The last few years have had a brutal impact on small business health in the US as a result of the economic collapse of 2007-2008. The question for business owners now is whether 2013 will be any better.According to the 2012 U.S. Chamber of Commerce Q4 Small Business Outlook Survey, over 80% of the businesses surveyed say the US economy is on the wrong track. Add to that 2/3 of them think the economy has worsened over the last 2 years and over 50% think the economy will worsen in the next 2 years. This is a pretty grim outlook.One of the other stats that is very telling is the one that shows only 17% plan to hire employees in 2013. If small businesses that account for the greatest number of jobs in the US aren’t hiring, how is unemployment supposed to come down and how are those companies supposed to grow?This and more are from a Jan 22nd article on Forbes.com that has some suggestions as well as to deal with some of these issues. The whole article is here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/groupthink/2013/01/22/82-of-small-business-executives-think-theu-s-economy-is-on-the-wrong-track/A major factor in small business health is the ability to be flexible enough to take advantage of new opportunities. If a new customer comes in the door that requires the business to ramp up production or personnel, being able to meet that new demand is critical. But at present, banks aren’t lending much and employers are wary of hiring new people.This is when the business owner has to look at alternative ways to expand their business even when traditional forms of funding may be limited or not available at all. Sometimes it only takes a small line of credit for a few months to get over the hump. Or it could be creative use of assets like accounts receivables.Alternative funders differ from banks because they are often using private funds and are more flexible in their lending, and may be willing to take higher risks. They may take on a highly leverage company that got that way through circumstances of the last few years, but have a sound business model and are growing back to health. Banks won’t touch these guys – but an alternative commercial finance business may.Small business health is part of the whole economy’s heath. None of us can afford for small businesses to fail – they are the engine of the economy in more ways than one. They are the backbone of our country and we need them to be healthy and growing. We all depend on them to a greater degree than we suppose.