companies.

The grand prize is $10,000. You have to apply by Nov. 30, and the final business plan is due April 8, 2013. You can get more information at http://bizplancompetitions.com/competitions/idea-competition

Residents of or businesses located in the following counties are eligible: Beltrami, Clearwater, Hubbard, Kittson, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake and Roseau.

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You can reach Joyce Rosenberg at https://twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg

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