SBA – Helping Small Business Owners Obtain Lending

Business owners are regular people just like you and I. They run into situations that require more capital then they have. How does an entrepreneur come up with funds when their small business is in need? This may happen in opening a small business or may present itself during an expansion whenever the need arises it is important to be aware of what you will need in order to prove to a commercial lender that you are a secure investment.

The small business association or SBA provides a lot of information on lending as well as tips and solutions for things that come up with running a business. One issue they cover in great detail is lending. There are several issues that can arise when a small business owner is looking for a business loan. Do you have the means to pay the loan back? Can you prove it to a lender and how? Clarifying a need for money and what they lent money will be used for is also needed. It is important to remember that lenders want to lend money but need to know that they are making a wise investment lending it to you. Your goal is to prove to them you are a worthwhile risk. The question is how one goes about proving this.

The SBA recommends that business owners have key information ready and available at all times for investors and lenders. People are rarely prepared to ask for money when the need arises so it is important as a business owner to be prepared at all times. The first step involves gathering information in the form of financial documents and a business plan to show lenders business goals and that you are a risk worth taking. The next thing they will need to know is that the business has the means to repay the loan. With cash flow data you will be able to prove to lenders that you have substantial resources to back up the loan.

Small business owners are at a disadvantage in some ways because they personally can be held liable for business debts. Often small business owners will need to not only prove the businesses financial means but also their personal means. Commercial lenders might be interested in seeing past tax returns that the business has filed and will also be interested in the company’s credit ratings. It is good for business owners to pull a credit reporting of their business every six months to check for discrepancies and to look for areas to improve on the credit rating. Higher credit ratings will ease a company’s ability to receive a loan because your credit rating is evidence to commercial lenders of debts that have been paid in a timely fashion. However a poor credit rating will do the opposite so you want to make sure that your businesses credit rating is in check before applying for a loan.

The SBA is an association that offers guidance to many small business owners throughout the United States. With the economy in a rut as it is now many people are afraid to take a risk in opening a small business. It is important to look into organizations such as the SBA for help with not only fiscal decisions but also with guidelines to help make your business a success right from the start. Make sure you stay on the right path in your business venture and access organizations and groups that will help you achieve this goal for the ultimate reward…success!

A Few Things Guaranteed to Give You a Headache in Your Business

I work with solopreneurs, freelancers and micro-business owners to help them get on top of their business headaches. Very often, when you’ve been hugely successful at getting sales and bringing in business, you can find it difficult to keep up to date with the nitty gritty business end of things.

Very quickly, you start to feel overwhelmed, you find it difficult to face the ever increasing mountain of paperwork, and your inbox is full to overflowing with emails. Your business accounts are not up to date and the number of overdue invoices and late payments increases by the day…

Although you know you should be constantly working to bring in new business, you find yourself falling behind with your marketing and promotions and you worry about what is going to happen when your current work dries up, which, for many, is the cause of more than a few sleepless nights. It feels as though you are paddling your feet faster and faster, just to keep your head above the water… and… It’s hard work to keep smiling.

Often there is no-one around who you can talk to about it all, family and friends have long since got fed up of hearing the same old story (that’s if you have time for them at all, because you rarely have any free time do you?). You keep asking them to be more understanding because this is your business and your livelihood at stake here, but their patience is wearing thin.

Does any of this strike a chord with you? Are you thinking “yep, that’s me”!

Well the good news is, being a success in your field doesn’t have to be a headache. I can help you to put plans in place to sort out your chaos, so that you can regain control and start to enjoy doing what you do again – which is why you set up your business in the first place, right?

In my experience, there are 7 areas which are the top headaches for people who work alone in their business and I can give you helpful hints and tips on how best to manage and overcome them. Here are a few of them:

Marketing

It isn’t all about the fluffy stuff! Some marketing tools are very simple and the good news is that you don’t have to be great at everything. Work out what you are most comfortable with from the list below, pick your style and focus on 2 or 3 off your list – do them well, and do them consistently. Here are some ideas for you:

a. Are you extrovert, do you like talking to a crowd of people? If so, public speaking, presenting to groups of people, being interviewed on the radio and holding seminars is where you need to be seen to get your message across. If you love the idea of this but feel a bit nervous, I know just the person who can help you to step up to the challenge and find your voice.

b. Do you prefer to talk about your business on a one to one basis? Do you like to hang out online? If so then Social Media and low key networking events will be the place for you: Focus on building up your profile and reputation on Linked In, Twitter and Facebook. Try a few local networking events and see if they are a good ‘fit’ for you (see section 8 for more information on this). If you need to learn a bit more about social media, without being made to feel foolish for asking ‘silly’ questions such as; ‘what is the difference between a Facebook profile and a Facebook fan page?’, I can put you in touch with The Facebook Oracle, there isn’t much she doesn’t know about making Facebook work for your business!

c. Is the written word more your ‘thing’? If you enjoy being creative with your words, then writing, articles, blogs, e-books, press editorial (see section 3 for more information) will be a great way for you to promote yourself as an expert. Once you have written one article, it can be used in any number of ways to maximise your exposure. You could: upload as an EzineArticle, put it on your blog, tweet about it, convert it to a series of information downloads to use on your website (Mail Chimp is really easy to use and you can use it to capture contact information to create a mailing list). If you need some expert help on writing great articles just let me know – I know just the person to help you with doing your own PR!

The Press

When I worked in Sales and Marketing I was given the task of writing and submitting press releases and so I learned a fair bit about what editors are looking for when it comes to getting free editorial published in the local press. I’m also very lucky to have had a whole page feature published about me in the Daily Mail. On that occasion the article was written by a superb freelance journalist, and I have picked up a lot of great tips from the experts. Let’s look at the various aspects of this shall we:

a. What is a press release and how do I create one? Well, first of all, remember that reporters and editors are bombarded with requests for free editorial every single day, and to make yours stand any chance of avoiding the recycle bin, there are some rules you need to keep in mind:

1) Contact the reporter to see how they prefer to receive press releases – i.e. some like it as an email attachment; some prefer it in the body of an email, some like it as hard copy.

2) If you are doing it as an attachment or as hard copy, double space the text if you can.

3) In the subject box of an email, do NOT put ‘Press Release’, instead go for a catchy header which is relevant to the story.

4) Keep the message simple and include; who, what, where, when, why and how.

5) Put the WOW factor in first and leave the more boring bits to the end (including all contact details in case the editor want to get in touch) because if the paper is short on space they will take the first paragraph and go to print with that – so it makes sense to have the juiciest bits in first!

6) Include a picture if possible.

7) If you need a template to get started, just get in touch and I will forward the one I use – with my compliments!

b. Make the most of your local newspaper. Get to know who the editor and your local reports are and offer to take them out for coffee. It always pays to build up a good relationship with your local press and get to know them! The best day to do this is often the day after the paper goes to print, they are often less busy in the office and don’t have a deadline looming!

c. Always come forward and offer an opinion. Don’t be afraid to ‘phone up the editor if you want to offer a different viewpoint on something. They like people who are bold enough to come forward to be interviewed and you can make that work to get your name ‘out there’ (make sure you are getting known for the ‘right’ reasons though!).

Sales

a. Selling is something which many people find very hard and it all boils down to the fact that no-one likes the feeling of being rejected. Selling a product is tough, but in many ways it’s even harder when you are offering a service, because more often than not, that service is you. So, you need to make sure that the transformation you are offering your clients – the change your service will bring – is strong enough, so that you feel comfortable selling yourself.

b. If all else fails and you still can’t pick up the ‘phone to make those calls, get in touch with me!

Admin and finance

It’s really important to know which parts of your business you are able to outsource and there is one little word which is vital. Trust. Who do you trust enough to take over parts of your business which you can no longer manage? Ask yourself if it is really the best use of your time to be plodding through 100′s of email and tons of paperwork every day… or are you better off focussing on what you are really great at – designing, writing, creating, building, etc? There are a number of fantastic Virtual Assistants (VA’s) who will work with you on a very flexible basis, and although it isn’t quite the same as you handling every piece of information personally, if you select wisely – both the VA and the allocated tasks – it will most definitely be good enough.

The same applies to the book-keeping. If finance is an area that you struggle with (and believe me you are not alone in that!), it makes absolute sense to work with someone who is passionate about doing the very thing you hate.