Small business is risky business these days.

Costs are rising, profits are shrinking and, as an Associated Press story on Page M3 points out, the ability of the big guys to keep prices relatively lower is drawing away customers.

Things are so bad that many small enterprises, which account for about 99 percent of the country's businesses, say they are hanging by a thread that may soon snap.

"We are basically losing money every month, about $1,000 a month. It's been about two, three months now," said Tom Weisbecker.

Weisbecker owns Isaly's in western Pennsylvania where patrons sit on green barstools at a Formica countertop and gobble the legendary Slammer, a sandwich stuffed with a half-pound of chipped ham and smothered in onions and cheese.

In barely a year, the cost of pork has jumped by 50 cents a pound, while beef is up 20 percent; a five-gallon jug of canola oil that used to cost $15 is at $40; a 50-pound bag of flour jumped from $7 to between $20 and $25.

And then there are fuel surcharges of between $5 and $9 that have been added to nearly all deliveries during the past six months In the meantime, wages haven't grown and the job market is tepid, at best.