Tag: Know

Small Business Loans: How They Work and What You Should Know #business #lenders

#how do business loans work

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Small Business Loans: How They Work and What You Should Know

Small Businesses are increasing their payrolls, but hours worked and wages earned are down slightly. Photo: Reuters

For small business startups, knowing how loans work and getting them are absolutely crucial.

Many entrepreneurs, however, wait until the last minute to think about loans and prefer to dwell on grandiose plans, never mind that they often need loans to fund those plans.

Asking for loans is “unpleasant; it’s like asking your dad for the car keys,” said Charles H. Green, Executive Director at the Small Business Finance Institute and author of The SBA Loan Book .

Small businesses should start this “unpleasant” process early, however, partly because it could prove to be long and difficult.

One entrepreneur Green encountered secured his loan at the 60th bank he approached.

While this might be an extreme example, small business owners often need to try at more than one bank to get a small business loan.

During the process of dealing with a bank, moreover, they may be asked to provide additional documents they previously did not anticipate needing.

Green stressed that small business owners need to be patient in this entire process.

Banks Want Their Money Back

In making any small business loans, the goal of the bank is to get its money back. Even if the loan is made through the Small Business Administration (SBA), it is still a bank that ultimately risks its capital.

Banks usually get their money back from the borrower’s revenues. If that is not possible, banks can also get their money back from selling assets pledged as collateral or from the small business owners personally.

Therefore, besides documents relating to the business projections, banks may often request documents relating to the personal finances of the small business owner and whatever assets that can be pledged as collateral.

Backing up Projection Numbers

Regarding business projection numbers – that is, assessing the probability of repayment from borrower revenues – it is all about justifying those numbers, preferably with facts, said Green. For existing businesses, that may mean financial statements.

Some of the hard questions a lender may ask include:

*How many customers do you need?

*How do you find them?

*Who are satisfying these customers already?

*Why would they feel compelled to buy from you?

*What is your capacity to deliver those products?

*What is the cost to deliver those products?

Learning from Mistakes

Sometimes, the best efforts of small businesses to secure a loan are not good enough.

When rejections happen, Green recommended turning them into learning lessons. Often times, if the small business owner manages to remain calm and polite, he can get candid responses as to why he was rejected.

These explanations often turn into keys to successfully securing a loan from another bank in the future.

Choosing the Right Banks

Other times, though, a rejection from a bank has nothing to do with the borrower at all. That is, a lender may not have any money to lend.

Therefore, Green recommended that small businesses avoid banks under consent agreement with or issued a cease and desist order by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

Generally speaking, smaller banks have more flexibility in their lending standards while bigger banks usually offer cheaper rates, added Green.





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Everything You Need to Know about Minority Business Grants – Small Business Blog #stock

#minority business grants

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Everything You Need to Know about Minority Business Grants

Minorities are choosing entrepreneurship in leaps and bounds. The pool of minority-owned business includes members of the African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American ethnic groups. According to the SBA, this number rose to 14.6 percent in 2012 in part because of the growing Hispanic population in the U.S.

As with their non-minority counterparts, proper access to funding is crucial for the creation, growth, and sustainability of their businesses. Although minority business ownership is growing, there continues to be great disparities in their access to business funding. In their effort to even the playing field, minority business owners continue to search for various funding resources.

Grants for Minority Business

Federal Grants

As part of their quest for funding, the first choice for minority business owners is to seek out grants. The belief that there are federal grants available for the start up and growth phases for small businesses is a myth. The federal government does not provide grants to businesses for start up, expansion, to cover operational expenses, or to pay off debts. However there are federal grants available in the areas of research in the fields of medicine, scientific research, education, and technology development. Here are a few such grants.

  1. Small Business Innovation Research(SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) – This grant is for the purpose of funding small business projects that are research related. Research areas include the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service (HHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). See a full list of program descriptions and research topics allowed on their site.
  2. The USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) Program – The purpose of this grant is to finance the development of small and emerging businesses in rural areas. The amount of the award ranges from $10,000 to $50,000.

You can search additional federal grants at grants.gov .

Corporate Grants

We have included a list of some grants available to black and minority owned businesses.

  1. FedEx Small Business Grant Contest The FedEx Small Business Grant awards 10 different grants to small business owners in the following amounts: (1) grand prize grant of $25,000, (1) grant of $10,000, and (8) grants of $5,000. Deadline is January 12, 2015. To enter, the applicants must share their business story including their motivation and plans for growth. Winners will be announced April 21, 2015.
  2. The National Association for the Self Employed (NASE) Growth Grant Program This grant allows business owners to apply for financing for a particular business need. Each grant is worth up to $5,000. To apply visit nase.org, create an account, become a member, and click on the link apply today. Grants are awarded on a quarterly basis.
  3. MillerCoors Urban Entrepreneurs Series – This grant supports urban entrepreneurs by awarding up to $150,000 in business grants to five entrepreneurs annually.
  4. Huggies MomInspired Grant Program – Grant proposals are accepted from businesses that nurture the relationship between mother and child either through a product or service. The amount of the award is $15,000 plus additional business resources for further development.

Organizations that Provide Minority Business Grants

The Role of the SBA

While the SBA has the authority to provide grants to certain non-profit and educational organizations, it is not permitted to provide grants to small businesses, including minority owned businesses. However, minority business owners can take advantage of the SBA (8) a Business Development Program. The program assists qualifying minority-owned businesses develop and growth through one on one counseling, training workshops, management, and technical assistance.

The 8(a) program has been designed for some minority groups that are considered socially and economically disadvantaged. Those groups include: African American, Hispanic American, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, and Subcontinent Asian Americans. A business must be at least 51% owned by a minority of the group listed. Other groups can apply for this program if they can prove that they have been discriminated against or are at an economic disadvantage. Those groups include: Alaska Native Corporations, Indian Tribes, Native Hawaiian Organizations, and Community Development Corporations.

To learn more about this program contact the local SBA office in your area.

The Minority Business Development Agency

Another great resource for minority business owners is the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). MBDA maintains a national network of 44 business centers whose purpose is to assist minority businesses with access to capital, contracts, and new markets. The specialists that work at the business centers can assist with the grant application.

Minority Business Grants: The Process

Applying for a grant is not a quick process. First the application can be more than a few pages and it is normally a detailed application. Most grants have an opening date, which is the date when the grant became available for application. The deadline date is the final date you must submit your grant by. Keep in mind that the decision may take a few months.

Additional Grant Preparation Tips

  • Create a business plan – Writing a business plan is an important step. The business plan will act as the roadmap for your business. Be sure to provide specific information in the plan about your minority business and how it will improve the economy and your community.
  • Read through grant information thoroughly Once you have decided which grant you will apply for, make sure that you read through all of the information. This will ensure that you have all of your ducks in a row. Most grant synopsis’ are detailed and require a lot of specific information.
  • Keep track of the application deadline – Obviously it is important that you do not miss the deadline. So be sure to apply for the grant before the deadline. A good idea would be to create a project checklist which includes dates and milestones. It’s a good idea to submit the grant before the deadline approaches.
  • Gather all of your documents – Make sure you gather all of the documents required for the grant. Prepare a checklist, check, and double check. You do not want to have any missing documents that may cause the grant to be denied.




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How to Name Your Business: 10 Things You Need to Know #small #companies

#naming a business

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Picking a killer name for your business is harder than it might seem.

One of the things to think about when choosing a company name is how it will look in the subject line of an email, according to cloud-based analytics company DataHero. Then there’s how it will sound when it’s said aloud. A number of leading companies in recent history have chosen names with between five and 10 letters and at least one hard consonant: Google. Starbucks, Verizon.

Before naming your company. check out these tips from entrepreneurs who have been through the process, some of whom have even named the same company more than once.

1. Don’t rush the process.

There’s no set amount of time it should take for you to settle on a name for your company, but know that it could take six months of iterating before you make a final decision. An important thing to remember is to continue working on other aspects of the business as you get closer to picking a name, says Charlie Miner, founder of furniture and lighting e-commerce company WorkOf. “You don’t want the process of naming to prevent you from moving the business forward,” he says.

2. Think about your audience.

Venture capital database CB Insights was initially founded under the name Chubby Brain, something co-founder Anand Sanwal says represented his attempt to come up with a name that was cool, funky, and “startup-sounding.” Sanwal’s philosophy changed after he heard from the investment banks and other institutional clients that would be citing his startup’s data in their marketing materials. “Nobody wanted to put ‘Source: Chubby Brain’ at the bottom of a deck, because it’s not a real big credibility builder,” Sanwal says.

3. Make it easy to spell.

It’s okay to use unique spelling, a la Chick-fil-A, but don’t make your company’s name so unconventional that it’s hard to remember. “I’ve seen some startup names where I’ll think, was that four ‘E’s’ or three?” CB Insights’s Sanwal says.

4. Short is better than long.

Not every company can have a short, simple, one-syllable name like Box, Dell, or Lyft, but if you come up with a great long name and a great short name, you should probably go with the short one. Acquiring the rights to short web domain names, however, can be pricey, if not impossible, so make sure to check the availability of your desired URL first.

5. Factor in search engine optimization.

Making your company easy to find in search engines is an important consideration when picking a name. If you’re going to use a proper noun for your name, you should think about how that decision will impact SEO. Choosing a common term like “Bell,” for example, would make it hard to place your company on the first (or second) page of search results on Google.

6. Enlist a focus group (or groups).

Once you have a shortlist of names you like, it’s a good idea to see how other people respond to each one. “Survey as many people as you can,” says Bridie Loverro, co-founder of QuadJobs, an online marketplace connecting college and grad students to local employers. “The name to choose may not necessarily be the one people like best, but the one they remember most.”

7. Keep your options open.

Having to change your name after pivoting from one business model to another isn’t the end of the world, but if you can pivot and still retain the brand identity you’ve already built up, that’s ideal. Picking a name that doesn’t pigeonhole your company to one specific service will help. “The goal is to create something that is broad enough to intuitively answer who you are and that speaks to your core customer base, but also gives you room to grow into other areas,” says Logan Sugarman, co-founder of wellness concierge service Refresh Body.

8. Keep mobile in mind.

If customers can buy your products through a mobile app, you might want to factor in how your company name will look on a mobile app icon. A friendly sounding name like Shopify might also lend itself better to mobile users compared a three-letter acronym that doesn’t convey anything about your brand.

9. Don’t obsess over a descriptive name.

The name of your company doesn’t have to make it clear what your business is. While it helps to reference the spirit of your brand in some way (think: food delivery company Seamless), avoid a name that sounds specific to an entirely different industry. As Neil Patel, co-founder of web analytics company Crazy Egg writes, the name NomNom suggests food, and therefore doesn’t work if you’re starting a financial services software-as-a-service company.

10. Make the name visually distinctive.

After you pick your name, you should consider adding a custom feature that makes the brand more than just the word or words in the title. Some examples include unconventional capitalization, combining two words into one, or adding a unique design touch, like the curled “C” in the first letter of the bedding startup Casper. “It’s about developing a more fully fleshed out visual identity,” says WorkOf’s Miner.





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Everything You Need to Know about Minority Business Grants – Small Business Blog #minority

#minority business grants

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Everything You Need to Know about Minority Business Grants

Minorities are choosing entrepreneurship in leaps and bounds. The pool of minority-owned business includes members of the African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American ethnic groups. According to the SBA, this number rose to 14.6 percent in 2012 in part because of the growing Hispanic population in the U.S.

As with their non-minority counterparts, proper access to funding is crucial for the creation, growth, and sustainability of their businesses. Although minority business ownership is growing, there continues to be great disparities in their access to business funding. In their effort to even the playing field, minority business owners continue to search for various funding resources.

Grants for Minority Business

Federal Grants

As part of their quest for funding, the first choice for minority business owners is to seek out grants. The belief that there are federal grants available for the start up and growth phases for small businesses is a myth. The federal government does not provide grants to businesses for start up, expansion, to cover operational expenses, or to pay off debts. However there are federal grants available in the areas of research in the fields of medicine, scientific research, education, and technology development. Here are a few such grants.

  1. Small Business Innovation Research(SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) – This grant is for the purpose of funding small business projects that are research related. Research areas include the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service (HHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). See a full list of program descriptions and research topics allowed on their site.
  2. The USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) Program – The purpose of this grant is to finance the development of small and emerging businesses in rural areas. The amount of the award ranges from $10,000 to $50,000.

You can search additional federal grants at grants.gov .

Corporate Grants

We have included a list of some grants available to black and minority owned businesses.

  1. FedEx Small Business Grant Contest The FedEx Small Business Grant awards 10 different grants to small business owners in the following amounts: (1) grand prize grant of $25,000, (1) grant of $10,000, and (8) grants of $5,000. Deadline is January 12, 2015. To enter, the applicants must share their business story including their motivation and plans for growth. Winners will be announced April 21, 2015.
  2. The National Association for the Self Employed (NASE) Growth Grant Program This grant allows business owners to apply for financing for a particular business need. Each grant is worth up to $5,000. To apply visit nase.org, create an account, become a member, and click on the link apply today. Grants are awarded on a quarterly basis.
  3. MillerCoors Urban Entrepreneurs Series – This grant supports urban entrepreneurs by awarding up to $150,000 in business grants to five entrepreneurs annually.
  4. Huggies MomInspired Grant Program – Grant proposals are accepted from businesses that nurture the relationship between mother and child either through a product or service. The amount of the award is $15,000 plus additional business resources for further development.

Organizations that Provide Minority Business Grants

The Role of the SBA

While the SBA has the authority to provide grants to certain non-profit and educational organizations, it is not permitted to provide grants to small businesses, including minority owned businesses. However, minority business owners can take advantage of the SBA (8) a Business Development Program. The program assists qualifying minority-owned businesses develop and growth through one on one counseling, training workshops, management, and technical assistance.

The 8(a) program has been designed for some minority groups that are considered socially and economically disadvantaged. Those groups include: African American, Hispanic American, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, and Subcontinent Asian Americans. A business must be at least 51% owned by a minority of the group listed. Other groups can apply for this program if they can prove that they have been discriminated against or are at an economic disadvantage. Those groups include: Alaska Native Corporations, Indian Tribes, Native Hawaiian Organizations, and Community Development Corporations.

To learn more about this program contact the local SBA office in your area.

The Minority Business Development Agency

Another great resource for minority business owners is the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). MBDA maintains a national network of 44 business centers whose purpose is to assist minority businesses with access to capital, contracts, and new markets. The specialists that work at the business centers can assist with the grant application.

Minority Business Grants: The Process

Applying for a grant is not a quick process. First the application can be more than a few pages and it is normally a detailed application. Most grants have an opening date, which is the date when the grant became available for application. The deadline date is the final date you must submit your grant by. Keep in mind that the decision may take a few months.

Additional Grant Preparation Tips

  • Create a business plan – Writing a business plan is an important step. The business plan will act as the roadmap for your business. Be sure to provide specific information in the plan about your minority business and how it will improve the economy and your community.
  • Read through grant information thoroughly Once you have decided which grant you will apply for, make sure that you read through all of the information. This will ensure that you have all of your ducks in a row. Most grant synopsis’ are detailed and require a lot of specific information.
  • Keep track of the application deadline – Obviously it is important that you do not miss the deadline. So be sure to apply for the grant before the deadline. A good idea would be to create a project checklist which includes dates and milestones. It’s a good idea to submit the grant before the deadline approaches.
  • Gather all of your documents – Make sure you gather all of the documents required for the grant. Prepare a checklist, check, and double check. You do not want to have any missing documents that may cause the grant to be denied.




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Louisville Business First: 20 People to Know: Trey Riddle #business #data

#business first louisville

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Louisville Business First: 20 People to Know: Trey Riddle

Favorite way to spend time away from work:

Describe your company:

Sunstrand is a manufacturer and supplier of biomaterials for a variety of technical and industrial applications. Our focus markets are polymer composites, plastics and technical nonwovens. Basically, we take raw agricultural feedstocks (bamboo, kenaf, flax, hemp) and manufacture our products that take the form of fibers and fillers (particulates).

Our customers (upstream manufacturers) then incorporate these materials into their products. Ultimately, our materials will be used in a variety of applications, including consumer goods, automotive, building materials and sporting goods.

What is the biggest hurdle for entrepreneurs in the area?

Acquisition of capital is probably the No. 1 most challenging issue facing startups in the area. The community has done a really good job of highlighting some of the bigger names in local investment, but that is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

How do we get below the water line? Additionally, there are way more companies needing capital than investors, and that breeds deal partiality.

What is some advice for people who want to start a company?

Seek out help. I have found that people are generally willing to have open discussions with you about a variety of business-related topics if you just ask nicely. The key in those situation is to not push product, but rather reach out for advice. Be dedicated and stay vigilant — there will be ups and downs. It is not all about the money. If you are not passionate about the business, don’t even think about starting it.

What’s the most interesting question a potential investor has ever asked you?

What is your plan? Not what is the business plan, but where do I see myself personally in 10 years. I think the key here was that the potential investor was interested in my personal goals because he knew that it would affect the business in the long run.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!





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15 Business Tips Every Entrepreneur Should Know #atm #business

#business tips

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15 Business Tips Every Entrepreneur Should Know

Author and Managing Partner, Invisor Consulting

November 24, 2015

The biggest problem founders and small business owners have is that they re experts in their field and novices in what it really takes to effectively run a business. That s what usually trips them up, sooner or later.

Don t let that happen to you. Admit that you don t know what you don t know about business, starting with these 15 tips guaranteed to help keep you and your company out of hot water. Some are straightforward, others are counterintuitive, but they re all true. And some day they ll save your butt.

Always make sure there is and will be enough cash in the bank.

Period. The most common business-failure mode, hands down, is running out of cash. If you know you ve got a cash flow or liquidity problem coming up, fix it now.

You can t fire bad employees fast enough.

You just can t. Just make sure you know they re the problem, not you (see next tip).

The problem is probably you.

When I was a young manager, my company sent us all to a week of quality training where the most important concept we learned was that 90 percent of all problems are management problems. When things aren t going well, the first place to look for answers is in the mirror.

Take care of your stars.

This goes for every company, big and small. The cost of losing a star employee is enormous, yet business leaders rarely take the time to ensure their top performers are properly motivated, challenged, and compensated.

Your people are not your kids, your personal assistants, or your shrink.

If you use and abuse them that way, you will come to regret it. Capiche?

Learn to say yes and no a lot.

The two most important words business owners and founders have at their disposal are yes and no. Learn to say them a lot. And that means being decisive. The most important reason to focus to be clear on what your company does is to be clear on all the things it doesn t do.

Listen to your customers.

It boggles my mind how little most entrepreneurs value their customers when, not only are their feedback and input among the most critical information they will ever learn, but their repeat business is the easiest business to get.

Learn two words: meritocracy and nepotism.

The first is how you run an organization by recognizing, rewarding, and compensating based solely on ability and achievement. The second is how you don t run an organization by playing favorites and being biased.

Know when and when not to be transparent.

Transparency is as detrimental at some times as it is beneficial at others. There are times to share openly and times to zip it. You need to know when and with whom to do one versus the other. It comes with experience.

Trust your gut.

This phrase is often repeated but rarely understood. It means that your own instincts are an extremely valuable decision-making tool. Too often we end up saying in retrospect and with regret, Damn, I knew that was a bad idea. But the key is to know how to access your instincts. Just sit, be quiet, and listen to yourself.

Protect and defend your intellectual property.

Most of you don t know the difference between a copyright, trademark, trade secret, and patent. That s not acceptable. If you don t protect and defend your IP, you will lose your only competitive advantage.

Learn to read and write effective agreements.

You know the expression good fences make good neighbors? It s the same in business. The more effective your agreements are, the better your business relationships will be.

Run your business like a business.

Far too many entrepreneurs run their business like an extension of their personal finances. Bad idea. Very bad idea. Construct the right business entity and keep it separate from your personal life.

Know your finances inside and out.

If you don t know your revenues, expenses, capital requirements, profits (gross and net), debt, cash flow, and effective tax rate among other things you re asking for trouble. Big trouble.

You don t know what you don t know.

Humility is a powerful trait for leaders, and that goes for new business owners, veteran CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and everyone in between. More times than not, you will come to regret thinking you knew all the answers.

Behind every failed company are dysfunctional, delusional, or incompetent business leaders. The irony is, none of them had the slightest idea that was true at the time. Even sadder, most of them still don t. Don t end up like one of them.





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Buying a Business: What You Need to Know #easy #business #ideas

#buying a business

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Buying a Business: What You Need to Know

For some people, buying an existing business is a better option than starting one from scratch. Why? Because someone else has done much of the legwork for you, such as establishing a customer base, hiring employees, and negotiating a lease. Still, you’ll need to do some thorough research to make sure that what you see is what you’ll get.

What Type of Business Should You Buy?

Look for a business that has some connection to types of work you’ve done in the past, classes you’ve taken, or perhaps skills you’ve developed through a hobby. It’s almost always a mistake to buy a business you know little about, no matter how good it looks. For one thing, your lack of knowledge about the industry might cause you to overpay. And if you do buy the business, you’ll have to struggle up a steep learning curve afterward.

But do try to choose a business that you’re excited by. It’s easier to succeed in business when you enjoy the work you’re doing. To learn more, read Start the Right New Business for You.

Finding a Business to Buy

As you begin your hunt for the perfect company, consider starting close to home. For instance, if you’re currently employed by a small business you like, find out whether the present owner would consider selling. Or, ask business associates and friends for leads on similar businesses that may be on the market. Many of the best business opportunities surface by word of mouth — and are snapped up before their owners ever list them for sale.

Other avenues to explore include newspaper or online ads, trade associations, real estate brokers, and business suppliers. Finally, there are business brokers — people who earn a commission from business owners who need help finding buyers. It’s fine to use a broker to help locate a business opportunity, but it’s foolish to rely on a broker — who doesn’t make a commission until a sale is made — for advice about the quality of a business or the fairness of its selling price.

Research the Business’s History and Finances

Before you seriously consider buying a particular business, find out as much as you can about it. Thoroughly review copies of the business’s certified financial records, including cash flow statements, balance sheets, accounts payable and receivable, employee files including benefits and any employee contracts, and major contracts and leases, as well as any past lawsuits and other relevant information.

This review (lawyers call it “due diligence”) will not only help you understand how the company ticks, but will alert you to potential problems. For instance, if a major contract like a lease prohibits you from taking it over without the landlord or other party’s permission, you won’t want to finalize the deal without getting that permission.

Don’t be shy about asking for information about the business, and if the seller refuses to supply it, or if you find any misinformation, this may be a sign that you should look elsewhere. For an extensive list of questions you’ll want answered before committing to a purchase, see The Complete Guide to Buying a Business . by Fred S. Steingold (Nolo).

Closing the Deal

If you’ve thoroughly investigated a company and wish to go ahead with a purchase, there are a few more steps you’ll have to take. First, you and the owner will have to agree on a fair purchase price. A good way to do this is to hire an experienced appraiser. Next, you and the business owner will agree on which assets you’ll buy (such as a building and equipment) and the terms of payment. Most often, businesses are purchased on an installment plan, with a sizable down payment.

After you have outlined the terms on which you and the seller agree, you’ll need to create a written sales agreement and possibly have a lawyer review it before you sign on the dotted line. One good resource is The Complete Guide to Buying a Business . by Fred S. Steingold (Nolo), which contains a fill-in-the-blank sales agreement. Or if you’d prefer to hire a lawyer for help with this document-intensive process, Nolo’s Lawyer Directory will provide you with detailed personal profiles of lawyers in your area — all of whom have taken a pledge to treat their clients with respect.





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Louisville Business First: 20 People to Know: Trey Riddle #austin #business #journal

#business first louisville

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Louisville Business First: 20 People to Know: Trey Riddle

Favorite way to spend time away from work:

Describe your company:

Sunstrand is a manufacturer and supplier of biomaterials for a variety of technical and industrial applications. Our focus markets are polymer composites, plastics and technical nonwovens. Basically, we take raw agricultural feedstocks (bamboo, kenaf, flax, hemp) and manufacture our products that take the form of fibers and fillers (particulates).

Our customers (upstream manufacturers) then incorporate these materials into their products. Ultimately, our materials will be used in a variety of applications, including consumer goods, automotive, building materials and sporting goods.

What is the biggest hurdle for entrepreneurs in the area?

Acquisition of capital is probably the No. 1 most challenging issue facing startups in the area. The community has done a really good job of highlighting some of the bigger names in local investment, but that is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

How do we get below the water line? Additionally, there are way more companies needing capital than investors, and that breeds deal partiality.

What is some advice for people who want to start a company?

Seek out help. I have found that people are generally willing to have open discussions with you about a variety of business-related topics if you just ask nicely. The key in those situation is to not push product, but rather reach out for advice. Be dedicated and stay vigilant — there will be ups and downs. It is not all about the money. If you are not passionate about the business, don’t even think about starting it.

What’s the most interesting question a potential investor has ever asked you?

What is your plan? Not what is the business plan, but where do I see myself personally in 10 years. I think the key here was that the potential investor was interested in my personal goals because he knew that it would affect the business in the long run.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!





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How Do I Know If I – m Qualified to Be a Business Analyst?

#business analyst

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How Do I Know If I m Qualified to Be a Business Analyst?

Are you exploring a career in as a business analyst? Do you find yourself wondering if your skills and experience are relevant to a business analyst role? Would you be interested in learning about how qualified you are to be a business analyst?

We re going to talk about how to know if you are qualified to be a business analyst, but first I m going to share a funny story with you.

(Before I forget, I want to be sure you know about my step-by-step BA career planning course (it’s free) that’s designed to help you, the mid-career professional, kick-start your business analysis career. The course will help you dig deeper into each of the concepts outlined below.)

Just last week, the night before my birthday, I walked down the short flight of stairs after putting our daughter to bed. I smiled at my husband. He was making an odd expression. I continued to look more deeply at him to figure out why.

I walked over to where he was sitting and said, What s that goofy face for?

He says, You didn t see it, did you?

Me: See what?

He shifts his eyes back toward the stairs. On the ledge we have right in front of our stairway were a dozen yellow roses laying out in plain sight.

I couldn t believe I had completely missed them. For a split second, I even starting thinking that just maybe my husband tele-ported them there, but then I remembered the laws of physics and found my own eyes to be the culprit.

I was looking at my husband and his funny expression instead of what was right in front of me.

This same sort of thing happens to all of us, all of the time. We often don t see what can be obvious to other people or even what other people expect we should obviously be seeing. In all the work I do with professionals transitioning into the BA profession, the most prevalent problem I see is that they overlook significant relevant and transferable skills from their own career background.

As a result, their answer to the question, Am I qualified to be a business analyst? is a resounding no when it should be a yes or at least a some of the time . (And as we ll see in a bit, some of the time can be a very effective path to business analysis.)

Today, I d like to help you see the bouquet of roses waiting for you on the ledge at the bottom of the stairs. And to do that we need to look at the concept of transferable skills.

What are Transferable Business Analyst Skills?

Transferable skills are skills that you’ve built through experiences in your past roles. In the context of business analysis, transferable skills are BA techniques you’ve used in non-BA jobs or soft skills you’ve developed in perhaps unrelated roles.

Transferable skills can help you skip past entry-level business analyst positions. This is especially important because there tend to be very few entry-level business analyst positions. And those savored few entry-level positions tend to favor recent college graduates without the salary requirements of an experienced professional.

If you do have even a few years of professional experience, and a fair amount of the 42 reasons to become a business analyst resonate with you, then you have transferable skills. Getting clear and confident about them is part of your path to success as a business analyst and figuring out what roles you qualify for.

But What Business Analyst Qualifications Are Transferable?

When transitioning to business analysis, there are many areas in which to look for your business analyst qualifications. A good first step is to review our list of core business analysis skills that are important for a new business analyst and start mapping your experience to these skill areas.

Here s a rundown of what you can expect to find during this process:

  • The core business analyst skills. those you might find mapped out in the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK®). will help you get past the screening process for a business analyst role. Any given hiring manager tends to have a checklist of key qualifications they absolutely want to have met by a potential candidate. And even if your experience is informal. it s likely that you can map it to a more formal deliverable or analysis technique. Use the BA terms (appropriately) in your resume and in a job interview and you ll increase your chances of qualifying yourself for a business analyst role.
  • Although managers screen for a specific set of core business analyst skills, they often hire for soft skills. such as relationship-building and the ability to communicate with a diverse set of stakeholders from the business and technical communities. Understanding the key soft skills you bring to the table is critical. Being able to speak to specific experiences where you used those soft skills in a BA context (or close to BA context) can increase the number of BA jobs you ll qualify for.
  • Then there will be skills that set you apart as a candidate and qualify you for specific types of BA positions. These vary widely from technical skills, to specific business domain knowledge, to experience with specific types of business applications.

What Do I Do with My List of Business Analyst Qualifications?

Even with a list of transferable business analyst qualifications in hand, a transitioning BA can get understandably frustrated. What business analyst roles do these skills qualify you for? It can often seem as if the grass is greener on the other side of the proverbial fence .

  • If you don t have an IT background, it can seem as if every possible BA job you look at requires some obscure technical skill you have no interest in building.
  • If you do have an IT background, but no business experience, it can see as if every possible BA job you look at requires business domain experience.

While you will most likely find that the number of roles you aren t qualified for outweigh the number of roles you do qualify for, your career background will qualify you very strongly for a specific set business analyst jobs .

  • If you have a technical background. consider BA roles that include systems analysis responsibilities or blend selected IT duties with a business analyst role. Your experience with specific technologies could qualify you for specific BA roles.
  • If you have a business background from a specific functional area (such as customer service, human resources, or finance), consider BA roles working on the business applications with which you are familiar or supporting this area of the company. Your familiarity with the terminology and processes for that functional area could qualify you for specific BA roles.
  • If you have deep experience in a specific industry. consider business analyst roles in that industry. Your understanding of the industry environment, terminology, and core processes could qualify you for specific BA roles.

To sum things up, the answer to the question about whether or not you are qualified to be a business analyst requires a bit of analysis. First, you must discover your business analyst skills. Then you want to map them to the types of roles you see in your local job market. Most likely, you will find yourself to be very qualified for some roles, partially qualified for others, and not at all qualified for still others (and this last set will most likely be the biggest, and that s true even for BAs with formal experience).

With this information in hand, you can decide how and if to move forward in your BA career. And keep in mind, just like those I work with on their career transitions, it s quite possible and actually very likely that you have more relevant experience than you think, and you won t realize what those qualifications are until you go through a skills discovery process .

Find Your Path Into a Business Analyst Career

After reading and working through the exercises in How to Start a Business Analyst Career. you’ll know how to assess and expand your business analysis skills and experience.

This book will help you find your best path forward into a business analyst career. More than that, you will know exactly what to do next to expand your business analysis opportunities.

Click here to learn more about How to Start a Business Analyst Career

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How to Name Your Business: 10 Things You Need to Know #catering #business

#naming a business

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Picking a killer name for your business is harder than it might seem.

One of the things to think about when choosing a company name is how it will look in the subject line of an email, according to cloud-based analytics company DataHero. Then there’s how it will sound when it’s said aloud. A number of leading companies in recent history have chosen names with between five and 10 letters and at least one hard consonant: Google. Starbucks, Verizon.

Before naming your company. check out these tips from entrepreneurs who have been through the process, some of whom have even named the same company more than once.

1. Don’t rush the process.

There’s no set amount of time it should take for you to settle on a name for your company, but know that it could take six months of iterating before you make a final decision. An important thing to remember is to continue working on other aspects of the business as you get closer to picking a name, says Charlie Miner, founder of furniture and lighting e-commerce company WorkOf. “You don’t want the process of naming to prevent you from moving the business forward,” he says.

2. Think about your audience.

Venture capital database CB Insights was initially founded under the name Chubby Brain, something co-founder Anand Sanwal says represented his attempt to come up with a name that was cool, funky, and “startup-sounding.” Sanwal’s philosophy changed after he heard from the investment banks and other institutional clients that would be citing his startup’s data in their marketing materials. “Nobody wanted to put ‘Source: Chubby Brain’ at the bottom of a deck, because it’s not a real big credibility builder,” Sanwal says.

3. Make it easy to spell.

It’s okay to use unique spelling, a la Chick-fil-A, but don’t make your company’s name so unconventional that it’s hard to remember. “I’ve seen some startup names where I’ll think, was that four ‘E’s’ or three?” CB Insights’s Sanwal says.

4. Short is better than long.

Not every company can have a short, simple, one-syllable name like Box, Dell, or Lyft, but if you come up with a great long name and a great short name, you should probably go with the short one. Acquiring the rights to short web domain names, however, can be pricey, if not impossible, so make sure to check the availability of your desired URL first.

5. Factor in search engine optimization.

Making your company easy to find in search engines is an important consideration when picking a name. If you’re going to use a proper noun for your name, you should think about how that decision will impact SEO. Choosing a common term like “Bell,” for example, would make it hard to place your company on the first (or second) page of search results on Google.

6. Enlist a focus group (or groups).

Once you have a shortlist of names you like, it’s a good idea to see how other people respond to each one. “Survey as many people as you can,” says Bridie Loverro, co-founder of QuadJobs, an online marketplace connecting college and grad students to local employers. “The name to choose may not necessarily be the one people like best, but the one they remember most.”

7. Keep your options open.

Having to change your name after pivoting from one business model to another isn’t the end of the world, but if you can pivot and still retain the brand identity you’ve already built up, that’s ideal. Picking a name that doesn’t pigeonhole your company to one specific service will help. “The goal is to create something that is broad enough to intuitively answer who you are and that speaks to your core customer base, but also gives you room to grow into other areas,” says Logan Sugarman, co-founder of wellness concierge service Refresh Body.

8. Keep mobile in mind.

If customers can buy your products through a mobile app, you might want to factor in how your company name will look on a mobile app icon. A friendly sounding name like Shopify might also lend itself better to mobile users compared a three-letter acronym that doesn’t convey anything about your brand.

9. Don’t obsess over a descriptive name.

The name of your company doesn’t have to make it clear what your business is. While it helps to reference the spirit of your brand in some way (think: food delivery company Seamless), avoid a name that sounds specific to an entirely different industry. As Neil Patel, co-founder of web analytics company Crazy Egg writes, the name NomNom suggests food, and therefore doesn’t work if you’re starting a financial services software-as-a-service company.

10. Make the name visually distinctive.

After you pick your name, you should consider adding a custom feature that makes the brand more than just the word or words in the title. Some examples include unconventional capitalization, combining two words into one, or adding a unique design touch, like the curled “C” in the first letter of the bedding startup Casper. “It’s about developing a more fully fleshed out visual identity,” says WorkOf’s Miner.





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