Tag Archive: Small Business

Small Business Grant Money: Get Your Grants for a Business Now

Small Business Grant Money: Get Your Grants for a Business Now

Small businesses are the backbones of the community. Even the government understands that. For this reason, several different kinds of grants are available for small business owners and entrepreneurs. These millions of dollars worth of grants are open for anyone to apply for, and they can be a valuable resource for a business owner or entrepreneur that needs a little boost with their business. By learning a few important tips, individuals will have a better chance of receiving small business grant money.

Contact the Small Business Administration

The Small Business Administration or SBA can be a valuable resource and ally for individuals seeking small business grants. This highly reputed organization was created by the government as a way for individuals to stay in touch with the latest funding and grant opportunities available from the government. The SBA keeps individuals informed on the latest business grant opportunities and also offers low to no interest business loans that can really help put a business on its feet. The SBA has branches in each state, as well as an official website where individuals can learn more.

Consider Community Benefits

Those businesses that will offer benefits for their community may have a better chance of receiving government grants. Grant review panels look at all aspects of the business, as well as the benefits that will result. For instance, if a business will provide several more jobs for the community, it may have a better chance of receiving a grant than a business that will offer only one or no jobs for the community. Individuals should seriously consider the benefits their business will offer, so those can be conveyed to the grant review panel.

Write a Business Plan

A business plan can greatly help focus a business owner, and can be beneficial for conveying benefits as well as obtaining funding for the business. Business plans are like guide books to the business. They outline important information about the business, such as the products or services, target market, expected costs associated with the business, projected profits and much more. Business plans are often used in lieu of grant proposals for businesses and can be very effective in helping the business win a grant. Individuals can learn how to write business plans or hire a professional writer to take care of it for them.

Use the Internet to Find Grants

There are a number of helpful websites that allow individuals to find grants for business. While individuals should proceed carefully, as there are many scam websites on the internet, it can also be a valuable resource. One should never have to pay for grant information, since it is available for free on websites like Grants.gov and Business.gov. These websites maintain up to date listings of government grants for business and other needs. These should be book marked and checked often as new grants are posted and old ones are removed.

With the above information, individuals can find and apply for government business grants that will help them find success.

Small Business Key Points to Consider Before Borrowing Money

Small Business Key Points to Consider Before Borrowing Money

Borrowing money has been around for generations; back to when the banks and other financial institutions first came about. But unlike the present times, procuring a loan then was deemed a well-mannered negotiation.

Prospective borrowers made a formal appointment with the local bank manager in which few questions were asked and the debtor’s history with the bank was reviewed. The bank was much a part of the societal activity, and the process was accepted that way.

Recently, potential borrowers rarely set eyes on the bank loan manager. With the advent of the credit cards, and their proliferation, so much has changed that sometimes it hardly seems like people are borrowing at all, what with the credit cards that provide instant gratification. But whatever it is thought to be, there is no denying that it’s all about borrowing money.

 For the small business owners planning a business start up, immediate questions spring to mind when planning to borrow money, questions such as: How can I borrow money? Where can I borrow money? How do I get a small business loan? What are the loan rates?

Three Loan Options

Usually, the interest rate is expressed as a percentage per annum. Three Loan options are:

  • Fixed Interest Loan – does not change throughout the course of the loan
  • Variable Loan – the interest rate can be changed by the lender
  • Secured Loan – guaranteed by a mortgage or other assets.

List of Questions Small Business Owners Need to Ask Before Borrowing Money

  • Is it worth incurring this debt?
  • Will I have the cash to pay for it accordingly?
  • What percentage does this loan represent to my available cash outlay?
  • Have I clarified with my chosen lender the true/actual cost of the loan? (This might need to include, for example, charges that effectively add to interest payments)
  • Are there other expenses to be considered that I might have overlooked?
  • What are the contingencies I have allowed for in planning my business startup?
  • Have I taken a financial advice of the type of loan I’m going to avail?

Although borrowing money can present great opportunities for investment and financial growth, it is a roller-coaster ride with the possible nightmare of inability to pay off debt. Business owners, as well as personal debtors, often want to get their loans approved with a sense of urgency. The diversity of the kinds of loan and looking for the needs that best fit the business, should be carefully studied and weighed.

If uncertain with issues about borrowing money, small business owners should consult a business loans consultant who can assist with the lending application process and explain key points that banks will evaluate in lending money.

Starting Up and Running a Successful New Business Affordably

Starting Up and Running a Successful New Business Affordably

Becoming an Affiliate Marketer

A third and more affordable solution for the aspiring business owner is to set himself up as an affiliate marketer, selling the goods and services of other companies in exchange for a commission. Many top companies have their own affiliate program, such as Amazon and Ebay. Other leading brands are members of an affiliate marketplace network, in which the business owner can register for multiple companies and get paid in one regular commission check at the end of each month.

Similar to the business owner who wants to sell something they have expertise in, the affiliate marketer should choose products based on a niche and/or sub-niche they wish to explore. They will already have a computer and be able to do the research online to find affiliate programs they can join. Once they register and enter their bank details and are accepted to at least a couple of programs, they can start building links with their special code through the affiliate program. These links will be special only to them in order to make sure that they are credited for each sale they drive to the site/s they are affiliated with.

An affiliate marketer should also have a website of their own, a business bank account, and a PayPal account to be able to accept and process secure payments. Iceland in 8 Days is a perfect example of a fully operational and active affiliate site. They might also wish to have an email marketing program to help capture email addresses of people who visit their site, in order to send them a free newsletter and other promotions containing their affiliate links. They can also spend time rather than money by producing free special reports to give away in exchange for the email addresses. Finally, they may wish to write reviews of the products that they are selling, especially if they have personal experience of them.

Marketing a New Business Affordably

Marketing a new website usually takes more time than money, through link building, referral links they can post on forums, blogs and in their email signature files. For those who can afford a marketing budget, Pay Per Click through a large search engine like Google can help drive qualified traffic very quickly. This can help test the market and how well the sales pages on the affiliate site will sell.

For high-ticket items in particular, there may be a great deal of competition and the cost of the ads will be higher. Yahoo, Bing and Ask PPC prices tend to be a fair bit lower per click but there will not be as much traffic. However the key is conversions to a lead (email address) or sale, so if the sales letter page is not showing any results after a day or two, turn off the PPC, adjust the page and try again with new ads.

However, if there are still no sales, then try to re-write the sales letter to make it more compelling and post to one’s own site and drive traffic there instead of the affiliate’s sites, for better tracking of results.

A new small business can be an investment in terms of money and time but thanks to the opportunities offered by the internet, new business owners can get started running their own company quickly and affordably no matter what they decide to sell. They can certainly also market their company affordably by making the most of all the tools on the Internet to drive traffic and gain customers.

Get Government Grants for Small Business: Business Startup Grants Can Be Yours!

Get Government Grants for Small Business

Government grants for small business are a valuable resource for small business owners. With the money to purchase supplies, hire employees or advertise the business, small business owners will have an easier time with their start up. While they’re not widely advertised, there are many different government grants to help entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground.

Create a Business Plan

The first thing entrepreneurs should do regarding their business is create a business plan. A business plan highlights the company’s goals, mission, services and products, target market, and more. This can serve as a helpful guide when it comes to applying for grants and can often be used in lieu of a grant proposal, though both are helpful as well. A business plan should be well organized, factual, easy-to-read and understand, and free of grammatical and typographical errors. The Small Business Administration offers helpful hints for writing a business plan at the SBA.

Work with the SBA

The SBA or Small Business Administration has an official website as well as chapters in each state. It is a highly reputed organization that offers business grants and startup loans at lower interest rates than normal. The SBA also offers a number of tips, suggestions and other forms of help for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Individuals working with the SBA will have a better chance of finding grants that will help them start their businesses and make them successful.

Visit Business.gov

Business.gov is a direct link to the US government that can be quite helpful for entrepreneurs. They provide an up to date list of all startup grants and loans as well as other programs from the US government. There are many different kinds of advice, suggestions, and tips available on this website as well. This is a great starting point for anyone who is searching for government business startup loans or grants.

Consider Business Start up Benefits

Individuals should consider how their business will benefit the community and surrounding cities and towns. Those more likely to benefit the community will be considered differently than those that are not. For instance, if one business will create twenty new jobs in the city the business is started in, it will probably be more likely to get the grant than a business which will only offer one or two jobs. By considering the benefits of their businesses, entrepreneurs will have a better chance at receiving startup business grants.

Check out Government Grants at the State Level

It’s important for entrepreneurs to check at the state level for startup grants and funding. While there are business grants available from the federal government, entrepreneurs are much more likely to find a program or grant within their own state. Check with local organizations and associations that typically offer grants for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Learn more about checking at the state level at US Gov Info. By using the tips and information above, entrepreneurs can successfully fund their small businesses with start up grants or low interest loans.

Free Accounting Programs for Small Business

Free Accounting Programs for Small Business

If you are an owner or manager responsible for accounts and cash in a small business, you’re probably looking for a way to save money. Although you could purchase expensive software packages or do all of the math by hand, downloading free accounting programs online may make a lot more sense.

Tracking Accounts and Expenses

Businesses must be able to track accounts and expenses at all times in order to identify trends and reduce costs. If you are a CPA, you may want to keep the books by hand as a cheaper option than purchasing software, but bear in mind the amount of time required to research tax updates and calculate interest, among other things. Regardless of cost, however, your goal is to find a method of accounting that provides for the bookkeeping needs of your business. If you choose to use software, look for features such as local and cloud data backups, the ability to access information from multiple computers, data security and real-time updates of tax information.

 Accounting Software for Businesses

Business accounting programs, such as QuickBooks, Quicken and Microsoft Money, are robust compilations of various software functions. Most packages include telephone support and yearly upgrades. Common features include:

  • Online software updates: Install software patches or other updates with an Internet connection.
  • Online tax rules updates: Update employee and sales tax information as necessary via the Internet.
  • Mobile access from a PDA or SmartPhone: Get access to account information, invoices or any other necessary data remotely with an authorized device.
  • Invoice templates: Create professional invoices for your customers.
  • Alerts as bills become due: Don’t miss another payment – let the software let you know before you’re late.
  • Budgeting templates: Let your software walk you through creating a budget, and start saving money.

Free Accounting Software Packages

There is a middle ground between doing all of your books by hand with bookeeping templates and purchasing a top-of-the-line accounting package. Quickbooks and Quicken both offer an online version of their software at no cost with many of the same features as the regular version of the software. Although Quicken only offers its personal money management software in an online version, Quickbooks actually offers a free online money program for small business. There’s no download, just click to sign up.

Small Business Accounting

There are a number of factors that can affect your decision as you choose a method of accounting for your business. Weigh the cost of the program, the time of setup or maintenance and the ongoing effort it will require against other factors, such as data security and ease of access, to determine which program will work best in your situation. Remember, you can always change your mind later.

Advertising Strategies for Small Business by Patrick Mackaronis

Advertising Strategies for Small Business

The following is a guest post from Patrick Mackaronis, director of business development for New York City social network startup Brabble. For further reading on Pat’s ideas, please check out Home Business Mag’s piece Patrick Mackaronis Reveals Six Options for Ideal Startup Investment.

You’ve got a great business that can be very beneficial to many people. You know that advertising is the key to a successful business and the best way to promote your product or services, but can be rather costly, especially for a small business. You need direct advertising ideas that work well, and don’t come with the high price tag that big companies can afford. Here are some strategies that may work for your business.

Advertising can be as simple as word of mouth, and as varied as in print, online, by radio, and through television. Before you advertise, whatever the medium, make sure you know who your target market is so you can direct your advertising efforts in the right direction. Then you will best know the medium to advertise in, whether it be local or across the Internet, or both.

The Yellow Pages for Offline and Online Advertising

Your local Yellow Pages are still the best way to advertise, especially for new businesses. You want people to be able to find you. Many people still look in the Yellow Pages when they want to find a business. In today’s time, not only is your ad in the printed version, but it also includes your ad being available online at the main website where people all over the world can view it. Get the biggest ad you can afford, without overstepping your budget.

Some areas have more than one telephone book. Put your ad in as many as you can. A lot of the telephone companies will give you a discount for putting your ad in more than one listing or phone book.

There are also a few different types of “yellow pages” online where you can put your ad that is relatively low cost. Check out:

  • Yellowpages.com
  • Yellowbook.com
  • Superpages.com
  • Advertising.brightpages.com

Newspaper and Newsletter Advertising

Another excellent way to advertise your business is in your local newspaper. They offer box ads and advertising inserts. Some local newspapers will offer you special advertising to feature your local business. You will likely find discounts for agreeing to list your ad for multiple weeks or months as well.

If you have a new small business, do not neglect to put out a press release. These are usually free of charge, and it will introduce your business to the community. Check with your local newspaper for rates on press releases and any specials they may be running.

There are also lower cost newspapers, sometimes called Pennysavers that you can advertise in as well. These types of newspapers do not offer quite the exposure of metropolitan papers, but they are still quite effective, especially if you are a local business interested only in local customers.

Special interest newspapers can provide you with a target market as well. For instance, if you are selling medical equipment, a hospital newspaper or newsletter could be a good choice for you to advertise your business. Also check out rates on special interest websites that allow advertisers for their online newsletters.

Tip: Repetition advertising is very important. One-shot ads just don’t work very well.

Advertising through Direct Mail

Direct Mail is another option. There are a few places you can purchase mailing lists targeted to your market. If done properly, it can be very effective. You can mail promotional materials like “10% off” coupons, buy one get one free coupons, etc. Talk with your local postal office to get rates for Direct Mail, and the United States Postal Service website offers many great ideas for making Direct Mail a success.

Offering Promotions

Any time you send out an invoice, thank you card, or any other type of correspondence, put advertisement inside. Get customers coming back as well as new customers. Have them bring a friend for a discount. Put in discount coupons.

Do something a little extra for your existing customers. Give away little freebies. Customers really appreciate that, and will keep coming back. For example, you can set a bowl of candy at the checkout counter. If you sell artwork or do framing, give your customer a picture hanger for coming in or using your services.

Other Ideas

  • Hand out business cards.
  • Join a business organization in your area like your local Chamber of Commerce.
  • Vehicle advertising with large magnets.
  • Magazines and Ezines
  • Booths at trade shows

There are literally hundreds of ways to advertise your small business effectively, and within your budget. See what other small businesses are doing as well. And, never, never stop advertising. “Out of sight, out of mind” can kill your small business in a matter of time. Don’t let this happen to you.

Pat Mackaronis Presents Small Business Budget: Understanding the Financial Structure of a Venture

Small Business Budget

The following is a guest post to EB Band from Pat Mackaronis. Pat is the Director of Business Development for New York City-based social network Brabble. In this post, he dives into small business budgets, and how to properly understand the financial structures of business ventures.

Tally up these figures carefully. Put the sum in the plus column. Now add in any other income connected with the business for the month. Remember, the object is to stay ahead of expenses. Precisely, expenses should not exceed your monthly income. A plus figure should remain at the end of each month. Use this money to invest back into your small or home business.

Expenses

Now list all the expected fixed expenses for the month. These are the expenses that are regularly paid each and every month. These are not the luxuries or impulse items you might buy like an executive size desk chair or over priced office furniture or expensive art work. Fixed income expenditures might include your taxes, mortgages, insurance, payroll, car lease, furniture lease, equipment lease, advertising, marketing, office supplies.

Now tally up expenses. Place expenses in catagories. Such as debts, payroll, overhead, advertising, marketing, equipment. Look for spending patterns. Where is the money going? Is the overhead out of control. Majority of business money going to payroll? Spending too much on leasing equipment? Office supplies? Too much on travel expenses, even business lunches? Are the expenses more than inocme? Less than income? Use the findings to learn where the money drain is spiraling out of control.

For example, if the monthly small/home business income is $5,000 and total expenditures are $6,000, a financial problem exist. A problem that requires immediate action before the business is over it’s head in financial trouble. The business will never realize a profit until this problem is resolved.

Budgeting Strategies

When budgetingo save or invest back into your business remember you don’t always have to cut out an expenditure all together. Experts suggest trimming back to cure the financial drain. For example, Instead of hiring two full time staff members, hire one part time helper. Or instead of purchasing the most expensive supplies check out the local discount office supply stores. Exaimine the advertising budget. Perhaps this is where the money drain is strongest. For example spending $500 per month on advertising might be too much for any new home business budget. Find free advertising methods like word of mouth, or handing out flyers, business cards, brochures, writing a press release. Or place small ads in local publications instead of expensive ads in larger newspapers or magazines.

Predicting Expenditures

Use these findings to predict expenditures throughout the week, month, or even year. Of course this depends heavily on the business. If the business is seasonal. For example, around the holidays Business Owner X’s catering business explodes but is slow the rest of the year. Or Business Owner Y’s landscaping business best profits are during the spring, summer, and fall. Profits drop dramatically during the winter. The business owners should review and adjust the numbers taking into account these seasonal fluctuations.

Finally, Business owners should always seek professional help from financial advisors before major problems arise. Also check out the SBA website for more free information on planning a budget for any home based or small business.

Exit Strategies for Small Business: Have a Plan: Learn How to Exit Your Business in Style

Strategies for Small Business

Many of the world’s Baby Boomer entrepreneurs are approaching retirement. According to business brokerage Tabak, 40 percent of business owners aged 50-60 will be looking to sell within the next five to 10 years. Amazingly, very few of these individuals have any formal plans to get out of their business.

Most business owners have a vague idea of how they would like the relationship with their business to end. Many dream of heading up the company until retirement age before riding off into the sunset to enjoy the fruits of their labour. However, the prospect of other more complex and unexpected situations has to be taken into consideration. Ill health, divorce or the death or departure of a business partner may all necessitate the sale of a business.

Why You Should Have Your Exit Plan in Place as Early as Possible

Whatever the reason for selling, it is vital that business owners have a solid exit or succession plan in place well before the prospect of a sale is anywhere near the table.

Bruce Taylor, a director at Advantage Business, a New Zealand-based business advisory group comments:

“Business owners should be planning an exit strategy as soon as they have set up their business. It should be a part of the initial business plan. Unfortunately, not many small business owners actually do this.”

According to Bruce, planning an exit strategy in advance means that business owners can be prepared for any eventuality. They can be flexible and take advantage of any golden purchase opportunities that may arise.

Choices, Choices, Choices: Why Selling Up Doesn’t Have to Mean Getting Out Entirely

Bruce also revealed that there are a lot more choices for business owners than may be apparent initially. For instance, it may not even be necessary for a retiring business owner to give up their company entirely.

“Most business owners assume that they will have to sell the company. Once they have gone through the options with a business consultant they realise that there are many different possibilities and avenues to go down.

These options might include: hiring a manager and staying on at a director level, bringing in an active investor partner, selling parts of the business to key staff or getting family members involved.”

Get Top Dollar for Your SME

If you do decide that selling is the only option there are a number of things that you can do to make sure that you get the best price for your company.

“Preparation is the key to getting the best price for your business,” advises Bruce. “Prepare your business very carefully. Make sure that all the requirements are in place and that you have access to all the information that a buyer might need. Amongst other things, you will need a business overview, information on the marketplace and market potential, your advertising and marketing plan, any legal information, your financial history and insurance information. All of these details should be presented in a tidy and easily accessible format.”

The key to devising an effective exit strategy is a great deal of planning and an awareness of all possible scenarios. If you are thinking of selling your business in the next few years make sure that you are organised and prepared for any eventuality. Regularly monitor the market and the health of your business to ensure that you are in the best position possible should you decide to sell. If you follow this advice then you will be able to ride off into the sunset content in the knowledge that you made the right choices and achieved the best possible end result for both you and your business.