http://www.sba.gov/community/blog/rss/15041/feed en A Bank's Gift Demonstrates the Power of Small Business Innovation http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/banks-gift-demonstrates-power-small-business-innovation <p><span style="font-size: 13px;">Today on Capitol Hill, I joined leaders of JP Morgan Chase as they announced a five-year, $30 million philanthropic investment to support the pioneering work of American small businesses joining &ldquo;regional clusters.&rdquo;</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13px;">Clusters are public-private partnerships that convene a region&rsquo;s corporations, small businesses, universities, investors and regional economic organizations to achieve synergies and productivity levels that a single company could not. Chase&rsquo;s commitment is believed to be the largest private-sector contribution to date in support of clusters.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13px;">SBA was the very first federal agency supporting this regional growth strategy back in 2010. Since then, we&rsquo;ve played a leading role in interagency efforts to create and support clusters. We&rsquo;ve provided more than $21 million in government grants and contracts, and we&rsquo;ve organized forums for cluster leaders to discuss strategies to increase the commercialization of new technologies created by small businesses.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13px;">Clusters are supporting entrepreneurs who work in some of the key emerging industries of the 21</span><sup>st</sup><span style="font-size: 13px;"> century. This matters, because it&rsquo;s our small businesses that have emerged as America&rsquo;s leading innovators, producing 13 times more patents per employee than large firms. Small businesses employ more than 40 percent of America&rsquo;s high-tech workers, and their size and nimbleness allows them to quickly adapt to emerging science and changing commercial realities.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13px;">While smaller firms house some of this nation&rsquo;s brightest minds, what they usually don&rsquo;t house are large development departments that specialize in securing grants and new contracts. As a result, highly qualified small businesses often miss out on opportunities to gain entry into promising new markets.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13px;">That&rsquo;s where clusters come in. They convene all the major players, who pool resources and expertise to attract funding and research dollars, which in turn helps small firms scale up and hire. Clusters also train the local labor pool in specific skills sets that are in high demand &ndash; usually, in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and math). In short, clusters help regions harness what makes them special to drive breakthroughs in emerging industries with the potential to help power the American economy for generations.</span></p> <p>The SBA currently supports clusters focused on advanced power and energy in Minnesota, geospatial technologies in Mississippi, defense and aerospace in Alabama, smart grid technologies in Illinois, electrochemical energy storage in Connecticut, cyber security and defense technologies in San Diego, and flexible electronic products in Ohio.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 13px;">A third party evaluator just completed the </span><a href="http://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/aboutsbaarticle/SBAClusters_Year3_Report.pdf" style="font-size: 13px;">third year of a performance report</a><span style="font-size: 13px;">, comparing small businesses that participated in an SBA-funded cluster with their local competitors that did not. Entrepreneurs in clusters created jobs and grew their payrolls four times faster than their industry peers.&nbsp; And over the three-year period, they attracted an additional $161 million in private capital and grants to support their work. Nearly 9 in 10 entrepreneurs said they were unable to obtain similar support outside of the cluster.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 13px;">Chase&rsquo;s commitment is powerful evidence that major players in the finance world are now seeing the light on clusters. And that&rsquo;s good news for the small businesses that are quietly powering our economy&rsquo;s high-tech transformation. These are exciting times to be both an innovator and an entrepreneur in America. Who knows where the next Silicon Valley may spring up?</span></p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/banks-gift-demonstrates-power-small-business-innovation#comments Open For Business Financing Managing Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:00:33 +0000 Maria Contreras-Sweet 1099731 at http://www.sba.gov/community 5 Reasons Your Business Credit Scores Don’t Get You the Credit You Need http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/5-reasons-your-business-credit-scores-don%E2%80%99t-get-you-credit-you-need <p>When you apply for a new credit line or request a credit limit increase for your business, suppliers, creditors and lenders want to see how your company has handled its existing credit obligations in the past. This enables them to determine if they should approve your request and to help determine what terms they should offer.</p> <p>Lenders often use <strong><a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2011/05/10/business-credit-ratings-2/" target="_blank" title="business credit blog" type="business credit scores">business credit scores</a></strong> to help them assess the level of risk a company presents. Business credit scores are calculated based on the information in a company&rsquo;s credit report. In most cases, higher business credit scores mean lower risk to a lender when extending credit to a business.</p> <p>Your business credit scores are calculated by a statistically derived algorithm, designed to calculate risk based on a variety of factors. Although each <strong><a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2010/12/17/business-credit-reporting-agency/" target="_blank" title="business credit blog" type="business credit reporting agency">business credit reporting agency</a></strong> has its own unique scoring models, scores and ratings, other types of information &ndash; such as financials, payment history and credit diversity &ndash; all play a role in the strength of your business credit reports and scores.</p> <p>Here are five reasons that may prevent your business from getting the credit it needs:</p> <p>1) <strong>A weak or incomplete business credit profile</strong> &ndash; The report and demographics of a company play an important role in how creditors assess creditworthiness. A business with issues such as poor financials, outdated registrations or high-risk industry classification codes can trigger a denial of credit or unfavorable credit terms. So it&#39;s vital that your company&rsquo;s documents, financials, filings, and registrations are complete, accurate and up to date.</p> <p>2) <strong>Limited or negative payment history</strong> &ndash; Your payment track record demonstrates how well your company handles its current and past credit obligations. A company with limited or negative payment history will have a difficult time getting credit.</p> <p>Aside from paying invoices in a timely manner, keep your credit usage consistent. Regular purchases and timely payments are what establish a positive payment history; it&rsquo;s what lenders want to see.</p> <p>3) <strong>Low credit limits</strong> &ndash; Low credit limits across multiple accounts plainly reveal to creditors that a business has limited credit capacity. However, a business with high credit limits reveals that it has the ability to handle large credit obligations. As a result, a business will receive much larger credit limit recommendations, especially if the company has low revolving debts. If your company has a positive payment track record with an existing supplier or creditor, it may be in your company&rsquo;s best interest to request a credit limit increase.</p> <p>4) <strong>High credit utilization ratio</strong> &shy;&ndash; While the size of credit limits reveal what amount of credit your creditors are willing to extend to your company, credit utilization ratios show how well your business manages it. Creditors view a high credit utilization ratio as a business with excessive debt with a greater risk of default.</p> <p>Keep credit utilization ratios at 50% or below to avoid falling into this high risk category. Low credit utilization is a clear indication that your business can handle its credit obligations. Doing so will ultimately benefit you during the credit application process.</p> <p>5) <strong>Lack of credit diversity</strong> &ndash; The types of trade lines your business has reporting play a substantial role in the credit granting process. Limited credit diversity may limit your company&rsquo;s ability to qualify for certain types of funding. Having short term financing, revolving accounts, installment loans and open accounts reveals to creditors that your company can manage various types of credit responsibly.</p> <p>Bear in mind your business credit scores will certainly have the tendency to fluctuate with each business credit agency, so it&#39;s vital to monitor your <strong><a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2014/06/16/business-credit-profile/" target="_blank" title="business credit blog" type="business credit profile">business credit profiles</a></strong> on a regular basis. While business credit reports and scores are an essential tool for lenders, suppliers and creditors to assess credit risk; other factors such as banking history, revenues and personal credit scores may play a larger role if a business lacks depth, diversity and density in its files.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/5-reasons-your-business-credit-scores-don%E2%80%99t-get-you-credit-you-need#comments The Industry Word Financing Starting Tue, 08 Jul 2014 21:41:21 +0000 Marco Carbajo 1095961 at http://www.sba.gov/community Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR): How it Works and How to Qualify http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/small-business-innovation-research-program-sbir-how-it-works-and-how-qualify <p>Small businesses are the key to advancing America&rsquo;s economy by bringing cutting-edge, high-impact technologies to the marketplace that improve health care, strengthen our military and protect the environment. However, small businesses often have difficulty competing with larger technology companies due to lack of capital for research and development (R&amp;D) work that is critical for moving products from the planning to deployment stages.&nbsp;</p> <p>To help entrepreneurs successfully commercialize their products and services, the federal government established the <a href="http://www.sbir.gov/" title="link to sbir.gov">Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer</a> program, commonly known as SBIR. Eleven federal agencies including the departments of<a href="http://www.hhs.gov/about/smallbusiness/sbir_sttr.html" title="link to Health and Human Services site"> Health and Human Services</a>, <a href="http://www.acq.osd.mil/osbp/sbir/" title="link to Defense site">Defense</a> and <a href="http://science.energy.gov/sbir/" title="link to Energy site">Energy</a> participate in SBIR, which provide small businesses competitive funding for projects that meet government research needs and boost technological innovation in the public and private sectors. The <a href="http://www.sba.gov/offices/headquarter/oca/resources/6827" title="link to related SBA page">Small Business Administration</a> doesn&rsquo;t directly administer the SBIR funding awards, but it oversees and manages the SBIR program by coordinating with other agencies, reviewing progress and reporting to Congress.</p> <p>Much like the product development process, SBIR is structured in phases:</p> <ul> <li> Phase 1 establishes the technical merit, feasibility and commercial potential of products or services and lasts for six months.</li> <li> Phase 2 supports continued R&amp;D efforts and extends up to two years. Funding levels are based on the success of Phase 1 work.</li> <li> Phase 3 enables the small businesses to commercialize products or services. Although SBIR does not fund Phase 3, some federal agencies may provide additional financial assistance for products and services that help achieve government research goals.</li> </ul> <p>To be eligible for SBIR assistance, businesses must:</p> <ul> <li> Be organized for profit and be located in the United States.</li> <li> Be at least 50% owned and controlled by U.S. citizens or permanent residents. &nbsp;</li> <li> Have no more than 500 employees.</li> <li> Not be controlled by a venture capital firm, hedge fund or private equity firm that owns a majority of the stock.</li> </ul> <p><a href="http://sbir.gov/sites/default/files/elig_size_compliance_guide.pdf" title="link to eligibility requirements">Learn more about eligibility requirements</a> and <a href="http://www.sbir.gov/solicitations" title="link to solicitations site">explore open and future solicitations</a> from agencies throughout the federal government to find SBIR funding opportunities for your small business. Also, <a href="http://www.sbir.gov/" title="link to sbir.gov">go to SBIR.gov</a> for more information about the program including <a href="http://www.sbir.gov/success-stories" title="link to success stories">small business success stories</a>, <a href="http://www.sbir.gov/events" title="link to webinars and events">free upcoming events and webinars</a> and <a href="https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USSBA/subscriber/new?topic_id=USSBA_10&amp;pop=t" title="link to email updates from the Small Business Administration">email updates from the Small Business Administration</a>.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/small-business-innovation-research-program-sbir-how-it-works-and-how-qualify#comments Small Business Cents Financing Mon, 07 Jul 2014 12:43:26 +0000 plester 1095521 at http://www.sba.gov/community Business Capital and Electronic Payments: Insights from National Small Business Week 2014 http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/business-capital-and-electronic-payments-insights-national-small-business-week-2014 <p>As a small business owner or entrepreneur, you know how important access to capital is to success. And we know it, too! During last month&rsquo;s National Small Business Week (NSBW) events, which were held across the country and online, it was a topic addressed by our speakers and panelists as they shared experience and insights. One of those speakers was Janet Zablock, Head of Global Small Business at Visa, who talked about using electronic payments for your small business. Here&rsquo;s a look at what she had to say.</p> <p>Whether you&rsquo;re a looking to start a new business or running an existing operation, Zablock starts, entrepreneurs face challenges when it comes to access to capital &ndash; an understood foundation to success, given that so many cite lack of funds as a reason for failure in the first few years. But the second piece to this access-to-capital puzzle? The <em>flow</em> of capital on a daily basis, or the &ldquo;lifeblood&rdquo; of small businesses, as Zablock puts it.</p> <p>Citing Visa&rsquo;s recent quarterly survey of small business owners, in the top five concerns of small business owners is how to manage cash flow. &ldquo;If a small business lacks a secure, reliable and convenient way to pay and be paid, there&rsquo;s a good chance you&rsquo;ll be in a tough place,&rdquo; Zablock says. You won&rsquo;t have funds you need to buy inventory, meet payroll or pay bills. And no matter how great customer service is to bring in good business, without capital flow, it can be a recipe for disaster.</p> <p>That&rsquo;s where using electronic payments can come in to help. Zablock touts this method as a way to meet daily needs and to address a lot of pain points she&rsquo;s heard from small businesses. There&rsquo;s time <em>and</em> cost savings associated with not having to handle cash or checks; not needing to count money; and skipping trips to the bank and avoiding cell phone use for deposits.</p> <p>Zablock mentioned another interesting finding from the survey &ndash; that the top desire of small business owners is to attract new customers and grow their businesses. Until recently, the most important thing on business owners&rsquo; minds was to simply stay afloat, not necessarily grow. In more optimistic economic times, entrepreneurs are broadening their looks ahead.</p> <p>So what&rsquo;s the connection between wanting to grow your business and electronic payments? Zablock points out that an entire customer base &ndash; young adults &ndash; are much more inclined toward electronic methods than their parents&rsquo; generation of cash or check. Many don&rsquo;t carry checkbooks or even cash, so supporting electronic payments opens your business up to a different kind of customer. This is increasingly relevant when you consider the use of mobile technologies as well (smart phones, tablets, etc.)</p> <p>The potential benefits of electronic payment that Zablock mentions are clear: efficiency, cost savings and growing your business. So it may be worth researching further to determine if it&rsquo;s something you should implement for your small business venture. SBA is also here to help if you have questions about capital. Check out <a href="http://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/districtoffices">a district office near you</a> and get in touch if you&rsquo;re looking for financial guidance.</p> <p>Interested in more insights and stories from National Small Business Week? If you missed the excitement last month, don&rsquo;t worry &ndash; you don&rsquo;t have to wait until next year! We&rsquo;ve got a <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/recapping-national-small-business-week-2014">recap here with a highlights reel</a> you can check out to hear from our guests and small business experts.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/business-capital-and-electronic-payments-insights-national-small-business-week-2014#comments Small Business Cents Financing Wed, 18 Jun 2014 17:00:16 +0000 kmurray 1090081 at http://www.sba.gov/community 10 Can't-Miss Business Credit Profile Tips for Small Business Owners http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/10-cant-miss-business-credit-profile-tips-small-business-owners <p>If you run a company, your business credit profile is related to your reputation. With a strong business credit profile, you have access to much greater financing opportunities with favorable terms and lower interest rates.</p> <p>For lenders, a company with a creditworthy profile is considered a good risk. Whether you own a startup or existing business, managing and protecting your profile with all three major business credit reporting agencies is crucial.</p> <p>Here are ten essential tips for establishing, maintaining and protecting your business credit profile:</p> <ol> <li> Keep all company data identical &ndash; Whether <strong><a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2014/05/08/apply-for-a-duns-number/" target="_blank" title="business credit blog" type="duns number info">applying for a D-U-N-S Number</a></strong>, submitting a credit application or <strong><a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/how-open-small-business-bank-account-online" target="_blank">opening a business bank account</a></strong>, provide all the same information in order to avoid any potential issues. Inconsistent data can cause a denial of credit due to mismatched data or even cause your company to have a duplicate credit file.</li> <li> Leverage the good credit you already have &ndash; If your business has existing trade references not reporting on its file, then consider adding them to your report. Currently, only one business credit reporting agency enables you to <strong><a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2013/11/05/dun-and-bradstreet-credit-builder/" target="_blank" title="business credit blog " type="trade reference info">add trade references to your file</a></strong> via a paid program.</li> <li> Make certain your profile represents a real business &ndash; The information you supply about your company, its background, banking history and operations plays an essential role in the credibility and creditworthiness of your business. With a complete profile, creditors will get an accurate portrayal of your business.</li> <li> Pay better than terms &ndash; By paying invoices 10, 15 or 20 days ahead of the due date you get a much greater impact to your overall business credit ratings. Paying better than terms shows creditors that you manage your financial obligations promptly and are a good credit risk.</li> <li> Have a diversity of credit accounts &ndash; The types of credit your company use are seen as a sign of stability and credit responsibility. Whether it&rsquo;s short-term financing, installment loans, <strong><a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2014/04/29/unsecured-business-line-of-credit/" target="_blank" title="business credit " type="revolving lines of credit info">revolving lines of business credit</a></strong> or leases, each type of account plays a role in establishing a diversity of credit usage.</li> <li> Monitor your business credit profile regularly &ndash; While it&rsquo;s crucial to <strong><a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/build-business-credit-reports-you-can-be-proud-about-having" target="_blank">build a strong business credit profile</a></strong>, it is equally important to protect what you have built. Each business credit agency offers its own monitoring services so you can be alerted to any recent changes, inquiries into your file or fluctuations in your scores.</li> <li> Correct any inaccurate or outdated information &ndash; If you identify any mistakes on your company&rsquo;s profile, be sure to take the necessary steps to update and/or correct it. Each agency has its own procedures for submitting updates, corrections or disputes.</li> <li> Select the appropriate industry classification code &ndash; The <strong><a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2014/06/03/business-sic-codes/" target="_blank" title="business credit " type="sic code info">SIC/NAICS Code</a></strong> you select for your business describes the principle activity of your business to creditors. Lenders use these codes to help identify the industry affiliation of a company so it is vital to select the code that best describes what you do.</li> <li> Improve your score by submitting financials &ndash; Financials that show an improvement in cash flow, current assets and net worth can have a significant impact to a company&rsquo;s overall creditworthiness. You can upload financial statements to impact the strength of your reports by following the on-screen instructions available on the business credit agency&rsquo;s site.</li> <li> Update and maintain your company&rsquo;s internet presence &ndash; Information that goes into creating a business&rsquo; credit profile comes from primary and secondary sources such as web mining, news and media. It&rsquo;s imperative that your company&rsquo;s website and its contact information are consistent with the data collected from other primary and secondary sources.</li> </ol> <p>Your business credit profile is a report card on your company&rsquo;s finances. Your profile and business credit history can affect your day to day business operations &ndash; from how much you pay for a business loan, company credit card, lease or business insurance. Use these tips to build, manage and protect your company&rsquo;s financial reputation.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/10-cant-miss-business-credit-profile-tips-small-business-owners#comments The Industry Word Financing Starting Wed, 11 Jun 2014 15:43:15 +0000 Marco Carbajo 1086231 at http://www.sba.gov/community Which Unsecured Business Lines of Credit are Best for Your Business? http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/which-unsecured-business-lines-credit-are-best-your-business <p>Whether you&rsquo;ve been in business for a couple of weeks or five years, access to cash is a crucial element of survival for a business. When the going gets tough, a business can fail unless it has access to cash on demand.</p> <p>For business owners, getting <strong>unsecured business lines of credit </strong>is by far the best choice for having that cash on demand. The fact is that business owners want access to funds &ndash; whenever they need it, at a competitive rate and with flexible payment options. The National Federation of Independent Businesses says, &ldquo;Think of it as an insurance policy that never needs to be paid until you need it.&rdquo;</p> <p>It&rsquo;s important to note there are two main types of unsecured business lines of credit one needs to consider: traditional and non-traditional.</p> <p>So how do you determine which one is best for your business?</p> <p>The traditional business line of credit issued by a bank calls for a substantial amount of documentation in order to qualify such as financials, personal tax returns, business tax returns, bank account information, business registration documents, etc.</p> <p>In addition, once a line is issued an annual financial review is required to maintain the line of credit. While a traditional credit line offers various benefits such as check-writing privileges, it tends to be the most difficult line of credit to obtain and maintain.</p> <p>In a recent survey conducted by the National Small Business Association, &ldquo;29 percent of small business owners report having their lines of credit reduced in the last four years and nearly 1 in 10 had their line of credit called in early by the bank.&rdquo;</p> <p>In my opinion, a non-traditional line of credit in the form of business credit cards are the <a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2014/04/29/unsecured-business-line-of-credit/" target="_blank" title="Business Credit Blog" type="unsecured lines of credit "><strong>best unsecured business lines of credit</strong></a> a company can get. It provides the fast access to cash and payment flexibility associated with a traditional credit line but without all the drawbacks.</p> <p>Qualifying for this type of revolving credit line is FICO&reg; driven and doesn&rsquo;t require the yearly reviews, excessive documentation and level of scrutiny that comes with a traditional credit line.</p> <p>Some of the advantages of non-traditional <strong>business lines of credit</strong> are as follows:</p> <p>1) Access to cash quickly &ndash; With <strong><a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2013/10/11/unsecured-business-credit-card/" target="_blank" title="business credit blog" type="unsecured business credit card">unsecured business credit cards</a></strong>, you can utilize as much or as little credit from your line as you want to, anytime and anywhere</p> <p>2) High credit limits &ndash; Business credit cards carry high credit limits, making it extremely convenient to finance larger business purchases. Many cards even offer 0% APR for the first 12 months.</p> <p>2) Flexibility &ndash; With business credit cards you have flexible payment options compared to a fixed month-to-month payment that comes with a business loan. When you tap into your credit line, you have three options every month. You could pay the full amount due, pay at least a minimal portion of the balance or pay greater than the minimum amount due.</p> <p>3) True separation &ndash; Business credit cards enable business owners to separate personal and business expenses while benefiting from business credit reporting. This makes it possible for business owners to establish the creditworthiness of the business itself.</p> <p>4) Personal credit protection &ndash; <strong><a href="http://www.businesscreditblogger.com/2013/08/22/small-business-credit-cards/" target="_blank" title="business credit blog" type="small business credit cards">Small business credit cards </a></strong>that report solely to the business credit agencies allow business owners to protect their personal credit ratings while building their business credit.</p> <p>While a non-traditional business credit line provides all the convenience and flexibility a business needs, there are some negative aspects to consider. The major drawback is the ability for a business to accumulate debt. Without a fixed payment schedule, business owners may be tempted to simply pay the minimum monthly payment on its outstanding balances. By carrying debt, compound interest can really add up, especially if a company carries large balances.</p> <p>No matter what type of <strong>unsecured business lines of credit</strong> you decide to obtain for your business, it&rsquo;s crucial to manage any debt responsibly. Traditional and non-traditional business lines of credit are essential tools for any business to have in its financial arsenal.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/which-unsecured-business-lines-credit-are-best-your-business#comments The Industry Word Financing Starting Wed, 21 May 2014 14:53:17 +0000 Marco Carbajo 846891 at http://www.sba.gov/community Three Popular Start-Up Financing Options http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/three-popular-start-financing-options <p>Thinking about starting a business? Recent studies and reports have shown that entrepreneurs are <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/optimism-runs-high-independent-workforce" title="link to blog post">more optimistic than in recent years</a> when it comes to the state of their businesses this year, and that&rsquo;s great news! But always high on the list of concerns for starting a business &ndash; even in optimistic times &ndash; is financing. Here&rsquo;s a roundup of some ways, aside from avenues such as <a href="http://www.sba.gov/loanprograms" title="link to loans information">SBA-backed loans</a>, to finance your business.</p> <p><strong>Credit Cards</strong></p> <p>According to expert Marco Carbajo, <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/business-credit-cards-what-every-business-owner-should-consider" title="link to blog post">credit cards are a major source of financing</a> for small business owners, with statistics even showing that more than 65% of small businesses using them on a frequent basis. It&rsquo;s a popular approach, but you should be sure to do your research to determine if it&rsquo;s the right one for you. Here are some tips from <a href="http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/81822" title="link to Entrepreneur.com article">Entrepreneur.com</a> to help:</p> <ul> <li> Unless your business is incorporated &ndash; so if yours is a sole proprietorship, for instance &ndash; <em>you</em> are guarantor of all debts. So if your sales are slow and you fall behind on payments, you risk your personal credit rating and ability to borrow.</li> <li> It varies by state, but your credit-card issuer might still require that shareholders with significant ownership guarantee the line of credit &ndash; even if your business is incorporated.</li> <li> Potentially bringing on partners? Make sure your agreement states that they&rsquo;ll accept personal guarantees on all <em>existing</em> business debt. You need to address this specifically because in many states, new partners aren&#39;t automatically responsible for previous debts.</li> <li> Read the fine print. Don&rsquo;t accept an offer without checking into the details, understanding the terms of use and evaluating risks. Don&rsquo;t hesitate to ask a professional for guidance.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Friends and Family</strong></p> <p>Asking friends and family to borrow funds to help finance your business sounds like it could get awkward, but it doesn&rsquo;t have to. Treat the process just as professionally as you would an engagement with a bank. If you done right, you can potentially gain quicker access to the cash you need and jump through fewer hoops &ndash; after all, your friends or family already know you. Read more about borrowing from friends and family in <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/6-tips-borrowing-startup-funds-friends-or-famil" title="link to blog post about borrowing funds">our article here</a>, but think about these highlights as you consider this option:</p> <ul> <li> Think carefully about who you&rsquo;ll approach and make sure they understand the risks (and rewards) of getting involved. Keep in mind if your business doesn&rsquo;t work out and you can&rsquo;t repay your obligations, relationships could suffer.</li> <li> Be realistic about how much money you need. Instead of asking for the maximum, consider what you need to get you to a certain point in your business plan. Once you show you can repay that initial investment, you&rsquo;ll be in a better position to ask for more money if you need it.</li> <li> Write it down. You might think a verbal agreement with your friend or relative is sufficient given the personal relationship, but this is business. <a href="http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/24380" title="link to Entrepreneur.com">Consider this advice</a> from Entrepreneur.com: &quot;Any time you take money into a business, the law is very explicit: You must have all agreements written down and documented. If you don&#39;t, emotional and legal difficulties could result that end up in court. And if the loan isn&#39;t documented, you may find yourself with no legal recourse.&rdquo;</li> <li> Communicate. Show your business progress and share updates along the way, even if it&rsquo;s correcting mistakes you&rsquo;ve made with your business strategy. Checking in and sharing information shows that you&rsquo;re taking seriously the role others are playing in your venture and demonstrates professionalism.</li> </ul> <p><strong>Crowdfunding</strong></p> <p>Increasingly, crowdfunding is becoming a popular way for people to get startup financing for their businesses. You&rsquo;ve probably heard of Kickstarter campaigns &ndash; that&rsquo;s crowdfunding. It works through a collective cooperation of people who network and pool their money and resources together, usually online, to support efforts initiated by others. So it gathers multiple, smaller investments as opposed to a single source of funding. You can read more about <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/crowdfunding-%E2%80%93-it-right-your-business-where-do-" title="link to blog post">the details here</a>, but here are three other key considerations from <a href="http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/232301" title="link to Entrepreneur.com article">Entrepreneur.com</a>:</p> <ul> <li> You should begin working on your crowdfunding campaign six months before you want to launch your project. When your campaign starts, you should&rsquo;ve already made a significant effort in letting people know about it collecting email addresses so you can really hit the ground running when you open the gates for your campaign.</li> <li> Set your funding goal as low as you can manage because some crowdfunding platforms, like Kickstarter, are &ldquo;all or nothing.&rdquo; For instance, if you set a goal of $1,000 and you meet it, then you get the money. If you raise only $500, you won&rsquo;t get anything. Read the fine print about the platform you choose so you can be strategic about your funding request.</li> <li> Don&rsquo;t forget to award your donors. You&rsquo;re asking people to take a risk on your business venture &ndash; there are no guarantees. So thank them and show your appreciation by offering your product or service at a discount when the time comes.</li> </ul> <p>You can also learn more from our online Learning Center course, &ldquo;<a href="http://www.sba.gov/tools/sba-learning-center/training/introduction-crowdfunding-entrepreneurs" title="link to Introduction to Crowdfunding for Entrepreneurs article">Introduction to Crowdfunding for Entrepreneurs</a>.&rdquo;</p> <p>Beyond a &ldquo;traditional&rdquo; track of securing a loan from a bank, there are quite a few avenues to consider for financing your business. And with passion, professionalism and planning, you&rsquo;ll establish a good foundation for success down any of these paths.</p> <p><strong>Related Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/6-tips-borrowing-startup-funds-friends-or-famil" title="link to 6 Tips for Borrowing Startup Funds from Friends or Family article">6 Tips for Borrowing Startup Funds from Friends or Family</a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/crowdfunding-%E2%80%93-it-right-your-business-where-do-" title="link to Crowdfunding – Is it Right for Your Business? Where Do You Start? article">Crowdfunding &ndash; Is it Right for Your Business? Where Do You Start?</a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/5-ways-help-young-entrepreneurs-finance-their-business-ideas" title="link to 5 Ways to Help Young Entrepreneurs Finance Their Business Ideas article">5 Ways to Help Young Entrepreneurs Finance Their Business Ideas</a></li> </ul> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/three-popular-start-financing-options#comments Small Business Cents Financing Starting Wed, 21 May 2014 11:59:01 +0000 kmurray 846801 at http://www.sba.gov/community My Inspirational First Month at SBA http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/my-inspirational-first-month-sba <p>One month ago, I took my oath and was given the opportunity of a lifetime to be a champion for America&rsquo;s small businesses.</p> <p>In my first public statement after my swearing-in, I talked about my intention to support our job creators and build the U.S. economy from the middle out; to promote lending that reflects the diversity of America by getting capital to the areas that need it the most; and to use technology and best practices in customer service to make it easier for borrowers to borrow and lenders to lend.</p> <p>Then, I immediately embarked on a listening tour to send a signal to entrepreneurs that I wanted a robust dialogue and open lines of communication to understand the range of challenges that America&rsquo;s small businesses owners face.</p> <p>It has been an exhilarating first month. On my third day on the job, I defended our FY15 budget before the Senate. I went to to the Pentagon to meet with transitioning service members taking an SBA course on how to apply their military skills to civilian entrepreneurship. And I visited Washington state to accelerate the deployment of disaster aid to businesses and families impacted by the devastating mudslide.</p> <p>I testified at a field hearing that explored how small business R&amp;D can create more high-growth, high-paying jobs. Then, I met with military leaders to make sure the Department of Defense is making procurement decisions that harness the incredible innovation happening at small firms. I traveled to Baltimore and Boise to talk to emerging leaders and women-owned businesses about how to plug into federal contracting opportunities and earn business from the world&rsquo;s top buyer of goods and services: the United States government.</p> <p>I sat down with women and minority entrepreneurs to hear about their challenges in getting access to capital, and I shared their stories this past week at two major lending conferences to explain SBA <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/sba-improves-small-businesses-access-7a-and-504-loan-programs-enhances-job-creation-0">regulatory changes</a> that will make it easier to get capital to neighborhoods the recession left behind. &nbsp;We dropped the so-called &ldquo;wealth test&rdquo; and &ldquo;nine-month rule,&rdquo; and we announced more collateral flexibility for our borrowers. These important technical changes will all increase the number of small businesses that qualify for SBA assistance.</p> <p>At each stop, I&rsquo;ve evangelized the SBA message of &ldquo;three Cs and a D&rdquo; &ndash; our work to deliver capital, contracts, counseling and disaster assistance, which comprise the core of this agency&rsquo;s mission.</p> <p>My listening tour continues Monday with the kickoff of National Small Business Week at Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. Soon, I&rsquo;ll sit down with our exceptional SBA staff and begin the process of taking the insights gleaned from my time on the road to develop an action plan to take our agency to the next level.</p> <p>But as I reflect on an eventful first month, the word that stays in my head is &ldquo;inspirational.&rdquo; As our field team knows so well, our work does more than help America&rsquo;s small businesses succeed and our economy grow. So often, what we&rsquo;re really doing is empowering our entrepreneurs to give back and lift up entire communities.</p> <p style="text-align: center"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/FZhdrcnSnjo" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>We&rsquo;re helping women like Dr. Carla Thomas serve generations of families in her hometown of Inglewood, California. Less than four percent of this nation&rsquo;s dentists are African American, but with a real estate loan backed by SBA, Dr. Thomas now has her own building and a thriving practice three miles from the house where she grew up. She stayed &ldquo;home&rdquo; to provide dental care to local children and generations of families who need her. Dr. Thomas calls her practice &ldquo;The Smile Studio.&rdquo; Watch the video above, and you&rsquo;ll see why her unique commitment to give back in Inglewood gives us all a reason to smile.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/my-inspirational-first-month-sba#comments Open For Business Financing SBA News and Views Starting Fri, 09 May 2014 15:55:52 +0000 Maria Contreras-Sweet 837291 at http://www.sba.gov/community 5 Keys to Angel Investment http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/5-keys-angel-investment <p>With this post I&rsquo;d like to give my personal answer to the frequent question, &ldquo;What do angel investors look for in a business plan?&rdquo; I can&rsquo;t promise that what I think applies to anybody else. But I&rsquo;ve been in an angel investment group for five years now, and I&rsquo;ve seen a lot of businesses evaluated. Here are five things I say matter.</p> <p><strong>1. A believable market definition </strong></p> <p>It&rsquo;s not just the numbers. Especially not huge numbers that lack definition. Too many of the several dozen business plans I&rsquo;ve read this year lack a good market-defining story. Market numbers are useful, yes, but they don&rsquo;t stand alone. Investors want to believe the story first, then get the numbers.</p> <p>The story is about the use case, also called &ldquo;why to buy,&rdquo; and market need.</p> <p>I like the business pitches that put a picture on a slide and explain how that person has a problem that this business solved. For example, one recent pitch starts with a picture of a middle-aged woman and explained how this new business creates a channel for her to sell her craft goods effectively. Another pitch I saw showed a picture of the garbage area behind a restaurant to pitch a system to save unused food and make it available to people who need it. Then they go to the numbers, after explaining the need.</p> <p><strong>2. Believable growth plan </strong></p> <p>Startups become good for the early stage investors by growing. While there are some extremely rare cases where traffic and position alone created value (such as Amazon in its early days, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), for most of us it takes sales growth.</p> <p>Investors want to see and believe the growth plan. For example, if it&rsquo;s a physical product to be sold in retail stores, there should be a plan for getting the product into distribution, and a sales forecast based on sales per store and stores&rsquo; growth by year. Or if it&rsquo;s a mobile app, then sales growth based on potential user base and ways to drive traffic to the app via the various download stores.</p> <p>Sales forecasts based on details are more credible. I liked a plan I saw recently that presented a forecast of sales of a product related to bars by showing actual sales in the first four bars and extrapolating those to all bars in the U.S. The methodology made sense.</p> <p><strong>3. Defensibility </strong></p> <p>Defensibility is whatever quality keeps a startup from being overwhelmed by competition that stunts its growth. Most investors look for proprietary technology, such as patents &mdash; when they are good patents that experts say will be reasonably defensible &mdash; or trade secrets. This is also called &ldquo;barriers to entry.&rdquo; There&rsquo;s limited value to an idea that any other business can just copy.</p> <p><strong>4. Scalability</strong></p> <p>The lack of scalability in most service businesses is why investors generally prefer product businesses and why the classic service businesses aren&rsquo;t as attractive. The test is whether it can double sales without doubling fixed costs and employees. Most service businesses don&rsquo;t scale: the classic consulting business, for example, or attorneys, graphic design, programming for hire&hellip; these service businesses are hard to scale.</p> <p>With product businesses, when a widget starts selling in most cases you can make more widgets with automation.</p> <p>And there are some service businesses that are scalable. Generally, they relate to software services over the web. The travel buyer sites are services, but they scale.</p> <p><strong>5. Potential exit </strong></p> <p>Angel investors make money by investing money in a business today and getting money back from that business in a few years when it grows, increases its value and sells out to a larger company or registers its stock for sale on a public market.</p> <p>What many people don&rsquo;t realize is that outside investors don&rsquo;t make money just from owning a small portion of stock in a successful business. Theoretically, there could be dividends eventually, but growing companies don&rsquo;t normally generate dividends. Angel investment assumes that the businesses create some way for the investors to sell their shares.</p> <p>Having a minority share in a healthy, happy company &ndash; one that doesn&rsquo;t need any more outside investment and has no reason to invite a larger company to purchase it &ndash; offers no return on investment for the early investors who aren&rsquo;t employees.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/5-keys-angel-investment#comments The Industry Word Financing Starting Tue, 29 Apr 2014 21:36:49 +0000 Tim Berry 832051 at http://www.sba.gov/community Spring Is Here! Did You Know that April Is Financial Capability Month? http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/spring-here-did-you-know-april-financial-capability-month <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">President Barack Obama recently proclaimed April </span><a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/03/31/presidential-proclamation-national-financial-capability-month-2014" style="font-size: 12px;">National Financial Capability Month</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">. Recognizing the importance of financial planning in achieving the American Dream, this month calls on individuals to empower themselves by seeking knowledge and tools for strong financial capability.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">In today&#39;s world economy, financial capability is vital to entrepreneurs and small business owners trying to start, grow, and succeed in the marketplace.&nbsp; Whether your target market is global or your local neighborhood, SBA&rsquo;s network of </span><a href="http://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/sbdc%20" style="font-size: 12px;">Small Business Development Centers</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">, </span><a href="http://www.sba.gov/local-assistance/wbc" style="font-size: 12px;">Women&rsquo;s Business Centers</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">, and </span><a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/score" style="font-size: 12px;">SCORE</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> chapters can help at every stage of turning your entrepreneurial dream into a booming business.&nbsp; Additionally, SBA&rsquo;s </span><a href="http://1.usa.gov/PXMuMM" style="font-size: 12px;">Online Learning Center</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> offers free online courses to help you brush up on your business skills.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">I personally believe that financial capability encourages financial stability for individuals, families, and communities.&nbsp; The more small business owners know about business credit and </span><a href="http://www.sba.gov/loanprograms" style="font-size: 12px;">loans</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">, the more likely they are to succeed in securing their next </span><a href="http://www.sba.gov/loanprograms" style="font-size: 12px;">loan</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> to start or grow their business.&nbsp;&nbsp; If you want to start a business or learn how to better manage your business finances, begin with </span><a href="http://www.sba.gov/moneysmart" style="font-size: 12px;">Money Smart</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">. SBA and FDIC collaborated to provide an instructor-led business training program, </span><a href="http://www.sba.gov/moneysmart" style="font-size: 12px;">Money Smart for Small Business</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">, for free. This program is designed to provide introductory-style training for new and aspiring entrepreneurs. The 10 modules provide the most essential information on running a small business from a financial standpoint.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">So far, more than 1,300 copies of the </span><a href="http://www.sba.gov/moneysmart" style="font-size: 12px;">Money Smart for Small Business</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> course have been ordered and more than 50 </span><a href="http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/moneysmart/alliance.html" style="font-size: 12px;">Small Business Training Alliance</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> members have used the course. It&rsquo;s been an invaluable tool for small businesses looking to improve their financial capability and education. Small business owners, those without formal business training, financial institutions, small business assistance centers, city and county economic development offices, faith-based organizations and others have found the program greatly beneficial.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">From more information on </span><a href="http://www.sba.gov/moneysmart" style="font-size: 12px;">Money Smart for Small Business </a><span style="font-size: 12px;">&nbsp;or to download the course at no cost, go online to </span><a href="http://www.sba.gov/moneysmart" style="font-size: 12px;">www.sba.gov/moneysmart</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">For free resources on money management and on making the best financial decisions for you, visit </span><a href="http://www.mymoney.gov/" style="font-size: 12px;" title="www.MyMoney.gov">www.MyMoney.gov</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> or call 1-888-MyMoney.</span></p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/spring-here-did-you-know-april-financial-capability-month#comments Open For Business Financing Managing Mentoring and Training SBA News and Views Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:01:30 +0000 Tameka Montgomery 826351 at http://www.sba.gov/community Helping Small Businesses Grow Through Green Efforts http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/helping-small-businesses-grow-through-green-efforts <div> <em style="font-size: 12px;">Note: this post is by Donna J. Butler, SBA&rsquo;s Senior Sustainability Officer &amp; Deputy Chief Operating Officer</em></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> SBA helps small businesses find solutions to make their operations run efficiently. That&rsquo;s why this Earth Day and every day SBA encourages small businesses to incorporate a green office environment. Whether it&rsquo;s changing to a more energy efficient lighting system, implementing a recycling program, or considering eco-friendly machinery&mdash;all of these&nbsp;<a href="https://webmail.sba.gov/owa/redir.aspx?C=8mAZPcidnkS-WZ3JlWHbnXxZT4C1LtEI6dwLpToK9ydDtg-lov5jkf7jJni285DFooDQ1LTITng.&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.sba.gov%2fcontent%2fearth-day" target="_blank">techniques</a>&nbsp;help to conserve energy and save money. SBA also helps entrepreneurs and organizations build on green ideas and turn them into a successful business.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <strong>Taking an Idea and Turning it Green</strong></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Small business owner Carina Whitham of California took her passion for renewable energy and used SBA&rsquo;s counseling services to help start an executive search firm&nbsp;<a href="https://webmail.sba.gov/owa/redir.aspx?C=8mAZPcidnkS-WZ3JlWHbnXxZT4C1LtEI6dwLpToK9ydDtg-lov5jkf7jJni285DFooDQ1LTITng.&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.sba.gov%2fabout-offices-content%2f2%2f3102%2fsuccess-stories" target="_blank">Whitham Group Executive Search</a>. Today, Carina&rsquo;s firm successfully recruits and places executives in the arenas of Solar, Wind, Biofuels, Biomass, Geothermal Energy and all other areas of renewables.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> SBA also supports sustainability through initiatives such as the&nbsp;<a href="https://webmail.sba.gov/owa/redir.aspx?C=8mAZPcidnkS-WZ3JlWHbnXxZT4C1LtEI6dwLpToK9ydDtg-lov5jkf7jJni285DFooDQ1LTITng.&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.sba.gov%2fabout-sba%2fsba_initiatives%2fclusters_initiative" target="_blank">Regional Clusters Initiative</a>&mdash;which combines a network of organizations and businesses in a geographic area that grow through increased collaboration, efficiency and innovation. SBA funded its initial clusters in collaboration with the Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, and several other agencies. &nbsp;Regional clusters such as&nbsp;<a href="https://webmail.sba.gov/owa/redir.aspx?C=8mAZPcidnkS-WZ3JlWHbnXxZT4C1LtEI6dwLpToK9ydDtg-lov5jkf7jJni285DFooDQ1LTITng.&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.sba.gov%2fsba-clusters" target="_blank">Illinois Smart Grid, Clean Energy, and GreenMe</a>&nbsp;are expanding thanks to the support from this initiative. Today, they are making their communities more sustainable and eco-conscious.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> And for small business owners seeking to upgrade an existing facility with energy efficient upgrades or financing innovative eco-friendly tools--<a href="https://webmail.sba.gov/owa/redir.aspx?C=8mAZPcidnkS-WZ3JlWHbnXxZT4C1LtEI6dwLpToK9ydDtg-lov5jkf7jJni285DFooDQ1LTITng.&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.sba.gov%2f" target="_blank">SBA.gov</a>&nbsp;has a reference list of<a href="https://webmail.sba.gov/owa/redir.aspx?C=8mAZPcidnkS-WZ3JlWHbnXxZT4C1LtEI6dwLpToK9ydDtg-lov5jkf7jJni285DFooDQ1LTITng.&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.sba.gov%2fcontent%2fearth-day" target="_blank">green financing and green certification options</a>.&nbsp;</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <strong>SBA Green Practices</strong></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> SBA is also reinforcing green practices throughout its office culture.&nbsp;<a href="https://webmail.sba.gov/owa/redir.aspx?C=8mAZPcidnkS-WZ3JlWHbnXxZT4C1LtEI6dwLpToK9ydDtg-lov5jkf7jJni285DFooDQ1LTITng.&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.sba.gov%2fcontent%2ffy-2013-summary-performance-and-financial-information" target="_blank">The Agency&rsquo;s priority goal for Fiscal Year 2014</a>&nbsp;was to increase paperless loan processing.&nbsp; SBA succeeded with this goal and saw an increase in the use of paperless processing with both the 7(a) and 504 loan programs. The 7(a) program use increased from 72 percent to 90 percent and the 504 program use increased from 55 percent to 75 percent. Additionally, SBA is collaborating with the General Services Administration to ensure that&nbsp;<a href="https://webmail.sba.gov/owa/redir.aspx?C=8mAZPcidnkS-WZ3JlWHbnXxZT4C1LtEI6dwLpToK9ydDtg-lov5jkf7jJni285DFooDQ1LTITng.&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.sba.gov%2fabout-sba%2fwhat_we_do%2fcontact_sba" target="_blank">SBA&rsquo;s Headquarters and Field Offices</a>&nbsp;are housed in facilities that are energy and water efficient and are maintained with non-toxic and recycled content products. SBA has also reduced its greenhouse gas emissions from employee commuting by nearly 15% since 2010 in part through the increased use of mass transit and&nbsp;<a href="https://webmail.sba.gov/owa/redir.aspx?C=8mAZPcidnkS-WZ3JlWHbnXxZT4C1LtEI6dwLpToK9ydDtg-lov5jkf7jJni285DFooDQ1LTITng.&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.telework.gov%2f" target="_blank">telework</a>. This year, SBA initiated an agency-wide toner and ink cartridge recycling program in partnership with the U.S. Postal Services.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> <strong>Go Green and Thrive</strong></div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> Celebrate Earth Day today and everyday by adopting new environmentally sound practices for your business.&nbsp; SBA is here to help you grow your business and succeed in your green efforts.&nbsp; Visit our website or connect with our&nbsp;<a href="https://webmail.sba.gov/owa/redir.aspx?C=8mAZPcidnkS-WZ3JlWHbnXxZT4C1LtEI6dwLpToK9ydDtg-lov5jkf7jJni285DFooDQ1LTITng.&amp;URL=http%3a%2f%2fwww.sba.gov%2ftools%2flocal-assistance%2fdistrictoffices" target="_blank">local offices and resource partners</a>&nbsp;for your small business needs.&nbsp;</div> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/helping-small-businesses-grow-through-green-efforts#comments Open For Business Financing SBA News and Views Fri, 18 Apr 2014 16:31:23 +0000 Stephen Morris 826291 at http://www.sba.gov/community 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 The Industry Word Financing Starting Wed, 09 Apr 2014 17:28:52 +0000 Marco Carbajo 818031 at http://www.sba.gov/community What to Know About Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs) http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/what-know-about-small-business-investment-companies-sbics <p>When it comes to financing, you probably already know that SBA doesn&rsquo;t lend money <em>directly</em> to small business owners and entrepreneurs, but has <a href="http://www.sba.gov/loanprograms" title="link to programs">various programs</a> to help get small business ventures financed through local lenders. But did you also know that the <a href="http://www.sba.gov/taxonomy/term/10441" title="link to Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program info">Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program</a> has been helping small business access capital for more than fifty years?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What&rsquo;s the SBIC Program? </strong></p> <p>The Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program is a multi-billion dollar program that, in fiscal year 2013 alone, invested $3.5 billion in financing dollars to small businesses! So how does it work?</p> <p>SBICs are privately owned and managed investment funds. They&rsquo;re licensed and regulated by SBA and use their own capital plus funds &ndash; borrowed with an SBA guarantee &ndash; to make equity and debt investments in qualifying small businesses.</p> <p>The SBA doesn&rsquo;t invest <em>directly</em> into small business through the SBIC Program, but provides funding to qualified investment management firms that are experts in certain sectors or industries. For every $1 an SBIC raises from a private investor, the SBA will typically provide $2 of debt capital (with a cap of $150 million). Here&rsquo;s a look at how it works:</p> <p><img alt="SBIC flow chart depicts private investor funds and SBA funds funneling into SBICs funneling into small businesses" src="/sites/default/files/images/SBIC.png" style="width: 653px; height: 155px;" /></p> <p>Firms combine their own capital with funds borrowed from the federal government at low rates. In turn, they invest these funds in promising new ventures. And it&rsquo;s all done with zero taxpayer dollars!</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>What are the benefits of the SBIC Program? </strong></p> <p>There are benefits for the SBICs <em>and</em> the small business recipients!</p> <p><strong>Small businesses</strong> that qualify for assistance from the SBIC program can receive equity capital, long-term loans and expert management assistance. SBICs benefit small business owners by opening up greater access to equity capital and expert guidance they may not otherwise get through traditional venture capitalists.</p> <p><strong>Investment managers</strong> participating in the SBIC program can add to their own private investment capital with funds borrowed at favorable rates through the federal government.</p> <p>And ultimately, the national economy benefits from the SBIC program as the small businesses financed by SBICs continue to create jobs and generate tax revenues over the program&rsquo;s life.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Want to learn more about the SBIC Program? Visit the <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/sbic-program-overview-0" title="link to SBIC program pages">SBIC Program pages</a>, including the <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/faqs" title="link to SBIC frequently asked questions">FAQ</a>. Still have questions? Email <a href="mailto:askSBIC@sba.gov" title="link to SBIC email">askSBIC@sba.gov</a>.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/what-know-about-small-business-investment-companies-sbics#comments Small Business Cents Financing Wed, 09 Apr 2014 16:43:23 +0000 kmurray 818001 at http://www.sba.gov/community SBA's Disaster Loan Program Explained http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/sbas-disaster-loan-program-explained <p>Did you know that in the wake of a disaster, SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations? In the aftermath of hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes and other disasters, SBA is the primary source of money from the federal government for long-term recovery assistance.</p> <p><strong>Am I eligible? </strong></p> <p>SBA&rsquo;s Disaster Loan Program is <em>not</em> exclusively for small businesses. These low-interest, long-term loans are available for damage to private property owned by individuals, families, businesses of all sizes and private nonprofits not fully covered by insurance.</p> <p> While property owners usually have some insurance coverage, often it does not cover all losses or even the <em>type</em> of hazard that caused the damage. And that&rsquo;s where a disaster loan comes into play.</p> <p><strong>What can I use the loan for?</strong></p> <p>There are actually a few different types of disaster loans available. SBA can provide up to $2 million in disaster assistance for businesses.&nbsp; This includes loans to cover <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/physical-disaster-loans" title="Go to business disaster loans page ">physical damage</a> and <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/economic-injury-disaster-loans" title="Go to economic injury loan page ">economic injury</a> losses. Some applicants will qualify for <em>both</em> an economic injury loan and a physical disaster loan.&nbsp; Meanwhile, the dollar limit for the combined loans is $2 million.</p> <p><strong>Physical damage</strong> is probably what you think of first when it comes to a disaster &ndash; the more tangible damages done during a disaster. Businesses and nonprofit organizations of all sizes can apply. A physical disaster loan can address losses not fully covered by insurance and can go toward repairing or replacing:</p> <ul> <li> Real property</li> <li> Machinery</li> <li> Equipment</li> <li> Fixtures</li> <li> Inventory</li> <li> Leasehold improvements</li> </ul> <p><strong>Economic injury </strong>means that because of a disaster, you&rsquo;re unable to meet your business obligations and pay ordinary and necessary operating expenses. So, an economic injury disaster loan (or EIDL) provides the necessary working capital (of up to $2 million) to help your small business or private nonprofit organization survive until normal operations resume after a disaster.</p> <p><strong>Renters can also apply for disaster loans of up to $40,000 to repair or replace their disaster damaged personal property (like furniture, rugs, clothing, appliances&mdash;anything damaged by the disaster).&nbsp; Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace disaster damaged real estate, plus an additional $40,000 to cover personal property losses.</strong></p> <p><strong>How does the process work? </strong></p> <ul> <li> After a presidential disaster declaration, first register with <a href="http://www.fema.gov/" title="link to FEMA">FEMA</a>. In most cases, you&#39;ll be referred to SBA for possible loan assistance. Then you should <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/apply-disaster-loan" title="link to online application">apply online</a>, which is the fastest way to receive a decision about your loan eligibility.</li> </ul> <ul> <li> Your loan processing is next. SBA will conduct a credit check and an onsite inspection to determine your losses. A loan officer will work with you to approve or decline a loan.</li> </ul> <ul> <li> Generally, within five days of signing SBA&rsquo;s loan closing documents, your first disbursement is made. A case manager will work with you to meet all your loan conditions and schedule the rest of your disbursements until you receive the full loan amount.</li> </ul> <p>So when disaster strikes, remember that SBA is here to help. <a href="http://www.sba.gov/tools/sba-learning-center/video/sba-disaster-assistance-program" title="link to disaster video">Check out this short video</a> to learn more about how, and get <a href="http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/disaster-loans" title="link to disaster assistance program information">more details here</a> about the disaster assistance program.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/sbas-disaster-loan-program-explained#comments Small Business Cents Financing Managing Mon, 31 Mar 2014 15:53:00 +0000 kmurray 812171 at http://www.sba.gov/community 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 The Industry Word Financing Starting Tue, 11 Mar 2014 23:24:42 +0000 Marco Carbajo 805661 at http://www.sba.gov/community SBA Loan Fee Reductions Help Small Business Owners Nationwide http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/sba-loan-fee-reductions-help-small-business-owners-nationwide <p>In order for small businesses to remain viable in a recovering economy, access to capital must remain an SBA priority.&nbsp; At the same time, applying for and getting a commercial loan involves certain costs that may make borrowers think twice before making that commitment.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Often times, small businesses that need loans with smaller dollar amounts --$350,000 and under- are usually either just starting or in their early stages. Attention to the bottom line is paramount at this critical time, and a lack of adequate financial resources may become an obstacle to growth.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">Mindful of this situation and consistent with our mission to help small businesses start, grow and succeed, SBA recently introduced two initiatives aimed at eliminating certain borrower fees, thus making it cheaper and easier for small businesses to obtain much needed financing.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">One of the initiatives, launched at the end of fiscal year 2013, set borrower fees to zero (0) on all 7(a) loans $150,000 and under originated on or after Oct. 1, 2013. This initiative is among SBA&rsquo;s latest efforts to make sure we&rsquo;re reaching more business owners and entrepreneurs to help them to tackle the next challenge in their businesses.</span></p> <p><a href="http://www.sba.gov/tools/sba-learning-center/video/sba-loans-explained" style="font-size: 12px;">The 7(a) Loan Program</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> is the SBA&rsquo;s primary program to help start-up and existing small businesses obtain financing when they may not be eligible for conventional business loans .&nbsp; In just three months after its implementation, fee elimination on loans $150,000 and under have saved small businesses nationwide more than $5 million. A small business obtaining a $150,000 loan now saves more than $2,500 in fees, which can be used for other business expenses.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">The SBA has begun a similar effort to help small business owners who are veterans. Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, SBA launched the SBA Veterans Advantage initiative, which has zero borrower fees on all loans $350,000 and under made through this program.&nbsp; This program is expected to yield significant savings for veterans looking to start or grow a business.&nbsp; Of all SBA loans made to veterans during the last 5 years, 73 percent were below $350,000.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">In the first 10 days (Jan 1 &ndash; Jan 10) this initiative saved veterans business owners almost $179,000.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">While it is still too early to gauge the impact these initiatives will have on the success of small businesses, the initial numbers seem to indicate that savings will be significant.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">These two initiatives are in place through the end of the current fiscal year, Sept. 30, 2014.</span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 12px;">For more information about SBA loan programs and services or to find an SBA lender, visit </span><a href="http://www.sba.gov/" style="font-size: 12px;">www.sba.gov</a><span style="font-size: 12px;">, or the </span><a href="http://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/districtoffices" style="font-size: 12px;">SBA District Office</a><span style="font-size: 12px;"> nearest you.</span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/sba-loan-fee-reductions-help-small-business-owners-nationwide#comments Open For Business Financing SBA News and Views Fri, 14 Feb 2014 17:00:21 +0000 Ann Mehlum 796021 at http://www.sba.gov/community 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 The Industry Word Financing Starting Tue, 11 Feb 2014 19:20:58 +0000 Marco Carbajo 795221 at http://www.sba.gov/community Business Loan Opportunities for Military Veterans in 2014 http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/business-loan-opportunities-military-veterans-2014 <p>The service of veterans has done a tremendous amount for the United States &ndash; on our own soil and around the world. Many continue their contributions to the country by channeling their skills and leadership into entrepreneurial endeavors that help strengthen our economy.</p> <p>And now through the rest of the fiscal year, SBA&rsquo;s Express Loan Program will make it easier to get loans in the hands of veterans so they can succeed in their business ventures.</p> <p><strong>Loan fees</strong></p> <p>Through the end of September, SBA has set the borrower upfront fee to zero for all veteran loans authorized under the SBA Express program, which supports loans of up to $350,000.</p> <p>Additionally through the end of the fiscal year, fees on all loans (and not just for veterans)<a> </a>$150,000 and under are set to zero.&nbsp;</p> <p>These initiatives make the loans cheaper for the borrower, which is just another way SBA is looking to serve small business owners &ndash; and those veterans who have served us &ndash; as they look for ways to access capital.</p> <p><strong>About the Express Loan Program</strong></p> <p>One great feature of the <a href="http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/sba-loan-programs/7a-loan-program/sp" title="link to Express Loan Program">Express Loan Program</a> is that it has an accelerated turnaround time for SBA review. You&rsquo;ll receive a response to your application within 36 hours.</p> <p>With a fast turnaround, streamlined process and easy-to-use line of credit, this program is SBA&rsquo;s most popular loan delivery method &ndash; nearly 60 percent of all 7(a) loans over the past decade being authorized through the program. Since the program began, it has also been one of the most popular delivery methods for getting capital into the hands of veteran borrowers.</p> <p><strong>Getting started</strong></p> <p>Interested in exploring loan options to get your business started? Check out <a href="http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/sba-loan-programs/7a-loan-program/sp">these loans</a> that fall under Express Program standards. Our <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/business-loan-checklist" title="link to business loan checklist">business loan checklist</a> can also help prepare you for the application process, in addition to taking a look at the <a href="http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/application-process/credit-factors" title="link to credit factors information">credit factors</a> lenders will consider when you apply for an SBA-backed loan.</p> <p>In the transition from military service to customer service, you&rsquo;ll find great resources from SBA to help you find success. And if you&rsquo;re looking for funding to get your business off the ground, these loan perks may make it possible to 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/10-tips-veteran-owned-businesses-seeking-sell" title="10 Tips for Veteran-Owned Businesses Seeking to Sell to the U.S. Federal Government blog post">10 Tips for Veteran-Owned Businesses Seeking to Sell to the U.S. Federal Government</a></li> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-matters/leaving-military-life-entrepreneurship-%E2%80%93-5-essential-resources-can-help" title="Leaving Military Life for Entrepreneurship – 5 Essential Resources That Can Help blog post">Leaving Military Life for Entrepreneurship &ndash; 5 Essential Resources That Can Help</a></li> </ul> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/business-loan-opportunities-military-veterans-2014#comments Small Business Cents Financing Wed, 22 Jan 2014 11:03:00 +0000 kmurray 790271 at http://www.sba.gov/community 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 Small Business Cents Financing Managing Starting Wed, 15 Jan 2014 12:35:50 +0000 kmurray 787261 at http://www.sba.gov/community 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 The Industry Word Financing Starting Tue, 14 Jan 2014 19:51:53 +0000 Marco Carbajo 787111 at http://www.sba.gov/community 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 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/community How Small Businesses Can Get Tax Deductions for Charitable Giving http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/how-small-businesses-can-get-tax-deductions-charitable-giving <p>Most small businesses make charitable donations. In fact, <a href="http://philanthropy.com/blogs/prospecting/most-small-companies-make-charitable-donations-survey-finds/19109" title="link to survey">surveys have shown</a> that about 75 percent of small business owners donate some portion of their profits &mdash; about 6 percent on average &mdash; to charitable organizations each year.</p> <p>As we&rsquo;re in the midst of the holiday season (and tax season looms), many small business owners are likely considering charitable contributions and wondering how such donations might impact the bottom line in terms of tax deductions. First, it&rsquo;s important to choose the right charity and avoid certain pitfalls that could leave you in a bind.</p> <p><strong>Choosing the right charity</strong></p> <p>Only certain types of contributions qualify for a deduction (more on that later), so if getting the tax benefit is part of your goal, it&rsquo;s important to properly research any organizations to which you plan to donate. However, you might also think about other potential benefits (aside from the great feeling you get from helping others) such as how the donation aligns with your public relations strategy for corporate social responsibility and how meaningful a volunteer project or fundraising initiative might be for employees.</p> <p>Although tax deductions and the rewarding benefit of helping those in need are often goals in charitable giving, you should also consider that such acts also open up an opportunity to showcase the good work you&rsquo;re doing in the community to potential employees and customers. <a href="http://ppqty.com/2010_Cone_Study.pdf" title="link to study about company philanthropy">85 percent of consumers have a more positive image of companies who are philanthropic</a>. Employees who have a favorable impression of their company&rsquo;s philanthropic program are <a href="http://www.cof.org/files/Documents/Corporate_Grantmaking/Measurement/National_Benchmark_Study-Measuring_the_Business_Value_of_Corp_Phil.pdf" title="link to article about company philanthropy">five times more likely to remain with their employer</a>.</p> <p>For more on aligning your charitable giving strategy with your business strategy, <a href="http://smallbiztrends.com/2012/01/5-steps-to-giving-back-all-year-long.html" title="link to five tips from Small Business Trends">follow these five tips from Small Business Trends.</a> You should also consult <a href="http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0074-giving-charity" title="link to the FTC’s checklist for avoiding charity scams">the FTC&rsquo;s checklist for avoiding charity scams</a>.</p> <p><strong>Getting the deduction</strong></p> <p>Again, not everything qualifies. But by following these general guidelines and consulting your accountant or tax attorney, your small business should be set to get credit.</p> <ul> <li> <strong>Identify an eligible charity</strong>, usually a 501(c)(3), using <a href="http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&amp;-Non-Profits/Exempt-Organizations-Select-Check">this IRS search tool</a></li> <li> <strong>Make an eligible donation</strong>: cash, volunteered services, sponsorship of a charity event or the donation of inventory or services</li> <li> <strong>Understand that each category has its own limitations</strong> (for example, you can&rsquo;t deduct the value of your volunteered service, but you <em>can</em> deduct expenses incurred such as supplies) &mdash; <a href="http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc506.html" title="link forms and information from the IRS">links to all the related forms and limitation information are available from the IRS</a> (see also: <a href="http://www.irs.gov/publications/p526/ar02.html#en_US_2013_publink1000229693" title="link to IRS Publication 526">IRS Publication 526</a>)</li> <li> <strong>Ensure the donation is paid in full by the end of the tax year</strong> and reported through <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040sab.pdf" title="link to Form 1040, Schedule A">Form 1040, Schedule A</a></li> <li> <strong>Take your deduction,</strong> but remember that the IRS limits the amount of charitable donations that can be considered tax-deductible to 50 percent of your adjusted gross income</li> <li> <strong>Keep records </strong>&mdash; you&rsquo;ll want them in the event of an IRS audit. Generally, an organization should give you a written statement if it receives a contribution from you</li> </ul> <p>Charitable giving boils down to determining your strategy, properly researching the organization to which you wish to donate and following the IRS&rsquo; guidelines for giving. Do those three things, and your small business will be well on its way to giving back.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/how-small-businesses-can-get-tax-deductions-charitable-giving#comments Small Business Cents Financing Managing Taxes Mon, 16 Dec 2013 12:53:47 +0000 jdelung 778891 at http://www.sba.gov/community 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 The Industry Word Financing Starting Tue, 10 Dec 2013 14:59:28 +0000 Marco Carbajo 775691 at http://www.sba.gov/community The Truth Behind Government Grants for Small Businesses http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/truth-behind-government-grants-small-businesses <p>Financing your small business ventures is likely one of your biggest concerns as an entrepreneur. One route you might be considering is to apply for grants, but there are strict guidelines when it comes to being eligible for any government grants. There <em>are</em> some instances that might make you eligible, but it depends on what kind of business you&rsquo;re in and what the government and taxpayers may receive in return for their investment in your endeavor. Here&rsquo;s what you should know.</p> <p><strong>Is my business eligible? </strong></p> <p>Federal and state governments <strong>don&rsquo;t</strong> provide grants to:</p> <ul> <li> Start a business</li> <li> Pay off debt</li> <li> Cover operational expenses</li> </ul> <p>Grants from the federal government are authorized through bills passed by Congress and signed by the President &ndash; and grant authority varies widely across the various agencies (such as SBA, USDA, DOE, etc.).</p> <p>Federal grants are typically aimed at specific industries and causes identified by the government. These usually include scientific and medical research, conservation efforts, and so on.</p> <p>Sometimes at the state government level, business grants or &ldquo;discretionary incentive grants&rdquo; are available, but they&rsquo;re still closely tied to the agency&rsquo;s agenda. These grants usually serve to advance regional economies and promote causes, such as clean energy development. Unfortunately for small businesses, however, state grants are often geared toward large businesses. They may also require that the grant be matched or combined with other forms of financing such as a loan.</p> <p><strong>Research-and-Development Grants</strong></p> <p>If your small business is engaged in scientific research and development (R&amp;D), you may qualify for federal grants under the <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/small-business-innovation-research-program-sbir-0" title="Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)">Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)</a> and the <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/small-business-technology-transfer-program-sttr-0" title="Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)">Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)</a> programs.</p> <p>SBIR and STTR programs encourage small businesses to undertake R&amp;D projects that:</p> <ul> <li> Meet federal R&amp;D objectives</li> <li> Have high potential for commercialization</li> </ul> <p>You can explore <a href="http://www.sbir.gov/" title="SBIR.gov">SBIR.gov</a> to learn more about specific SBIR and STTR programs and opportunities throughout the federal government.</p> <p><strong>What&rsquo;s the bottom line? </strong></p> <p>The bottom line is that if you&rsquo;re looking for free money, you won&rsquo;t get it from the government. Unless you can fill a specialty area, you won&rsquo;t have luck securing funding from a federal grant. In general, if you&rsquo;re looking to start or grow your business, you should consider exploring other options like <a href="http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans" title="link to loans information">loans</a> or maybe <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/crowdfunding-%E2%80%93-it-right-your-business-where-do-" title="link to crowdfunding information">crowdfunding</a>.</p> <p>Want to learn more? Check out <a href="http://www.grants.gov/web/grants/search-grants.html" title="link to grants.gov website">grants.gov</a> &ndash; a centralized hub of more than 1,000 different grant programs across all federal grant-making agencies &ndash; to find out more and apply for federal funding opportunities.</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/truth-behind-government-grants-small-businesses#comments Small Business Cents Financing Mon, 09 Dec 2013 15:12:47 +0000 kmurray 775011 at http://www.sba.gov/community 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 Open For Business Financing SBA News and Views Starting Wed, 13 Nov 2013 02:31:27 +0000 Davidh 758055 at http://www.sba.gov/community 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 The Industry Word Financing Starting Tue, 12 Nov 2013 15:31:56 +0000 Marco Carbajo 757880 at http://www.sba.gov/community SBA Announces New Measure to Help Get Small Business Loans Into the Hands of Veterans http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/sba-announces-new-measure-help-get-small-business-loans-hands-veterans <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">This week, in the lead up to Veterans Day, the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) has been celebrating National Veterans Small Business Week, an initiative on the part of the SBA to reach out to veteran entrepreneurs and business owners.&nbsp; We owe our nation&rsquo;s veterans a debt of gratitude for their service, and we also know that as a result of their service and training, veterans are well-positioned to be successful entrepreneurs and small business owners as they transition from their military career to working as a civilian.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">That&rsquo;s why I&rsquo;m so excited to announce a new initiative on the part of the SBA that will help get more small business loans into the hands of veterans.&nbsp; Today we&rsquo;re letting folks know that starting January 1 and for the rest of the fiscal year, we&rsquo;ll be setting the borrower upfront fee to zero for all veteran loans authorized under the SBA Express program, which supports loans of up to $350,000.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Our nation&rsquo;s veterans are highly-skilled and highly-trained leaders in their communities, and so it makes sense that after serving their country veterans would become entrepreneurs and small business owners. Our job at the SBA is to make sure that veterans have the tools and capital they need to start and grow a business.&nbsp;</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">Of all SBA loans that go to veterans, 73 percent are $350,000 and below.&nbsp; The <a href="http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/sba-loan-programs/7a-loan-program/sp" style="font-size: 12px;">SBA Express Loan Program</a>, which supports loans under $350,000, is SBA&rsquo;s most popular loan delivery method, with nearly 60 percent of all 7(a) loans over the past decade being authorized through the program. Since the program&rsquo;s inception, it has also been one of the most popular delivery methods for getting capital into the hands of veteran borrowers.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">This announcement also comes not long after we announced that for FY 2014, fees on loans for $150,000 and under are set to zero.&nbsp; These initiatives make the loans cheaper for the borrower, another way SBA is looking to serve small business owners as they look for ways to access capital.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">I couldn&rsquo;t be more proud of our nation&rsquo;s veteran entrepreneurs and small business owners and the SBA commitment to helping those who have tirelessly served our country.&nbsp; We provide veterans access to business counseling and training, capital and business development opportunities through government contracts. In FY 2013, SBA supported $1.86 billion in loans for 3,094 veteran-owned small businesses.&nbsp;&nbsp; And since 2009, the dollar amount of SBA lending support to veteran-owned firms has nearly doubled.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">It&rsquo;s been wonderful participating in SBA&rsquo;s Veterans Small Business Week events throughout the week.&nbsp; Our staff on the ground has been working with partner organizations on educational efforts, mentoring, and trainings to make sure veterans have the tools they need to start or grow their business&mdash;because it is the least we can do for those who have served.</span></span></p> <p><span style="font-size:12px;"><span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif;">We thank our veterans for their commitment to our country and way of life.&nbsp; SBA fully supports our veteran entrepreneurs and looks forward to continuing to reach out to them through our 68 field offices across the country.</span></span></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/sba-announces-new-measure-help-get-small-business-loans-hands-veterans#comments Open For Business Financing SBA News and Views Fri, 08 Nov 2013 17:41:22 +0000 Rhett_Jeppson 757417 at http://www.sba.gov/community SBA Working Capital Revolving Lines of Credit Helping Small Businesses http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/sba-working-capital-revolving-lines-credit-helping-small-businesses <p><strong>Note: </strong>This blog is by&nbsp;Ann Marie Mehlum,&nbsp;Associate Administrator, SBA Office of Capital Access</p> <p>For businesses both large and small, access to short and long-term working capital can often be a challenge.&nbsp; - Whether it&rsquo;s a contractor juggling a few jobs at one time, or a store on Main Street looking to bring in this season&rsquo;s inventory, finding the capital to meet their business needs can often be challenging.</p> <p>To help make this task easier, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has streamlined and simplified our <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/caplines" style="font-size: 12px;">CAPLine program</a>, which provides working capital lines of credit designed to help small businesses with their short-term working capital needs, and it&rsquo;s catching on.</p> <p>In early 2011, SBA <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/caplines-revamped-working-capital-program" style="font-size: 12px;">made major enhancements</a> to the CAPLine program to make sure that small businesses had easier access to the working capital that would allow them to keep growing and creating jobs. By mid-2013 the results were clear&mdash;the CAPLine program saw a 228 percent increase in the total number of loans approved and a 127 percent increase in the total dollar amount. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Let&rsquo;s look a little more closely at these enhancements:</p> <ul> <li> <p>It is now&nbsp; possible for small businesses to secure a line of credit using their account receivables, inventory and purchase orders;</p> </li> <li> <p>Lines of credit are available to small business subcontractors so that they can finance their work with prime contractors; and</p> </li> <li> <p>Small businesses are no longer required to pledge their personal assets to secure a loan.</p> </li> </ul> <p>In FY 2013, the CAPLine program approved 682 loans for more than $500 million. In FY 2012 and FY 2013, the two full fiscal years since the program was re-designed, SBA approved more than 1,200 loans&mdash;a significant increase over the 1,300 loans issued over the prior 15 years (FY 1997 &ndash; FY 2011.)</p> <p>Small businesses are the engine of our economy, creating two out of every three net new jobs in the United States.&nbsp; At SBA, we&rsquo;re committed to making sure that small businesses have the resources and tools they need to harness their entrepreneurial spirit, grow, and thrive&mdash;and the CAPLine program is a critical part of our effort.</p> <p>If you think a CAPLine revolving line of credit might be a good fit for your business&rsquo;s needs, <a href="http://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/districtoffices" style="font-size: 12px;">contact</a> an SBA office near you or visit <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/caplines-0" style="font-size: 12px;">http://www.sba.gov/content/caplines-0</a>.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/sba-working-capital-revolving-lines-credit-helping-small-businesses#comments Open For Business Financing SBA News and Views Wed, 06 Nov 2013 18:50:31 +0000 ngoriel 757047 at http://www.sba.gov/community 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 Small Business Cents Financing Starting Wed, 30 Oct 2013 11:49:45 +0000 kmurray 756233 at http://www.sba.gov/community The 504 Loan Program Explained http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/504-loan-program-explained <p>Are you looking to expand or modernize your small business? If you&rsquo;re exploring your financing options, then SBA&rsquo;s 504 Loan Program (or Certified Development Company (CDC) loan) may be for you. Designed especially to help small businesses grow, you can use funds to make purchases for real estate and equipment, just to name a few. Read on for more details to see if this is a good option for you.</p> <p><strong>Am I eligible?</strong></p> <p>In addition to operating your business for profit, you&rsquo;ll need to have a feasible business plan and relevant management expertise to be considered eligible for a 504 loan. As with any business seeking SBA&rsquo;s financial assistance, you&rsquo;re also required to do business in the United States or its territories. And you must have tried to use other financial resources, including personal assets, before applying for a loan. Here are some other requirements to consider:</p> <ul> <li> Your business must have a tangible net worth of less than 15 million dollars.</li> <li> Your business must have an average net income less than $5 million after taxes for the preceding two years.</li> <li> You must have the ability to repay the loan on time from the projected operating cash flow of your business.</li> </ul> <p><strong>How can I use the funds?</strong></p> <p>Loan funds can be used to:</p> <ul> <li> Purchase land;</li> <li> Purchase existing buildings;</li> <li> Purchase long-term machinery and equipment;</li> <li> Purchase improvements (including grading, street improvements, utilities, parking lots and landscaping); or</li> <li> Build new facilities or modernize, renovate or convert existing facilities.</li> </ul> <p>A 504 loan cannot be used for:</p> <ul> <li> Working capital or inventory;</li> <li> Consolidating, repaying or refinancing debt (although for a portion of the project, you may refinance debt associated with buying or renovating equipment or facilities); or</li> <li> Speculation or investment in rental real estate.</li> </ul> <p><strong>What are the amounts and repayment terms?</strong></p> <p>Maximum loan amounts are determined by <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/cdc504-loan-amounts-repayment-terms-interest-rates-fees" title="Link to page about loan amounts">how they&rsquo;ll be used</a> &shy;&ndash; if they support goals associated with job creation, public policy or small manufacturing. The loan terms also vary. For land and buildings, the loan term is 20 years; it&rsquo;s a 10-year term for machinery and equipment.</p> <p>Think the 504 Loan Program might be for you? <a href="http://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance/cdc" title="Link to Local Assistance tool">Find your local CDC</a> and learn more about the <a href="http://www.sba.gov/content/cdc504-loan-application-process" title="Link to application process page">application process</a> today.</p> <p><strong>Related Resources</strong></p> <ul> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/learning/video/sba-504-loan-program-helping-businesses-grow-and-create-jobs" title="SBA 504 Loan Program: Helping Businesses Grow and Create Jobs video">SBA 504 Loan Program: Helping Businesses Grow and Create Jobs</a> (video)</li> <li> <a href="http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/cdcs-and-cdcs-community-development-corporation" title="CDCs and CDCs: Community Development Corporations and SBA Certified Development Companies article">CDCs and CDCs: Community Development Corporations and SBA Certified Development Companies</a></li> </ul> http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/504-loan-program-explained#comments Small Business Cents Financing Mon, 21 Oct 2013 11:39:06 +0000 kmurray 754926 at http://www.sba.gov/community