Small Business Loan

Landing A Small Business Loan In This Environment

Banks are not currently and probably will not be lending to small, growing businesses anytime soon. They view these small firms as too risky and banks are just not taking on any risk (any risk at all).

But, that does not mean that your business cannot get the money its needs to start or grow. You just might have to go about it in a different manner which, in the long-run, may be a benefit to you and your business.

For most small business, banks are not lending as they don’t want any loans with any risk on their books. While they do want your deposits and other account business, they are just unwilling to let money walk out the door.

They blame these small businesses for items like poor credit, inadequate cash flow or undervalued collateral but in truth, many of these banks are just not in a position to lend to what is deemed risky businesses. And, if your business does not really need a loan, then it is deemed risky.

What Can Your Small Business Do?

For established small businesses, if your banker is refusing to take your call (and most are) then you should be looking at some of the alternatives methods of financing that have been around for decades or that have recently cropped up to fill the lending gaps left behind by the banks.

Know that banks are not nor have always been the only and best options for small businesses. Banks tend to look at your overall business’s profits before making a business loan decision. Alternative financing options tend to look more at the need of the business and its ability to covert financial assets to cash.

1) Look to factoring. If you have customers in the wings but lack the working capital to get these jobs started, factor those job orders for 100% of the cash you need to complete those jobs. Or, if you are sitting on a bunch of unpaid invoices, look to use them to get the working capital your business needs to meet immediate expenses or start that next order.

2) Look to SBA loans. While these types of government guaranteed loans still have to go through banks – the SBA’s 504 program is leading the way in helping many local small businesses acquire and finance property and equipment. With the SBA’s 504 program, your local community development corporation will work with the SBA and your bank to finance hard assets. As they all spread and share the risk, your chances of getting funded increase dramatically.

3) Let your business finance its own growing needs. There are a lot of growing businesses that tend to have a lot of sales but are still losing money (more cash out then in). This is not a reflection of the economy or any market but that of how the business is managed.

Look for ways to reduce costs while maintaining your current level of sales or if that is not possible then look for ways to increase prices. You should always be looking for ways to reduce costs – even if your business is highly profitable.

Keep shopping around for lower cost suppliers and vendors. Look to technology to improve processes or for ways to reduce staff expenses. And, constantly review your service providers – no sense in over paying for services like phone, internet, etc. If you can get your costs down and bring your profits up, you might not need outside financing at all. The best business loan is not having to get one in the first place.

Business is not easy and is getting harder the longer our economy remains stagnate. However, people and businesses still need products and services to get through their days. They look for products that either make their life easier or save them time and money. And, while many are being more selective in what they spend their money on, they are still spending – good news for your business.

Getting and keeping customers (letting them know who you are and what your business offers as well as keeping your business on the top of their minds) is always a challenge. But, successful businesses get out there and find creative ways to meet and overcome those challenges. The same is true in financing your small business.

If you need capital to either get your business off the ground or to finance your current growth, you might as well just forget about the banks and get creative. Banks are just not ready to take chances.

If you can’t demonstrate (sell) your business’s potential to the many different financing options out there (some that really want to work with your business) then you might start thinking about another career.

Finding new ways to capitalize your business is just one of the many challenges that all businesses face in their development. But, the good news is that it is not the most daunting challenge you will face. If you need a business loan to start or grow your company, then get out there and get one!

Marketing Ideas For Small Business

7 Best Marketing Ideas For Small Business

1. Marketing Ideas For Small Business – Who, What Why, How, Where And When
Rudyard Kipling’s six honest serving men are great guides through the marketing minefield. Who are you going to sell to? What is your ideal client like? What do they need? Why do they need it? When? How will you provide it and where? Narrow each of these answers down and focus on where your ideal customers hang out. Now you have a clear idea where you should put your marketing messages and how to communicate it most effectively.

2. Marketing Ideas For Small Business – Good Is No Longer Good Enough
You going to need to be outstanding in some way to get noticed in today’s crowded marketplace. The Impact Equation by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith define this as ‘contrast’. One way of being outstanding is instead of thinking about marketing as a separate activity, provide the best customer service as a marketing strategy. This means making yourself stand out by going the extra mile for your customers. This sounds daunting, but it can be done by breaking down your customer buying experience into stages, and working out the best way to communicate with the customer at each stage. Write down the process to ensure your approach stays consistent as your business grows.

3. Marketing Ideas For Small Business – The Question Is ‘How Much Do You Want To Grow?’
You need to be focused and you need a marketing plan. First list your existing customers and work out for each the amount of current sales for the coming year. A month by month approach works well. Now comes the fun part. How much do you plan to earn from new customers? Your new customers should fit your ideal customer profile. How many of these new customers do you need each month to reach this goal? How much will they spend? You have already worked out where they hang out. Now you are focused on how you are going to achieve your marketing plan.

4. Marketing Ideas For Small Business- Leave Your Ego At The Door
Your best marketing strategy is to put your customers first. It’s all about them. Make sure that you focus on them in all your communications. What are your needs? How can I help you? They are really not interested in you, only what you can do for them. In his book ‘7 Secrets Of Highly Effective Marketing’, Richard Lomax talks about ‘direct response marketing’, which means that before you invest any time or money in a specific activity, you must ask yourself: “How are we going to accurately measure the response?” Simple measuring mechanisms include a unique phone number to ring, a promotional code or a web page for people to visit.

5. Marketing Ideas For Small Business – How To Get Your Prospects To Come To You
Part of your best marketing strategy involves branding yourself as an expert in your niche market. You are an expert, your customers need to believe that too. Then they will start coming to you. In his book ‘Growing Your Service Firm’, Robert Craven writes that an expert has 7 characteristics and how to develop them. This involves focusing on your unique USP which will make you stand out and then writing, speaking, knowing the right people, possessing a good website and database, having an expertise or an ‘ology’ and making the best use of testimonials and endorsements.

Following this through to your online presence also requires effort. This is good news for small business as once you have established your website, many of the methods are free.

6. Marketing Ideas For Small Business – Being Simply Irresistible
You need to make it so absolutely irresistible for a targeted new customer or client to buy from you for their very first time, that they will find it impossible not to. Does that sound expensive? Not when you consider the lifetime value of that loyal customer. How are you going to keep them?

7. Marketing Ideas For Small Business – ‘Best Friend Forever’ Policy
Just like a close personal friendship or partnership, you must respect and nurture your relationship with your customers if you hope to harvest the best results from it. Be their trusted adviser. Communicate good news, and keep in touch just like you would with a best friend. This will make it impossible for your customers to want to look elsewhere for the services or products you offer.

Running a Small Business

Running a Small Business – 3 Important Things to Do for Success in This Economy

Okay, let’s talk about the reality of being a small business owner in 2013 and all of the chatter regarding the disasters of running a small business. There are so many voices out there that it’s becoming more difficult knowing who to listen to, who to trust and what you should do! I want to share what I think are three important things to do for success in this economy.

Running a Small Business-Why Businesses Die

Did you know that a report from FOX news stated that from 2008-2010 over 200,000 small businesses have gone under? And the news continues to sound very bleak as this year continues. Let me share some of my observations with you; they are my observations mind you so just bear with me because there is a bright light at the end of this tunnel and isn’t a train. Often the first sign that a business has started its death walk is the cutting back on the quality of services and goods; if it’s a restaurant for instance, they start to cut back on the quality of their food products in order to save some money, then they start to serve smaller portions and keep the price the same and last but not least, they never engage their customers for feedback. The death of a business!

Running a Small Business-Knowledge Is Power

Listen, we all know the importance of marketing; well, it’s also important to know what you want and need for your business. Sounds real simple but, most small business owners really don’t have a clue what they need to reach their ideal customers. Unfortunately, most marketing companies just want to make money off of you and they tend to promise you the world even when they know that they can’t honestly deliver the goods. Here are some things that you need to keep in mind when it comes to marketing:

Have a marketing plan or strategy for your business. Running a small business means you have to make the time to know what you need to invest into your business; you have to identify what or who your ideal customer looks like and then market to them.
No quick rich marketing! Please! And here’s the trap; you go with the guys who tell you that they have a new and creative way that gets you instant results and fill your head with visions of dollar signs and then-burned! Now, you don’t trust anyone and that leads you towards the death walk. The right marketing will get you results but, it can take some time depending what tools are used.
Time is money. We have heard that so many times and it is a true statement but we have to look at it from a different point of view; if you don’t take or make the time to step back and look at your business as a whole you’re a goner, game over, it’s a wrap! Please, don’t own your job, scale your business. Taking time to honestly evaluate your business will pay awesome dividends! Even if it means having someone help you in the process. Oftentimes, when running a small business, you’ll find that things aren’t as bad as they look.

Running a Small Business-What Competition

Here’s a major trap most business owners get caught in; they market with their competition in mind instead of with their customers in mind. You are not trying to win your competition over; you want to get the attention of your customers. Listen; identify your ideal customer and market to them. Don’t start cutting back on the quality of your services or your products. The best way to solicit feedback from your customers is by using review sites. Running a small business can still be profitable in this economy if you follow these suggestions.

Small Business Publicity

Small Business Publicity — Worth It?

ou bet it’s worth it. Publicity via news releases, along with building relationships with reporters and editors is really good for your small business.

As one who is adamant about “it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you,” news releases play a big part in that awareness. Plus getting publicity helps establish you as an expert in your specialty. Amazingly, much of the news we read in the newspaper on a daily basis started with a news release.

That news could be about you. It’s critical you have publicity activities and news releases as a part of the marketing plan for your small business.

So where do you start? If you’ve never written a news release before, it can appear to be a daunting task. Relax and take a deep breath. All the information you need is at your fingertips. Just search for “write a press release” in any search engine and you’ll get plenty of great resources to help you on your way.

The bottom line is it can be done. But it takes consistent effort and action just like everything else that will make you successful in your business. Make sure you add public relations activities to your marketing plan as at least monthly tasks. And don’t forget to sieze opportunities as they come up in your day-to-day business.

Facebook For Small Business

Facebook For Small Business – Is It Worth It?
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Expert Author Sue Cockburn

Facebook is a source of frustration and guilt for many smaller business owners and solo entrepreneurs, who wonder how to make it work for their business.

In a Forbes article titled ‘Why Small Businesses Are Losing On Social Media” author Meghan Casserly interviewed social media guru Ted Rubin who noted “if an expert or strategist tries to sell you on the notion that setting up a Facebook page… will open the floodgates to an Internet’s worth of sales leads, they’re selling you some bad medicine.”

Rubin goes on to say, “Social actually can be a powerful lead generator,” but not in the way most small business owners think. “Jumping online to check in on Facebook once a day or posting current sales deals isn’t going to bring the business in.”

Social media generally and Facebook specifically is one arrow in the marketing quiver. It isn’t a quick fix and it isn’t traditional media. It’s value lies in being part of an overall integrated marketing strategy that incorporates a website, traditional media, excellent customer service and solid products/services as part of the package that builds brand recognition, customer loyalty and leads.

The average person is on Facebook to connect with family and friends. But when brands understand this and tailor their content to their fans, so that fans find the content interesting, inspirational, informative, valuable and/or helpful, then fans will remember them and are then more likely to begin to like, share and comment on their posts. This then helps build brand name recognition and loyalty, which in turn can help fuel potential sales opportunities down the road.

Canadian Small Business Owners

Canadian Small Business Owners: “Lacking in Financial Literacy”

There is both good news and bad news when it comes to the level of small business financial literacy possessed by the average Canadian small business owner. The results of a recent small business financial literacy quiz conducted by Intuit Canada show that more than 8 out of 10 respondents failed to achieve a score of “good or basic knowledge” or better. Nearly half of these respondents revealed “well below basic knowledge.”

Put another way, only 17 percent of respondents achieved a score of “very good knowledge” or better, and only 2% said they have “great knowledge.” The quiz consisted of 10 questions about business financial fundamentals, such as what is the role of the balance sheet and how can short-term cash flow be improved?

What’s the Good News?

That’s the bad news. The good news is that a majority of the respondents said they understand that financial management is important to the success of their business and they need to start closing the “knowledge gap.” Specifically:

42 percent said they wanted to spend more time with an accountant.
24 percent said they would benefit from information sessions with other small business owners.
22 percent said they would benefit from online tutorials.

The study indicates that small business owners’ use of financial literacy tools and resources increases their financial management confidence. Three-quarters of respondents who use financial software are confident that they have a good knowledge of accounting principles. Only 16 percent of respondents who rely on their own financial knowledge expressed this same level of confidence.

Up Close and Personal

In our position as small business financial consultants, we see the reality of these statistics up close and personal every day. Most entrepreneurs start businesses because they have particular talents or skills when it comes to manufacturing and delivering a product or providing a professional service – not because they are financial experts. However, they quickly learn that a good level of financial knowledge is very important to achieving success.

It’s not uncommon for an entrepreneur to have a great business idea or product, a strong distribution system and/or sales force, a crack customer service team and raving customer reviews – only to fail because it suffered from poor cash flow.

You’ve probably heard it said before that “cash flow is the lifeblood of a business” and it’s true. Companies can often withstand short-term periods of slow sales, and even unprofitability, but a lack of cash flow can prove fatal – even to companies with strong sales and high profits.

Cash Flow Solutions

If your company is suffering from poor cash flow, you owe it to yourself to speak with a small business financial consultant willing to sit down with you and help analyze your situation and suggest solutions. Often, these involve asset-based lending (ABL) solutions like factoring and accounts receivable (A/R) financing.

A full-service factoring company will purchase selected receivables on an ongoing basis for a small discount to provide immediate cash flow for your business. This form of financing is widely used around the world – credit card companies are essentially doing the same thing. The elimination of a “receivables lag” can mean the difference between success and failure for businesses with a lack of working capital, or those that are operating with long or unreliable cash conversion cycles.

An A/R financing company will lend to a business based on the total value of its eligible receivables. There is a subtle but important difference between this and factoring receivables outright: With A/R financing, the receivables become the primary collateral, a workable advance rate is established, and the company is able to call upon funds based on the “borrowing base” of eligible receivables.

Many business owners fail to seriously consider these two options because they are unaware of how they work. They don’t realize how quick and easy it is to qualify, or the many advantages of these options over traditional financing. And many think they are simply too expensive but fail to ask themselves, “Compared to what?” The result of doing nothing is sometimes the loss of the business or bankruptcy.

Don’t Be a Statistic

Statistics indicate how hard it is to be a successful Canadian small business: While 85 percent of Canadian small businesses make it through the first year, only 51 percent are still around after five years. How many of these failures could have been prevented with a bit of knowledge and a stronger grasp of business financial management?

If you own a business or know someone who does, you are in a position to alter the statistics directly. Start by learning about or improving your knowledge of alternative financing solutions. The success or failure of many Canadian small businesses may depend on it.

Small Business Access to Credit

Small Business Access to Credit – The Startling Facts You Need to Understand to Clear the

Can you believe that 50% of first year businesses do not make it to the next year? Did you know that 95% of businesses fail within 5 years of being established? It is because of these percentages that lenders and other financial organizations consider many small businesses to be ‘high risk’.

High risk businesses (and even some non-risk businesses) have an extremely difficult time finding and obtaining business credit. So, why are lenders so afraid to lend out funding to start-up and current businesses?

Let’s take a look the real side of small business access to credit….

Uncertain Economy

An uncertain economy has a lot to do with the ability of a small business access to credit. During a recession, or even a falling economy, people are not spending money. Therefore, they are not going to small businesses for materials like they do when the economy is good.

Small businesses are not getting near enough business to stay afloat and lenders are perfectly aware of it. Lenders are skeptical to lend out money in fear of never seeing repayment.

Outstanding Loans And Credit Card Balances

This goes hand in hand with the uncertain economy. More business owners default on a loan during a rough economy. Lenders have hundreds of thousands of dollars in back loans that they are unable to provide more opportunities for small business access to credit.

If they are not paid for the capital they have lent out, they could risk going out of business themselves. This is especially true for private organizations that need the paid interest rates on loans and credit cards to keep them going.

Lending Standards Restrict Small Business Access To Credit

The lending standards that the government places on small business loans and credit cards have a lot to do with small business access to credit. Tighter regulations for small business loans means less and less business owners will qualify for the credit they need to keep their businesses in business.

Stricter regulations will help the lenders keep the money in house, but they will also increase the unemployment rates as small businesses will be going out of business. It is critical that small business access to credit be open or we could see a drastic decrease in the amount of business opportunities available to people.

All of these factors contribute to why lenders are not offering business credit to businesses. Small business access to credit is becoming smaller and smaller and smaller. So, if you are considering starting your own business I want you to understand the ‘Why’ so you feel more confident when you begin your quest to obtain credit for your business.