Get Started: Worries about sales, online learning


Small and mid-sized business owners are growing more pessimistic about their sales and profits, according to a new survey by PNC Financial Services Group.

Forty-three percent of the owners surveyed from July to September said they expect their sales to rise during the next six months. That's down from 48 percent in the spring. Thirty-two percent expect higher profits, down from 37 percent.

But the number of owners expecting sales to fall held steady at 10 percent. And the 15 percent who expect their profits to fall was down from 17 percent in the spring.

Uncertainty about their business has been a key factor in many owners' reluctance to hire. Many are uneasy because they don't know how the health care law will affect them. The number of owners planning to hire inched up to 16 percent from 15 percent, in line with the modest plans reported by owners in other surveys.

The PNC survey did show an increase in owners' plans to spend on equipment and other types of property. Sixty-three percent said they plan capital investments, up from 58 percent. Technology equipment was at the top of owners' shopping lists.


The Kauffman Foundation, which researches and supports the growth of entrepreneurship, has started a series of free online courses for business owners.

Each course includes videos and exercises. The first three courses include Entrepreneurial Selling, with ideas to help owners develop their sales skills; Intellectual Property, which includes materials on patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets; and Powerful Presentations, which helps entrepreneurs put together sales presentations and speak in public.

The foundation plans more courses in the next few months and into 2014. Upcoming topics include how to develop new customers and work-family balance.

You can take the courses and get more information at


Email is one of the top ways that small businesses reach new customers. SCORE, which provides free counseling to small business owner, holds an online seminar on email marketing on Thursday, Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. ET. Learn more and register at

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