Help for Small Firms

The folks who put out the Pacific Bell Yellow Pages, admitting that they are "startled" at statistics showing that most new businesses fail, have become the latest of a number of companies who have seen it worth their while to lend a hand to the "little guy" who supports them. Beginning last week, Pacific Bell Directory began distributing small-business survival kits designed to help prevent the common pitfalls that force more than 50% of all new businesses to fold in less than five years.

Larry Karis, vice president of directory sales for the Southland, says the year spent surveying successful companies and hiring consultants will pay off. More than 80% of Pacific Bell Directory's 150,000 Southern California accounts are small businesses. Together, they account for 52% of the total yellow pages revenue. "If we can help small businesses prosper and make money, we make money," said Karis.

The kit includes a booklet of "secrets" to business success--a listing of 10 dos and don'ts for entrepreneurs starting or planning a new company. Among them: Start with an efficient plan and adequate capital; don't be afraid to seek professional help, and don't extend credit.

Pacific Bell also used its phone-listing expertise to compile an extensive small-business resource directory of associations, computer databases, laboratories, marketing consultants and classes to help owners help themselves. The survival package was designed in conjunction with the Service Corps of Retired Executives, a nonprofit branch of the Small Business Administration that provides advice and counsel for businesses with fewer than 100 employees.

Pacific Bell hopes to distribute 20,000 of the "Start Small, Think Big" kits in the first weeks of the program. The kits, which also include a quiz to assess an entrepreneur's success potential, are available free by calling 1-800-237-GROW or can be picked up in person at any office of the Service Corps Retired Executives.

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