Small Business

Small- and mid-sized business owners nationwide are optimistic about their sales and profits for the coming months, according to the latest PNC Economic Survey Outlook.

The survey found that 83 percent of the business owners surveyed are optimistic about their company’s prospects and 70 percent are optimistic about the overall U.S. economy.

In Pennsylvania, things are a little different. While optimistic, small business owners are just a bit more cautious.

From 1990 to 2012, the number of Hispanic entrepreneurs in America tripled from 577,000 to more than 2.0 million, and to address the growing population a new accelerator program at Duquesne University will focus on minority entrepreneurs.  

“Really what an accelerator means is that, you’re going to intervene and offer services that are really going to… accelerate the growth of that business, beyond what they might be able to do alone,” said SBDC Director Mary McKinney.

From clothes stores on East Carson Street on the South Side to the small back-street food vendors of Oakland, Pittsburgh is a hub of small businesses, but according to Thumbtack.com, local government could be a little friendlier to coffee shops, dog groomers and other retailers.

Thumbtack.com gave Pittsburgh a "D" rating for a multitude of reasons.

Flickr user jmd41280

Roberta Weissburg has been designing, repairing, and selling leather goods in Pittsburgh for over 30 years.

According to Weissburg, the increasing presence of online and big box stores over the last few decades has made it difficult for small businesses like hers to maintain and expand their customer bases.

As a junior business major at Elizabethtown College, Sarah Lanphier and her mother founded “Nuts About Granola,” a wholesome snack company in York, Pa. that buys local ingredients. 

Six years later, after impressive growth, “Nuts About Granola” is a perfect example of a small rural business poised to go global, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The Obama administration picked the Pittsburgh region Wednesday to launch an effort to boost exports and grow rural economies. 

A Week-Long Celebration of Small Businesses

May 13, 2014
Rebecca Harris / Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship

This week is National Small Business Week. Rebecca Harris, Director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University, discussed the week-long celebration. 

She explained that more than half of all Americans either own or work for a small business, and each year these businesses create two out of every three new jobs in the United States.

“[This week] is really designed to recognize the nation’s top businesses, the entrepreneurs,and really the business advocates. There are a number of activities; there are panel discussions, there are forums, there are workshops, there are webinars,” Harris said.

“It’s a big, big venture and it culminates with the naming of the Small Businessperson of the Year in Washington D.C. at the end of the week.” 

Heather McClain / 90.5 WESA

What started eight years ago as a gathering of store owners and employees celebrating the culture of independent record stores has evolved to include major music industry events, limited edition album releases and people camped out in front of record stores.

Saturday is National Record Store Day, and it’s one of the biggest days of the year for record stores and collectors alike.

“I like that it was started to bring back the whole record store experience,” said James “Selecta” Scoglietti, part owner of 720 Records in Lawrenceville. “People used to go every weekend to their local record store, and it was a social event. It was like a barbershop, where guys and gals would come in and discuss the latest hot tracks of the week. So I love that it’s bringing that back to the mainstream.”

The future is looking a little bit brighter for Pennsylvania small businesses, according to a PNC survey.

The bi-annual report shows 13 percent of small and mid-sized businesses in the state will look to hire more full-time employees in the next six months. But 7 percent of business owners plan to reduce their full-time staff.

Chris Wieland / Flickr

The bad weather currently blanketing the northeast did not keep our intrepid business contributor, Rebecca Harris from making it to the nation's capital Monday.  She sat on a business roundtable at the White House which focused on the government's interest in local businesses. 

Harris received the invitation from Sam Brown, Director of the White House Business Council, a part of the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs.

The “buy local” movement gets a lot of attention for efforts to get communities to shop locally and buy local food, but buying local can also extend to industry. That’s the message of the second annual Buy Pittsburgh First Expo.

Rebecca Harris / Chatham Center for Women's Entrepreneurship

Many people dream of having their own business but how do you get started? Business contributor Rebecca Harris begins a two-part series on the basics of starting a business. She talks with attorney Beth Slagle about what you need to know from writing a business plan to hiring employees. Also take a look at some of the State websites for proper business licensing and fees: