How small companies thrive in tough times


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Consumer spending is down and small businesses are looking for an edge.

"Sometimes they have the right product they have the right service but they may not know how to communicate it to the clients and that's what we do," said Oscar Fernandez from First Step Marketing.

They cater to small businesses that can't afford to hire a big marketing firm by offering them a one-time marketing plan for less than $2,000.

"I didn't have to think more than three seconds to say, yes count me in," said Ray Leung.

First Step Marketing designed a website for Leung's accounting firm. A few days later, his company landed two big accounts.

"They probably got on the website and found out a little more about our business and felt comfortable signing up with us," said Leung.

Small businesses are said to be the back bone of our economy, employing about 130 million U.S. workers. But lately surviving in this economy has been difficult.

Big businesses are also feeling the effects. But the difference is small business have little or no financial cushion.

Big businesses can survive even after laying off workers, that's not so with most small businesses.

In alameda Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties small business administration loans have dropped from 1,817 in 2007 to 1,086 in 2008 and to a projected 704 for 2009.

Ray Arzaga owns a small financial planning business in San Ramon. He now uses First Step.

"The feeling is that it is better to do nothing and wait for things to stabilize before they get help when ironically it's better for them to get some help today because if you have a bad strategy today it's still going to be bad tomorrow," said Arzaga.

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