Archive for April, 2012
Small-business owners run short of cash for many reasons. Understanding how the loan process works is half the battle to getting money from a bank.
When applying for a business loan you must remember that banks require assurance of repayment. Most importantly, a banker seldom possesses sole authority to approve a loan. The banker must sell the idea to the bank’s loan committee and he or she has no desire to look like a fool presenting a poorly conceived loan.
In addition, banks are heavily regulated institutions. Government authorities closely review loans to assure compliance with bank lending policies.
To avoid complications, many loan officers deploy strict suitability standards. They refuse to evaluate any circumstances beyond the basic measurements. You cannot obtain loan consideration from them if you don’t fit their narrow criteria.
The Right Banker
Consequently, your strategy for getting a business loan is to first interview loan officers before they start assessing your qualifications. This doesn’t entail asking specific questions about lending philosophy. It actually means taking stock of general demeanor. A banker with plenty of self-confidence is most apt to evaluate your loan proposal with a broad view using a personal sense about business matters.
Confident bankers listen to narratives about how a small business operates. They develop an appreciation for the system an entrepreneur uses to prevail in the market. These loan officers rely upon their experience in knowing if a loan applicant is sound. You can explain to such people how you expect to generate earnings for loan repayment.
A good first impression is imperative. You must substantiate your business plan. Demonstrate how your past strategies succeeded. Provide financial reports and understand their meaning. You need a balance sheet as well as a profit and loss statement. Use them to support your oral history of the business and description about current conditions. Determine some key financial ratios that define trends. Present a projection of cash flow from following your plan that reveals funds for repaying the loan. Describe why the loan proceeds will make more money for your company.
Explain the reason you are short of cash.
A banker will know if the cause is poor management. However, healthy businesses can have sound explanations for needing loans. Equipment breaks down at the wrong time. A sales slump sometimes occurs. Expansion opportunities arise when insufficient capital exists.
Remedies are available, but they require more than cash infusions. Reversals of misfortunes demand guidance by organized managers. Show that you have the skills and discipline required to effectively operate the business.
Every banker deals with countless people seeking loans who don’t even know where to find a financial statement.
Other applicants have financial statements but not a clue about what they mean.
A customer in possession of well-understood financial statements and a plan for loan repayment is so rare that it commands a banker’s full attention.
There are laptops, and then there are ultrabooks.
Ultrabooks are the new and smarter versions of laptops – thinner, lighter, just as sturdy and often offering the same system performance as your run-of-the-mill laptop.
They’re also just slightly more expensive with an average price tag of about $1,000.
They’re great as a business investment, even if you’re not always on the go.
New business ultrabooks, including the Dell XPS133 and HP Folio 13, offer the same benefits as space-consuming desktops.
Executives benefit from high-quality webcams, secure software, reliability and portability.
Ultrabooks continue to thrive, with a recent Consumer Electronics Expo showcasing 12 new models that continue to build upon a winning product that merges tablets with laptops – giving users the best of both worlds.
And this is why ultrabooks are a must-have investment for business owners.
The slim line between business and personal life, paired with an increasingly remote work environment, makes it an imperative for business owners to keep abreast with workflow and production through the aid of smart tech tools.
Ultrabook competitors range from netbooks to iPads and MacBook Airs.
Netbooks won’t give you the most bang for your buck, simply because of their limited application.
The iPad would be a better choice. It’s cheaper and offers the same functionality as a laptop, plus it grants users access to valuable business-savvy apps.
However, iPads are not ideal for an aggressive keyboard user. Macs also tend to be an unfamiliar operating system for many users.
Every business wants positive public relations, and a press release is a staple for making that happen.
The average major metro news desk receives hundreds of releases each day. So why do we only hear about a select few stories?
Aside from being poorly written or structured, releases fail when they’re too self-serving or too boring or when they lack a clear objective.
A good one-to-two-page release is preceded by a release date, contact information and a succinct headline.
The city, state and date should be identified, followed by the core content that delves into the "who, what, when, where, why."
Remember to use keywords to take advantage of SEO and database search filters.
Statements should be relevant to a larger industry or consumer group. Avoid generic messages, opting instead for a humanistic approach that includes elements that affect people.
Top releases will always do one or all of the following:
- Solve a problem or advance a solution
- Spot a trend and its application
- Reach out for a good cause
For good measure, schedule releases for a Monday, at least 14 business days in advance of your event or announcement – and follow up with a phone call to the appropriate reporter.
Since most businesses are trying to reach media giants, try localizing your story by offering a niche perspective and targeting local print, digital and broadcast media.
And don’t forget the bloggers. These days, bloggers can be just as influential as a publication.
Even if your business is strictly brick-and-mortar, your customers are online. So are your competitors. And if you want to compete over the long term, you need to find creative ways to market your business online.
This begins with a simple, clear and easy-to-navigate website that highlights your physical presence and showcases what you offer and/or what you do. Exterior photos of the business help spark recognition and familiarity, and high-quality visuals of your products, services, employees and satisfied customers add appeal. Include colorful descriptions of your products/services as well as relevant information such as your hours of operation, phone number and directions to your location(s).
Next, get listed on Google Places and in other local and industry directories like Bing Business Portal and Yahoo! Don’t overlook online classifieds such as Craigslist, OnlineClassifieds and Oodle.
Social media is another great way to steer traffic to your business and also an ideal way to listen to, and engage with, your customers. Platforms such as Foursquare and Gowalla enable you to reach out to consumers who then network with one another to discuss, rate and create a buzz about your business.
You can also generate foot traffic by using email to promote sales, introduce new products and market special offers or events. Many businesses today are also successfully using text messaging to capture leads and communicate with prospects and customers.
If you provide recurring services, such as landscaping, bookkeeping, tax accounting or pool maintenance, offering an online account portal so that customers can manage their accounts online is a great convenience and a smart business retention technique.
Complementary or colocated businesses can also benefit from online referral or affiliate programs that drive traffic to each other.