When asked to think of what defines small businesses, one would not be wrong pointing out that they are all unique in their own ways. This seemingly obvious statement actually carries more importance for business owners than it would seem on the surface. In truth, small businesses contribute more than just their services and products to their communities, they also contribute their sense of individuality and unique flavor which corporations struggle to imitate through marketing. Often, small business owners want to push their businesses in a more standardized direction, streamlining their operational processes in order for them to continue to grow, but during this growth, they risk eradicating the offbeat and unique qualities that define them and give them an edge from a marketing standpoint. Preserve the offbeat qualities of your business as you grow. What sets your business apart? Often, it can be something as simple as a quirky sign or an imaginative product on offer that becomes part of the culture of your area.

Social media is now widely accepted to be an important facet of any business’s marketing strategy. Small business owners have countless success stories that can attest to the effectiveness of a well run social media campaign. However, there are many more business owners who don’t know how to get started creating a real digital network, especially if they don’t have prior experience using social media. These small business owners may be turned off from branching out into social media marketing because they feel intimidated starting out, but without taking the first steps towards building an online presence, they are not allowing themselves the chance to ever experience the positive aspects social media presences can bring to a small business. Bad credit businesses in particular can often benefit heavily from a social media campaign, as it represents a way for them to create buzz and leads without investing a large amount of capital that could be allocated to other projects. For small business owners to get

Bad credit can be the kiss of death for many entrepreneurs seeking small business loans or alternative business financing. To go through the processes involved with applying for credit, only to wind up empty handed, can be a huge blow to the confidence of a small business owners, not to mention a large monkey wrench thrown into their best laid plans for expansion. But just how important is credit score in determining the strength of a small business? The answer, while not exactly clear cut, seems ti indicate that it might not be as important as it’s been made out to be. Credit does not paint a full picture when underwriting small business loans and loan alternatives. To simply deny an applicant based off of a bad credit score is a pretty standard move on the part of small business lending banks that have largely moved away from risk in their portfolios as a response to the Recession and the fall of Lehman. However, a business

Small business owners need access to small business loans, but currently the only governmental organization that facilitates small business owner’s access to credit is the US Small Business Administration. Founded in July 30, 1953, the effectiveness of the organization has been called into question by Republican lawmakers who propose merging it with the Labor and Commerce departments in order to form a department of Commerce and the Workforce. While the proposed super-department would theoretically retain the functions of the SBA, many small business leaders and lobbyists are up in arms against the proposed changes, claiming that the creation of a consolidated department is really a veiled attempt to dramatically reduce or simply do away with many of the programs offered by the SBA. What has these constituents even more flustered is the fact that President Obama has stated his support for the consolidation of similar governmental organizations, as well as the nagging memory of when President Ronald Reagan attempted to shut down the organization in an

In a recent Forbes article, an important point about small business financing was brought up, that point being that there is no true “one size fits all” financial product available for small business owners. Indeed, every small business is unique, with different needs and different financial situations that can’t always be addressed  by the range of products offered by traditional banks. The article also points out the fact that many small businesses aren’t able to meet the underwriting requirements for small business loan programs due to bad credit, not enough time in business, or a lack of collateral with which to back their business loan. Some business owners will be able to qualify for bank loans or SBA backed business loan programs, but still require short term “bridge financing” in order to complete time sensitive projects. What can be taken away from this is that, within the small business lending sphere, there needs to be flexibility and more than a single approach to funding where if

While small business owners are generally a tough bunch, there are things that are beyond their control, from the government to natural disasters, that they need to be prepared to face in order to preserve the strength of their business. One of these external issues that can severely effect a business is the extremely cold weather that many parts of the US experience in late winter. Business owners should take note that, before they do anything to protect their small business, they need to ensure that they and their families are dry, warm, and out of the path of dangerous weather, with enough supplies to last them through whatever period of time they may need to stay indoors. If possible, get your business location ready in advance of inclement weather. Things to do in order to prep for extreme cold are checking to see if any of the electrical wiring, water or gas lines to the building are in danger of freezing or being damaged by

As the chill of winter has settled in, and the holiday season is almost ended, many small business owners across the US are preparing to face their leanest months. While these months can be tough for businesses in a wide variety of industries, including retail where holiday shopping ebbs and landscaping businesses which must make the most out of snow removal, business owners who are waiting to be paid on outstanding contracts can be among the hardest hit of all. These businesses rely on timely payments for work that is either ongoing or already completed, but when the winter threatens financial strain not only for them, but for their clients as well, their collection of payments may be cut off. In these instances, businesses are often left with few other options than to try and work something out with their clients directly or file a lien, which is a time consuming and potentially costly way to recover owed assets. A recent article from 9 News,

Create a pitch targeting them. For example, putting a sign in your window with a funny phrase letting these tardy shoppers know that you have them covered can make a lot of difference when they pass by your location. You can also promote after Holiday specials on your website or through social media accounts. The more you put your message out there, the better response you can expect. Give them a deal. A special offer can attract more frugal shoppers, after all, at the end of the holiday season, people are more likely to have spent their budget for presents already. The perception that they are getting a deal can convince your customers to spend that last bit of their holiday budget. Stress the unique qualities of your products. The reason why people are going to buy from your small business over a big box retailer is because often times they think of small business products as being innately more unique, thus making better and more thoughtful gifts.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is an organization that many small business owners in the US don’t exactly understand. For many, the organization’s role may not be clear, as evidenced by the number of business owners (or would be business owners looking for start up capital) who ask for loans on their message boards. The SBA does not provide loans directly, rather, it provides backing for small business loan programs provided by banks. With the current high underwriting criteria on the part of these banks, many small businesses are finding it difficult to qualify for these programs. Efforts to help these businesses, for example by changing procedures around accessing holiday lines of credit, are often less than effective. The Herald Tribune’s recent story on new SBA programs highlights the inefficiency of the changes by pointing out there are still too many businesses being denied access to the capital they need, when they actually need it. More troubling, business owners who have bad credit usually cannot

The holidays represent a great time to be a small business owner, as more business around this time of year means that you will be able to create more revenues. However, criminals are also aware of the increase in business volume around the holiday season, and target in particular businesses that handle a large amount of cash around this time of year, including retailers and other service providers like limousine and taxi services. Invest in the security of your small business, and the safety of you and your employees identities and credit, by taking the following steps to stay secure this year. Document Shredders can safeguard sensitive information. When you throw out documents, you are creating an opportunity for thieves to salvage potentially sensitive information about your business and your employees. This can be avoided by investing in a document shredder, which will destroy any records leaving your business. In general, shredding documents is a good safeguard, but for businesses that collect a large amount of

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