Small-business owners in Yuba-Sutter looking to improve their operations are in luck.

Thanks to mentors from Sacramento SCORE, a volunteer group of knowledgeable business leaders, about two-dozen locals are learning what it means to have a well-run business.

"We talk about principals and concepts that apply to any business," said Jack Mayfield, a SCORE volunteer who spoke for much of the first class.

He talked about the importance of tracking sales, expenses, gross profit, inventory and receivables.

Mayfield encouraged business owners to not only track sales on a monthly basic, but on a three-month trend and a 12-month moving total. If you made $10,000 in January, $12,000 in February, $8,000 in March and $12,000 in April, the three-month trend starting in March would be $30,000 (Jan.-March). April's three-month trend would be $32,000. You do the same thing with your 12-month total.

"The 12-month (figure) tells you if your business is growing," Mayfield said. "You need to know what is going on in your business, and sometimes the numbers are bad."