There are several types of loans available to business owners — so many, in fact, that the options can seem overwhelming and confusing, especially to smaller business owners without a lot of experience raising capital. This guide will help educate you on the options so you can make a more informed decision about financing your growing business while limiting added risk.
You’ve invested in Search Optimizing your website with better content, meta-code, and Social Media links. Traffic to your site has increased, and you’ve even started to receive more calls and orders. What’s next? The first thing to realize is that SEO is an open-ended process that is never really complete. It comes with victories and setbacks, and you need to be vigilant about the ways in which your web visitors interact with your site.
According to the Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration, “Currently, the Social Security Board of Trustees projects program cost to rise by 2035 so that taxes will be enough to pay for only 75 percent of scheduled benefits.” This bleak reality is not of great concern to the successful entrepreneur who may not need to rely heavily on social security benefits retirement. Yet, any potential reduction in social security benefits in the future is a serious threat to the well-being of the 28 million small business owners in America.
Obtaining financing from a bank or lender for your small business can be quite the task. That’s why it’s important to know when it’s the right time to do it. You may not get the results you want if you do it at the wrong time. Depending on your business goals and objectives, you may want to borrow money right away or bootstrap for as long as possible and borrow money later on down the line. Below are 4 questions you should ask yourself (and answer) to determine if you’re ready to borrow money for your small business (especially if it is a startup).
As businesses grow and develop, so do their intellectual property (IP) assets. And if these businesses are engaging in proper IP management, they are filing trademark and patent applications to protect their IP. However, because of the public nature of both trademark and patent prosecutions, one may get an inkling of their competitors’ business plans if they monitor these application filings. Though not a perfect way to predict the exact nature of your competitors’ future offerings, keeping track of IP filings can be a guide to where your competitors are moving.
Successful entrepreneurs have unique opportunities to plan for paying taxes in retirement. Learn more about how to create taxable and non-taxable assets.
Do you have a website? Do you have images on your website? Do you know where those images came from? Truly, do you? If you didn’t create the images yourself or you didn’t license the images from their owner, you are probably violating copyright infringement laws. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t know; innocent infringement is still infringement!
If the headline of this piece makes you nod in agreement, you’ll be surprised by what we have to say. Have you noticed, for example, that some of the most successful websites today, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google Images offer infinite scrolling? The truth is, the last time people had any difficulty scrolling was before the turn of the century, and the idea that websites should keep their information “above the fold” is an outdated myth.
My business partner, the author Jack Beauregard, and I recently had breakfast with Lorraine McGregor from Vancouver, BC Canada. Lorraine is the author of books on Exit Planning and Entrepreneurship, as well as an experienced business consultant. We were all discussing why so many business owners were delaying (the inevitable) transition planning from their businesses.
Unfortunately, owning a business does not make someone an expert in financing. The lenders are the ones who know the ins and outs of rates and terms and documents. To even out the playing field, it is important for a small business owner to ask the right questions and consider the following factors when deciding whether to refinance:
Managing the people side of a growing business is often just as difficult as managing operational challenges. From finding top talent to establishing and building a company culture, the human side of a business is a constant work in progress.
As businesses grow, one consideration leaders must wrestle with has to do with what is the best organizational structure. How many layers will the business have? At what point are other leadership roles outside of the CEO required? Answering these questions is essential if the business wants to continue to grow.
The world of “social media” has become a confusing crowd of personal and business pages, almost too many to name. There’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, not to mention Instagram, Tumblr, Yelp, and more. When online articles talk about the Top 10 and Top 15 Social Networking Sites, you know you’re in trouble. Who has the time? So here we are to tell you about Google Plus, aka “Google+,” and to encourage you to establish and use a Google Plus business page. Why invest your time in this social platform over some of the others? Well, the fact that it’s from Google should provide your first clue.
Business Valuation Experts come in many forms, and for a business owner it can be very difficult understanding the various designations. More importantly, when the business owner is in need of a valuation, understanding exactly what type of expertise is necessary and ultimately who to hire can become a daunting task.
If you are considering getting a patent, you should be familiar with the items that must be included in a patent application. Below is a detailed outline of the material you will need to prepare to patent your new invention.
Obamacare was promoted to the approximately 5.8 million small business owners in the U.S. as a mandate which would not apply to them, nor result in a penalty if they chose not to offer health insurance to employees. Unfortunately, for those same small business employers who previously offered health insurance coverage as part of an employee’s total compensation package there is no place to hide. Premiums are skyrocketing.
Many small business owners borrow money to start and grow their business. And is often the case those same business owners find themselves hitting credit limits established by banks and other lenders causing enormous growing pains for the business. Simply stated, running out of business capital when you’re growing a business is difficult at best.
Debt Service Coverage Ratio compliance often is required or necessitated by covenants in a bank loan agreement. A bank loan covenant regarding the debt service coverage ratio will specify the amount of income a business and/or its guarantor must generate relative to the debt principal and interest payments on an annual basis to remain in compliance with the covenant. The business owner, or his or her CFO or Controller, should monitor this ratio carefully on a monthly basis so the covenant is not unintentionally broken.
Finding money to grow a business has changed tremendously since the great recession. Whether sourcing capital in the form of debt, equity, or something in between, also known as mezzanine, it’s safe to say entrepreneurs have more multiple options than ever to pursue. That doesn’t make the task an easy one to accomplish. Unfortunately for the entrepreneur, the additional options have only served to increase the confusion surrounding their need for cash.
One of the many questions asked by entrepreneurs as they plan for the sale of their business is related to the Adjusted EBITDA definition.
When people come to talk with me about patenting their inventive idea, inevitably this question arises: “How long will it take to get a patent?” When I tell them it will probably take close to three years, their jaws drop in surprise. “Really, it’s going to take that long?!??!!?!” YEP.
Technology has done some amazing things to the small business financing space. It used to be that you would go to the bank and hope they would give you a loan. And we all know what happened with that 90% of the time. Prior to the Great Recession, we saw a rise in factoring and Merchant Cash Advances. But since then an “alternative” lending space has evolved rapidly.
Most individuals who consider themselves entrepreneurs believe they must start their own business to earn the title. However, what some do not realize is that the entrepreneurial spirit can be fulfilled in a variety of ways, not the least of which is purchasing an existing business. The following is a list of advantages for buying a business over starting one from scratch.
Today, web technologies like WordPress, Drupal, DotNetNuke, and Joomla allow website owners to make their own updates. No longer are you dependent on a webmaster to fit your changes into their schedule, and you’re not going to get a $100 bill for fixing a typo or updating a phone number either.
People often overlook the attitude of the buyer and how greatly it can affect the outcome of the deal. Confidence is key.
As markets recover post-recession, business owners are presented with growth opportunities. However, a business owner may not have access to the capital needed to execute on a growth strategy. Where does a business owner turn?
Suppose you are a key shareholder in a private company with sales in the $2M to $30M range. What percentage do you need to grow Sales in order to build a business that is 10 times bigger in 10 years – or 25.9%?
What can be branded? Names of businesses, associated logos, taglines, slogans, names of products, and even product shapes, sounds, smells, and colors can be part of your brand.
Many entrepreneurs faced with the demands on cash of a growing business are tempted to sell equity to outside investors, or perhaps give away stock to retain a valuable employee. Diluting your stake in this way may solve the immediate problem, but it can have unforeseen consequences when the business eventually is sold. Stockholders’ personal circumstances evolve in different ways over the lifetime of a company, and whatever the original intention everyone may not be on the same page when you are ready to sell.
You have endured multiple meetings with potential buyers. You’ve written dozens of emails and suffered through several rounds of negotiations to secure the best price and deal structure. At last you have decided on the offer to accept. That’s the worst of it over then? Think again – you have yet to experience the joys of due diligence and sale contract negotiation.
If you’re going to start up, you are bound to fail. This is not a primer to make sure you succeed, as there are many factors that can contribute to failure. But these are the biggest reasons why most startups fail.
If a customer’s total revenue for the year represents 8% or more of all revenue for the same year, you have a customer concentration risk.
If you’ve grown a valuable business, there is no doubt your employees are a big part of your success. You also know that hiring, training, and managing a great team of productive employees is a difficult task. And keeping your best employees is yet another accomplishment! But the painful truth is your competition would be very pleased to hire away your best employees.
For most companies, the end of the year is a time when employees and leaders go through the annual review process. This process is designed to rate performance for the year and, if applicable, apply a merit increase. Many companies consider this their performance management system. A true performance management system however is much more involved.
Check out the website of your favorite fast food chain and you will see most have multiple business entity structures noted in the fine print. For a large business, this practice has been commonplace for decades. It involves layering one form of a business entity either alongside or in conjunction with an operating business.
Banks include loan covenants in their loan agreements to preserve their position as lender and to improve the likelihood the loan will be paid back by the borrower on time and in full. A covenant is simply a fancy term for the word ‘promise.’
An intellectual property rights owner (licensor) authorizes certain rights to another (licensee) in exchange for an agreed payment in the form of either a fee or a royalty, or some combination of both.
When optimizing your website for search, you might wonder: Am I creating a site for search bots or for real people to use, and is there a difference?
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act there is a distinct difference between an independent contractor and an employee. This difference lies mainly in the way they are paid and the way taxes are withheld. Understanding the difference between them and times when both are appropriate to use can help business owners determine which is best for their situation.
The legal definition of a trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods and services. Most commonly we think of names and logos, but marks also include taglines, slogans, and even product shapes, sounds, smells, and colors.
To the business owner with a website, what happens in a Google search is a mystery. Why doesn’t your site show up when you do a search? What’s the magic formula for getting to the top of Google?
Often, business owners ask me one of those “quick questions” – what can I do to maximize the sale price of my business? The answer? Not as simple as you may think. But there are 4 factors that can increase the value of your sale price.
Entering into a new contract is an exciting time for any company. The agreement is signed with the hope that it will grow the business and result in a long, mutually beneficial relationship with the other side. While such optimism is warranted, the importance of entering into a legally sound contract is critical to the protection of your business.
EBIT is an acronym for Earnings Before Interest and Taxes. This is a term Bankers often use as a measure of a business’s earnings from operations. The EBIT reveals operating profitability without non-recurring or unusual income or expenses.
Entrepreneurship offers the most even tempered humans many challenges. One such challenge is managing the employee who is forever causing havoc. You know who they are. So does your spouse. One of my favorite clients calls them “high maintenance employees.”
The DBA is often misunderstood, but it can be a valuable way to structure a business and gain some protections of your rights as a business owner. However, you need to make sure you know the limitations of a DBA to protect your intellectual property and trademark rights.
A copyright protects the particular ways by which people expressed themselves. A copyright gives an owner the exclusive legal right to reproduce, publish, sell, or distribute an original creative work.
EBITDA is an acronym for Earnings Before Interest Taxes Depreciation and Amortization. EBITDA is often used as a measure of a business’s cash flow. Also it is used frequently in many business valuation formulas, depending on the business’s specific industry.
In part 1 of this series, we discussed the various options to incorporate multiple businesses while keeping each business as a separate entity. But what if you want to keep all of your businesses under one roof?
Profitability is directly related to a company’s gross revenue, particularly as it relates to its varied customer types. What does gross revenue mean to your company’s profitability? Everything. Let’s back up to review the concepts we’ve covered in previous posts so we may explore gross revenue further.
Recently I took my nine year old daughter and a carload of her friends to our town’s Volunteer Fireman’s Carnival for an evening of ferris wheels, funnel cakes, and laughter–of course! It was a Friday night after a long week. Truly, I would have benefited from a simple dinner at home to unwind from the week. Sound familiar? However, I intuitively knew that the laughter of those children was most important and desperately needed…so off we went.