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7 Small Business Loan Myths

Obtaining a loan for your small business is no easy feat, but it doesn’t have to be an insurmountable challenge. Small business lending experts agree that the best way to avoid trouble is to prepare for the challenges that the application process may present.

“A lot of the frustration around obtaining small business financing can be eased by doing your due diligence,” said Michael Adam, founder and CEO of Bankmybiz, a site that connects business owners with business funders. “Be prepared, and have all your documents ready to present to lenders.”

Although low credit scores might have precluded you from getting a loan in years past, today’s lending environment is more open to subpar credit ratings.

“While traditional banks may be restrictive when it comes to obtaining credit, there are alternative options,” said Michael Kevitch, president and founder of Small Business Funding.

Alternative lending sites such as Small Business Funding tend to base lending decisions on the financial realities of a business

5 Business Plan Competitions for Entrepreneurs

 The entrepreneurial spirit is rooted in innovation and competition. Given this drive to succeed, it’s no wonder that competitions rewarding entrepreneurs for their business plans and pitches are popping up all over the country.

Throughout the year, schools and organizations allow early stage startups and aspiring entrepreneurs to present their new business ideas and plans to panels of industry-renowned judges, for a chance to win some much-needed funding. Even if these entrepreneurs don’t win the grand prize, the competitors still get the opportunity to network with leaders and innovators in their industries, and share ideas with fellow entrepreneurs and mentors.

Location: Waco, Texas

The Baylor New Business Venture Competition features current students and recent alumni of any accredited university across the nation competing in one of two tracks: consumer and internet technology companies, and nontechnology companies. Companies in the technology track must fall into categories such as internet security, social media and mobile commerce. There is a preliminary round, followed by three presentation rounds. The top teams from both tracks will compete against each other for the cash grand prize of $60,000.

Location: Savannah, Georgia

The Creative Coast’s FastPitch competition offers

Basics Right to Getting LeaderShip

 In addition to the everyday challenges of being a CEO, each leader wrestles with making a product composed of multiple commodity ingredients subject to fluctuations in price and availability. Each faces tough competition that requires striking a balance between cost and quality. Each has intricate distribution channels where things can go awry. And both are succeeding by getting these five often-overlooked fundamentals of leadership right.

Hire people who can find meaning through your business. You may think that because everyone loves chocolate, everyone wants to work for a chocolate company. But it is Divine Chocolate’s social mission, not its product, that makes it distinct and draws talent. Tranchell said she seeks to work with people who are “passionate and curious” and want to change the world for the better. She looks for an entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to see “the mission impact along with the business impact.”

Conversely, you may think that it is tough to find top talent longing for a career in concrete. But in an increasingly digital world, working with a tangible, durable product has appeal, said Sandbrook. He tries to find people who

7 Free Business Plan Templates for Startups

Bplans.com, known as the authority on business plans, offers a free Word business plan template, complete with instructions and a table of contents. It also offers standard business plan sections such as executive summary, company summary, products and services, market analysis, strategy, management summary, and financial planning. Once you register, you will be able to download the materials and choose from a wide range of businesses in different industries in which to base your plan. Whether your business is online, service-based, or a food establishment, Bplan’s Word business plan templates are comprehensive and are a great option for beginners and new business owners.

Entrepreneur.com provides business tools, with a collection of business plans free in PDF, PowerPoint and Word. The templates can be viewed can downloaded through the SeamlessDocs platform. The site includes a template for a variety of specific business types, a business plan model that outlines the different parts of a business plan, and customizable templates that allow users to add their logos and business information. If you need a guide to writing a business plan, Entrepreneur.com also provides a download for that.

This step-by-step business

2 Business Plan to Start Your Business

First things first

Crafting a business plan doesn’t just help you create a blueprint of your business goals and expectations, it’s also an opportunity to reflect on how you’re going to meet those objectives. Before you jump into writing your business plan, there are several things you can do to better create a business plan that best sets your company up for success.

1. Be honest with yourself

According to Hull, entrepreneurs need be realistic when it comes to planning their businesses. This means addressing both opportunities and challenges your business might face, for instance, by identifying the best and worst case scenarios. “If you’ve got a strong idea, let it stand on its merit,” he wrote.

2. Be concise

A business plan should get straight to the point. You should avoid any fillers and get rid of any fluff. “Even if it sounds nice, fluff gets you nowhere and wastes space. Plus, no investors want to read a long business plan,” Hull wrote.

3. Be creative

Just because a business plan shows you’re serious about your business doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. One way to make your business plan more entertaining — and thus grab more attention

Extra Service for Small Business Bank Loan

As small businesses hire more employees, a bank-offered payroll service may simplify bookkeeping for busy small business owners.

“If you don’t quite have the budget for an independent bookkeeper, many financial institutions offer access to payroll software or services to help you get things done,” said Jennifer Martin, small business coach and owner ofZest Business Consulting.

Payroll services are also offered by independent payroll companies. Before signing up for the service through your own financial institution, compare the features of bank-offered programs against those offered by outside companies,advised Rohit Arora, CEO of Biz2Credit, an online credit resource for small businesses.

One new feature popping up in banking packages is fraud insurance coverage.

“Fraud insurance is provided by the lending institution to prevent any loss in the business checking account because of fraudulent transactions,” Arora said.

Arora explained that fraud insurance is important for business checking accounts in which more than one person has access to the account, especially when the accounts normally have multiple transactions on a daily basis.

If you’ve been thinking about offering

5 Ways to Getting a Small Business Loan

Small business owners looking for capital may want to spend some time preparing for the process.  That’s because, Marc Scheipe, chief financial officer at Sage North America, says preparation can make all the difference in whether a company receives the funding they desire.

Scheipe, a former small business owner himself, says that prepared businesses going through the financing process have a better chance of gaining loan approval. To help businesses in their journey, Scheipe offers the following tips to small business owners.

  • Provide detailed information— Don’t skimp on specifics with banks. Show exactly how you will use the requested funds and how much you need to accomplish your goals.  Lenders appreciate attention to detail and preparedness when it comes to the facts.  For example, if you are looking to purchase a new piece of equipment, provide quotes on the exact costs, how much capital you need to facilitate this purchase and specifically how the new equipment will help grow your business.
  • Be prepared to share your financial information – all of it – Provide your lender with all the financial background on your company, future growth plans, and often your personal financial information.  By offering

Tips to Launch Your Own Clothing Line

Matthew Johnson, owner and designer at Seventhfury Studios andSeventh.Ink Shirts and Apparel, founded Seventh.Ink in 2007 as a way to showcase his artwork on clothing. Before he began producing and selling his shirts, hoodies and accessories, which includes patches, pins, and art, he took the time to learn everything he could about the fashion industry.

“It really does pay to do your research,” Johnson told Business News Daily. “Read articles and interviews from your favorite brands, talk to those brands and check out websites like How to Start a Clothing Company (HTSACC) to get as much insight as you can.”

In an article for Entrepreneur, contributor Toby Nwazor said that knowing where to produce the clothing line is an extremely important decision because the clothing line’s initial quality will be what the business’ reputation is based on, for better or for worse.

The fashion market has always been a crowded one, so to stand out, you need something truly unique. Albam Clothing, a U.K.-based menswear brand started in 2006, started with co-founder Alastair Rae and his business partner designing with eight original styles,

7 Business Ideas for Food Lovers

Farm-to-table restaurateur

If you’re an avid home chef, you know fresh ingredients make the best meals. Nothing says fresh, healthy and local like a farm-to-table restaurant. What’s more, owning a successful farm-to-table restaurant helps support local farmers, thereby strengthening your community through the love of healthy, fresh foods.

Jams & preserves maker

There are few foods that are easier to hand-make and package in large quantities than jam. With access to a steady supply of high-quality fruits and mason jars, you can go into the jam-making business in no time. First, build a repertoire of tried-and-true jam recipes. Then create branded labels and sell your goods at local fairs, farmers markets and events.

Catering

Have you ever hosted a dinner party or holiday meal and found yourself barely able to enjoy it because of all the preparation? If you’re a skilled home cook that can create delicious meals for a large group of people, you can help alleviate the stress of planning and preparing food for parties as a caterer. While bigger events like weddings and Sweet 16s might be hard to handle without a team, you could likely handle smaller home gatherings

7 Small Business Ideas

Online retailer

You don’t have to be a big-box retailer to start an online store. Whether you sell directly to consumers or use a drop-shipping service, all you need is a website and the right e-commerce software to get started. You can sell your own products or items from niche suppliers.

Event planner

Do you love throwing parties and organizing meetings? Start an event-planning business and turn your passion into a profitable venture. As an event planner, you can help individuals and corporations plan their need to be resourceful and have a keen eye for detail. You will also need the patience to deal with clients’ demands and the ability to stay calm during stressful situations and unforeseen disasters.

Yard work

Got rake, will travel? Most landscapers will cut grass, but they don’t necessarily do the stuff that most homeowners don’t have time to do themselves, such as weeding, planting, leaf raking, snow shoveling, hanging or removing holiday decorations. With little more than some work gloves and a ladder, you could be in business in no time.

Computer maintenance

Got a tech background? With the proliferation of tablets, smartphones and laptops for every member of the family, there are lots of opportunities to provide private computer services

6 Handmade Business Ideas

3D printed figures and art

With the advent of cheap, quality 3D printers, so to has a class of 3D artisans arisen. Whether it’s cartoon or video game characters or decorative works of art, 3D printers represent a new medium that allow artists to try new things and that shoppers will love.

To 3D print your own creations, you’ll need some design knowledge. However, you can easily get started with scores of open source designs available for free online. Experiment with all sorts of different prints to cater to all sorts of tastes and fandoms!

Knitting and crocheting

Handmade scarves, hats and blankets are big sellers in the online marketplace. Wholesale yarn is relatively inexpensive, and depending on how quickly you can knit, you’ll be able to build up your inventory and spend more time marketing your store. Once you’ve mastered the basics of this art, you can move on to designing your own unique, colorful patterns. Don’t know how to knit or crochet?

Baked goods

If you frequently find yourself whipping up a batch of cookies to stave off boredom, why not get paid for it by opening a bakery? Find

5 Smart Business Ideas for 2017

Estate sales

People regularly need to liquidate the contents of their homes, whether it’s in the event of an inheritance, the result of a divorce, or just a regular old move. That’s where estate sales come in.

You don’t have to be a licensed appraiser (though it helps) to price out a home and organize a sale. Once you’ve established prices for all of the contents for sale, advertise and organize a day to bring in members of the public to buy the products. In the end, you can take a tidy percentage of the gross sales, and the homeowner walks away happy, without the headache of getting rid of all their stuff.

Cannabis licensing consultancy

With both the legal and medicinal cannabis markets continuing their rapid growth, now is a great time to start a cannabis licensing consultancy. Once you familiarize yourself with the different state regulations and the major players in the approval process, you’re ready to start helping dispensaries and grows attain their licenses and approvals.

According to Medical Marijuana Inc. the medicinal market alone in 2015 was worth nearly $600 million. Add to that the continuous legalization of recreational

10 Great Home Business Ideas

Work from home

There’s no place like home, so how can you start a successful business that allows you to work from the comfort of your own abode? Working from home isn’t just a nice perk, it can also be lucrative if you break into the right line of work. In this countdown, Business News Daily takes a look at these 21 great ideas for home-based businesses to help inspire you to found the next big company right from your own living room.

Electronics recycling

Even though consumers are constantly upgrading their phones, tablets, laptops and other electronic devices, a lot of people still don’t understand how important it is to recycle their old electronics. According toDoSomething.org, 20 million to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed of worldwide each year, and only 12.5 percent of e-waste is recycled. Allow people to drop off their unwanted electronics at your home, or go mobile and offer a pickup service. In addition, you could help your customers back up their files and clear sensitive information from their devices as well.

Massage therapist

Becoming a massage therapist requires proper training and licensing, but if you’re

Tips to Start Photography Business

Quality photography equipment is notoriously expensive, so you’ll want to start off with the minimum: Buying a $5,000 lens doesn’t make sense if your business isn’t making money yet. Many professional photographers say to plan on budgeting about $10,000 to start your photography business.

According to professional photographer Austen Diamond, “building slow and smart” will help you stay nimble. Allow the organic growth of your business to fund gear improvements, and avoid debt if possible, he said.

Based on interviews with professional photographers, here is a basic budget for starting your business, not including studio or office space. All prices are yearly estimates or one-time purchases.

Our expert sources offered the following advice for building your personal brand and reputation as a professional photographer.

Your person and gear: If you work with people, you are your brand. Even the little things affect your reputation, and most of your business will come by word-of-mouth referrals. When you go to a shoot, dress appropriately. Iron your shirt. Wash your car. Be organized. Bring your own water and snacks. Charge your electronics. Thank-you and referral

8 Business Ideas for the Pet-Obsessed

Want a ready-made business concept that lets you work with dogs on a daily basis? Consider becoming a franchisee of a top-rated pet care company likeCamp Bow Wow, Dogtopia or K-9 Resorts. These doggy boarding facilities allow you oversee the care of dogs while their humans are at work or on vacation. While boarding and daycare make up the bulk of revenues, some franchises let you offer additional services like pet grooming to generate more income. Professional training is provided for franchisees, so your customers can rest assured that they’re leaving their pooches in good hands.

Don’t want to open a brick-and-mortar location, or spend the money to invest in a franchise? Spread the word to friends and neighbors that you’re available to watch their pets in your own home. People often feel more comfortable leaving their pets in the care of an individual rather than placing pets in a boarding facility, so getting referrals shouldn’t be too difficult. Some states require a pet care certification to board animals in your home, so be sure to check and comply with your local ordinances before officially opening for

6 Smart Retirees Business Ideas

Many new business ideas well-suited for retirees harness the power of the internet, as long as you don’t let technology intimidate you.

“Online businesses are truly some of the best types of businesses for people over 50, but they need to get over their fears,” said Diane Eschenbach, owner of startup consultancy firm DE Consultants and author of “How to Quickly Start a Business Online.”

One simple new business option involves researching and compiling information on websites.

“One of my favorite types of online businesses for the ‘post-50 group’ is curation sites,” said Eschenbach.

As people get older, the time invested in activities (such as a new business venture) becomes very important, said Eschenbach. She is a big fan of the idea of retirees learning to use technology because of the time saved by automated programs, but she stresses the importance of choosing a business you enjoy.

“The key to a great retirement is doing what you love and finding a way to monetize it quickly,” said Eschenbach. [See Related Story: New Business Idea? How to Test Before Launching ]

Retirees considering starting businesses should start by thinking about

5 Business Ideas for Fashion

Putting on a fashion show is no easy feat. Fashion event producers works with designers and models to help put together a show, and may even help coach runway models.

“You would help the designer with runway show casting and have an understanding of how clothes should be portrayed on the body and how the models should carry themselves,” said Kerry Bannigan, founder of Nolcha, a New York-based fashion event production company.

While startup costs are minimal – you won’t need employees or even an office – you will need to do some heavy self-promotion. Relationships and referrals are key for this type of work, Bannigan said. Business cards and a user-friendly website showing an online portfolio are a mus,t as well as a printed portfolio. Networking through industry websites is also essential, she said.

Before you embark on this career, you should understand fashion shows, have the ability to work with the creative-minded people and be flexible enough to deal with diverse personalities, Bannigan said. Income potential is based on the number of clients you have and how big they are.

This

Smart Strategies to Sartup your Dollars

Initial startup costs are some of the biggest expenses a new business owner will have to encounter. Before you turn a profit, there are many parts of the business that need to be covered up front, and entrepreneurs don’t always anticipate some of these expenses.

To reduce your startup costs and stretch your dollars a little farther, follow these tips.

A simple way to save money as a new business owner is to set spending and expense limits. However, a surprising number of business owners don’t have a formal budget, said Carissa Reiniger, founder of small business support community Thank You Small Business.

“There is so much power in knowing what is going on in your business, for better or for worse,” Reiniger told Business News Daily. “Managing the finances of my business is not something I naturally enjoy, so I’ve put rules in place to help me stay on track. I advise setting up a standard time every week or month for reviewing and managing your budget.”

Angie Segal, an ActionCOACH business coach, advised entrepreneurs to factor their own salary into the budget as

The Most Affordable Cities for Startups

For the second year in a row, cities in the South give entrepreneurs the best chances to keep their startup costs low, while big cities remain among the most expensive places to start a new business, new research finds.

The study from SmartAsset revealed that nine of the 10 cheapest cities to start a new business in are in southern states, including three in Tennessee.

To find the cities with the lowest startup costs, SmartAsset collected data on the typical costs of starting and running a business in 80 of the largest cities in the United States. They calculated the total expected startup costs over the first year of operation for a company based on five factors:

  • 1,000 square feet of office space.
  • The cost of gas and electricity for a 1,000-square-foot office.
  • The average cost of filing fees for either incorporation or filing as an LLC.
  • Legal and accounting fees.
  • Payroll costs for five full-time employees, earning the city’s median annual salary.

Topping this year’s rankings of the most affordable cities for startups is Chattanooga, Tennessee. The city is attractive for entrepreneurs looking to save money because of its relatively low costs for office space and employee payroll.

Way to Engage Your Board on Strategy

The amount of time board directors spend on strategy has been rising for at least the last decade. And most directors I work with want to commit even more time to this type of work. But in a previous post, I argued that CEOs need something other than the annual planning process and off-site to involve their directors in shaping strategies. They need what I call dynamic engagement.

Here’s how dynamic engagement works: Whether it’s monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly, the CEO and board carve out regular time to work together on an ongoing, prioritized agenda of strategy issues and opportunities. At any point in time, this entails one or more of the following:

• Deciding which particular issues and opportunities have potentially strategy-changing implications for the company, and which need to be addressed now

• Agreeing on how to frame each issue/opportunity (a well-framed statement, based on an agreed-upon set of facts, that calls for a rethink of the strategy in some important way)

• Generating alternative responses to each particular issue/opportunity (the ideal number of alternatives is two or four — an even number to prevent defaulting to a middle-of-the-road fudge, and no