Is Online Advertising Working For You?

For some small business owners, online advertising seems to be a no brainer.  You can use Facebook ads to advertise your business or products, you pay the fees, and you wait for the results to start coming. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.  Facebook advertising takes work.  You must consistently test what is working for your particular business, before you can actually get any results.  It is true that for some businesses you do not have to do too much for the ads to work, but for the majority of small businesses, testing your ads to see if they are reaching the right audience, seems to be the only way to go. 


62 Percent of Small Business Owners Say Facebook Ads Don’t Work

Are Facebook ads ineffective, or is the problem user error?

In January 2017, Small Business Trends released the results of a survey of over 2,600 small-business owners, revealing that 62 percent of them believe Facebook ads are ineffective. With complaints of little-to-no ROI, these entrepreneurs say they will not use Facebook advertising again. Some experts, however, challenge this viewpoint, saying that properly targeted Facebook ads do indeed provide results.

“When businesses don’t see the results they hope for, it’s usually because they haven’t done enough testing on their ad copy, visuals, and the ideal combination of information to target the right audience,” says Vitruvian Digital Advertising founder Kristie McDonald.

Jeanine Blackwell, founder of The Launch Lab, agrees, saying that marketers aren’t asking themselves the right questions to determine an effective target market for their ad campaigns. “The problem is that most advertisers only use the simplest of criteria to let Facebook know who they want to see their ads, such as gender, age, and income,” says Blackwell.


The Best Accountability For Small Business Owners

When Beth Savage became the owner of PQ Systems, the first thing she did was put together an outside board. “Why not have a board that is there for the sole reason of helping you and your team succeed?” says Beth.

Many business owners are reluctant to create an outside board. Some believe that their company is unique, and a board of outsiders wouldn’t work for their company.

Others rationalize that they already get enough advice from employees, family members, and paid advisors—such as their attorney, accountant or bankers. Still others can’t see the purpose, and they want to hold on to what they see as their autonomy.


Abrams: Sexy small business start-ups

Looking for a small business start-up idea? You might want to look to the bedroom. Because, and I know this may shock you, sex sells.

Romance has been around since, well, Adam and Eve. Businesses related to romance continue to do well and are increasingly mainstream. This past Valentine’s Day, even Burger King got in the act. For a very limited time and only in Israel, the fast food chain included a sex toy in an “Adult Meal.” The story spread like wildfire on social media because who can resist anything to do with sex?

While most sex-based businesses are small businesses, they typically seem seedy and are, often, exploitative. But here are some sex and romance-related small business ideas you that can still tell your grandma about and that won’t land you in jail:

1. Online dating site profile writer. Ask people how they met their partner, and the most frequent response you’ll hear is “online.” But few people know how to write appealing dating site profiles. My senior editor, however, met the man of her dreams on OKCupid. “Before we write anything at work, we research,” she said. “I thought I better do the same thing.” So she figured out how to write a witty, quirky profile, which attracted her perfect match. Friends then started asking her to write their profiles. “This could be a full-time business.” If your customers break up, they need to update their profiles, which means repeat business.


 

From Retirement Accounts to the Federal Rate Hike Affecting the Small Business Owner

Are you thinking about  filing your taxes already?  While there is still time to do so, re-evaluating your current retirement plan, health plan or other benefit plans you currently have for your employees with your accountant, financial advisor, or human resources person might be a good idea.  While changing plans may carry a small increase in prices, some of the benefits with a new plan do make up for the small price difference.  Retirement accounts you may want to set up this year for your employees, or for yourself can be done with the help of a financial advisor.  Before making any changes that affects your business, talk to your accountant or financial advisor.

For more about this and other small business news, follow the links below.


Inexpensive retirement plans for small-business owners

You’ve built your own company from the ground up, and now it’s time to start thinking about a retirement plan for yourself and your employees.

Does Your Small Business Need a Whistleblower Policy?

As business owners, we hope to never have need of a whistleblowing policy. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly important for protecting ourselves, our businesses and our employees.

Whistleblowing policies are put in place to ensure employees they are protected if they feel there is a topic or problem that needs to be discussed. It also helps you as a company identify what complaints actually constitute whistleblowing and to put guidelines or consequences in place if false allegations are made against the company.

If you don’t have a whistleblowing policy for your company, here are a few of the main reasons why you need to consider creating one, and what you should have in mind while creating your policy.

What Is Whistleblowing?

Whistleblowing happens when an employee — the whistleblower, or “relator” (the technical term used for a whistleblower) — brings a concern, misconduct or questionable act within the company to the public’s attention. When a whistleblower decides to speak out about a certain instance of misconduct within the company, they are doing so because they believe it should be public knowledge.


Will Fed Rate Hike Mean Easier Access to Small Business Loans?

The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate Wednesday for only the second time since the 2008 recession, citing falling unemployment and low inflation as key factors in its decision.

According to Fed Chairwoman Janet L. Yellen, the country has seen sustained economic growth over the past few years, including nearly 2.3 million net new jobs (PDF) in the previous four quarters alone, and an inflation rate running at a low two percent.

The rate increase is nominal — 0.5 to 0.75 percent — a number that the Fed feels will support sustained growth by encouraging borrowing.

Rohit Arora, CEO of Biz2Credit, an online marketplace for small business funding, and an expert on small business finance, said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends that the rate hike could be a good thing for small companies if it spurs financial institutions to make more loans.

He expressed concern, however, that banks, reluctant to lend to small businesses since the recession, may continue to keep their pocketbooks closed.


 

Small Business News For February

The United States Department of Labor said last week that claims for unemployment benefits fell by 14,000.  That means that the unemployment benefits claims in the United States fell down more than 8% from last year. The unemployment rate is 4.7 and according to economists that can be considered full employment, making it a nine-year low in the United States.

For more about this and other news, follow the links below.


Small Business Ombudsman ‘fed up’ with banks refusing to change their ways

Australian banks have plenty of critics, and now they can add the Small Business Ombudsman to that list.
Kate Carnell, who has authored a report released today into banking practices, has found lenders are not being fair when they enter into contracts with small and medium-sized businesses.

“Across the board the contracts that were in place between banks and small businesses [were] simply unfair,” she told AM.

“Banks have all the power and the small businesses have no power at all and there need to be some change.”

The ombudsman’s report into banking practices has been released today by the Government.

It found that there is an unequal relationship between the banks and small and medium-sized businesses that borrow from them.


Local restaurants joining the coalition of Small Business United Against Hate

Mike Sherwood of Pizza Nea calls it “coming out of the closet for caring.”

Small business owners have a conundrum that cuts both ways: They don’t have the money or the clout to change laws or legislation the way big business does. All they have are their voices. But if they use their voices, certain customers could turn against them.

“It’s a big risk,” says Sherwood, who came out as proudly anti-Trump on his business social media pages early and often. “Minnesota is 50/50 [politically].”

But, as another small business owner put it in a grassroots meeting on Tuesday night, “Sometimes you just have to do what’s right.”

John Sugimura owns PinkU, the modern sushi restaurant that recently opened in northeast Minneapolis. He chose the name, which means “pink” in Japanese, because in that language, it also has connotations of “peace” and “democracy.” He wanted to always gently remind himself of where he came from. Sugimura is a longtime social advocate and activist, but his recent conversion to restaurant owner has taken him out of his usual circles.


Hiring Rebound at Small Businesses in January, ADP Says

HIRING REBOUND: Small businesses more than tripled their number of new jobs in January, adding 62,000, according to payroll provider ADP. That’s up from 18,000 in December, and in line with the average of more than 62,000 per month in 2016. ADP counted the number of jobs at its small business customers, those with up to 49 staffers.

Small businesses were part of an overall trend of stronger job growth last month. ADP reported that businesses of all sizes added 246,000 jobs last month, up from December’s 151,000.

WHAT IT MEANS: The figures suggest that employers are hiring again after scaling back their payroll expansion in the second half of last year. The arrival of the Trump administration, which was welcomed by many small business owners, may have encouraged them to take some more of the risks they’ve been avoiding since the recession, including expanding their staffs. Many owners have said in surveys they’re not willing to hire unless their revenue is strong enough to justify the added expense.

WHAT ELSE TO LOOK FOR: Employment reports later this week from the National Federation of Independent Business and the Labor Department will give different perspectives on job growth, but will nonetheless help reveal owners’ sentiment about their companies and the economy. The NFIB surveys its members, while the government report will look at hiring across the private sector. It will not break out figures by company size.


 

Small Business News For This Coming Tax Season

There are not many relationships in business as important as that of an accountant or tax advisor and a small business owner during this time of year.  During the months ahead, when many small business owners are already thinking about taxes, the advice these people offered them can be a tremendous financial relief for their business. Small business owners try to minimize as much as possible the amount of taxes they pay every year. The advice a CPA  gives them can save them hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

Talk to a tax advisor soon, prepare papers and other proper documents to take to him/her and beat the rush.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


Tax season is here with rising stress levels, headaches for small businesses

NEW YORK (AP) – With the start of tax season, stress levels are rising at many small businesses.

Even owners who are organized, keep good books and stay in touch with their accountants can find compiling returns to be a painful process. One reason is that tax laws change often, says Rosamaria Bravo, a certified public accountant with the firm MBAF in Miami. One of this year’s big differences: Partnership returns must be filed by March 15, a month earlier than in the past. And companies known as C corporations have a filing deadline of mid-April, after having a March due date in past years.

“It’s very hard to stay on top of all the information,” Bravo says. “The average business owner is more worried about their day-to-day operations.”

Here’s a look at some lessons small business owners learned:

USING SOFTWARE WISELYWhen Christina Divigard started an advertising agency, she bought accounting software and began keeping the company’s books herself. When tax season arrived, she discovered that out of inexperience, she’d incorrectly entered some information and misclassified some types of deductions. It took two weeks to get her books in order.


The $83,000 Question: How Much Do Regulations Really Cost Small Businesses?

How much does it cost the average small business to comply with government regulations? One recent survey, released just in time for Donald J. Trump’s inauguration, dropped this eye-popping number: at least $12,000 a year. And you don’t even want to know what a start-up spends on regulations in its first year. However, I’ll tell you anyway — a whopping $83,019.

These figures come from the first-ever Small Business Regulations Survey, conducted by the National Small Business Association, which of course makes it its business to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses. Among other conclusions, the survey found that 44 percent of businesses spend at least 40 hours a year dealing with federal regulations, and 29 percent spend at least that much on state and local rules. Three-quarters of business owners say that they have spent time reading proposed rules at least once, and of these, not quite two-thirds discover that more than half the time, the rules they’ve read wouldn’t apply to them. About 40 percent of respondents claim that they have held off making a new investment because of a regulation at some point in the past.


Facebook’s Creative Shop: What Can It Do For Small Businesses (And Itself)

The service helps companies spruce up their ads in order to engage more with the platform—and also keep Facebook ahead of its competitors.

Baked founder Matt Lewis never thought about hiring an ad agency to help boost holiday sales at his three bakeries in New York City, but he did want to run some kind of campaign this year to get people to preorder pies for Thanksgiving.

A former ad man himself, Lewis thought he was capable of making social media content that was good enough to draw in some customers. In the past, he’s hired photographers and considered hiring a design agency to spruce up the Baked website. But the costs are high. A photographer would cost him $1,500 a day, and a video shoot, about $3,800 a day. “We don’t really have those funds,” says Lewis, whose warm smile and calm demeanor might lead you to think he’s a yoga teacher, not a baker. “There’s no return, or the return would be so small after you’ve paid everybody out. It wouldn’t be worth it.”


 

Focus In Your Business For A Better Year This Time Around

Procrastination is not  a friend for the small business owner. As flawed human beings, we tend to put off chores till we can no longer do so. We try to “delegate” the things we do not like to do, and we make excuses as to why certain things didn’t get done on time.  Focus for the small business owner is too important to treat it lightly.  Focus can mean more sales, or a better strategy for the long run and the prosperity of the business itself. For more about this topic, follow the links below.


How To Maintain Your Small Business Focus

Like most people, I thought I understood what Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) was all about. After all, the conversation about why some kids have a really hard time settling down and focusing in the classroom has been going on since the 1980s.

Over the years, I’ve had classmates and colleagues who were diagnosed, and through interactions with them I thought I knew what the situation was. It wasn’t until I started living with my beau, Rob, who has ADD, that I began to truly appreciate the magnitude of the condition and how it impacts everyday life.

ADD isn’t about a lack of focus. Rob can be exceptionally focused. However, his intense focus only lasts for a brief period of time. Then, in what feels like the blink of an eye, Rob’s focused on something else … and then something else, and then something else: it’s easy to see why it’s hard to get things done. The constant change in focus means using up a lot of energy without seeing a lot of results.  Luckily, there are treatments for ADD. It’s absolutely amazing what a difference medication and behavioral strategies have made in Rob’s life. With them, he can control his focus and achieve his goals.


Cramer admits he was wrong about the impact of small business on stocks

Jim Cramer was convinced last week that a jump in small business optimism would have no influence on the stock market.

“I was wrong,” the “Mad Money” host said.

The monthly National Federation of Independent Business survey of small business optimism report this week indicated that December had greatest surge in optimism since 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected.

The survey polled 619 businesses, and showed a jump to 105.8, the highest since 2004. The survey was heavily skewed toward the notion of expansion with the notion that more optimism leads to more hiring and job creation, which translates into economic improvement.

“I can’t emphasize how important this all is because right now there is a perception in the media that there is nothing but trouble ahead with Trump’s nominations, with his plans, with his style,” Cramer said.


Abrams: 7 steps to small-business success in 2017

It’s closing in on mid-January, and what happened to all those new year’s resolutions you set with such enthusiasm 10 days ago? Resolutions often quickly get forgotten. How can you turn your good intentions for your small business into real action? Turn those resolutions into “small business success goals” for 2017.

How do goals differ from resolutions? Resolutions are intentions. Goals are specific, realistic, measurable objectives. They give you clear, practical targets. They help you achieve success. After all, one of “Rhonda’s Rules” is “you can’t reach a goal you haven’t set.”

Most small business owners, however, often feel they’re too busy running their companies to take time     to develop a specific list of goals. Besides, if you’re like me, you have a sense of your goals in your head, so why write them down? But “mental goals” tend to be either too big (“Be a millionaire by the time I’m 30”) or more likely, out of our control (“Land five new clients this week”).

Yes, developing a list of achievable goals requires a bit of work. You don’t want to sit down and just write out a whole laundry list of desires. That’s going to result in a frustrating number of unachievable targets.


 

Small Business Lending

According to the FDIC website, as of September 30, 2016 there were 5,170 FDIC insured commercial banks. They gave a total of 8,544 loans as of the third quarter of 2016.  You might think that with so many banks, and loans given every year to business, there would be a surplus of loans for the small business owner.  That is not always the case. Some small businesses have a lot of  trouble getting a small business loan, even though news around the country claim small business borrowing is increasing.

For more about this and other news, follow the links below.

 


13 top U.S. microlenders for your small business

What is a microloan, and is one right for your small business?

If you’re a small-business owner on a quest for capital, there are several smart reasons to turn to nonprofit microlenders. These lenders go beyond making small loans to entrepreneurs and provide some benefits that traditional lenders don’t:

Profit is not their objective. Many microlenders are called mission-focused or mission-based lenders. They offer loans from government or nonprofit programs geared to helping disadvantaged communities, including areas that are struggling economically. Some microlenders also operate internationally, helping entrepreneurs in developing nations.

Many microlenders and nonprofits provide pro bono consulting and training, including helping small businesses build credit.


US small business borrowing rises as Trump elected president

Borrowing by small U.S. firms ticked up in November, data released on Thursday showed, as Americans unexpectedly elected Republican Donald Trump as their next president and investors bid up U.S. stocks on bets that tax cuts will boost profits.

The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index rose to 129.9 in November from a downwardly revised 119.8 in October. Measured from a year earlier, it was the first increase in six months. Movements in the index typically correspond with movements in gross domestic product growth a quarter or two ahead.

“Right now we’ve got this post-election bounce, because we know who will be in office,” said Bill Phelan, PayNet’s chief executive and founder. “Is this going to continue into a new era of growth or no? That’s unclear.”


Small Business Health Reimbursement Accounts Resurrected For 2017

Stand-alone HRAs are back for 2017. Employers don’t have to wait for the repeal of Obamacare to fund stand-alone health reimbursement accountsthat employees can use to pay for medical expenses, including health insurance coverage on the individual market. Tucked into the year-end 21stCentury Cures Act, Congress resurrected these HRAs (“qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangements”) for employers with fewer than 50 employees.

“I’ve been contacting small employer clients, telling them, ‘It looks like we can bring your plan back to life,’” says Amy Gordon, an employee benefits lawyer with McDermott Will & Emery in Chicago. “This was an unexpected surprise.”

Stand-alone HRAs were banned under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) because they didn’t meet credible coverage rules (HRAs tied to high-deductible health plans and limited HRAs which cover retiree medical expenses or just dental and vision weren’t banned and are still viable). Employers had to freeze stand-alone HRAs and not make any more contributions to them.


 

Business News For The New Year

For many small business owners, the new year brings new challenges, but also many fantastic opportunities for their business.  Many small business owners reflect on the opportunities they had, and let them passed.  Was marketing their business effective this year?  Were the products and promotion adequate? Looking back at 2016, many businesses are already making changes, and preparing for the new year.  If you are one of those businesses, we wish you luck and hope all the goals for 2017 come your way.  Happy Holidays!


Cures Act: Small Business Provision Gives Employers More Health Plan Options

Small business owners will ring in the New Year with a new law that allows them to offer certain health benefits through qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangements (QSEHRAs) without facing a huge penalty.

President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act, to which the Small Business Healthcare Relief Act was added, on December 13, 2016. The bill comes during a time when small employers with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees have had limited options when looking for the best individual health plans for their employees. Previously, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), small employers had been prohibited from helping pay for employees’ individual health insurance through health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), risking fines up to $36,500 per employee.

HRA fines under the Affordable Care Act

There was a time when HRAs were legal and they were extremely beneficial. HRAs for individual health insurance plans had historically been a useful tool for small employers who wanted to help employees pay for their out-of-pocket expenses.


Just 23 Percent of Small Businesses Expect Increased Sales This Holiday

The holiday cheer seems to be missing for small businesses.

Small Businesses Are Anticipating Slow Holiday 2016 Sales

A new survey reveals only 23 percent of small businesses are expecting an increase in sales this holiday season. That’s down 29 percent a year ago.

Businesses are Optimistic Overall

On a positive note however, Capital One’s latest Spark Business Barometer, has found despite the drop in sales expectations, the overall small business sentiment seems to be improving.

Forty-nine percent of business owners reported “good” or “excellent” business conditions in their area heading into 2017. That’s an increase of eight points compared to the first half of 2016.

“It is encouraging to see many businesses improving their outlook about the future, after a brief dip in confidence earlier this year. While concerns related to costs and regulations still exist, we are glad to see that optimism is on the rise,” said Buck Stinson, Head of Small Business Card at Capital One (NYSE:COF).


Your small business can afford a CTO. Here’s how

So you’re thinking about hiring a CTO, or chief technology officer, for your startup —or dreaming about it, at least. Having someone to focus on IT best practices, disaster recovery planning and the implementation of cloud technology so that you can focus on doing what you love would be an absolute dream —perhaps an unreachable one,you think.

The national average salary for a CTO is nearly $165,000, according to Glassdoor. What small business has that kind of money lying around? You’ve perusedrésumés of independent contractors, but hiring one seems risky. Who says they’ll perform? There is a safe, affordable happy medium, and it comes in the form of an MSP, or managed service provider, that can offer you the CTO services you need in an affordable, à la carte fashion, according to the information technology experts at Frontier IT in Colorado Springs.

Why do small and new businesses need CTOs? Why does outsourcing this position makes sense for so many start-ups? How can you arrange CTO services for your company? The experts at Frontier IT answer these questions.


 

Tax Tips For the Small Business Owner

Feeling a bit uncertain about the growth of your business for 2017?  Would a bit more money in your pocket alleviate some of the financial burden you are experiencing now?  There are many advantages a C-corporation have that the small business owner does not.  But knowing the advantages your small business have can help put more money in your pocket.  Having an accountant look into your tax returns-if you don’t have the same one-can be beneficial to you.  Spotting mistakes or tax breaks you did not claim the previous years are going to be obvious to spot for the new accountant.  Don’t wait till the week before taxes are due to start preparing to file. Don’t throw away receipts throughout the year, keep them in a folder, and put them there as soon as you enter your office.  But most importantly, talk to your accountant to find ways to keep more money in your pocket.

For more about this and other stories, follow the links below.


Last-minute tax tips for entrepreneurs in 2016

Here’s an opportunity to save, but don’t delay.

If you run a small business, now is the time to shore up your finances and take advantage of available deductions to cut your tax bill.

Bear in mind, you’re wrapping up this year’s books. Advisors say it’s too early to see how the Trump administration will shape the tax regime in 2017.

“For 2016, we can play by the rules we have available to us now,” said Gavin Morrissey, managing partner at Financial Strategy Associates in Needham, Massachusetts. “Small-business owners should re-evaluate things in 2017, once we know the new tax rules under Trump.”

Though the end of the year is a good time for even regular 9-to-5 employees to do some tax planning, it’s especially critical for owners of small businesses. In part, that’s because entrepreneurs are responsible for paying their estimated state and federal taxes on time.

They’re also on their own when it comes to setting up and funding their retirement plans in a timely fashion.


“Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

Every year, you pay your taxes. Every year, you wonder why you pay certain taxes. And every year, the process never becomes any more enjoyable. While you’re never going to welcome the action of giving the government your hard-earned money, here are several mistakes you can avoid to make the entire process less painful.

Waiting Until The Last Minute

Most tax deadlines are rigid, so don’t wait until the last minute to start. Just as you’d charge a customer extra for a quick turnaround on a project, so will your tax accountant.

Start the conversations with your accountant long before your returns are due (April 15th — or Sept. 15th for corporations and Oct. 15th for individuals, if you file for an extension). Know what inputs she or he will need, and when you’ll expect to have them. Get on their good side and your tax accountant will be more likely to try to dig up some possible deductions to save you money.


Small business owners feeling the recession pinch

ANCHORAGE – 

If you’re budgeting less for Christmas presents this holiday season, you’re not alone. Local retailers say they’re feeling the effects of the recession.

That’s no surprise to economic experts, like Bill Popp, who is president of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation. He said consumers aren’t just worried about the drop in oil prices, but also the lack of a fiscal plan at the state level.

“We know that consumers still remain relatively wary of what the future will hold,” Popp said. “They’re not sure which way it’s going to go.”

That has people watching their money more closely and it’s hurting this holiday season for small business owners, like Katie Sevigny, owner of 7E studio.

“Small Business Saturday was down and it was down for most of us,” she said, after speaking with other business owners. But she said besides the drop in sales, it’s the length people are going to for a deal that surprised her. “People actually walking into our store, trying on items, and then either taking a picture of the tag or just looking them up online.”


 

Looking For A Business Loan?

59948705Many entrepreneurs have launched their small business with a loan from a parent, uncle, or any other relative willing and able to afford lending a small sum, and perhaps not getting their money back for many years. Not everyone has the means to do that, and that’s why getting a small business loan from a bank is so important for many entrepreneurs, or even the small business owner already established.  Many analysts believe the lack of small business loans available to small business owners has decreased over the years, and the terms of the loans are not very favorable to the small business owner or entrepreneur.  Looking at different alternatives seems the only way for anyone looking for a loan to launch their business idea.

For more about this topic, follow the link below.


Four Smart Ways To Finance Your Next Big Idea Or Small Business

If you’ve ever wanted to start a business of your own, there’s likely been one big hurdle getting in your way: getting the money to finance your big idea.

Fortunately, the internet has made this process a whole lot easier. In the mid-90s, I was able to self-fund my business through the first few dollars I made online, then kept scaling and putting money back into my business over time.

Like most online businesses, my startup costs were extremely low. But not all business models are created equal: Some may need more investment money and funding than others. To help with this process, I’ve listed four different ways you can start raising money or obtaining a financial loan for your next big business idea.

Pre-Sell Your Product Or Idea Before Launching

Wouldn’t it be great if you could prove your model worked before starting your business? In the offline world, this is quite expensive and hard to accomplish. But on the internet, it’s happening every day.


‘Fintech’ fast-cash loans are like ‘wild west’ for small businesses

If you run a small business, you’re likely seeing a flood of offers for easy-to-get loans — through direct mail, pop-up ads, even TV ads — promising fast money to pay your bills or buy new equipment. But that new world of fast cash can come with some costly catches.

“It’s been the wild west,” said Karen Gordon Mills, co-author of a just-released Harvard Business School study exploring the promise and challenges of alternative small-business lending. The sector has exploded in the last few years as a new industry emerged, referred to as “fintech” (for financial technology).

Typically, to get a loan, a small-business owner needs to provide a bank with tax returns, personal and business financial statements and a pile of other documents and data.  “You have to wait weeks or months,” said Mills, who co-wrote the report “Small Business Lending: Innovation and Technology and the Implications for Regulation” with Brayden McCarthy.

Moreover, there’s been a persistent “credit gap” — a dramatic lack of funds available for small businesses needing smaller amounts of money, less than $250,000.


Here Is What Small Business Needs From the Trump Administration

The nation’s 28 million small businesses and tens of millions of self-employed freelancers need a voice the President will listen to.

As President-Elect Trump is busy at work filling his Cabinet positions, the one area that may be among the most important, but is among the least talked about, pertains to small business.

Small business and entrepreneurship are at the center of creating jobs and growing the economy, which are key pieces of Trump’s stated focus. While previous presidents, including President Obama, have raised the Administrator of the Small Business Administration to a Cabinet-level position, Trump should continue his out-of-the-box thinking and make a small business Cabinet position even more front and center in his own administration.

As a leading small business advocate for the greater part of the past decade, I’ve identified several key areas that Trump’s appointee should be able to navigate in order to add full value to the administration, as well as the 28 million small businesses (and tens of millions of freelancers) currently at the center of our economic engine.


 

The State of Small Business Borrowing

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A loan pre-approval offer for your business to expand, invest, or cover payroll may not be on the table any longer. Small businesses are dealing with a lot of rejection this time around when looking for a small business loan, and banks seem unwilling to go forth with loans that were pre approved only a few month ago. “The loan is no longer available to us because that was a special offer a few months back, and the bank is not offering it now.” A small business owner claimed. The companies that are struggling to pay past loans are high, and that can be an indication why banks are unwilling to acquire more debt int he form of loans made to small businesses.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


U.S. small business borrowing falls, delinquencies rise

Borrowing by small U.S. firms slipped in September, and the percentage of firms late on repaying existing loans rose to its highest in nearly four years, data released on Tuesday showed.

The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index fell to 128.9 from a downwardly revised 132.8 in August. Measured from a year earlier, it was the fourth straight monthly decline, with the index at its lowest point since January.

Companies also struggled to pay back existing debts, PayNet data showed. Loans more than 30 days past due rose in September to 1.64 percent, the sixth straight monthly increase and the highest delinquency rate since December 2012.


Bank turned down your small business loan? Now it must offer an alternative

From today, the UK’s nine largest banks will be legally required to help entrepreneurs find funding elsewhere, thanks to the bank referral scheme

Katrin Herrling felt she had nowhere to go when, in the midst of the financial crisis, her bank suddenly changed its lending terms. She had inherited a dairy farm and needed support with her cash flow during the four months of the year the cows weren’t producing milk. “Nothing in our position had changed but the banks felt they had to rebuild their balance sheet,” she says. “I didn’t know where to turn … I [knew] that just going to another bank where I didn’t have an established relationship wasn’t going to solve the issue. Outside of banks, I had no idea.”

From today, entrepreneurs should not find themselves in Herrling’s position. As part of the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Act 2015, the UK’s nine major banks will be legally required to refer those SMEs they refuse to finance to an alternative provider, under the bank referral scheme.


Study: Women Small Business Owners Being Shut Out of Major Government Contracts

Jane Campbell

Jane Campbell is the director of the National Development Council’s Washington office and president of WIPP.

When Komal Goyal started her IT company, 6e Technologies, in 2003, she knew she had what it takes to run a successful business. She’d made a name for herself in the IT services space and had a robust list of contacts in the commercial arena. What she didn’t have was a hefty government contract—something that could propel her business to new heights—so she set her sights on locking one down. Thirteen years later, she’s still trying to nab one of the large umbrella contracts with the federal government that could double the size of her business in just a few years.

The problem is that most of these super contracts—the kind many federal agencies favor because they create a pre-approved list of businesses that can supply unlimited goods or services during a specified period, of up to 10 years—have requirements to allow various socio-economic groups to compete, but not for women.“The contracting officers putting together a list of possible vendors must ensure certain groups have access to these contracts,” Goyal said. “If women-owned businesses aren’t one of those boxes to check off, we don’t even get the chance to compete.”