How to Get Financing For Your Small Business.

In today’s hostile economic environment, access to capital is the primary differentiating factor between those businesses which have been able to expand and gain market share versus those that have experienced enormous drops in revenue. The reason many small businesses have seen their sales and cash flow drop dramatically, many to the point of closing their doors, while many large U.S. corporations have managed to increase sales, open new retail operations, and grow earnings per share is that a small business almost always relies exclusively on traditional commercial bank financing, such as SBA loans and unsecured lines of credit, while large publicly traded corporations have access to the public markets, such as the stock market or bond market, for access to capital.

Prior to the onset of the financial crises of 2008 and the ensuing Great Recession, many of the largest U.S. commercial banks were engaging in an easy money policy and openly lending to small businesses, whose owners had good credit scores and some industry experience. Many of these business loans consisted of unsecured commercial lines of credit and installment loans that required no collateral. These loans were almost always exclusively backed by a personal guaranty from the business owner. This is why good personal credit was all that was required to virtually guarantee a business loan approval.

During this period, thousands of small business owners used these business loans and lines of credit to access the capital they needed to fund working capital needs that included payroll expenses, equipment purchases, maintenance, repairs, marketing, tax obligations, and expansion opportunities. Easy access to these capital resources allowed many small businesses to flourish and to manage cash flow needs as they arose. Yet, many business owners grew overly optimistic and many made aggressive growth forecasts and took on increasingly risky bets.

As a result, many ambitious business owners began to expand their business operations and borrowed heavily from small business loans and lines of credit, with the anticipation of being able to pay back these heavy debt loads through future growth and increased profits. As long as banks maintained this ‘easy money’ policy, asset values continued to rise, consumers continued to spend, and business owners continued to expand through the use of increased leverage. But, eventually, this party, would come to an abrupt ending.

When the financial crisis of 2008 began with the sudden collapse of Lehman Brothers, one of the oldest and most renowned banking institutions on Wall Street, a financial panic and contagion spread throughout the credit markets. The ensuing freeze of the credit markets caused the gears of the U.S. financial system to come to a grinding halt. Banks stopped lending overnight and the sudden lack of easy money which had caused asset values, especially home prices, to increase in recent years, now cause those very same asset values to plummet. As asset values imploded, commercial bank balance sheets deteriorated and stock prices collapsed. The days of easy money had ended. The party was officially over.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, the Great Recession that followed created a vacuum in the capital markets. The very same commercial banks that had freely and easily lent money to small businesses and small business owners, now suffered from a lack of capital on their balance sheets – one that threatened their very own existence. Almost overnight, many commercial banks closed off further access to business lines of credit and called due the outstanding balances on business loans. Small businesses, which relied on the working capital from these business lines of credit, could no longer meet their cash flow needs and debt obligations. Unable to cope with a sudden and dramatic drop in sales and revenue, many small businesses failed.

Since many of these same small businesses were responsible for having created millions of jobs, every time one of these enterprises failed the unemployment rate increased. As the financial crisis deepened, commercial banks went into a tailspin that eventually threatened the collapse of the entire financial system. Although Congress and Federal Reserve Bank led a tax payer funded bailout of the entire banking system, the damage had been done. Hundreds of billions of dollars were injected into the banking system to prop up the balance sheets of what were effectively defunct institutions. Yet, during this process, no provision was ever made that required these banks to loan money out to consumers or private businesses.

Instead of using a portion of these taxpayer funds to support small businesses and avert unnecessary business failures and increased unemployment, commercial banks chose to continue to deny access to capital to thousands of small businesses and small business owners. Even after receiving a historic taxpayer funded bailout, the commercial banks embraced an ‘every man for himself’ attitude and continue to cut off access to business lines of credit and commercial loans, regardless of the credit history or timely payments on such lines and loans. Small business bankruptcies skyrocketed and high unemployment persisted.

During this same period, when small businesses were being choked into non-existence, as a result of the lack of capital which was created by commercial banks, large publicly-traded corporations managed to survive and even grow their businesses. They were mainly able to do so by issuing debt, through the bond markets, or raising equity, by issuing shares through the equity markets. While large public companies were raising hundreds of millions of dollars in fresh capital, thousands of small businesses were being put under by banks that closed off existing commercial lines of credit and refused to issue new small business loans.

Even now, in mid 2012, more than four years since the onset of the financial crisis, the vast majority of small businesses have no means of access to capital. Commercial banks continue to refuse to lend on an unsecured basis to almost all small businesses. To even have a minute chance of being approved for a small business loan or business line of credit, a small business must possess tangible collateral that a bank could easily sell for an amount equal to the value of the business loan or line of credit. Any small business without collateral has virtually no chance at attaining a loan approval, even through the SBA, without significant collateral such as equipment or inventory.

When a small business cannot demonstrate collateral to provide security for the small business loan, the commercial bank will ask for the small business owner to secure the loan with his or her own personal assets or equity, such as equity in a house or cash in a checking, savings, or retirement account, such as a 401k or IRA. This latter situation places the personal assets of the owner at risk in the event of a small business failure. Additionally, virtually all small business loans will require the business owner to have excellent personal credit and FICO scores, as well as require a personal guaranty. Finally, multiple years of financial statements, including tax returns for the business, demonstrated sustained profitability will be required in just about every small business loan application.

A failure or lack of ability to provide any of these stringent requirements will often result in an immediate denial in the application for almost all small business loans or commercial lines of credit. In many instances, denials for business loans are being issued to applicants which have provided each of these requirements. Therefore, being able to qualify with good personal credit, collateral, and strong financial statements and tax returns still does not guarantee approval of a business loan request in the post financial crisis economic climate. Access to capital for small businesses and small business owners is more difficult than ever.

As a result of this persistent capital vacuum, small businesses and small business owners have begun to seek out alternative sources of business capital and business loans. Many small business owners seeking cash flow for existing business operations or funds to finance expansion have discovered alternative business financing through the use of merchant credit card cash advance loans and small business installment loans offered by private investors. These merchant cash advance loans offer significant advantages to small businesses and small business owners when compared to traditional commercial bank loans.

Merchant cash advance loans, sometimes referred to as factoring loans, are based on the amount of average credit card volume a merchant or retail outlet, processes over a three to six month period. Any merchant or retail operator that accepts credit cards as payment from customers, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover, is virtually guaranteed an approval for a merchant credit card advance. The total amount of cash advance that a merchant qualifies for is determined by this three to six month average and the funds are generally deposited in the business checking account of the small business within a seven to ten day period from the time of approval.

Small Business Management.

Running a small, start-up business has it share of ups and downs. When I launched my company nearly nine years ago, running my own small business has been both rewarding and challenging. It has enabled me to establish greater balance in my life as I have reduced the administrative burden that corporate America places on each of its employees and replaced it with more time spent on developing content for my clients.

Given the choice, running my own small business is the best option for me at this stage of my life. I can work out of my house, see my kid on a regular basis, focus my work effort on content, rather than administration, and yes golf a tad. That being said, I am asked continually by others “what is it like to be in business for yourself?” as they contemplate the leap from corporate to sole proprietorship.

While it is not for everyone, here are some of the points of consideration that one should mull over before making the jump to starting your own small business:

One Stop Shop: One of the benefits of being a small business owner is the autonomy of “calling the shots”. You are the boss and clearly can steer your company as you see fit. Many think they relish this set-up but in reality, when it comes to being the self-motivator that is required to be successful – the “guy” to go to – lots fall short. Before you read any further, ask yourself if you are cut out to be the “go to guy”. If not, you can save yourself a lot of time and frustration. Simply stay in the corporate world.

Develop A Business Plan: So, why is business planning so crucial? In a word, it provides “clarity”. Investing time to develop a plan provides precise clarification of the company vision. In addition, it provides a mechanism to gauge the results of the business and provides the foundation for future growth plans. In the long haul, it enhances the company valuation through fiscal responsibility, which provides the story of opportunity to any future investor or employee. Business planning is one-part strategy and one-part tactics – but where the sausage actually gets made is in the execution. Execution comes in the hard work necessary to carry out a plan and the accountability for your activities by tracking them.

Understand Tax Burdens: Regardless of the political rhetoric surrounding the tax code and its impact on small business, the fact of the matter is that these entities are levied with a myriad of taxes. I am shocked by how many budding entrepreneurs fail to understand the taxes that small businesses pay. My company has essentially one of the easiest business operating models that a small business can have. I invoice a few clients per month; receive a few checks a month; pay a few bills a month; and have very little inventory and/or depreciation of capital assets. Despite that, my tax return was 84 pages last year. Filing as an S-Corp, my outlay on taxes is between 25% and 39% of federal taxes; North Carolina state income taxes ranging from 6.0% to 7.5%, social security and medicare (twice as a matter of fact for employer and employee) of 15.3%, so nearly 50% of all income goes to taxes and fees.

Replicate Yourself: Given the fact that you are a one stop shop, a small business owner needs to replicate themselves wherever possible. Tools such as social media and the acceptance of telecommuting through online collaboration have enabled small business owners to be in many places at one time. In order to be successful, small business owners need to tap these tools to maximize their exposure to potential clients as well as reaching customers outside of their immediate trade area. Prior to these tools being readily available, my business was limited to the state of Illinois (where my company was originally based). Since I have utilized these tools to replicate myself, I have had clients in thirteen different states.

Navigate Third-Party Challenges: A small business owner wears many hats and relies on third-party entities for key alliances. When Go Daddy had their website and email server outage in September, roughly 5.3 million small business websites and emails were knocked out. Small business owners rely on these support companies and at times, are held captive when issues arise. While my company does not conduct a lot of commerce via my website, many small operators lost online revenue due to the outage.

Be Wary Of Scams: Lastly, where there is a small business owner, there is a criminal waiting to prey on the unsuspecting operator. In fact, this past week, I received a letter from a group claiming to represent the State of Illinois. Having been in business nearly nine years, I am keenly aware of all of the annual expenditures that my company pays. As an Illinois corporation (operating in North Carolina), I received a letter stating that I needed to send in a $125 fee for my “Annual Minutes Records Form”. I didn’t recall ever doing this, and when I contacted my CPA, he shared the following press release with me:

In short, starting and running a small business may be the best decision you may ever make. Having the facts in advance of that decision are critical to ensure that you are positioned for success. Once you fully vet your decision-making for starting your small business, the rewards can be amazing…

21 Top Marketing Mistakes Small Business Owners Make.

The analogy between marketing and a business is similar to the relationship of body and food. Marketing is the heart of the business. Every business is different so each business has to offer marketing and development, which fits each unique business’s need. There are many ways of developing and marketing for any business, but first let’s find the true concept and definition of marketing.

Marketing definition:

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large”.

1- Thinking advertising is marketing:

The biggest mistake most of the business owners make is to think advertising and spending money is the only marketing way exist. This group only focuses on advertising, which when the desire result is not achieved at the end of the month, they complain of how much money they wasted away. Advertisement is merely one of many ways of marketing.

2- You don’t enjoy what you do:

As stated above Marketing has many ways and approaches. The main marketing for your business is to love what you do. Nothing is better than your “Love what you do” attitude since it brings out your creativity, shows your talent and tells everyone how devoted you are to your business. Your daily positive attitude defines the successful future of your business. The love of your business construe in your daily interaction with new clients, employee’s moral and making important and effective marketing decisions. To be a good marketer for your business, first rule is your love for what you do.

3- Don’t have a good business plan:

What is business plan?

“A written document describing the nature of the business, the sales and marketing strategy, and the financial background, and containing a projected profit and loss statement”.

Having a business plan is like having a map. Many businesses start their business ignoring this very effective tool and get lost in the middle of the road. Every business plan states the exact details of the business’s concept and outlines clearly the marketing strategies, profit and loss, demographic, place of business, finances and targeted niche market. In order to make a solid business plan:

A) Know your business inside and out

Knowledge of your business is important to know the answer to all the categories of business plan. If you do not know the concept of your product or service, business plan and the pillar of your business does not exist.

B) Study, analyze and scrutinize

When you know the back and forth of every detail in your business, you can access all the required information needed to project your business in a business plan. In order to access all this information you need to study, analyze and scrutinize every file and information in libraries, city records and valid informative site on the Internet.

Best Small Business Tips and Ideas?

Deciding to start a business can be one of the most exhilarating decisions you make in your life. We are living in a world wherever everyone wants to make extra money and add to his income. Most people have achieved this by acquiring great business ideas. When one starts up a company, he must be ready to meet competition. It is important to note that you would not need to become rich or popular to succeed in business but have to think smartly. But there are a lot of moving parts and many different elements to consider.

10 basic tips essential to start a business successfully.

Tip 1: Get inspired and Love your idea

Every business begins with an idea you may have imagined of opening your own business for years, or motivation may have hit you suddenly. Nevertheless of the source, the first step of starting your own business is coming up with a business idea. And as important as your idea, you must in love with the idea.

Tip 2: Do Your Research / learn everything about the business

You’ve recognized your big idea, now it’s time to balance it with the reality. Are you truly ready to start a business? Answer the questions below and see what you need to prepare yourself for business. For a small business succeed it must fulfill a need, solve a problem or offer something the market wants.

You can identify this need in many ways by doing research, focus groups, and even trial and error.

As you search the market, some of the questions can be:

• Is there a need for your anticipated services or products?
• Who needs it? (Target Costumers)
• Are there other companies offering similar services or products right now?
• How is the competition?
• Can or how will your business fit into the market?

Tip 3: Make a Business Plan

You need a business plan in order to make your business idea a reality. If you expect to seek monetary support from an investor or financial organization, a formal written business plan is a must.

Even if you don’t need monetary support, a simple business plan can give you precision about what you hope to accomplish and how you plan to do it.

In overall, your business plan should summary your business goals and the inspiration behind them, as well as your plan for realization of your goals in terms of marketing and funding.

Tip 4: Planning Finances

Opening a small business doesn’t have to involve a lot of money, but it will involve some investment.

There are a number of methods you can fund your small business:

• With Small business grants
• By Financing
• With Small business loans
• Or Angel investors

You can also attempt to get your business off the ground by bootstrapping, using as little capital as necessary to start your business.

Tip 5: Business Structure

Your small business can be an individual ownership, a partnership, a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation. The business structure you might choose will impact in many factors from your business name, to liability, and how you file your taxes.

You can choose an initial business structure, and with time re-evaluate and change your structure as your business grows and needs to be changed.

Tip 6: The Business Name

The name you choose plays a role in almost every aspect of your business, so you want it to be a good one. Make sure you think through all of the possible consequences as you explore your options and select your business name.

Once you have selected a name, there is the need to check if it’s trademarked, currently in use and if stills free you will need to register it. A individual proprietor must register their business name with either their state or county clerk. Corporations, LLC, or limited corporations usually register their business name when the creation paperwork is filed.

These days you need to have a website, so please don’t forget to register your domain name once you have selected your business name. The best domains and more valuable online are the ones ending with .com.

Tip 7: Licenses and Permits

There are a range of small business licenses and permits that may apply to your situation, depending on the type of business you are starting and where you are placed. You will need to inquiry what licenses and permits apply to your business during the initial process.

Tip 8: The Business Location

Setting up your place to work is essential for the operation of your business, whether you will have a home office, a shared or private office space, or a retail location. You will need to reflect about your place, equipment, and overall setup, and make sure your business place works for the kind of business you will be doing.

Tip 9: Accounting System

One of the most essential systems for a small business is an accounting system. Your accounting system is essential in order to build and manage your budget, set your charges, conduct business with others, and file your taxes. You can set up your accounting system by your own, or hire an accountant to take away some of the work.

Tip 10: Promote Your Small Business

As soon your business is up and running, you need to start attracting customers. You’ll want to initiate with the essentials by writing a single selling offer and building a marketing plan. Explore as many small business marketing ideas as you can so you to choose how to promote your business most successfully. Completed these business start-up actions, you will have all of the most important small business bases protected, and be prepared for small business success.

How To Start A Service Business.

Setting Up A Service Based Business For Beginners

Although there are exceptions where both entities are entwined into one, most basics of the business is built around one unifying category so that the intentions and goals are clearly and visibly set.

This distinction allows the individual to then decide of the accompanying tools that should be chosen for the purpose of enhancing the business experience and also to contribute positively to the ease of running the business entity.

Most service based forays are labor intensive which the business entity revolves around. This is either packaged as the selling of expertise in a particular field or the selling of the actual “engines” that produce the desired outcome that bring in the revenue.

Either way the quality, efficiency, attention and detail that is exercised within the business are the eventual elements that are going to make or break the business foray into the revenue churning mechanism.

Basically offering the time frame required to create a particular service or to provide the content of the project itself is how the cost factor is calculated and the profits are gained in the service based business.

Therefore, the individual would have to factor in the cost of business entity by the labor intensive tool it provides, in order to provide a suitable base line for the eventual calculation of the profits and the pricing suitable to be demanded.

Alternatively the value of the service based business can be calculated on the value of the service being provided in a consultancy capacity which is evaluated against the insights the said service will bring to the company with the intention of creating a system thereby the said company is able to save or be more cost effective.

Being able to identify a suitable and good service based company is very important if the new business or existing business owner intends to hire its services to help enhance the site’s potential.

Identifying the characteristics of a particular service based company and matching them to the needs of the site in question will allow the business owner is make an informed decision of the merits of the chosen service.

Do Your Research First-

Customer perception of a company is very important to the progress and eventual success of any business endeavor, therefore it is very important to be able to identify the appropriate service based one to best suit the individual’s needs.

Being able to provide good service should always be the prime concern of any business entity especially if its revenue earning power depends on this one factor.

Market research is often the best way to identify the companies that have good track records and are capable of delivering what they promise.

This information can easily be sourced over the internet as these companies will be active in presenting their achievements for all interested parties to view.

It is also an excellent platform for potential clients and competitors alike to note the merits of the presenting service based company.

Being well-placed on the search engine rankings will allow the service based company to be more visible and thus make it easier to garner the intended customer base to ensure its consistent success.

The features of a good service based company would have to include the value added by the business entity from the input stage to the output stage where the results are then measured by its success rates.

These input stages are often regarded as the commodity phase and the processes that it is designed around have to ensure the successful output stage which is where the end desired results are more than adequately met.

Making a sale or pushing a business proposition is never an easy task to accomplish for some, therefore having the relevant assisting tools at hand should provide the individual with some encouragement to see the process to success.

Marketing Skills-

The following are some tools that can prove to be of great assistance to any individual intending to beef up their marketing skills:

Making use of as many online tools as possible to promote the business or product intended is one way to start the enhancement of the marketing skills venture.

Using blogs to create the interest and visibility for the item is something that should be considered as this is one way to get the attention of the target audience without much cost incurred.

Working together with others is another way to beef up an individual’s marketing skills. Being part of a team effort where the individual’s talents and contributions are noticed and acknowledged is definitely an encouraging factor and helps the individual to be more adventurous and keen on honing his or her skills further.

Availing one’s self to be listed on freelance job sites is also another way of beefing up the marketing skill of an individual. The fact that the visibility factor the site can bring to the individual will help the person focus more on ensuring the eventual connections made are optimized and locked in at the earliest opportunity.

Social websites are also a good platform to introduce one’s marketing skills to the masses.

Because of the competitiveness of all the participants in this particular platform the individual will subconsciously be forced to step out and ensure his or her participation leaves a positive impact on the interactions.

Showcasing all the positive skill of the marketing process will eventually earn the respect and attention of others looking for such services.

Create Your Website-

Creating a website can be a challenging feat for those not very internet savvy, however it is not altogether a task that is formidable in nature. With a little startup knowledge and tips anyone can successfully attempt to put together their own website.

The following are some guidelines that will help ease the process:

Registering the suitable domain name is the first step to take when designing a website.

The choice of this domain name should ideally take into consideration the relevance the name has to the intended site, an easy to remember reference, one that is short yet descriptive and whether it has the right extensions tagged to it such as.net,.com,.org.

The next step would be to set up a web host account and this would entail the picking one that can provide the services the individual would need for the website.

Although cost is always a factor for every business endeavor, it would be advisable to avoid using the cheaper and inexperienced ones available as this might end up costing the individual in the future.

The follow up step would be to point the domain to the web host in place.

This is a fairly simple exercise, however if the individual faces any potential problems along the way there are always assisting platforms to tap into to get the relevant help or explanations.

Getting a word press linked to the site is another important step to incorporate into the setup. This word press is a free platform that is used by bloggers and allows the individual to build the website with the minimum of effort while making it user-friendly always.

Last but by no means the least, would be for the individual to organize the website.

This process would involve the backtracking exercise to ensure there are no defaults that would cause the viewer to be put off when visiting the site.

Top Tips For New Video Poker Players

Of all the hands dealt only 21% are winning hands. It’s truth of video poker. The rest, which is 79%, are losers. The profitable video poker player knows what he must do with 70% of the hands dealt so that it becomes a winner.

There are some effective video poker tips in this article. Build your video poker strategy accordance to these tips. It increases your chance to get profit playing online or offline video poker.

Find a machine that pays 9 for a full house win and six for a flush win. It’s very important!

Find and play on the video poker machine with the lowest bet amount if you are a new player. Wait until you get better before playing on the higher bet video poker.

Take time to read every hand you get. Remember you’re not playing against another person, it will not intimidate you for playing too slowly.

Players don’t recognize that the jack is the most important card in the deck, not the Ace. A Jack gives you a lot more lucrative hands than an ace.

The variety of video poker you can play is almost endless, but all have their own pay tables that need specific strategies. The best way to start learning is to limit your choices to two.

Improve your game by playing on a local computer or in online casino using play money. If you train this way, you get to test your skills with zero risk.

Here are basic video poker strategy tips:

1. Don’t ever hold a kicker with your pair. This reduces your payoff by 5%

2. Don’t draw four cards, if you can get a royal flush drawing three.

3. Always stay on a winning five-card hand except when drawing a royal flush with one card.

4. Never break a flush to draw a straight flush even with one draw.

5. Always break your flush to draw a royal flush.

6. Don’t break your straight to draw for a straight flush.

7. Don’t draw five, if you’re holding Jacks or better.

8. Never leave a ten on a four card draw.

And the main tip is control you bankroll. Video poker and all other gambling games are entertainment. I know that Lady Luck comes to players who enjoy playing video poker.