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1998-05-19 07:20:09


Small Businesses Ignore Y2K



Denial. Deferral. Small businessmen are ignorting y2k's effects on their companies in the same way that six billion people are ignoring its effects on their lives.

They pretend it's not there.

They will see the bankruptcy of their businesses. This will match their personal bankruptcies.

They know it's there. They don't care. They think that by ignoring it, they will escape. They will not escape.

Will you escape?

This is from PACIFIC BUSINESS NEWS (May 18).

* * * * * * *

Tao Miller is letting his "techies" worry about the infamous Year 2000 computer bug. He has got to worry about the day-to-day operations of his trendy clothing store, Body & Soul.

"I have people on staff who take care of the computers," Miller said. "I'm sure they're doing things to prepare. They're techies."

His best guess is his company will have to replace the computer system that links cash registers at his Guam and Oahu stores. Information from the stores tumbles into a budgeting, accounting and inventory data base at his Honolulu headquarters.

Brothers Curtis and Colbert Low have a small accounting business in their own name. About two years ago, they bought software for their computers.

Colbert said he assumes the purchase will work well into the next century, but he is not certain.

The brothers just have not had time to think about themselves. The firm has been helping its clients prepare for the millennium bug.

But with tax season wrapped up, the Lows will dedicate the next few months to preparing their company for the year 2000.

The responses of Miller and Low are typical of small business approaches to the year 2000 computer problem.

Uncertainty. Delegation. Too busy. Blind hope. Procrastination. Lack of resources and expertise. . . .

Russell Houlton, information consultant at Strategic Information Solutions Inc., manages computer systems for small businesses.

"My feeling is that people are not aware or not terribly concerned," he said of the Y2K problem. "Some could be in very serious trouble ... . The problem is that it will hit everyone at the same time, so you can't learn from others."

Vivian Tsuji, director of client services at Data House, said businesspeople's general reaction is to do little, if anything, and hope they will "escape the problem."

A factor determining the severity of small businesses' troubles is whether their accounting software and hardware are Y2K compliant.

Ironically, those with an accounting system that consists of keeping receipts in a metal box and dumping them at their accountants' doors at month's end may have less to worry about, compared to businesses who meticulously and electronically track transactions in-house, said Tsuji, who helps businesses prepare for the next century.


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