In a recent survey of the membership of National Small Business United, one-third of the respondents reported that they share sales information with their employees, while 24% share the cost of sales; 23% give out information about overhead costs; and 17% reveal profit-and-loss figures. Marcia Bradford, a spokeswoman for the D.C.-based small-business advocacy group, says she is not surprised at the increased willingness of owners to open their books to employees -- a practice that was almost unheard of 10 years ago. "We're a small nonprofit, and we share that kind of information as well. I don't know how I could get my job done without it."

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