But as of late, this segment of the publishing business has been booming, just like the enterpeneurial field it covers.
"Small businesses have been around forever and we've been advertising in the books for years," says Richard Weigand, exec VP-media director at Saatchi & Saatchi DFS/Pacific, Torrance, Calif.
"The fact that more magazines are being launched and other advertisers are now finding them should be saying something pretty strong about their future," says Mr. Weigand, who's placed Toyota Motor Corp. in these titles.
As corporate America has pared its payroll through the decade, many white-collar workers have started their own businesses or joined small companies.
According to the consultancy Dun & Bradstreet, 80% of the 2.1 million jobs formed last year were in small to mid-size companies. That entrepeneurial spirit also has propelled the fortunes of magazines covering the small-business field.
"Entrepreneurship is a long-range pheonomena that experts say will extend into the next century," says Scott DeGarmo, editor-in-chief and publisher of Success, which saw its most dramatic growth period-ad pages up 30% in the first half of 1994-in its 103-year-history. "It is a result of the information economy and new technological developments that allow people to do more with less."
Increased job generation and product innovation are stemming directly from these new small- to mid-size companies. According to the Small Business Adminstration, large companies lost 400,000 jobs a year between 1980 and 1990. In this same period, small to mid-size growth companies created 13.1 million jobs.
"So as more small companies are created, it follows that they'll be buying more stuff-be it new computers, new-car leasing programs, new office equipment or new insurance," says Jim Spanfeller, publisher of 15-year-old Inc. The title is increasing publication to 18 issues in 1995 and bimonthly by 1996, he says.
As advertisers and marketers look for ways to directly reach the decision makers of the company, small-business magazines will continue to grow and attract advertising dollars.
"The numbers show that the small-business marketplace does the most hiring and buying," says Tom Horack, director of market development for John Hancock Financial Services, which advertises in these titles. "I see this market only continuing to get bigger."
Not only is the market growing bigger, it's also growing wider-with diverse marketing and editorial opportunities through multimedia publishing and technological developments.
Small-business books not only are reporting on industry developments, they're using them-like CD-ROMs, online ventures and broadcast outlets-to attract advertisers who crave marketing support.
"Although we compete most directly with the small-business category for
ad dollars, the big three-Forbes, Fortune and Business Week-do play into it," says Bruce Beni, advertising director at Success. "That's why we get some wheel-and-spoke things like CD-ROM applications."
Success recently acquired Executive Gallery, a worldwide direct marketing company. The new combined company, Success Holdings, will publish and market books, audio and video tapes, computer software, CD-ROMs and online services, and conduct seminars.
Among the current ventures is an interactive catalog, "SuccessTools," which will appear in the November/December issue of the CompuServe CD-ROM magazine and go online in November.
Other small-business magazines are also getting more involved in multimedia. Inc. has been part of the test for eWorld and is also planning to be on America Online and CompuServe before the end of the year.
"The future is very bright for us and our programs," says Mr. Spanfeller. Entrepreneur and newly formed Biz, a joint venture between Dow Jones & Co. and American City Business Journals, are also taking strides to become more interactive by offering additional outlets for their advertisers.
Entrepreneur also will launch a weekly syndicated TV show in January, in addition to already offering three small-business services on CompuServe and a host of seminars and special editorial-driven ancillary products.
"Looking at our audience from a marketing and advertising perspective, they are very aggressive in their purchasing and invest a lot in technology," says Tina L. Carusillo, associate publisher of Biz, whose controlled subscription goes to the 500,000 fastest-growing businesses in the country.
"There are lots of multimedia opportunities out there-like going online with Dow Jones-but nothing has been set in motion because we've only been around since March," she adds.
Despite competition among smaller books or even with the big three, most advertisers and publishers agree there will always be a market for the small businesses of the world.
"It's like any civilization-kids grow up and become adults and then have new kids," says Mr. Spanfeller. "If that cycle ended, the general economic arena of this country would die."