Tag: Small-Business

Small-Business Grants for Minorities: 9 Opportunities #small #business #association

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Small-Business Grants for Minorities: 9 Opportunities

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here’s how we make money .

Minority business owners face challenges when starting or expanding a small business, including access to affordable small-business loans. Grants and financial assistance can help bridge the funding gap.

Here are some of the best small-business grants and other useful financing resources for minority-owned businesses. NerdWallet also has compiled a list of the best small-business loans for minorities .

  • Grants.Gov . This website allows grant seekers to find and apply for federal funding opportunities. It contains information on more than 1,000 grant programs across all 26 federal grant-making agencies, including the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
  • The USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program . This is a grant for the development or expansion of small businesses in rural areas — minority or not. To qualify, you’ll need to have fewer than 50 employees, less than $1 million in revenue and be located in an eligible rural area. Grants range from $10,000 to $500,000.
  • National Association for the Self-Employed . This is a nonprofit association that’s a good resource for all small-business owners. It provides educational resources and grants, and in 2015, it will have awarded more than $48,000 in grants to small businesses. To apply for a grant of up to $4,000, you’ll need to become an active member of the association, provide a detailed explanation of how you’ll use the funds, show how the grant will support your business growth, and provide some supporting documentation.
  • FedEx Small Business Grant Contest . This annual grant contest by FedEx awards 10 small businesses with grants of up to $25,000. Any for-profit small business that has been in operation for at least six months is eligible to enter.
  • Small-Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs . These two programs provide contracts and grants for startups that are looking to commercialize innovative biomedical technologies.
  • Minority Business Development Agency . This agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce promotes the growth of minority-run small businesses by connecting owners to financing resources, federal contracts and market opportunities. The White House announced in August that the MBDA would partner with two organizations to launch the Minority Business Enterprise Technology Initiative, which aims to help aspiring technology entrepreneurs bring new products and services to market.
  • National Minority Supplier Development Council . The council is a corporate member organization focused on increasing business opportunities for certified minority businesses. The council also operates the Business Consortium Fund. which offers a variety of financing programs and business advisory services for certified minority-owned businesses.
  • SBA 8(a) Business Development Program . Socially or economically disadvantaged small-business owners are eligible to receive help through this Small Business Association program, which provides business development assistance, training workshops and management and technical guidance. To qualify, a small business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by a citizen who has been subjected to cultural bias or prejudice and placed at an economic disadvantage because of race or ethnicity.
  • Operation HOPE Small-Business Empowerment Program . This program is designed for aspiring entrepreneurs in low-wealth neighborhoods, which often include minority communities. It provides access to small-business financing options, as well as help with setting up a business plan and financial statements, credit counseling and educational resources.

Find and compare small-business loans

If you’re looking for financing, NerdWallet has come up with a list of the best small-business loans to meet your needs and goals. We gauged lender trustworthiness, market scope and user experience, among other factors, and arranged them by categories that include your revenue and how long you’ve been in business.

For free, personalized answers to questions about financing your business, visit theSmall Businesssection of NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor page.

This post was updated. It was originally published Dec. 3, 2015.

Image via iStock.

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We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines. and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Any comments posted under NerdWallet’s official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: NerdWallet strives to keep its information accurate and up to date. This information may be different than what you see when you visit a financial institution, service provider or specific product’s site. All financial products, shopping products and services are presented without warranty. When evaluating offers, please review the financial institution’s Terms and Conditions. Pre-qualified offers are not binding. If you find discrepancies with your credit score or information from your credit report, please contact TransUnion® directly.

Additionally, this site may be compensated through third party advertisers. However, the results of our comparison tools, blog content and editorial reviews are based on objective analysis. For more information, please see our Advertiser Disclosure .





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What It Takes to Be a Small-Business Owner (Infographic) #business #website

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What It Takes to Be a Small-Business Owner (Infographic)

Former Staff Writer

Being a small-business owner isn t easy, but an overwhelming majority of entrepreneurs wouldn t have it any other way.

While small-business owners cite having to wear so many hats and finding new customers as their biggest concerns, according to the below infographic courtesy of online marketing company Constant Contact. a whopping 84 percent said that, if given the opportunity, they would start up all over again. The ability to pursue their passion and the freedom that an entrepreneurial lifestyle allows are their biggest motivators, they said.

And that s a good thing, because small business continues to contribute to the global economy in huge ways. Roughly half of all U.S. jobs are provided by companies of less than 500 employees, and 54 percent of U.S. sales happen at small businesses. Additionally, small businesses donate 250 percent more than larger corporations to nonprofits and other charities.

For additional stats, check out the infographic below.





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50 Must-Have Features for Small-Business Websites (Infographic) #green #business #ideas

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50 Must-Have Features for Small-Business Websites (Infographic)

Websites are a necessity for businesses of all sizes today — though, surprisingly almost half of small businesses don t have websites. Still, there are so many design options to choose from and so many websites that it can be tough to know how to stand out.

Beyond layout and color scheme, there are a lot of features that are paramount to successful small-business websites. Some are obvious — such as an easy-to-remember domain name, a logo and contact information — and others are more subtle, like an online chat button or specific pattern for the content on the site s inner pages. Thankfully, website design and marketing firm 99MediaLab offers pointers for an effective page from top to bottom, inside and out.

Check out the infographic below to learn the best features to have, as well as SEO tips and the technical aspects to consider. See if your site measures up.

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Copyright 2016 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Where to Find Small-Business Funding #best #business #schools

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Where to Find Small-Business Funding

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So you’ve had an entrepreneurial breakthrough. Your research shows your idea is sound, and you’ve detailed all its nuances in a comprehensive business plan. You know how to spread the word about your new venture and how you’ll plan for future growth.

Now, how are you going to fund it?

Traditional small-business funding took a hit during the financial crisis, with banks opting for bigger, more secure investments over small-business ventures. Data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. show small-business lending hasn t returned to pre-recession levels; loans of $100,000 to $250,000 have fallen 22% since 2007.

But it s still possible to get the capital you need to launch, maintain or grow your business. And once you identify small-business funding that s right for you, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of getting a business loan .

5 ways to fund your small business

1. If you have an established business, collateral, strong credit and finances:

Banks. Traditional banks are still a great starting point and can help you figure out where you stand in terms of funding. Even if your business doesn t have a strong enough track record and enough assets as collateral to qualify for a loan, talking to someone at a traditional bank can help you figure out what documents you need and what your best options may be.

2. If your business falls just outside of a traditional bank’s strict lending criteria:

SBA. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers lenders, almost exclusively banks, a federal guarantee on your loan, making it less risky for them to lend you the funds you need to be successful. In doing so, the SBA also connects you with favorable rates offered by traditional lenders. And unlike most bank loans, you can use an SBA loan to start a business. However, the application process isn t easy, and you can find yourself trapped under a heap of documents while you work through the appropriate forms. Online lender SmartBiz provides a more streamlined application process, originating SBA loans faster than traditional banks.

3. If you have bad personal credit, need cash fast or don’t want to wait for a bank loan:

Online alternative lenders. With traditional banks limiting access to capital, alternative lenders have seen an increase in popularity. A report by Morgan Stanley predicts they’ll provide 16% of small-business loans by 2020. They are particularly useful for owners struggling with bad credit or those in need of fast cash. with several online lenders able to turn around funding within 24 hours. Peer-to-peer lenders are among the alternatives; these lenders cut out the traditional middleman — such as a bank — to connect borrowers with individual and institutional investors. The cost of borrowing, however, is much higher; some charge annual percentage rates over 100%. Still, alternative lenders are a good option when the bank says no.

4. If you think your product can capture the interest of the public:

Crowdfunding. Crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter rely on investors to help get an idea or business off the ground, often rewarding them with perks or equity in exchange for cash. Although the popularity of these services has increased in recent years (the SBA even offers an online course in crowdfunding), there are caveats. For one, your product or company has to be intriguing enough catch the eye of multiple investors. With equity crowdfunding, there are strict securities laws and rules to follow for investors and entrepreneurs alike.

5. If you have an existing membership and like a personal touch:

Credit unions. Like banks, credit unions offer favorable rates and loans backed by the SBA. But unlike banks, credit unions have increased their small-business lending 60% since 2008, according to the National Association of Federal Credit Unions. Though you’ll likely have to be a member, the co-op nature of credit unions often ties them to the community, so you may also reap the benefits of more personal relationships and name recognition.

Find and compare small-business loans

NerdWallet has come up with a comparison tool for the best small-business loans to meet your needs and goals. We gauged lender trustworthiness, market scope and user experience, among other factors, and filtered them by categories that include your revenue and how long you’ve been in business.

To get more information about funding options and compare them for your small business, visit NerdWallet ssmall-business loanspage. For free, personalized answers to questions about financing your business, visit theSmall Businesssection of NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor page.

This post has been updated. It was originally published Oct. 29, 2014.

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Small-Business Grants for Minorities: 9 Opportunities #internet #business #ideas

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Small-Business Grants for Minorities: 9 Opportunities

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here’s how we make money .

Minority business owners face challenges when starting or expanding a small business, including access to affordable small-business loans. Grants and financial assistance can help bridge the funding gap.

Here are some of the best small-business grants and other useful financing resources for minority-owned businesses. NerdWallet also has compiled a list of the best small-business loans for minorities .

  • Grants.Gov . This website allows grant seekers to find and apply for federal funding opportunities. It contains information on more than 1,000 grant programs across all 26 federal grant-making agencies, including the Department of Commerce and the U.S. Small Business Administration.
  • The USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program . This is a grant for the development or expansion of small businesses in rural areas — minority or not. To qualify, you’ll need to have fewer than 50 employees, less than $1 million in revenue and be located in an eligible rural area. Grants range from $10,000 to $500,000.
  • National Association for the Self-Employed . This is a nonprofit association that’s a good resource for all small-business owners. It provides educational resources and grants, and in 2015, it will have awarded more than $48,000 in grants to small businesses. To apply for a grant of up to $4,000, you’ll need to become an active member of the association, provide a detailed explanation of how you’ll use the funds, show how the grant will support your business growth, and provide some supporting documentation.
  • FedEx Small Business Grant Contest . This annual grant contest by FedEx awards 10 small businesses with grants of up to $25,000. Any for-profit small business that has been in operation for at least six months is eligible to enter.
  • Small-Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Programs . These two programs provide contracts and grants for startups that are looking to commercialize innovative biomedical technologies.
  • Minority Business Development Agency . This agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce promotes the growth of minority-run small businesses by connecting owners to financing resources, federal contracts and market opportunities. The White House announced in August that the MBDA would partner with two organizations to launch the Minority Business Enterprise Technology Initiative, which aims to help aspiring technology entrepreneurs bring new products and services to market.
  • National Minority Supplier Development Council . The council is a corporate member organization focused on increasing business opportunities for certified minority businesses. The council also operates the Business Consortium Fund. which offers a variety of financing programs and business advisory services for certified minority-owned businesses.
  • SBA 8(a) Business Development Program . Socially or economically disadvantaged small-business owners are eligible to receive help through this Small Business Association program, which provides business development assistance, training workshops and management and technical guidance. To qualify, a small business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by a citizen who has been subjected to cultural bias or prejudice and placed at an economic disadvantage because of race or ethnicity.
  • Operation HOPE Small-Business Empowerment Program . This program is designed for aspiring entrepreneurs in low-wealth neighborhoods, which often include minority communities. It provides access to small-business financing options, as well as help with setting up a business plan and financial statements, credit counseling and educational resources.

Find and compare small-business loans

If you’re looking for financing, NerdWallet has come up with a list of the best small-business loans to meet your needs and goals. We gauged lender trustworthiness, market scope and user experience, among other factors, and arranged them by categories that include your revenue and how long you’ve been in business.

For free, personalized answers to questions about financing your business, visit theSmall Businesssection of NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor page.

This post was updated. It was originally published Dec. 3, 2015.

Image via iStock.

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We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines. and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Any comments posted under NerdWallet’s official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: NerdWallet strives to keep its information accurate and up to date. This information may be different than what you see when you visit a financial institution, service provider or specific product’s site. All financial products, shopping products and services are presented without warranty. When evaluating offers, please review the financial institution’s Terms and Conditions. Pre-qualified offers are not binding. If you find discrepancies with your credit score or information from your credit report, please contact TransUnion® directly.

Additionally, this site may be compensated through third party advertisers. However, the results of our comparison tools, blog content and editorial reviews are based on objective analysis. For more information, please see our Advertiser Disclosure .





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Best Small-Business Loans for Veterans 2016 #start #up #business #ideas

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Best Small-Business Loans for Veterans 2016

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here’s how we make money .

Finding a small-business loan is a tough task for any entrepreneur. Bad credit, a lack of collateral and limited business history are all obstacles that small businesses may face. Funding can be an even bigger challenge for U.S. military veterans, whose financial history may have gaps because of their time in active service.

Despite these challenges, many veterans decide to become their own boss after serving their country. About 1 in 7 veterans is self-employed or a small-business owner, according to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University.

To help overcome the financing hurdle, we’ve rounded up some of the best small-business loan options for veterans based on personal credit score:

Small-business loans for veterans if you have a 500+ personal credit score

For startups and younger small businesses, lenders typically base lending decisions on the owner’s personal credit. This could be an issue for veterans who did not get a chance to build their credit during military service.

If your credit is lacking, Kabbage offers a line of credit that does not require a minimum credit score to qualify. You will need, however, at least $50,000 in annual revenue. If your credit score is 500 or higher and your business generates at least $100,000 in annual revenue, you could get a less expensive loan with OnDeck. The lender offers an APR starting at 9%, up to 98%, compared with Kabbage’s 32% to 108%.

Small-business loans for veterans if you have a 600+ personal credit score

For companies with at least one year in business and low revenue starting at $25,000 StreetShares is a good choice, with APR starting at 9%.

If your business is generating at least $150,000 annually, you will get a greater range of financing products with Dealstruck, which offers term loans, an inventory line of credit and an asset-based line of credit. Also, Dealstruck could be a cheaper financing option, with APRs from 10% to 28%, while StreetShares’ APR maxes out at 40%.

Before you apply for a StreetShares loan, find out whether you meet the lender s minimum qualifications.

  • 600+ personal credit score.
  • 1+ year in business.
  • $25,000+ in annual revenue.*
  • No bankruptcies in the past three years.
  • No current tax liens or collections (unless you have proper documentation).

You only need 6 months in business if you have $100,000+ in revenue.
StreetShares is currently unavailable to borrowers in North Dakota or South Dakota.

Before you apply for a Dealstruck loan, find out whether you meet the lender s minimum qualifications.

  • 600+ personal credit score.
  • 1+ year in business.
  • $150,000+ in annual revenue.
  • Breaking even or profitable.
  • Personal guarantee and a lien on business assets required.

Looking to expand? SmartBiz has the lowest borrowing costs among online lenders. The lender provides SBA loans with 7% to 8% APR for businesses with strong finances. With a repayment term of 10 years, SmartBiz is a good choice for purchasing real estate or equipment, refinancing high-interest debt or acquiring another business. Qualifying can be tough, however, since you have to meet the SBA’s stringent requirements (including about a dozen required documents). Lending Club is a good option for expansion capital if you don’t qualify for SmartBiz. You need at least $75,000 in annual revenue to qualify. The company offers competitive rates (8% to 32% APR) and repayment terms of one to five years.

Before you apply for a SmartBiz loan, find out whether you meet the lender s minimum qualifications.

  • 600+ personal credit score.
  • 2+ years in business.
  • $50,000+ in annual revenue.
  • Personal guarantee required.
  • No outstanding tax liens.
  • No bankruptcies or foreclosures in last three years.
  • No recent charge-offs or settlements.
  • Must be current on government-related loans.

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We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines. and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Any comments posted under NerdWallet’s official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: NerdWallet strives to keep its information accurate and up to date. This information may be different than what you see when you visit a financial institution, service provider or specific product’s site. All financial products, shopping products and services are presented without warranty. When evaluating offers, please review the financial institution’s Terms and Conditions. Pre-qualified offers are not binding. If you find discrepancies with your credit score or information from your credit report, please contact TransUnion® directly.

Additionally, this site may be compensated through third party advertisers. However, the results of our comparison tools, blog content and editorial reviews are based on objective analysis. For more information, please see our Advertiser Disclosure .





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Small-Business Loans for Women 2016: Your Top Options #getting #a #business #loan

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Small-Business Loans for Women 2016: Your Top Options

There are more options for small-business loans for women today than in the past. If you’re a female entrepreneur, your financing choices are no longer limited to bank loans, Small Business Administration loans or small-business grants.

You can explore a host of online small-business lenders that have emerged since the 2008 financial crisis. Online lenders have less stringent requirements, but you still need some business track record. And you’ll pay higher borrowing costs compared with traditional banks.

We’ve rounded up several types of small-business loans for women. We gauged lender trustworthiness, market scope and user experience, among other factors, and arranged them by categories that include your personal credit score and how long you’ve been in business.

JUMP TO OUR RECOMMENDATIONS

Women-owned businesses can also get help in the early stages through grants provided by government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Here are 10 places to look for small-business grants for women .

If your personal credit score is under 600: Kabbage, OnDeck

Your options are limited if you have shaky personal credit, typically a FICO score below 600. You can try Kabbage or OnDeck; both offer financing for women with less-than-stellar finances. You can get funded quickly — sometimes within hours — but be ready for high borrowing costs.

If your credit score is 500 or above, go with OnDeck, where annual percentage rates range from 9% to 98%. If your credit score is under 500, Kabbage may be a good bet, although its line of credit comes with a higher APR range than an OnDeck loan, at 32% to 108%.

These are good options for emergencies or short-term needs, but once you improve your finances, consider transitioning to lower-cost financing.

If your business is at least 1 year old: StreetShares, Dealstruck

Raising money for your business is hard when you’re just getting started, but you have some options with StreetShares and Dealstruck. If you’ve been in business at least a year, have at least $25,000 in annual revenue and a personal credit score of 600 or more, StreetShares is a good choice for term loans, with APRs starting at 9%. If you need to borrow more and have annual sales of at least $150,000, Dealstruck offers term loans and lines of credit of up to $500,000. Dealstruck also requires a credit score of 600 or higher. If you’re a startup with less than 12 months in business, here are some strategies for getting financing.

Before you apply for a StreetShares loan, find out whether you meet the lender s minimum qualifications.

  • 600+ personal credit score.
  • 1+ year in business.
  • $25,000+ in annual revenue.*
  • No bankruptcies in the past three years.
  • No current tax liens or collections (unless you have proper documentation).

You only need 6 months in business if you have $100,000+ in revenue.
StreetShares is currently unavailable to borrowers in North Dakota or South Dakota.

  • Loan amount: $50,000 to $500,000 for term loans; up to $500,000 for inventory and asset-based lines of credit.
  • APR: 10% to 28% for term loans; 22% plus prime rate for inventory and asset-based lines of credit.
  • Loan term: Six months to four years for term loans; six months per draw for lines of credit.
  • Funding time: Average of 10 days.
  • Read our Dealstruck review .

Before you apply for a Dealstruck loan, find out whether you meet the lender s minimum qualifications.

  • 600+ personal credit score.
  • 1+ year in business.
  • $150,000+ in annual revenue.
  • Breaking even or profitable.
  • Personal guarantee and a lien on business assets required.

If you have an established business: SmartBiz, Funding Circle, Lending Club

With solid finances and an established business, you may qualify for Small Business Administration loan, which typically has the lowest rates in the market. SmartBiz is a good option if you’re looking for a quicker alternative to banks offering SBA loans. An APR of 7% to 8% and the 10-year loan term also make SmartBiz an attractive option when you want to make major investments to grow your business. To qualify, you need two years in business, at least $50,000 in annual revenue and a personal credit score starting at 600 for loans of $30,000 to $150,000. For larger amounts, you’ll need a credit score of at least 675.

If you don’t qualify for an SBA loan or need faster access to capital, Funding Circle and Lending Club are good options. Lending Club has a term loan or line of credit if you need financing of up to $300,000. If you need to borrow more, Funding Circle offers term loans of up to $500,000. Both lenders require at least two years of business history. Lending Club also requires a personal credit score of 600 or more and $150,000 in annual revenue. Funding Circle has no minimum annual revenue requirement, but you need a credit score starting at 620.

Before you apply for a SmartBiz loan, find out whether you meet the lender s minimum qualifications.

  • 600+ personal credit score for loans $30,000 to $150,000.
  • 675+ personal credit score for loans over $150,000.
  • 2+ years in business.
  • $50,000+ in annual revenue.
  • Personal guarantee required.
  • No outstanding tax liens.
  • No bankruptcies or foreclosures in last three years.
  • No recent charge-offs or settlements.
  • Must be current on government-related loans.




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How to Qualify for a Small-Business Loan in 5 Steps #business #tips

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How to Qualify for a Small-Business Loan in 5 Steps

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Qualifying for a small-business loan is easier when you’re prepared. Below is a to-do list that will help you qualify for the cash you need to grow your business.

Whether you end up applying for an SBA loan through a bank or opt for an online small-business loan, you should be familiar with the requirements of each lender. Knowing whether you meet their criteria before you apply will save you time and frustration.

How to quality for a small-business loan

1. Improve personal and business credit scores

Your personal credit score ranges from 300 to 850 (the higher, the better), and evaluates your ability to repay debts. The score is typically weighed more heavily by small-business lenders if your business is new and lacks credit history. It’s based mainly on three factors: your payment history (35% of your score), the amounts owed on credit cards and other debt (30%) and how long you’ve had credit (15%).

Paying your bills on time is, of course, crucial to improving your score. But even if you pay your bills like clockwork, credit report errors could be damaging your score one in four consumers has damaging credit report errors. However, four out of five consumers who filed a dispute got their credit report modified, according to a study by the Federal Trade Commission. You can get a copy of your credit reports for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com and dispute any inaccuracies you find through each of the credit bureaus’ websites (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion).

Businesses that are more established and applying for bank loans can check out their business credit scores (which generally range from 0 to 100) at the three business credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and Dun Bradstreet. Check out these five steps to building business credit, and if you see any mistakes on your reports, contact the bureaus.

More than likely, you’ll need an excellent business credit score as well as good personal credit to qualify for an SBA loan or traditional loan from a bank, although this will depend on the individual lender and factors such as your business revenue and cash flow. In general, online lenders look at personal credit scores but are a bit more lenient when it comes to credit score requirements, as they place more emphasis on your business’s cash flow and track record.

2. Know the lender’s minimum qualifications

There’s no way around it: If you don’t meet a lender’s minimum qualifications, applying is a waste of time.

Borrowers typically need to meet minimum criteria related to credit scores, annual revenue and years in business. And lenders generally frown upon recent bankruptcies and other past delinquencies.

To qualify for SBA loans, borrowers also must be current on all government loans and can’t have any past defaults. So if you’re late on a federal student loan or a government-backed mortgage, you’ll be disqualified. You also can’t be on the SBA’s ineligible businesses list. which includes life insurance companies and financial businesses such as banks.

Qualifying for online lenders can be easier. While these lenders typically underwrite loans based on traditional factors such as credit scores, annual revenue and cash flow, the loans carry less stringent requirements than banks.

3. Gather financial and legal documents

Banks and other traditional lenders typically ask for a wide range of financial and legal documents during the application process. They include:

  • Personal and business income tax returns
  • Balance sheet and income statement
  • Personal and business bank statements
  • A photo of your driver’s license
  • Commercial leases
  • Business licenses
  • Articles of incorporation
  • A resume
  • Financial projections if you have a limited operating history

These requirements can make getting a bank loan time consuming. That may not be an issue if you’re in the market for a long-term business loan to finance a major investment.

However, if you need money faster, online lenders may be a better fit, as they can provide a streamlined online application process with fewer documentation requirements and faster underwriting. But they may come with higher borrowing costs. If you have good credit and business finances, however, some lenders may provide rates comparable to those of bank loans.

4. Develop a strong business plan

Lenders will want to know how you plan to use the money and will want to see that you have a strong ability to repay. They may require a solid business plan that details the purpose of the loan and how you expect it to increase profits.

Your business plan should include current and projected financials, and clearly demonstrate that your business will have enough cash flow to cover ongoing business expenses and the new loan payments. This can give the lender more confidence in your business, increasing your chances at loan approval. Your p lan should include :

  • Company description
  • Product and/or service description
  • Management team
  • Industry analysis
  • Facilities and operations plan
  • Promotional, marketing and sales strategy
  • SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)

5. Provide collateral

To qualify for a small-business loan, you may have to provide collateral to back the loan. This refers to an asset, such as equipment, real estate or inventory, that can be seized and sold by the lender if you can’t make your payments. It’s basically a way lenders can make back their money if your business fails.

SBA loans require “adequate” collateral for security on all loans, plus a personal guarantee from every owner of 20% or more of the business. A personal guarantee puts your credit score and your personal assets on the hook.

Some online lenders do not require collateral but may want a personal guarantee. Others may also take a blanket lien on your business assets essentially another form of collateral giving the lender the right to take business assets (real estate, inventory, equipment) to recoup an unpaid loan. Each individual lender has its own requirements, so don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure.

If you don’t have collateral to get a loan or don’t want to take on the risk of losing personal or business assets, unsecured business loans may be a better option.

Find and compare small-business loans

If you’re looking for financing, NerdWallet has created a comparison tool list of the best small-business loans to meet your needs and goals. We gauged lender trustworthiness and user experience, among other factors, and arranged them by categories that include your revenue and how long you’ve been in business.

This post was updated. The post was originally published on Dec. 1, 2015.

Image via iStock.

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50 Must-Have Features for Small-Business Websites (Infographic) #government #business #grants

#small business websites

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50 Must-Have Features for Small-Business Websites (Infographic)

Websites are a necessity for businesses of all sizes today — though, surprisingly almost half of small businesses don t have websites. Still, there are so many design options to choose from and so many websites that it can be tough to know how to stand out.

Beyond layout and color scheme, there are a lot of features that are paramount to successful small-business websites. Some are obvious — such as an easy-to-remember domain name, a logo and contact information — and others are more subtle, like an online chat button or specific pattern for the content on the site s inner pages. Thankfully, website design and marketing firm 99MediaLab offers pointers for an effective page from top to bottom, inside and out.

Check out the infographic below to learn the best features to have, as well as SEO tips and the technical aspects to consider. See if your site measures up.

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Copyright 2016 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

2016 Entrepreneur Media, Inc.

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Where to Find Small-Business Funding #owning #your #own #business

#small business funding

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Credit Cards

Banking

Investing

Mortgages

Loans

Insurance

Credit Cards

Banking

Investing

Mortgages

Loans

Insurance

Where to Find Small-Business Funding

You can trust that we maintain strict editorial integrity in our writing and assessments; however, we receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. Here’s how we make money .

So you’ve had an entrepreneurial breakthrough. Your research shows your idea is sound, and you’ve detailed all its nuances in a comprehensive business plan. You know how to spread the word about your new venture and how you’ll plan for future growth.

Now, how are you going to fund it?

Traditional small-business funding took a hit during the financial crisis, with banks opting for bigger, more secure investments over small-business ventures. Data from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. show small-business lending hasn t returned to pre-recession levels; loans of $100,000 to $250,000 have fallen 22% since 2007.

But it s still possible to get the capital you need to launch, maintain or grow your business. And once you identify small-business funding that s right for you, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of getting a business loan .

5 ways to fund your small business

1. If you have an established business, collateral, strong credit and finances:

Banks. Traditional banks are still a great starting point and can help you figure out where you stand in terms of funding. Even if your business doesn t have a strong enough track record and enough assets as collateral to qualify for a loan, talking to someone at a traditional bank can help you figure out what documents you need and what your best options may be.

2. If your business falls just outside of a traditional bank’s strict lending criteria:

SBA. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers lenders, almost exclusively banks, a federal guarantee on your loan, making it less risky for them to lend you the funds you need to be successful. In doing so, the SBA also connects you with favorable rates offered by traditional lenders. And unlike most bank loans, you can use an SBA loan to start a business. However, the application process isn t easy, and you can find yourself trapped under a heap of documents while you work through the appropriate forms. Online lender SmartBiz provides a more streamlined application process, originating SBA loans faster than traditional banks.

3. If you have bad personal credit, need cash fast or don’t want to wait for a bank loan:

Online alternative lenders. With traditional banks limiting access to capital, alternative lenders have seen an increase in popularity. A report by Morgan Stanley predicts they’ll provide 16% of small-business loans by 2020. They are particularly useful for owners struggling with bad credit or those in need of fast cash. with several online lenders able to turn around funding within 24 hours. Peer-to-peer lenders are among the alternatives; these lenders cut out the traditional middleman — such as a bank — to connect borrowers with individual and institutional investors. The cost of borrowing, however, is much higher; some charge annual percentage rates over 100%. Still, alternative lenders are a good option when the bank says no.

4. If you think your product can capture the interest of the public:

Crowdfunding. Crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter rely on investors to help get an idea or business off the ground, often rewarding them with perks or equity in exchange for cash. Although the popularity of these services has increased in recent years (the SBA even offers an online course in crowdfunding), there are caveats. For one, your product or company has to be intriguing enough catch the eye of multiple investors. With equity crowdfunding, there are strict securities laws and rules to follow for investors and entrepreneurs alike.

5. If you have an existing membership and like a personal touch:

Credit unions. Like banks, credit unions offer favorable rates and loans backed by the SBA. But unlike banks, credit unions have increased their small-business lending 60% since 2008, according to the National Association of Federal Credit Unions. Though you’ll likely have to be a member, the co-op nature of credit unions often ties them to the community, so you may also reap the benefits of more personal relationships and name recognition.

Find and compare small-business loans

NerdWallet has come up with a comparison tool for the best small-business loans to meet your needs and goals. We gauged lender trustworthiness, market scope and user experience, among other factors, and filtered them by categories that include your revenue and how long you’ve been in business.

To get more information about funding options and compare them for your small business, visit NerdWallet ssmall-business loanspage. For free, personalized answers to questions about financing your business, visit theSmall Businesssection of NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor page.

This post has been updated. It was originally published Oct. 29, 2014.

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