As a business owner, your cash flow is like your pulse. At all times it should be kept strong through a knowledge of responsible spending as well as a cohesive plan for obtaining capital should the need for expansion, wage payments, or other pursuits that require liquid cash arise. The economic climate of the last few years has been a tough one for many businesses; bad credit, devalued property and assets and increased requirements on the part of banks have made small business lending into one of the most hard-hit parts of the financing world. The ability to easily apply for credit from banks used to allow small business who wished to grow the option to access capital at will. Today, when a business owner goes to those same banks, they are much more likely to be turned away. An additional problem that faces many business owners goes beyond the increased lending requirements that they face. High risk industries as designated by banks include some

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

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 small business without marketing is like a hamburger without a bun; the product may be hot and fresh, but there is no visible way for customers to grab onto it. Relying on word of mouth to loan a business a boost in sales is one way to market, but in order to create an energetic buzz around your product more needs to be done to increase visibility. Some of the best ways to create engaging material are by taking a little time to think about your audience. In order to create a marketing campaign that will grab hold of their attention, you must consider a few things and then formulate a plan. Who is your target audience? This is a fundamental question. You need to ask yourself who your customers are and where you know you can reach them. For this phase of formulating a plan, you really need to do some market research. This will allow you to target your audience with a much more fine

Since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2007, small business lending took a dramatic hit, building on a gradual trend of decline that first started in the mid 90’s. Many small business owners were not only faced with tighter lending restrictions from banks and credit unions, but also devalued homes and collateral thanks to a break in the real estate market and inflation. Small business hiring slowed down, freezing the major source of job growth in the US and worsening the economic situation. Small business hiring is only now beginning to pick up as the economy starts to thaw, however things are far from ideal, and many businesses are still cut off from funding, in holding patterns and experiencing little growth or opportunity to make new hires. Within this economic climate, an even more problematic situation was encountered by the subset of business owners who had their credit damaged during the recession. Typically, business owners who had taken out loans to finance anything from a new

Small business owners in all stages of business growth need to know what their client base wants, how much they are willing to pay for it, and when and where they want to go in order to buy it. Market research is not simply nice to have for business owners, it is in fact an essential part of operating a business and without it you are flying blind. For this reason, it should be clearly understood by business owners just what is meant by market research and how they are able to do their own in order to develop a clear cut plan they can use for running their business. The first thing business owners need to do before they conduct their market research is identify their desired client base. This can dramatically effect the way in which you will collect your data. for example, a business whose primary clients are in their late teens and early twenties might do well with a facebook survey,

There is no question that it is difficult for small business owners to procure loans in today’s economy. The media has been abuzz with reports on the freeze of business credit, and the aftermath of the great recession has property and other forms of collateral devalued to the point that they are no longer sufficient for securing business loans. However, the Washington Post recently put out an article positing that the decline in business lending is not an entirely new phenomenon. The Cleveland Federal Reserve has released charts indicating that small business lending from banks has been on the wane since as far back as the mid 90’s when the economy was strong. Traditional banks are cutting back the percentages of their portfolios that include business funding, and evidently have been doing so for over a decade. According to the Federal Reserve, this slow downward trend indicates that there is not likely to be a thaw in the lending practices of banks towards small business owners,

According to an annual survey by thumbtack.com , the best states and cities for small business in the US are Utah, Alabama, New Hampshire, Idaho and Texas. Additionally. four of the top ten residential areas for small business incubation were located in Texas, which due to a mild climate, low overhead and large population is very hospitable to entrepreneurs. Another factor that allows businesses to grow is the sense of community and preference for local brands exhibited by the local population. Surprisingly, the majority of businesses surveyed stated that taxes in their areas were not unfair, and said that the biggest factor in determining business friendliness was in fact the local licensing requirements. The easier it is to apply for licensing, be if for liquor, food services, hotels or other types of businesses, the easier it is for businesses to devote time to growth and avoid getting bogged down in bureaucracy. Another key attribute to business development is the ability for business owners to obtain small business

  According to the The Independent Bike Blog 76% of brick and mortar bicycle dealers polled in  a recent survey said internet price competition is a “major problem.” The poll, conducted by The National Bicycle Dealers Association which is affiliated with the blog, had 50 respondents at the time of posting. However the organization’s 354 total members were asked to participate. The survey asked, “Do [vendors] consider Internet and MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) policies when choosing products to sell in the store?]” with ” 36 said they do “all of the time,” while 12 do “some of the time,” 1 “not usually” and 1 “no.”” NBDA also found, ““Showrooming” by consumers using phones to scan products in the store is a “big problem” for 23, with 22 saying it’s a “small problem, 3 “no problem” and 3 “unsure.”” For the blog’s full write up click here. 

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