Although most of us might assume that growth-oriented owners would plow big profits back into their businesses, a recent survey by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) found that small-business owners were more interested in using earnings to reduce their debt loads -- perhaps in response to last summer's climate of rising interest rates.

What would you do with a
significant profit increase?* % of respondents
Pay down debt 46.2%
Expand facilities 22.0%
Increase owner salaries/bonuses 20.3%
Increase retirement-plan funds 13.2%
Hire new people 13.2%
Fund product research and development 5.5%
Increase employee salaries/benefits 2.2%
Make capital improvements 2.2%
Build cash reserves 1.1%
Other 1.1%

Note: Multiple answers were permitted.

Source: "Small Business Survey," AICPA Private Companies Practice Section, New York City, July 1994.

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