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

While there are many things that differ from industry to industry, and even from business to business, there are a few things that remain constant for every business owner. One of these is the need for a formal business plan. A business plan is required for everything from applying for a loan from a bank to recruiting business partners and top level employees, so it pays to have one that is both up to date and up to industry standards at all times. This isn’t a one time thing either. As your business grows and the markets you are in change, you are going to need to reflect this in your business plan with edits, additions and omissions. Something as simple as one key piece of information that is either wrong or outdated can make your business plan look bad no matter how clean the rest of it is, so keeping this document tuned up and ready to be looked at is a wise strategic

Navigating the financial landscape that comes with running a small business is often difficult, and it’s made even more tough by the presence of certain potholes and mirages. One common scam that small business owners should be aware of is the grant scam. How does a grant scam work? This type of scam is kept alive by a simple misdirection. Business owners will either stumble across or otherwise be made aware of a grant that their business is able to apply for, which, should they receive it, will give them what essentially amounts to free money. This should be the first logical red flag, but many business owners are willing to take the existence of grant programs at face value as fact. Once the business owners are sold on their grant applications, the next phase of the scam kicks in. You will be sold (or attempt to be sold) an expensive audit of your business plan, additional help filing your request, a one time fee, or

In virtually every industry, there will come a time when, as the owner of your business, you will be summoned to appear at a trade show or other type of industry event. These events generally serve as a way for brands to showcase their wares while meeting and networking with old clients as well as potential new ones. When you go to a trade show, you are most likely going to leave laden with an assortment of product guides, free samples and branded goodies. In the end, things can add up to be a lot to keep track of, and finding what you are looking for and remaining focused on your goals when at one of these events might take more finesse than you would have thought. Have a game plan before you get to the show. Going to a trade show will often be an event in itself, with many of them hosted in “destination” areas such as Las Vegas or New York. That’s why

For some small business owners, taking care of their business is such a high priority that at times they can forget to take better care of themselves. Where this can become particularly evident is in the dietary choices that they make. When pressed for time, it can be tempting and all too easy to simply order takeout, or grab a doughnut off of a snack tray, but this is not going to do you any favors in the long run. Eating a healthy and balanced diet has benefits that go far beyond your waistline; it can improve your energy and mood and even help you live longer. This guide isn’t going to prescribe you with a miracle diet, rather provide you with some suggestions that you can use to make better choices and work with your on the go lifestyle. Switch to whole grains. Whenever possible, go for whole grain products as opposed to bleached flour. While some people prefer the texture and flavor of white

The “credit crunch” that has seen many traditional small business lending programs increase their underwriting criteria means that for many business owners, bad credit business loans are no longer a reliable or readily available option for financing their expansion. One of the biggest obstacles surrounding their applications is a lack of acceptable collateral to use as backing for the funding issued by their banks of choice. Collateral can take the form of a cash percentage of the business loan, a piece or multiple pieces of valuable equipment, such as a truck, a bulldozer or a specialty oven, or a piece of property such as a business or residential location. The problem is that many business owners either don’t have sufficient collateral to match the amounts they are looking for, or if they do, don’t feel comfortable signing an agreement with the possibility that they could lose their assets in a worst case scenario. A lot don’t know that there are alternatives that exist that can

While the last bit of nippy weather is finally fading away, small business owners everywhere are waking up to the promise of Spring, and a brand new busy season for many industries. Even as volume picks up and orders for seasonal products and services start to roll in, it can be helpful to get you and your employees energized and in a different frame of mind in order to make the most of the new season. An overhaul of your company culture isn’t necessarily in order, but doing something to celebrate the season and inject a sense of excitement into the office can be a good idea, especially if there have been morale issues on your team due to slow business, the cold, or both. Here are three simple ideas for greeting the Spring season that any small business owner can do. Try a classic activity, such as hosting a company picnic. Sure it’s cliche, but a company picnic is both simple to organize, low cost,

Following debates surrounding the federal minimum wage, small business owners are now in the center of yet another struggle regarding a proposed change in the way they must pay their employees. As reported by smallbiztrends.com, President Obama signed an executive order last month calling for an increase in the threshold of earnings over which employees become eligible for overtime pay. In plain English, the law would raise the threshold from the current $445 per week mark to somewhere around a suggested $640 and include more white collar and managerial employees in the group who would qualify for overtime pay. The rationale behind the law is to give back to those who work hard for the economy. As corporate America has begun to make more profit, the idea that these revenues should be shared with the employees who put in extra hours to make them seems like it makes a lot of sense. However, many warn that small businesses will become unintended collateral damage. While profitable corporations

One great thing about small businesses is the fact that as a business owner, you are able to constantly reinvent yourself and your brand. Reasons for doing so are many, and range from a desire to attract more customers, create some new buzz around an older business or just because you think a new look is what you need to get your employees energized. Sometimes, you will have inherited or purchased a business whose former owner had different tastes than yourself and you want to make your personal mark on it by changing the logo. It’s also possible that you are interested in creating some logo designs for use on themed days like holidays or during special sales, in which case you could be designing multiple logos all at once for a wide variety of uses. Whatever your reason for switching things up, when creating a new symbol that your business will be recognized by, it helps to put some extra thought into the process

Data security means not only protecting the information that is vital to your business and your customers, but also making sure that in the event that one of your computers crashes or is damaged you are not left in an extremely sticky situation. Many small business owners will use the same machine for years, only to lose everything they had worked on when the computer crashes without ever having been backed up. Fortunately, preventing this by backing up your files is extremely simple and doesn’t even take a lot of time to do. The tricky part is getting into the habit of backing data up regularly, since most people will think about it once in passing and then never follow up. In order to protect your information against loss, here are a few techniques for backing up that you might find helpful. Consider the cloud. Some of the advantages to storing files in the cloud is the fact that they can later be accessed from different

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