The weaker economy has many small-business owners putting in extra hours on the job, keeping a closer watch on sales, cash flow and inventories, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.

Of the 7,500 owners and managers surveyed nationwide by the Washington-based lobby group, nearly 40 percent said business activity in their local cities was getting weaker, while 36 percent said new customers were getting harder to find.

A growing number of owners also said they're paying closer attention to cash flow and inventories, with as many as 20 percent saying they've reduced, postponed or cancelled spending plans within the past six months.

The most frequently cited reason for the extra workload was the overall economic slowdown, the survey found.