I read the May 15 business story, “Because no one wants third prize,” and I recalled a time in which I sucked at the teat of any and every small-business help agency I could find.

Being a small-business owner is tough, and many of us are desperately seeking that guru who has all the answers. That guru seldom, if ever, exists.

Anyone who puts faith in organizations largely funded by federal, state or local grants will quickly find a one-size-fits-all approach that wears as well as a pair of $5 running shoes.

Although there are a few exceptions, a good rule for entrepreneurs is this: If someone says they can help your business, and there is no charge, or as in the case of the article, charges a minimal price, you can essentially expect to get minimal results.

Sweeping generalizations such as “nothing happens until someone sells something” sound quite profound, but unless someone can produce a product or service, and unless someone can ship, invoice, collect payments and so forth, nothing happens anyway.

“No one wants third prize” Oh? I need to pay more attention to the next Olympics to see if someone turns down a bronze medal.

My fellow small-business owners: There’s only one thing the small business help groups want from you, and that’s for you to increase head counts. They can’t justify their existence without showing how their work is creating jobs.

In my case, I decided to seek out quality suppliers instead of hiring people. Statistically, my business is considered a failure because I haven’t hired anyone in 5 years. I sure hope I can keep on failing until I retire.

John Singleton

equipment designer

Baton Rouge