This month brings a variety of new questions from small-company executives looking for help from other readers, as well as a variety of responses to the questions we published in August and September. First, the new crop of problems:

Living Through the Layoff
My husband is an executive at a large computer company where he's worked for 22 years. The company has recently been forced to lay off thousands of people, including executives, and we're afraid that his job may be the next to go. My husband thinks that if he is laid off, he would like to find a job with a smaller company, preferably in another part of the country. I wonder if any Inc. readers have made the switch from big company to small. Is it a difficult transition? And how do you network in a new state and in a new segment of the business world at the same time?

I also wonder if readers can offer advice to the families of executives facing a layoff. It's a traumatic time for us, too, as we watch the damage being done to self-worth and want to help. Other wives have shared their anxieties with me, but we network very privately, afraid to break the code of silence. How can we support each other, and what can we do to help?

Nancy Edwards


Paintbox Studio Press


Multilevel Accounting
My company publishes psychological tests for career-matching and personal motivation. Lately we've been exploring the idea of signing up independent distributors, using a marketing and rebate system that would be similar to multilevel marketing. I'm looking for some first-rate accounting software that has been developed for multilevel marketing companies. I'd particularly like to hear from companies with distributor networks that have used the software and can tell me about their experiences.

John Cheydleur


Personality Development Institute

Anaheim, Calif.

Searching for Clients
Three years ago I started my own company collecting data for market research, a field in which I have more than 30 years' experience. We get plenty of repeat business, and our clients tell us they appreciate our extra effort and attention to quality. Our goal this year is to increase our client base in hopes of avoiding the peaks and valleys we've had in work load. Personnel scheduling has become a nightmare! In our search for new clients, we've mailed brochures, made personal phone contacts, joined trade associations, attended seminars and trade shows -- all to no avail. Can your readers offer any advice?

Joan Davis


Davis Research Services Inc.


Directing Traffic
I'm about to remodel my retail sporting-goods store, and I want to develop an effective traffic pattern. Is it worth paying a consultant to help design a new, more efficient layout? Can someone recommend a definitive book on the subject or another source of information?

Mark Schneiderman



Canoga Park, Calif.