Tag : Need

11 Grants for Women-Owned Businesses You Need to Know About #business #lists


#small business grants

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11 Grants for Women-Owned Businesses You Need to Know About

In 2014, there were close to 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States, a 68 percent increase since 1997, according to The 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report from American Express. This percentage increase exceeded the national average of small business growth by 1.5 times.

It also illustrated what we already know: Women entrepreneurs are having a tremendous impact on the small business landscape nationwide.

Yet to continue to be competitive and grow, these entrepreneurs have to find funding for their ventures. And, alarmingly, women entrepreneurs are increasingly being turned away by banks for small business loans. Thankfully, they still have other options, given the rise of technology-driven financial lending sources — such as online loans, peer-to-peer loans and crowdfunding.

Then there are government grants. While not widely known or used, these grants are another great option for women seeking extra funding for their business ventures. They just take a little more work.

Understanding grants

Business owners often turn to grants because they are not required to pay them back; essentially, you can look at grants as free money, but they come with stipulations. Also, understanding and navigating the grant process can be complex.

First, you have to research and find a grant for which you re eligible. Then, you have to understand the strict application and compliance guidelines you must meet, to be eligible. Third, you have to compete with other businesses for the same pool of money. Fourth, if you re awarded a grant, you must report on how you used it. Finally, you must devote time and energy to the lengthy application process, then wait for approval. In a nutshell, you need to have all of your ducks in a row, up-front and afterward.

Finding federal and state grants

Many business owners think that federal grants are just a click away. We have all seen the ads promoting free federal money to start businesses. But this is a huge misconception. While there are federal grants available in the areas of medical research, science, education and technology development, no such grants exist specifically for women-owned businesses. You may find grants that fund projects that empower women, but such funding is often set aside for nonprofit corporations, not for-profit businesses.

When researching grants specifically for a woman-owned business, start at the state level. Most states offer grants for women-owned businesses in some capacity. Each state website has a business section where you can find grant and funding opportunities for women and minority-owned businesses. A good example of this is the business section for the state of New York. which lists incentives and programs for businesses. Check out your state s site to find out what is available for your business.

Another great resource to use in your research is the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). The MBDA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce that assists minorities and women in establishing and growing their businesses. On its site, you can research grants and access links to state agencies that work with women-owned businesses for funding opportunities. Click here to view all of the state agencies across the country.

Private grants for women

To help in your search, we gathered information on these private grants for women entrepreneurs started:

  1. The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program. Five grants are awarded annually. The businesses must be 100 percent women-owned and have founding principles of social consciousness, sustainability and innovation, plus be ready to move to the next phase of development. In 2014, the program awarded $125,000 in grants.
  2. Huggies Brand — Mom Inspired Grants. The grant awards up to $15,000 to advance the development of innovative products inspired by the joys of motherhood. The awardees also receive resources to further develop their products and startup businesses.
  3. FedEx Think Bigger — Small Business Grant Program. Applicants are encouraged to share their visions to receive a portion of the $75,000 awarded in grants. Part of the judging involves the general public voting for the finalists, so participants may promote their businesses while garnering votes.
  4. Idea Caf Small Business Grant. The Idea Caf is a free gateway that hosts different grants on its site. Its current grant is the 16 th Small Business Cash Grant. which awards one $1,000 grand prize to a business with the most innovative idea.
  5. InnovateHER: 2015 Innovating for Women Business Challenge. This business challenge is sponsored by the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Women s Business Ownership. The challenge awards three winners $30,000 in prize money for businesses that have an impact on the lives of women. However, be aware of the recent fraud news around the SBA .
  6. Chase Google — Mission Main Street Project. Chase and Google have partnered to award $3 million in grants. In 2014, recipients were awarded $150,000 to help take their businesses to the next level. Recipients also received a trip to Google headquarters, a Google Chromebook laptop and a $2,000 coupon toward a market research study with Google Consumer Surveys.
  7. Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR): Eleven different federal agencies participate in this awards-based program, which incentivizes and enables small businesses to explore their technological potential.
  8. Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR). The STTR program reserves a specific percentage of federal research and development funding to provide funding opportunities in research and development.
  9. Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corp (WVEC) Small Business Competition. This competition, organized by Capitol One and Count Me In for Women s Economic Independence. allows participants to present two-minute pitches for a chance to participate in a nine-month business accelerator program.
  10. Wal-Mart Women s Economic Empowerment Initiative (WEE). As part of a huge Wal-Mart initiative, sourcing opportunities for U.S. and international companies will increase to $40 billion over five years.
  11. Zions Bank — Smart Women Smart Money. This Utah-based bank s grant annually awards $3,000 across six different categories, including business.

Applying for a grant

Once you find a funding opportunity, there are steps required to apply. A few tips to assist you:

  • Make sure that your business is eligible for the grant: Read the grant synopsis guidelines and eligibility requirements.
  • Create a checklist for all of the documents required.
  • Follow the rules. Grant applications can be very technical. It wouldn t hurt to have a second (or even third) set of eyes when reviewing the application to ensure that you have provided all accompanying documents.
  • Start early. Since the application process can be long in some cases, it doesn t hurt to get a jump on things.

If you find the grant application process too daunting or lengthy for your small business, Kabbage is committed to supporting small business loans for women business owners. Because our application process is fully automated and online, we can quickly provide small business loans of up to $100,000. We use simple, meaningful revenue data from your business to approve your business — not elaborate documentation that takes extensive time to gather. To learn more, visit Kabbage.com.



Everything You Need to Know About Business Partnerships #free #online #business


#business partnership

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Everything You Need to Know About Business Partnerships

Author, Attorney, and CPA

In his book The Tax Legal Playbook , CPA and attorney Mark J. Kohler targets the leading tax and legal questions facing small-business owners, and delivers clear-cut truths, thought-provoking advice, and underutilized solutions to save you time, money, and heartache. In this edited excerpt, the author offers some smart advice for creating a strong partnership.

You d be astounded at the number of clients I meet with who literally know nothing about their partner s background, their approach to business, and their vision for the partnership. They rush into the relationship so quickly that they don t even gather this fundamental knowledge about their partner.

Here are some issues to consider before you ink any partnership deal:

  • Obviously, only go into business with those you trust. Vet everyone in your business dealings, whether it be a contractor, a tenant, etc. This could mean conducting background checks and calling personal references. This is especially true with your business partner(s) and is by far the most important way to protect yourself when entering a partnership.
  • Address potential issues before they become issues. Talk about worst-case scenarios. If your partner isn t willing to do so, for whatever reason, you have the wrong partner.
  • Read and understand your partnership documents before you sign them. A good attorney can help you identify possible issues and present solutions, but ultimately you and your business partner(s) need to take ownership of the agreement and share a thorough understanding of how it will govern your business.
  • Consider getting separate counsel if using the same attorney as your partner(s) is presenting concerns.
  • If you live in a community property state, have every business partner s spouse sign the partnership/operating agreement and any amendments. The spouse presumably has an ownership interest in the business, and you want them to agree to the provisions of the partnership/operating agreement. This is especially important regarding the method of valuing the business when buying out a partner in the event of a divorce.

Setting Up the Partnership

Creating the partnership agreement and setting up the proper entity/structure for the partnership are the two most important steps in the partnership process. Understanding the mechanics of how your business will be managed is the key to designing your partnership agreement and documenting the terms. While the list of items to consider in a solid partnership agreement is indefinable every partnership is different I ve narrowed it down to my top ten:

1. Partner roles in signing and authorizations. Have a very clear understanding of what the managers or officers of the business are authorized to do on behalf of the company.

2. Duties and responsibilities of each partner. There should be a description of each partner s responsibilities and duties so each partner knows what to expect from the other. Furthermore, there should be predetermined consequences for partners not completing their duties.

3. Contributions of capital. What amount of time, money, and assets is each partner contributing to the partnership? This includes the initial contributions as well as additional contributions that may be necessary to continue operating the business in the future.

4. Rights to distributions, profits, compensation, and losses. Any right of the partners to receive discretionary or mandatory distributions, which includes a return of any or all of their contributions, needs to be clearly and specifically set forth in the partnership agreement.

5. Unanimous vote requirements. Which events or decisions will require a unanimous vote of the business partners? It s crucial that you and your business partners decide the procedure together from the outset.

6. Dissolution or exit strategy. The partnership agreement should indicate the events upon which the partnership is to be dissolved and its affairs wound up. It s possible the business concept and model don t lend themselves to answering this question. But, for example, in a real estate deal, it s important to have a timeline and possible triggering events that will lead to either selling the property or buying out one of the partners if they don t want to stick around for the long haul.

7. A buy-sell provision or separate buy-sell agreement. This type of agreement addresses major changes in the partnership arrangement. For example, what if one partner voluntarily or involuntarily leaves the partnership? How are they bought out? What happens if you want to sell your ownership interest should your business partner have a right to buy it before you sell it to a third party? What if your business partner dies? Or gets divorced? Or files for bankruptcy? Or just wants to retire?

8. Expulsion provision. Carefully consider this provision, which is a double-edged sword. The benefit of such a provision is that you can put in writing when a partner can be forced out of the business. For example, you and your partners could agree that if one partner isn t pulling their weight, they can be forced out. But be certain your well-deserved, three-week vacation to Tahiti doesn t trigger the expulsion clause.

9. Noncompete provision. For example, you and your business partner(s) may agree that if one of the partners leaves the business, they cannot open a competing business or work for a competing business within a certain number of miles and for a certain period of time.

10. Miscellaneous provisions. Some examples include a provision for attorney s fees for the non-breaching party if they win a lawsuit, a mediation or binding arbitration clause so you don t have to go to court if you don t want to, or a venue or choice of law provision on which state law would be applied in a contract dispute and where the dispute would be litigated.

Make sure you sit down with your partner(s) to discuss the best- and worst-case scenarios. Have a competent and honest attorney represent the company or have each partner hire an attorney to review the partnership documents and address the above issues, as well as the individual and specific needs of your and your partners particular situation.

The Best Entity for a Partnership

In most cases, the best structure for a partnership is the limited liability company (LLC). I realize there are unique situations where a corporation or a limited partnership might make sense; however, those are the exception and not the rule. In fact, if you need to save taxes, it s typical to have each member s share of the LLC owned by an S corporation.

There are three significant reasons why the LLC is such a perfect entity for partnerships. Here s a brief summary:

1. Its limited liability protection shields you from the acts of your partner (and vice versa). Without it, you have unlimited vicarious liability.

2. The operating agreement and corresponding initial minutes and formation documents are fantastic documents to define all of the partnership terms.

3. The flexibility of the LLC is beneficial for allocating profits, losses, and capital, as well as for allowing individual partners to do their own tax planning after they receive their allocated share of profit.

Partnership Management Tips

After all the documentation s been completed and you begin operating as a partnership, you should follow several procedures for a successful venture.

Here are the top three habits that will help a partnership succeed:

1. Communication and documentation. As the business partnership evolves, record and document anything that s contrary to your initial partnership/operating agreement. A good partnership/operating agreement will allow for revisions due to changing circumstances, but these should always be in writing and signed by each business partner.

2. Be involved in your business. Don t ever think a partnership is a turnkey operation. People who aren t in constant communication with their partners will soon find themselves on the outside and in a dispute. Clearly understand your duties and responsibilities, and fulfill the expectations of your partners or readdress what those expectations should be.

3. Bookkeeping and tax deposits. Don t cut corners on bookkeeping and finances. This is the lifeblood of your business and will determine when and how your profits are distributed. Making sure your tax deposits are made on time and in the right amounts is also the backbone of good tax planning in your partnership. Beware of phantom income, which is income from the partnership that exists on paper but has no corresponding distributions. This can wreak havoc on a partner s individual tax return without proper bookkeeping and planning.

Copyright 2016 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.



Everything You Need to Know about Minority Business Grants – Small Business

#minority business grants

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Everything You Need to Know about Minority Business Grants

Minorities are choosing entrepreneurship in leaps and bounds. The pool of minority-owned business includes members of the African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American ethnic groups. According to the SBA, this number rose to 14.6 percent in 2012 in part because of the growing Hispanic population in the U.S.

As with their non-minority counterparts, proper access to funding is crucial for the creation, growth, and sustainability of their businesses. Although minority business ownership is growing, there continues to be great disparities in their access to business funding. In their effort to even the playing field, minority business owners continue to search for various funding resources.

Grants for Minority Business

Federal Grants

As part of their quest for funding, the first choice for minority business owners is to seek out grants. The belief that there are federal grants available for the start up and growth phases for small businesses is a myth. The federal government does not provide grants to businesses for start up, expansion, to cover operational expenses, or to pay off debts. However there are federal grants available in the areas of research in the fields of medicine, scientific research, education, and technology development. Here are a few such grants.

  1. Small Business Innovation Research(SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) – This grant is for the purpose of funding small business projects that are research related. Research areas include the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service (HHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). See a full list of program descriptions and research topics allowed on their site.
  2. The USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) Program – The purpose of this grant is to finance the development of small and emerging businesses in rural areas. The amount of the award ranges from $10,000 to $50,000.

You can search additional federal grants at grants.gov .

Corporate Grants

We have included a list of some grants available to black and minority owned businesses.

  1. FedEx Small Business Grant Contest The FedEx Small Business Grant awards 10 different grants to small business owners in the following amounts: (1) grand prize grant of $25,000, (1) grant of $10,000, and (8) grants of $5,000. Deadline is January 12, 2015. To enter, the applicants must share their business story including their motivation and plans for growth. Winners will be announced April 21, 2015.
  2. The National Association for the Self Employed (NASE) Growth Grant Program This grant allows business owners to apply for financing for a particular business need. Each grant is worth up to $5,000. To apply visit nase.org, create an account, become a member, and click on the link apply today. Grants are awarded on a quarterly basis.
  3. MillerCoors Urban Entrepreneurs Series – This grant supports urban entrepreneurs by awarding up to $150,000 in business grants to five entrepreneurs annually.
  4. Huggies MomInspired Grant Program – Grant proposals are accepted from businesses that nurture the relationship between mother and child either through a product or service. The amount of the award is $15,000 plus additional business resources for further development.

Organizations that Provide Minority Business Grants

The Role of the SBA

While the SBA has the authority to provide grants to certain non-profit and educational organizations, it is not permitted to provide grants to small businesses, including minority owned businesses. However, minority business owners can take advantage of the SBA (8) a Business Development Program. The program assists qualifying minority-owned businesses develop and growth through one on one counseling, training workshops, management, and technical assistance.

The 8(a) program has been designed for some minority groups that are considered socially and economically disadvantaged. Those groups include: African American, Hispanic American, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, and Subcontinent Asian Americans. A business must be at least 51% owned by a minority of the group listed. Other groups can apply for this program if they can prove that they have been discriminated against or are at an economic disadvantage. Those groups include: Alaska Native Corporations, Indian Tribes, Native Hawaiian Organizations, and Community Development Corporations.

To learn more about this program contact the local SBA office in your area.

The Minority Business Development Agency

Another great resource for minority business owners is the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). MBDA maintains a national network of 44 business centers whose purpose is to assist minority businesses with access to capital, contracts, and new markets. The specialists that work at the business centers can assist with the grant application.

Minority Business Grants: The Process

Applying for a grant is not a quick process. First the application can be more than a few pages and it is normally a detailed application. Most grants have an opening date, which is the date when the grant became available for application. The deadline date is the final date you must submit your grant by. Keep in mind that the decision may take a few months.

Additional Grant Preparation Tips

  • Create a business plan – Writing a business plan is an important step. The business plan will act as the roadmap for your business. Be sure to provide specific information in the plan about your minority business and how it will improve the economy and your community.
  • Read through grant information thoroughly Once you have decided which grant you will apply for, make sure that you read through all of the information. This will ensure that you have all of your ducks in a row. Most grant synopsis’ are detailed and require a lot of specific information.
  • Keep track of the application deadline – Obviously it is important that you do not miss the deadline. So be sure to apply for the grant before the deadline. A good idea would be to create a project checklist which includes dates and milestones. It’s a good idea to submit the grant before the deadline approaches.
  • Gather all of your documents – Make sure you gather all of the documents required for the grant. Prepare a checklist, check, and double check. You do not want to have any missing documents that may cause the grant to be denied.


5 Important Things You Need in Your Business Plan #business #proposal #examples


#business planning

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5 Important Things You Need in Your Business Plan



When Do I Need a Business Lawyer for My Small Business? #business

#business lawyer

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When Do I Need a Business Lawyer for My Small Business?

Among the countless worries for entrepreneurs who are starting or are already running a small business is the question of whether they need a business lawyer. The perception is that attorneys charge high rates and many small businesses don’t have much, if any, extra capital with which to pay lawyers. As a result, most small business owners only hire an attorney experienced with business matters when confronted with a serious legal problem (e.g. you’re sued by a customer). However, legal help is a cost of doing business that often saves you money and helps your business in the long run.

While you certainly don’t need an attorney for every step of running your business, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure. This article will explain when you can cover legal issues on your own or with minimal attorney assistance and when you will definitely need a business lawyer.

Issues You Can Handle on Your Own

There are certain matters that are fairly straightforward and/or not unduly difficult to learn and therefore do not require the services of an attorney who charges at least $200 per hour. There are enough expenses associated with running a business, why not save yourself a load of money and do it yourself if you can?

The following is a list of some tasks that business owners should consider taking on themselves (with the aid of self-help resources, online and in print):

  • Writing a business plan
  • Researching and picking a name for your business (previously trademarked business names can be researched online)
  • Reserving a domain name for your website
  • Creating a legal partnership agreement, limited liability company (LLC) operating agreement, or shareholder’s agreement (see Choosing a Legal Structure )
  • Applying for an employer identification number (EIN), which you will need for employee tax purposes
  • Applying for any licenses and permits the business requires
  • Interviewing and hiring employees (there are federal and state antidiscrimination laws which regulate the hiring of employees)
  • Submitting necessary IRS forms
  • Documenting LLC meetings
  • Hiring independent contractors and contracting with vendors
  • Creating contracts for use with customers or clients
  • Creating a buy-sell agreement with partners
  • Updating any partnership, LLC, or shareholder’s agreements under which you are currently operating
  • Handling audits initiated by the IRS

The above is not an exhaustive list of legal tasks which small business owners can do on their own. It should be stated that if your business is well-funded or you feel that you need the assistance of an attorney, you can always retain a lawyer to help you with everything listed above.

Issues Where You Will Need a Business Lawyer

Most of the issues outlined above can be handled by any intelligent business owner (if you can run a business, you can certainly fill out IRS forms or fill in boilerplate business forms). There are times, however, when a business faces issues that are too complex, too time consuming, or fraught with liability issues. At that point,the wisest move is to retain a business lawyer.

A few examples include:

  • Former, current, or prospective employees suing on the grounds of discrimination in hiring, firing, or hostile work environment
  • Local, state, or federal government entities filing complaints or investigating your business for violation of any laws.
  • You want to make a special allocation of profits and losses or you want to contribute appreciated property to your partnership or LLC agreement
  • An environmental issue arises and your business is involved (even if your business didn’t cause the environmental problem, you may be penalized)
  • Negotiating for the sale or your company or for the acquisition of another company or its assets

An Ounce of Prevention

While you certainly need to retain an attorney for the serious issues above, your emphasis should be placed on preventing such occurrences in the first place. Prevention does not necessarily involve hiring an attorney, though consulting with one wouldn’t hurt. By the time you or your business is sued, the preventable damage has been done and the only question that remains is how much you’ll be paying in attorney’s fees, court fees, and damages.

For example, by the time a prospective employee files a lawsuit claiming gender discrimination based in part upon questions posed at the job interview, all you can do is hire an attorney to defend the lawsuit. If, on the other hand, you had done your own research on anti-discrimination laws, or you had consulted an attorney beforehand, you would have known not to inquire as to whether the applicant was pregnant or planned on becoming pregnant. The small effort at the beginning of the process would save you an enormous headache later.

To prevent unnecessary attorney costs at the inception of your business as well as tremendous costs after a lawsuit has been filed, you might consider a consultation arrangement with an attorney. Such an arrangement would entail you doing most of the legwork of research and the attorney providing legal review or guidance.

For example, you might use self help and online sources to create a contract with a vendor and ask an attorney to simply review and offer suggestions. Or from the previous example, you might research types of questions to ask during an interview and then send the list to an attorney for his or her approval. This way, you prevent the potential headache later and the cost to you is minimal because you’ve already done most of the work and the attorney simply reviews the document.

Find the Right Attorney for Your Business Needs

You won’t need a lawyer for each and every legal issue that comes up in your business. But when you do, it’s good to know where to find the right one. Check FindLaw’s legal directory for a business and commercial law attorney near you.



Start Your Own Business: 50 Things You – ll Need to Do

#start your own business

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Start Your Own Business: 50 Things You ll Need to Do

Thinking about starting a business? You’re not alone. Every year, thousands of Americans catch the entrepreneurial spirit, launching small businesses to sell their products or services. Some businesses thrive; many fail. The more you know about starting a business, the more power you have to form an organization that develops into a lasting source of income and satisfaction. For help with the beginning stages of operating a business, the following checklist is a great place to start.

Evaluate and Develop Your Business Idea

Determine if the type of business suits you.

Use a break-even analysis to determine if your idea can make money.

Write a business plan, including a profit/loss forecast and a cash flow analysis.

Find sources of start-up financing.

Set up a basic marketing plan.

Decide on a Legal Structure for Your Business

Identify the number of owners of your business.

Decide how much protection from personal liability you’ll need, which depends on your business’s risks.

Decide how you’d like the business to be taxed.

Consider whether your business would benefit from being able to sell stock.

Research the various types of ownership structures.

Get more in-depth information from a self-help resource before you settle on a structure. If you are unsure, talk to a lawyer.

Choose a Name for Your Business

Think of several business names that might suit your company and its products or services.

If you will do business online, check if your proposed business names are available as domain names.

Check with your county clerk’s office to see whether your proposed names are on the list of fictitious or assumed business names in your county.

For corporations and LLCs: check the availability of your proposed names with the Secretary of State or other corporate filing office.

Do a federal or state trademark search of the proposed names still on your list. If a proposed name is being used as a trademark, eliminate it if your use of the name would confuse customers or if the name is already famous.

Choose between the proposed names that are still on your list.



Why Your Business Phones Need an Upgrade #business #card #ideas


#business phones

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Why Your Business Phones Need an Upgrade

The big issue for business is staying on top of its communications requirements. New technology is driving old phone systems beyond their design capabilities. The need now is for business phone systems which are scalable and customizable to manage real business operational needs.

The simple fact is that the baseline needs of business commercial systems are expanding. They need to be able to do a lot more, and manage much bigger demands. The office in your pocket approach to mobile systems alone is creating a reciprocal need for much better phone systems in-house. The big shift in commerce to eCommerce is adding a gigantic extra load on its own.

The point here is that more business equates to more demand for communications and increasing diversification of the need for different services. The time is long past since the days when a simple phone system of the old type can handle the multi-level range of communications a typical business experiences every day.

If you put all your different communications through a single stream system, the result is a range of obstacle courses. The new approach is to create dedicated servers (also known as private servers in the communications industry) to separate and manage the workloads. This is infinitely more efficient and far more productive than the stunningly slow and seemingly procedurally-obsessed single stream systems can ever be.

Consider this situation:

  • A call center receives 5000 calls a day for multiple clients.
  • On the receiving end of these calls are specialists, trained to manage specific tasks.
  • If these calls are managed on a single stream basis, the result is instant inefficiency. It s an entirely inappropriate system for a big call stream.
  • The calls need to be efficiently split up into their proper streams by definition.

This is just a bigger version of the basic issues for any business phone system. Whether you re NASA or a local grocery, you need your calls to get from A to B ASAP. It s impossible to justify the sheer waste of time and money in a phone system which effectively creates delays and a working backlog of business which could and should have been done a lot faster.

Upgrading for Better Business

The new options for telephone systems include two fundamentally different improvements. These are significant upgrades by nature, and they can set up a business system to operate on a fully customized, business-specific configuration with almost no effort required.

  • Private Servers: These are the real fixers for any business phone issues. Dedicated servers are not simply more efficient . They re real managers of communications workloads. They improve response times and service quality dramatically.
  • Contact Centres: The contact centres will ring more than a few bells with project managers and other businesspeople who know what managing a very diverse range of business operations involves. Contact centres are virtual phone systems, configurable to any operational requirements. They can literally create a working call center out of a box. If that sounds a bit different, you can also see the instant business applications.

Add both private servers and contact centres to your phone system, and you’ve achieved a major upgrade, scalable and appropriate for your business, both now and in future. This is good business, and these are the communications systems of the future.

Kushal Tomar is a valued contributor for CosmoBC’s TechBlog. You can follow him through the buttons below. View all posts by Kushal Tomar



Everything You Need to Know about Minority Business Grants – Small Business

#minority business grants

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Everything You Need to Know about Minority Business Grants

Minorities are choosing entrepreneurship in leaps and bounds. The pool of minority-owned business includes members of the African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American ethnic groups. According to the SBA, this number rose to 14.6 percent in 2012 in part because of the growing Hispanic population in the U.S.

As with their non-minority counterparts, proper access to funding is crucial for the creation, growth, and sustainability of their businesses. Although minority business ownership is growing, there continues to be great disparities in their access to business funding. In their effort to even the playing field, minority business owners continue to search for various funding resources.

Grants for Minority Business

Federal Grants

As part of their quest for funding, the first choice for minority business owners is to seek out grants. The belief that there are federal grants available for the start up and growth phases for small businesses is a myth. The federal government does not provide grants to businesses for start up, expansion, to cover operational expenses, or to pay off debts. However there are federal grants available in the areas of research in the fields of medicine, scientific research, education, and technology development. Here are a few such grants.

  1. Small Business Innovation Research(SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) – This grant is for the purpose of funding small business projects that are research related. Research areas include the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service (HHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). See a full list of program descriptions and research topics allowed on their site.
  2. The USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) Program – The purpose of this grant is to finance the development of small and emerging businesses in rural areas. The amount of the award ranges from $10,000 to $50,000.

You can search additional federal grants at grants.gov .

Corporate Grants

We have included a list of some grants available to black and minority owned businesses.

  1. FedEx Small Business Grant Contest The FedEx Small Business Grant awards 10 different grants to small business owners in the following amounts: (1) grand prize grant of $25,000, (1) grant of $10,000, and (8) grants of $5,000. Deadline is January 12, 2015. To enter, the applicants must share their business story including their motivation and plans for growth. Winners will be announced April 21, 2015.
  2. The National Association for the Self Employed (NASE) Growth Grant Program This grant allows business owners to apply for financing for a particular business need. Each grant is worth up to $5,000. To apply visit nase.org, create an account, become a member, and click on the link apply today. Grants are awarded on a quarterly basis.
  3. MillerCoors Urban Entrepreneurs Series – This grant supports urban entrepreneurs by awarding up to $150,000 in business grants to five entrepreneurs annually.
  4. Huggies MomInspired Grant Program – Grant proposals are accepted from businesses that nurture the relationship between mother and child either through a product or service. The amount of the award is $15,000 plus additional business resources for further development.

Organizations that Provide Minority Business Grants

The Role of the SBA

While the SBA has the authority to provide grants to certain non-profit and educational organizations, it is not permitted to provide grants to small businesses, including minority owned businesses. However, minority business owners can take advantage of the SBA (8) a Business Development Program. The program assists qualifying minority-owned businesses develop and growth through one on one counseling, training workshops, management, and technical assistance.

The 8(a) program has been designed for some minority groups that are considered socially and economically disadvantaged. Those groups include: African American, Hispanic American, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, and Subcontinent Asian Americans. A business must be at least 51% owned by a minority of the group listed. Other groups can apply for this program if they can prove that they have been discriminated against or are at an economic disadvantage. Those groups include: Alaska Native Corporations, Indian Tribes, Native Hawaiian Organizations, and Community Development Corporations.

To learn more about this program contact the local SBA office in your area.

The Minority Business Development Agency

Another great resource for minority business owners is the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). MBDA maintains a national network of 44 business centers whose purpose is to assist minority businesses with access to capital, contracts, and new markets. The specialists that work at the business centers can assist with the grant application.

Minority Business Grants: The Process

Applying for a grant is not a quick process. First the application can be more than a few pages and it is normally a detailed application. Most grants have an opening date, which is the date when the grant became available for application. The deadline date is the final date you must submit your grant by. Keep in mind that the decision may take a few months.

Additional Grant Preparation Tips

  • Create a business plan – Writing a business plan is an important step. The business plan will act as the roadmap for your business. Be sure to provide specific information in the plan about your minority business and how it will improve the economy and your community.
  • Read through grant information thoroughly Once you have decided which grant you will apply for, make sure that you read through all of the information. This will ensure that you have all of your ducks in a row. Most grant synopsis’ are detailed and require a lot of specific information.
  • Keep track of the application deadline – Obviously it is important that you do not miss the deadline. So be sure to apply for the grant before the deadline. A good idea would be to create a project checklist which includes dates and milestones. It’s a good idea to submit the grant before the deadline approaches.
  • Gather all of your documents – Make sure you gather all of the documents required for the grant. Prepare a checklist, check, and double check. You do not want to have any missing documents that may cause the grant to be denied.


5 Important Things You Need in Your Business Plan #t #shirt #business


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5 Important Things You Need in Your Business Plan



8 Things You Need to Know About Small Business Loans #best #business

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Small businesses may be the engine of our economy, but many small business owners view the lending process as complicated and frustrating.

Too often, growing enterprises find themselves shut out when they attempt to obtain small business loans. In theory, it should be difficult to obtain funding–lenders are in the business of making money, not providing charity. Still, there are many ways to improve your odds of getting a loan .

Here are some things to consider.

  1. Put yourself in the lender’s shoes–why should they lend you money? When applying for a loan, treat it as if you’re applying for a job. Instead of a great resume, however, you need a stellar application. That means understanding your financial situation and deciding what you can use for collateral, which might include your house. A business person who does the latter shows they believe in their business. Cash flow and credit quality are other key factors. And dress professionally; if you look like you don’t need the money, you’re more likely to get it.
  2. Figure out how much money you really need. Businesses too often seek more money than they really need and, the more you seek, the more likely you will be rejected.
  3. Learn from your mistakes. If one lender rejects you, figure out why. When you go to the next small business lender, address that deficiency.
  4. Those with poor credit in a business-to-business environment that have receivables can use them as collateral. Alternative lenders, such as so-called Internet lenders, will charge higher interest rates, but generally have more relaxed standards.
  5. Always consider–in most cases it should be your first consideration–working with Small Business Administration-backed (SBA) lenders. Many businesses incorrectly assume they aren’t eligible. SBA loans often feature low interest rates and generous repayment terms. Also note that just because one SBA lender turns you down, not all lenders will do likewise.
  6. Know what you’re getting into. That means learning the annual percentage rate (APR) of the loan. Know what the fees will be, as well as any prepayment penalties. Be an informed shopper.
  7. As mentioned earlier, online lenders may provide funding (and quickly) if other alternatives fail, especially for those with bad credit. Aside from higher interest rates, Internet lenders are known for onerous terms and poor transparency, so be sure you really need the money–and can pay it back–if you go this route.
  8. Small banks are likely to be more helpful than bigger banks that prefer working with larger customers.

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The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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