Tag: 5

Business Etiquette: 5 Rules That Matter Now #bond #market #news

#business etiquette

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The word “etiquette” gets a bad rap. For one thing, it sounds stodgy and pretentious. And rules that are socially or morally prescribed seem intrusive to our sense of individuality and freedom.

But the concept of etiquette is still essential, especially now and particularly in business. New communication platforms, like Facebook and Linked In, have blurred the lines of appropriateness and we’re all left wondering how to navigate unchartered social territory.

At Crane Co. we have been advising people on etiquette for two centuries. We have even published books on the subject covering social occasions, wedding etiquette and more.

Boil it down and etiquette is really all about making people feel good. It’s not about rules or telling people what to do, or not to do, it’s about ensuring some basic social comforts.

So here are a few business etiquette rules that matter now whatever you want to call them.

1. Send a Thank You Note

I work at a paper company that manufactures stationery and I’m shocked at how infrequently people send thank you notes after interviewing with me. If you’re not sending a follow-up thank you note to Crane, you’re not sending it anywhere.

But the art of the thank you note should never die. If you have a job interview, or if you’re visiting clients or meeting new business partners especially if you want the job, or the contract or deal take the time to write a note. You’ll differentiate yourself by doing so and it will reflect well on your company too.

2. Know the Names

It’s just as important to know your peers or employees as it is to develop relationships with clients, vendors or management. Reach out to people in your company, regardless of their roles, and acknowledge what they do.

My great-grandfather ran a large manufacturing plant. He would take his daughter (my grandmother) through the plant; she recalled that he knew everyone’s name his deputy, his workers, and the man who took out the trash.

We spend too much of our time these days looking up impressing senior management. But it’s worth stepping back and acknowledging and getting to know all of the integral people who work hard to make your business run.

3. Observe the ‘Elevator Rule’

When meeting with clients or potential business partners off-site, don’t discuss your impressions of the meeting with your colleagues until the elevator has reached the bottom floor and you’re walking out of the building. That’s true even if you’re the only ones in the elevator.

Call it superstitious or call it polite but either way, don’t risk damaging your reputation by rehashing the conversation as soon as you walk away.

4. Focus on the Face, Not the Screen

It’s hard not to be distracted these days. We have a plethora of devices to keep us occupied; emails and phone calls come through at all hours; and we all think we have to multitask to feel efficient and productive.

But that’s not true: When you’re in a meeting or listening to someone speak, turn off the phone. Don’t check your email. Pay attention and be present.

When I worked in news, everyone was attached to a BlackBerry, constantly checking the influx of alerts. But my executive producer rarely used hers and for this reason, she stood out. She was present and was never distracted in editorial meetings or discussions with the staff. And it didn’t make her any less of a success.

5. Don’t Judge

We all have our vices and we all have room for improvement. One of the most important parts of modern-day etiquette is not to criticize others.

You may disagree with how another person handles a specific situation, but rise above and recognize that everyone is trying their best. It’s not your duty to judge others based on what you feel is right. You are only responsible for yourself.

We live in a world where both people and businesses are concerned about brand awareness. Individuals want to stand out and be liked and accepted by their peers–both socially and professionally.

The digital landscape has made it even more difficult to know whether or not you’re crossing a line, but I think it’s simple. Etiquette is positive. It’s a way of being not a set of rules or dos and don’ts.

So before you create that hashtag, post on someone’s Facebook page or text someone mid-meeting, remember the fundamentals: Will this make someone feel good?

And remember the elemental act of putting pen to paper and writing a note. You’ll make a lasting impression that a shout-out on Twitter or a Facebook wall mention can’t even touch.

00:12 Christine Lagorio: So Mark we have been working on this world’s coolest office package for two years now I think it’s time to sit back and reflect. What actually is a cool office?

00:22 Marc Kushner: A cool office. Well you know I work, I’m an architect, I work in an office, and I run an archaizer, and I think fundamentally a cool office is one that functions really well as an office. And then I think the potential for working with an architect, working with a designer and making it really cool is to kind of pump that up. And find the opportunities to make it a special place; a place that makes people work better together, that makes people excited to come to work. I think that’s what really makes it cool.

00:51 Lagorio: That’s great. We all work in offices but a lot of startups and small companies don’t necessarily have the budget for an architect or even a designer to consult. What are some little things they can do to keep the space in mind and make the space that they have available to them work well for them?

01:09 Kushner: Yeah I think. I think there are opportunities in the everyday kind of office experience. So we all need conference rooms, usually need a conference room, and a conference room comes with things like a table, and lights. And these can be really generic obvious solutions or you can take the time and challenge yourself and maybe your staff and actually turn it into a kind of experience to think about how that can become something else. So we saw some tables that were made out of old cast iron bath tubs right with a slab of glass on top which was a cute way to kind of up the ante on what a conference table could be. But then even the way that lighting is hung that it doesn’t have to be a geometric patterns that you can actually start express moments within the room that are maybe more important and find those little ways in to question the status quo of design.

02:05 Lagorio: Right. And you’re talking about some of the entries that we just saw because we were just judging this year’s entries. What are some of themes that emerged from this year’s entries, anything that you saw different from last year that may be indicative of where office design is going?

02:20 Kushner: We saw. Well, first of all they were all fantastic, and it was really excellent to see the breath of entries. We saw some interesting things. We saw, a lot of brands were bringing in the products that they make into the actual office design. So like Wilson who makes tennis products have entire walls made of tennis ball material, kind of unraveled tennis balls, so that the actual you know stuff that people are selling everyday on the phone and working with and designing shows up in the, in the everyday office experience, which I think is really, I think that’s really successful. Adidas also did something really cool where, a lot of sports companies make obviously are. Well, they make really cool stuff. But Adidas did this really neat thing where they took inspiration from kind of in the locker room and the idea of how you store things in a office. So instead of it being traditional file cabinets there are sort of lockers for everyone that have a roll up capabilities and can be moved all over the office. So I think, you know bringing in the stuff that motivates the company in the first place into the design is a great cue.

03:30 Lagorio: That’s great. Was there. I guess was there anything else that you loved about this year’s entries? Anything else that really stood out or anything that you think is kind of showing a changing pace in or face of office design?

03:44 Kushner: Yeah we saw, we saw a lot of use of, I’ll just say the natural in the most general way. But I think it’s obviously part of a general trend worldwide, and what’s nice is that what’s been happening in Europe is now moving to the United States. The realization that natural lighting is not just a good ecologically move but it’s also you know a happy factor. And people are, are more productive and have a better experience when there closer to a window. So bringing nature in, sometimes it’s not efficient or effective to move everyone in the office to the window, but finding ways to bring nature into the office, as far as you know cutting holes in buildings or approximating nature; we saw some artificial landscapes which were pretty, pretty fun. And I think that’s a really nice trend that’s going on in the office space.

04:34 Lagorio: That’s great. Thanks so much Mark.

04:36 Kushner: Thank you and thanks to Inc.





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5 Small Business Financing Options for Startup Entrepreneurs #financing #for #business

#business financing options

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5 Small Business Financing Options for Startup Entrepreneurs

Credit Cards

According to a 2012 National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) study [click the image above for the full infographic], 79% of small business owners used credit cards to start or grow their business. That says a lot about the significance of using credit cards to capitalize a small business.

According to another study (PDF) conducted by Keybridge Research, the use of business credit cards to start or grow a small business has tremendous positive effects on the business and the economy as a whole. The study found that the expansion of credit card lending between 2003 and 2008 contributed to the creation of 1.6 million jobs and for every $1,000 of business credit card use, a $5,500 increase in revenue was experienced by the small business.

The bottom line is that about 4 out of 5 small business owners will be using credit cards.

Founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, did it in the early days. Most other successful business owners have done it as well. It’s like anything else in that, you can use credit cards the right way or the wrong way. So plan this like you do your business.

I like what T. Boone Pickens says about planning. He said:

“A plan without action isn’t a plan. It’s a speech.”

Don’t make a speech about using credit cards, make a plan. Places like Lendio and NCH Capital help a lot of business owners learn how to use business credit cards to grow their businesses.

Microloans

Microloans are small loans typically issued to borrowers who are low income earners or have less than perfect credit and do not qualify for traditional bank financing.

According to the Microfinance Information Exchange, MicroBanking Bulletin Issue #19. nearly 74 million entrepreneurs across the world have microloans that are equal to a combined total of $38 billion U.S. dollars (as of 2009). Statistics vary but most microlenders report that between 95 99% of their loans are repaid. Kiva.org has over a 99% repayment rate this month alone.

Repayment rates suggest that small businesses have experienced a significant level of success as a result of obtaining microloans. Furthermore, according to a recent survey (PDF) conducted by Accion U.S. Network, 42% of survey respondents said their business income increased (between 2010 2011) as a result of a microloan.

Personal Savings

This is the #1 small business financing option for most people who find that they don’t qualify for credit cards, microloans, or any other type of “traditional bank financing.”

This is a great way to get started. If you don’t quality for things like business credit cards or traditional bank financing, then you may want to take the appropriate steps to correct any credit issues that may be part of the problem. We would all like to have more financing options in the future as we grow our businesses. If you’re like millions of other business owners with less-than-perfect credit, then do something about it.

Resources like Creditera are invaluable as it is currently the only credit monitoring platform that allows business owners to monitor both business and personal credit in one place.

The 3 F’s: Family, Friends and Fools

This is a great example of how the small business financing options are different for everyone. For some people, that list of possible investors from their friends and family is a long one. For others it’s, well, a short list shall we say.

Often times it is difficult to obtain financing from family and friends because they may not fully understand the business or believe it will succeed. You will really need to do what it takes to convince them the business will be lucrative and successful to get them to invest.

Entrepreneurs are famous for over-selling their cool ideas to their Uncle Louie and then seeing things not work out. If you do accept an investment from a friend or family member, then I suggest using something like ZimpleMoney. Whatever you do, be sure to treat your friends and family no different than you would a savvy angel investor. They deserve updates, communication and to be one of the first phone calls when there is a problem.

You should treat them as the partner you allowed them to become when you accepted their check. As for the fools I’ll leave that one alone.

Retirement Accounts

This small business financing option is highly popular for entrepreneurs who want to purchase a franchise. In order to use your retirement account to fund your business, you would use the Rollover for Business Startup (ROBS) Strategy.

This strategy is slightly complicated so you’ll want to consult with an expert such as Benetrends or Tenet Financial Group. It consists of forming a C Corporation and rolling your current retirement plan over to the new corporation’s retirement plan. It’s a relatively complex strategy. So don’t try it on your own and do your due-diligence. The term ROBS actually comes from the IRS ROBS compliance project.

ROBs strategies are common but are right up there as the most risky ways to finance a business along with Home Equity Lines of Credit and using personal savings. Again, in the event that your business fails, you likely lose your nest egg or whatever portion of it you “rolled over.”

I probably side with my friend Joel Libava, The Franchise King, on this when I say that I don’t think of franchisees as “full-fledged,” 100% entrepreneurs. I also cannot negate what my other good friend, Rieva Lesonsky, says when she argues, very respectfully, that franchisees take a lot of risk in buying a franchise. Especially a less established franchise.

When franchisees “roll over” their nest egg and start a franchise they totally get my respect and they clearly are taking a risk. I guess for me, I can’t get past the part about following directions and needing to get permission from the franchisor for many business decisions that an entrepreneur would not only make, but would make quickly, and he/she would laugh at the thought of needing someone’s permission.

Conclusion

Successful business owners all have one thing in common. They take action. They execute.

Mistakes and failures come with the territory, so learn your options, move forward, and accept that there will be lessons to learn along your road to success. Figure out which small business financing option is best for you and your dream.

Tom Gazaway is Founder and President of LenCred. His expertise is in helping small business owners who are in the first two years of business to properly obtain business financing that separates their personal and business credit while also protecting, preserving, and improving their credit profiles. Tom blogs on the LenCred blog, The Business Finance Lounge.

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Thanks for the mention.

I m 100% okay with folks using a PORTION of their retirement savings to buy a franchise.

They need to make sure it s done right, though. The paperwork involved must be perfect. And, several other things need to line up. the right age, enough back-up money, etc.

Great article, Tom

The Franchise King®

Thanks Joel. It s great to have you clarify your position on this.

I think the part I liked the most about your comments was when you said, make sure it s done right. When a franchisee or other type of small business owner works with a qualified representative from a reputable company like the ones I mentioned (or other company that meets those criteria) and uses a ROBS strategy then it can be an excellent way to bring your dream to reality.

Thanks again Joel.

I guess most startup entrepreneurs always go with the three F s or with loans. But then again, there are always the safe players who invests their existing savings. I would like to see some unconventional ways to generate some money for startup.





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Busting 5 Myths About Small-Business Lending #business #blogs

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Busting 5 Myths About Small-Business Lending

Co-founder and CEO, Fundera

Like your mother and your high school history teacher likely told you over and over again, you can t believe everything you read on the Internet.

With the growing accessibility of information freely available online, modern entrepreneurs in search of funding to grow their businesses have a huge leg up on generations past. Yet for every bit of accurate and genuinely helpful advice, there is an increasing prevalence of misinformation and myths surrounding the small business lending space. Unfortunately, much of that misinformation can give business owners bad information about how small business loans work, giving them a false sense of their own eligibility.

Don t miss out on opportunities to secure funding for your business due to false information. Let s separate fact from fiction and bust five of the most common small business lending myths we hear every day.

1. Approval takes forever.

Whether you re itching to move forward with a new business idea or you need cash quickly to cover an unexpected expense, one of the most common questions business owners have when applying for funding is, how fast can I get cash in hand?

You may hear from well-meaning friends and relatives that getting approved for a business loan can take weeks or even months, but that information is outdated. With new online loan applications, an organized business owner can complete her application in less than an hour, and it can be reviewed and approved within 24 hours of submission. Many lenders can even offer cash in hand in as little as two days.

While some borrowers may take additional time to gather financial statements or get their credit reports in better shape, once you hit submit, the approval practice is very efficient. Don t let the fear of a long approval process hold you back from seeking a loan.

2. New businesses never qualify.

The startup funding quandary is a difficult one. You need an established business to secure funding, but you need cash in hand to get your business off the ground. Seeking funding from venture capitalists or angel investors is certainly the most popular route for securing startup funding, but is it the only way?

Many startup entrepreneurs assume that they need to be in business for a few years and have established business credit before they can qualify for a loan. However, more and more lenders are specifically offering startup loans that require little or no business credit history to qualify.

Applying for a startup loan will involve more scrutiny into your personal finances than other types of business loans. Your personal credit score will be the most important part of the application. You may also be faced with less favorable rates than you would receive as an established business. But if you re committed to finding funding and open to the necessary conditions, securing a loan for your brand new business is possible.

3. Online lenders are con artists with unreasonable rates.

We get it. The online alternative lending market is relatively new, and people are skeptical of new things. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous online lenders and brokers have engaged in predatory and dangerous lending practices, giving the entire industry a bad rap.

But in reality, some alternative lenders operating online offer single-digit interest rates. Those offering higher rates often are working with borrowers who are considered risky. Online lenders regularly consider a wide variety of borrower credentials outside of just the traditional credit report and score. Business owners who were turned down by their bank can frequently find the funding they need online.

As with any financial transaction, it s critical that business owners do their due diligence about an online lender before signing the dotted line.

4. Loan officers only care about your credit score.

This myth, carried over from the outdated traditional bank model for loan approvals, can leave business owners with less-than-stellar credit feeling hopeless about their funding prospects. Luckily for these entrepreneurs, growth in the alternative lending sector has led to a larger spectrum of factors being considered in the loan approval process.

Many lenders will now give equal weight to your company s revenue history, cash flow statement and other financial documents in determining your loan eligibility. This information often paints a very different picture of a business and its owner s financial standing than what a credit score alone can convey.

Even so, before applying for a business loan, it is still important that you take steps to make your credit report and score the best possible reflection of your financial history. Always make debt payments on time, and manage your credit usage responsibly. Also frequently check your credit reports for accuracy. If you find errors, contact the reporting agencies to correct the mistakes.

5. Approval is determined by a heartless algorithm.

Once upon a time, entrepreneurs seeking small business funding could walk into their local community bank, build face-to-face relationships with managers and loan officers, and be confident they understood the whole picture behind their loan application, including both cold hard numbers as well as the more intangible elements of their qualifications as borrowers.

These days, technology has all but replaced those in-person banking relationships, creating the impression that loan approval decisions are controlled by nothing more than a few concrete variables and an algorithm saying yes or no.

But while you may have lost the ability to look your loan officer in the eye and strike a deal with a handshake, the modern funding process isn t actually as impersonal as this reputation suggests. In reality, lenders consider a wide variety of both objective, number-based factors as well as more subjective considerations, like your business and marketing plan.

If you re concerned about certain elements of your loan application, like your credit score, take the time to flesh out your business plan, fully explaining how the funds you are borrowing will be used and how this investment will lead to a successful business.

Ultimately, your lender s main consideration is whether or not you will make your loan payments on time, every time. Your loan application should, both through financial documents and through your written statements, paint the best possible picture of your future ability to repay the loan.

If you do your research, stay organized, and can clearly and concisely convey this information to lenders through your loan application, your chances of being quickly matched with the a loan to meet your business needs is tremendously greater.





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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Candle Making Business #good #business #ideas

#candle making business

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wahm articles

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting a Candle Making Business

When you decide to start your own work-at-home business, a candle making business is one option of many. Beginning a candle making business can be fun and exciting and a way to utilize some creativity. However, there are many things to think about before beginning that can help ensure your success. Avoid mistakes that can cost your business to go under before it even starts.

Mistake 1 – Starting with No Experience

As with any home business, you should have at least some experience before you begin. If you have made candles or soaps as a hobby or for personal gift giving you have a head start on growing a business. Starting any type of business with no experience will take more time and presents more risk. Even taking a class at a local community center or reading a candle making book will give you some background to start with.

Mistake 2 – No Research and Business Plan

A solid business plan is a must and that goes hand-in-hand with lots of research. Making candles as a hobby or for fun is a base start; taking that to a business level requires some planning. You will need to research where to get bulk supplies, including molds, candle base (whether that is beeswax, paraffin, gel or soy), wicks, dyes and scented oils.

On the practical side, you will need to prepare for your business by choosing a business name and registering your business with your local city or county. In most places you will also need a business license even if you are operating a business from your home.

Mistake 3 – Having No Work Space

When you decide to start a business from home you have to be sure you have the appropriate space available to accommodate your business. With a candle making business you need space to melt your candle material, whatever it is that you choose. You need space to store your candle making essentials; molds, melting pot, wicks and oils, etc.

You also need to be able to store what you produce as well as office space to do bookkeeping and sales work. An organized work space will help you be more efficient and productive.

Mistake 4 – Having No Niche

Deciding on candle making as a business venture will mean deciding on a niche. If you enjoy making a certain type of candle and are efficient in making them, that should be your focus. For instance, if you have been making soy candles, stick with making soy candles until you are ready for your business to expand or until there is a solid financial reason to make other types of candles. The possibilities are varied and wide and include votives, floating, special occasion, and mixed colored, as well as various scented.

Mistake 5 – Having No Market

It’s important to decide where and how you will sell your candle once you make your business official. Having a website is the best way to market your products but there are other ways as well.

No matter how you sell your candles, you will need to make sure the price is right so that you can gain and keep a customer base and so that you can eventually make a profit for yourself. Avoiding mistakes and having fun will take you far in the candle making business.





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Top 5 Health Insurance Options for Small Groups in 2016 #small #business #lending

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For many employers and brokers, the Affordable Care Act can feel like a moving target. However, for small groups with fewer than 50 employees who are not mandated to provide health insurance, the options for small group health insurance are clearer.

In 2016, small groups have five main options for health insurance:

Individual Health Insurance (with or without a defined contribution allowance)

Private Small Group Plan

1) Individual Health Insurance (with or without a defined contribution allowance)

The first option is a relatively simple approach, yet it achieves results: allow employees to purchase individual health insurance coverage, either through the public Marketplace or through a broker. Employees may select from any carrier and plan available, and eligible employees may access discounts on their premiums via the individual health insurance tax credits.

If the small group would like to contribute to employee’s premium expenses, they can use defined contribution allowances to reimburse employees for the non-subsidized portion of their premium. (This is still allowed as long as the employer goes about it the right way .)

Additionally, defined contribution allowances can be allocated by job criteria (e.g. $300/month to managers and $200/month to entry-level). For many small groups, this is the most cost-effective solution because the small group can contribute any amount and, on average, individual policies cost less than small group plans.

Brokers are generally involved to facilitate the setup of the defined contribution allowances (usually, via an online software provider), sell the individual policies to employees, and be a consultant for the small group. The ideal business for this solution is a small group who is priced out of group health insurance, not eligible for group health insurance, wants to start offering health benefits for the first time, or who doesn’t have the administrative capacity to administer a group health insurance plan.

2) SHOP Marketplace

The SHOP Marketplaces are public state- or federally-run exchanges which sell small group health insurance policies. The SHOP Marketplace could be a good coverage option for employers with 50 or fewer employees if they can meet certain requirements. For example, in Massachusetts employers participating in the SHOP must contribute at least 50 percent of the premium amount, employers with 1-5 employees must have 100 percent of the employees enrolled, and employers with 6-50 employees must have at least 75 percent enrolled.

For eligible small groups, the SHOP Marketplace gives access to the small business tax credits which are generally only available through the SHOP. Brokers registered with the Marketplace can help small groups select and purchase the plan, just as brokers would with private small group plans.

3) Private Health Exchange

Like defined contribution, the term “private exchange” is one of the biggest buzzwords of the past few years. With a private exchange the small group gives employees a set contribution to use towards a menu of plan options. The plan options can be individual- or group-based. Private exchanges are a type of a defined contribution strategy.

Brokers can offer a private exchange option to small groups by working with a defined contribution or private exchange provider. Numerous entities ranging from startups to new divisions of leading insurance companies have been created to offer new private health exchanges and companies like Walgreens are adopting this approach. If you’re a broker, see: How to Offer a Private Health Exchange in 3 Steps .

4) Co-Op

Joining a co-op for health insurance is a more traditional approach for small groups. The idea is the co-op increases buying power and spreads the risk to a larger group. Each co-op is structured differently, and whether the co-op offers better insurance rates than the small group could get on the open market or SHOP depends on regional insurance underwriting laws and the co-op itself.

5) Private Small Group Plan

Purchasing a private small group plan is also still an option for small groups. Small groups may find more options and carriers to choose from on the private market as compared to the SHOP, where some states only have one or two plans to choose from. Read more small business health insurance trends here.

The Future of Small Group Health Insurance?

Every day I hear from small business owners and their brokers about the challenges of a traditional small group health insurance plan – with the primary challenge being cost. As such, it is not surprising to hear that only half (54 percent ) of small and medium sized businesses do not offer traditional insurance today.

Which is why I’d argue that #1 (individual health insurance with defined contribution allowances) and #2 (private exchanges paired with individual health insurance) are the best health insurance options for small groups in 2016.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2013 under the title, “Top 5 Health Insurance Options for Small Groups in 2014.”

Do you agree or disagree? What questions do you have? Leave a comment below.





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Top 5 Small Business Loan Requirements – How to get a Small Business Loan

#sba loan requirements

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Top 5 Small Business Loan Requirements

The time has come to expand your business with new employees, a larger location or a new product line. It’s an exciting time, but stressful because you’re not sure you have the cash reserves to manage the expansion.

For many small businesses, this situation calls for a small business loan a cash infusion that pays for itself, plus the interest, with the new opportunities and extra income it allows you to create.

Many of our Kabbage customers are new to small business lending. Though they’re familiar with personal loans, they only know the basics of small business loans and lines of credit. For those who “resemble that remark” and for more experienced folks who would like a review of how to get a small business loan here is your expert-researched, Kabbage-curated list of the top five small business loan requirements to get the best possible small business loan.

#1: Strong Credit

The bad news about small business lending is it can be hard to qualify for the best rates and deals. The good news is this decade has more options for good small business loans than any other time in history. You can choose between platform lending. traditional loans (like from a bank) and a variety of hybrid options available from local vendors or via the internet.

This flexibility doesn’t mean your company shouldn’t look as good as possible on paper. Your FICO credit score will figure heavily in any lending decision, so (if time permits) spend time grooming that number in the months prior to applying. Research what other metrics the lenders you want use, and groom them as much as possible, too.

If you have a major ding in your credit, like a repossession or string of late payments, be prepared to discuss them and why things will go better in the future.

#2: Solid Business Plan

Part of understanding how to get a small business loan is ensuring you have a solid business loan. You should have one of these anyway, since a strong business plan is a prerequisite for stellar business success. Traditional lenders will expect to see an updated, professionally prepared business plan as part of the lending process. Lacking one tells them you’re not ready for the “big leagues” and are a bad credit list.

Though platform lenders like Kabbage won’t insist on seeing your formal business plan, similar documents about your social presence, industry statistics and unique market advantages all of which are part of a comprehensive business plan will go into decisions about what to lend you and how much it will cost.

Either way, get a business plan together.

#3: Compelling Personal Resume

Traditional lenders want proof that the people responsible for running a business are qualified to do so, and part of that proof will be seeing the resumes for you and other principles like owners and executive officers. This resume should be as solid, well-edited and up-to-date as any resume you’ve ever sent out.

Consider: the purpose of a resume is to get you the job you want. The purpose of this resume is to get you the job of running the company you want, instead of the company you have.

Platform lenders don’t look at your traditional resume, but they will look at your business’ curriculum vitae in terms of performance metrics and social sharing. Take time to groom those items as substantially as you would a regular resume.

#4: Bulletproofed P L Statements

Like your business plan, you should have these anyway. You should be using your profit and loss statements as part of a robust monthly “vital signs” check for your business. If you’re not doing them, dig into your accounting software for half an hour. You’ll find a tool that compiles P Ls from your records. If you’re not using software to keep track of your financials get started on doing that.

Lenders of all stripes are looking for three things in your P L: reliability, professionalism and ethicality.

  • Reliability – They want evidence that you will be able to make your promised payments, based on enough cash flow to cover the loan. If you don’t, the lender will assume that lending you money is too high a risk.
  • Professionalism – Lenders presented with incomplete, inaccurate or hastily prepared P L statements will assume that your business is similarly disorganized.
  • Ethicality – If you “fudge” your numbers to look better and get caught, you are done with that lender. The decision makers will assume that you cut ethical corners in other places.

#5: Knowledge of the Loan Needed

This is actually the first of the small business requirements that you should address, but we wanted to mention it last so it would be the freshest in your mind. Lending isn’t what it used to be – a situation where you went to a couple of banks, all of which offered the same basic products, and hoped they would agree to give you a loan.

Modern small business lending includes a wide array of traditional, platform and peer-to-peer options with wildly varying qualification requirements and rates of interest. Before you start working in earnest on the other four requirements for your loan, decide what kind of loan you need. That way you won’t waste time and effort preparing the wrong documents.

Do you have a tale of success or woe to share with the Kabbage community about when you aced a loan application or were embarrassingly unprepared? Share your story in the comments below.





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5 Things to Do Before Saying I Do to a Business Partner #business #school

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5 Things to Do Before Saying ‘I Do’ to a Business Partner

CEO Founder, Deborah Mitchell Media Associates

September 24, 2014

As an entrepreneur, you may at some point consider getting a business partner or co-founder. Maybe you miss working with a larger team that complements your skills, or perhaps you are trying to broaden your market or expand your clientele. Whatever your motive, you should know that business partnerships always start with excitement, but have the potential to end tumultuously. When forming a business partnership — just like a marriage — there are certain key steps to take at the beginning that will help in the transition if your professional relationship should end.

1. Perform due diligence. Yes, everyone is fun over cocktails, but when the time comes to sign contracts and do business, you d better be sober and confident you re shaking the right hand. Asking for referrals about a potential partner goes beyond contacting common friends and asking their opinions. Call former partners and business associates, inquire with clients, read comments on their social media pages and look them up on Google. (Keep reading way past page one of the search results.)

By the time you re done, you should be able to name anyone who dislikes them — from their first high-school enemy to their latest unhappy client. Only then will you be able to either take a calculated risk or a major step back.

2. Make sure you lawyer up. If the legal fees in the beginning of a business relationship don t make you wince, then you re doing something wrong. When you partner with other people, every aspect of the business relationship should be put down in writing — including the goals for the company, duties and responsibilities of the partners and an exit strategy. Every sentence of a contract — no matter how innocuous — should be looked at by a lawyer. Since tax laws can be tricky, have your accounts receivable/payable arrangements scrutinized by an accountant.

3. Ensure you have exit strategy. Ending your business partnership is the last thing you want to think about when you are beginning one. It is similar to thinking about divorce on your wedding day, but you should have a plan. The business exit strategy should include several legal points including the division of the business assets and how the partner s portion of the business will be handled in case of death.

4. Protect yourself. One of the smartest moves you can make is to protect your personal assets in case of a lawsuit. Whether you choose to incorporate or become an LLC, the top benefit will be shielding your savings, home, car and even your favorite pair of Louboutins from any liabilities associated with the business.

5. Protect your brand. Joining forces with a partner takes a lot of energy, and chances are that somewhere down the line you will lose your focus. Working for a common goal within a new team is really exciting but merging forces does not necessarily mean merging identities. Don t lose sight of who you are. If part of the original business plan is to maintain your brand, make sure it doesn t suffer while you re giving all your time and energy to your new endeavor.

When you meet a potential partner, your personalities may click and your goals may be identical but to have a successful relationship, clarity is key. The more precautions you take in the beginning, the happier and more productive you will be later on. And the day you see that the team you ve tried to build has become nothing more that a group of people looking in different directions, then it s time to part ways and move on.





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5 Top Picks for Small Business Cloud-Based Accounting #business #english

#business accounting software

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5 Top Picks for Small Business Cloud-Based Accounting

Small business owners don’t need to purchase expensive business accounting software programs or spend hours lost in complicated reports. Any accounting software will provide the basic applications for accounting tasks, but packages designed for small office owners and manager tend to simplify the process and provide essentials that include a general ledger, the capability to create detailed invoices or view business inventory and purchase history.

Cloud accounting services—software stored and accessed online—is an attractive option for small business owners. When using cloud accounting software, IT tasks such as version upgrades and data backup are managed by the application vendor.

In looking at small business accounting options, CIO.com specifically looked for applications designed to meet both the budget and the needs of a typical small office or small business. We chose five cloud accounting service options available cost $20 or less per month and are easy to use—even for small business owners with little or no experience with accounting tasks.

FreshBooks: Guided Help Boxes Make Small Business Accounting Easy

FreshBooks is a simple cloud accounting application designed to help small business owners to get organized and get paid. Since it’s a hosted accounting service, you can access your business data everywhere—on a mobile device or desktop computer—and your data is secure and backed up for you.

FreshBooks features options for online payments, expense tracking, time-tracking and accounting reports and taxes. Highlights include customizing invoices, sending late payment reminders, automatic and recurring-expense tracking, managing different rates for multiple projects and profit/loss reports.

Small business owners will appreciate FreshBooks’ guided step-by-step wizard and help boxes that appear each time you perform a new task, such as create a new invoice or add a new client to your records. As you familiarize yourself with FreshBooks, you can turn these helpful tips off.

FreshBooks is free for 30 days, with the basic business plan starting at $19.95 per month. There’s also an add-on store where you’ll find third-party applications to add new features and functionality to FreshBooks. Some apps are free—such as the Constant Contact Export and the FreshBooks Connector for Sage Peachtree (now known as Sage 50 )—while others are available on a monthly subscription basis.

QuickBooks Online Simple Start: A Good Value for Small Businesses

Today, QuickBooks is synonymous with small business accounting. While a number of standalone and hosted versions are available, QuickBooks Online Simple Start is a good value for small office accounting needs.

The online version is $12.95 per month and includes a 30-day free trial. This software makes it easy to create invoices, track sales and expenses, download banking transactions and access business data on any mobile device. Other handy features in Online Simple Start include check printing and exporting data to Microsoft Excel.

If you need a little more functionality than QuickBooks Online provides, there are a few add-ons. These include the “Payroll Bundle” to pay your employees and a merchant service app to accept debit, credit cards and checks in QuickBooks Online.

Kashoo: Professional Invoices, Simple Dashboards

Kashoo is another cloud accounting service worth a look. It’s a simple accounting app for small businesses offering anytime access from an iPad or Web browser.

Features for the small business include connecting to online bank accounts and credit cards, professional invoices, simple dashboards and options to categorize income and expenses specifically for tax reporting. In addition, you can easily share your business data with your accountant online. Finally, Kashoo boasts secure, double-entry accounting for bank reconciliation and financial statements.

Kashoo is priced at $16 per month. A free version is available; however, users are limited to 20 transactions each month.

Outright: Online Accounting for Ecommerce Businesses

Outright is an easy-to-use cloud accounting system that lets small business ecommerce owners organize and keep track of sales and finances in one place. At a glance, you can see where money is going, view profit/loss statements and see who your customers are.

You can link existing accounts such as banks, credit cards, Paypal, eBay, your own Web store or FreshBooks to Outright, and you can import your existing transaction history. From then on, Outright downloads your new data each day. Another useful feature: Outright organizes all of your data into IRS-approved tax categories, potentially lowering the workload and headache level at tax time.

Small business owners on the go will appreciate the Outright iPhone app; with the mobile app, you can stay on top of your business and enter travel expenses and mileage from the road.

Outright offers a free account, but small businesses are more likely to use the Plus version ($9.95 per month), which offers more features than the free version.

Xero: Share Your Business Numbers Online

With Xero online accounting, you can share access to the latest numbers and check cash flow in real-time. Once loaded, Xero offers a dashboard to quickly view your bank balances, invoices, bills and expense claims. There’s also an interactive graph to show money going in and out; you can also monitor specific data accounts from the dashboard.

One standout feature in Xero is the capability to collaborate online so small business employees can work as a team on financials. You can share your data and collaborate with your accountant and bookkeeper to get the advice you need. Xero lets you invite an unlimited number of people for free; you control what each person can see.

The invoicing system lets you customize invoices and connect with your customers through online invoicing. There are also options to create repeating invoices and schedule bill payments, and all payments, returns and credits are tracked automatically.

Pricing for Xero starts at $19 per month. Mobile apps for Apple, Android and Blackberry are available. Third-party add-ons can expand Xero functionality by incorporating CRM, inventory management, invoicing, job systems and other specialized business tasks.





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5 Small Business Financing Options for Startup Entrepreneurs #business #supplies

#business financing options

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5 Small Business Financing Options for Startup Entrepreneurs

Credit Cards

According to a 2012 National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) study [click the image above for the full infographic], 79% of small business owners used credit cards to start or grow their business. That says a lot about the significance of using credit cards to capitalize a small business.

According to another study (PDF) conducted by Keybridge Research, the use of business credit cards to start or grow a small business has tremendous positive effects on the business and the economy as a whole. The study found that the expansion of credit card lending between 2003 and 2008 contributed to the creation of 1.6 million jobs and for every $1,000 of business credit card use, a $5,500 increase in revenue was experienced by the small business.

The bottom line is that about 4 out of 5 small business owners will be using credit cards.

Founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, did it in the early days. Most other successful business owners have done it as well. It’s like anything else in that, you can use credit cards the right way or the wrong way. So plan this like you do your business.

I like what T. Boone Pickens says about planning. He said:

“A plan without action isn’t a plan. It’s a speech.”

Don’t make a speech about using credit cards, make a plan. Places like Lendio and NCH Capital help a lot of business owners learn how to use business credit cards to grow their businesses.

Microloans

Microloans are small loans typically issued to borrowers who are low income earners or have less than perfect credit and do not qualify for traditional bank financing.

According to the Microfinance Information Exchange, MicroBanking Bulletin Issue #19. nearly 74 million entrepreneurs across the world have microloans that are equal to a combined total of $38 billion U.S. dollars (as of 2009). Statistics vary but most microlenders report that between 95 99% of their loans are repaid. Kiva.org has over a 99% repayment rate this month alone.

Repayment rates suggest that small businesses have experienced a significant level of success as a result of obtaining microloans. Furthermore, according to a recent survey (PDF) conducted by Accion U.S. Network, 42% of survey respondents said their business income increased (between 2010 2011) as a result of a microloan.

Personal Savings

This is the #1 small business financing option for most people who find that they don’t qualify for credit cards, microloans, or any other type of “traditional bank financing.”

This is a great way to get started. If you don’t quality for things like business credit cards or traditional bank financing, then you may want to take the appropriate steps to correct any credit issues that may be part of the problem. We would all like to have more financing options in the future as we grow our businesses. If you’re like millions of other business owners with less-than-perfect credit, then do something about it.

Resources like Creditera are invaluable as it is currently the only credit monitoring platform that allows business owners to monitor both business and personal credit in one place.

The 3 F’s: Family, Friends and Fools

This is a great example of how the small business financing options are different for everyone. For some people, that list of possible investors from their friends and family is a long one. For others it’s, well, a short list shall we say.

Often times it is difficult to obtain financing from family and friends because they may not fully understand the business or believe it will succeed. You will really need to do what it takes to convince them the business will be lucrative and successful to get them to invest.

Entrepreneurs are famous for over-selling their cool ideas to their Uncle Louie and then seeing things not work out. If you do accept an investment from a friend or family member, then I suggest using something like ZimpleMoney. Whatever you do, be sure to treat your friends and family no different than you would a savvy angel investor. They deserve updates, communication and to be one of the first phone calls when there is a problem.

You should treat them as the partner you allowed them to become when you accepted their check. As for the fools I’ll leave that one alone.

Retirement Accounts

This small business financing option is highly popular for entrepreneurs who want to purchase a franchise. In order to use your retirement account to fund your business, you would use the Rollover for Business Startup (ROBS) Strategy.

This strategy is slightly complicated so you’ll want to consult with an expert such as Benetrends or Tenet Financial Group. It consists of forming a C Corporation and rolling your current retirement plan over to the new corporation’s retirement plan. It’s a relatively complex strategy. So don’t try it on your own and do your due-diligence. The term ROBS actually comes from the IRS ROBS compliance project.

ROBs strategies are common but are right up there as the most risky ways to finance a business along with Home Equity Lines of Credit and using personal savings. Again, in the event that your business fails, you likely lose your nest egg or whatever portion of it you “rolled over.”

I probably side with my friend Joel Libava, The Franchise King, on this when I say that I don’t think of franchisees as “full-fledged,” 100% entrepreneurs. I also cannot negate what my other good friend, Rieva Lesonsky, says when she argues, very respectfully, that franchisees take a lot of risk in buying a franchise. Especially a less established franchise.

When franchisees “roll over” their nest egg and start a franchise they totally get my respect and they clearly are taking a risk. I guess for me, I can’t get past the part about following directions and needing to get permission from the franchisor for many business decisions that an entrepreneur would not only make, but would make quickly, and he/she would laugh at the thought of needing someone’s permission.

Conclusion

Successful business owners all have one thing in common. They take action. They execute.

Mistakes and failures come with the territory, so learn your options, move forward, and accept that there will be lessons to learn along your road to success. Figure out which small business financing option is best for you and your dream.

Tom Gazaway is Founder and President of LenCred. His expertise is in helping small business owners who are in the first two years of business to properly obtain business financing that separates their personal and business credit while also protecting, preserving, and improving their credit profiles. Tom blogs on the LenCred blog, The Business Finance Lounge.

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Thanks for the mention.

I m 100% okay with folks using a PORTION of their retirement savings to buy a franchise.

They need to make sure it s done right, though. The paperwork involved must be perfect. And, several other things need to line up. the right age, enough back-up money, etc.

Great article, Tom

The Franchise King®

Thanks Joel. It s great to have you clarify your position on this.

I think the part I liked the most about your comments was when you said, make sure it s done right. When a franchisee or other type of small business owner works with a qualified representative from a reputable company like the ones I mentioned (or other company that meets those criteria) and uses a ROBS strategy then it can be an excellent way to bring your dream to reality.

Thanks again Joel.

I guess most startup entrepreneurs always go with the three F s or with loans. But then again, there are always the safe players who invests their existing savings. I would like to see some unconventional ways to generate some money for startup.





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5 Tips for Using Collateral to Secure a Small Business Loan #business #loan #calculator

#secured business loans

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Here’s a fundamental truth of any organization: you need cash to help grow your business. Whether you’re a start-up, a sole proprietorship, or a limited liability corporation, getting a small business loan will be one of your top priorities if you’re looking to expand your company’s potential. But before you receive funds from a bank, a lender will scrutinize both you and your business to see if you’re a viable borrower.

A bank will look at your company’s history, business credit, revenues, balance sheet, and your equity contributions. If you pass a credit check and you operate a healthy business, most banks will also require an additional, and tangible, guarantee that their loan will be repaid: collateral.

Collateral assets come in many forms. Defined by the Small Business Administration, collateral is “an additional form of security which can be used to assure a lender that you have a second source of loan repayment.” Most commonly, collateral is real property (i.e. an owner-occupied home), but it can also be represented by your business’s inventory, cash savings or deposits, and equipment. In order to structure a loan that benefits both you and your business, you’ll need to make the right decision about what you offer up as collateral to the bank. It’s also important to be realistic when considering the risks of defaulting on a loan, which could have harsh consequences for not only your business, but for your personal life, too.

Editor’s Note: Looking for loan solutions for your business? If you would like information to help you choose the one that’s right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our partner, BuyerZone, provide you with information for free:

Below are a few tips on how you can use your assets as collateral, and how you can mitigate the risks associated of defaulting on a loan.

1. Keep Detailed Records of your Asset’s Worth

Banks are notoriously conservative about valuing a borrower’s assets for collateral. After all, if the borrower does default, the lender must expend resources to take the asset, find a buyer, and sell it.

Jeff Allen, the director of operations for Trendant, a small business consulting firm based in Salt Lake City, says that one of the most common mistakes business owners make about collateral is they think it’s worth a lot more than it actually is. “They’re considering what they paid for it, and the banks only consider the fair market value of today,” he says.

If you’re not sure of what your assets might be worth, it could be worthwhile to find an independent appraiser to give you an idea of how the bank will value your property.

Besides for simply knowing your asset’s worth, it’s critical to keep detailed records of your assets on your balance sheet. When a bank is reviewing your business documents, they’ll want to see that you’re paying careful attention to all of the relevant factors. This is usually simpler than you think. “In keeping records, businesses tend to overcomplicate,” says Allen. “They think there’s some magical solution that the big boys use. The bottom line is that an Excel spreadsheet with a couple of line items is all you need.”

2. Know What You Can Use as Collateral

Essentially, there are two different types of collateral: assets that you own, and assets that you still have a loan against. If you still have a loan on the asset, (e.g. a mortgage for a house) the bank will be able to recoup the loan by refinancing your loan from the institution you have the loan against, and claim the title.

A viable asset to use as collateral will have a title of ownership, and banks will only lend if they can get a title back, says Allen. Homes and cars are the most common forms of collateral, but you can also use watercraft, motorcycles, as well as pieces of equipment that have a title of ownership.

Below are some relevant issues associated with each type of collateral that you should consider before approaching a bank for a loan.

Real Property: Since the housing bubble burst, using real property as collateral financing took a huge hit. Denise Beeson, a commercial loan officer based in San Francisco, says that this has been a significant roadblock for small businesses seeking small business loans. “It’s devastating small business right now,” she says. “In the past they’ve used the equity in their home, and they don’t have any of that equity anymore.” Additionally, banks will not consider vacant land, or “dirt” as its referred to in banking, as viable collateral.

Business Inventory and Accounts Receivable: Asset-based lending can be a great way to get a fast influx of cash to your business. For example, if your firm gets a big purchase order, you may not have the resources to meet the needs of the client without bringing on additional staff, equipment, or raw materials. In some cases, a bank will allow a company to use that purchase order as collateral. “It’s a little trickier to get,” explains Jeff Allen. “It might be more difficult because it’s harder to authenticate. but a bank will usually lend against that.”

Cash Savings or Deposits: “Cash is always king,” says Allen. Using personal savings will almost definitely be allowed as collateral since it’s a low-risk loan for a bank. This also applies to CDs and other financial accounts. The advantage in using these accounts as collateral is that you’re guaranteed a low interest rate because it’s a secured loan. The disadvantage, clearly, is that if you default, the bank will take possession of your savings.

3. Understanding the Risks

Taking a loan using personal assets as collateral presents the risks of losing the assets in the event that you default on the loan. Therefore, it’s important to discuss the risks of using certain assets as collateral with a financial advisor, as well as people that could be affected by the loss of that asset.

“Some business owners are highly risk averse, and I wouldn’t recommend putting some stuff up for collateral,” says Jeff Allen. “Because if you can’t pay it, they’re taking your car or home.”

Be realistic about your company’s needs, and how the company will be using the funds. A financial advisor will help you assess the risks involved, as well as the odds of the loan being successful. “It comes down to being honest with yourself knowing your situation, and knowing what the funds will be used for,” says Allen. “If you really need the money, you might to find alternatives, because you might lose what you’ve leveraged.”

Often, a limited liability company is formed to shield the business owner from these risks, but a default will inevitably still affect the owner, especially if he or she is the only shareholder.

4. Negotiate When-;And If-;You Can

If you’re a qualified borrower with a demonstrable history of good business credit, you should be able to secure a loan with commitments you are comfortable with. Remember, a business can always reject a lender’s offer and seek a loan from a different lending institution.

Since banks tend to be exceptionally conservative when it comes to valuing your assets, it could be worthwhile to request an appraisal review, which is a report that comments on the accuracy of an appraisal. Similarly, a bank that does not require any collateral requirement will often charge extremely high interest rates. Be wary of predatory lending practices that could end up being expensive and harmful to your business.

Dig Deeper: How to Build and Maintain Good Business Credit

5. Consider Peer-to-Peer Lending

If an asset-based loan isn’t ideal for your business, Denise Beeson recommends alternative methods of securing cash. Peer-to-peer lending is becoming an effective way for small businesses to drum up cash in the short run. “Because it is extremely difficult to get a loan based on existing collateral, a lot of borrowers are going to peer-to-peer sites to see if they can get some money from that mechanism,” she says

While loans typically amount to less than $25,000, there’s often less red tape involved in obtaining a peer loan. Prosper.com. for example, allows borrowers to choose a loan amount, a purpose and then post a loan listing. Then, investors choose which loans they prefer to invest in based upon a series of criteria. Borrowers make fixed monthly payments to their investors, who receive the funds directly in their Prosper account.





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