Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

Small Business Adviser: How to Get a SBA Unsecured Small Business Loan in a Troubled Economy. Part1

We are all listening attentively about lenders on the radio, television, newspapers, and the Internet of promises to be "small business friendly", "small business oriented", wanting to be your "personal small business advisor" and a panoply of packages taking care of all your business needs. What small businesses really need is money, not personal hand caring services. So is there anyone out there really making small business loans? Yes. If you know where to look you can find one.

You can generally categorize banks into: 1) 10% that are actually making small business loans now and are serious about doing so, 2) 70% who will talk to you directly and indicate they are not making small business loans at this time because of the economy, and 3) 20% that slap you on the back, invite you in, and readily take your application. It is the latter group that gives us the most heartburn. It is not unusual after the initial review of your application papers for a bank represented to signal you have a good chance. Overjoyed, you begin to make plans, including executing contracts and receiving quotes for inventory, raw materials, or merchandise. Two months later, after the fourth loan committee review, you get a call that they have decided not to make the loan. The reason has little if anything to do with credit. It is typically something that was never been mentioned before and after reflection, it seems like an excuse not to make the loan in the first place.

Loan brokers such as myself are victims of the same misleading behavior. I cannot tell you how many banks have looked me in the eye and said: "Sure, we are making lots of loans. For unsecured loans of $75,000 to $150,000, we just need a credit score above 680, in business for over a year and a half, and decent financials. Real estate security is not required. We would love to entertain your applications." Right.

What they really do is pour over the applications and pick 1 out of 100 that has the following fantasy credentials: a platinum credit score that Bill Gates would be proud of and which could support a small country, gushing positive cash flow, little competition, executed contracts stacked high on your desk, then a booming market niche. In other words, someone who doesn't need the loan in the first place. You know the old adage: banks only give money to people who don't need it.

It is simply psychology 101. Banks are filled up with loan officers and they have to show they are busy. If their boss walks into their office and sees nothing on their desk, they might be laid off. They have to show they are busy earning their salaries, which means receiving applications and going through the review process. It's gotten so bad that the other day we had a client whose grandfather helped found the bank, whose father was best friends with the president, and who had received two successful loans before. Even he was turned down. Nor do they tell you the large SBA commercial loan department job layoffs of employees throughout the nation.

To prevent being too caught in this trap, look your banker in the eye and ask these questions:

1) "Tell me honestly. I don't want to waste your time or mine. I know the credit crunch is quite depressing and there is really no secondary market. Are you actually entertaining small business loans at this time or should I wait."

2) "How many small business loans have you personally made in the last 30 days?"

3) "What are the loan terms of the last three loans you made, including interest rate and monthly payments, for the amount of loan I am seeking?"

4) "How long will it take before I get a definitive answer?"

5) "Can you briefly describe to me the process I have to go through to get the final approval? Will you be the one making the final decision? What other people superior to you or committees will make that decision?"

But do not despair. There actually are real live prime lenders out there making small business loans. They just need to know where to look. In the next article I will discuss if such loans are available to startups.

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Facts About Small Business

Everyone agrees on a broad level that small businesses are vital to the American economy. However, most people would be surprised to know just how important. The United States Small Business Administration keeps records and statistics on small business in the United States and some of their findings are surprising.

First, the typical perception of a small business as a mom and pop operation with just a few, if any, employees is not the entire picture. The Small Business Administration defines a small business as an independently business with less than 500 employees. There are an estimated 23 million businesses in the United States that meet that classification. In some smaller towns in the United States, these businesses represent a major source of employment.

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Finding Small Business Grants

Poor financing is the number two reason small businesses fail, falling right behind poor management. Sufficient funding is paramount to the success of small businesses, and small business grants can be the answer to the problem. If business owners have the necessary knowledge about how to find and properly request grants, they have a better shot at creating a successful business that will be open longer and prosper.

There are over 300 different grants and loans available for small businesses that are just starting out. The grants range from $25,000 up to $1,000,000 depending on the size and projected success rate of the business. There are also grants available to help small businesses grow or expand. Grants are not the same as loans because they do not have to be repaid. A grant is considered free money, as well as an investment to promote the success of small businesses and the U.S. economy. Money for grants comes from income taxes. Obtaining a small business grant does not require credit checks or deposits, even if the owners have experienced bankruptcy in the past.

There are a number of helpful websites that send small businesses government grant packages for free, excluding the cost of shipping. These packages include information on how to find grants, how to prepare a grant request, and how to apply for grants pertaining to a specific business. Some of the providers are Government Funding Solutions, Grant Master, and Grant Wizard.

It is important to be familiar with the Small Business Administration's (SBA) rules for receiving grants before beginning the process of obtaining one. Although the SBA does not provide grants to small businesses, they do provide helpful suggestions and resources on how to find grants.

In order to qualify for a small business grant, individuals must first become familiar with the 13 CFR 143 document that lists all of the requirements to be eligible for a grant. This document includes information on the pre-award and post-award periods and defines all aspects of applying for a grant and states who is eligible. The CFR is the primary source of rules and regulations for small business grants and must be read before starting the grant writing process.

After reviewing the requirements, prospective business owners must write a grant request. There are professionals who will write a grant proposal or the individuals may complete it themselves. The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance is a helpful site that links individuals to resources about federal grants for small businesses. Afterschool.gov gives helpful tips on how to write a small business grant and, although it is geared toward grants for after school programs, includes helpful information for grant writing in general.

Additionally, there are many well-established government and private organizations that provide grants to small businesses. The Department of Justice's Ten Grant document gives access to grant opportunities for those conducting research in support of law enforcement. The Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration has several grant opportunities for small business owners. They offer about $125 million to businesses that are based in a community setting with special attention to training programs. The Department of Transportation is another organization that offers small business grants. They offer grants to any business willing to help resolve the growing problems with the federal-aid highway program. The Department of Education has a program called e-GRANTS that locates electronic grants online. They have a detailed list of grants available and the necessary applications to fill out. There are a variety of grants available for different groups, all of which have detailed descriptions and contact information. Other organizations that provide small business grants include the EPA, the National Cancer Institute, NOAA, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Starting Your Own Internet Small Business

So, you've decided that the Internet has a lot to offer you by the means of starting your own small business. So what is it that you have to do first?

Well, what type of small business is it that you are going to start? After you have figured this out, whether it is an information site or selling products online, you might need to go to the many different Internet advertising sites that will help you generate traffic to the your new Internet small business.

The next step, may be to decide what products you are going to have on your small business web site. This way you have an idea as far as the inventory and other information you will need. Building a web site for your small business.

There are many web sites available to help you as far as promoting your small business such as adverting sites and marketing sites as well.

When starting a small business on the Internet you'll want some means of getting visitors to your site, this being said the advertising company you go with should be a reliable one. Once again, you can do the research and find many different advertising agencies as well as web sites that can help you with this.

Usually small businesses that start out on the Internet without the help or support of any kind of advertising, marketing or helpful tools will not last very long and you will soon find your small business on the Internet suffering, if not being taken off of the Internet completely.

Some Internet small businesses have tried this and it does not work. However, if you know what type of Internet small business you want, then you start researching on advertising and marketing and getting visitors to your site, such as generating traffic in other words; your small business on the Internet will have a better chance of surviving. And in most cases, prospering to the point that your small business on the Internet has grown tremendously.

It is not impossible to start a small business on the Internet while some people may tell you that it is. You simply have to know the right techniques and have the right tools concerning the Internet at your disposal. This makes it so much more easily to start a small business on the Internet and at the same time making it a productive one, that will last.

Advertising plays an important role in generating traffic, or visitors to your site, while the marketing portion, assists you in setting up the means of the visitors who want to purchase things off of your small business on the internet to do so.

Make things as easy as possible for the visitors that come to your small business as well, in this case they may very well be returning customers.

Many Internet small businesses will start out with very few products on their site, however as time goes by, and if done in the proper way of management the site will grow along with your inventory as well as the profits. The visitors to your site will increase too. Remember, do research and don't just throw an idea on the Internet building a web site to sell things. Think it out first, what you want to accomplish with your small business on the Internet, and then do the marketing and advertising parts next, therefore generating traffic to your new small business web site.

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