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How to Find the Right SBA Loan for Your Small Business #business #startup #loans

#small business administration loans

#

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.

You May Also like

What is the SBA Microloan Program?

  • Writing a Business Plan: Tips from the SBA





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  • 15 Inspiring Small Business Quotes to Start Your Day Right #business #intelligence

    #business quotes

    #

    INSIGHTS

    15 Inspiring Small Business Quotes to Start Your Day Right

    Running a small business can be tough and demanding at times. What motivates you to open your doors up to customers each day?

    When things get tough, it is always good to remember why you started your business in the first place. So, we put together these 15 great quotes from inspiring leaders, which obviously include small business owners just like you.

    To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart. Thomas Watson, Sr.

    1. I can’t imagine a person becoming a success who doesn’t give this game of life everything he’s got. Walter Cronkite

    2. I’m happy as long as I am making other people happy. Dominique Ansel, Dominique Ansel Bakery

    3. I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance. Steve Jobs

    4. I make a conscious effort to keep things in perspective when I get burned out. It is easy to get stuck in the daily grind, but if you think about all the distance you have covered, and what lies ahead, it is much easier to feel motivated and optimistic. Alex Litoff, Event Farm

    5. Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out. Robert Collier

    6. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle

    7. I m a big fan of small business ownership. I think it s the backbone of American innovation. But to be successful, you first have to have the courage to go for it. Bill Rancic

    8. Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business. Zig Ziglar

    9. Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy. Norman Schwarzkopf

    10. Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do because they want to do it. Dwight D. Eisenhower

    11. The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. Remember, the greatest failure is to not try. Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it. Debbie Fields

    12. There is no royal, flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it. For if I have accomplished anything in life, it is because I have been willing to work hard. C.J. Walker

    13. Small business isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the brave, the patient and the persistent. It’s for the overcomer. Unknown

    14. Behind every small business, there s a story worth knowing. All the corner shops in our towns and cities, the restaurants, cleaners, gyms, hair salons, hardware stores these didn t come out of nowhere. Paul Ryan

    15. “We are really competing against ourselves, we have no control over how other people perform.”
    – Pete Cashmore, founder and CEO Mashable

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    How to choose the right business laptop #small #business #investment

    #best business laptop

    #

    Best laptops for business 2016: Best laptops for UK business, choosing from Windows laptops vs Macbooks vs Chromebooks vs tablets

    What is the best laptop for business? We find the best laptops for business 2016. Best laptops from Windows laptops vs Macbooks vs Chromebooks vs tablets. Advice on buying laptops for your business. (See also: 8 best powerful laptops for business .)

    1. Best laptops for business: Budget Windows laptop

    Almost every business will plump for a budget Windows lappy. and almost every business is right to do so. For a little over 200 you can pick up a perfectly serviceable, no frills notebook that will run all Windows software and connect to the web. Basically, it will do what you need it to do, without looking sexy. Potential down sides include weight and heft, life away from the mains. Cheap laptops don’t tend to have great battery life. Also you will need security software, and beware a cheap display that reflects the strip lights of your local Starbucks.

    2. Best laptop for business: Ultrabook

    Like a budget laptop, only better. And more expensive. Ultrabook is an Intel term for a thin-and-light Windows laptop that offers powerful performance and true portability. Other features might include a touchscreen, or tablet functionality. Ultrabooks offer all of the advantages of any Windows laptops, and more. But they are not cheap. In fact, at this price you may as well plump for a Macbook.

    3. Best laptops for business: Macbook

    Macbooks are what Ultrabooks are templated on. Sleek, portable, powerful. expensive. But generally great. There is no nicer laptop to use than a Macbook Pro. No more portable laptop than a Macbook Air. And running OS X means you have less to worry about on the security front. Down sides? Well price is one. Lack of Windows compatibility the other. But if you must have a Windows laptop, and price is not a major consideration, you can always run Windows on your Macbook.

    New MacBooks in 2016: Podcast discussion

    4. Best laptops for business: Chromebook

    The joker in the pack. Chromebooks are laptops that run Google’s Chrome OS. In essence, they use Google Docs, Gmail and other Google tools instead of Windows or Mac software. You can use them when offline, but really they need a regular connection to the web to work. But Chromebooks are super cheap, as well as stylish and powerful. And there are no real security worries. Just don’t use a Chromebook if you need to use Windows, Office or any other Microsoft software. (Or games.) (For more, see: Review: Dell Chromebook 13 .)

    5. Best laptops for business: Linux laptop

    Another option if you can escape the world of Windows or OS X is Linux. A quick Google Shopping search throws up multiple laptops from the likes of Lenovo, HP and Acer that run on a Linux OS. Linux OSes vary, but in general the open source software is similar to Windows in look, feel and functionality. And being open source it can be tweaked to suit your business’ needs. There is no software licence fee, so the same hardware is often cheaper running Linux that it is Windows or OS X. And you don’t have the same security needs as you do in Windows. But compatiblity is an issue, with both software and other devices. Choice is limited. And you will get funny looks off your colleagues.

    6. Best laptops for business: tablet

    Microsoft would have you believe that the Surface Pro is the tablet that can replace your laptop. Apple makes similar claims about the iPad Pro. And there are myriad Windows tablets trying to squeeze in to the space. The truth is that if your major concern is portability, the Surface Pro in particular is a stunning device. Just expect to get what you pay for, and understand that the best laptop for using on your lap will always be. a laptop. (See also: iPad Pro vs Surface Pro for business .)

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    Client Christmas cards – how to get it right #online #business #cards

    #business christmas cards

    #

    Client Christmas cards – how to get it right

    by HCA | Dec 19, 2013

    The holidays are a time of comfort and joy—not a time to unleash your inner cynic. The fact remains, however, that nearly everyone on your corporate holiday mailing list knows your gift, card or e-greeting is really an end-of-the-year marketing pitch. A soft sell to be sure, but a marketing pitch nonetheless.

    That doesn’t give you full reign to impersonate Ebeneezer Scrooge, however. According to etiquette expert Thomas P Farley—known colloquially as “Mister Manners”—holiday business greetings are a rewarding exercise and a great way to improve client relations, provided you get it right.

    “This is an opportunity to get back on the radar with your clients in a meaningful way,” Farley said. “If it’s not meaningful, you’re better off not doing anything at all.”

    With that in mind, here are five timely tips for wishing your clients a happy holiday season.

    If possible, send a personalized, handwritten card. Operating on a tight budget may prevent you from sending mass-mailed holiday cards to all your clients, but if you can afford the extra effort, it’s worth it.

    “An e-greeting can be annoying because they’re often difficult to open and they may not make it to the individual,” said Dianne Gottsman, a national etiquette expert and owner of the Protocol School of Texas. “Handwritten cards breed goodwill.”

    Farley agrees, adding that generic e-greetings often “get deleted the moment they’re sent.”

    Instead, Farley recommends putting pen to paper and using the opportunity to make a comment specific to the individual, perhaps drawing on a business lunch or meeting the two of you attended.

    Choose a tasteful, appropriate design. As head of custom design at California-based Tiny Prints, Heidi Reichert has seen a lot of corporate holiday cards over the years. The best, she said, always “reflect the professionalism” of the company.

    “We’ve seen really silly photos or things that might be construed as offensive—maybe it’s a photo of the employees doing shots or something like that,” Reichert said. “It might seem funny at the time, but you never know what your audience might think when they get it.”

    Instead, Reichert recommends using photos that are appropriate and professional, along with designs that stand out from the ubiquitous red-and-green that don most holiday greetings. Lime greens and blues are especially popular this season.

    Avoid blatant endorsements of religion or cultural traditions. One thing Farley, Gottsman and Reichert all agreed on was that it’s best to “assume nothing” when it comes to recipients’ religious or cultural traditions.

    “Being very safe and respectful is the key,” said Gottsman, who added that a neutral “Happy Holidays” is preferable to endorsing Christmas, Kwanzaa, or other holidays.

    However, Farley said this rule applies only to the card design itself. Inside, it’s appropriate to wish someone a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukah,” provided you definitely know your client celebrates that holiday. “It makes your greeting that much more meaningful and warm,” Farley said.

    Keep out logos and business cards. Resist the urge to plaster your greeting with your company logo, or stuff the package full of coupons or business cards.
    “This is the time for the soft-sell. You’re not pitching, you’re not doing client business,” Farley advised. “The card itself is all the selling you should really be doing.”

    While logos do have a place on a corporate card, it should be done in a tasteful way, said Reichert. Placing the logo below your signature or on the back of the card is a nice way to make the card stand out as something personalised by the business, she said.

    Send cards and gifts as soon as possible. Now is the time to send out your holiday greetings and gifts, if you haven’t already. The earlier the better, given many companies close up shop the week of Christmas.

    If you’ve missed the deadline, however, Gottsman says you can never go wrong with a New Year card, which should be in the mail before Christmas Day.

    The bottom line with all these dos and don’ts, however, is that despite your business, your budget or your byline, your holiday greeting should come from the heart.

    “If someone is actually taking the time to write a personal message, that’s going to trump even the worst card design,” Farley said. “Even if the card itself is something you get for 50% off at the local dollar store, the fact that you’ve included a personal message is far more impressive than the most stunning card with nothing inside.”

    COMMENTS Submit a comment





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    Business Loans: Get the Right Financing for Your Business #names #for #businesses

    #small business loans

    #

    Business Loans up to $300K
    at rates starting at 5.9% 1

    1 Factor rate is the financing cost divided by the loan amount – but that’s not how traditional interest rates work. For example, if you pay 30 cents for a one-year loan of one dollar, your factor rate is 30% but is equivalent to a 55% interest rate! Factor rates can make short-term loans appear less expensive than a traditional interest rate would.

    2 These loans require you to repay a fixed amount of interest, so paying off early won’t save you any money. In fact, it can increase your effective interest rate to 200% or more.

    3 Payments calculated based on range of interest rates and repayment terms offered, assuming a loan amount of $10,000.

    4 Total Annualized Rate shows all costs for one year in a single equivalent interest rate so that you can make apples-to-apples comparisons.

    Lending Club is America’s #1 credit marketplace, transforming banking to make it more efficient, transparent and consumer friendly. We operate fully online with no branch infrastructure and use technology to lower cost and deliver an amazing experience.





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

    #small business administration loans

    #

    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.

    You May Also like

    What is the SBA Microloan Program?

  • Writing a Business Plan: Tips from the SBA





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  • Client Christmas cards – how to get it right #best #online #business

    #business christmas cards

    #

    Client Christmas cards – how to get it right

    by HCA | Dec 19, 2013

    The holidays are a time of comfort and joy—not a time to unleash your inner cynic. The fact remains, however, that nearly everyone on your corporate holiday mailing list knows your gift, card or e-greeting is really an end-of-the-year marketing pitch. A soft sell to be sure, but a marketing pitch nonetheless.

    That doesn’t give you full reign to impersonate Ebeneezer Scrooge, however. According to etiquette expert Thomas P Farley—known colloquially as “Mister Manners”—holiday business greetings are a rewarding exercise and a great way to improve client relations, provided you get it right.

    “This is an opportunity to get back on the radar with your clients in a meaningful way,” Farley said. “If it’s not meaningful, you’re better off not doing anything at all.”

    With that in mind, here are five timely tips for wishing your clients a happy holiday season.

    If possible, send a personalized, handwritten card. Operating on a tight budget may prevent you from sending mass-mailed holiday cards to all your clients, but if you can afford the extra effort, it’s worth it.

    “An e-greeting can be annoying because they’re often difficult to open and they may not make it to the individual,” said Dianne Gottsman, a national etiquette expert and owner of the Protocol School of Texas. “Handwritten cards breed goodwill.”

    Farley agrees, adding that generic e-greetings often “get deleted the moment they’re sent.”

    Instead, Farley recommends putting pen to paper and using the opportunity to make a comment specific to the individual, perhaps drawing on a business lunch or meeting the two of you attended.

    Choose a tasteful, appropriate design. As head of custom design at California-based Tiny Prints, Heidi Reichert has seen a lot of corporate holiday cards over the years. The best, she said, always “reflect the professionalism” of the company.

    “We’ve seen really silly photos or things that might be construed as offensive—maybe it’s a photo of the employees doing shots or something like that,” Reichert said. “It might seem funny at the time, but you never know what your audience might think when they get it.”

    Instead, Reichert recommends using photos that are appropriate and professional, along with designs that stand out from the ubiquitous red-and-green that don most holiday greetings. Lime greens and blues are especially popular this season.

    Avoid blatant endorsements of religion or cultural traditions. One thing Farley, Gottsman and Reichert all agreed on was that it’s best to “assume nothing” when it comes to recipients’ religious or cultural traditions.

    “Being very safe and respectful is the key,” said Gottsman, who added that a neutral “Happy Holidays” is preferable to endorsing Christmas, Kwanzaa, or other holidays.

    However, Farley said this rule applies only to the card design itself. Inside, it’s appropriate to wish someone a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukah,” provided you definitely know your client celebrates that holiday. “It makes your greeting that much more meaningful and warm,” Farley said.

    Keep out logos and business cards. Resist the urge to plaster your greeting with your company logo, or stuff the package full of coupons or business cards.
    “This is the time for the soft-sell. You’re not pitching, you’re not doing client business,” Farley advised. “The card itself is all the selling you should really be doing.”

    While logos do have a place on a corporate card, it should be done in a tasteful way, said Reichert. Placing the logo below your signature or on the back of the card is a nice way to make the card stand out as something personalised by the business, she said.

    Send cards and gifts as soon as possible. Now is the time to send out your holiday greetings and gifts, if you haven’t already. The earlier the better, given many companies close up shop the week of Christmas.

    If you’ve missed the deadline, however, Gottsman says you can never go wrong with a New Year card, which should be in the mail before Christmas Day.

    The bottom line with all these dos and don’ts, however, is that despite your business, your budget or your byline, your holiday greeting should come from the heart.

    “If someone is actually taking the time to write a personal message, that’s going to trump even the worst card design,” Farley said. “Even if the card itself is something you get for 50% off at the local dollar store, the fact that you’ve included a personal message is far more impressive than the most stunning card with nothing inside.”

    COMMENTS Submit a comment





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    Find the Right Small Business Phone System – Cisco Systems #harvard #business

    #business phone systems

    #

    Find the Right Small Business Phone System

    What to Know When Buying a Small Business Phone System

    Small business phone systems are available in a variety of configurations, offering an ever-growing range of features and benefits. Most modern small business phone systems today run on Internet Protocol (IP) networks the same network they use to connect employees, devices, and information resources.

    But how do you find the right small business phone system for your company? And what’s the best way to deploy it?

    Here are a few key considerations when evaluating and implementing a new small business phone system.

    Understand What Your Users Need

    The right small business phone system can give your people the tools they need to be more efficient. Does your workforce need easy access to mobile communications or video? Do workers need one phone number that simultaneously rings on multiple devices?

    Features and capabilities available include:

    • Mobile softphones, for using a computer as a phone
    • The ability to make and receive calls from smartphones or tablets
    • Video or web conferencing support
    • Automated attendant
    • Paging and intercom

    You can also get unified messaging, with notifications by email, text message, or phone. Instant Messaging and Presence technology, other popular features, help you quickly identify the people available within your organization and reach them at any given time.

    Reduce Your IT Costs

    Today’s small business IP phone systems can consolidate essential communications and collaboration capabilities onto a single server solution. This reduces IT complexity and communications costs.

    Be Prepared for Change

    A new small business phone system can change the way you and your employees work and conduct daily business transactions. For example, using video, you can meet with remote staff, customers, suppliers and partners to enhance key relationships.

    Talk to Your Trusted Advisor.

    Consult with your local service provider or reseller to help ensure that your phone system’s features and capabilities will meet your company’s short- and long-term business goals.

    The Cisco Business Edition 6000S provides all the essential communication and collaboration capabilities needed for your business. It is designed specifically to meet the needs of small businesses with up to 150 users. Cisco Business Edition 6000S offers an easy to deploy, manage, and use IP telephone system, plus much more.





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    How to Find the Right SBA Loan for Your Small Business #at #home #business

    #small business administration loans

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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.

    You May Also like

    What is the SBA Microloan Program?

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  • Client Christmas cards – how to get it right #business #listing

    #business christmas cards

    #

    Client Christmas cards – how to get it right

    by HCA | Dec 19, 2013

    The holidays are a time of comfort and joy—not a time to unleash your inner cynic. The fact remains, however, that nearly everyone on your corporate holiday mailing list knows your gift, card or e-greeting is really an end-of-the-year marketing pitch. A soft sell to be sure, but a marketing pitch nonetheless.

    That doesn’t give you full reign to impersonate Ebeneezer Scrooge, however. According to etiquette expert Thomas P Farley—known colloquially as “Mister Manners”—holiday business greetings are a rewarding exercise and a great way to improve client relations, provided you get it right.

    “This is an opportunity to get back on the radar with your clients in a meaningful way,” Farley said. “If it’s not meaningful, you’re better off not doing anything at all.”

    With that in mind, here are five timely tips for wishing your clients a happy holiday season.

    If possible, send a personalized, handwritten card. Operating on a tight budget may prevent you from sending mass-mailed holiday cards to all your clients, but if you can afford the extra effort, it’s worth it.

    “An e-greeting can be annoying because they’re often difficult to open and they may not make it to the individual,” said Dianne Gottsman, a national etiquette expert and owner of the Protocol School of Texas. “Handwritten cards breed goodwill.”

    Farley agrees, adding that generic e-greetings often “get deleted the moment they’re sent.”

    Instead, Farley recommends putting pen to paper and using the opportunity to make a comment specific to the individual, perhaps drawing on a business lunch or meeting the two of you attended.

    Choose a tasteful, appropriate design. As head of custom design at California-based Tiny Prints, Heidi Reichert has seen a lot of corporate holiday cards over the years. The best, she said, always “reflect the professionalism” of the company.

    “We’ve seen really silly photos or things that might be construed as offensive—maybe it’s a photo of the employees doing shots or something like that,” Reichert said. “It might seem funny at the time, but you never know what your audience might think when they get it.”

    Instead, Reichert recommends using photos that are appropriate and professional, along with designs that stand out from the ubiquitous red-and-green that don most holiday greetings. Lime greens and blues are especially popular this season.

    Avoid blatant endorsements of religion or cultural traditions. One thing Farley, Gottsman and Reichert all agreed on was that it’s best to “assume nothing” when it comes to recipients’ religious or cultural traditions.

    “Being very safe and respectful is the key,” said Gottsman, who added that a neutral “Happy Holidays” is preferable to endorsing Christmas, Kwanzaa, or other holidays.

    However, Farley said this rule applies only to the card design itself. Inside, it’s appropriate to wish someone a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukah,” provided you definitely know your client celebrates that holiday. “It makes your greeting that much more meaningful and warm,” Farley said.

    Keep out logos and business cards. Resist the urge to plaster your greeting with your company logo, or stuff the package full of coupons or business cards.
    “This is the time for the soft-sell. You’re not pitching, you’re not doing client business,” Farley advised. “The card itself is all the selling you should really be doing.”

    While logos do have a place on a corporate card, it should be done in a tasteful way, said Reichert. Placing the logo below your signature or on the back of the card is a nice way to make the card stand out as something personalised by the business, she said.

    Send cards and gifts as soon as possible. Now is the time to send out your holiday greetings and gifts, if you haven’t already. The earlier the better, given many companies close up shop the week of Christmas.

    If you’ve missed the deadline, however, Gottsman says you can never go wrong with a New Year card, which should be in the mail before Christmas Day.

    The bottom line with all these dos and don’ts, however, is that despite your business, your budget or your byline, your holiday greeting should come from the heart.

    “If someone is actually taking the time to write a personal message, that’s going to trump even the worst card design,” Farley said. “Even if the card itself is something you get for 50% off at the local dollar store, the fact that you’ve included a personal message is far more impressive than the most stunning card with nothing inside.”

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