The country’s top money man, Ben Bernanke, above, may not be worried about a double-dip recession, but a majority of small-business owners are girding themselves for that possibility, according to a Citibank survey released today.

Eighty-six percent of the small-business owners surveyed are concerned about another possible downturn; 75 percent of the respondents said they are prepared to weather the storm, signaling that many entrepreneurs have adjusted their businesses and finances to get through any additional economic stumbles, the report says.

In fact, 68 percent of business owners say they have changed the way they run their businesses - with 64 percent indicating the way they do business has changed forever. Among the adjustments, respondents cited debt reduction- 42 percent; increasing cash reserves -40 percent; hiring freezes- 34 percent- and delaying plans for expansion -32 percent.

“Small businesses continue to feel the effects of today's uncertain business environment,” said Raj Seshadri, the head of small-business banking at Citibank. “Yet we are encouraged to see businesses adjusting to the economic environment and preparing for additional challenges so they are ready to expand and grow when conditions improve.”

Small-business hiring plans remain tepid; 7 percent of owners plan to reduce staff in the next 12 months, while 76 percent plan no hiring increases. Nine in 10 say they need to see sales increase for at least two consecutive quarters before adding staff.

Long Island small-business owners have echoed similar sentiments on the latter point. Some have said that government incentives won’t entice them to hire more people if sales can’t justify it.

The Citibank poll was conducted by telephone from July 19 to Aug. 18 among a national random sample of 521 small businesses, with annual revenue execeeding $100,000 and with no more than 100 employees.

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