http://www.sba.gov/community/blog/rss/15021/feed en Franchise Ownership Success Starts With Great Training http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/franchise-ownership-success-starts-with-great-training <p>When you buy a franchise, you&rsquo;re paying for the right to use the franchisors proprietary systems. Some of these include their marketing systems, computer and software systems, inventory management systems and more.</p> <p>But, you won&rsquo;t be able to use any of their business systems unless you know how to use them. That&rsquo;s where the franchisors formal training program comes in. It&rsquo;s part of what you&rsquo;re paying for when you <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/franchise-businesses" title="link to franchise article on sba website">purchase a franchise</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Are Franchise Training Programs Good?</strong></p> <p>I can&rsquo;t think of one occasion in which a client of mine told me the training they received from their franchisor was disappointing. But, since this is <em>your</em> money we&rsquo;re talking about&hellip;it&rsquo;s you that will be buying the franchise, it&rsquo;s important for you to make sure the training you&rsquo;ll receive from franchise headquarters will be good. Here&rsquo;s how:</p> <p>Call existing franchisees of the franchise concept you&rsquo;re thinking of buying and ask them to share their views on the training they received. It should be part of your <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/guest-blogs/industry-word/researching-franchise" title="researching a franchise due diligence ">due diligence</a>.</p> <p><strong>Types of Franchise Training</strong></p> <p>These days, technology plays a major part of company training programs. Expect the franchisor to utilize technology in their training program.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>One way <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/guest-blogs/industry-word/franchisees-need-have-great-technology-their-fingertips" title="link to article on franchise technology">franchisors use technology</a> to train their franchisees is to have some setup online. That&rsquo;s right: Part of your training may be online. I&rsquo;ve seen franchisors do what&rsquo;s called pre-training online. Pre-training takes place a few weeks before you arrive at franchise headquarters for in-person training. I&rsquo;ve found pre-training to be a great way for new franchisees to get their feet wet and have a head start on what&rsquo;s to come when they arrive at headquarters for more intensive formal training.&nbsp;</p> <p>The formal, in-headquarters training will end up having the biggest impact on you. The training that takes place at headquarters is pretty intensive. It&rsquo;s designed to prepare you for all of your day-to-day activities as a franchise owner. You&rsquo;ll go through the entire operations manual. You&rsquo;ll be trained on things like:</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Computer systems</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Inventory systems</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Point of sale systems</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Payroll management</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Sales</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Marketing</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Advertising</p> <p>&middot;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <a href="http://www.franchisebizdirectory.com/article/the-importance-of-great-customer-service-in-franchising/" title="customer service in a franchise">Customer service</a> *</p> <p>You&rsquo;ll learn a lot in a short period of time. (Training programs at franchise headquarters are usually 3-5 days in length)</p> <p>If the thought of learning everything about running your new franchise business in a few short days sounds overwhelming, you&rsquo;re not alone. Every franchisee before you thought the same exact thing, and their businesses are up and running. Yours will be too.</p> <p>You could always ask some of the existing franchisees if the training they received prepared them to open and run their businesses adequately. The answers you get will give you a good idea of the quality of the franchisors training program. And, you&rsquo;ll get a good idea of what to expect as a new franchise owner early on in your business.&nbsp;</p> <p>Franchisors want you to be successful. They know you&rsquo;ll be apprehensive in the weeks and days before you actually open. Their training programs are designed to make sure you&rsquo;re ready.</p> <p>*Non-US Government link.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/franchise-ownership-success-starts-with-great-training#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/820821 The Industry Word Starting Tue, 15 Apr 2014 12:22:30 +0000 FranchiseKing 820821 at http://www.sba.gov Crowdfunding Sites: Top 3 Tips to Get Funding Once and For All http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/crowdfunding-sites-top-3-tips-get-funding-once-and-all <p>The internet has fundamentally changed the way we do business on a national and global scale. With over 2 billion internet users and growing, the speed and the way in which we communicate, share ideas, and even invest in businesses have changed forever.</p> <p>Now anyone with a computer or mobile device and an internet connection can research, review and become an investor in a business with a push of a button. With the growing popularity of <strong>crowdfunding sites</strong>, it&#39;s clear the idea of advertising to the general public through a crowdfunding platform is far more effective at drawing in investors as opposed to finding traditional investors the old fashion way.</p> <p>To put it bluntly, crowdfunding empowers entrepreneurs.</p> <p>It offers them the ability to raise capital without giving up equity or accumulating debt. Instead, these rewards-based crowdfunding platforms allow entrepreneurs to raise capital from the public in exchange for tangible products or other relative rewards.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s simply one of the best ways to cast a huge net for attracting investors to a business. However, with all the hype and popularity buzzing around the internet, many entrepreneurial hopefuls need to be aware that just because launching a crowdfunding campaign is simple doesn&rsquo;t mean it&rsquo;s easy.</p> <p>There is a big misconception on what it really takes to reach a funding goal and achieve <a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2014/04/08/successful-crowdfunding-campaigns/" target="_blank" title="crowdfunding resource" type="crowdfunding article"><strong>success in crowdfunding</strong></a>. It&rsquo;s not as simple as creating a campaign and clicking the submit button and waiting for an idea to go viral. The <em>set it and forget it</em> attitude is the number one reason why crowdfunding campaigns fail.</p> <p>Did you know of the roughly 60,000 unsuccessful crowdfunding campaigns launched, about 40,000 failed to reach even 20% of their funding goal? The good news is you can succeed in crowdfunding, you just need to know how to prepare for it.</p> <p>Here are three key tips for crowdfunding success:</p> <p><strong>1) Perfect Your Pitch </strong>&ndash; An incredible pitch is crucial for crowdfunding and can make or break landing an investor. People have to be sold on you, your idea and your vision before they will ever invest in your business.</p> <p>For starters, write up your preliminary draft, include pictures and record a video explaining your vision, the offer and why you should <a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2013/12/12/how-to-get-funding-for-a-small-business/" target="_blank" title="business funding " type="business funding information">get business funding</a>. Let your passion shine through!</p> <p>Send your pitch to family and friends so you can get feedback and make any necessary changes. Once you perfected the pitch, start locating initial backers before launching your campaign.</p> <p>Remember, you don&rsquo;t have to swim with the sharks; in crowdfunding, you get to swim with the goldfish.</p> <p><strong>2) Test Your Rewards</strong> &ndash; Every successful campaign started with a dedicated following. The obvious rewards would be to provide backers with a digital copy, physical product, souvenirs, combined rewards, etc. depending on your business idea.</p> <p>Start by testing your reward ideas with your personal network, make necessary adjustments and perfect your rewards package so it is unique, eye-catching and memorable.</p> <p><strong>3) Get Pre-Pledges</strong> &ndash; Pre-pledges are commitments from those people who fully support your business idea and will be there to invest on day one when you launch your campaign. Since the majority of crowdfunding sites provide a 30-90 day time frame for each campaign, it&rsquo;s vital to launch with momentum.</p> <p>Did you know the most <strong><a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2014/04/08/successful-crowdfunding-campaigns/" target="_blank" title="crowdfunding success" type="crowdfunding success resource">successful crowdfunding campaigns</a></strong> had their campaigns go live only after they had 20-30% of their business funding secured by initial backers? Let&#39;s face it; nobody wants to be the first person to fund money into a newcomer&#39;s campaign.</p> <p>Once you perfect the pitch, test your rewards, get pre-pledges and choose a reputable crowdfunding platform, you will need to establish a marketing strategy to reach your target audience so you can advance the momentum of your campaign once you go live.</p> <p><strong>Crowdfunding sites</strong> are a strong stepping-stone for acquiring investors for a business. While for some it can be a viable option, entrepreneurs do need to conduct their due diligence to decide if this <a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2014/01/27/business-funding/" target="_blank" title="Business Funding" type="business funding resource">business funding</a> option is best for them.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/crowdfunding-sites-top-3-tips-get-funding-once-and-all#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/818031 The Industry Word Financing Starting Wed, 09 Apr 2014 17:28:52 +0000 Marco Carbajo 818031 at http://www.sba.gov How to Use Business Books To Grow Yourself, Your Team, Your Business http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/how-use-business-books-grow-yourself-your-team-your-business <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-c3be48f1-283f-ee23-846d-8b8ada4a3659"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Business books are valuable in that they do more than simply teach you how to run your business more smartly. They&rsquo;re conversation starters, continuing education tools for your staff and more.</span></span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; font-weight: bold; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Educate Yourself</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-c3be48f1-283f-ee23-846d-8b8ada4a3659"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">The primary benefit of business books is, naturally, that they help you achieve better results in business.&nbsp;Don&rsquo;t know a thing about social media marketing? Pick up a book and teach yourself. Curious about the latest leadership technique? A book can help you with that too.</span></span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Books only help if you commit to reading them. You&rsquo;re busy. We all are. But if you set a goal for yourself to leverage the knowledge inside books, you end up a smarter business owner.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">It&rsquo;s not necessary to fly across country or spend lots of money on expensive conferences to glean information from business experts. Instead, budget about $150 a year to buy a book each month on Kindle and get all that knowledge (probably more) from the convenience of your favorite easy chair. Don&rsquo;t have a budget for books? Then don&rsquo;t forget your local library. Many even offer digital books these days.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; font-weight: bold; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Share Your Knowledge</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">If you blog for your business, books provide great subject fodder. Writing about what you learn is also a wonderful way to process that information and really understand it. As you read, take notes or bookmark pages (yes, you can digitally bookmark as well) so you can come back to pull quotes for your content. </span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">As you continue to master your industry as an expert, you&rsquo;ll end up imparting what you&rsquo;ve learned. So that book knowledge can be translated into content for speaking engagements, webinars, social media updates ... even data for your own authored book! </span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; font-weight: bold; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Give It as a Gift</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-c3be48f1-283f-ee23-846d-8b8ada4a3659"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Business books also make fantastic business presents. When you run across a great book, buy copies for key members of your team who you think would benefit and give the books as gifts to each. You could even start a mini book club within your organization and discuss the principles in a book. Not only does this make your team smarter, but it also helps you bond. </span></span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Clients appreciate good books too. Send a book you&#39;ve read to a favorite client along with a note about what you&#39;ve enjoyed in it (e.g., &quot;I especially loved Chapter 7!&quot;) &nbsp;Doing so will build relationships with your clients, and they will appreciate your ongoing investment in your business expertise. </span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Pay attention when talking to clients or contacts to get clues about what topics they&rsquo;re interested in. For example, if a long-time client mentions he struggles with analytics, that&rsquo;s the perfect cue for you to send him your favorite book on the subject. People notice when you pick up on their interests, and it makes for a more personalized gift. </span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; font-weight: bold; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Thirst for More</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">There will never, ever be a shortage of books. Every day, new ones are published, especially with the surge of self-published authors. It can be a challenge to know which ones are worth reading, and which aren&rsquo;t. At the next Chamber of Commerce meeting or industry mixer you attend, ask others if they&#39;ve read any good business books recently. Get recommendations from friends and colleagues. Ask your social network what to read. Join </span><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/" style="line-height: 1;" title="Link to Goodreads"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Calibri; color: rgb(0, 37, 229); text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">GoodReads</span></a><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> and see what your friends are reading. &nbsp;And check out the </span><a href="http://bookawards.smallbiztrends.com/" style="line-height: 1;" title="Small Business Book Awards"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Calibri; color: rgb(0, 37, 229); text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Small Business Book Awards</span></a><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> to see what the community believes are top books for entrepreneurs and small business people.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 16px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Make time for reading business books, just like you make time for marketing, sales, and other components of your business. While the results may not be directly obvious, books do help you succeed as a business owner.</span></p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/how-use-business-books-grow-yourself-your-team-your-business#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/814211 The Industry Word Managing Mentoring and Training Starting Thu, 03 Apr 2014 15:46:24 +0000 smallbiztrends 814211 at http://www.sba.gov Growing Importance of Business Plan Competitions http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/growing-importance-business-plan-competitions <p>Are you aware of business plan competitions? If you&rsquo;re an entrepreneur, they&rsquo;re an excellent opportunity to present your business and compete for cash and in-kind prizes or, worst case, really good feedback from serious business people. If you&rsquo;re lucky enough to be invited to judge, it&rsquo;s a chance to spend a few days reviewing real-world startups.</p> <p>I&rsquo;ve been judging business plan competitions for almost 20 years. As I write this I&rsquo;m looking forward to another season judging venture competitions including the University of Texas&rsquo; <a href="http://www.mccombs.utexas.edu/centers/texas-venture-labs/investment-competition" title="Link to Venture Labs Competition">Venture Labs Investment Competition</a>, the <a href="http://alliance.rice.edu/rbpc.aspx" title="Link to Rice Business Plan Competition">Rice University Business Plan Competition</a>, and the University of Oregon <a href="http://nvc.uoregon.edu/" title="Link to New Venture Championship">New Venture Championship</a>. Each of these three events pit grad-level business students from all over the world against each other as they compete for cash and in-kind prizes. They submit business plans, do business pitches and answer detailed questions.</p> <p>I find judging these competitions fun, interesting and for me a great way to keep up with the evolution of high-level startups, business planning and entrepreneurship education.</p> <p>The University of Texas started this, as far as I know, with the first &ldquo;Moot Corp&rdquo; in 1984. Moot Corp became Venture Labs Competition three years ago. It&rsquo;s the oldest and possibly most prestigious &ndash; although Rice University is a serious rival. All of its entrants have won other business plan competitions to get to that one.</p> <p>The Rice University contest is the richest. Recent winners have won cash prizes of hundreds of thousands of dollars and total prizes of more than $1 million including in-kind services (like free rent, consulting, legal work, etc.)</p> <p>I&rsquo;ve been judging the University of Oregon competition since 1997. I&rsquo;ll never forget arriving on a Thursday morning to discover, to my horror, that I&rsquo;d committed myself to all day Thursday, Friday and Saturday. My horror changed to real interest as the teams began their pitches. By Saturday I had enjoyed it so much I made sure to stay on the list for the future years. And I&rsquo;ve missed only one year since then.</p> <p>One obvious change I&rsquo;ve seen in this area is the tremendous growth in the number of contests, the interest in contests, the prize money and the seriousness of the startups that enter.</p> <p>The most important change is an amazing increase in the viability of the competing startups. The early Moot Corps were almost entirely hypothetical business plans developed by students as academic exercises. Nowadays most of the entrants in the major business plan competitions are real companies with real prospects. Of the three I judge, a clear majority of the startups that enter will eventually get financed and launch. Both Rice and Texas track angel investments and venture capital financing landed by former contestants in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Winners almost always have viable products, believable management teams, and credible growth prospects.</p> <p>Another change is the length, style and content of the business plans submitted. Today&rsquo;s business plans are much shorter than they used to be, as page limits have gone from 30-40 to 10-20. Judges have to read plans and they want shorter, sharper and more summarized. And &ndash; sadly, in my opinion &ndash; financial projections seem to be less rigorous.</p> <p>Another development is that because of the continuing increase in interest, there is now a good website dedicated entirely to listing competitions, at <a href="http://bizplancompetitions.com" title="Link to bizplancompetitions.com">www.bizplancompetitions.com</a>. You&rsquo;ll be amazed at how many events they list. And I hope you find one you can attend, enter or judge. If you have any interest in startups, it&rsquo;s a great experience.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/growing-importance-business-plan-competitions#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/810581 The Industry Word Starting Wed, 26 Mar 2014 20:30:41 +0000 Tim Berry 810581 at http://www.sba.gov How to Calculate the Cost of Food for Your Culinary Business Venture http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/how-calculate-cost-food-your-culinary-business-venture <p>Are you hungry for information about launching your food-service small business? While there&rsquo;s a lot of shared <a href="http://www.sba.gov/thinking-about-starting" title="link to information about starting a business">information to get started across all industries</a>, the food industry poses unique opportunities and questions. One of the most common we see is how to calculate the cost of food.</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s one approach from small-business expert Sam Ashe-Edmunds, who dishes out <a href="http://smallbusiness.chron.com/calculate-food-cost-restaurant-39551.html" title="link to food cost article">food-cost calculations</a> into nine steps to help ensure that you&rsquo;ll be able to keep a consistent menu, please customers and remain profitable. Here&rsquo;s what he has to say:</p> <p><strong>Step 1</strong>: Pick a dish to start and list all of its ingredients &ndash; even condiments and garnishes. You&rsquo;ll want to make sure that the portion for each dish is the same so that it always <em>costs</em> the same.</p> <p><strong>Step 2</strong>: Calculate the cost of each ingredient. Take a head of lettuce, for example. If it costs 75 cents and you get 30 leaves, the lettuce cost for a dish that includes <em>one</em> lettuce leaf would be about 2.5 cents. Ashe-Edmunds reminds us to include a proportion of any expenses directly related to purchasing foods, such as delivery fees or interest.</p> <p><strong>Step 3</strong>: Add up the costs of all the ingredients for the dish, but don&rsquo;t include costs for labor or actually serving the dish.</p> <p><strong>Step 4</strong>: To start figuring out if you&rsquo;ve priced the meal right, divide the menu price by the food cost to calculate the percentage of the price that comes from food. If you charge $10 for a meal for which food costs are $5, then your food cost is 50 percent.</p> <p><strong>Step</strong> <strong>5</strong>: Now, you&rsquo;ll want to determine overhead cost per meal, which includes everything <em>not </em>related to food that&rsquo;s required to run your restaurant. This includes things such as labor, rent, marketing, taxes, etc. So, consider what it will cost to run your restaurant on a daily basis &ndash; then divide that number by the number of customers you think you&rsquo;ll serve every day. If your overhead is $1,000 per day and you have 200 customers each day, your overhead <em>per person</em> is $5.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"><strong>TIP</strong>: Keep employee meals and food theft in this overhead figure as well, because they&rsquo;re not included as direct costs to serve a meal but can&rsquo;t be left out.</p> <p><strong>Step 6</strong>: Using your overhead costs as a guide, decide your ideal food-cost percentage. If you charge $10 for a meal and your overhead cost is $6, then your food costs can&rsquo;t be more than $4 to break even. Want a $2 profit per meal? Then you&rsquo;ll have to charge $12 for that particular dish.</p> <p><strong>Step 7</strong>: Take a look at the prices listed in your menu to figure out if they&rsquo;ll cover your overhead and food costs &ndash; and if you&rsquo;ll be able to make a profit. So if you&rsquo;ve calculated an ideal food-cost percentage of 20 percent and a dish uses $4 of ingredients, you can&rsquo;t sell that dish for any less than $20.</p> <p><strong>Step 8</strong>: You <em>may</em> need to calculate different food-cost percentages for different services or items, such as a breakfast menu versus dinner menu, because of different requirements &ndash; some less, some more &ndash; to satisfy each dish.</p> <p><strong>Step 9</strong>: Finally, examine your sales by item to determine if your food-cost percentages are adequate to keep your restaurant in business. If it turns out you&rsquo;re selling at primarily a low cost, you might need to raise prices (or lower food costs) to be profitable.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"><strong>TIP</strong>: Get a more complete picture of your food costs by checking out total food costs per service and dividing them by total sales. Then you won&rsquo;t have to calculate the actual cost of each menu item.</p> <p><a href="http://smallbusiness.chron.com/calculate-food-cost-restaurant-39551.html" title="link to food cost article">Ashe-Edmunds&rsquo;</a> offers just one approach to determining the cost of food. You can explore these additional resources from around the web for more insight:</p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://restaurantengine.com/how-to-make-food-costs-projections-for-your-new-restaurant/" title="link to How to Make Food Costs Projections For Your New Restaurant article">How to Make Food Costs Projections For Your New Restaurant</a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.foodservicewarehouse.com/education/restaurant-management-and-operations/a-quick-guide-on-pricing-restaurant-menu-items/c28020.aspx" title="link to A Quick Guide on Pricing Restaurant Menu Items article">A Quick Guide on Pricing Restaurant Menu Items</a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.restaurantreport.com/departments/biz_restaurant-food-menu-pricing.html" title="link to Restaurant Operations: Food And Menu Pricing For Your Restaurant article">Restaurant Operations: Food And Menu Pricing For Your Restaurant</a></li> </ul> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/how-calculate-cost-food-your-culinary-business-venture#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/807951 Small Business Cents Managing Starting Wed, 19 Mar 2014 12:03:21 +0000 kmurray 807951 at http://www.sba.gov Is The Green Franchising Scene Still Active? http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/green-franchising-scene-still-active <p>Maybe my radar screen just needs a bit of a tune-up.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s because the word &ldquo;green&rdquo; hasn&rsquo;t been on it as of late.</p> <p>For a while, it seemed like <a href="http://www.sba.gov/green-business-guide" title="sba article on green business">everybody was talking about green</a>.</p> <p>Green energy. Green chemicals. And, green franchises.</p> <p>A few short years ago, I was talking and writing about what&rsquo;s turned out to be an entire new sector in franchising. I was very excited about the business possibilities. I launched a green franchise web directory. I helped a solar energy franchise get the word out about their opportunity. I tried to learn all I could about all things green. A good friend of mine in Florida, experienced with green energy and technology, brought me up-to-speed on the latest and greatest developments. I was seriously &ldquo;energized&rdquo; by all of it.</p> <p>Solar energy intrigued me, and still does. Before the recession, there was pretty much only one solar energy company offering franchises. Now there are several. I just don&rsquo;t hear about them much. What does that mean? Is interest in solar energy fading?&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>I wrote about green franchising <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/guest-blogs/industry-word/green-franchise-business-scene" title="green business link sba.gov">on SBA.gov</a> back in 2010. The article included a couple of different green franchise concepts. I think my enthusiasm showed back then.</p> <p>Included in that article was information about environmentally-friendly cleaning agents.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;Residential and commercial cleaning services (of the franchise variety) are jumping on the green bandwagon. Some of them are starting to use cleaning products that are non-toxic, and that won&#39;t hurt our environment.&rdquo;</p> <p>If my memory serves me correctly, Maid Brigade, a franchisor who I had done some work for, was really the first residential cleaning franchise to get serious about the green movement. As a matter of fact, <a href="http://www.maidbrigade.com/green-house-cleaning/green-cleaning-services" title="link to maid brigade website green cleaning product use">they still are</a>*. But, I&rsquo;m not hearing about the use of environmentally-friendly cleaning solutions as much as I used to. What&rsquo;s changed?</p> <p>Maybe the seemingly waning interest in green and the business opportunities that surround it have to do with <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2009/03/25/news/economy/depression_comparisons/" title="link to article about the recession">the great recession</a>*, and the necessary belt-tightening that went on during that time. Green products and services generally aren&rsquo;t cheap. Maybe our priorities have changed because of the hit we took when the economy took a turn for the worse.</p> <p>I have another theory. Maybe we&rsquo;ve all gotten so used to hearing about solar energy, wind energy, and safe chemicals, we are just well...used to hearing about green things. What do you think? Are green initiatives so commonplace now that we&rsquo;re just used to hearing about them?</p> <p>&nbsp;<strong>Green Franchises</strong></p> <p>There are plenty of opportunities you can choose from in the franchise world that are considered green. <a href="http://www.franchisesolutions.com/earth-friendly-franchises.cfm" title="link to green franchise opportunity examples">Here is an entire page of them</a>*. Just make sure they&rsquo;re truly green.</p> <p>A writer for Franchise Direct wrote about what&rsquo;s called &ldquo;greenwashing,&rdquo; which is when companies aggressively market themselves as green, but aren&rsquo;t.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;&ldquo;When selecting a green franchise, make sure they are truly green. A lot of &ldquo;greenwashing&rdquo; occurs as franchisors try to profit from the hype without putting forth the effort required to be truly green. In some cases a franchise spends their entire green budget on promoting the fact that they are a green company rather than using the money to implement green practices. Also be aware that some green &ldquo;awards&rdquo; displayed may not be legitimate.&rdquo;</p> <p>Make sure the green franchise you&rsquo;re interested in truly is green.</p> <p><strong>The Future Of Green Franchising</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/green-businesses" title="sba.gov link to green biz info">Businesses that offer and use green products and services</a> are going to win in the long-run. As more people get educated about the importance of clean and sustainable energy, more of them are going to demand it in their everyday lives. There are franchise businesses out there right now that provide it. One day there may even be franchises that sell and install wind farms. The opportunities are endless.</p> <p>In the not too distant future, almost all of the cleaning agents we use around our homes and offices will be free of damaging toxins. Franchises in the residential and commercial cleaning sectors that aren&rsquo;t using green chemicals will have to&hellip;again because of consumer demand.</p> <p>Green franchising isn&rsquo;t going away. The sector just needs to be re-energized a bit.</p> <p>*Non U.S. Government links</p> <p>&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/green-franchising-scene-still-active#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/807591 The Industry Word Starting Tue, 18 Mar 2014 12:01:42 +0000 FranchiseKing 807591 at http://www.sba.gov How to Buy an Existing Business http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/how-buy-existing-business <p>Are you ready to enter the business world but nervous about starting from scratch? You may be considering buying an existing business, which certainly has its perks when compared to establishing your own, brand-new operation. But there&rsquo;s still plenty to keep in mind, and success isn&rsquo;t guaranteed by simply writing a check and getting the keys. Here are a few tips to help you <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/buying-existing-business" title="link to information about buying an existing business">do your due diligence as you explore buying a business</a>.</p> <p><strong>Considering the pros and cons</strong></p> <p>There are many favorable aspects to buying an existing business such as an existing customer base, a team of employees and drastic reduction in startup costs. You may be able to jump start your cash flow immediately because of existing inventory and receivables.</p> <p>But there are also some downsides to buying an existing business. Purchasing cost may be much higher than the cost of starting a new business exactly <em>because</em> the initial business concept, customer base, brand and other fundamental work has already been done. Also, be aware of hidden problems associated with the business (like debts the business is owed that you may not be able to collect).</p> <p><strong>Choosing a business</strong></p> <p>There are many different types of businesses to buy. To narrow down the list of potential businesses you might be considering, ask yourself:</p> <ul> <li> <strong>What are my interests?</strong> If you have absolutely no idea what business you want to invest in, first eliminate businesses that are of no interest to you.</li> <li> <strong>What are my talents?</strong> Being honest about your skills and experience can help you eliminate unrealistic business ventures.</li> <li> <strong>What are my conditions for a business?</strong> Consider if a business has a condition that is unfavorable to you, such as location and time commitment.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Doing your research </strong></p> <p>Once you have found a business that you would like to buy, it is important to conduct a thorough, objective investigation and to <a href="http://www.score.org/resources/how-value-your-business" title="link to SCORE article about how to value a business">determine a fair and equitable price for the sale of the business</a>. You&rsquo;ll want to examine information such as tax returns, financial statements, employee files, contracts, leases and any <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/buying-existing-business" title="link to list of important documents">other important documents</a> related to the business.</p> <p class="rteindent1"><strong>TIP</strong>: You should enlist a qualified attorney to help review the legal and organizational documents of the business you are planning to purchase. Also, an accountant can help with a thorough evaluation of the financial condition of the business.</p> <p><strong>Buying a business</strong></p> <p>When you&rsquo;ve decided to move forward with buying a business, the sales agreement is the key document you&rsquo;ll need to finalize the purchase. This agreement defines everything that you intend to purchase including business assets, customer lists, intellectual property and goodwill. If you do not have a lawyer to help you draft the terms of the sale, you should at least have one review the agreement before you sign it.</p> <p><strong>Closing on a business</strong></p> <p>The closing is the final step in the process of buying a business. Once again, you should have legal counsel available to review all documentation necessary for the business transfer. This page details <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/buying-existing-business" title="items you should address during your closing">items you should address during your closing</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you think buying an exiting business could be the right path for you, there&rsquo;s a lot of information available to help you succeed, including this <a href="http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/79638-1" title="link to Entrepreneur.com">article from Entrepreneur.com</a> and <a href="http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/buying-business-what-you-need-29703.html" title="link to NOLO.com">additional guidance from NOLO.com</a>.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/how-buy-existing-business#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/807581 Business Law Advisor Starting Tue, 18 Mar 2014 11:57:18 +0000 kmurray 807581 at http://www.sba.gov Is Bad Credit Stopping You from Getting Business Loans? http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/bad-credit-stopping-you-getting-business-loans <p>In a recent <a href="http://www.colemanreport.com/capital-wanted-but-only-from-preferred-sources/?utm_source=September+19%2C+2013+CRAM&amp;utm_campaign=082412+AM&amp;utm_medium=email" target="_blank" title="report" type="report">report</a>, over 63% of business owners attempting to find funding say they most often targeted banks. Unfortunately, the success among these respondents of actually getting a business loan was a low 27%. &nbsp;</p> <p>However, recent news suggest small business owners considered creditworthy are discovering it to be easier to get business loans from traditional banks. This is good news for the economy since access to funding for small businesses is a part of job and economic growth.</p> <p>Unfortunately, bad credit plagues a large percentage of small business owners as a result of the financial crisis several years back. The fact remains that it&rsquo;s harder for smaller businesses &shy;&ndash; even with stellar credit ratings &shy;&ndash; to get traditional bank loans than it is for larger businesses.</p> <p>Access to capital is the single largest roadblock most business owners face when growing their business. With a <strong><a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2013/08/14/unsecured-business-loans/" target="_blank" title="business credit blog" type="unsecured business loan info">business loan</a></strong>, these businesses can hire new employees, purchase additional inventory, buy or upgrade equipment and increase their marketing efforts.</p> <p>So what can a business owner do if bad credit is preventing them from getting a business loan?</p> <p>The good news is there are alternative funding programs and solutions providing business owners the opportunity to obtain a business loan or line of credit regardless of having bad personal credit. Instead, other factors are taken into consideration such as bank deposit history, credit card sales, credit partners and other data sources.</p> <p>Here are several factors that can get you a business loan regardless of having bad credit:</p> <p><strong>Bank deposits </strong>&ndash; A business with regular bank deposits can put its cash flow to work with <strong><a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2013/09/16/revenue-based-financing/" target="_blank" title="business credit blog" type="revenue based loan info">revenue-based loans</a></strong>. This program is based on the deposits going into the business bank account on a monthly basis. Typically, a business can obtain a business loan equal to 10% of its annual gross deposits regardless of having bad credit. Another benefit of this program is the time it takes to get funded, which is approximately 7 business days.</p> <p>Keep in mind the loan term can be as long as 18 months with this program, with rates slightly higher than a traditional bank rate. It requires no collateral, financials or tax returns. Repayments are made in small increments every day via ACH from the business bank account.</p> <p><strong>Credit card sales</strong> &ndash; This type of funding program, known as a merchant cash advance, provides businesses with upfront cash in exchange for a portion of future credit card sales. For businesses that have regular monthly credit card sales but struggle with bad personal credit, a merchant cash advance may be a viable option.</p> <p>However, be very selective on what merchant cash advance provider you select. Some providers can cost as high as 38% while others can be as low as 12%. In addition, when it comes to repayment, the majority of merchant cash providers take a fixed percentage of your daily credit card receipt volume until the advance you took is paid back. Other <strong><a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2012/04/26/business-merchant-cash-advance/" target="_blank" title="business credit blog" type="business merchant cash advance info">business cash advance providers</a></strong> may offer a fixed monthly installment payment for its repayment method.</p> <p><strong>Credit Partner </strong>&ndash; Using a business partner(s) as a credit partner for obtaining lines of credit in the form of <strong><a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/business-credit-cards-what-every-business-owner-should-consider" target="_blank" title="sba blog" type="business credit card info">business credit cards</a></strong> can be a viable solution to overcome a personal credit challenge. A business partner who has strong credit scores is the best place to look. You may also want to consider someone who may be interested in participating in your business as a potential credit partner.</p> <p>This method does bring risk to the credit partner because they are cosigning with the business to obtain funding. However, it&rsquo;s important to note the type of unsecured business credit cards I am referring to will not appear on the personal credit reports of the cosigner unless they go into default.</p> <p>There are many other types of funding programs that offer small business owners the opportunity to get business loans or access to cash without having perfect credit or subjecting themselves to all the rigorous analysis, cumbersome paperwork, lengthy process and aggravating timelines that comes with a traditional business loan. &nbsp;</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/bad-credit-stopping-you-getting-business-loans#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/805661 The Industry Word Financing Starting Tue, 11 Mar 2014 23:24:42 +0000 Marco Carbajo 805661 at http://www.sba.gov 10 Ways to Maximize Your Home Office for Productivity http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/10-ways-maximize-your-home-office-productivity <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-a85d790b-97c0-f5c0-8637-de1206483d58"><span style="font-size: 13px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">If you run one of the 14+ million home-based small businesses in the United States, congratulations. You&rsquo;ve got lower overhead, a shorter commute and the opportunity to be more productive than your office-based competitors.</span></span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Still, working from home isn&rsquo;t all eating peanut butter out of the jar and wearing your fuzzy slippers. There are plenty of pitfalls that can distract you from getting your work done. Here we look at 10 ways to ensure you&rsquo;re set up for success in your home office.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13px; font-weight: bold; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">1. Carve Out a Workspace</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Not every entrepreneur is fortunate enough to have a spare room to turn into an office. That&rsquo;s okay. You can use part of a room separated by a curtain or even a closet. The point here is to ensure you have a dedicated space that is only for work.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13px; font-weight: bold; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">2. Set Up Your Day</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">The more routines you have, the more you&rsquo;ll get done. If you have small children at home with you while you work, plan to work when they nap or when they&rsquo;re quiet; otherwise you won&rsquo;t be productive. Plan out your work hours; they don&rsquo;t have to be 9 to 5, but they should be fairly consistent. Also, consider your attire. Some people love working in pajamas or sweats.&nbsp;Other people (like me) get more done by getting dressed in &ldquo;business casual&rdquo; &ndash; for some reason getting dressed to be seen by the world makes me feel more professional, even if it&rsquo;s just me. &nbsp;</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13px; font-weight: bold; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">3. Figure Out When You Work Best</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Part of those routines you need to set up involve determining when you&rsquo;re most productive. Some people are night owls, and some are early birds.&nbsp;Some need quiet time without phones and instant messages, so getting up early avoids that. You might need complete quiet in your home office. Whatever your needs, don&rsquo;t fight against them.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13px; font-weight: bold; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">4. Have an Ergonomic Set Up</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">You need a comfortable chair with good back support, a decent computer monitor you can easily see and a keyboard at the right height to avoid awkward pressure on arms and wrists. Don&rsquo;t forget your eyes. Your computer should be at the right distance to see without strain; if necessary, see your eye doctor for &ldquo;computer glasses&rdquo; that are made for viewing a computer properly.&nbsp;Two monitors also can help productivity (less time spent jumping between applications), so if you can afford an extra monitor, by all means try it out. </span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13px; font-weight: bold; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">5. Use Smart Tools</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">There are so many free or affordable software programs and apps for small businesses! Find the ones that help you do more. A few options:</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <ul style="margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 13px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline;"> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-a85d790b-97c0-f5c0-8637-de1206483d58"><a href="http://drive.google.com/" title="Link to Google Drive"><span style="font-family: Calibri; color: rgb(0, 37, 229); text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Google Drive</span></a></span></p> </li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 13px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline;"> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-a85d790b-97c0-f5c0-8637-de1206483d58"><a href="http://www.dropbox.com/" title="Link to Dropbox"><span style="font-family: Calibri; color: rgb(0, 37, 229); text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">DropBox</span></a></span></p> </li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 13px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline;"> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-a85d790b-97c0-f5c0-8637-de1206483d58"><a href="http://www.skype.com/" title="Link to Skype"><span style="font-family: Calibri; color: rgb(0, 37, 229); text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Skype</span></a></span></p> </li> <li dir="ltr" style="list-style-type: disc; font-size: 13px; font-family: Arial; vertical-align: baseline;"> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-a85d790b-97c0-f5c0-8637-de1206483d58"><a href="http://www.freshbooks.com/" title="Link to FreshBooks"><span style="font-family: Calibri; color: rgb(0, 37, 229); text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">FreshBooks</span></a></span></p> </li> </ul> <p><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13px; font-weight: bold; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">6. Remove Distractions</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-a85d790b-97c0-f5c0-8637-de1206483d58"><span style="font-size: 13px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">It can be tempting to fold the laundry that&rsquo;s in the middle of the floor, but pretend you&rsquo;re at an office and ignore it. It&rsquo;s important to designate certain hours for work, and certain hours for home life. Occasionally, it&rsquo;s fine to take a break and run an errand, but don&rsquo;t let it encourage you to procrastinate on a project.</span></span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13px; font-weight: bold; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">7. Get Out of the House</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size: 13px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Many people can&rsquo;t bear being alone all the time in their home offices. Fortunately, we&rsquo;ve become a mobile society, and you&rsquo;ll always see plenty of people at your local coffee shop working on their laptops. Get a change of environment. Try working from a park or restaurant, </span><span style="font-size: 13px; font-family: Calibri; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">if you can be productive there. </span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13px; font-weight: bold; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">8. Find Support in Person or Online</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-size: 13px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">It can be nice to meet other home-based entrepreneurs too. Find a local </span><a href="http://www.meetup.com/" style="line-height: 1;" title="Link to the Meetup site"><span style="font-size: 13px; font-family: Calibri; color: rgb(0, 37, 229); text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">meetup</span></a><span style="font-size: 13px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> of peopl</span><a href="http://www.meetup.com/" style="line-height: 1;"><span style="font-size: 13px; font-family: Calibri; color: rgb(26, 26, 26); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">e like</span></a><span style="font-size: 13px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> you or a </span><a href="http://smallbiztrends.com/events" style="line-height: 1;" title="Link to small business events calendar"><span style="font-size: 13px; font-family: Calibri; color: rgb(0, 37, 229); text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">local event</span></a><span style="font-size: 13px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> whe</span><a href="http://smallbiztrends.com/events" style="line-height: 1;"><span style="font-size: 13px; font-family: Calibri; color: rgb(26, 26, 26); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">re you can</span></a><span style="font-size: 13px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> share your stories and find support in your small business endeavors.&nbsp;If you spend any time on Twitter or other social media sites, you&rsquo;ll find plenty of folks who, like you, are working out of their homes. </span><a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23homebiz&amp;src=typd" style="line-height: 1;" title="Link to Twitter Homebiz hashtag"><span style="font-size: 13px; font-family: Calibri; color: rgb(0, 37, 229); text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">#HomeBiz</span></a><span style="font-size: 13px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> is a great hashtag to follow to find content and conversations geared toward people like you.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13px; font-weight: bold; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">9. Keep Learning</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">Find as many opportunities as you can to develop your business and industry knowledge. This can come in the form of online webinars, Twitter chats, in-person conferences, seminars, books, blogs and magazines.</span></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span style="font-family: Calibri; font-size: 13px; font-weight: bold; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1;">10. Meet Regularly With Staff</span></p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-a85d790b-97c0-f5c0-8637-de1206483d58"><span style="font-size: 13px; font-family: Calibri; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">If you have employees who also work from their homes, make a point to meet once a week or month so you reap the benefits of face-to-face time. While it&rsquo;s completely possible to work virtually, nothing can make up for that in-person relationship-building time.</span></span></p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/10-ways-maximize-your-home-office-productivity#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/803921 The Industry Word Managing Starting Thu, 06 Mar 2014 14:23:49 +0000 smallbiztrends 803921 at http://www.sba.gov When and Why Should You Stick to the Plan? http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/when-and-why-should-you-stick-plan <p>There was a time, a few decades ago, when I thought sticking to the plan was a good for business. &ldquo;Because that&rsquo;s the plan&rdquo; seemed like a good thing. But I&rsquo;ve changed my mind.<img alt="wall and ladder istock.com" src="http://timsstuff.s3.amazonaws.com/blogs/Wall%20and%20ladder%20iStock_000002393930XSmall.jpg" style="width: 250px; height: 197px; float: right;" /></p> <p>Having a plan is absolutely a good thing. And sticking to the planning process &mdash; which means regularly checking results, evaluating progress, and revising a plan &mdash; is absolutely a good thing too. But sticking to a plan? Just because it&rsquo;s supposedly something people do? No.</p> <p>Years ago, I was one of four friends taking a two-week road trip in Europe. We were young, single and having fun. Three of us were fairly flexible about things, so if we liked one spot we&rsquo;d want to stay there longer; if we didn&rsquo;t like another, we&rsquo;d want to take off early. But the fourth always wanted to stick to the plan. And that was such a pain. We&rsquo;d made the plan before we left, and our trip meant learning. I remember the arguments: he&rsquo;d say &ldquo;but we have a plan&rdquo; and we&rsquo;d say &ldquo;but when we made the plan we didn&rsquo;t know what we do now.&rdquo;</p> <p>Fast forward to today and the first thing we can all see is that business time frames have changed. Business moves faster than it used to. And the business landscape has changed too. There&rsquo;s still a lot of consolidation at the top, and those huge enterprises need to manage longer-term plans in order to be able to steer. But there&rsquo;s also huge fragmentation at the bottom, too, with more than 20 million U.S. companies having no employees, and six or so small businesses, and they move faster. They have to.</p> <p>So assumptions change very quickly. And that, to my mind, is the key to managing a business plan and keeping it useful.</p> <p>First, do a plan that has concrete specifics you can track. Include not just the obvious numbers for sales, costs, and expenses, but also other manageable numbers like web traffic, visits, leads, presentations, calls, downloads, likes, mentions, updates, and whatever else drives your business.</p> <p>Second, set a regular schedule for reviewing plan vs. actual results. Have a monthly task to look at progress and identify problems.</p> <p>Third, learn to distinguish problems of execution from changed assumptions. If assumptions have changed, then the plan should change. If assumptions still hold true, then the difference between plan and actual results is a matter of execution. React to surprises according to what direction they go and what cause and effect you see. Usually, unexpectedly good results are a good reason to look at shifting resources towards the positive; unexpectedly bad results are a good reason to shift resources to correct a problem.</p> <p>And that&rsquo;s what I call the good side of sticking to a plan: have a plan, review it regularly, and revise it as needed. It&rsquo;s way easier to correct your course if you have a plan than if you&rsquo;re just reacting to whatever happened yesterday.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>(Image courtesy of stockphoto.com)</em></p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/when-and-why-should-you-stick-plan#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/798621 The Industry Word Managing Marketing Starting Tue, 25 Feb 2014 02:45:41 +0000 Tim Berry 798621 at http://www.sba.gov In A Franchise, When Does The Money Start Rolling In? http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/franchise-when-does-money-start-rolling <p>You need to know how long it&rsquo;s going to take to start recouping your investment in the <strong>franchise</strong> concept you&rsquo;ve chosen. You certainly shouldn&rsquo;t have to guess how long it&rsquo;s going to take for you to see some green.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;d like to find out when the money will start rolling in, keep reading. I&rsquo;m going to show you how to get that money question answered.</p> <p><strong>Open For Business</strong></p> <p>The day you open your <strong>franchise</strong> business up, you should see some money rolling in.</p> <p>That day&hellip;Grand Opening Day should be a day to remember, especially if the marketing department at franchise headquarters did its job. Customers should be everywhere. Wallets should be out. Money should be rolling in. And, when word gets out that <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/franchise-businesses-can-and-do-impact-local-communities" title="link to article about local business activity">there&rsquo;s a new business in town</a>, you should see a good amount of foot traffic (if it&rsquo;s a retail or food franchise) going in and out of your new business.</p> <p>Money will be flowing in. It will feel good. You&rsquo;ll feel like a million bucks. Enjoy that feeling. Savor it like a fine wine or a corn-fed steak.</p> <p><strong>The Money Can&rsquo;t Roll Into Your Pocket Yet&nbsp; &nbsp;</strong></p> <p>The money that&rsquo;s rolling into your new business can&rsquo;t go into your pocket. Not yet. It needs to go back into your business. You&rsquo;ll have expenses to cover&hellip;things like rent, inventory, advertising and utilities. Of course there&rsquo;s payroll. And don&rsquo;t forget that you have to repay <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/sba-sets-fees-new-loans-under-150000-zero-getting-loans-hands-more-entrepreneurs" title="link to sba news article about loans">the small business loan</a> you received.</p> <p>That probably won&rsquo;t leave much&hellip;and it&rsquo;s not supposed to. You own a brand-new business&hellip;a startup business. Before you can pocket some of the money that will be coming in, <a href="http://www.thefranchiseking.com/break-even-in-a-franchise" title="link to franchise king blog article on breaking even in a franchise">you need to get your franchise business to break-even</a>.* That should be your short-term goal.</p> <p><strong>What Is Break-Even?</strong></p> <p>That&rsquo;s the point in which your revenue pays your business expenses. Only then can you start thinking about pocketing some of the money that&rsquo;s coming in.</p> <p>But, you knew that.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s because you took the time to write a proper business plan. One that included your <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/business-planning-tutorials/business-planning-sales-forecast" title="business planning topics">sales forecast</a>. A good business plan will include projections. You&rsquo;ll have an idea of when you&rsquo;ll be breaking even, what your sales will have to be to get there.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Franchise Ownership Is A Long-Term Thing</strong></p> <p>You&rsquo;ve got to be in it for the long haul.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re looking to replace your salary quickly, it probably won&rsquo;t happen. You&rsquo;re going to have to be patient. Your family will have to be patient too. Hopefully, you&rsquo;ve set aside some funds to get you through those first few months&hellip;or longer.</p> <p>I know you want to see the money rolling in.</p> <p>Choose a franchise that&rsquo;s a good match for your skills. Make sure it&rsquo;s well within your means. Talk to a lot of existing franchisees, and chose one or two to visit in-person. Write a formal business plan. Consult with a franchise attorney.</p> <p>If you do enough right things, the money may well roll in.</p> <p>I&rsquo;m pulling for you.</p> <p>*Non-US Government link&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/franchise-when-does-money-start-rolling#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/796361 The Industry Word Starting Tue, 18 Feb 2014 14:28:49 +0000 FranchiseKing 796361 at http://www.sba.gov Build Business Credit Reports You Can Be Proud About Having http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/build-business-credit-reports-you-can-be-proud-about-having <p>Business credit reports play an integral role in credit risk assessment and company research. Access to detailed information about a business such as background info, financial data, payment trends, company size, payment history and public filings provide the necessary details lenders, suppliers, investors and potential business partners need. <img alt="build business credit" src="http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/34/5b/7a/345b7a4b9a272237867cae232ae3e1b3.jpg" style="width: 198px; height: 162px; float: right;" /></p> <p>Your company credit reports and scores are constantly changing based on a variety of factors, including payment history, number of trade lines and outstanding balances. It&rsquo;s essential to keep a close eye on your reports and watch out for changes that could affect your ability to acquire credit.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s vital to build and maintain business credit reports you can proud of. Did you know potential business partners and investors may evaluate your company credit files to acquire background information on your business, evaluate financials and review what other companies you&#39;re working with?</p> <p>Building and improving the depth and diversity of your business credit reports will have lasting benefits financially and provide greater financing opportunities. While it may take time to <strong><a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2013/12/18/how-to-build-credit-for-your-business/" target="_blank" title="business credit blog" type="business credit info">build business credit</a></strong> that has depth and diversity, it&rsquo;s equally important to take the time to manage and protect the good credit your company has already established. To accomplish this you should monitor your reports on a regular basis.</p> <p>Here are five reasons to build strong business credit reports:</p> <ol> <li> <strong>Creditworthiness</strong> - Lending institutions, creditors and suppliers will check your business credit reports prior to extending or increasing your company&rsquo;s line of credit. Additionally, they monitor your reports routinely to assess your company&#39;s ability to pay and may adjust credit terms prior to financial difficulties emerging.</li> <li> <strong>Customer acquisition</strong> - It&rsquo;s not uncommon for potential customers to check a business&#39;s credit record to see if a company is a legal and credible business before working with them. This is not an unusual practice in today&#39;s business environment.</li> <li> <strong>Partnerships &amp; joint ventures</strong> - Various other companies could evaluate your reports if they are thinking about collaborating with you. For example, by recognizing one of the most creditworthy companies, a business could supply first-time consumers a line of credit at very little risk.</li> <li> <strong>Insurance premiums</strong> - Company insurance policy costs are based upon information acquired from your company reports. Insurance companies make use of business credit reports for underwriting insurance policies. Factors that play a role in just how they forecast danger include industry classification, payment trends, trade experiences, and debt to credit ratios.</li> <li> <strong>Government contracts </strong>- Federal government departments also assess company credit records for companies wanting to do business with the government, collecting taxes, and fulfilling government deals. For instance, in order to obtain a federal contract your company must be registered to start marketing to government agencies. This registration process includes <strong><a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2013/01/08/get-a-duns-number/" target="_blank" title="business credit blog" type="get a duns number">getting a DUNS number</a></strong> from Dun &amp; Bradstreet.</li> </ol> <p style="margin-left:.25in;">It&#39;s crucial to keep track of the health of your business credit reports as it is the basis for decisions other businesses, lenders, suppliers, government agencies, insurance firms and consumers make concerning your company. Monitoring your reports is important so you should regularly check and ensure details regarding your company are accurate and up to date.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/build-business-credit-reports-you-can-be-proud-about-having#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/795221 The Industry Word Financing Starting Tue, 11 Feb 2014 19:20:58 +0000 Marco Carbajo 795221 at http://www.sba.gov Use Your Sales Forecast and Expense Budget to Define your Startup http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/use-your-sales-forecast-and-expense-budget-define-your-startup <p>I&rsquo;ve been working on a new startup with some long-time friends and just discovered &ndash; again, for the umpteenth time &ndash; how the interaction between words, concepts, and numbers often demands the concrete logic of core business plan numbers.</p> <p>Specifically, a sales forecast and an expense budget can do wonders for early start-up discussions. Putting specific numbers to things forces definitions and decisions. For the record, our new plan isn&rsquo;t a restaurant; it&rsquo;s a high-tech web-based offering. But it&rsquo;s still confidential. So I&rsquo;m using examples here from a business everybody can understand: a restaurant business.</p> <p><strong>1. The Sales Forecast Defines the Offering </strong></p> <p>I just saw it again but I&rsquo;ve seen it before many times. The co-founders get together and share ideas. If it were a restaurant, it would be about things we could do for breakfast, lunch, drinks, dinner; it would be about price points, cuisines, menus, reservations and so on. And these general discussions become specific when you get to the forecast. They have to get specific about units and prices. That forces founders to focus in on realistic plans we can actually execute.</p> <p>Not that we&rsquo;d define every menu option &ndash; absolutely not. But a good forecast has to summarize at least on average revenue and average cost per meal, and that leads to defining whether meals are breakfasts, lunches, dinners or drinks, etc. The numbers move the general ideas forward.</p> <p><strong>2. An Expense Budget Defines Tasks and People </strong></p> <p>We need to focus practically on what and when we can afford to spend. For a restaurant, we&rsquo;d need to start paying two or three people and we need to pay contractors for remodeling the location, developing the branding, doing menus, and people to start developing the kitchen and such. All of that takes deciding on priorities.</p> <p>The way we do that, in practical terms, is to look at our expense budget. We develop it together step by step: From the first to the twelfth month, how much do we need to pay out, and to whom? We all have different ideas on this, so when we get together, the actual expense budget&mdash;which we can all see and agree on&mdash;helpfully steers us back to the plan.</p> <p><strong>Conclusion: Numbers Define Concepts</strong></p> <p>Particularly when the startup founders&mdash;such as in our case&mdash;all have a lot of experience, love the topic area and are full of ideas, it&rsquo;s really hard to make progress moving from brainstorming to execution. My experience with the sales forecast and expense budget reminds me, once again, how much I like planning as a vital part of the process of starting a business.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/use-your-sales-forecast-and-expense-budget-define-your-startup#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/791781 The Industry Word Managing Starting Wed, 29 Jan 2014 20:39:08 +0000 Tim Berry 791781 at http://www.sba.gov 3 Ways To Look At Franchising http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/3-ways-look-franchising <p>Wherever we go, our baggage comes with us. It&rsquo;s there, you know. We just don&rsquo;t always realize it.</p> <p>Take <strong>franchising</strong> for instance. All of us look at franchising in a very personal way. That way is based on our past experiences with franchising. Either as a customer of a franchise business, or as a&hellip;allow me to explain.</p> <p><strong>How We Look At Franchising</strong></p> <p>Another word for baggage is experience. Our experiences dictate our views on things.</p> <p>For example, if you ate a lot of fast food growing up, you bring that experience with you when you think about franchising. For you, a franchise is a fast food restaurant.</p> <p>Another example of how you may view franchising&hellip;albeit an extreme one could have to do with <a href="http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/disaster-loans" title="link to business grants information">a disaster</a>, like a flood or a hurricane that you may have been directly impacted by.</p> <p>You may have had a local franchise owner do the much- needed cleanup and *<a href="http://www.franchisedirect.com/homeservicesfranchises/restoration-franchises-0706/" title="top restoration franchises for sale">restoration</a>. So, when you think of franchising, you picture the truck or van that sat in front of your house for a few days.</p> <p>Are you stating to see where I&rsquo;m coming from?</p> <p>One more example.</p> <p>Let&rsquo;s say that you had an aunt and uncle open a franchise, and fail. Whatever the name of the franchise was that they had to close, it will always be embedded in your mind, even if your aunt and uncle were the ones that contributed to the franchise&rsquo;s closing more than the franchisor. Maybe they forgot about <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/guest-blogs/industry-word/most-new-franchise-owners-forget" title="link to article about what most franchise buyers forget about">this</a>.</p> <p>Stuff happens. Businesses open and business close.</p> <p>Try not to let other people&rsquo;s experiences cloud your judgment. You are not them.</p> <p>Hopefully, the examples I gave you helped cement what I&rsquo;m trying to teach you here:</p> <p>Open your mind. There are a lot of opportunities out there.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>3 Ways To Look At Franchising</strong></p> <p>Here they are. See if they make sense to you.</p> <p>1.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Job Replacer</p> <p>Lots of people think about buying a franchise if they&rsquo;ve been downsized.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s no fun being unemployed; I was a few times myself, and it can be quite scary. But, it&rsquo;s also a great time to look at other options. Maybe one of them will involve looking into franchise business ownership. But, there&rsquo;s something you need to know if you&rsquo;re going to buy a franchise instead of get a new job. Your salary is going to be lower than you&rsquo;re used to at first. Read about <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/guest-blogs/industry-word/your-salary-franchise-owner" title="what is your salary as a franchise owner">your salary as a franchise owner</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>2.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Goal Achievement</p> <p>This one is for the &ldquo;<em>I&rsquo;ve always wanted to own my own business</em>&rdquo; crowd. &nbsp;</p> <p>Whether you&rsquo;ve lost your job, or are just of working for someone else, this is how a lot of people look at franchising, and how it may work for them.</p> <p>Those looking at franchising in this way need to make sure that they are suited to own a business that doesn&rsquo;t offer a lot of latitude. Franchising is a rule-based business model, and that&rsquo;s why it works. Prospective franchise owners need to have <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/guest-blogs/industry-word/do-you-have-special-personality-needed-be-franchise-owner" title="having the right personality for franchising">the right personality</a>.</p> <p>3.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Legacy Creation</p> <p>Some of the people I&rsquo;ve worked with over the years have expressed a real desire to leave a legacy for their children.</p> <p>They&rsquo;ve seen jobs come and go over the years, and don&rsquo;t want their kids to have to go through a lot of ups and downs in their careers. They&rsquo;d rather have them be employers as opposed to <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/new-year-new-hires-%E2%80%93-growing-your-business-with-new-employees" title="adding new employees to a business">employees</a>.</p> <p>Franchising is looked up (<em>by these people</em>) as a way of creating a secure future for their kids. A place where they&rsquo;re children can hang their hats.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s a noble thing to do, and some franchise businesses are great family businesses.</p> <p>As you can say, there are a few ways to look at franchising.</p> <p>Just make sure you do so from a place that&rsquo;s uncluttered with baggage from your past.</p> <p>*Non US Government link</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/3-ways-look-franchising#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/790231 The Industry Word Starting Wed, 22 Jan 2014 03:03:29 +0000 FranchiseKing 790231 at http://www.sba.gov Optimism Runs High for the Independent Workforce http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/optimism-runs-high-independent-workforce <p>2013 was a good year for independent workers &ndash; and the future looks even brighter. Self-described contractors, freelancers, consultants, temps, &ldquo;solopreneurs,&rdquo; and microbusiness owners surveyed for <a href="http://info.mbopartners.com/rs/mbo/images/2013-MBO_Partners_State_of_Independence_Report.pdf" title="link to MBO’s Third Annual Independent Workforce Report">MBO&rsquo;s Third Annual Independent Workforce Report</a> are feeling optimistic about their employment status. Check out these positive figures if you&rsquo;re thinking about joining their ranks.</p> <p><strong>Independents have a positive impact on the economy</strong></p> <p>The MBO study reports a 5% increase in independent workers when compared to 2012 &ndash; up to 17.7 million. And with these numbers comes a noteworthy contribution to the economy. Independents generated nearly $1.2 trillion in total income both globally and locally, up a whopping 20% from 2012. They also spent over $150 billion on non-payroll/contractor expenses.</p> <p><strong>Independents hire other independents</strong></p> <p>The vast majority of independent workers are &ldquo;solopreneurs&rdquo; and don&rsquo;t have traditional employees, but that doesn&rsquo;t mean they work alone. Through contract hiring over the past year, 26% of independent workers spent a total of $96 billion to hire the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time workers.</p> <p><strong>Independents want to grow their businesses</strong></p> <p>One in seven independents plan on building a bigger business, which means that close to 2.5 million independent workers will launch businesses that will create additional traditional jobs and ignite even greater economic activity.</p> <p><strong>Independents are feeling less burdened</strong></p> <p>As it becomes more conventional to have an independent work style, independents are finding more tools and solutions to overcome challenges they face. Concerns over retirement, project pipelines, benefits, self-marketing and job security all fell slightly from the 2011 base year.</p> <p><strong>Independents are happy in their work</strong></p> <p>Job satisfaction remains strong among independent workers, with 64% reporting that they are highly satisfied with their work style. Most plan to continue as independent workers, with 77% saying they will either continue as &ldquo;solopreneurs&rdquo; (63%) or grow a larger business (14%).</p> <p>These independents &ndash; representative of all ages, professions, educational levels and geography &ndash; are part of a workforce that&rsquo;s predicted to grow to 24 million workers by 2018. Will you be a part of it?</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re thinking about starting your own small business, <a href="http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business" title="link to resources to start a business">check out our resources</a> to get you started. SBA is here to help you succeed &ndash; so let us know how we can do just that.</p> <p><strong>Related Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-matters/early-years-entrepreneurship-step-step-approa" title=" The Early Years of Entrepreneurship: A Step-by-Step Approach to Surviving and Thriving blog post">The Early Years of Entrepreneurship: A Step-by-Step Approach to Surviving and Thriving</a></li> </ul> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/optimism-runs-high-independent-workforce#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/789131 Small Business Matters Managing Starting Thu, 16 Jan 2014 11:34:01 +0000 kmurray 789131 at http://www.sba.gov Financing Your Small Business With a Microloan http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/financing-your-small-business-with-microloan <p>Are you starting or expanding a business, and in need of a loan to help make it happen? While there are some larger loan options available, many entrepreneurs &ndash; particularly freelance, online and home-based businesses &ndash; require only a few thousand dollars to get started. If this is the case for you, consider a microloan.</p> <p><strong>What&rsquo;s a microloan?</strong></p> <p>Microloans are loans in what would be considered &ldquo;smaller&rdquo; amounts than conventional business loans. SBA&rsquo;s Microloan program, for instance, provides loans of up to $50,000 to help small businesses and certain not-for-profit childcare centers start up and expand. The average microloan is about $13,000.</p> <p><strong>What can I use a microloan for?</strong></p> <p>Microloans can be used for a number of things, including:</p> <ul> <li> Working capital</li> <li> Inventory or supplies</li> <li> Furniture or fixtures</li> <li> Machinery or equipment</li> </ul> <p>You <strong>can&rsquo;t</strong> use funds from an SBA microloan to pay any existing debts or to purchase real estate.</p> <p><strong>What are the terms and interest rates?</strong></p> <p>Microloan repayment terms vary according to several factors, including:</p> <ul> <li> Loan amount</li> <li> Planned use of funds</li> <li> Requirements determined by the intermediary lender</li> <li> Your needs as a small business borrower</li> </ul> <p>The maximum repayment term allowed for an SBA microloan is six years.&nbsp;</p> <p>Interest rates vary, depending on the intermediary lender and their costs from the U.S. Treasury. In general, these rates are between 8 and 13 percent.</p> <p><strong>How can I get a microloan? </strong></p> <p>SBA provides funds to certain intermediary lenders, which are nonprofit community-based organizations with experience in lending, management and technical assistance. These intermediaries manage the Microloan program for eligible borrowers. So you don&rsquo;t go directly to SBA for a microloan &ndash; you work with <a href="http://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/Intermediary-List.pdf" title="link to lender list">your local lender</a>.</p> <p>Each intermediary lender has its own lending and credit requirements. Typically, they require some type of collateral as well as the personal guarantee of the business owner. You may also have to fulfill training or planning requirements before a lender considers your loan application.</p> <p><strong>Learn more</strong></p> <p>For more information about microloan and if one might be right for you, contact your local <a href="http://www.sba.gov/about-offices-list/2" title="Go to SBA district office page ">SBA District Office</a> or check out this <a href="http://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/Intermediary-List.pdf" title="link to lender list">list of participating microloan intermediary lenders</a>.</p> <p><strong>Related Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/6-step-guide-how-get-business-loan" title="link to 6 Step Guide- How to Get a Business Loan blog post">6 Step Guide- How to Get a Business Loan</a></li> </ul> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/financing-your-small-business-with-microloan#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/787261 Small Business Cents Financing Managing Starting Wed, 15 Jan 2014 12:35:50 +0000 kmurray 787261 at http://www.sba.gov Small Business Startup: 10 Essential Ingredients Every Startup Needs http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/small-business-startup-10-essential-ingredients-every-startup-needs <p>So. You think you&rsquo;re ready to start a business. You chose your business name. You got your business logo designed. Your business cards are at the printer.</p> <p>But you&rsquo;re not done. You also must ensure that your business has all of the essential ingredients it needs so it has a fighting chance to succeed. Doing so will enable you to establish the proper business foundation so you can legitimize the operation and credibility of your business.</p> <p>The ingredients listed below are essential for a small business startup and also play a key role in the business credit building process.</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Choose an entity structure</strong> &ndash; Pay careful consideration as to which type of structure you select. Whether you choose an LLC, S-Corporation, C-Corporation or Limited Partnership, knowing which structure is best for your income and tax situation is key for your business.</li> <li> <strong>Obtain a Business Tax Identification Number</strong> &ndash; Also known as a <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/guest-blogs/industry-word/why-your-company-needs-business-tax-identification-number" target="_blank" title="business tax identification" type="business tax identification">Federal Tax Identification Number</a> or EIN, it&rsquo;s the corporate equivalent to a social security number but used for businesses. This nine-digit number is assigned by the IRS to business entities operating in the U.S.</li> <li> <strong>Choose a business address</strong> &ndash; A <a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2013/10/28/business-virtual-office/" target="_blank" title="virtual business address" type="business virtual address">virtual business address </a>or commercial location is ideal for small businesses. It&rsquo;s important to note that your physical business address and business mailing address may be two different locations.</li> <li> <strong>Set up a business phone number</strong> &ndash; Either a toll free number or local phone number is a reliable source for a company&rsquo;s communications. It&rsquo;s key to dedicate a phone number exclusively for business that can also be listed in major directories.</li> <li> <strong>Establish a web presence</strong> &ndash; A company web site and social media presence is just as important today as having a business phone number or email address. The easier a customer or lender can verify and learn more about your business, the better.</li> <li> <strong>Open a business bank account</strong> &ndash; A <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/how-open-small-business-bank-account-online" target="_blank" title="small business bank account " type="small business bank account">small business bank account </a>will be your most important tool for managing your company&rsquo;s finances. This will also allow you to completely separate your personal banking activities from your company&rsquo;s.</li> <li> <strong>Obtain a merchant account</strong> &ndash; Accepting credit cards from customers is an essential part of doing business today. From mobile credit card readers to virtual terminals, a merchant account is what is utilized to accept credit cards, get cash and make money as a company.</li> <li> <strong>Get a business credit card</strong> &ndash; <strong><a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2013/10/16/top-business-credit-cards/" target="_blank" title="business credit cards" type="business credit cards">Business credit cards</a></strong> have many benefits such as higher limits, perks &amp; rewards, business credit reporting and expense tracking. For real personal and business separation, a business owner needs a credit card exclusively for business purchases.</li> <li> <strong>Get a business debit card</strong> &ndash; A useful and convenient tool as opposed to writing business checks. Make sure you add overdraft protection to your small business bank account to avoid and potential overdrafts.</li> <li> <strong>Plan a business funding strategy</strong> &ndash; Many businesses fail due to lack of funding. <strong><a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2013/12/05/business-credit-analysis/" target="_blank" title="business credit analysis" type="business credit analysis">Analyze your business credit</a></strong> and plan out a short-term and long-term funding strategy. Access to credit is crucial to your business as it may experience unforeseen expenses.</li> </ul> <p>This <a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2014/01/06/small-business-startup/" target="_blank" title="business checklist" type="business checklist">small business checklist</a> of essential elements is to help you structure your business in a successful way. The last thing you need is to wonder whether your business has everything it needs to satisfy potential customers and/or lenders. Now with this list you can evaluate your startup at a glance and be sure it has every element it needs to operate as a real business.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/small-business-startup-10-essential-ingredients-every-startup-needs#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/787111 The Industry Word Financing Starting Tue, 14 Jan 2014 19:51:53 +0000 Marco Carbajo 787111 at http://www.sba.gov February 25 Deadline for BizClips Video Contest to Win Great Prizes and Free Publicity for Small Business http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/february-25-deadline-bizclips-video-contest-win-great-prizes-and-free-publicity-small-business <p>What small business challenges are you facing this year? Help transform these challenges into successful opportunities by making and uploading your small business video story by midnight, Eastern Standard Time, on February 25, 2014. You could win great prizes and free publicity to improve your small business productivity.</p> <p><strong>Enter the Small Business Productivity Makeover Contest Today</strong></p> <p>You could win the grand prize, valued at $3,500, by sharing your story through &ldquo;BizClips: The Small Business Productivity Makeover Video Contest&rdquo; at <a href="http://www.bizclips.score.org" title="www.bizclips.score.org">www.bizclips.score.org</a>. The Contest is sponsored by SCORE and Brother International, a premier provider of print and communications products and services. The Contest celebrates SCORE&rsquo;s 50 years of helping more than ten million small businesses learn how to start a business, grow, and achieve their business goals through free business assistance and education.</p> <p><strong>MAKE a Video about Your Small Business</strong></p> <p>The Contest is easy to enter, but the entry deadline is approaching quickly. Make your 30-60 second video, describing your need for a business makeover and how SCORE could help address your challenges. Or you can also tell how SCORE previously helped your small business. The video can be simple or fancy, as long as it meets the minimum requirements. Here are some great tips on how to make a video: <a href="http://bizclips.score.org/additionalinfo" title="http://bizclips.score.org/additionalinfo">http://bizclips.score.org/additionalinfo</a>.</p> <p><strong>UPLOAD your video to the BizClips Contest website before midnight, February 25, 2014.</strong></p> <p>Don&rsquo;t be left out. The deadline to create and upload your video at <a href="http://www.bizclips.score.org" title="www.bizclips.score.org">www.bizclips.score.org</a> is midnight, Eastern Standard Time, on February 25, 2014. Late entries will not be accepted.</p> <p><strong>VOTE online for your video and ask others to help you get to the final round.</strong></p> <p>Voting is easy, too. All videos that meet the minimum requirements will be eligible for online voting beginning April 1, 2014. Spread the word of your video and ask your friends, family, customers and supporters to vote for you, too. They can also help you win by spreading the word. Public voting makes up 40 percent of the judging criteria. Voting closes at 11:59 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, on April 30, 2014.</p> <p><strong>WIN great prizes and free publicity for your business.</strong></p> <p>The top 25 vote-getters will become finalists, gain significant free national media exposure, and win a <a href="http://bizclips.score.org/prizes" title="http://bizclips.score.org/prizes">Brother P-Touch prize</a>. The Grand Prize winner will be selected by a <a href="http://bizclips.score.org/judges" title="http://bizclips.score.org/judges">panel of small business experts</a> to receive a business makeover with up to $2,500 of products and services from Brother. The Grand Prize winner and a companion will be flown to Washington, D.C. in September 2014 for a special national announcement and awards ceremony at the 2014 SCORE Awards Gala. The grand prize winner will have a professional business makeover video created to be shown at the Gala and promoted by SCORE. The winner can also use the video for its own promotion. The total value of the grand prize is $3,500.</p> <p>&ldquo;This is a unique opportunity for your small business to be in the limelight in front of a national audience. We&rsquo;ll be thrilled to help make the winning small business better, stronger and more productive to meet its challenges,&rdquo; said Ken Yancey, <a href="http://www.score.org" title="www.score.org">SCORE</a> CEO.</p> <p>BizClips, The Small Business Productivity Video Contest launched on November 25, 2013. Don&rsquo;t miss the deadline for this opportunity to help your small business turn its challenges into opportunities. Complete details are at <a href="http://www.bizclips.score.org" title="www.bizclips.score.org">www.bizclips.score.org</a>.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/february-25-deadline-bizclips-video-contest-win-great-prizes-and-free-publicity-small-business#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/786951 The Industry Word Managing Marketing Mentoring and Training Starting Tue, 14 Jan 2014 14:12:20 +0000 bridgetwpollack 786951 at http://www.sba.gov What to Know About Small-Business Licenses and Permits http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/what-know-about-small-business-licenses-and-permits <p>So, you&rsquo;re starting a business &ndash; congratulations! You already know that there&rsquo;s a lot to take care of, from <a href="http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business/choose-your-business-stru" title="link to choosing business structure information">choosing your business structure</a> to <a href="http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business/choose-register-your-busi" title="link to information about business registration">registering your business</a>. You&rsquo;ll probably also need a business license or permit &ndash; virtually every business does in order to operate legally. It depends on the kind of business you run, where it&rsquo;s located and what state and federal rules apply. Here&rsquo;s what you should know to make sure you&rsquo;ll be running your business within the law.</p> <p><strong>Why Does My Businesses Need a License or Permit?</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.stcloudstate.edu/sbdc/documents/ObtainingaBusinessLicenseorPermit_SCORE.pdf" title="link to licenses and permits information">Licenses and permits</a> serve two major purposes: They allow the government to track your business&rsquo;s revenue for tax purposes, and they also protect the public.</p> <p>For example, if your business is involved in <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/what-federal-licenses-and-permits-does-your-business-need" title="link to information about activities supervised and regulated by a federal agency">activities supervised and regulated by a federal agency</a> &ndash; such as selling alcohol, firearms, radio broadcasting, commercial fishing, etc. &ndash; then you&rsquo;ll likely need to obtain a federal license or permit.</p> <p>Other special state licenses, known as <strong><em>professional licenses, </em></strong>are required for dentists, hairdressers, veterinarians, realtors, physicians and more. These licenses indicate the level of expertise of an employee or business owner and that they&rsquo;ve met a certain requirements when it comes to training or education.</p> <p>State licenses are also required of businesses, such as restaurants and those that serve alcohol, to demonstrate that they meet certain state standards or codes. Particular regulations may vary by state.</p> <p>Defined by local and/or state laws, <strong><em>permits</em></strong> generally regulate the safety, structure and appearance of a community and its establishments. There are a number of different kinds of permits to be aware of, including:</p> <ul> <li> Seller&rsquo;s Permits &ndash; if you&rsquo;re purchasing wholesale merchandise for resale</li> <li> Building Permits &ndash; if you&rsquo;re remodeling or building commercial space</li> <li> Health Permits &ndash; if you&rsquo;re preparing food</li> <li> Home Occupation Permits &ndash; if you&rsquo;re running a home-based business</li> </ul> <p><strong>What About Tax Permits?</strong></p> <p>The IRS doesn&#39;t license your business, but it does require that certain businesses register to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/getting-tax-identification-number" title="link to tax id number information">receive a federal tax identification number</a>. You&rsquo;ll also need&nbsp;to register with state and local government agencies for applicable tax permits&nbsp;such as a sales tax license, income tax withholding and unemployment insurance tax.</p> <p><strong>Managing and Maintaining Your License or Permit</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.stcloudstate.edu/sbdc/documents/ObtainingaBusinessLicenseorPermit_SCORE.pdf" title="link to information about licenses and permits">Once you have</a> your license or permit, you&rsquo;ll need to manage and maintain it. Keep these tips in mind to help make sure you don&rsquo;t lose sight of your obligations:</p> <ul> <li> Keep track of renewal dates.</li> <li> Keep a copy of all licensing applications and forms in your business records.</li> <li> Display your licenses or permits correctly. Most states and localities require businesses to prominently display their business licenses so customers can see them.</li> <li> If you expand your business &ndash; whether it&rsquo;s physical building expansion or launching a new product or service &ndash; you may need additional business licenses.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Additional Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.stcloudstate.edu/sbdc/documents/ObtainingaBusinessLicenseorPermit_SCORE.pdf" title="link to Obtaining a Business License or Permit page">Obtaining a Business License or Permit</a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/follow-these-steps-starting-business" title="link to 10 Steps to Starting a Business">10 Steps to Starting a Business</a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/basic-zoning-laws" title="ilnk to Basic Zoning Laws page">Basic Zoning Laws</a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/zoning-laws-home-based-businesses" title="link to Zoning Laws for Home-Based Businesses page">Zoning Laws for Home-Based Businesses</a></li> </ul> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/what-know-about-small-business-licenses-and-permits#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/786101 Business Law Advisor Business Laws Managing Starting Thu, 09 Jan 2014 13:54:31 +0000 kmurray 786101 at http://www.sba.gov Tips for Young Entrepreneurs During National Mentoring Month http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/tips-young-entrepreneurs-during-national-mentoring-month <p>As a young entrepreneur, you may be looking for advice or guidance as you consider starting your own business. A great place to turn? A mentor.</p> <p>And January is National Mentoring Month. Every year, this month highlights the positive role that mentors have in helping shape the success of young people &ndash; from the classroom to the working world. Read on for more about why and how to get started with a mentor.</p> <p><strong>Why should I have a mentor?</strong></p> <p>According to the <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2011/05/28/what-makes-a-startup-successful-blackbox-report-aims-to-map-the-startup-genome/" title="link to Startup Genome Report">Startup Genome Report</a>, statistics show that entrepreneurs and startups are more likely to succeed with the help of an effective mentor. That may not come as a surprise &ndash; a mentor brings with him or her a wealth of knowledge, experience and insight that you won&rsquo;t find anywhere else.</p> <ul> <li> <strong>An insider perspective</strong></li> </ul> <p style="margin-left:.5in;">Aside from the &ldquo;been there, done that&rdquo; know-how a mentor can pass along, consulting with one can be a great way to gain a fresh perspective and broaden your outlook. Especially if you&rsquo;ve been developing your ideas solo, having a sounding board in a business mentor can offer a sanity check or an outlet to help focus your ideas.</p> <ul> <li> <strong>A sophisticated skillset</strong></li> </ul> <p style="margin-left:.5in;">If you feel that you&rsquo;re struggling with a particular task as you&rsquo;re trying to start your business, a mentor can help. From accounting to technology, many mentors have a particular area of advanced skills. So as you gain high-level industry insight, you can also further your technical abilities essential to your future business.</p> <ul> <li> <strong>A vast network</strong></li> </ul> <p style="margin-left:.5in;">With years of experience, a mentor likely has an enviable network of industry connections. The importance of networking can&rsquo;t be understated, so expanding your network with the help of a mentor can be a great way to meet potential partners, customers and decision-makers in your target market. A personal introduction can strengthen that new tie when compared to meeting someone randomly at an event.</p> <p><strong>How can I find a mentor?</strong></p> <p>Two great options to consider for mentorship are <a href="http://www.score.org/mentors" title="link to SCORE description">SCORE</a> and <a href="http://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/sbdc" title="link to Small Business Development Center description">Small Business Development Centers</a>.</p> <ul> <li> <strong>SCORE</strong></li> </ul> <p>Sponsored by SBA, <a href="http://www.score.org/mentors" title="link to SCORE site">SCORE</a> is a nonprofit network of retired business executives, leaders and volunteers who provide free and confidential counseling, mentoring and advice. It has more than 358 chapters with 13,000 + volunteers who share their expertise through<a href="http://www.sba.gov/leaving-sba-dot-gov?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.score.org%2Fchapters-map" title="link to SCORE chapters map"> in-person</a> and <a href="http://www.sba.gov/leaving-sba-dot-gov?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.score.org%2Fmentors" title="link to SCORE online mentoring">online mentoring</a>.</p> <p>SCORE counselors often have a specific area of expertise for all stages of business. While your primary counselor will be your main point of contact, he or she can help identify and introduce you to other specialists &ndash; from accounting and marketing to management and technology.</p> <p>In addition, the <a href="http://www.sba.gov/leaving-sba-dot-gov?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.score.org%2F" title="link to SCORE website">SCORE website</a> is chockfull of great resources, including <a href="http://www.sba.gov/leaving-sba-dot-gov?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.score.org%2Fresources%2Ftab-a" title="link to SCORE templates and tools">how-to guides and tools</a>, <a href="http://www.sba.gov/leaving-sba-dot-gov?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.score.org%2Fonlineworkshops%2Ftab-a" title="link to SCORE online workshops">online workshops</a> and more. You&rsquo;ll also find a listing of its local branches that operate in-person workshops.</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Small Business Development Centers</strong></li> </ul> <p>Also sponsored by the SBA, <a href="http://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/sbdc" title="link to Small Business Development Centers page">Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs)</a> are partnerships primarily between the government and colleges or universities that provide educational services to small business owners and entrepreneurs at any stage of the business process. They offer technical assistance through confidential one-on-one counseling, training seminars, assistance with SBA loans, business plan guidance and more.</p> <p>Find your <a href="http://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/sbdc" title="link to Small Business Development Centers page">nearest SBDC</a>.</p> <p>So if you&rsquo;re getting started with ideas to start your own business and are looking for some guidance, consider reaching out to a business mentor to help you succeed.</p> <p><strong>Additional Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/8-things-you-can-do-be-taken-seriously-young-entrepreneur" title="link to 8 Things you Can Do to Be Taken Seriously as a Young Entrepreneur blog post">8 Things you Can Do to Be Taken Seriously as a Young Entrepreneur</a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/6-tips-avoiding-common-financial-pitfalls-being" title="How to avoid the pitfalls of being a young entrepreneur">6 Tips for Avoiding the Common Financial Pitfalls of Being a Young Entrepreneur</a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/6-tips-borrowing-startup-funds-friends-or-famil" title="Tips for Borrowing Startup Funds from Friends or Family">6 Tips for Borrowing Startup Funds from Friends or Family</a>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</li> </ul> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/tips-young-entrepreneurs-during-national-mentoring-month#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/785481 Small Business Matters Mentoring and Training Starting Wed, 08 Jan 2014 13:31:47 +0000 kmurray 785481 at http://www.sba.gov Our Top 5 Blogs of 2013: Inspiring ideas for moms, business loans, and tax incentives http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/our-top-5-blogs-2013-inspiring-ideas-moms-business-loans-and-tax-incentives <p><span style="font-size:14px;">Nearly every day, we post a new blog article on a helpful &ldquo;how-to&rdquo; topic for small business owners. Recognizing that as a small business owner, you&rsquo;re strapped for time and don&rsquo;t always have the personnel to research the &ldquo;business&rdquo; side of things, our goal is to provide you with easy to understand information. Out of the countless articles we wrote in 2013, here are the top five that you read the most. This year&rsquo;s winner was a runaway hit.</span></p> <ul> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;"><a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/challengeher-creating-procurement-access-a" title="ChallengeHer">ChallengeHER: Creating Procurement Access and Opportunity for Women-Owned Small Businesses</a></span> <ul> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;">26,039 views</span></li> </ul> </li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;"><a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/5-ways-start-business-plan">5 Ways to Start a Business Plan</a></span> <ul> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;">32,837 views</span></li> </ul> </li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;"><a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/small-business-tax-incentives-fiscal-cliff">Small Business Tax Incentives in the Fiscal Cliff Deal</a></span> <ul> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;">33,919 views</span></li> </ul> </li> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;"><a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/6-step-guide-how-get-business-loan">6 Step Guide- How to Get a Business Loan</a></span> <ul> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;">36,749 views</span></li> </ul> </li> </ul> <p><span style="font-size:14px;">And the top blog of 2013 is&hellip;</span></p> <ul> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;"><a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-matters/7-inspiring-home-business-ideas-stay-home-mom">7 Inspiring Home Business Ideas for Stay-at-Home Moms (or Dads)</a></span> <ul> <li> <span style="font-size:14px;">220,029 views</span></li> </ul> </li> </ul> <p><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong>Related</strong></span></p> <p><span style="font-size:14px;"><a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/sba%E2%80%99s-most-popular-blogs-2012-steps-starting-business-writing-business-plan-and-more">SBA&rsquo;s Most Popular Blogs of 2012: Steps to Starting a Business, Writing a Business Plan, and More</a></span></p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/our-top-5-blogs-2013-inspiring-ideas-moms-business-loans-and-tax-incentives#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/782621 Open For Business Financing SBA News and Views Starting Taxes Mon, 23 Dec 2013 20:05:47 +0000 Stephen Morris 782621 at http://www.sba.gov Easy Video Tutorials on Business Planning http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/easy-video-tutorials-business-planning <p>I&rsquo;d like to call your attention to a <strong><a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/business-planning-tutorials">series of video tutorials</a></strong> I did not that long ago as a donation to this community. They are all here and I&rsquo;d like you to be aware of them. They are organized into modules, 2-10 minutes each. You can pick and choose and jump around, or run through them in the original order. They are here as a resource for you. <em>(Note: the text in bold here highlights links to the videos)</em></p> <ol> <li> <strong><a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/business-planning-tutorials/business-planning-introduction-and-orien">Introduction and orientation</a></strong>. 2 minutes 13 seconds (2:13). What&rsquo;s planning, why do you care, why the planning is more important than the plan.&nbsp;</li> <li> <strong><a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/business-planning-tutorials/business-planning-planning-modular">Planning is modular</a></strong>. 1:26. Think of your business plan as a matter of blocks, like interrelated pieces. You don&rsquo;t have to have the whole block structure done before you take any next steps. Start your blocks where you like.&nbsp;</li> <li> <strong><a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/business-planning-tutorials/business-planning-form-follows-function">Form follows function</a></strong>. 4:45. Keep it short and simple in the beginning, and grow it as you grow your business. It might be projections plus slides, bullet points, or whatever serves the business need.&nbsp;</li> <li> <strong><a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/business-planning-tutorials/business-planning-planning-management">Planning is management.</a></strong> 1:20. It&rsquo;s not a document, it&rsquo;s planning process, which is about steering your company. Goals, metrics, milestones, review and revise.&nbsp;</li> <li> <strong><a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/business-planning-tutorials/business-planning-strategy">Strategy</a></strong>. 8:04. Strategy is focus. Focus your business offering to your target market, and use planning to develop and manage priorities and steps. Strategy is the heart.&nbsp;</li> <li> <strong><a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/business-planning-tutorials/business-planning-business-plan-flesh-an">Flesh and bones</a></strong>. 10:25. About the plan document itself. Milestones, metrics, responsibilities, and getting things done.&nbsp;</li> <li> <strong><a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/business-planning-tutorials/business-planning-sales-forecast">Sales forecast</a></strong>. This one is so important &ndash; and causes so much fear and doubt &ndash; that it&rsquo;s not a single video, but three of them. The first is 4:51, second 3:10, and third is 9:27. I promise you, sales forecasting is far easier than you fear. Anybody who can run a business can do it.&nbsp;</li> <li> <strong><a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/business-planning-tutorials/business-planning-dress-and-grow-your-bu">Dress and grow your business plan</a></strong>. 12:15. As your company grows, your planning grows. As you grow, if you add people to your team, then you want to bring them into the process and make sure you&rsquo;re on the same page. You bring in skills. The business gets more complex as it grows. Cash flow gets more sophisticated.&nbsp;</li> <li> <strong><a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/business-planning-tutorials/business-planning-formal-business-plan-d">The formal business plan document</a></strong>. This is another with three videos: 5:39, 8:48, and 2:26. How you can fine-tune your plan to appeal to specific needs of raising investment, applying for a loan, working with partners, etc.&nbsp;</li> </ol> <div> I went through these recently and I think all of it still applies. And it&rsquo;s all free, with no selling, on this site.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/easy-video-tutorials-business-planning#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/781591 The Industry Word Managing Starting Wed, 18 Dec 2013 17:09:48 +0000 Tim Berry 781591 at http://www.sba.gov Healthy Food Franchises: Take a Bite Out of One! http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/healthy-food-franchises-take-bite-out-one <p>In the<strong> franchise </strong>world, I&rsquo;m often watching trends in what types of businesses are becoming popular and successful. Take the frozen yogurt trend for instance; it&rsquo;s still going strong. New franchises are opening every day. It will be interesting to see how long the buzz in frozen yogurt continues.</p> <p>I&rsquo;ve noticed another recent trend toward healthier food options. With statistics like the fact that <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html" title="link to CDC website">more than ⅓ of adult Americans are obese</a>,* it&rsquo;s no surprise, really, that the franchising world would respond in kind.</p> <p><strong>Move Over, Burgers</strong></p> <p>Used to be, salads were the thing you <em>didn&rsquo;t</em> want to order on a fast food menu featuring <a href="http://www.franchisedirect.com/foodfranchises/burger-franchises-0698/">hamburgers</a>.* They were wilted, waterlogged and anything but appetizing. Then a few years ago, <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/guest-blogs/industry-word/about-food-franchises" title="link to sba.gov food franchise article">fast food franchises</a> like Wendy&rsquo;s started offering better-tasting salads. And they sold pretty well.</p> <p>Now those old standby fast-food chains have to compete with franchises that specialize in salads. Consumers are increasing their demands for healthier options and more and more franchises that focus on healthy eating will continue to spring up.</p> <p><strong>Changing the Formula for Fast Food</strong></p> <p>Not only are we seeing a trend in franchising away from traditional burger franchises, we&rsquo;re also seeing a shift in expectations. &ldquo;Slow&rdquo; fast food brands like <a href="http://www.chipotle.com/">Chipotle</a><u>*</u> have appeared on the scene in the last few years, focusing not on delivering food in seconds but rather customizing orders and using quality ingredients. As long as consumers can wait for &ldquo;slower&rdquo; fast food because they can see and taste the difference, franchises will emerge that specialize in this way of cooking and presenting food.</p> <p><strong>Thinking Outside the Traditional Franchise</strong></p> <p>We&rsquo;re not just seeing new restaurant concepts popping up in the area of healthier eating. There are now healthy vending machine franchises being offered. Healthy options that can now be found in vending machines include fruit juice, smoothies, fresh fruit, granola bars and organic and gluten-free options. For franchisees, these are particularly enticing because of the premium people seem to be willing to pay for some of these &ldquo;healthy&rdquo; snacks.</p> <p><strong>Don&rsquo;t Forget About the Kids</strong></p> <p>More and more parents are becoming concerned about the unhealthy options offered in school cafeterias. While the government has made great strides in <a href="http://www.letsmove.gov/healthy-schools" title="let's move website">improving school meal standards</a> over the past few years, some schools are taking matters into their own hands by partnering with franchises like <a href="http://wholesometummies.com/" title="link to franchise website of wholesome tummies">Wholesome Tummies</a>.*</p> <p><strong>Back to the Question</strong></p> <p>So will these healthier food franchises make America healthier? Or are they simply a reflection of a movement that is already in place: one of making more conscious choices about what we eat? Either way, there seems to be plenty of room for franchisors, franchisees and customers alike to benefit.</p> <p>And the increase in the number of these healthy franchise options really has the attention of the fast food moguls. <a href="http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/eats/mcdonald-offer-fruit-salad-sides-article-1.1469468" title="link to article on McDonald's healthy side dishes">McDonald&rsquo;s announced it would offer healthy options as sides</a>* this year in all locations worldwide by 2020. That might not be soon enough, judging from the speed at which the healthy food franchise niche is growing!</p> <p>I&rsquo;ll be keeping my eye on this industry to see what comes up in the next few years.</p> <p>You should too.</p> <p>*Non-US Government link</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/healthy-food-franchises-take-bite-out-one#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/780941 The Industry Word Starting Tue, 17 Dec 2013 13:39:41 +0000 FranchiseKing 780941 at http://www.sba.gov Small Business Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/small-business-patents-copyrights-and-trademarks <p>As an entrepreneur or aspiring small business owner, one of the most significant considerations that may come to mind is how to protect your work. What steps should you take to ensure that someone else couldn&rsquo;t lay claim to what your product or service? Does a patent, copyright or trademark apply? Here&rsquo;s some clarifying information about patents, copyrights and trademarks and how to protect your intellectual property.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.copyright.gov/" title="link to Copyright Office website">U.S. Copyright Office</a> provides a clear distinction between these three types of protection:</p> <ul> <li> Patents protect inventions or discoveries</li> <li> Copyright protects original works of authorship</li> <li> Trademarks protect words, phrases, symbols or designs identifying the source of the goods or services of one party that distinguishes them from others</li> </ul> <p><strong>Patents</strong></p> <p>According to the <a href="http://www.uspto.gov/patents/index.jsp" title="link to Patent and Trademark Office website">U.S. Patent and Trademark Office</a> (USPTO), a patent is an intellectual property right granted to an inventor that prevents others from making, using, or selling the invention throughout the U.S. or importing the invention into the U.S. Patents last for a limited time and come in exchange for publically disclosing the invention when the patent is granted.</p> <p>There are three types of patents you can apply for based on your type of invention: utility, design and plant (yes, the green kind!).</p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.uspto.gov/patents/resources/types/utility.jsp" title="link to information about utility patents">Utility patents</a> &ndash; if you invent or discover any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter &ndash; or any new and useful improvement of these &ndash; you may be eligible for a utility patent.</li> <li> <a href="http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/iip/pdf/brochure_05.pdf" title="link to PDF about design patents">Design patents</a> &ndash; if you invent a new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture</li> <li> <a href="http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/plant/" title="link to information about plant patents">Plant patents</a> &shy;&ndash; if you invent or discover a distinct and new variety of plant</li> </ul> <p><strong>Copyrights</strong></p> <p>A copyright (&copy;), according to the <a href="http://www.copyright.gov/" title="link to Copyright Office website">U.S. Copyright Office</a>, protects original works of published or unpublished authorship including literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works (such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software and architecture).</p> <p>Copyright doesn&rsquo;t protect facts, ideas, systems or methods of operation, but it <em>may</em> protect the way these things are expressed.</p> <p>While you don&rsquo;t have to register a copyright because it applies the moment your work is created, registration is required if you ever establish a lawsuit for copyright infringement. Many also choose to register their works because they want the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration.</p> <p><strong>Trademarks</strong></p> <p>A trademark (TM) is a word, phrase, symbol or design that identifies the source of the goods of one party and distinguishes them from others. You might have also heard of a service mark (SM), which is essentially the same as a trademark, but it denotes the <em>source</em> of a service rather than goods.</p> <p>You aren&rsquo;t required to register your mark to establish claim over it &ndash; you&rsquo;ll be able to use &ldquo;TM&rdquo; and &ldquo;SM&rdquo; to let others know of your ownership. The registered mark (&reg;) comes into play if you&rsquo;ve filed an application with the USPTO and it&rsquo;s been officially registered.</p> <p>Here&rsquo;s some additional <a href="http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/basics/BasicFacts.pdf" title="link to information about protecting your trademark">information about protecting your trademark</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Additional Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.uspto.gov/faq/index.jsp" title="link to frequently asked questions on the Patent and Trademark Office website">FAQ from the USPTO</a> &ndash; answers to common questions and information about the patent process and registering trademarks</li> <li> <a href="http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/" title="link to frequently asked questions on the Copyright Office website">FAQ from the Copyright Office</a> &ndash; a list of answers to questions and <a href="http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-register.html">copyright registration information</a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/your-business-idea-patentable-guide-what-entrepreneurs-can-patent" title="Is your Business Idea Patentable? A Guide to What Entrepreneurs Can Patent blog post link">Is your Business Idea Patentable? A Guide to What Entrepreneurs Can Patent</a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-matters/protect-your-invention-or-product-patents-t-0" title="Protect your Invention or Product blog post link">Protect your Invention or Product</a></li> </ul> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/small-business-patents-copyrights-and-trademarks#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/776271 Business Law Advisor Business Laws Managing Starting Wed, 11 Dec 2013 12:55:32 +0000 kmurray 776271 at http://www.sba.gov What Business Funding Strategy is Best for Your Business? http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/what-business-funding-strategy-best-your-business <p>If we have learned anything from the economic downturn several years back, it&rsquo;s that business is cyclical and tough times stress the finances of a business tremendously. If a company is out of funds and does not have access to financing, it may not be able to recover.</p> <p>While many businesses fail for numerous reasons, insufficient capital is among the leading causes of business failures. A lack of funding will hamper any company&rsquo;s ability and threaten its potential for growth and stability.</p> <p>Having access to <strong>business funding</strong> is essential in today&#39;s business environment. Preparation, integration and amplification of one&rsquo;s funding strategy leads to many financial advantages. In addition, access to the latest business finance information, resources, tools and funding sources further support the stability of a business. That&rsquo;s where credit becomes a factor.</p> <p>Success in obtaining business credit and financing is greater than simply being qualified; it&#39;s about being fully prepared. Numerous business owners are qualified yet still get declined due to the fact that they were not ready. A business owner failing to prepare and be fully knowledgeable with respect to personal and company creditworthiness is the source of 99% of declines for credit.</p> <p>It starts with carrying out an individual and <strong><a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2013/12/05/business-credit-analysis/" target="_blank" title="Business Credit" type="business credit information">company credit analysis</a></strong>. By identifying the weak points and strengths that you and your business have, the much better you can plan and execute the most efficient business funding strategy.</p> <p>Whether you own a start-up or existing business, the very best time to implement a short term and long term funding strategy is now. Don&rsquo;t you think it&rsquo;s better to have access to credit and funding before your company actually needs it?</p> <p>First, some fundamental questions include but are not limited to the following:</p> <ul> <li> Are you a startup or existing business?</li> <li> What is the major industry focus for your company?</li> <li> Does your business operate as a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation or LLC?</li> <li> Do you have a commercial location or is your company home based?</li> <li> Is there a bank account in the company&#39;s name, if so just how long has it been opened?</li> </ul> <p>These simple questions are meant to provide basic information about the stage, structure and operation of your business. Once this is established, the next step is determining what funding programs are readily available to you based upon your individual assets and company assets.</p> <p>However, when it comes to personal assets I am not just describing assets such as real property, IRA &amp; 401K investments. This also refers to personal <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FICO" target="_blank" title="Wikipedia" type="FICO">FICO</a>&reg; scores and potential credit partners you may have.</p> <p>A solid FICO&reg; score is an asset that has value to your company&rsquo;s capacity to obtain funding such as obtaining <strong><a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2013/09/05/high-limit-business-credit-cards/" target="_blank" title="Business Credit Blog" type="business information">high limit business credit cards</a> </strong>that report solely to the business credit agencies.</p> <p>For business assets I&#39;m not merely describing annual revenues, credit card sales, owned equipment, outstanding invoices or commercial real estate. Your business credit ratings, business credit reports, and bank ratings are also assets.</p> <p>For example, with a creditworthy business you may qualify for greater credit limits and more flexible terms because lenders can assess the creditworthiness of a business instead of merely relying upon the personal credit ratings of the individual business owner.</p> <p>Did you know a creditworthy business has 10 to 100 times greater credit capability than an individual?</p> <p>By taking an honest individual and business credit assessment one could layout a sound <strong>business funding</strong> strategy &ndash; a strategy that enables you to maximize your funding capacity for the short term and the long term.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/what-business-funding-strategy-best-your-business#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/775691 The Industry Word Financing Starting Tue, 10 Dec 2013 14:59:28 +0000 Marco Carbajo 775691 at http://www.sba.gov Finding A Location For Your Franchise Business http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/finding-location-your-franchise-business <p>Let&rsquo;s say that you just signed your franchise contract, and you&rsquo;re ready to get your new retail franchise or food franchise up and running. You&#39;ve put hundreds of miles on your car doing some preliminary checking for that perfect <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/opening-second-franchise-location" title="link to sba.goc article on opening a 2nd location">franchise location</a>...and you have a few places in mind. Now what?</p> <p><strong>Location, Location&hellip;</strong></p> <p>You&rsquo;ve heard (somewhere) how important &ldquo;<em>location, location, location</em>&rdquo; is for your franchise business to succeed.</p> <p>Of course, you&rsquo;ve also <a href="http://www.thefranchiseking.com/the-top-10-franchise-business-ownership-myths" title="link to top 10 franchise myths">heard</a>* things like, &ldquo;<em>Franchises are turn-key businesses; all you have to do is &lsquo;turn the key&rsquo; to the door of your franchise business every morning</em>.&rdquo;</p> <p>Only one of the two statements above is true. It&rsquo;s the one about your location.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re going to become the owner of a franchise that requires a commercial space, like a retail franchise or a food franchise, the location you choose <em>is</em> crucial. Your success (<em>or failure</em>) really rides on it.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s a good thing that a lot of franchisors have access to commercial real estate professionals in your area&hellip;or they will soon after you sign your franchise contract. &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The Franchisors Role in Securing a Location</strong></p> <p>The franchisor, in most cases, will help you find a location for your new business, and may even assist you with lease negotiations. The franchisor has probably been through this several times, so they know what you should be looking for in a lease, and should be able to help you with some fine-tuning.</p> <p>Commercial leases are seriously complicated documents. <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/franchise-lawyers-when-use-one" title="article on franchise attorneys sba.gov">The franchise attorney you used to look over the FDD</a> may be able to assist you with your lease. A lot of lease terms are negotiable, but you have to know which ones. That&rsquo;s one reason to have a competent attorney by your side.</p> <p>From <a href="https://www.openforum.com/articles/tips-for-negotiating-with-a-potential-landlord-1/" title="link to open forum article on franchising">Open Forum by American Express</a>*:</p> <p>&quot;<em>On the surface, it may not seem that renting office space offers a lot of room for negotiation. You look for rentals in your price range, tour the property with the landlord or manager, and sign a lease for the amount advertised</em>.&quot;</p> <p>The writer goes on to say:</p> <p>&nbsp;&quot;<em>The truth, though, is that even if you&#39;re talking to a management company that can&#39;t negotiate on price, there are many opportunities to make your lease a more equitable contract. From exactly what expenses your rent covers to how far the landlord will go to prepare the unit for you, you have an opportunity to negotiate each step of the lease</em>.&quot;</p> <p><strong>Who Decides</strong></p> <p>The franchisor makes store location recommendations based on things like vehicle traffic, foot traffic in the area and demographics. They have access to reports that help them decide if the location you&rsquo;re choosing, or the one they&rsquo;ve suggested, has the potential to be a good one.</p> <p>In almost every case, both parties must agree on the choice of location. For example, if the franchisor doesn&rsquo;t think that the location you have in mind will be a good one, they&rsquo;ll tell you. On the flipside, if the location they have in mind for your new franchise doesn&rsquo;t feel right, you can object to it.</p> <p>Sometimes, it comes down to cost; I&rsquo;ve had clients turn down locations suggested by the franchisor because the rent was, in their opinion, &ldquo;too high.&rdquo; In that case, my clients went back to the drawing board and came up with alternative locations. It can be a real back-and-forth process between franchisee and franchisor, but one that&rsquo;s necessary.</p> <p>Because at the end of the day, both parties want to make sure that the location will be a successful one. The process to find a great franchise location may take a bit longer that you anticipated, but it&rsquo;s worth it.</p> <p>Work closely with your franchisor; they really do want you to win.</p> <p>* Non US Government links</p> <p>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/finding-location-your-franchise-business#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/759771 The Industry Word Starting Tue, 19 Nov 2013 13:44:24 +0000 FranchiseKing 759771 at http://www.sba.gov Think Big- Learn How to Apply for an SBA Microloan http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/think-big-learn-how-apply-sba-microloan <p>Think Big! The popular admonition is a forceful reminder of the power of positive thinking, encouraging us to push toward growth and higher achievements.</p> <p>In the entrepreneurial world, &ldquo;thinking big&rdquo; usually calls for hefty investments. If you&rsquo;re a big corporation that may not be a major hurdle, but how can you &ldquo;think big&rdquo; if you&rsquo;re a small business? &nbsp;Think U.S. Small Business Administration. &nbsp;The SBA can help, not only <a href="http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants">financially </a>, but with <a href="http://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance">technical assistance and training</a>, which all are essential in order to achieve success.</p> <p>One of the best SBA lending programs for very small businesses, particularly those in the start-up stage, is the <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/microloan-program">Microloan Program</a>, which provides small business loans of up to $50,000. Microloans have helped thousands of small businesses start, grow and succeed.&nbsp; SBA doesn&rsquo;t actually make the microloans.&nbsp; SBA loans money to community based non-profit, non-traditional lenders which make microloans to small businesses.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>SBA microloans:</strong></p> <ul> <li> <span style="font-size: 12px;">Can provide up to $50,000 &ndash;the average microloan is about $13,000- to small for profit businesses and non-profit child care centers.</span></li> <li> <span style="font-size: 12px;">Can be used for most business expenses but not for paying existing debt or purchasing real estate (SBA offers other programs for these purposes.)</span></li> <li> <span style="font-size: 12px;">May have a loan term of not more than six years.&nbsp; Interest rates will vary from lender to lender.</span></li> </ul> <p><strong>How to apply for a microloan</strong></p> <p>Getting ready to apply for a business loan, whether for a low dollar amount or millions of dollars, requires serious preparation and attention to detail.</p> <p>We recently posted a <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/6-step-guide-how-get-business-loan">blog on how to get a business loan</a>, which will serve you as a guide to applying for a microloan as well. While it encompasses several steps, all of them important, it boils down to one overarching theme: be thoroughly prepared to show the lender that:</p> <ol> <li> Your business idea is sound and potentially profitable</li> <li> You and your partners, if any, are qualified to run the business, and</li> <li> You can repay your loan</li> </ol> <p><strong>Advantages of Working with SBA Microlenders</strong></p> <p>One of the big advantages of working with SBA Microlenders is that they are mission-oriented institutions committed to the economic development of the areas they serve; they understand the community and the issues and therefore are very well equipped to work with local small businesses.</p> <p>In addition to the financial help they represent, one of the best features of the SBA Microloan Program is that Microlenders are required to provide business based training and technical assistance component to help the small business borrower become successful.</p> <p>Nationwide, there are about 150 microlenders that work with SBA. To find a Microlender in your area, contact your local <a href="http://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/districtoffices">SBA District Office</a>.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/think-big-learn-how-apply-sba-microloan#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/758055 Open For Business Financing SBA News and Views Starting Wed, 13 Nov 2013 02:31:27 +0000 Davidh 758055 at http://www.sba.gov Business Credit Cards: What Every Business Owner Should Consider http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/business-credit-cards-what-every-business-owner-should-consider <p><strong>Business credit cards</strong> are a major source of financing for small business owners in today&rsquo;s economy. Statistics even show that over 65% of small businesses use credit cards on a frequent basis.</p> <p>So why have business credit cards become such a popular source of financing?</p> <p>In a recent survey conducted by the National Small Business Association, &ldquo;twenty-nine percent of small business owners report having their loans or lines of credit reduced in the last four years and nearly 1 in 10 had their loan or line of credit called in early by the bank.&rdquo;</p> <p>Traditional credit lines such as a line of credit from a bank compared to an untraditional credit line in the form of <a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2013/10/16/top-business-credit-cards/" target="_blank" title="business credit blogger" type="business credit cards"><strong>business credit cards</strong></a> have two major differences.</p> <p>First, the way the minimum payment is calculated with a line of credit from a bank is based on the principal (1.5 &ndash; 2% monthly balance) plus interest (prime + 3-5%).</p> <p>With untraditional lines of credit (business credit cards), your minimum payment is calculated based on the principle (1.5 &ndash; 3% monthly balance) plus interest (0% for 6-12 months) depending on the card issuer.</p> <p>Second, traditional credit lines by a bank are reviewed every two years and can be turned into a term loan for the following reasons:</p> <ul> <li> Payments not being made on time</li> <li> FICO&reg; Scores are lower than when the line of credit was originally approved</li> <li> Cash flow changes in the business</li> </ul> <p>With <strong>business credit cards</strong>, there are no corporate financial reviews every two years and your line of credit can never be turned into a term loan. It&rsquo;s always revolving and can be subject to credit limit increases as well.</p> <p>If you&#39;re in the marketplace for business credit cards, take into consideration these six vital aspects:</p> <ol> <li> <strong>Cost and Fees</strong> &ndash; While there is definitely no shortage of card issuers offering no annual fees, if you are considering a card that has fees, look at what the card provides for that fee. Paying for your plastic is an expense you should have justified. If the business credit card provides astonishing benefits such as flexible payment options, added rewards, travel protection, special bonuses, etc., then it may be worthwhile.</li> <li> <strong>High credit limits</strong> &ndash; The amount of available credit is crucial to a company&rsquo;s ability to make sizeable purchases while keeping low debt to credit limit ratios. With <a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2013/09/05/high-limit-business-credit-cards/" target="_blank" title="business credit blogger" type="high limit business credit cards"><strong>high-limit business credit cards</strong></a>, a business is less likely to surpass its credit limits.</li> <li> <strong>Annual percentage rate</strong> (APR) &ndash; A zero percent introductory rate can amount to a considerable savings for a company and an excellent method to pay down current credit card debt. Always fully understand the terms and conditions, intro <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annual_percentage_rate" target="_blank" title="wiki" type="wiki apr">APR</a> period and regular APR rates before applying.</li> <li> <strong>Perks and Rewards </strong>&ndash; There are various types of perks and benefits associated with business credit cards. The key is to determine if it fits into your business life. A business credit card that provides discount rates on hotels, resorts, airline tickets and auto rentals can be very beneficial. Yet another factor to consider is just how easy is it to use the incentives being supplied. Put in the time to do your research so you can get the most optimal card for your business.</li> <li> <strong>Business credit reporting</strong> &ndash; Unfortunately, not all business credit card issuers report to a major business-credit reporting agency. The <a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2013/09/18/best-business-credit-card-for-business/" target="_blank" title="business credit blogger" type="business credit cards">best business credit cards</a> should share payment data with a business credit reporting agency such as Corporate Experian. This will allow an owner to establish the creditworthiness of the business.</li> <li> <strong>Personal and business credit separation</strong> &ndash; For true separation, the business credit cards obtained should only report to the business credit agencies &ndash; not the business owner&rsquo;s personal credit reports. This protects the business owner&rsquo;s personal credit scores while enabling the business itself to establish its own unique credit profile.</li> </ol> <p>As your business continues to grow and expand, having access to credit is a must. A business credit card with a high limit, a low annual percentage rate, beneficial rewards and a way to build business credit while protecting personal credit is a card definitely worth having.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/business-credit-cards-what-every-business-owner-should-consider#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/757880 The Industry Word Financing Starting Tue, 12 Nov 2013 15:31:56 +0000 Marco Carbajo 757880 at http://www.sba.gov SBA's 7(a) Loan Program Explained http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/sbas-7a-loan-program-explained <p>Obtaining financing for your business ventures is often challenging for entrepreneurs. From being in the startup phase to growing your business, you may face difficulties with the requirements of traditional bank loans. But the 7(a) Program may be able to help &ndash; it&rsquo;s SBA&rsquo;s primary and most popular program. Here&rsquo;s some insight to see if this is the right option for you.</p> <p><strong>Am I eligible? </strong></p> <p>If you can demonstrate a need for funds and have a sound business purpose in mind, you&rsquo;re on the right track. To be considered eligible for the SBA 7(a) Loan Program, your business must meet SBA&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/table-small-business-size-standards" title="link to size standards article">size standards</a> and be considered small within your particular industry, operate for profit and you must have reasonable equity to invest.</p> <p>You&rsquo;re also required to do, or propose to do business, in the United States or its possessions. Another eligibility requirement is that you must have tried to use other financial resources, including personal assets, before applying for a loan.</p> <p><strong>How can I use 7(a) funds?</strong></p> <p>The 7(a) Program lets you get loan amounts (up to $5 million) to fund startup costs, buy equipment and more. Here&rsquo;s what else you can do with 7(a) funds:</p> <ul> <li> Purchase new land (including construction costs)</li> <li> Repair existing capital</li> <li> Purchase or expand an existing business</li> <li> Refinance existing debt</li> <li> Purchase machinery, furniture, fixtures, supplies or materials</li> </ul> <p><strong>What are the benefits?</strong></p> <p>The 7(a) Program offers flexibility, longer terms and potentially lower down payments compared to other financing options. There are also specialized programs for individuals interested in <a href="http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/sba-loan-programs/7a-loan-program/sb" title="link to exporting article">exporting</a>; those located in <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/rural-business-loans" title="link to rural business loans article">underserved communities</a>; members of the <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/express-pilot-programs" title="link to military programs article">military community</a>; and small businesses owners looking to meet their <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/caplines" title="link to capital needs article">short-term and cyclical working capital needs</a>.</p> <p><strong>What are the repayment terms?</strong></p> <p>Most 7(a) term loans are repaid with monthly payments of principal and interest. For fixed-rate loans, the payments stay the same because the interest rate is constant. For variable-rate loans, the lender can require a different payment amount when the interest rate changes. &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What else should I know? </strong></p> <p>Keep in mind that SBA doesn&rsquo;t fund these loans directly to small business owners, but banks receive a guarantee that the SBA will repay a portion of the loan if you default on payments. If you think you&rsquo;re suited for a 7(a) loan, check out <a href="http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/how-prepare-your-loan-application">these resources</a> and a checklist to help prepare your loan application.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Related Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/sba-loan-programs/7a-loan-program" title="General Small Business Loans: 7(a) article">General Small Business Loans: 7(a)</a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/other-financial-assistance" title="Other Financial Assistance article">Other Financial Assistance</a></li> </ul> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/sbas-7a-loan-program-explained#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/756233 Small Business Cents Financing Starting Wed, 30 Oct 2013 11:49:45 +0000 kmurray 756233 at http://www.sba.gov 5 Ways to Start a Business Plan http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/5-ways-start-business-plan <p>How do you get started on a business plan? It depends on who you are, what you like, what you do well and how you think. People are all different. I say think of a business plan as a collection of components or modules, and start wherever you feel like it. Here are five specific suggestions, based on the idea that people should start with what&rsquo;s best for the individual, depending on style. Which one is best for you?</p> <p>1. <strong>Do a SWOT analysis</strong>. That&rsquo;s a collection of thoughts organized into four categories: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Ideally you gather a small group of people together for just an hour or two, you have somewhere to write out thoughts into bullet points. This <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0OeUlPSFSk&amp;feature=share&amp;list=PL94280724D24B252E" title="Link to outsside content">YouTube video on SWOT</a> gives a simple example. The SWOT almost always leads to simple, practical strategy.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s really hard to do a SWOT without thinking about how to focus on strengths, work around weaknesses, seize opportunities and avoid threats. Everybody does that.</p> <p>2. <strong>Do a simple sales forecast</strong>. Do it for a few months at the very least, ideally 12 months by month and two more years just annually. Break your forecast into units, average revenue per unit, sales, average cost per unit and costs. The math is simple. Sales is units times revenue. Costs are units times average cost per unit. Here&rsquo;s how to do a <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/guest-blogs/industry-word/4-practical-ways-forecast-new-product" title="Link to SBA blog">forecast for a new product</a>. And here are some <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/guest-blogs/industry-word/5-tips-help-you-forecast-sales" title="Link to SBA blog">general tips on doing a sales forecast.</a></p> <p>What happens to most people is that thinking through the details of the sales forecast gets you into business planning. You can&rsquo;t help thinking about prices, costs, target markets, strategy and focus. I believe that somebody who manages with a sales forecast, and does plan vs. actual results analysis every month, has a business plan. Even if they do nothing else.</p> <p>3. <strong>Do the big picture in a vision statement, mission statement or mantra</strong>. The mission statement is about what your business does for the customer, the employee, and the owner. The vision statement is a view of what you want the business to be three years from now. And a mantra is a simple sentence summary. For more on those, here&rsquo;s a link to <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/guest-blogs/industry-word/what-are-mission-mantra-vision-and-why-do-you-care" title="Link to SBA blog">how to do mission, vision, and mantra</a>.</p> <p>Try to avoid simple hype. Test yourself: does this describe my business is a way that it would rule out any of my competitors? Would a customer read this and identify my business with it? Is this what one customer would tell another about your business?</p> <p>4. <strong>Develop your core market story</strong>. Invent an ideal buyer and tell yourself the story of how the buyer identifies a problem, or something he or she wants, searches for it, and finds your business. Make the story an explanation of what the problem was and how your business solved it. For more on this, try <a href="http://timberry.bplans.com/2012/08/every-business-yours-included-really-needs-a-market-defining-story-really.html" title="Link to Tim Berry blog post">every business needs a market-defining story</a>.</p> <p>5. <strong>Talk to 10 customers</strong>. I&rsquo;m always amazed at how much business thinking comes out of the simple process of talking to real people about your real business. Do it right: Find people willing to talk to you and take some time with them. Start by making sure they don&rsquo;t think they are supposed to tell you what you want to hear, but rather, the truth.</p> <p>Any one of these five first steps might be right for you. All of them can help you get going, and they are all good steps to take regardless of what follows.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/5-ways-start-business-plan#comments http://www.sba.gov/crss/node/754129 The Industry Word Managing Starting Wed, 25 Sep 2013 17:40:50 +0000 Tim Berry 754129 at http://www.sba.gov