Tag: Ways

Student Loan Services – Ways to Pay for College #student #loan #services, #college #financing,

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Student Lending and Services

* Multi-year approval funds available for future use are subject to a soft credit inquiry at time of your next request to verify continued eligibility. After we make the initial loan to you, we may refuse to allow you to take out additional loans under the multi-year approval feature, terms and conditions will be outlined in your promissory note.

1 Average savings of $643 are calculated using the 2016/2017 Award Year Federal Direct PLUS Loan program reporting (as of 5/03/2017 for quarter ending December 31, 2016 not including Grad PLUS) of originations of

$11.1 billion to 740,097 borrowers through 769,597 loans with an average loan size of $15,035.30. Average fee savings is possible with either private student loan option we offer, including the Citizens Bank Student Loan or the Citizens Bank Student Loan for Parents.

2 Average savings based on 57,772 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 6, 2014 and January 31, 2017. The borrower s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.

3 U.S. Dept. of Education. The loan fee is a percentage of the loan amount and is proportionately deducted from each loan disbursement. For Loans first disbursed between October 1, 2016 and September 30, 2017 the origination fee is 4.276%.

4 Interest rate reduction of up to 0.50 percentage points is possible with the following discounts:

Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.

Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.





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7 Ways For Women to Win and Succeed in Business #cupcake #business

#women in business

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7 Ways For Women to Win and Succeed in Business

EHStock via Getty Images

1.You Can’t Do Or Have It. One of the downfall of many business and professional women is the “Superwoman Complex.” Once you hang up the Superwoman cape and the Wonderwoman belt and recognize and accept this fact, your job will get a whole lot easier. Every successful person needs a dedicated support team or at the very least a wing man or woman. You don’t have to do everything yourself! Trust your team to do the work, after all that’s what you hired them to do. If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, a great way to expand your staff is by engaging college students as interns. They can provide that extra help when you need it. Additionally, don’t rule out family and friends. And do not wait until a project is in jeopardy or you are on the verge of being burned out or a nervous breakdown. Remember that delegating empowers others and allows you to focus on the future as well as the big pictures.

2. Positive, Positive, Positive. A negative attitude will never yield positive results. Having a positive attitude helps you to succeed. Surround yourself with positive people who will encourage, inspire, support and motivate you. They will carry you through the tough days and cheer you on when you feel like giving up.

3. Add Humor To Your Work Research shows that laughter affects health, creativity, relationships and the quality of life. Poke fun at yourself, not at others. When your day gets too high-stress, lighten up! Lightening up the workplace reduces conflicts and stress and builds teamwork and productivity. Not to mention it’s great for morale. Converting your staff and customers from unhappy to happy is good for business.

4. Keep Up With Current Events And News. Staying informed about what is happening in the world and in your local community is critical to your personal and professional development. No matter what business you are in, current events have an impact on your industry and your clients. Do not be caught off guard because you haven’t taken ten minutes to read the morning paper. Daily papers are good sources of industry and corporate news, as well as contacts.

5. Be Generous To Your Community, Your Staff, And Yourself
Reward yourself and your employees for hard work and success. Take time to give back to your community through volunteer work and charitable contributions. Let this quote by Winston Churchill you — “you make a living by what you do, but you make a life by what you give. Keep a brave heart and a beautiful spirit.

6 Become A Life-Long-Learner Learning and growing both personally and professionally is a lifelong process that drives our creativity, intelligence and ambition. Make it a priority to take courses and adopt new techniques that help you and your staff think out of the box. Innovation and reinvention are the order of the day. Set aside time for brainstorming and idea sharing. Most important, don’t be afraid to try new things and introduce yourself to new people. When you forego investments in yourself and your staff, you run the risk of allowing complacency to take root. How many times have you found yourself staring at the messy piles of paper in your office? Make sure to invest in an organizer to help clean your space. You will find this will lead to greater efficiency. Check out Napo.net (National Association of Professional Organizers). They offer a list of certified and reputable organizers like Hub Neat Organizer and Charles River Organizers both of whom are in my hometown. I am using them to help me better organize my office and my home.

7. Stop And Smell The Roses Take a minute for yourself every day. Get some exercise, read a good book, take a hot bath or socialize with friends and family. Your work is important, but it is not everything in life. Appreciate all that life has to offer, and your energy will radiate at work, at home and through everything you do.

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The 10 Most Reliable Ways to Fund a Startup #business #etiquette

#start up business grants

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The 10 Most Reliable Ways to Fund a Startup

One of the most frequent questions I get as a mentor to entrepreneurs is How do I find the money to start my business? I always answer that there isn t any magic, and contrary to popular myth, nobody is waiting in the wings to throw money at you just because you have a new and exciting business idea.

On the other hand, there are many additional creative options available for starting a business that you might not find when buying a car, home or other major consumer item. If you have the urge to be an entrepreneur, I encourage you to think seriously about each of these, before you zero in on one or two, and get totally discouraged if those don t work for you.

Of course, every alternative has advantages and disadvantages, so any given one may not be available or attractive to you. For example, professional investors put great priority on your previous experience in building a business, and they expect to own a portion of the business equity and control for the funds they do provide. These are tough for a first-time entrepreneur.

Thus it is always a question of what you qualify for, and what you are willing to give up, to turn your dream idea into a viable business. Here is my list of the 10 most common sources of funding today, in reverse priority sequence, with some rules of thumb to channel your focus:

10. Seek a bank loan or credit-card line of credit.

In general, this won t happen for a new startup unless you have a good credit history or existing assets that you are willing to put at risk for collateral. In the U.S. you may find that the Small Business Administration (SBA) can get you infusions of cash without normal backup requirements.

9. Trade equity or services for startup help.

This is most often called bartering your skills or something you have for something you need. An example would be negotiating free office space by agreeing to support the computer systems for all the other office tenants. Another common example is exchanging equity for legal and accounting support.

8. Negotiate an advance from a strategic partner or customer.

Find a major customer, or a complimentary business, who sees such value in your idea that they are willing to give you an advance on royalty payments to complete your development. Variations on this theme include early licensing or white-labeling agreements.

7. Join a startup incubator or accelerator.

These organizations, such as Y Combinator. are very popular these days, and are often associated with major universities, community development organizations, or even large companies. Most provide free resources to startups, including office facilities and consulting, but many provide seed funding as well.

6. Solicit venture-capital investors.

These are professional investors, such as Accel Partners. who invest institutional money in qualified startups, usually with a proven business model, ready to scale. They typically look for big opportunities, needing a couple of million dollars or more, with a proven team. Look for a warm introduction to make this work.

5. Apply to local angel-investor groups.

Most metropolitan areas have groups of local high-net-worth individuals interested in supporting startups, and willing to syndicate amounts up to a million dollars for qualified startups. Use online platforms such as Gust to find them, and local networking to find ones that relate to your industry and passion.

4. Start a crowdfunding campaign online.

This newest source of funding, where anyone can participate per the JOBS Act. is exemplified by online sites such as Kickstarter. Here people make online pledges to your startup during a campaign, to pre-buy the product for later delivery, give donations or qualify for a reward, such as a T-shirt.

3. Request a small-business grant.

These are government funds allocated to support new technologies and important causes, such as education, medicine and social needs. A good place to start looking is Grants.gov. which is a searchable directory of more than 1,000 federal grant programs. The process is long, but it doesn t cost you any equity.

2. Pitch your needs to friends and family.

As a general rule, professional investors will expect that you have already have commitments from this source to show your credibility. If your friends and family don t believe in you, don t expect outsiders to jump in. This is the primary source of non-personal funds for very early-stage startups.

1. Fund your startup yourself.

These days, the costs to start a business are at an all-time low, and over 90 percent of startups are self funded (also called bootstrapping). It may take a bit longer to save some money before you start and grow organically, but the advantage is that you don t have to give up any equity or control. Your business is yours alone.

You can see that all of these options require work and commitment on your part, so there is no magic or free money. Every funding decision is a complex tradeoff between near-term and longer-term costs and paybacks, as well as overall ownership and control.

With the many options available, there is no excuse for not living your dream, rather than dreaming about living.





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3 Ways to Work at Home Doing Internet Research #free #business #templates

#work from home ideas

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3 Ways to Work at Home Doing Internet Research

I found your original ad in the Woman s World Magazine and have been searching all through the Pinterest ads for work from home jobs. There are so many to go through and some want money and others I am not sure are real jobs but Holly, I LOVE research and would like to start a business doing research, but have no idea how to get started. I thought I would ask if you had any ideas since you are seeking ways of possible employment for people.

I hope you will have some ideas and share them with me as am very eager to get started.

Sincerely, Judy L.

Internet Research is a great way for you to work from home! In fact, there are lots of companies who hire freelancers to do their research for them you just need to know where to look. Law firms, marketing departments, insurance companies, healthcare providers, political groups, even writers, publishers, and college students need researchers. If you have background experience in one of the aforementioned areas, I suggest starting there first, as you’ll have a leg up on your competition.

Here’s where to find the gigs and how to get started.

Indeed is one of my favorite sites to use when searching for telecommuting jobs, here’s why. It’s an aggregated job board, which means their platform pulls job listings from all the other major job board sites. This means you save tons of time, because you don’t have to search each job site individually. While the jobs are not screened for legitimacy, Indeed does requires that all listings contain a company name, location, job title, and complete job description.

To find Internet Research jobs just use the keywords, “work at home” and “internet research”.

FlexJobs is an online job board that caters to flexible working arrangements. Simply use their job search function and enter Internet Research or Internet Researcher . This will take you to a page that lists all the jobs in this category. While it does cost a small fee to join, it’s well worth it. All jobs are hand screened, so you know that you’re dealing with legit opportunities.

Upwork are freelance jobs board sites that cater to freelancers. Simply register for an account (it s free), search for Internet Research positions, and submit your bid. If your bid is accepted, you ll complete the work and get paid through the platform, minus a small fee (usually 10%). While many freelancers complain of the low rates on these sites it can be a great way for you to establish yourself in the field, and to work with repeat clients.

Also, check out this article from Copyhackers. on how Danny Margulies was able to earn six figures from Elance. He really has a neat strategy!

Answer and Research Questions.

There are a bunch of sites that hire independent contractors to answer questions on various topics. So if you have experience in a certain area that will be extremely helpful when you’re applying. With these opportunities you’re not only researching answers for people, you’re also writing the answers online so you’ll need to write well.

Experts 123 Is a revenue sharing platform, so the more popular your answer they more you ll get paid. Payments are made via PayPal.

Just Answer Pays 20% 50% of what the person is willing to pay for the answer (if it s accepted). Payments are made via PayPal. Has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Small Biz Advice Browse questions and make a bid. Payments are made bi-monthly via PayPal, minus a 5% commission fee.

Web Answers Incorporates Google Adsense, so you get paid based on how much traffic your answer receives.

Wonder Hires internet researchers to gather product info, explain trends, gather stats, and determine the size of a market. Researchers are paid per assignment.

Launch Your Own Internet Research Business.

1. Educate yourself on the topic of Internet Research.

There aren’t a lot of books on this topic, but here are a couple:

2. Get all of your legal and administrative ducks in a row.

Choose your business structure, fill out your DBA (Doing Business As) form, set up a PayPal account, so that you can accept credit card and online payments. You’ll also need to consider things like health insurance, retirement, and taxes. This article explains a lot of what you need to know.

Next set up your website, social media profiles, and email marketing account. These three items will help you market and advertise your new business.

There’s a variety of ways to do this, but first start with the job boards I mentioned in this post.

Here are some other ways in which you can get clients.

Good luck with your Internet Research Business and keep me posted on your progress!

This page includes some affiliate and referral links. Please be aware that we only promote advertising from companies that we feel we can legitimately recommend to our readers. Please see our disclosure policy for further information.

Mary Sheppard says

My Name is Mary Ann Sheppard and it was great to see this today. I am in the process if starting my second Marketing business. I have worked previously as a Marketing Research Analyst in the Financial Services field for over 15 years. I loved my job. I even set up a corporate library in house and placed info on the corporate Internet that way anyone within the corporation worldwide could obtain info at anytime. Plover bad was 35,000 and I was the only one in house that did the research. I also followed all the banks worldwide. There are many places that need researchers and it is a perfect business to run for home.

I am willing to help anyone in learning how to term their search criteria. It can be frustrating at times but very rewarding. I left when my job transferred from Pennsylvania to Arizona As I Gad 2 teenagers who wanted to graduate with their friends.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply





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10 Ways to Quickly Generate Leads #business #management

#business leads

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10 Ways to Quickly Generate Leads

Writer and Entrepreneur

You ve printed flyers, you ve sent out mailers, you have blasted your social-media followers, but you re still not getting the lead flow you need to grow your company into the next billion-dollar brand. Well, there are hundreds of ways to generate leads, so don t hang your head.

Here are ten of my favorite.

1.eBooks

These work great for B2B companies or a business that works in a very technical space, as people love to read and gain expertise about their industry. Make sure you don t promote your services or products. People don t want to be sold, they want to be informed. So write it from a neutral perspective and give actionable insights. Share the eBook socially and ask your network to share it for you.

You ll want to ensure that you have a landing page set up that requires visitors to input their name, email and phone number for a chance to download the eBook. Pages like this can be built easily with tools like Unbounce .

2. Newsletter

Do you have a newsletter yet? If not, you re missing out on one of the simplest way to generate more leads. Make sure you put a newsletter sign up in every possible place that makes sense on your website.

With these newsletter, not only do you have a captive audience (people have to opt-in to your newsletter) but email pathways are a great way to avoid getting lost in all the Internet noise. Again, don t make it all about you. Instead, share with your contacts your insights, recent wins you created for your customers and industry news.

3. Blog

Having a blog is one of the best lead generating tools you can use, as it not only allows a company (or person) complete control of what is said but also an opportunity to have the undivided attention of the reader. Make sure that your blog is optimized to generate leads by having a sign-up section for your newsletter and by using the margins to promote your products and services. And I feel like a broken record, but don t make the blog all about you! Give real value.

4.Twitter

Twitter is a dream for generating leads. Use it to reach out to influencers in your industry and get into conversations with them. Their followers, who are probably some of your potential customers, will see your interactions and follow you or visit your site. You can also follow trending subjects that pertain to your business and interject your thoughts into the general discussion by using the # symbol. For instance, if you are in the mobile world, you may use #iphone to find and eventually get leads.

5. Networking events

While a lot of action happens in the digital world, the real world still provides a lot of advantages — especially networking events. Even events that didn t directly pertain to my business have provided me with some of the most valuable contacts and leads. You ll meet more people, expand your network and gain referrals. Plus, it s a great way to build your brand. Make sure to bring business cards and don t be afraid to ask the people you meet for their patronage.

6. Develop an engaging video

Please don t produce another terrible commercial and post it on YouTube. The world doesn t need any more of these. What people always want more of is entertainment. So, spend some time on developing a great idea that promotes your business and engages your customers. Once you ve uploaded the video, you can get the ball rolling on making it go viral by using services like StumbleUpon to drive traffic to your video for pennies per viewer. Video sites like YouTube allow you to put links directly into the video. Use these to link back to specific landing pages on your website.

7. Infographic

Yes, infographics may have been overused a few years back, but people still share them and still stop and read them whenever they can.They re quite cheap to produce as well. Simply come up with an original idea (again, don t make it about you), find a quality (but affordable) graphic designer, then share it socially and ask your network to pass it along. You can also submit your infographics to publications that cover your industry.

Always put your logo and website URL on the bottom of the infographic. This way readers will be able to visit your site.

8. Webinars

Webinars are an inexpensive way to get your message to thousands of potential customers. There are many services that allow you to broadcast a webinar quickly and easily. And if you make it a recurring event, you ll continue to grow your following. So, come up with a great idea that helps your customers and promote it using social media, your network and your newsletter.

At the end of the webinar, feel free to ask the attendees to download an eBook, sign up for your newsletter, or visit your site. This will bring the leads flowing in.

9. Media coverage

Do you know what journalists hate? Being hit up by dozens of PR agencies hour after hour, day after day. Do you know what journalists hate a little less? Having an owner of a company reach out to them and tell their story in a real and authentic manner. In fact, your chances of being covered go up significantly if you do the reach out yourself (as long as your pitch is on point). A few tips regarding reaching out to journalists: Don t mass email them, do not open with to whom it may concern and don t pester them (one follow up email is sufficient).

By getting your name out in the media, you begin to develop a following, increase your personal brand and come off as an expert in your domain all that can help you get leads.

10. Strong branding

Customers love authentic companies. They like it when a company has a strong and clear message and that message is consistent across all of their marketing platforms. So, don t try and be everything to everyone. Customers want the experts and the company that is the best in their industry. Focus on communicating that through your branding and your conversion rates will go up, resulting in more leads.





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Top 10 Ways to Advertise on a Budget #business #advice

#business advertising

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10 Inexpensive Ways to Advertise Your Small Business

Banner ads and print ads can be expensive. And they are not necessarily the best way to advertise your small or mid-size business. So to find how to get the greatest return on your advertising investment, Small Business Computing surveyed small business owners. Here’s what they had to say.

10 Inexpensive Ways to Advertise Your Small Business

Banner ads and print ads can be expensive. And they are not necessarily the best way to advertise your small or mid-size business. So to find how to get the greatest return on your advertising investment, Small Business Computing surveyed small business owners. Here’s what they had to say.

Invest in Google AdWords

Google AdWords and PPC [pay-per-click] can give you crazy amounts of traffic if you are tight with your campaign and run niche ad groups,” explained Andrew Riker an SEO specialist at WordStream. “Focused, long-tail keywords that are specific to your industry will cause the highest possible click-through rate and in-turn conversions.”

Riker adds that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a lot of traffic. “A small daily budget—$10-$20/day—can provide you with a large amount of traffic and in turn qualified leads, as long as the ad is relevant,” he said. If you’re new to AdWords or just want to keep up with the latest tips and info, be sure to check out Inside Adwords . Google’s official resource blog on all things AdWords.

Try Facebook Ads

“We tried print ads and banner ads, but for our money Facebook Ads provide us with the most focused consumers,” explained Chris Knollmeyer, Web manager for Carolina Rustica. “Being able to target specific demographics lets us pinpoint people we have not reached yet and provides us with a platform to reach out to them. This kind of targeting allows us to minimize extemporaneous clicks from consumers [who are] just browsing or searching for information and gets us the most for our money.”

“Facebook ads have definitely been the most successful overall,” concurred Megan LaBant Abrahamsen, the owner of Blue Star Bazaar. “I can set a small budget (less than $10 per day) and target specific customers – [by] age, gender, education and interests similar to my product categories.”

Even if people don’t immediately make a purchase because of the Facebook ad, many of them wind up “liking” her business, she said, which lets Blue Star Bazaar create a database of potential customers.

Get your Facebook Ads tips direct from the source: Facebook for Business .

Look into StumbleUpon Ads

“One of the best ways to advertise and get traffic to your website is by using StumbleUpon Ads ,” noted Chris Wise, the online marketing director at CustomerRave. “They cost as little as $0.05 a click, so for $5 you can get 100 unique visitors to your site. While the bounce rate is more often than not higher when using these ads, it’s a great way to advertise contests, giveaways and big promotions,” he said.

And if the content you are promoting proves to be popular and receives a lot of “likes,” you will start receiving free traffic from Stumbles, which can go on for months, even after you have stopped advertising.

Get Published Online

Another great way to advertise your business is to “submit articles on topics your customers may be interested in to reputable websites, such as Ezinearticles.com . Articlesbase.com . or TheFreeLibrary.com ,” said Matthew Kostanecki, a marketing specialist at Archon Systems.

“In exchange for the content, they allow you to include a couple of back links to your website. Not only does this provide you with potential traffic and leads to your business, it also helps establish you as an expert in your related field,” said Kostanecki. Can’t come up with a subject to write about? He suggests asking your customers about their biggest pains and problems.

Donate Products or Volunteer Services to a Worthy Cause

“I got the equivalent of $1,000 in advertising by building the website for the Rhode Island Rally for Recovery ,” explained Benjamin John Coleman, founder of The Origami Bonsai Company. And his investment of time really paid off—resulting in $5,000 in new business. That’s because when other vendors who participated in the Rally saw what a great job his company did building and maintaining the Rally website, they hired Coleman to help them with their websites.

Cultivate Bloggers

Find influential bloggers in your industry and ask them to review your product or service,” suggested Daniel Weaver, the president and owner of Daniel’sPromise. “Many will be happy to do so if you give them free product for them to use.”

That’s what Juppy, the maker of the Juppy Baby Walker, did. “When we started out, our company we didn’t have a lot of cash on hand to spend on advertising,” explained Mayra Sotelo, the COO for Juppy. “So we decided to seek out mom bloggers who would review The Juppy Baby Walker. This worked out great for us… because there is no better [endorsement of] our baby walker that fits in a purse than by a real mom who loves our product.”

And if you can’t find a blogger who will review and write about your product for free, there are also bloggers “who will write about your site/product/company in exchange for a fee,” noted Mike Scanlin, CEO of Born To Sell. And even with a fee, that kind of endorsement is typically more effective and less expensive than a banner ad.

Claim Local Listings on Google Places, Yahoo Local and Bing Local

“You’d be amazed at how many small businesses forget to sign up for services like Google Places, Yahoo Local, and Bing Local even though it’s free!” explained Mandy Boyle, the SEO manager for Solid Cactus. “Claim your local listing, fill out the information and take advantage of people searching for businesses in your area,” she advised.

Use Community Sites and Local Directories

Leavy uses a site called Quentin’s Friends . an invitation-only network where members can post recommendations and offers for their products and services for a very small fee. “The service is location-specific, so my ad is going out to thousands of people who are specifically in my geographic area, New York,” she said. And Leavy’s return on investment has been an impressive 6,500 percent.

Link Up with LinkedIn Ads

If you own a B2B company, a good way to reach your target audience is through LinkedIn Ads . “We are a small business and our target market is small business users,” explained Damian Raffele, vice president, marketing, AnyMeeting.

LinkedIn Ads has worked well for the company, because it allows them to target a specific audience by geography, demographics, job title or LinkedIn Group. “Being able to target users who belong to specific LinkedIn Groups…allows us to design ad copy that is tailored for them, which has resulted in great conversion rates, providing us with a great ROI on our marketing spend.”

Distribute Flyers

“If you have a small business that focuses on a particular area, flyers are a great way to advertise,” said Nathan Letourneau, co-founder of CampusBooks4Less. And they needn’t be expensive. Chances are you have someone in your company, or a friend or family member, who can help you design the flyer inexpensively (or for free) – and you can print the flyer in house or find an inexpensive printer.

As for distribution, “hire some high school or college students and have them put the flyers on parked cars, attach them to house entry doors and distribute them inside area businesses (to employees and on any bulletin boards, if allowed) and apartment complexes,” he advised. “We saw huge increases in traffic after having students distribute flyers on parked cars in our target areas.”

While not every method will work for every business, each advertising strategy is inexpensive enough that you should be able try a few to find out what works for you. Also, many of the sites mentioned, such as Google AdWords and Facebook, periodically offer advertising credits or discounts, which small business owners should use to their advantage.





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10 Ways to Identify a Great Business Idea #unsecured #business #loans

#business idea

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10 Ways to Know If You Have a Great Business Idea

Good Ideas

Ready to take on the world of entrepreneurship? In order to find startup success, you need a great business idea. But a winning business idea is more than just something you’re excited about or good at — you have to make sure your idea is actually viable.

Business News Daily asked experts how you can tell if your business idea is poised for success. Here are 10 questions to ask yourself before pursuing your business idea.

Does it solve a problem?

Entrepreneur and co-founder of the Web design school The Starter League Mike McGee thinks the best business ideas are those that solve a problem in some way.

If there is a problem that affects you, your friends, family, co-workers, etc. then the chances are high that it affects people you don t know as well, McGee said.

Will people will pay for it?

It s paying customers who validate an idea and determine which ones have the greatest chance for success, said Wil Schroter, co-founder and CEO of Fundable .

An idea is just an idea until you have a paying customer attached to it, Schroter said. Anyone can discredit a simple idea, but no one can discredit paying customers.

What’s your price point?

Credit: Profit Growth Image via Shutterstock

Charlie Harary, founder and partner of investment firm H3 Co., said that while there are many ways to solve problems, great business ideas do it in a way that is less expensive than what the market will endure.

Once you have determined that you are solving a legitimate problem in a scalable way, you need to determine not only the value that it delivers to the world, but what people would pay for that value, Harary said. Once you determine the price, then you can assess if your solution is businessworthy or not.

Is there a sizable niche market for it?

Without a large enough market, your business idea may never get off the ground. Ruben Soto, CEO of shapewear company Hourglass Angel. said your business should cater to a strong niche market.

“Start by focusing on a niche market you know that can be served better,” Soto said. “Make sure the market is large enough and that you can serve those customers better than the alternative. Large companies won’t focus on niche markets, so there is room to compete and exceed customer expectations.”

Are you passionate enough about it?

Credit: Andy Dean Photography/Shutterstock

Your business will likely take up all of your time, so make sure you’re passionate enough about it to make it successful.

“Since starting a business requires an inordinate amount of time, energy and patience, ideally, the idea will be one that you are passionate about, as well as one that you have skills or experience [in],” said Melissa Bradley, executive-in-residence and director of entrepreneurship and innovation at the Kogod School of Business at American University .

Have you tested your idea?

Credit: Michael R Ross/Shutterstock

You won’t know if your business is viable until you test it on strangers.

“Test it not just with friends who will be too polite to tell the truth, but with honest people who would make up your ideal target audience, and then listen to the feedback,” said Lisa McCartney, chief “PLYTer” at educational math board game company PLYT. “

“If your target sample is saying [your idea] is fantastic and [asking] where can they get it, you know that you’re onto something, but if they are less than enthusiastic, it’s probably not as good an idea as you thought.”

Are you open to advice?

If you’re not open to changing or adapting your idea to fit what your customers will want, your business idea might not be worth pursuing.

“Success happens when you are willing to listen and consider others’ advice,” said Angie Yasulitis, CEO and managing partner at YaZo Marketing and Business Development Strategies. “Most good ideas take some tweaking to get to market. Being closed-minded is a business killer.”

How will you market your business?

Many entrepreneurs think about the problems their business will solve but not about how they intend to market their business to their target customers. Jesse Lipson, corporate vice president and general manager at cloud company Citrix Cloud Services. said that your marketing strategy can determine if your business idea is a good one.

“If you have a solid go-to market strategy and a decent product, you’ll probably be successful,” Lipson said. “But if you have a great product without any idea how to reach your potential customers, then it’s going to be really tough to make it successful. Thinking through that as early as possible is really key.”

Are you being realistic about your goals?

As excited as you may be about a new business idea, it’s important to stay grounded and be realistic about it. Thomas J. Gravina chairman, co-founder and CEO of cloud services company Evolve IP said you shouldn’t have a “Field of Dreams” mentality when starting your business.

“Just because you have a vision and decide to build it does not mean the rest will follow,” Gravina said. “While you may have an idea that is original, revolutionary or ahead of its time, there should be a real, solid market opportunity to ensure it is successful. Any new business case or new endeavor has to have a viable market that you believe you can sell now not theoretically or on the premise that there is a future for this market.”

Can you explain your idea in the simplest terms?

Your business may solve a complicated problem, but you should be able to explain it in simple terms so that anyone can understand it, said Kris Duggan, CEO of goal management company BetterWorks. Duggan suggested using what he calls “the grandma test.”

“When you typically hear someone pitch their idea, it’s usually chock-full of important-sounding jargon that rarely makes sense,” Duggan said. “When you think about your new business idea, ask yourself, ‘Can it pass the grandma test?’ In other words, would your grandma understand what you do? Perhaps your business is solving a complicated problem, but early on, come up with a way to explain it that makes sense to the masses.”

Updated Jan. 13, 2016. Business News Daily Senior Writer Chad Brooks also contributed to this story.

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7 Ways For Women to Win and Succeed in Business #small #business #resources

#women in business

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7 Ways For Women to Win and Succeed in Business

EHStock via Getty Images

1.You Can’t Do Or Have It. One of the downfall of many business and professional women is the “Superwoman Complex.” Once you hang up the Superwoman cape and the Wonderwoman belt and recognize and accept this fact, your job will get a whole lot easier. Every successful person needs a dedicated support team or at the very least a wing man or woman. You don’t have to do everything yourself! Trust your team to do the work, after all that’s what you hired them to do. If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, a great way to expand your staff is by engaging college students as interns. They can provide that extra help when you need it. Additionally, don’t rule out family and friends. And do not wait until a project is in jeopardy or you are on the verge of being burned out or a nervous breakdown. Remember that delegating empowers others and allows you to focus on the future as well as the big pictures.

2. Positive, Positive, Positive. A negative attitude will never yield positive results. Having a positive attitude helps you to succeed. Surround yourself with positive people who will encourage, inspire, support and motivate you. They will carry you through the tough days and cheer you on when you feel like giving up.

3. Add Humor To Your Work Research shows that laughter affects health, creativity, relationships and the quality of life. Poke fun at yourself, not at others. When your day gets too high-stress, lighten up! Lightening up the workplace reduces conflicts and stress and builds teamwork and productivity. Not to mention it’s great for morale. Converting your staff and customers from unhappy to happy is good for business.

4. Keep Up With Current Events And News. Staying informed about what is happening in the world and in your local community is critical to your personal and professional development. No matter what business you are in, current events have an impact on your industry and your clients. Do not be caught off guard because you haven’t taken ten minutes to read the morning paper. Daily papers are good sources of industry and corporate news, as well as contacts.

5. Be Generous To Your Community, Your Staff, And Yourself
Reward yourself and your employees for hard work and success. Take time to give back to your community through volunteer work and charitable contributions. Let this quote by Winston Churchill you — “you make a living by what you do, but you make a life by what you give. Keep a brave heart and a beautiful spirit.

6 Become A Life-Long-Learner Learning and growing both personally and professionally is a lifelong process that drives our creativity, intelligence and ambition. Make it a priority to take courses and adopt new techniques that help you and your staff think out of the box. Innovation and reinvention are the order of the day. Set aside time for brainstorming and idea sharing. Most important, don’t be afraid to try new things and introduce yourself to new people. When you forego investments in yourself and your staff, you run the risk of allowing complacency to take root. How many times have you found yourself staring at the messy piles of paper in your office? Make sure to invest in an organizer to help clean your space. You will find this will lead to greater efficiency. Check out Napo.net (National Association of Professional Organizers). They offer a list of certified and reputable organizers like Hub Neat Organizer and Charles River Organizers both of whom are in my hometown. I am using them to help me better organize my office and my home.

7. Stop And Smell The Roses Take a minute for yourself every day. Get some exercise, read a good book, take a hot bath or socialize with friends and family. Your work is important, but it is not everything in life. Appreciate all that life has to offer, and your energy will radiate at work, at home and through everything you do.

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The 10 Most Reliable Ways to Fund a Startup #ethics #in #business

#start up business grants

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The 10 Most Reliable Ways to Fund a Startup

One of the most frequent questions I get as a mentor to entrepreneurs is How do I find the money to start my business? I always answer that there isn t any magic, and contrary to popular myth, nobody is waiting in the wings to throw money at you just because you have a new and exciting business idea.

On the other hand, there are many additional creative options available for starting a business that you might not find when buying a car, home or other major consumer item. If you have the urge to be an entrepreneur, I encourage you to think seriously about each of these, before you zero in on one or two, and get totally discouraged if those don t work for you.

Of course, every alternative has advantages and disadvantages, so any given one may not be available or attractive to you. For example, professional investors put great priority on your previous experience in building a business, and they expect to own a portion of the business equity and control for the funds they do provide. These are tough for a first-time entrepreneur.

Thus it is always a question of what you qualify for, and what you are willing to give up, to turn your dream idea into a viable business. Here is my list of the 10 most common sources of funding today, in reverse priority sequence, with some rules of thumb to channel your focus:

10. Seek a bank loan or credit-card line of credit.

In general, this won t happen for a new startup unless you have a good credit history or existing assets that you are willing to put at risk for collateral. In the U.S. you may find that the Small Business Administration (SBA) can get you infusions of cash without normal backup requirements.

9. Trade equity or services for startup help.

This is most often called bartering your skills or something you have for something you need. An example would be negotiating free office space by agreeing to support the computer systems for all the other office tenants. Another common example is exchanging equity for legal and accounting support.

8. Negotiate an advance from a strategic partner or customer.

Find a major customer, or a complimentary business, who sees such value in your idea that they are willing to give you an advance on royalty payments to complete your development. Variations on this theme include early licensing or white-labeling agreements.

7. Join a startup incubator or accelerator.

These organizations, such as Y Combinator. are very popular these days, and are often associated with major universities, community development organizations, or even large companies. Most provide free resources to startups, including office facilities and consulting, but many provide seed funding as well.

6. Solicit venture-capital investors.

These are professional investors, such as Accel Partners. who invest institutional money in qualified startups, usually with a proven business model, ready to scale. They typically look for big opportunities, needing a couple of million dollars or more, with a proven team. Look for a warm introduction to make this work.

5. Apply to local angel-investor groups.

Most metropolitan areas have groups of local high-net-worth individuals interested in supporting startups, and willing to syndicate amounts up to a million dollars for qualified startups. Use online platforms such as Gust to find them, and local networking to find ones that relate to your industry and passion.

4. Start a crowdfunding campaign online.

This newest source of funding, where anyone can participate per the JOBS Act. is exemplified by online sites such as Kickstarter. Here people make online pledges to your startup during a campaign, to pre-buy the product for later delivery, give donations or qualify for a reward, such as a T-shirt.

3. Request a small-business grant.

These are government funds allocated to support new technologies and important causes, such as education, medicine and social needs. A good place to start looking is Grants.gov. which is a searchable directory of more than 1,000 federal grant programs. The process is long, but it doesn t cost you any equity.

2. Pitch your needs to friends and family.

As a general rule, professional investors will expect that you have already have commitments from this source to show your credibility. If your friends and family don t believe in you, don t expect outsiders to jump in. This is the primary source of non-personal funds for very early-stage startups.

1. Fund your startup yourself.

These days, the costs to start a business are at an all-time low, and over 90 percent of startups are self funded (also called bootstrapping). It may take a bit longer to save some money before you start and grow organically, but the advantage is that you don t have to give up any equity or control. Your business is yours alone.

You can see that all of these options require work and commitment on your part, so there is no magic or free money. Every funding decision is a complex tradeoff between near-term and longer-term costs and paybacks, as well as overall ownership and control.

With the many options available, there is no excuse for not living your dream, rather than dreaming about living.





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New Ways to Invest in Small Businesses #canadian #business

#small business investment

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New Ways to Invest in Small Businesses

When nonprofessional investors are able to put money into small businesses, everyone can benefit.

I met with Paul on Tuesday. He is the CFO of a business start-up. He s not sure if the next phase of his company s financing is going to go through. Although he believes in the business model and the mission of the company, some days he thinks he won t have a job in three weeks.

I met with David on Wednesday. While he s a great saver and earns a decent buck, he isn t wealthy. He wants to invest in small companies so much that we ve set up a fun money account, which is 10% of his otherwise well-diversified, passively managed portfolio. Fun money is specifically set aside so that he can make individual investments he believes in.

Because of the way small business investing is structured in this country, the likelihood of Paul and David connecting has been infinitesimally small.

This drives me mad.

It s not just these two who are missing out. Because small companies drive job and economic growth, the economy of the country loses when Paul and David don t connect. And because the current system of funding is biased, some small businesses are a lot less likely to get funding despite their worthy ideas.

Recent developments could change all this.

To raise their initial start up money, small business owners typically first use their savings, and then appeal to their friends and family. Next, they go to banks. If they get big enough and have certain ambitions and contacts, they can get venture capital funding or private equity funding, which is what Paul was waiting on.

These sources of capital are all enhanced if you are affluent and well connected. Do your friends and family have extra money to invest in your business? Do you know anyone you can talk to at a bank? What about impressing people in the venture capital world? A lot of people with good ideas are shut out.

Enter the Internet. Raising money got a lot easier.

The Power of Reward Sites

With reward sites, startups with good ideas raise money in exchange for rewards.

Sesame, which opens doors remotely from smartphones, raised over $1.4 million on Kickstarter.com. The reward here was a chance to order the device.

Then there is Lammily. Barbie s realistically proportioned cousin, whose designer raised almost $500,000 through Tilt.com. The reward for funding Lammily was the chance to pre-order the doll, and sticker packs with stretch marks, cellulite, freckles, and boo-boos.

The reward sites show that companies can raise large amounts of money through small contributions from a large number of people. Research suggests that Kickstarter.com reduces company funding gender bias by an order of magnitude and reduces geographic bias as well. Reward sites cater to consumers who love new products and want to support new ideas.

You may get first dibs on a cool new doll, but sending money to a reward site isn t investing.

The Risks of Private Equity

Traditionally, to get private equity funding, you have to sell to accredited investors the richest 1% of the population, roughly speaking.

Accredited investor regulations were set up in in the wake of the 1929 crash, when a lot of people got ripped off because they invested in dubious enterprises. The idea was that people with a high level of wealth are sophisticated enough to understand investment risk. Unfortunately, this leaves the Davids of the world investors who are sophisticated but wealthy shut out of these types of investments.

Private equity placements are not always a great deal. When I ve looked into them for clients, I ve concluded they are expensive, risky, and difficult to get out of, even if you die. The middlemen who offer these and the advisers who sell these seem to be the ones most likely to make money. The best deals I ve looked at weren t hawked by sales people or investment advisers, but came through clients friends and family.

The rise of Internet portals set up to connect small companies with accredited investors has the potential to cut down on intermediary costs. Still, the sector remains small.

In 2012, President Obama signed the JOBS act, which directed the Securities and Exchange Commission to devise rules opening up small business investing to non-accredited investors.

Some organizations didn t wait for the SEC to issue the rules. Instead, they dusted off exemptions in the securities legislation that most of us have ignored for 80 years.

States Get Into the Act

Some states have picked up on crowdfunding to boost their economies. Terms vary, but generally investors are subject to investment limits and companies are subject to a cap on raising money. Each individual, for example, might be limited to investing $10,000; each company might be limited to raising $1 million. Both investor and company are generally required to reside in the state.

This is music to ears of people who want to invest locally. The first successful offering using this type of exemption was in Georgia in 2013, where Bohemian Guitars raised approximately $130,000 through SparkMarket.com.

Village Power is another example of raising money using an exemption. This intermediary helps organizations set up and fund solar power projects. Village Power coaches their community partners to use an exemption in the SEC rules, which allows for up to 35 local, non-accredited investors.

New Rules Open Doors

New rules issued March 25 by the SEC removed a lot of the barriers for companies raising money and for non-accredited investors.

Companies will be able to raise up to $50 million. Non-accredited investors are welcome to invest, sometimes with limits 10% of their net worth, say, or 10% of their net income.

Although Kickstarter has said that it won t sell securities, other fundraising portals, such as Indiegogo. are looking into it.

And if all goes well, Paul, David, and I can start looking for the new opportunities in June of 2015.

Bridget Sullivan Mermel helps clients throughout the country with her comprehensive fee-only financial planning firm based in Chicago. She s the author of the upcoming book More Money, More Meaning. Both a certified public accountant and a certified financial planner, she specializes in helping clients lower their tax burden with tax-smart investing.

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