Wednesday, December 13, 2017

3 Lessons “The Good Place” Can Teach Entrepreneurs

Eleanor Shellstrop has died and woken up in the afterlife, which looks a lot like an average suburban neighborhood. It’s sunny, full of frozen yogurt shops, and the residents get a customized home to live in, built by a local architect named Michael.

Eleanor is in what’s referred to as “The Good Place,” but there’s just one problem. Michael tells Eleanor she was accepted because she spent her life on Earth helping others selflessly … only Eleanor never did that. She’s actually a bad person in a perfect utopia.

Now, she has to hide her imperfect past from everyone she meets, from her assigned soul mate to Michael himself, because she’s guaranteed to be sent to “The Bad Place” if she doesn’t.

I know what you’re thinking—what does a TV show with an afterlife premise have to do with entrepreneurship? Without spoiling too much, here are some of the lessons “The Good Place” can offer entrepreneurs at every stage of their business.

good-place

Kristen Bell (Eleanor) and Ted Danson (Michael) star in “The Good Place.”

1. If you need help, ask and you’ll receive it.

While Eleanor is in The Good Place, she gets to know more of its residents including her assigned soulmate, Chidi, the philanthropist Tahani, a silent monk named Jianyu, and Janet, a programmed guide who provides everyone in The Good Place with requested information.

Eleanor spends the most time with Chidi, a former ethics professor who promises to keep Eleanor’s secret and teach her how to become a better person. She also relies on Janet to answer questions she has about The Good Place and to keep the questions she asks confidential.

When entrepreneurs need help, the best thing they can do is surround themselves with a network of professionals that can assist them. These may include close friends and family, mentors, or personal/financial advisors who have all been there before and have plenty of experience to benefit you and your business.

2. Don’t let imposter syndrome take control.

Imposter syndrome—or the fear that you’ll be exposed as a fraud despite having existing accomplishments—follows virtually every major character in The Good Place. When strange things start happening in the neighborhood, Michael recruits Eleanor to help him investigate what’s going on. Eleanor knows that she’s the reason why all of those things are happening and nervously agrees to help, even though she risks her true nature coming out as a result.

No matter how accomplished you are as an entrepreneur, allowing imposter syndrome to creep in has the potential to harm you on a psychological level. Don’t let this to happen to you!

Eleanor’s tactic to keeping herself from being found out is by distracting Michael from his investigation as much as possible. For entrepreneurs, the key to triumphing over imposter syndrome ranges from embracing making mistakes to focusing on strategic steps they can take to reach big goals. Have faith in your own abilities and be ready and willing to keep learning.

3. Find the members of your own “Team Cockroach.”

As spoiler-free as I can make this sentence, Team Cockroach is the name of Eleanor’s squad including Chidi, Tahani, and Jianyu. They might look mismatched on the surface, but each member brings a special talent to the group that allows them to truly work together as a team.

Eleanor wouldn’t be able to go it alone in The Good Place without the help of her team members, and the same can be said for entrepreneurs. At the start they might try to do everything on their own, but attempting to wear a lot of different hats successfully wears thin on anyone. Make a point of recruiting talented people who understand elements of your business that you don’t. Together, you’ll ultimately help grow the small business to new heights that it might not have reached otherwise.

The post 3 Lessons “The Good Place” Can Teach Entrepreneurs appeared first on Fundera Ledger.



from Fundera Ledger https://www.fundera.com/blog/good-place

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Transforming Poor Performers into Positive Workplace Contributors

In a perfect world, hiring mistakes would never be made. Managers would effortlessly scout out the top talent, the most motivated and forward-thinking among the pack. Back over here in reality though, we know that perfection isn’t possible. Even when you hire crewmembers who have seemingly boundless initiative and drive, outside factors — kids, family,... Read more

The post Transforming Poor Performers into Positive Workplace Contributors appeared first on Kabbage Small Business Blog.



from Kabbage Small Business Blog https://www.kabbage.com/blog/transforming-poor-performance

How to Create a Small Business Marketing Budget (With Free Templates!)

Developing a small business marketing budget is a critical step in any marketing plan. Without one, you’ll run the risk of over- or under-spending on marketing—and seeing an impact on your bottom line.

Coming Up with a Small Business Marketing Budget

Every small business must invest in marketing in order to grow. But how much should you spend on marketing, and what should you spend it on?

These questions can be tough to answer for new small business owners with no previous experience in creating a small business marketing budget.

The following steps will help startup entrepreneurs and other novices devise a small business marketing budget that works.

1. Start with a marketing plan.

Your marketing plan is the what, why, and how of your marketing. It outlines your overall strategy and the tactics you’ll use to hit your goals (more on goals in the next step).

Your marketing plan (which should be part of your business plan) details how you will market your business to attract your target customer base. Oftentimes, this is also where you’ll define your target customer. Your marketing plan includes the marketing channels you will use (social media, online advertising, print advertising, etc.), along with specific tactics and cadence.

2. Set goals for your marketing.

What do you want to achieve? Pinpointing your goals will help you determine where you need to put most of your budget. Once you’ve set your goals, you can backtrack to assign tactics and budget to the goal. For example, as a new business, you need to focus on marketing tactics that generate brand awareness to help build buzz around your business.

4. Calculate your total small business marketing budget for the year.

There’s no hard and fast rule as to how much money a business should budget for marketing. It depends on your industry, stage in business, profit margins, and annual sales. Know this:

  • Many businesses base their marketing on a percentage of their gross revenues. The benefit of this approach is that your small business marketing budget will rise along with your sales. However, keep in mind that marketing generates sales—not the other way around. That means a startup business needs to budget a disproportionate percentage for marketing compared to its sales.
  • To calculate your marketing budget, look at your sales projections for your first year in business. (This should be part of your business plan.) Industry organizations, trade associations, publications, and websites will have benchmark information about the average marketing budget in your industry.

Small Business Marketing Budgets Are Up

Overall, businesses are spending more on marketing. Last year, the average marketing budget increased for the third year in a row, according to the Gartner 2016-2017 CMO Spend Survey. The average business in the survey (which included both B2C and B2B companies) spent 11% of its total budget and 7.5% of its total revenues on marketing and advertising.

Once you’ve estimated your annual marketing budget, use your marketing plan to fine-tune it. Be realistic: If your budget isn’t large enough to cover all the elements of the marketing plan you had in mind, look for ways to do more with less. For example, could you run fewer paid ads and focus on free marketing like organic social media or organic SEO?

marketing-budget

Of course, even “free” marketing tactics have time costs associated with them. Creating social media posts, monitoring them and responding to social media followers, for example, can take hours a day. Paid marketing and advertising tactics might have a better ROI than free tactics—even when you factor in their cost.

Speaking of ROI, you must monitor the results you get from your marketing efforts. This is easier than ever to do, thanks to analytics tools that track the performance of your website, your social media posts, and your marketing emails. As you see which types of marketing work best for your business, you can adjust your marketing budget to focus more of your investment where it will get the best results.

Now that you’ve created a marketing budget, commit to it. Many new business owners get nervous and pull back on marketing the minute their sales dwindle even a little. That’s the worst thing you can do: After all, marketing is what grows your sales.

Where to Find Free Budgeting Templates

Need help crafting your small business marketing budget? Try these free, downloadable templates.

(Disclosure: SCORE is a client of my company.)

The post How to Create a Small Business Marketing Budget (With Free Templates!) appeared first on Fundera Ledger.



from Fundera Ledger https://www.fundera.com/blog/marketing-budget

Monday, December 11, 2017

Is It Ever Okay to Carry a Credit Card Balance?

Every business owner gets the idea—pay off your credit card balances on time, every time, or you could end up in a serious hole of debt. Plus, derogatory marks on your personal credit card that come from not paying your balance in full on time are certainly not ideal, either.

Of course, paying off all your balances on time and in full every single month is the goal, but what if it’s not quite realistic?

Though it’s not ideal, having to carry a credit card balance certainly isn’t the end of the world. And this is especially true if you’re smart about how you carry your credit card balance.

Let’s take a look at situations in which it’s totally okay to carry a credit card balance:

TL;DR: When Is It Okay to Carry a Credit Card Balance?

The long and short of it?

Not carrying a credit card balance is ideal, but having to carry a credit card balance is sometimes an unavoidable reality.

If you have to carry a credit card balance, then it’s important you’re strategic about it. Carrying a credit card balance from month-to-month during a 0% intro APR period won’t cost you a single cent or a single credit score point—as long as you’re smart about it.

Find your perfect 0% intro APR card, and learn the four ultimate steps to carrying a smart credit card balance by reading the full article.

The Rundown on Having to Carry a Credit Card Balance

As you likely already know, carrying a credit card balance is best to avoid if you can.

To be clear, carrying a credit card balance can have a lot of adverse effects on your personal financial health and your business’s financial health.

Let’s take a look a look at the general consequences of not paying off your credit card bills in full:

1. It can cost you . . . a lot.

It bears repeating—when you carry a credit card balance, it can end up costing you a lot.

In order to discourage carrying a balance, credit cards come with high APRs on any balance you carry from month to month. At their lowest, credit cards’ base APRs are in the low teens, and at their highest, they can be in the 30s.

As such, if you carry a credit card balance, you can end up accumulating a huge sum of interest you’ll need to pay off along with your original balance.

2. It can seriously ding your personal credit score.

Even more, if you don’t pay off your credit card balance in full, your personal credit score—and potentially even your business credit score—could suffer accordingly.

If you carry a credit card balance from month to month, it could result in what credit bureaus call “derogatory marks.” This means that they’ll report your activities to credit bureaus, and negative activities, like carrying a balance, will affect your credit score negatively.

3. It’s not ideal, but sometimes it’s necessary.

Nevertheless, never carrying a credit card balance is much easier said than done. Sometimes business owners simply have to carry a credit card balance.

And that’s totally fine.

That said, though carrying a credit card balance might be necessary, it’s crucial to do it with a plan in place to make sure your personal and business finances come out of it as unscathed as possible.

Let’s take a look at your ultimate game plan for carrying a smart credit card balance:

Need to Carry a Credit Card Balance? Look for Cards with a 0% Intro APR Period

First and foremost, if you’ll need to carry a credit card balance in the near future, you should find and apply for a credit card with a 0% intro APR period.

What is a 0% intro APR period, you ask?

Well, a 0% intro APR period is a perk that many business credit cards offer during your first months as a cardholder. For however long your 0% intro APR period is, your credit card will have a 0% intro APR.

carry-a-credit-card-balance

This means that you’ll be able to carry a balance from month-to-month without accumulating a single cent of interest. Of course, there are some stipulations to this perk—you’ll need to still make your minimum payments on time, and you can’t go over your approved credit limit. If you make a late payment or outspend your credit line, you could forfeit your intro period.

That said, 0% intro APR periods are still an amazing choice for business owners who need to make a big ticket investment and pay it off gradually over a few months. Here are some of the best business credit cards on the market for 0% intro APR periods:

The American Express Blue Business Plus

The American Express Blue Business Plus credit card offers the longest 0% intro period. With this business credit card you’ll have a staggering 15 months of a 0% APR on any balance you carry from month to month as long as you make your minimum monthly payments on time.

On top of the money you’ll save in avoided interest, you’ll also be able to earn rewards points with the Blue Business Plus:

  • For the first $50,000 your spend annually, you’ll see a return of 2 points per dollar.
  • After that $50,000 cap, you’ll continue to earn 1 point per dollar you spend, with no limit to how many points you can earn at this rate.

Plus, the Blue Business Plus will only report your activities to business credit bureaus. As such, your personal credit score won’t suffer if you have to use a high percentage of your available credit.

The best part?

You won’t have to pay an annual fee to be able to access all of the perks that the Blue Business Plus.

What could be better than free earnings for simply investing in your business?

The Chase Ink Business Cash

The next top 0% intro APR period card on our list is the Chase Ink Business Cash. Though its 0% intro APR period—at 12 months—doesn’t quite measure up to the Blue Business Plus’s 15-month 0% intro APR period, the Ink Cash offers a few perks that could potentially turn a blind eye to those three extra interest-free months.

When you spend with the Ink Cash, you’ll not only get access to a welcome bonus in the form of a 0% intro period, you’ll also have an opportunity to access a welcome bonus of cold, hard cash. If you spend $3,000 during your first three months with the card, you’ll earn a welcome bonus to the tune of $300 cash back.

The Ink Cash also delivers when it comes to sustained rewards:

  • For its top earning category, you’ll get 5% cash back for the first $25,000 you spend annually at office supply stores and on cell phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services.
  • For the Ink Cash’s middle tier of cash back rewards, you’ll earn 2% cash back for the first $25,000 you spend at gas stations and restaurants every year.
  • Outside of those categories and beyond their spending caps, you’ll earn an unlimited 1% cash back on every dollar you spend with the Ink Cash.

All of these rewards, along with the second longest 0% intro APR period on the market, are available for no annual fee at all.

The American Express SimplyCash Plus

Last up on our list of top 0% intro APR cards is the American Express SimplyCash Plus business credit card. This is another cash back card with a shorter 0% intro APR period but plenty of cash back rewards to make up it.

At nine months, the SimplyCash Plus’s 0% intro APR period doesn’t quite measure up to its competitors. However, with its substantial cash back welcome bonus and sustained rewards, the SimplyCash is still a main contender for the best 0% intro APR business credit card out there.

When you sign on as a cardholder, you’ll have the opportunity to earn a welcome bonus of up to $400 cash back. First, you’ll earn $200 when you spend $5,000 during your first six months with the card. Then, if you spend $10,000 during your first year with the card, you’ll earn an additional $200.

As for sustained rewards, the SimplyCash Plus offers both high returns and flexibility for your business spending.

  • For the first $25,000 you spend annually on telephone services and office supply purchases, you’ll earn 5% cash back.
  • Additionally, you’ll earn 3% cash back for the first $25,000 you spend within your one category of choice from this list of eight spending categories:
    • Airfare (when purchased directly from airlines)
    • Hotel stays (when booked directly through the hotel)
    • Gas stations in the U.S.
    • Car rentals from eligible agencies
    • Restaurants in the U.S.
    • Advertising in the U.S.
    • Shipping in the U.S.
    • Computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made in the U.S. and directly with select providers
  • Outside of those categories and beyond their spending caps, you’ll earn an unlimited 1% cash back for every dollar you spend.

To top it all off, despite the substantial returns this card offers, you won’t have to pay an annual fee to become a SimplyCash Plus cardholder.

Things to Keep in Mind if You Carry a Credit Card Balance During a 0% Intro APR Period

As long as you follow a few guidelines, it’s totally okay to carry a credit card balance during a 0% intro APR period. Let’s take a look at four things you’ll need to be diligent about while you carry a credit card balance during a 0% intro APR period:

1. Always make your minimum payments on time, no matter what.

Be sure to be especially diligent with punctual monthly payments when you have to carry a credit card balance on a 0% intro APR card—if you miss one, you could forfeit months worth of no-interest credit card balances.

2. Avoid utilizing over 30% of your credit potential.

If you spend a huge portion of your available credit while carrying a credit card balance, you could end up dinging your credit score for having a high credit utilization ratio. Credit bureaus and lenders recommend that you keep your balance under 30% of your available credit, so always make sure to be conscious of how much of your available credit your balance is occupying.

3. If you have to utilize over 30% of your available credit, try to do it on a 0% intro APR card that doesn’t report to personal credit bureaus, like the Blue Business Plus.

Sometimes, just like not carrying a credit card balance at all, not having a credit card balance that’s above 30% of your available credit isn’t quite feasible. If this is the case, it’s best to have this balance on a business credit card that doesn’t report to personal credit bureaus. The Blue Business Plus, for instance, will only report your activity to business credit bureaus.

So, if you have a credit utilization of over 30% on your Blue Business Plus, then only your business score will suffer. Though it’s not great to have any of your credit scores lowered, then your business credit score is probably the wiser choice to sacrifice. Buy and large, it’s your personal credit score that you’ll really want to preserve.

4. Otherwise, you’ll need to decide if you want to prioritize financing your business or preserving your credit score.

If none of the first three guidelines is possible for you to follow, then it’s time for you to step back and make a decision.

Which will you prioritize—financing your business as you need to with a 0% intro APR card, or preserving your personal credit score?

carry-a-credit-card-balance

While some business owners might dive into carrying a balance of more than 30% of their available credit on a 0% intro APR card that reports to personal credit bureaus, others might be more cautious with their personal credit scores.

Either choice is valid—just make sure it’s intentional and you know what you’re getting yourself into.

The Endgame for Having to Carry a Credit Card Balance

So, what’s the bottom line for having to carry a credit card balance?

If you’re careful and savvy about it, then a credit card balance is certainly not the end of the world. In fact, if you can carry one without accumulating interest and without dinging your credit scores, a credit card balance could even be a valuable funding source for your business.

As long as you have your game plan set for carrying a credit card balance, what many might consider a financial no-no could be a one-way ticket to growing your business.

The post Is It Ever Okay to Carry a Credit Card Balance? appeared first on Fundera Ledger.



from Fundera Ledger https://www.fundera.com/blog/carry-a-credit-card-balance

10 Best Ways to Establish Business Credit as a Startup

As a savvy consumer, you’ve got a handle on your personal finances—meaning you know where your personal credit score stands month-to-month.

But as a new business owner, you might not know anything about your startup’s business credit—why it’s important, what yours looks like, and how to establish and build it.

If you’ll ever need credit for your business in the future—with a small business loan, or business credit card—then your business can’t just get by on the coattails of your strong personal credit score. At some point, you’ll want to establish a strong, sparkling business credit history.

How does one do that? Well, there are tried-and-true methods for getting the ball rolling.

Here are the 10 best ways to establish business credit as a startup.

What is Business Credit?

Before we dive deep into how to establish business credit, we need to do some background work on what a business credit score is.

In many ways, your business credit report reads just like your personal credit report.

If your personal credit rating keeps track of your trustworthiness with your personal credit accounts, your business credit rating does the same—just for your business’s credit accounts.

The business credit reporting agencies (Dun & Bradstreet being the most well-known business credit reporting bureau) collect information from the vendors and creditors you do business with. That borrowing information gets processed through a credit reporting algorithm to establish your business credit.

The number that a business credit reporting agency spits out, however, is on a different scale than your personal credit: business credit scores range from 0 to 100.

Why Should You Care to Establish Business Credit?

Just as the strength of your personal credit score determines what types of credit products you qualify for and the rates and terms you get, your business credit score is a key factor in a lender, vendor, or supplier’s decision to work with you.

A business lender or supplier wants to see that your business has a good track record of paying your accounts on time, and in full.

With your business credit score, these entities can make more informed decisions about what terms and rates to extend to your business in regards to their payment.

A strong business credit score will open up the doors to affordable, long-term credit for your business.

10 Steps to Establishing Business Credit

For many small business owners, the hardest part of establishing business credit is simply getting your payment histories reported in the first place.

Many vendors and suppliers don’t report your payment histories if everything is going well. Only some will report your behavior if you’ve made delinquent payments.

And on top of that, even if a vendor does take the time to file a report, depending on how your business is set up, that information could be reflected on your personal credit report (or applied to the wrong business entirely). This does nothing to establish business credit for your company.

While it may seem complicated to establish business credit as a startup, we’re here to help you lay down a base foundation to a stellar business credit score.

Here are 10 steps to make sure you’re establishing business credit as a startup.

1. Establish Your Business Entity

As we mentioned, you want your business’s payment history to be reflected on your business accounts, not your personal ones.

And for this to happen, you need to set up your business entity and incorporate your startup.

You’ll want to choose an entity structure that ensures that your business is seen as a separate business entity.

Your next logical question is, which business entities will separate you from your business and help establish business credit?

While the two most basic business structures—a partnership and a sole proprietorship—are the easiest to work with in terms of starting up and managing paperwork, these entities are unincorporated.

If you’re set up as a sole proprietorship or partnership, you’ll have a harder time establishing business credit as a separate entity. This is because with either of these structures, there’s pretty much no legal or financial difference between you and your business. So your habits with your business accounts will be reflected on your personal accounts, and vice-versa.

If you’re concerned with establishing business credit, then the structures you’ll want to choose are the following:

  • C Corporation. A C corporation gives you and your business the most legal and financial separation. This makes it much easier to quickly establish and build business credit. While a C corporation is regarded as a more complicated structure to set up, it’ll be worth the extra effort if establishing a strong business credit score is of priority to your business.
  • S Corporation. Many businesses avoid a C corporation structure solely due to the fact that a C corporation is subject to a double tax. S corporations are a “pass-through” entity that avoids this double taxation, and the business’s profits are only taxed at the individual level. Beyond this, an S corporation has the same business credit building benefits of C corporations—establishing clear separation between you and your business.
  • Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). An LLC is technically an incorporated business entity with liability protection (creating financial separation between you and your business, helping establish business credit), but it’s a much easier and less expensive way to structure your business.

While it’s important to keep your ability to build business credit in mind while making your decision on how to structure your business, it’s not the only thing you should be thinking about.

If you’re unsure what exactly you should be focusing on, consult a business advisor or an accountant to determine how you should incorporate your startup.

2. Get a Federal Tax Identification Number

The IRS uses an employer identification number (EIN) to monitor businesses—mostly for employer payroll tax purposes.

Whereas your social security number serves as your identification number for personal taxes, your EIN serves the same purpose for your business. It helps the IRS keep track of your business—including its income and tax obligations.

You’re really not obliged to get an EIN. Sole proprietorships, partnerships, and even single-owner LLCs can just use the owner’s social security number for tax purposes (as long as they don’t retain any employees).

However, it’s probably a good idea to get an EIN anyway.

When you eventually apply for credit for your business, you’ll usually be asked to either provide your social security number or EIN on the application. If you only have your social security number to offer, then your credit history won’t be reported to your business, and will most likely be reflected on your personal credit history.

So if you’re looking to establish business credit, it’s best to secure an EIN from early on.

3. Open a Business Bank Account

As a business owner, it’s crucial that you keep your business and personal finances separate. This is an important practice for many reasons, but is especially crucial in regards to establishing business credit.

Opening a business bank account is the first step to drawing a line between business and personal.

Once your EIN is registered, head to a bank for a checking account. There are many local and national banks offering free business checking accounts to consider.

Having a business bank account is a crucial step to establishing business credit. It will not only provide a bank reference for the three credit reporting agencies, but will open doors for better credit accounts in the future—the best small business lenders look for borrowers with business bank accounts of at least 2 years in age.

4. Establish a Dedicated Business Address and Phone Number

While it might seem like a simple step, getting a dedicated business address and phone number will solidify your business’s separate existence.

Having this is a small, but important step towards establishing business credit because it will allow you to register with business directories.

Directories like the Better Business Bureau, YP.com, and local.com will need a business address and phone number to submit a business. And as it related to establishing business credit, you’ll want to be listed on these directories: business credit reporting agencies collect information from these directories, so it’s important to have correct and consistent contact information listed on all of the popular directories.

Also, when you set up a dedicated phone line for your business, you’re establishing your first, simple trade credit relationship. This will be reported to credit agencies (plus, a business credit bureau will probably look at your business phone listing as a verification step).

5. Apply for Your Business’s DUNS Number

Dun & Bradstreet is probably the most well-known and popular business credit reporting agency. And if you want to establish business credit, it’s a good idea to get known with this agency.

To do that, get registered for a DUNS—a Data Universal Number System. The DUNS system is a numerical identification process for business entities. When you apply for one, you’ll be given your own nine digit code.

Having a DUNS isn’t a requirement for businesses, and it’s not a system that’s managed by the government.

Besides that fact, a DUNS is like a social security number for a business. And if you’re interested in establishing business credit for your startup, applying for a DUNS is a good idea. You’ll also need a DUNS number if you ever try to go for a government contract or apply for an SBA loan in the future.

6. Establish Trade Lines With Your Suppliers

If you’ve followed step one through five, then you have all your ducks in a row for laying the foundation upon which to build business credit.

If you want to keep establishing business credit, there are some best practices.

One is to maintain and establish good relationships with vendors and suppliers.

Just as with your personal credit rating, your business credit score will build as you bring on a variety of different suppliers, vendors, and lenders—given that you maintain a good relationship with them.

As you buy more supplies, inventory, or other materials from third-party suppliers, those purchases can become relationships—and help you establish business credit. Especially if those suppliers and vendors extend trade credit, meaning they allow you to pay several days or weeks after you receive the items you ordered. While this credit isn’t coming from a traditional lender, it is the extension of credit at a very basic level. Paying your vendor or supplier on time and in full (maybe even early) will help you build your business credit—just like paying your credit card accounts on time helps you build your personal credit.

When this type of relationship is established, make sure to ask the supplier to report your payments to the business credit bureau. If you don’t ask them to report your payments, then all your good behavior won’t go towards building your credit.

As long as you pay on time and in full, you’ll boost your business credit score.

7. Take Out Business Credit

Many startups and small businesses use loans and credit lines to finance the operation and growth of their business.

Not only is this type of credit crucial for keeping a business running smoothly, using it will help establish and build your business credit.

If you’re truly a startup—with only a few months under your belt—then you might not qualify for the variety of business credit products that are available to small business owners.

Business loans like term loans, SBA loans, or longer-term lines of credit will typically require at least 2 years in business for eligible borrowers.

If you’re not quite there yet, consider applying for a business credit card to cover day-to-day purchases for your business.

Not only will this help solidify the separation between your personal and business finances, it’ll help establish business credit.

A business credit card gives you access to a revolving credit account—you borrow money when you swipe the card, and you pay the credit card issuer back before each statement. When you repay the amount you borrowed, your available credit limit gets replenished to the original amount.

The act of borrowing and repaying money on a business credit card will help establish business credit—given that you’re paying on time (or early, if possible) and in full.

Pro tip: If you’re having a hard time qualifying for business credit cards, try secured business credit cards. A secured business credit card is “secured” by a funds deposit that you make against your card. So, for instance, if you make a deposit of $500, you can use your secured business credit card up to the credit limit of $500. If you’re unable to repay your business credit card bill, the issuer can simply take from your deposit to recoup their losses. This makes the act of lending to you a lot less risky for the issuer, so they might be more likely to extend you credit in the form of a business credit card.

Once you’ve made progress towards establishing business credit—using business credit cards and maintaining strong relationships with suppliers and vendors—you’ll find that you’ll be more eligible for better business credit products.

When this becomes the case, an account that helps establish business credit is a line of credit.

Business lines of credit are, again, revolving credit accounts—you’re given access to a pool of funds that you can draw on whenever you want or need to. Once you pay the line of credit lender back, your credit line gets filled to its original amount.

The action of drawing and repaying on a line of credit—when used responsibly—will help build your business credit.

8. Work With Lenders That Report to the Business Credit Bureaus

If you’re repaying your credit accounts on time and in full, you can be proud of your stellar payment history.

However, you’ll want to be sure that you’re actually getting recognized for this good behavior.

We say this because some lenders don’t report to the business credit bureaus. And if this is the case for one or all of your accounts, you won’t be establishing your business credit score with good borrowing behavior.

Most banks and traditional financing institutions will routinely report borrowers’ repayment histories to business credit reporting bureaus.

Some alternative lenders, however, don’t file reports to these bureaus. If you’re looking to establish business credit, then it’s a good idea to work with lenders that report to the business credit bureaus. Check into a lender’s policy on this before you apply!

9. Keep Your Information Current With the Bureaus

Dun & Bradstreet is the most popular business credit reporting agency, but Equifax and Experian collect business credit history as well.

And unlike the personal credit reporting process—guided by the standardized FICO score—business credit reporting doesn’t have the same streamlined process. Each business credit bureau has a different way of collecting information, collects different information, and different lenders report different kinds of data.

Because a lender could pull your business credit report from any of these three popular bureaus, it’s important that you keep an eye on each of your reports—maintaining all three of them.

These bureaus allow you to update basic information about your business (like number of employees or years in business) and upload financial documents. The more complete your profile is at each of the business credit reporting bureaus, the better.

10. Borrow Responsibly

When it comes to establishing and building business credit, your mantra should be exactly the same as it is with building personal credit: borrow responsibly.

Your score isn’t going to skyrocket overnight.

But with steady, responsible borrowing habits—drawing from a mix of business credit accounts, and paying those accounts on time and in full—you’ll see your business credit score getting more and more established.

As with a personal credit rating, your business credit rating will suffer if you apply to too many credit accounts over a short period of time. Make sure to space out your business credit card or business loan applications.

In the end, the length of your business credit history, mix of credit, and your credit utilization matter for building your score—but your payment history is the most important factor of your business credit score.

Once you’ve established business credit, keeping building it by being the most responsible borrower you can be over your business’s lifetime!

The post 10 Best Ways to Establish Business Credit as a Startup appeared first on Fundera Ledger.



from Fundera Ledger https://www.fundera.com/blog/establish-business-credit

Does This Need A Meeting? Use This Flowchart To Find Out

A productive (and pithy) meeting can leave attendees feeling refreshed and ready to roll, while an unproductive meeting is likely to leave most attendees with a headache. The real cost of bad meetings is staggering: $37 billion dollars are wasted every year in the U.S. on useless meetings.

[Jump ahead to view the infographic]

Here are three actionable tips for ensuring that your meetings stay on track:

1. Set A Timer

Have you ever sat in a meeting that droned on well after it was scheduled to end? Long meetings cost money. At first, an hour meeting may not seem like a big deal. But consider the hourly salary of everyone in the room, and add it up. If the average employee makes $20 per hour, and twenty people attend a one-hour meeting, that meeting just cost you $400. Double that meeting time (or factor in the salary of senior management, who according to one study are already spending 50% of their time in meetings) and you can begin to understand the true cost of unproductive meetings.

When Jake Knapp, of Google Ventures, noticed that his son’s first grade class used a timer to keep the kids on track, a lightbulb went off in his head. “I figured what worked for small children would probably work well for CEOs, too” he said. And it did. Knapp set a timer for 30 minutes during meetings to make sure they didn’t run over. As it turned out, having a physical timer in the room helped the team stick to the agenda.

2. Write An Agenda

A clear agenda, with a fixed objective, is the easiest way to ensure that your meeting stays on track. Before you book a conference room, sit down and write down the purpose of your meeting, and attach a clear goal. Then write down each talking point, along with the team member who should contribute the resolution of this objective.

3. Keep The Guest List Short

Another cause for ballooning costs related to meetings? Too many attendees. It’s estimated that 31 hours a month are spent in unproductive meetings, and 91% of meeting guests admitted to daydreaming through them.

Steve Jobs ran his meetings like a well-oiled machine, and he was notorious for kicking out attendees who didn’t need to be there. If someone doesn’t have something to contribute to your objective, they shouldn’t be in the room.

Does This Really Need A Meeting?

If you’re starting your own small business or start-up, it’s essential to spend your money — and your time — wisely. If you’re unsure whether or not you should host a meeting, use this fun flowchart below to decide, or skip forward to read some startling statistics about how unproductive meetings could burn through your company cash.

does this need a meeting infographic

 

Sources

CBS News | Wolf Motivation | LinkedIn Pulse | Fast Company | Buffer | Forbes | Key Organization | ABC News | Atlassian

The post Does This Need A Meeting? Use This Flowchart To Find Out appeared first on Fundera Ledger.



from Fundera Ledger https://www.fundera.com/blog/does-this-need-a-meeting

Everything Small Business Owners Should Know About Instagram Advertising

Instagram is rolling out more and more advertising options for business owners. What do you need to know about this social media tool before you give it a try as an advertising platform?

Facts About Instagram

  • Instagram is the second-most-popular social media platform in the U.S. (Facebook, which owns Instagram, is first).
  • 800 million Instagram users are active on their accounts at least once a month.
  • 500 million Instagram users are active every day.
  • 80% of Instagram accounts follow at least one business.
  • In September 2017, Instagram boasted 2 million advertisers—double the 1 million it had in March 2017.
  • Instagram has the highest engagement of all social networks.

Types of Instagram Ads

  1. Photo ads can be in square or landscape format.
  2. Video ads can be in square or landscape format and up to 60 seconds long.
  3. Carousel ads incorporate multiple photos or videos—viewers swipe to see the extra images.
  4. Stories ads appear on Instagram Stories in a full-screen, vertical format that’s more immersive than the other three options. According to Instagram, as of September, more than 50% of businesses on Instagram had created an Instagram Story.

How to Get into Instagram Advertising

If your business already advertises on Facebook, you’re ahead of the game because Instagram ads are created with the Facebook platform. If you don’t have a business Facebook Page, you must create one to set up your business profile on Instagram.

When creating your ad, you can choose from several different types of marketing objectives, including brand awareness, lead generation, and conversion. Instagram uses different analytics to measure your ads’ success based on the objectives you choose.

Next, select your target audience. Like Facebook, Instagram lets you narrowly target your ads. For example, if you’re trying to reach new customers, you can choose your audience based on demographics such as age, gender, locations, accounts they follow, and more.

instagram-advertising

Want to hit up your existing customers? If you have their email addresses or phone numbers (and permission to market to them), you can create and target ads just to them. You can even target your ads to “lookalikes”—that is, Instagram users who have similar characteristics as your existing customer base.

Finally, set a budget, choose your ad format, and add any images, and decide how long you want your ads to run. For newbies, the easiest way to try Instagram advertising is by promoting posts or Instagram Stories you’ve already shared that got a lot of traction.

Do’s and Don’ts of Instagram Advertising

  • Do create arresting images. Users love Instagram for the beautiful images, so there’s a high bar to make your ad stand out. Start by taking the images that perform best in your regular Instagram posts and using them in your ads. Learn how your competitors are using Instagram advertising, and look for ad campaigns that catch your eye. (Here are some to inspire your Instagram advertising.)
  • Don’t forget a strong a call to action. Instagram provides several options for clickable calls to action: Book Now, Shop Now, or Contact Us.
  • Do use a landing page-specific URL. The URL in your call to action should send users to the landing page for that particular offer. (Make sure it’s optimized for mobile use.)
  • Don’t get wordy. Instagram ads have captions just like Instagram posts, but despite the large character allowance, it’s best to keep them short and sweet to keep focus on the images.
  • Do brand consistently. People should be able to recognize an image as belonging to your brand at a glance. Try incorporating your brand colors or using the same filter for all your photos.

All in all, Instagram advertising is an affordable way to attract new customers and engage with your existing ones. If you’re already using Instagram organically, why not step it up and place a few ads?

The post Everything Small Business Owners Should Know About Instagram Advertising appeared first on Fundera Ledger.



from Fundera Ledger https://www.fundera.com/blog/instagram-advertising