Great Expectations

Placing Their Bets

Compiled by Keasha Dumas and Jesse Hertstein

We've talked to the experts about where they predict small business is heading this year, but what about all you entrepreneurs out in the trenches? For some insight into what you see for the year ahead, we turned to the hottest small companies around. Taken from our most recent "Hot 100," a listing of the 100 fastest-growing new small businesses, the following small-business owners sound off about growth, employees and the economy--and point to a year full of opportunities for small enterprise.

Mid-Continent Mechanical Inc. (#37)
Full-service plumbing contractor
Kansas City, Missouri

"I think small business looks good all around. There are a lot of jobs here in Kansas City. We're looking to double our figures, and next year, we should be around $3 million." --Mark Gingell

Shonfelds (USA) Inc. (#6)
Discount gourmet gift products
South Hackensack, New Jersey

"In terms of the overall economy, we believe small businesses are in a position of advantage and will continue to be in that position [this year]. Our advantage in particular is being flexible and working closely with our customers to ensure customer service of the highest degree. So we're investing in our own infrastructure to stabilize and increase our ability to work this way, to balance the explosive growth we've experienced." --Mindy Oppenheimer

Quality Staffing Specialists (#15)
Temporary staffing, executive placement, computer center
Cary, North Carolina

"In our area, things look wonderful. We had tremendous growth in the last two years and expect the same for '98. We just added a new computer training center and expect a real boom for the upcoming year. The survival rate for small businesses has been uncommonly high, and I am very optimistic." --Phyllis Eller-Moffett

The Network Group (#74)
Computer technical support service, training, Web site design
Boise, Idaho

"In our industry, I think the outlook is good for increased business. Large companies are still outsourcing their help desk services, internal network support, and Web page design and hosting, but I think the field will narrow down to companies that can follow through on their promises.

"The challenge to us and other companies will be finding qualified employees. The unemployment rate is so low that there are a lot of companies competing for the same employee base." --Jerry Fulton

Cotnact Sources

Carole Kennedy & Affiliates, (888) 592-2765, fax: (615) 754-9003

Cognetics Inc., 100 Cambridge Park Dr., Cambridge, MA 02140, fax: (617) 661-0918

Del Norwood, (773) 725-8300,

Dun & Bradstreet,

National Foundation for Women Business Owners, (301) 495-4975,

SBA, 409 Third St., #7800, Washington, DC 20416, (800) 8-ASK-SBA

SRI Consulting, (203) 226-2805,

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