#best small business
Small Business Loans Reviews
How to Choose a Small Business Loan
The top performers in our review are SmartBiz. the Gold Award winner; Grow America Fund. the Silver Award winner; and Wells Fargo. the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a small business loan to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 loans.
As a small business owner, funding obtained through a small business loan enables you to take advantage of profitable opportunities. You may need the funds to expand your business by hiring additional staff to increase your productivity or to purchase equipment or machinery that broadens the range of products you offer. You may need to purchase inventory to stock up for your busy season or jump on a discount offered by a vendor. You may even need working capital to repair or replace old or damaged equipment or to sustain your business during your off season.
If your credit is good, your finances are in order and you have time to apply for a loan backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA), you can often obtain the best rates. If a fast turnaround is critical or if your credit needs improving, alternative lending can help you procure the funding you need. Peer-to-peer lending is another option to consider if your credit isn’t quite good enough for a bank loan or if the amount of money that you want to borrow is smaller than banks want to lend. Merchant cash advance lenders can provide you with a useful solution if you need cash quickly, and it’s convenient for you to repay the loan in small daily repayments that the lender automatically subtracts from your credit card sales.
Typically, SBA loans, available through banks and non-bank lenders, offer the best rates and are the first resource that you should consider. These loans are desirable because they carry lower interest rates and favorable terms, which lenders are willing to extend because the federal government assumes a large portion of the risk by guaranteeing a percentage of the loan through the Small Business Administration. The SBA also provides resources can help women, veterans and minorities obtain small business loans. The SBA 7(a) loan is the most common loan available and can range from a few thousand dollars up to five million dollars with repayment terms that can span many years.
The disadvantage of using federal money for starting a new small business with an SBA loan is that it may require you to submit more paperwork than many of your other loan options, which can be time-consuming. Although the lenders we selected for our review are preferred SBA lenders with a nationwide reach, also consider your local and regional banks, as they also offer SBA loans and may be good resources for you, especially if you’ve already established relationships with them.
Small Business Loans: What We Evaluated, What We Found
We looked for lenders that provide SBA 7(a) loans nationwide and that offer the most desirable amounts and a range of terms. We researched the company online and then contacted each lender via email and phone to gather and verify information about its rates and terms. Some key differentiators include the loan amounts offered by each lender, the fees and costs they charge, and how long it takes to get your loan approved and funded.
Loan Size: Amounts Vary by Lender
Although the SBA doesn’t set a minimum amount on loans and caps them at $5,000,000, all lenders set a minimum amount and some also set their own maximum amount. Because of the paperwork required with an SBA 7(a) loan, most lenders prefer to offer larger loans. SmartBiz is the exception, as it caters to small businesses that want smaller loans and it offers the smallest loans in our review, starting at $5,000 and capping out at $350,000, which is around the minimum amount that some lenders are willing to consider. The lender with the highest minimum, starting at $500,000, is CapitalSpring .
Fees Costs: Although Regulated, There Is Variance
Even though SBA 7(a) loans are highly regulated, there is some variance in the fees and costs that lenders are permitted to charge. Packaging fees vary the most, as some lenders, like the Grow American Fund, Wells Fargo, Chase and Ridgestone Bank. don’t charge them at all, while others may charge several thousand dollars. Almost all lenders charge closing costs, which typically bundle due diligence expenses, such as those for appraisals and lawyers’ fees. Because closing costs vary from loan to loan, you should verify with your lender what your closing costs cover and the exact amount you can expect to pay.
Approval Funding Time: A Wide Variation
SBA 7(a) loans are notorious for taking a long time to obtain, but the amount of time it takes lenders to approve and fund a loan varies widely. After you submit you completed application and all accompanying documents, five to seven days is an average amount of time for approval. Most lenders agree that the process is faster when the borrower is motivated and responds quickly when additional information is required. SmartBiz has a faster turnaround time than most because it utilizes sophisticated technology to speed up the process.
What Else Is Important in Selecting a Small Business Loan?
Other factors that influence your overall satisfaction with a loan are the interest rate and whether the loan is secured or unsecured. As you search for the best small business loan, it’s critical that you understand every aspect of the deal and that you thoroughly read and understand every document you sign so that you know precisely what you’re getting and what your obligations and responsibilities are. Consider the following factors as you research your loans options. You can also read articles about small business loans to broaden your understanding of the subject.
Interest Rate Range
The interest rate is the percentage of the amount of money you borrowed that you repay the lender. Although the SBA regulates the range of interest rates that the lender can charge you, it’s influenced by a variety of factors, including your business’s industry, the amount of time you’ve been in business, your business and personal credit history, and the overall health of your business. Most lenders charge a couple of percentage points above prime, which is the published percentage that seven of the 10 largest American banks charge their best customers. The Grow America Fund has the lowest interest rates in our review.
Secured or Unsecured
Most small business loans require you to leverage business assets, such as real estate or equipment, as collateral against the loan in order to minimize the lender’s risk. Most also require a personal guarantee from all individuals owning 20% or more of the business. You may be required to put up personal assets if you don’t have sufficient collateral from your business, particularly if the loan you’re procuring is for a startup. Take care to protect your home and personal savings when entering into a loan. Unsecured business loans are less common, though they are available for SBA 7(a) loans under $25,000.
In the above matrix, you can find information on other additional small business loan features, including details on noteworthy features and the lenders’ status with the SBA. You can also find information on down payments, the time it takes to receive your funds after your application is approved and the availability of customer support resources.
Small Business Loans: Our Verdict Recommendations
The best SBA 7(a) lender we reviewed is SmartBiz, which earned the Top Ten Reviews Gold Award for its ability to streamline the process and its willingness to offer loans in amounts smaller than most other lenders are interested in; these qualities make it the most accessible lender in our review. The Grow America Fund earned the Top Ten Reviews Silver Award because it offers the lowest interest rate in our review and specializes in helping small business owners who are women or minorities or who have businesses in underserved communities obtain funding. Likewise, CRF helps small businesses that are owned by women, minorities and veterans and that can provide jobs in low-income areas. Wells Fargo earned the Top Ten Reviews Bronze award for overall excellence as an SBA 7(a) lender, as it gives the most money to the most small businesses nationwide.
Getting a business loan is a significant undertaking for a small business, and it’s important that you take every reasonable step to ensure that it’s the best decision for your company. Shop around for the best interest rates and small business loan terms. Pay particular attention to fees and penalties and don’t be afraid to ask the lender to explain them to you. Request the fee structure and terms in writing and read your contract thoroughly before you sign it to ensure that you understand the details of your loan and your repayment responsibilities.
Top Ten Reviews strives to appraise all services and products using hands-on evaluation and research that, in so far as possible, replicates the careful exploratory process of a typical small business owner. The lenders we evaluated had no influence or input over our testing methodology, nor was the evaluation process provided to any of them in more detail than is publically available by reading our reviews, nor were the results of our research provided to the lenders prior to publication.
Disclaimer: The interest rates listed are reflective of the date this review was last updated.
#business yellow pages
Find a Business in Calgary, Alberta.
Business listings in Calgary, Alberta
Canada’s third-largest city, with a population of over 1.2 million people, Calgary is the economic capital of Western Canada. Its downtown core is populated by oil and gas industry head offices while its distinct skyline is dominated by the Calgary Tower and Encana’s curvaceous The Bow building.
A city of entrepreneurial hustle and Western hospitality, Calgary is nestled in the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, with the beautiful Bow River Valley meandering through its heart. One of the country’s sunniest cities, Calgary is well known for its proximity to world-class outdoor recreational attractions that include Canada Olympic Park, Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country.
Calgary was the first Canadian city to host the Winter Olympics in 1988 and continues to attract over 4.5 million tourists a year. The city’s major festivals include renowned rodeo and exhibition the Calgary Stampede, Calgary Folk Music Festival, YYComedy Festival and art-meets-science extravaganza Beakerhead.
Referred to as the Red Mile, Calgary’s 17th Ave Retail & Entertainment District features many of the city’s top restaurants and boutiques, and is a nightlife hub, while International Avenue in Forest Lawn is the city’s top global food destination. Stephen Avenue Walk in the heart of downtown Calgary also features a mix of top shopping and dining as well as arts and cultural venues including Arts Commons and Glenbow Museum.
Ready to shop? Click here for the most popular Calgary flyers .
Keeping up with your kids’ clothing needs is a constant task. What fits this season will likely be threadbare and ridiculously small the next. The following shops carry smart selections that will make your youngsters’ wardrobe replenishment a pleasure.
A blessed occasion for parents, back-to-school time brings mixed emotions for kids. As the carefree days of summer recede, the grim spectre of homework looms. Shopping for cool yet practical school supplies at these stores will help put everyone in the frame of mind for a happy return to academia. [Image credit: iStock.com/Brauns]
Shawarma – a Middle Eastern dish consisting of roasted meat shaved off of a spit and usually served in a pita wrap sandwich or as part of a meal platter – has become a grab n’ go staple food in countries all over the world. These Calgary spots serve up some of the best shawarma in the city with all of the traditional accouterments as well as other favourite Middle Eastern dishes. [Image credit: iStock.com/Lauri Patterson]
Brunch is a weekend dining ritual, and one that hungry Calgarians can’t get enough of. These restaurants are some of the city’s top brunch destinations, serving their own unique takes on eggs Benedict, belly-busting breakfast burritos, wild Western combo breakfasts as well as fancy French toast, far-out frittatas and much more. Image credit: iStock.com/Adventure_Photo.
Do your search near most popular landmarks of the city:
#types of business
Types of Business Organization
It is important that the business owner seriously considers the different forms of business organization types such as sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation. Which organizational form is most appropriate can be influenced by tax issues, legal issues, financial concerns, and personal concerns. For the purpose of this overview, basic information is presented to establish a general impression of business organization.
A Sole Proprietorship consists of one individual doing business. Sole Proprietorships are the most numerous form of business organization in the United States, however they account for little in the way of aggregate business receipts.
- Ease of formation and dissolution. Establishing a sole proprietorship can be as simple as printing up business cards or hanging a sign announcing the business. Taking work as a contract carpenter or freelance photographer, for example, can establish a sole proprietorship. Likewise, a sole proprietorship is equally easy to dissolve.
- Typically, there are low start-up costs and low operational overhead.
- Ownership of all profits.
- Sole Proprietorships are typically subject to fewer regulations.
- No corporate income taxes. Any income realized by a sole proprietorship is declared on the owner s individual income tax return.
- Unlimited liability. Owners who organize their business as a sole proprietorship are personally responsible for the obligations of the business, including actions of any employee representing the business.
- Limited life. In most cases, if a business owner dies, the business dies as well.
- It may be difficult for an individual to raise capital. It s common for funding to be in the form of personal savings or personal loans.
The most daunting disadvantage of organizing as a sole proprietorship is the aspect of unlimited liability. An advantage of a sole proprietorship is filing taxes as an individual rather than paying corporate tax rates. Some hybrid forms of business organization may be employed to take advantage of limited liability and lower tax rates for those businesses that meet the requirements. These include S Corporations, and Limited Liability Companies (LLC s). Where S-Corps are a Federal Entity, LLC s are regulated by the various states. LLC s give the option for profits from the business to pass through to the owner s individual income tax return.
A Partnership consists of two or more individuals in business together. Partnerships may be as small as mom and pop type operations, or as large as some of the big legal or accounting firms that may have dozens of partners. There are different types of partnerships general partnership, limited partnership, and limited liability partnership the basic differences stemming around the degree of personal liability and management control.
- Synergy. There is clear potential for the enhancement of value resulting from two or more individuals combining strengths.
- Partnerships are relatively easy to form, however, considerable thought should be put into developing a partnership agreement at the point of formation.
- Partnerships may be subject to fewer regulations than corporations.
- There is stronger potential of access to greater amounts of capital.
- No corporate income taxes. Partnerships declare income by filing a partnership income tax return. Yet the partnership pays no taxes when this partnership tax return is filed. Rather, the individual partners declare their pro-rata share of the net income of the partnership on their individual income tax returns and pay taxes at the individual income tax rate.
- Unlimited liability. General partners are individually responsible for the obligations of the business, creating personal risk.
- Limited life. A partnership may end upon the withdrawal or death of a partner.
- There is a real possibility of disputes or conflicts between partners which could lead to dissolving the partnership. This scenario enforces the need of a partnership agreement.
As pointed out, unlimited liability exists for partnerships just as for sole proprietorships. One way to alleviate this risk is through Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP s). As with LLC s, LLP s may offer some tax advantages while providing some risk protection for owners.
Corporations are probably the dominant form of business organization in the United States. Although fewer in number, corporations account for the lion s share of aggregate business receipts in the U.S. economy. A corporation is a legal entity doing business, and is distinct from the individuals within the entity. Public corporations are owned by shareholders who elect a board of directors to oversee primary responsibilities. Along with standard, for-profit corporations, there are charitable, not-for-profit corporations.
- Unlimited commercial life. The corporation is an entity of its own and does not dissolve when ownership changes.
- Greater flexibility in raising capital through the sale of stock.
- Ease of transferring ownership by selling stock.
- Limited liability. This limited liability is probably the biggest advantage to organizing as a corporation. Individual owners in corporations have limits on their personal liability. Even if a corporation is sued for billions of dollars, individual shareholder s liability is generally limited to the value of their own stock in the corporation.
- Regulatory restrictions. Corporations are typically more closely monitored by governmental agencies, including federal, state, and local. Complying with regulations can be costly.
- Higher organizational and operational costs. Corporations have to file articles of incorporation with the appropriate state authorities. These legal and clerical expenses, along with other recurring operational expenses, can contribute to budgetary challenges.
- Double taxation. The possibility of double taxation arises when companies declare and pay taxes on the net income of the corporation, which they pay through their corporate income tax returns. If the corporation also pays out dividends to individual shareholders, those shareholders must declare that dividend income as personal income and pay taxes at the individual income tax rates. Thus, the possibility of double taxation.
This overview was developed by Dr. Sharon Garrison.
No adaptation of its content is permitted without permission.
Seven Ideas to Build Your Direct Sales or Party Plan Business outside of the Home Party #free #business #templates
#home party businesses
Seven Ideas to Build Your Direct Sales or Party Plan Business outside of the Home Party
If you are a direct sales or home party plan consultant, you know that the power of your business lies in the party. However, there are times when your calendar might be a little bare due to the season or cancellations or you might not be able to do as many in home parties or demo s. There are many ways that you can build your direct sales or home party plan business outside of the home party. These ideas can be used for incremental sales every single month or to rev up your business when home parties are low.
Here are Seven Ideas to Build Your Direct Sales or Party Plan Business outside of the Home Party:
1. Host a Mystery Host Party at your house one night or afternoon! Everyone who attends and orders is entered to be the host of the party and get all the host credits and bonuses OR you could even draw for a winner of a FREE Business Kit use part of your commission from the sales to pay for the kit keep part of the host credits for yourself to gain a new recruit!
2. Set up a Stop n Shop party at your office or a local restaurant after work one day (or offer to do this for your customers, friends, hosts)! Set up your kit, set up some games and prize drawings and let your friends stop in and see the newest products, catalog and sales fliers and shop! If you have or can sell cash carry, bring some products and offer them as bonus buys with a minimum purchase amount.
3. Mini Parties! Get 12 friends or customers to collect $150 in orders for you. Put all the orders in one party order split the host credits between those who collected and submitted orders. Depending on how your host program works, each person would be able to receive $20-$50 in free items! (You’ll make a great commission from this too!)
4. Set up an online party and share the link on Facebook, your website, networking groups, your customer email list Offer daily order specials, share product tips and gift ideas on the event. You could do a mystery host party through the online party too. (Be sure to personally invite people, don t just add them to the event and if you do this in a FB group, definitely do not add people without their permission!)
5. Hold a fundraiser for your church, school, favorite charity or family in need. If your company does not offer a Fundraising program, consider donation a portion of your commission to a worth cause.
6. Hold a special themed / seasonal sale sale! (back to school, valentines, labor day, etc…) Offer for customers to get 15% off any 1 item of their choice when they place at least a $15 order with you by a certain date OR everyone who places an order by a certain date gets entered to win a $25 surprise pack OR gets free shipping or a free gift… Get creative be excited (but don’t give away too much of your commission either you don t want to devalue your products or lose income).
7. Don t forget about vendor events look for festivals, bazaars, fundraisers, events you can set a booth up to work to get leads, meet new people and market your business. Read more about how to have Successful Vendor Events here.
The bottom line though is to Just do it ! We can do and achieve anything we put our minds to. If we want to make something happen, we will. Be excited, share the excitement and believe that you can earn all the great prizes promotions that your company offers plus a great income. Get to work! You can do this!
Want more tips, tools training to help you with building a successful direct sales business?
Sign up for my FREE 8 Day Online Success Course Below:
Ready to take your Direct Sales Business to the next level? Want to develop the Mindset of a CEO of Me®, master authentic Marketing online offline, Vendor Events, Parties, Recruiting, Team Leadership more without the struggle of learning the hard way? Would you like to get 1 on 1 coaching from me and small group mastermind support from other like-minded and driven direct sales leaders? Enroll in my Direct Sales Party Plan Success Course!
Business Banking Insight – Independent Survey of Business Banking Products and Services #business #search
Business Banking Insight
The Chancellor of the Exchequer launched the Business Banking Insight programme in November 2013 to help improve competition in business banking in the UK. Run by the British Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses, we’re independent of any business banking provider, and survey tens of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses every three months to ensure the information we share is up-to-date. Our site is completely free to use and you will not be sold anything as a result of visiting.
There s no hassle, it s easy to use
Compare business banking products and services using our impartial rating system
We’ve conducted an independent survey of the UK’s business banking accounts, credit cards, loans and other services, asking thousands of small and medium-sized business owners about their experiences – so you can see how they compare.
Who s created this site.
How can we help?
There are lots of ways we can help your business, including business analysis, recruitment, staff and corporate development, or attracting grants and funding. You can also connect with us and our networks. Browse our site or contact us for more details.
Tap into our expertise
Research and innovation happens every day at the University of Portsmouth. Find out more about our areas of expertise and engage our leading researchers in your project.
Scientific testing and research facilities
Find out about our laboratory and field facilities which can be used for problem solving, testing, consultancy or research and development.
Support for small businesses
If you’re a small business, we can make a big difference. Training, access to funding, advice and networking are just a few of the services you can access.
Types of Business Degrees – Campus – online business management degrees – Peterson – s #business #plan #templates
Types of Business Degrees: From Marketing to Business Administration
As our economy becomes increasingly specialized and reliant on technology, degrees in business are quickly eclipsing liberal arts as the “do anything’” degree. With their focus on building relationships, innovation, and improving the bottom line, employers tend to view business degree holders as individuals who are ready to contribute to their organization and fulfill an array of roles, especially those at the management level. Adding a business degree to your credentials might help you move into higher levels of management or switch your career trajectory altogether. Learn more about the types of business degrees available to find out which direction in your business education is the best course to take.
Business Degree Levels
Business degrees are provided at all levels of post-secondary education, from certificate programs through a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA). Due to the broad variety, admission requirements can differ greatly. Certificate programs usually last less than two years and are open for individuals at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Two-year associate’s degree and four-year bachelor’s degree programs in business typically ask applicants to have a high school diploma or GED. Some undergraduate programs may also require standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT.
Both Master of Business Administration (MBA) and DBA schools require a four-year degree and might ask applicants to submit GRE scores. While most graduate business programs accept applicants from numerous undergraduate majors, students are often expected to have acquired a few years of real-world business experience prior to applying. Depending on the school, some doctoral programs may also require candidates to have first earned a master’s degree. MBA degrees usually take two years to complete, whereas DBA programs can take 3-4 years, but the exact timeline will vary by program.
Business Degree Concentrations
In addition to the traditional business majors of business administration or business management, business degrees are also offered in a variety of specialized disciplines as separate majors within the business college, such as majors in finance, accounting or entrepreneurship. Additionally, many programs include concentrations within business administration programs, such as an MBA with an emphasis in human resources management, where students can take classes that will better help them in the particular field where the student would like to work. These types of programs have the benefit of providing not only a solid business foundation, but also a career-focused curriculum in a specific discipline within business. Among some of the more popular specialized business areas are:
- Healthcare management
- Human resources management
- Information systems management
- International business
- Public administration
Business Degree Course Formats
While traditional programs are still popular, larger numbers of schools are offering degrees in business administration with flexible scheduling. Business schools are reshaping their programs to accommodate working individuals in meeting their education goals. Options include part-time and accelerated programs; online business administration degree programs; hybrid programs, where some courses are online and some are on campus; and weekend and evening programs, which meet at times that are convenient for the busy adult.
Marketing Your New Skills
After completing your degree in business administration, the possible career paths range across multiple industries, including finance, healthcare, marketing, and IT. Salaries generally depend on education level and the demand of the field, with roles at the managerial level typically commanding the highest income. As such, supervisory positions tend to be competitive and usually require extensive work experience in addition to strong academic credentials. In 2011, the median annual salary for the following careers were as follows:
With the many types of business degrees offered by universities today, there are a number of options available to assist you in taking the next step in your career, regardless of your desired industry. Whether you are hoping to enroll in a full-time, on campus program to help kick start your education or are hoping to earn a part-time, online business management degree to move into a supervisory role, there is a business program that will fit into your lifestyle. Open yourself up to an assortment of opportunities by beginning your business education now.
- How to Become a Business Analyst Business analysts, also known as management analysts, analyze an organization and propose ways to improve its.
- How Many People Earn College Degrees? Degrees, by Level of Degree and Sex of Recipient The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
The importance of ethics in business – Ethical business practices – Cadbury Schweppes #business #phone #system
#ethics in business
Ethical business practices
A Cadbury Schweppes case study
Page 1: The importance of ethics in business
Ethics concern an individual’s moral judgements about right and wrong. Decisions taken within an organisation may be made by individuals or groups, but whoever makes them will be influenced by the culture of the company. The decision to behave ethically is a moral one; employees must decide what they think is the right course of action. This may involve rejecting the route that would lead to the biggest short-term profit.
Ethical behaviour and corporate social responsibility can bring significant benefits to a business. For example, they may:
- attract customers to the firm’s products, thereby boosting sales and profits
- make employees want to stay with the business, reduce labour turnover and therefore increase productivity
- attract more employees wanting to work for the business, reduce recruitment costs and enable the company to get the most talented employees
- attract investors and keep the company’s share price high, thereby protecting the business from takeover.
Unethical behaviour or a lack of corporate social responsibility, by comparison, may damage a firm’s reputation and make it less appealing to stakeholders. Profits could fall as a result.
Along with good corporate governance, ethical behaviour is an integral part of everything that Cadbury Schweppes does. Treating stakeholders fairly is seen as an essential part of the company’s success, as described here: ‘A creative and well managed corporate and social responsibility programme is in the best interests of all our stakeholders – not just our consumers – but also our shareowners, employees, customers, suppliers and other business partners who work together with us. *’
Ensuring that employees understand the company’s corporate values is achieved by the statement of ‘Our Business Principles’ which makes clear the behaviour it seeks from employees.
Cadbury Schweppes’ good practice was recognised when it was voted one of the ‘most admired companies for community and environmental responsibility’ by Management Today magazine in 2003. It was also ranked second in the Food and Drink sector in the Business in the Community ‘Per Cent Club’ Index of corporate giving for 2003, with an investment in the community of around 3of its UK pre tax profits.
* Cadbury Schweppes Corporate and Social Responsibility Report 2002
Cadbury Schweppes | Ethical business practices
Office of Business Opportunity
The Office of Business Opportunity is committed to creating a competitive and diverse business environment in the City of Houston by promoting the growth and success of local small businesses, with special emphasis on historically underutilized groups by ensuring their meaningful participation in the government procurement process.
Certifications and Designations
Contract Compliance and Reporting
Reports, Directories, and Search Tools
About the Director
Carlecia D. Wright, is the Director for the Office of Business Opportunity. In April 2011, Ms. Wright was appointed by Mayor Parker to ensure that the City’s small, minority, women-owned and disadvantaged business enterprises have meaningful participation in the city’s procurement process.
Prior to her appointment, she worked for the City of New York’s Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise Program, where she served as the Executive Director of Policy, Planning and Operations, as well as the Executive Director of Certification and Recruitment. More.
About OBO – In Other Languages
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#business ethics articles
Ethics & Compliance Matters
Reputation Damage and Tone at the Top: Uber Scandal Underscores How Corporate Culture can Bring a Company to its Knees
Reputation Damage and Tone at the Top: Uber Scandal Underscores How Corporate Culture can Bring a Company to its Knees
Uber has had its share of public relations problems lately, and is now known as yet another company having to deal with current business ethics issues. From the taxi-alternative start-up’s drivers claiming they don’t make nearly as much money as they originally promised to none-the-wiser customers getting stuck with hefty price surges at the ends of rides. As if this weren’t enough to land Uber an F rating from the Better Business Bureau (in fact, this and a few other Uber business practices were), Senior Vice President Emil Michael’s comments at a recent dinner have pushed this company into a full-on PR disaster.
Creating Culture One (Wrong) Word at a Time
The nutshell: At a dinner attended by a Buzzfeed reporter, Michael suggested Uber would embark on a smear campaign against journalists who criticized the company. In this conversation, Michael said Uber could spend millions of dollars to hire investigators to dig into the journalists’ personal data and use the information they found about their critics to threaten and/or publicly embarrass them. Although Michael claims he thought the conversation was off the record, according to the Buzzfeed reporter, it wasn’t. And he ran with the story .
Not surprisingly, a media storm ensued, leaving Uber CEO Travis Kalanick no other choice but to respond. But Kalanick’s “apology” appeared less than sincere. Rather than fire Michael for insinuating Uber would engage in such unethical business practices, he posted 14 tweets on his personal Twitter account, essentially saying his senior executive’s comments were “terrible.” Uber’s latest situation clearly speaks to what some see as the end of the old tech genre that was focused on changing the world and the move to self-enrichment.
Textbook Case for the Need for Strong “Tone at the Top”
It’s safe to say that Uber is in hot PR water, and it may be very difficult for the company to climb out. Why is that? Because the laundry list of reputation-damaging unethical business practices at Uber has experienced in the past several months may be indicative of a deeper, more critical issue: poor tone at the top, a broken organizational culture and possibly bad business ethics.
What do we mean when we talk about tone from the top? A successful ethics and compliance program must be built on a solid foundation of business ethics that are fully and openly endorsed by senior management. Otherwise, the program may amount to little more than a hollow set of internal rules and regulations. There should be an unambiguous, visible and active commitment to compliance.
For start-ups and some companies in the tech sector, culture-related wrongdoing isn’t new. In fact, it was a journalist’s report against Uber for what she believed were unethical business practices that prompted Michael’s comments at that dinner. Rather than take steps to investigate or address the bad behavior it was being accused of, Uber resorted to threats against the reporter and other critics of the company. This response underscores how problematic its culture seems to be.
A Broken Corporate Culture Will Come Back to Bite You—and Not Just Through Bad Press
While Uber may think this issue will disappear with time, it won’t. If there is an underlying issue with the company’s culture, or if it is truly one of the many companies with ethical issues, it will rear its head again in the future—it’s only a matter of time.
The same may be true for other companies in the tech space if The Wall Street Journal reporter Christopher Mims ‘ concerns play out. In his recent article, “Uber and a Fraught New Era for Tech ” he writes, “The emphasis of the tech companies being built now is much more zero-sum. Whom do we need to destroy in an effort to enrich ourselves and our investors, and what is the best vehicle for creating a consumer need that will facilitate that quest?”
Uber is at a critical crossroads and their next steps could ultimately determine their long-term success. If the company doesn’t take the time needed now to establish a strong culture. it runs the risk of losing key partnerships, employees and drivers, and so much more.
If they are nurturing an environment that prohibits or discourages employees or others from speaking up, business risks alone (i.e. safety, etc.) could significantly hamper this thriving, innovative organization.
If that happens, we all lose.