Southern California was built --and continues to thrive-- on the entrepreneurial spirit. Small and fast-growing companies are our primary economic engine, generating most of our new jobs, innovation and growth. And small businesses touch virtually all of us. If you aren't already an entrepreneur, chances are you work for one--or dream of becoming one.

In recognition of this, the Business section today launches vastly expanded and improved weekly Small Business pages. Every Wednesday, we will report on small-business news and trends, while providing tips to help small businesses and their employees succeed and learn from each other. We'll also provide more small-business coverage throughout the week.

And because small businesses here are so diverse, our coverage will be too. We will include everything from small home offices to fast-growing "gazelles" seeking to go public; from small corner groceries to cutting-edge technology concerns; from how to get venture capital to how to start a business in the first place.

WOMEN TARGETED: As female business owners gain economic clout, major firms are gearing their pitches to women's styles and needs. A1

ENTREPRENEURSHIP 101: A tutorial on how to start your small business. D4

NEW INSURANCE: A look at accounts-receivable insurance. D4

BUSINESS TOOLS: Downloading business-oriented software from the Net. D5

CONTRACTORS: Small business appears to be no match for organized labor, Vicki Torres writes. D6


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