Many small business owners are turning to alternative sources to secure capital for their businesses. Whether they lack collateral to secure a traditional loan or are having trouble getting approved because of their credit histories, more and more people are looking for a way to finance their businesses without relying on bank loans to make it happen. People secure loan alternatives for a number of reasons: changing location, purchasing inventory, expansion, covering operational costs, and buying new equipment, just to name a few. If you’re a business owner looking to expand but wondering where the money will come from, here is some background information on alternative small business loans to get you started.   Photo credit: aresauburn™ / Foter / CC BY-SA   Questions to Ask Before you begin the loan application process or seek out an alternative small business loan, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions about your business to find out which option is best for you. For instance, how long

With the end of the year rapidly approaching, small business owners are preparing to take a survey of the time that has passed and use the information they gather to improve going forward. For some, budgets need to be balanced in order make room for growth, hiring employees, obtaining new equipment or opening new locations. For others, a dip in profitability means that hard questions need to be asked regarding what went wrong, and how to fix it going forward. Revenues and expenses must be balanced in order to ensure that your business will not only be able to work in the short term, but adjust to growth as well. Your business should be looking to grow in the new year, and with technology playing a large role in how small businesses are tapping into broader markets, the tools are being developed or already exist that can allow you to do so. Getting acquainted with trending technology such as mobile and e-commerce as well as mobile

When you are building a business, the case may be that the only think you think about is growth, and where the business can be if your planning and hard work pays off. Rarely does the idea of an exit strategy cross the mind of business owners who are in the midst of building a business that they feel passionate about, but that may be a mistake that they wind up paying for in the event that they build their business around themselves and find that they are in an irreplaceable role in the future when they begin to think about retirement and turning the reins over to someone else. Do you know what kind of buyer would look at your business? If you aren’t sure what type of person would buy your business from you, you should do research to find out. Odds are that a competitor, a skilled person looking to purchase a business of their own, or a company looking to acquire new

  Would you ever turn away a customer? While conventional business wisdom holds that the customer is always right, like so many things in business there are clear exceptions to this rule. Customer relationships that turn sour can create major sources of stress for small business owners, but apart from that, can also place major drains on finite time and capital that can be tough to recover from if allowed to get out of hand. Identify if your customer relationship makes sense, or if you are stretching to accommodate for a poor fit. Common problems that can arise because of a toxic customer relationship including scrambling to accommodate for a customer that simply isn’t asking for services or products within the realm of what your business is able to offer. While you may have some strongly performing products and others that don’t perform as well in terms of sales, you offer what you offer and constantly stretching outside the bounds of what you typically produce for

According to Wikipedia, goodwill refers to “a special type of intangible asset that represents that portion of the entire business value that cannot be attributed to other income producing business assets, tangible or intangible.” What this means in plain English is that, aside from the material assets of a business, such as its equipment, and tangible assets such a employees, there exists an intangible value that is comprised of brand recognition, customers, and cultural capital. Goodwill in accounting terms is the reason why a business that has $20K worth of equipment and property might be worth $100K to a buyer. How can you increase the value of your business’s goodwill? When you increase your goodwill, you are increasing the value of your business, so ignoring this aspect of business development is a poor strategic move. Not only that, but goodwill tends to grow from positive customer service experiences contributing to word of mouth referrals and increased brand recognition, which is already a cornerstone of business development

The end of the Summer isn’t even here yet, so why should business owners think about the beginning of the holidays? Because, with the buildup to the largest shopping weeks of the year beginning with the advent of the Fall, the time between then and now isn’t as immense as it might seem and with so much to be done, getting a jump on the business to be won is a powerful strategic move. What do you need to do to prepare for the changing seasons? Marketing campaigns should be based on research, so one thing that business owners should begin to prepare for is directing their marketing spend in a way that can create the best response and sales. Apart from preparing to allocate marketing dollars, business owners will have a list of things that they need to tie up before the end of the Summer. Highlighting and attacking the priorities that they have remaining is another way to make sure that as Fall arrives,

  A business may be getting a fair amount of traffic to its website, but in and of itself traffic can’t keep a business running. Visitors need to be turned into leads, and there are a wide number of factors that can effect their willingness to do so. One core concept of content marketing is that valuable content and the appearance of being a trusted source enhances your ability to win business. Putting content to work has benefits in terms of SEO, branding, and social media growth, but using content to create leads specifically is also a viable strategy, provided that your content is of a high enough quality to merit serious interest. Here are three techniques business owners can use to turn their content into a catalyst for lead creation. 1) Gate your best content. Gating content forces visitors to provide information in exchange for the ability to read a full article. While gating all of your content will more likely than not wind up annoying

Customer loyalty has the ability to make or break a business, but then again, so does the loyalty of a business’s employees. While performance is at the core of an employee- employer relationship, business owners should also value the human element of the relationship, which goes beyond the metrics of their business, yet can palpably add value to it. Reducing turnover and creating a culture of accountability can increase organizational efficiency, stop losses created by employees leaving and help avoid the costly process of hiring and training. A “birthday budget” is a small pool of cash set aside for honoring employee birthdays. Covering the cost of a cake and a small break to celebrate on employee birthdays is not only low cost when the costs are spread over the entire year, but also a nice way to say thank you to long term employees, and even to make relatively new hires feel welcome should their birthdays occur soon after they join your staff. Another benefit of honoring

Additional technology training isn’t always necessary for small business owners. Even if they are considering picking up a new program in order to broaden their ability to handle digital projects, a lot of the time they can get by through online lessons or simply searching for answers to issues when they become constraints. The drawback of a DIY approach to software learning, however, is the fact that it can take a lot of valuable time that business owners could otherwise spend improving business processes or pursuing new avenues of growth. Generally speaking, the more features and nuances present in a software’s interface, the more likely it will be that investing in a professional training program is worthwhile. Case in point, Photoshop. Why is Photoshop useful in a small business context? When people think of photoshop, their first thoughts might be more along the lines of funny edited pictures and less towards the potential uses that it brings to a business. That said, photoshop’s usefulness in a

As a business grows in both popularity and production capacity, there will come a time when the physical location that they began with no longer supports the level of business that they are handling. At this point, business owners will either need to open up a second location or move to a larger one in order to make the most of all the potential business they can create. In the event that they opt to go with a larger location, there are a few things that they need to get a handle on before they are able to commit. Fumbling the transfer of their business to a new area can not only disrupt cash flows and waste liquid capital, but it can even lead to them losing business to competition during the down time of their move. In general, business owners should begin to consider moving to a larger location when they are unable to handle the capacity demands imposed on them by business growth.

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