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Archive for November, 2010

Using SMS Text Messaging for Business

1. News/Updates – Important and time sensitive customer updates can be sent directly to your opt-in client or customer using SMS! Plus, people like knowing stuff first. Send your customers updates about product launches, product updates or events. Consider a news text like a micro-newsletter with bite-size updates.

2. Emergency Notification – SMS is a great way to notify your group or team during an emergency. Send critical updates during natural disasters, last minute event location changes or just before your company’s all-hands meeting.

3. Promotions – Travel agents are using texts to their customer databases to highlight special offers and promotions, which can be tailored to individual preferences. Send a message with a unique discount code for customers to redeem. The exclusive code creates incentive to stay on the list for future promotions.

4. Contests – Launch a text messaging contest to your database with a text-to-win campaign. Try sending out a follow up text about the winner of the contest so customers will continue to enter for upcoming contests.

5. SMS Coupons – Use SMS coupons to give out specific coupons or coupon codes for a customer loyalty program. Also when coupled with in-store promotions, texting becomes a strong vehicle for small businesses with newer clientele.

6. Customer Service – Many offer customer support and problem resolution via text. Customers are also able to check order status, track their packages and receive back order notification alerts.

7. Events – Implement a text messaging marketing strategy to promote weekly meetups or networking events. Send out key logistic information like changes of venue or detailed parking instructions.

8. Non-profits & Causes – In Spain on the eve of Election Day in 2004, demonstrations were banned 24 hours prior to an election. Instead, protested rallied via text messaging, utilizing the country’s 94% mobile phone penetration rate in Spain. Start to rally volunteers who are mobile warriors supporting your next cause.

9. Lead Generation – Gyms worldwide are using mobile marketing to generate leads through stronger databases, send out new membership promotions and offer updates on new classes and class cancellations.

 

10 Tips for getting the most of out social networks for business

  1. Tweet/Facebook every day – at least once a day on Facebook, a few times a day on Twitter. Don’t overdo it on Facebook – people will ‘unike’ you or hide you!
  2. Don’t sell sell sell. Instead chat, interact, respond, RT, ask questions, and always be relevant.
  3. Follow back on Twitter – don’t be seen to be too important to follow back (just like in our everyday ‘offline’ world, people do not like being ignored and like to be noticed)
  4. Always thank your followers if they RT one of your tweets, always!
  5. Use a good application for tweeting, eg: Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, so you can set up relevant columns, to make it easier to not miss what you deem to be important tweets, like when someone ‘mentions’ you, DM’s you – do your very best to never miss these and always respond – always
  6. It’s ok to ‘sell’ yourself, every now and then, but not straight away, build a good list of followers first, build that rapport and trust – ask questions, answer questions and when the time is right, or if the subject comes up – sell, but do it ‘gently’ and in a friendly way
  7. If you blog, tweet your blog post, facebook your blog post, don’t miss the opportunity to spread the word
  8. If you have a Facebook page make sure you change the default setting from ‘Just Your Biz Facebook Page’ to ‘Your Biz Facebook Page & Others’ – there is nothing worse for somebody ‘Liking’ a new Facebook page only to be greeted by nothing other than what the page owner has pushed (and that’s what it looks like – being pushy) – ‘Likers’ want to feel part of a community, and see what they have said, what others have said, and then what you’ve said! They also want to see you responding to Likers questions & comments. Oh actually, there is something worse than seeing ‘Just Your Biz Facebook Page’, and that is when you click to ‘Your Biz Facebook Page & Others’ and see absolutely no interaction, posts or replies from the owner of the Facebook page – to me this is complete and utter ignorance – what goes through my mind is “they don’t get it”.
  9. Learn about FourSquare and start using it, and understanding how it can help your business.
  10. Finally, be patient (and don’t worry about the numbers, it’s about quality, not quantity) – it takes a while to build your network – at least 3 months to start getting traction, and put in the time, it’s worth it.

Cornerstones of Business Significance

The Cornerstones of Success and Significance are A Big Motivator and Three Corners.

  • The Big Motivator – or The Big Why – Lifetime Goals
  • Corner #1 – A simple Strategic Plan that runs the daily business
  • Corner #2 – Process Maps and Process Descriptions to create freedom and a reproduceable business (and make it worth a lot more money)
  • Corner #3 – Outside Eyes on your Business to catch the blindspots and bring balance and completeness to my leadership.
  1. The Big Motivator – Why? Why is the least asked question in business and is the most important at every level, from buying a shiny object (Why?) to the reason you do what you do (Why are you in business – what’s the end game?)Businesses that create success and significance for the owners and in the world around them have all answered why and are driven forward by that Big Motivator. What are your Lifetime Goals, and how are you building your business to get you there? Business should have a purpose – what’s yours?
  2. Corner #1 – Where and When? –  The second least asked question in business is “When?”I know exactly what my business looks like at maturity and I have a Business Maturity Date – Feb. 18, 2001, 10am. We all know exactly where we are going on vacation and when we want to be there, and that informs us what we need to do before hand, and how and what to pack. We go blissfully through 30 years of business ownership blindly packing the car of our business day after day with no idea where we are going or when we want to be there. How in the world can we make a decision about today if that decision lives in a vacuum? Is it any wonder most businesses never grow up? Do you have a simple Strategic Plan and a Business Maturity Date?
  3. Corner # 2 How? – Process Mapping is that route to freedom for the small business owner. It gets all the processes out of their head on to paper so they can create quality clones of themselves who will produce as well as they do, so they can stop being control freaks and get a life.A business owner who wants to create success for themselves and significance in the world around them with their business has others doing the production so they can focus on the Important things while others take care of the Urgent things. Do you have your processes mapped on a simple graph with some descriptions of each step? Business freedom is not within your grasp if it’s all in your head.
  4. Corner #3 – Outside Eyes on your business. None of us can figure it all out, and we’re too subjective about and too close to our own businesses to see the potholes.The business owners who are intent on using their businesses to create success and significance all have peer advisors, mentors, advisory groups, or others who can speak to their business. Who are you allowing to see behind the curtain who can help you build success and significance?

Summary

Do you have your Big Motivator and your Three Cornerstones? I know, you don’t have time to do this, which is why you’re still on the treadmill. There is no such thing as lack of time, there are only priorities. If getting off the treadmill is a priority, you’ll find the time to not just make money, but build a business that makes money for you, so you can turn your attention to creating success and significance, not just revenue.

The Importance of a Balance Sheet

The Balance Sheet for accounting is an extremely important and often used statement of entity condition. It shows the extent of entity ownership of assets, liability and equity at a given point in time. This point is the date on the statement. It is a physical representation of the ‘accounting equation.’ The equation states that at any point in time, the assets of the business are equal to the sum of the liabilities and owner’s equity. The equation also forms the basis of the statement structure, which mirrors the three aspects of the equation. The three parts are: 1) assets, 2) liabilities and 3) owner’s equity. Let’s look at each one.

Assets are anything that the business owns. We tend to consider assets to be land, buildings, vehicles, inventory and cash but they are also other things. The adding machines, computers, copyrights, patents, goodwill, time clocks, pens, wrenches, ladders, paper and copy machines are also included. This expands the definition to encompass all that the business has acquired by purchase or by owner contributions.

Liabilities – when doing accounting – on the other hand, are claims against the assets excluding the owner’s equity contributions. These claims can take several forms. Some are both short- and long-term loans, bills for utilities, rent, employee expenses, bonds, taxes and many other items. They reduce the total value of the assets. Interestingly, liabilities are very liquid. They change on a constant basis. For instance, widgets are purchased to sell, the business uses utilities to operate and cash or credit is needed to pay these outside demands.

Finally, there is the Owner’s Equity section of the Balance Sheet. This summarizes, in varying degrees of detail, who owns the business. For instance, if stock is issued, it will show what the stock is valued at and usually how many shares are outstanding. It is not unusual to see differing issues of stock and wide differences in the values. In simple businesses, the equity might just be divided between several partners. Though, the Balance Sheet probably won’t reveal the names of the partners and how much of the business each one owns. The ownership is usually specified in other documents related to the corporate records. But, this section will show an aggregate of the amounts.

The other important parts of the Owner’s Equity, in accounting, are related to the Income Statement. The Net Income, or Net Loss, is part of the equity portion. Typically there are two parts to it representing the previous retained earnings of the entity and another part, which represents present earnings. Together, they show how much the value of the business has increased, or decreased because of entity operations. If the business is operating at a loss, the Owner’s Equity is becoming less valuable and will show that the owners now have less equity that they had previously. If loss condition continues, the business eventually ceases.

The Balance Sheet is an extremely important statement in the accounting and will be found, sometimes several ways, in the company prospectus. It is also provided to various government regulatory agencies. They use them to assure the business is complying with laws, regulations and taxing requirements. Typically, there is an outside audit of this statement along with the Income and Cash Flow statements too. This provides an outside review and an opinion of how well the business is keeping their books. So, the Balance Sheet is an extremely important financial document.

Pros and Cons of Taking a Business Loan from a Bank

Every business needs a certain amount of money to start. The entrepreneur on the threshold of starting a  new venture, has to work out where and how he will get access to sufficient funds.

The first organization that he thinks of is his bank. Yes banks are almost always one of the first  organizations to be approached for funds in the form of a loan. It is here that harsh realities hit the  entrepreneur who soon learns how difficult it is to get a bank loan to finance his small business venture. A  select fortunate few, do manage to fulfill all the pre-requisites for a bank loan, and are successful in procuring them. But for every successful loan application there are many that get rejected. The tough regulations linked to bank loans are gradually undergoing a change with banks realizing the phenomenal potential of small businesses. This explains the special programs and additional services launched by big banks to woo small businesses.

Bank loans are just one of the various options available for small businesses to raise funds. The final decision about where to secure funds depends on the balance between the pros and cons of the source. Like all other funding sources, bank loans also come with their share of advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Bank Loans for Small Business

  • Convenient and accessible– Banks are always accessible since they are used regularly for depositing savings or withdrawing them. After being bank customers for years, the bank becomes convenient and familiar, and personalized service makes it the first place to consider for a loan.
  • Multiple Loan options– All banks advertise various types of schemes to woo entrepreneurs setting up or running a business. The real earnings for a bank come from the interest they charge on these loans. Options like term loans, standard business loans and others are available for the entrepreneur.
  • Non profit sharing– Venture capitalists and angel investors agree to provide a loan in exchange for part ownership, the right to influence decision making and a share of the profits. Banks do not ask for any of these. If they do sanction a loan, they are only interested in getting their interest and partial loan payment installments.
  • Lower rates of interest-Though tough to get, banks provide loans at lower rates of interest than other lending agencies and instruments like credit cards.
  • Bank loans offer tax benefits– Small businesses taking loans from banks enjoy some relief from tax, since the percentage of profits used to repay the loan is exempted from tax.

It is these advantages that prompt entrepreneurs to approach banks for one of the various loans offered.

Disadvantages

However, as mentioned before, getting a bank loan is not easy, and its disadvantages include:

  • Lengthy application process– banks need to verify all the credentials and details about the business before sanctioning a loan. Therefore its application process is very long and its review etc. takes a long time.
  • Cumbersome– The prospect of getting into the detailing that banks require is really cumbersome, and from the entrepreneur’s point of view, totally unnecessary.
  • Preference given to existing, running businesses– banks prefer running businesses because they can gauge its profitability and credit history before sanctioning the loan.
  • Long list of prerequisites to qualify for the loan– banks have long list of conditions that a business should fulfill before they clear the loan. It is sometimes not possible to meet all of them.
  • Risk of losing Collateral– bank loans are generally sanctioned against some collateral, often the entrepreneur’s house and property. This stands the risk of being lost to the bank should the business fail to take off.
  • Entire amount not granted– banks are known to not agree to grant the whole amount requested for a loan. They may grant 70 or 80 % of the sum applied for. This makes it difficult for the entrepreneur to begin since he has to scout around for the remaining balance and find agencies to funs that before he can start.

Thus it is the balance between these advantages and disadvantages that prompt people to approach banks for small business loans.

 

Email Marketing Tips

1. It’s all about relevance. Be interesting. Don’t be self-serving.

2. Keep it short and sweet so people read it immediately. “I’ll get to it later” is the kiss of death.

3. Don’t revert to your “formal” voice when writing. You’ve got a personality, show it.

4. Put a teaser in the email, and a link back to your website. Engage them there.

5. Links in the email are great because they’re trackable. You can figure out what’s working.

6. Once a month is about the right level of frequency for most small businesses.

7. Two things that get your email opened: #1: “From” and #2 “Subject”.

8. Most important: Be Empathetic!

Categories: Uncategorized

30,000′ View of Small Business Loan

A business can be large or small depending on factors like capital invested, the number of people, quantity produced and so on. A small business is generally one that is independently owned and operated by one or more individuals, is not one of the dominant players in that particular industry, and its size comes under the size limits defined by the regulatory authority of small businesses in the country.

In the U.S., the definition of a small business varies in every industry but according to the Small Business Administration, a small manufacturing business will have less than 500 employees, and non-manufacturing businesses will have less than $7 million in annual receipts.
Small business loans come at a price and also increase the element of risk involved. But loans become necessary to ensure cash flow, purchase assets like property, expansion of business, equipment or inventory purchase, or simply to have adequate working capital. A loan makes more sense than using all personal savings and resources.

Funding a small business can be either through self financing, taking loans from banks, financial institutions or even family and friends. A continuous flow of cash is crucial for the success of the business, but small business loans are not easy to come by, due to the stringent regulations for underwriting them. However, these are being relaxed by some banks gradually.

Small business loans can be taken from the following institutions or individuals:

Banks
Private financial institutions
Private foundations that give grants to specific businesses
Venture capitalists
Friends, family and associates.

There are various types of loans given these organizations, some of which are:

Franchise loan
Line of credit for business
Term Loan
Working Capital loan
Business equity loan
Equipment financing loan
Bridge loan
SBA loan
Inventory financing loan

These loans are not always substantial since small businesses have smaller cash requirements, and are typically low cost ventures. But getting a small business loan approved requires that the borrower is able to provide the following:

A sound business plan which also includes a detailed business description and projections of cash flow
Personal profile with qualifications and experience
Personal financial status statement
Credit rating of the business if already in operation, or credit history
Track record of taxes paid in previous years
Collateral that can be used to secure the loan

How the Government helps

A few government agencies help small business ventures by providing loans directly. In most instances government agencies do not give these loans directly to owners of businesses, but provide a guarantee to banks that in case of a default in payment due to the failure of the small business, it will pay a portion of the loan to the lending institution, be it a bank or any other organization.

Secondly, many government agencies provide expertise and advice to small businesses on how they can meet the required conditions to secure a loan, the kind of loan to take and the best institution to apply for a small business loan. All these contribute to the success of a small business.