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How to Find the Right SBA Loan for Your Small Business #easy #business #ideas

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How to Find the Right SBA Loan for Your Small Business

Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy: According to data from the 2010 U.S. Census, there are 27.9 million small businesses registered in the United States, employing 120 million people almost half of the nation s workforce.

Part of what the Small Business Administration (SBA) does is help America s small businesses secure the funding they need to operate and grow. As a federal government agency, the SBA does not lend small businesses money directly. Instead, it sets guidelines for loans that are made by its partners, which include banks, credit unions, community development organizations and microlending institutions. The SBA guarantees a portion of these loans granted by these institutions will be repaid, eliminating some of the risk for lenders.

Kale Gaston, head of the SBA Lending Group for TD Bank in Greenville, S.C. said SBA loans do a great job of helping lenders say yes to borrowers. He also noted that SBA programs provide better access to capital and credit enhancement for small business owners. For example, since the SBA guaranty lowers the risk in case of a loan default, lenders are able to provide funding when the down payment available is too low or the business s cash flow is not high enough for traditional options.

SBA lenders can provide longer terms as well. Instead of five or 10 years for a real estate purchase with a balloon payment at the end, the lender can give terms for 25 years, eliminating the balloon (i.e. final payment) or need to refinance every few years, Gaston said. For shorter-term assets, like equipment, terms could go to 10 years instead of the usual three to five years.

SBA loan programs

The SBA s loan programs are designed specifically for small business owners who don t have access to other reasonably termed financing. There are four main types of loan programs:

7(a) loan program: This is the SBA s primary program to help startups and existing small businesses obtain financing. 7(a) loans are the most basic and most commonly used type of loan, as well as the most flexible. The money can be used for a variety of general business purposes, including working capital, machinery and equipment, furniture and fixtures, purchasing or renovating land and buildings, leasehold improvements and debt refinancing. Loan maturity is up to 10 years for working capital and generally up to 25 years for fixed assets. Borrowers can apply through a participating lender institution.

CDC/504 loan program: This program provides businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing for major assets, such as land and buildings. The loans are typically structured with the SBA providing 40 percent of the total project costs, a participating lender covering up to 50 percent and the borrower putting up the remaining 10 percent. Funds from a 504 loan can be used to purchase existing buildings, land or machinery, and to construct or renovate facilities. These loans cannot be used for working capital or inventory. Under the 504 program, a business qualifies if it has a tangible net worth of less than $15 million and an average net income of $5 million or less after federal income taxes for the two years before application. The maximum amount of a 504 loan is $5 million.

Microloan program: This program offers very small loans to startups, or newly established or growing small businesses. The loans can be used for working capital or the purchase of inventory, supplies, furniture, fixtures, machinery or equipment. The SBA makes funds available to specially designated intermediary lenders, which are nonprofit organizations with experience in lending and technical assistance. Those intermediaries then make loans of up to $50,000, with the average loan being about $13,000. The loan cannot be used to pay existing debts or to purchase real estate.

Disaster loans: The SBA offers this option to businesses that have been affected by a declared disaster. These low-interest loans can be used to repair or replace damaged real estate, personal property, machinery, equipment, inventory and business assets.

Further details on each type of loan program can be found on the SBA s website .

What you ll need to apply

When applying for an SBA loan, you ll need to fill out forms and documents for the specific loan you re trying to get. The SBA also encourages borrowers to gather some basic information that all lenders will ask for, regardless of the loan type. The following items are usually required:

  • Personal background and financial statements
  • Business financial statements
  • Profit-and-loss statement (three years)
  • Current within the last six months
  • List of debts
  • Projected financial statements
  • Business certificate/license
  • Income tax returns
  • R sum s for key team members
  • Business overview and history
  • Business lease

The SBA also advises small businesses applying for a loan to be prepared to answer several questions:

  • Why are you applying for this loan?
  • How will the loan proceeds be used?
  • What assets need to be purchased, and who are your suppliers?
  • What other business debt do you have, and who are your creditors?
  • Who are the members of your management team?

Why your business plan matters

Whether you re a new startup or an established company, the key to a successful application is a well-written business plan .

The business plan not only is the road map that will guide the business from planning to startup to (hopefully) success, but also will show any potential lender that the potential business owner does have a clear view and understanding of the business, how to run it and, most importantly, how the loan will be repaid, David Hall, a public affairs specialist with the SBA in Washington, D.C. said in an email interview with Business News Daily.

Gaston agreed, noting that lenders want to know how knowledgeable you are about your business and the competitive market.

The concept may be great, but what the lender is looking for is that the individual is driven, capable and determined, Gaston said. You really need to understand what you are doing every step of the way and be able to convey that to the lender during the application process.

Hall also recommended that business owners take full advantage of the business planning resources offered by the SBA and its partners, such as SCORE. SBDCs (Small Business Development Centers) and WBCs (Women Business Centers).

Finding a lender

While Gaston acknowledged that applying for an SBA loan is a process, she said working with a lender that has experience can make that process a lot easier. To find experienced SBA lenders in your area, he suggested talking to folks locally in the market and looking for a lender that is part of the SBA s Preferred Lender program. This program gives thousands of lenders per year delegated authority to approve loans based on certain criteria, shortening the time period between application and approval.

You can find SBA lenders by going online at sba.gov. contacting local accountants and attorneys, and looking for lenders with a large local presence. SBDCs also provide document support and lender referrals.

The SBA program drives a tremendous amount of value in the economy, lending approximately $30 billion to small businesses annually, Gaston said. It takes businesses to the next level, is appropriately structured and enables them to be successful.

Additional reporting by Business News Daily contributor Elizabeth Palermo.

With an Associate s Degree in Business Management and nearly twenty years in senior management positions, Marci brings a real life perspective to her articles about business and leadership. She began freelancing in 2012 and became a contributing writer for Business News Daily in 2015.

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What is the SBA Microloan Program?

  • Writing a Business Plan: Tips from the SBA





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  • 7 Master Tips for Your Next Business Presentation #business #mentor

    #business presentation

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    Those who give presentations at conferences, as part of a sales demo, in a marketing push for a new product, or even during a TED talk know how to wow an audience. They excel at turning a boring presentation into something people will talk about in the hallway and even on the ride back to the office. Recently, the folks at FlowVella –an app for making presentations on computer, phone, and tablet–sent me tips from some of their customers on how to make sure your presentation is a winner.

    1. Tell a story.

    “Instead of boring your audience to tears, develop a genuine connection with your audience. How? Throughout your presentation, tell stories that add meaning and depth to your message. Telling personal stories will make you more likable, trustworthy, and interesting. In addition, facts and stats typically stimulate only two areas of the human brain, but stories can activate up to seven, and trigger emotional responses within listeners. Presentations that are engaging both mentally and emotionally are more memorable and influential, thus more successful.”
    Leslie Belknap, marketing director at Ethos3

    2. Vary the template.

    “If it looks stock, it probably is. Altering an existing template doesn’t take a tremendous amount of time. It also indicates that the presenter knows how to represent the idea and narrative visually. Don’t be afraid to change colors, add logos, and alter the elements for a totally unique look with just a few minutes of work. Font selection is very important. The font is not just a typeface. It represents the idea through the actual look of the word. It should align with the tone of the core idea/narrative. Furthermore, font selection is most critical for readability. Adding a bursting star doesn’t mean you are increasing the impact of a point or a component of a slide/frame. Instead, add punch with mixed media. Bringing an idea or point to life through text, images, photography, video, etc. is much more memorable than cheap movements. Your software should allow for insertion of PDFs and video.”–Ryan Mack, president of Carrot Creative. a VICE Company

    3. Use a storyboard.

    “The most traditional (and foolish) way to create a presentation is to open up a blank PowerPoint document and try to make magic happen. This can result in mistakes in flow, logic, and overall cohesion, as you try to write and design each concept in real time. Steal a writer’s tip and create a text-only framework for the entire thing before you launch into the full draft. It’s just like the outline you used to create for fifth-grade book reports, where all of your sub points support your main points, and the intro and outro tie everything together. Aim for a single summary of your core idea, supported by three smaller sub points that will prove your summary. And of course, don’t start to design your work without making sure that the outline is airtight. The result? No more strange tangents, lost points, and unnecessary slides.”
    Sunday Avery, content writer at Ethos3

    4. Think about introverts and extroverts in the audience.

    “One of the best pieces of advice came to me from a mentor years ago. He told me all audiences are generally comprised of a 50/50 balance of introverts and extroverts. I have tested his theory on audiences since then and can attest to it’s validity. The grand lesson: never lean your presentation in one direction. For instance, if your presentation is dominated by workshops and activities, your extroverts are going to love you and your introverts are going to despise you. On the opposite end of that spectrum, if you lecture the entire time, your introverts will feel comfortable and your extroverts will get bored. Presenters must make the extra effort to balance their message and activities. Like most things in life, moderation is key.”
    –Scott Schwertly, CEO of Ethos3

    5. Keep it to three points.

    “The human brain works like this: One, two, three. I forget. No one is going to remember your tenth point, yet most presenters today feel it is necessary to showcase everything they know about a specific topic. The sad reality is that we live in a world with short attention span. Presenters either win hearts by being succinct or they neglect this responsibility and get forgotten forever. Therefore, the stage or front of the room is not the appropriate place to exhibit your depth of knowledge via 17 different takeaways. No one is going to remember them, or you.”
    –Scott Schwertly, CEO of Ethos3

    6. Whatever you are selling, you are still selling ideas.

    “It doesn’t matter what widget or service you’re offering. These days, people are not buying either–they are buying ideas. Nobody is buying an Apple Watch. They are buying the ideas of new fitness or faster communication or prestige and early adopter status, or some blend thereof. A presentation is no longer about closing anything but rather about germinating an idea that resonates with the audience. The idea then drives a passion to acquire the product or service. That’s a much stronger way to sell. But how do you create a presentation that plants the idea you are communicating into the mind of the viewer? And how do you stay on track when working with ideas? First, you have to ask who the audience is. Before I start a presentation, I make slide No. 1 and list all I know about the audience on it. Tech savvy or consumer end user? Decision makers or influencers? Buying for self or for the firm? Likes short and sweet or likes story and emotion? After that, I put topics in logical order on each of the following slides and build the images and the story to fit all the info I placed on Slide No. 1. That slide will keep telling me how to position my points to create ideas the audience can relate to and that will fan the fires of desire for my solutions.”
    Jonathan Todd, managing director at 808 Marketing

    7. Balance the theater and the scholar.

    “George Lois said selling is the ultimate mix of scholarship and theatre, expertise and style. This could not be more appropriate to consider when designing presentations because at their core, presentations are a sales pitch–we communicate an idea to another individual or group of individuals in an attempt to make them agree, or ideally, fall in love with the idea. So, always be sure you are demonstrating scholarship with style. If you are all style, then you’re a poser. Potentially a hack. If you are all scholarship, then you’re boring. or worst off, forgettable. The balance is incredibly important.”
    Ryan Mack, president of Carrot Creative, a VICE Company

    The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.





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    5 Options for Getting a Business Mailing Address – Danielle Keister – Danielle Keister

    #business address

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    5 Options for Getting a Business Mailing Address

    By Danielle Keister | November 19th, 2013

    Your #1 job in marketing is establishing trust. Having an address on your website is an important trust and credibility factor.

    When you don t have one, people wonder what you re hiding. However, for personal privacy and safety reasons, as well as establishing boundaries, it s not a good idea to use your home address.

    Here are five options for getting a business mailing address to erase skepticism while keeping your safety and personal boundaries intact:

    1. Get a post office box from your local USPS branch. The cost is minimal, it s a tax deductible business expense and you can apply for, manage and pay for your PO box conveniently online. These days, the post office even allows you to spell out the address which can look nicer on your letterhead than PO Box ### . Prices vary slightly from branch to branch depending on location and can cost as little as $8/month. Visit https://poboxes.usps.com/poboxonline/search/landingPage.do for more information.

    2. Get a PO box from a USPS Approved Provider. Many of your local businesses (e.g. drug stores, hardware stores, grocery stores, etc.) are also Contracted Postal Units from which you can get a PO box. This expands your options for finding the nearest convenient location. You can use the link above to search, but I’ll be honest, you might also have to just ask around as I’ve found it doesn’t necessarily give you complete results.

    3. Get an EarthClassMail Virtual Mailroom. A bit pricey, but this is a really nifty service. You get a address you can use for your business and have mail sent to. They receive your mail and scan it into PDFs which can then be viewed and managed onscreen via your admin panel. Quickly and easily sort through junk mail and have them recycle or shred anything you don’t want. You can store your mail online and have them send you any physical pieces you like. These are just a few of the features and options available. Check it out at EarthClassMail.com .

    4. Get a Virtual Office Location. Many similar services are springing up these days that will provide you with a business mailing address and mail receipt and forwarding. One such service is Davinci Virtual Office Solutions (they also offer virtual receptionist services). Check them out for a location near you.

    5. The UPS Store. Get a real street address (not a PO box), package notification and more. You get 24-hour access and with their MailCheck® service you can call in to see if you have mail before you make a trip. Visit TheUPS Store.com for more information.

    ABOUT DANIELLE KEISTER: I help women in the administrative support profession put their business britches on. Because when you run a business, you aren’t anyone’s assistant. As industry mentor and founder of the Administrative Consultants Association. I’m on a mission to show you how to kick business butt, get better clients and start making the money you and your family deserve. I’m all about a better life through better business. (Oh, and you’ll knock the socks off clients taking WAY better care of them in the process.) Want it all NOW? Head straight to the ACA Success Store for all the forms, contract templates and learning guides to start or uplevel your administrative support business today!





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    How To Set Up An Email Address For Your Business #entrepreneurship #ideas

    #business email address

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    How To Set Up An Email Address For Your Business

    These days it is almost more important to have an email address for your business than a physical address. Setting up an email account for your business can be done a few different ways. The easiest way is to set up a free account. You can also choose to go through your domain provider or through your website hosting company. Whichever way you choose, your company will benefit from it.

    If you have a domain name that you purchased but have not established a website yet, you can still have an email address or several email addresses with your domain name as the extension.

    Name.com offers three free email package options for hosting customers, with multiple email addresses that all flow through a central mailbox. This is the most common practice when establishing a company email, mostly because it’s an almost auto-pilot way to do so. Your hosting service, for many businesses, is your one-stop setup. They can handle your domain registration, your email creation, and design your website.

    Establishing a business email is as simple as creating an account; after choosing a business name and picking a password the rest is practically automatic, especially if you are setting up a domain registration or hosting in the same breath.

    We offer a great product to help you set up an email address for your business in just one click Name.com Email. All you need to do to set up your custom email address using name.com is press setup and then pick which domain name you want to use. You ll be able start sending messages immediately. Click here to create your email now.





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    How to File Federal Income Taxes for Small Businesses – TurboTax Tax Tips &

    #business tax

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    How to File Federal Income Taxes for Small Businesses

    Depending on your business type, there are different ways to prepare and file your taxes.

    When it s time to file a federal income tax return for your small business, there are various ways you can do it, depending on whether you run the business as a sole proprietorship or use a legal entity such as an LLC or corporation.

    Each type of entity requires a different tax form on which you report your business income and expenses. Regardless of the form you use, you generally calculate your taxable business income in similar ways.

    TurboTax has two products to serve business owners – TurboTax Home Business is designed for sole proprietors and 1099 contractors, while TurboTax Business helps you prepare taxes for corporations, partnerships and LLCs.

    Step 1 – Collect your records

    Gather all business records. Before filling out any tax form to report your business income, you should have all records in front of you that report your business earnings and expenses.

    If you use a computer program or a spreadsheet to organize and keep track of all transactions during the year, calculating your income and deductions is much easier than trying to remember every sale and expenditure that occurred during the year. TurboTax works with programs like QuickBooks and Quicken, so you can import information directly into your tax return.

    Step 2 – Find the right form

    Determine the correct IRS tax form. You always need to report your business earnings to the IRS and pay tax on them, but choosing the right form to report earnings on depends on how you operate your business.

    Many small business owners use a sole proprietorship which allows them to report all of their business income and expenses on a Schedule C attachment to their personal income tax return. If you run the business as an LLC and you are the sole owner, the IRS also allows you to use the Schedule C attachment. However, if you use a corporation or elect to treat your LLC as one, then you must always prepare a separate corporate tax return on Form 1120.

    When you use TurboTax Home Business (sole proprietors and contractors) or TurboTax Business (corporations, LLCs and partnerships), you just need to answer simple questions about your business income and expenses, and we ll fill in all the right forms for you.

    Step 3 – Fill out your form

    Fill out your Schedule C or Form 1120. If you will be reporting your business earnings on Schedule C, you can search the IRS website for a copy or use TurboTax to generate the form for you after you input all of your financial information.

    Schedule C is a simple way for filing business taxes since it is only two pages long and lists all the expenses you can claim. When complete, you just subtract your expenses from your business earnings to arrive at you net profit or loss. You then transfer this number to your personal income tax form and include it with all other personal income tax items.

    However, if you use a Form 1120, you calculate your taxable business income in the same way, but the form requires more details that may not always apply to a small business. The biggest disadvantage of filing a Form 1120 is that it is separate from your personal income tax return.

    Step 4 – Pay attention to deadlines

    Be aware of different filing deadlines. When you use a Schedule C, it becomes part of your Form 1040 and therefore, no separate filing deadlines apply. It is generally subject to the same April 15 deadline.

    If you need to file a Form 1120, you must file it by the 15th day of the third month following the close of the tax year, which for most taxpayers is March 15. You cannot send this form to the IRS with your personal income tax return.

    Remember, when you use TurboTax to prepare your taxes, we ll determine which forms you need and put the information in all the right places. All you need to do is answer simple, plain-English questions.

    Business and personal
    taxes in one

    Just answer simple questions about your business and life, and TurboTax Home & Business takes care of the rest.

    The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.

    * Important Offer Details and Disclosures

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    5 Summer Business Ideas for Kids: PowerHomeBiz Blog #owning #your #own #business

    #business ideas for kids

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    It is summer time and the kids are out of school. One way to preoccupy them during the warm summer months is to introduce them to the joys of entrepreneurship.

    One way to make this summer memorable for them is to help them start a business – one that they enjoy and are passionate about. A summer business venture can teach them the basics of business. They get to have a taste of becoming a business owner. It will be a great exercise to expose them to the value of hard work and dedication. They’ll also start learning about money, even the concept of cash flow. Plus, it will help them take pride in their creations and work.

    Here are some summer business ideas for kids:

    With your help, your child can create an online store and start selling on the Web. The key is choosing the right items to sell, preferably products that resonate with them. One option is to choose items that they think will resonate with other kids in their age group. Read the story of Hannah Altman: A 10-Year Old CEO’s Success with Pencil Toppers .

    An easier way will be to become an affiliate for other companies. This will allow the kid to earn commission from the sale, without spending money for inventory. This is the business model followed by the 15-year old entrepreneur Lachy Groom with his iPadCaseFinder.com website.

    Cool Zips products from 10-year old entrepreneur Hannah Altman

    The neighborhood lemonade stand is the most common business for kids in the summer. It is a fun, easy business for kids.

    Easy to setup, your child needs to make a refreshing pitcher of lemonade (may need the help of adults) and sell it by the cup. The key is to find a high traffic area to set up the stand. The stand can be a simple table with chairs for the kids (umbrella preferred) or more complex with a wooden stand. The price of a lemonade cup can be anywhere from $0.25 to even a dollar, depending on how hot is it that day. However, check with your local county if there are any restrictions or tax implications for a seemingly simple business like a kid’s lemonade stand (the last thing you want is for your kid to be slapped with a fine for operating a business without a license.)

    3. Pet sitting business.

    During summer, some people go off on vacations but choose to leave their pets behind. If your kid loves pets and is capable of taking care of pets, one option is to start a pet sitting business. Your kid can take the dog for a walk, feed the cat or birds, and just make sure that the pets are being taken care of. For ideas, read the article “How to Develop a Pet Sitting Brand” .

    If your kid is adept in creating and editing videos, your child can use the skill to make money. Your kid can make short videos and upload them to the massively popular Youtube. If the videos are able to attract a sizeable audience, your kid can join the Youtube Partner Program http://www.youtube.com/partners and start earning from the videos through advertising. Read the article “8 Ways to Earn Money from Online Videos” .

    5. T-Shirt Design Business.

    If your kid is pretty crafty and artistic, one option is to start designing t-shirts. Your kid can make it as colorful as he/she wants, even full of wacky design ideas. The key is to highlight that these are unique and one-of-a-kind t-shirts. You can then sell them online such as eBay or the handmade auction site Etsy.com. Another way is to approach a small boutique owner in your area and check if they would be interested in selling your kid’s t-shirts.

    For any of the above business ideas, parental guidance is important (even necessary). Think of this time as a way you can bond even more with your kids. And have fun while doing it!





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    27 businesses you can start for less than $1, 000 #minority #business #grants

    #what business to start

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    27 businesses you can start for less than $1,000

    Laura Cattano went from working in a restaurant to managing her own business in less than a year and spent “next to nothing” to get started.

    Her biggest initial start-up costs? Replacing an old computer and spending about $400 to create an LLC. Since then, Cattano’s client list for her professional organizing business has grown to be “in the thousands” and multiple major fashion magazines have featured her work.

    “My advice is to go out there and do it,” Cattano said. “Starting a business is not easy. It’s a lot of hard work, but if you take your work seriously, people will notice.”

    Source: Jeremy Balderson

    If you’re looking to start your own business, think about what skills you have, career experts said.

    “Ask yourself, ‘What’s my passion?'” c areer and life coach Deborah Brown-Volkman said. “People want control over their career, and so creating their own business for under $1,000 gives them the ability to test it out, to see what works and what doesn’t.”

    Experts say once you feel you’re onto something, purchase some sort of business insurance, which will likely be a big chunk of your costs. Basic business insurance usually ranges from $200 to $500 a month, depending on location and coverage.

    1. Tutor

    If you have a skill, teach it. The average wage of a tutor is $17.29 per hour, according to PayScale .

    2. Dog walker

    Love pets and getting some exercise? Dog walking is an easy business to start. Pet business insurance will make up the majority of your expenses, which usually cost $200 to 400 a month, according to one pet business insurance provider. Dog walkers typically make $8 to $20 an hour, with an average wage of $12.03 .

    3. Professional organizer

    If you have a knack for turning clutter into cleanliness, why not try turning that into cash? The median hourly salary for a professional organizer is $2 5.

    4. Fashion stylist

    A great place to start is by styling a few of your friends for a party, and then encouraging them to tell their friends, career experts said. Soon you could have your own fashion business and be making a median of $15 an hour to above $40 once as you gain experience.

    Luis Alvarez | Getty Images

    5. Translator

    Multilingual entrepreneurs, this business is for you. Whether you want to take up projects people post online, approach companies or start-ups that do a lot of international business or check local job postings, there are multiple ways to start building your own translation business. Translators make a median income of $20 per hour.

    6. Photographer

    If you’re a stay-at-home parent with a knack for photography, creating family portraits or photographing events for people in your neighborhood could be the start of a fruitful business. The trick here is that you’ll probably need to have a nice camera, a tripod and equipment insurance — the total cost of which will most likely exceed $1,000. If you can get a deal on a good camera at a lower price or already have the equipment, then the start-up costs are low. Freelance photographers make a median of $24 per hour.

    7. Errand runner

    Lots of people don’t have the time to run errands daily, and a local errand service business could be a great solution. Errand runners make about $11 per hour.

    8. Transcriber

    From video shoots to audio interviews or speeches, there’s a lot out there that needs to be transcribed. If you’re a good typist with a few extra hours and a computer, you could start your own transcription service. The median hourly wage for transcribers is $15 .





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    3 Free Email Options for Small BusinessesNFIB #business #yellow #pages

    #free business email

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    3 Free Email Options for Small Businesses

    Email is the main mode of communication in professional environments, and every small business hopes for a cost-effective option. While there are many email services available for purchase, several free services might provide better options.

    Here are the 3 free email options that you can take advantage of as a small business owner:

    Google Apps

    “I use Google Apps to completely integrate all of my online services,” says Amanda Brienza, owner of 25th Hour Assistants, a virtual assistance firm, based in Lafayette, Ind. “In addition, I get to take advantage of Google’s spam protection, search and tagging features while portraying a professional image with my own branded email.” (Related: Google Apps That Work for Small Business )

    Update. As of December 2012 Google is no longer offering its Google Apps service to new users for free. If you already subscribed to the free service prior to this date, you will be grandfathered into a continued free service. For information on the new pricing model, visit Google Apps for Business .

    MailChimp

    Shawnee Huie, social media manager at Fuzed Marketing, a marketing firm based in Bloomington, Minn. recommends Mail Chimp. calling it “awesome.” It offers multiple free resources, including webinars that help you understand the product. Huie says an added bonus is being able to set up an autorespond campaign that allows you to send an automatic welcome email to new subscribers, a thank-you email when someone buys one of your products or even happy birthday messages.

    Jeff Pohl, owner of 815iMedia, an Internet marketing agency based in Rockford, Ill. also uses MailChimp and says that though there are some limitations on the free option, he finds it to be “pretty liberal for most small businesses.” It allows you to send 12,000 emails per month to a list of up to 2,000 subscribers.

    Ratepoint

    Shai Atanelov, owner of Bigtime Wireless, LLC, a mobile device distributor headquartered in Monsey, NY, uses Ratepoint for newsletter campaigns, promotions, surveys and review requests.

    “When we first started our business, we wanted a free email marketing software,” he says. “Ratepoint allowed us to send free emails to up to 550 contacts.”

    Ratepoint features unlimited image hosting and email archiving at no extra cost, and the free service includes setup, coaching and support, helping you to import your contacts and build your first email template. Atanelov also uses other Ratepoint services, including review, survey and social-marketing features.





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    The 10 Best Consulting Firms to Work For #current #business #news

    #business consulting firms

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    The 10 Best Consulting Firms to Work For

    The world turns, and most consultants still want to work for McKinsey Co. The elite firm known by some as the Harvard of consulting beat out competitor Bain Co. for the top spot in a ranking of consultancies by Vault, a website that researches and ranks companies. McKinsey was voted “Most Prestigious” for the 14th straight year.

    Vault analyzed 9,000 responses from consultants it surveyed at 100 companies in North America. Consultants ranked firms on a scale of one to 10, based on prestige, firm culture, compensation, work-life balance, and other factors.

    Vault ranked 50 consultancies, weighting its ranking by factors that consultants identified as being most important to their decision to select and stay at a firm. This year, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Oliver Wyman moved up the list, while technology-specialist Accenture noticeably dropped out of the top 10, to No. 20. Bridgespan Group took Accenture’s former spot in its debut year, highlighting the importance of social good in rankings success. Bridgespan’s commitment to social sectors boosted its measures of prestige and sense of purpose, according to Vault.

    Consulting used to be the top choice for business school graduates, but now the technology industry is taking many of the best and brightest new MBAs, says Vault editor Phil Stott. More consultancies are mitigating office hours while boosting travel opportunities, flex-time, and work-from-home options.

    “Consulting firms have had to start competing on quality of life in a way that they never had to before—which, in turn, is leading to higher ratings from consultants,” says Stott. “It’s a pattern that I’ve seen developing over the past couple of years, and it’ll be interesting to see where it goes from here.”

    The report also includes the second year of Vault’s Boutique Consulting Rankings, an increasingly popular grouping. Insight Source Group was ranked No. 1 for its second year, but the standout for work-life balance was Eagle Hill Consulting. The firm, which advertises as a “family-run, woman-owned company,” scored highest for vacation policy, hours in the office, and overall satisfaction.

    The Top 10 firms to work for, based on Vault’s Annual Consulting Survey, are below. Find the full 50 firms Vault ranked here.

    1. McKinsey Co.

    3. Boston Consulting Group

    4. Deloitte Consulting





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    Top 7 Tips For Starting A Catering Business #business #plan #writing

    #catering business

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    Top 7 Tips For Starting A Catering Business



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