Anthony Jorges, owner of Express Gourmet, said one of the problems he has encountered was not including "restaurant" on his business' name. Customers think it is a "make your dinner" service. Robert Scott/The Telegraph

The Small Business Administration states small firms represent 99.7 of all businesses in the U.S.; that is, employees under 500. Most small businesses in this area have much or two people at the helm, working overtime to get it all done.

Everyone's heard the statistics on how easy it is to go out of business. Steve Hollywood, business coach from The Entrepreneur Source in Folsom, says dangers that cause business failure are found across the board, in all businesses?independent of industry or sector.

The 2007 research found that failed businesses are weak in one or more of five areas: financial management, people management, business/marketing planning, sales, and communications.

Dollars and Sense

Cash flow problems are responsible for more than 70 percent of business failure with their first year, according to Hollywood.

Jennifer Bulotti, owner of El Dorado Hills-based marketing communications firm Modamedia, can understand. "I have a passion for public relations, and I do it well. But I'm not a money manager...I'm three months behind in invoices. It's not that I can't run a business; it's just that aspect is better handled by a CPA or money professional. I learned early on to hand over as much of that as I can."

Marguerite Rossoz, owner of short-lived Marguerite's Bakery in Folsom, also has personal experience in this area. "I'm a baker. I want to bake. I'm not a businesswoman," she said a few months before her shop closed.

Human Capital

The selection, retention and training of employees are also critical to success. Hollywood states, "The mismanagement of human capital is the main reason that good companies never become great." Hiring friends and family, for example, may not be in a business owner's long-term interest. But not wanting to hurt people's feelings can hurt the bottom line. "Sometimes you hire family to make it feel more like home," says Francis X. McCarthy, who works out of his house in El Dorado Hills. "The problem is you can't leave them behind." Planning

The Entrepreneur Source found the majority of companies failing are pursuing projects that are incompatible or inappropriate for their resources and capabilities.

"I spend a lot of time convincing clients to let me do what they hired me to do...I'll tell my engineers that I promise not to build a bridge over the weekend if they promise to leave my news release alone," says Bulotti.

Sales/Sales Management

Clothes may make the man but it's sales that make the business. Like Bulotti, Karen Seymour knows her limits. Seymour runs screen print and embroidery business Sierra Apparel with her husband, and understands sales are crucial.

Yet she admits she's much more comfortable balancing the books than making sales calls. She recognizes she has to push herself.

On the flip side, Mary Kay consultant Kim Koos surprised herself with her own abilities. "I never expected I would push myself so hard. Even though I didn't reach the goal I was seeking, I now know if I really want to reach it, I will," Koos says.

Communications Leadership

The study states the beginning and end of all failure in business lies with the people who make the decisions every day. Anthony Jorges, owner of the new Express Gourmet in Folsom, is up for the challenge. He constantly hears people thinking his shop is one of those make-your-own-dinner places. "I came up with the name six years ago, when there weren't any of those places," explains Jorges. "All I needed to do was add the word "Restaurant" to our logo and it would have been a non-issue. It'll cost thousands of dollars to fix each sign, but it needs to get done. I'll do it." There are plenty of resources to help the small business owner. "When business owners lose sight of their goals, it is often because they don't have the ability or are unwilling to see beyond their blind spots and take action," Hollywood said.

Not surprisingly, he believes the multi-billion dollar market trend of business coaching and consulting industry is worth every penny. "Working with a coach can help a business owner remove the blinders, see their company more objectively, and make fact-based decisions."

Ideally a small business owner will ask for help before it's too late.

Small businesses have many resources at their fingertips ? The U.S. Small Business Administration "helps Americans start, build and grow businesses" ? The Service Corps of Retired Executives is a nonprofit group of retired business men and women who volunteer their time assisting entrepreneurs and small business owners, mainly at no cost ? The Federal Technology Center helps small businesses compete for government contracts ? Look like a big guy by renting fully-equipped office space in Folsom with workstations and videoconference capabilities; this is one of many office space rentals in the area

? and Get local help from those who already know the ropes