Sales generated by women-owned businesses increased more than six times from 1982 ($241 billion) to 1997 ($3.l trillion). As a result women-only Chambers of Commerce now can be found in Denver, CO; Kansas City, MO; San Antonio, TX; and Louisville, KY. One reason women start their own businesses is to escape pay disparity. Women earn just 74 percent of men's earnings for comparable work. The AFL-CIO labor union has established an equal pay section on its Web site, www.aflcio.org.
OSHA Rules to Include Small Businesses
Firms with fewer than 20 employees have been exempt from the record-keeping and planned inspections required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), but that exemption may end soon. OSHA is drafting a new safety rule that would embrace all companies, no matter how small. The rule will be up for public comment in April. OSHA says presently only 22 percent of workers in small companies are protected by workplace-safety programs.
Spread the Word
The most popular form of advertising among small businesses (those with fewer than 20 employees) is "word of mouth." So said 38 percent of the respondents to a survey by New England Business Service Inc. The next most popular advertising media were: Yellow pages (21 percent); local newspapers (18 percent); flyers, newsletters and brochures (14 percent); personal or telephone contacts (12 percent); and broadcast (seven percent). Fully 14 percent said they spend nothing on advertising.
On-line Sales Headed Up On-line shopping continues growing and is expected to quintuple in the next four years from $4.8 billion this year to $25 billion in 2002. But a big factor that could affect that estimate is the expiration in 2001 of a three-year Congressional moratorium on taxing on-line sales. A purchasing survey of 25,000 on-line users by a professor at the Chicago Graduate School of Business indicates one of four would no longer buy on the Web if they had to pay sales tax. The most popular on-line purchases are:
• computer hardware
• computer software
• sporting goods