The financial climate of the US in the post recession period has been grim for small business owners. The collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered a severe clamp down in lending requirements on the part of major banks, and small business programs were some of the most hard hit targets, with collateral demands increasing at the same time that many small business owners experienced dips in revenue from depressed sales as well as devaluation of their homes and other assets that could be used to secure funding.  In an informative article from the Washington Post published July of this year, it was noted that small business lending rates were down not only in larger banks, but also smaller local banks and credit unions, frustrating the hopes of expansion of many business owners who think of these banks as the only sources of financing available to them outside of family. Defaults on loans or mortgages caused by revenue losses dealt another blow to US small business owners,

Beyond Small Business Loans: Fraud in the SBA

Wednesday, 25, September , 2013 by

The Small Business Administration is the governmental agency responsible for backing small business loans and ensuring that small businesses get their fare share of government contracts. Legally, the SBA is responsible for ensuring that 23 percent of Federal contracts got to small businesses. Last year, the SBA claimed to have awarded 22.25% of contracting dollars to small businesses, falling just shy of their goal. However, The American Small Business League has forced the SBA to reveal information proving that they diverted contracts to 235 Fortune 500 companies. Originally, the SBA had attempted to deny the ASBL request, which they appealed under the freedom of information act. What was revealed was that the SBA intentionally fabricated statistics around the number and volume of contracts awarded to small businesses by including contracts awarded to major corporations in a breach of Federal law. The SBA has also come under fire for a lack of oversight for their pilot programs, including the Patriot express loan program for veterans that has cost

According to new data, the SBA, a governmental provider of backing for small business loans designed to assist businesses in obtaining credit, may not be the backbone of the small business financing world that it is made out to be. Recently, plans have been put into action to assist the SBA in helping the many small business owners who are looking for capital in the US. However, according to Congressional data on SBA portfolios and small business statistics collected by the agency’s Office of Advocacy Reports, the 7(a) program, the most popular program offered by the SBA only aids around one percent of American small business owners in obtaining loans. An article on smallbiztrends.com goes further in detailing the disconnect between the financing needs of small business owners and the actual volume of funding backed by SBA programs, providing statistics that show only a very small percentage of business owners have any type of government backed financing. Small business owners in need of direct capital

  Historically, small businesses in the US have represented a disproportionate amount of the overall job creation in the country. In a new study put out by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the job creation statistics for the period of the great recession were analyzed in order to better understand why small business hiring slowed down. What the study was able to conclude was that while larger businesses and smaller ones experienced a comparable rate of job loss, the net creation of small business jobs slowed in comparison to larger corporations. This may have been because of a decreased demand for the products and services offered by small businesses in comparison to those offered by larger businesses. Additionally, small businesses were unable to find adequate financing to accelerate their growth, or to retain competitive growth rates that would have allowed them to expand. The drought of business financing has only begun to improve recently, yet many business owners are still unable to access

While recent reports that banks are lending more now than they did in 2008 may provide business owners with a stronger sense of optimism about the overall health of the economy, many small business owners still remain locked out of the lending uptick. Banks are finally seeing considerable positive signs of growth since the financial crises, including higher profits and more stable balance sheets. The FDIC reported a rise in earnings of 23% since the previous year among commercial banks. This has translated to increased lending among banks and larger to mid-size businesses, but small businesses are continuing to have a difficult time securing credit. It is perplexing to think that small businesses, businesses that make up 99.7% of the employers in the United States, are failing to secure financing. However, since the Great Recession, large banks and traditional lenders are more risk adverse than ever before. Coupled with rigorous application requirements, and the economic shape of the real estate sector, small business owners with

Video is a medium that brands have used to create ad materials that engage audiences for over a hundred years. The level of emotional resonance and memorability that can be achieved with video is second to none. Just how effective is video at conveying information? According to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research, one minute of video can convey as much as 1.8 million written words. This means that a single video can potentially create as many conversions on you site as multiple pages of written copy. Still not convinced? Hosting video on your website conveys other benefits at well. In terms of SEO, your web page is more likely to come up high in search engines if it contains video, as indexing robots look for video as a way of identifying material that is potentially engaging for web surfers. In addition, video can greatly increase the time that visitors spend on your site, another important aspect that search engines take into account when ranking

A marketing campaign should be multifaceted, leaving behind a compelling trail that your customers can follow to discover and interact with your brand. It is a mistake to only put out material in one location, be it digital or physical. Instead, small business owners need to spread their marketing out to cover multiple networks. Much like a handful of pebbles will create concentric ripples when thrown into a pond, so will marketing material spread out over networks to overlap and grow to greater effect. Here are some techniques that your business can employ in your marketing campaigns in order to loan a sense of story to your brand. Starting out, you need to get to the narrative heart of you brand. What this means is that you need to sit down and figure out what makes your brand special and define it into a narrative format. For example, say you own a carpet cleaning business called Shining Knight Cleaners, well, the narrative behind your brand should

Is Podcasting the New Old Small Business Trend?

Wednesday, 04, September , 2013 by

Podcasting has been mildly out of fashion for the past few years, but according to Jeff Bullas, it is making a comeback as a tool that small business owners can use to market their products. What is the allure of podcasting? For one thing, it is on the rise in a cycle of trends that will banish technologies for years only to see them come back as the “hot new” way to market. But aside from the simple fashionable aspects of going back to podcasts, new technology is making them much more accessible than ever before. The prevalence of smart phones is making it so that potential podcast listeners can find the podcasts they want to listen to and then download them seamlessly onto their phones, removing steps that used to exist in the past, like plugging an ipod into a computer to download the podcast onto a device. Podcasting, for those who don’t know, is essentially the 21st century version of radio. Podcasts can

The relevance of social media in marketing is growing at a steady rate, as devices get smarter and people’s lifestyles become more and more integrated with their various profiles and friend groups. Small business owners seeking to loan themselves a leg up over the competition have been flocking to the vast and viral markets that are concentrated on the web. In general, the small business of today will require a website, however rudimentary, and a Facebook page, perhaps also a Twitter. However, there is massive potential for businesses to go even further, using trendy social media platforms like G+,  Vine and Instagram. However, small business owners need to loan time to understanding some important principles before they get too deep into the creation of their social media presence. This is because, when done the wrong way, the growth of a social media presence can actually harm a small business’s digital reputation. In order to make sure that your digital marketing campaign is functioning the right

Small business has taken a hit in the years since the beginning of the great recession in 2007. With the dip in the economy, traditional banks increased their requirements for lending at at time when, due to loss of revenues, many business owners suddenly found their credit scores damaged beyond immediate repair. Credit scores can be damaged when business owners who were paying off things like mortgages and student loans experience a slow down of business and then can no longer repay what they have borrowed. Years later, many of the hardest hit business owners are still running their businesses and have made it through the leanest economic times. In fact, due to responsible spending, many of them have been able to weather the storm well enough to want to increase their investment in their businesses. However, since they still bear the black mark of bad credit, they will often times find themselves unable to get a loan. Bad Credit business loans are few and

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