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 Blog #business #research


#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 #partners


#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 #business #information


#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 Blog #small #business #assistance


#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 #to #start


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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.




What You Need to Know About Stock Markets Today #credit #repair #business


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What You Need to Know About Stock Markets Today

By Anne Kates Smith | October 2010

Thanks to electronic trading, the stock market is wilder than ever.

Editor’s Note: We are re-featuring this guide to understanding the markets in light of the announcement on February 15 that the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange has agreed to merge with Deutsche Boerse. The merger would create the world’s largest operator of financial markets. Deutsche Boerse shareholders would own 60% of the merged company; NYSE Euronext shareholders, 40%. The text below has been updated since publication in the October 2010 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the data is as of February 16, 2011.

1. There’s no “there” there. You may picture a bustling exchange, where commerce begins and ends with the clang of a bell. But the “stock market” is an increasingly fragmented collection of more than 50 trading platforms, almost all electronic, with various protocols, rules and oversight.

2. The Big Board has shrunk. Images of the New York Stock Exchange still dominate business-news broadcasts. But, in fact, just 34% of the trading volume in stocks listed on the NYSE actually occurs on the exchange, down from 79% in 2005. Nasdaq, the first electronic exchange, accounts for about one-fifth of all U.S. stock trading. Newer exchanges, such as Direct Edge, in Jersey City, N.J. and BATS Exchange, in Kansas City, Mo. each account for about 10% of trading volume. About 30% of U.S. trading volume takes place off exchanges.

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3. ECNs are the new matchmakers. Electronic communication networks match up buy and sell orders at specified prices for institutional investors and brokers. This is where “after-hours” trading occurs. In addition, hundreds of broker-dealers execute trades internally, filling orders out of their own inventory.

4. Some trades are shrouded in mystery. You’ve heard of dark stars. Now there are dark pools — private networks, sponsored by securities firms, where professionals trade without displaying price quotes to the public beforehand. Such dark pools account for more than 10% of stock-trading volume. The Securities and Exchange Commission wants to make dark pools more transparent to avoid a two-tier market that denies the public important pricing information.

5. You’re sure to get the best price — most days. According to an SEC rule, your trade is supposed to be routed to the platform with the best price at that moment. But when some venues aren’t functioning as normal, exchanges may override the rule. The rule didn’t apply during the “flash crash” of May 2010, when an intentional slowdown on the NYSE caused orders to be routed elsewhere, at lower prices.

6. There are fewer traffic cops. In the old days, specialists and market makers kept markets liquid by stepping up to buy — or sell — when a stampede of investors headed the other way. Now, not all exchanges require market makers. High-frequency traders, who program computers to profit from minute price discrepancies and can execute trades in milliseconds, were supposed to fill the void. But they don’t have to, despite the fact that they often account for 50% or more of total trading volume.

7. Stoplights are coming. A pilot plan, recently extended until April, calls for stock-by-stock circuit breakers that would be applicable across all trading platforms. The plan currently applies to stocks in Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, the Russell 1000 index and certain exchange-traded funds, and calls for a trading pause if the share price changes by 10% within a five-minute period. Since December, market makers in exchange-listed securities have been required to maintain continuous buy and sell quotes within a certain range of a security’s most recent share price, putting an end to occasionally ridiculous quotes, far removed from prevailing prices, that were never meant to be executed.




5 Small Business Magazines You Need to Be Reading #business #credit


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5 Must-Read Magazines for Your Small Business

You may be asking yourself, why am I soliciting print advice from a digital marketing resource center? Well, we at Get Busy Media find value in content that helps small businesses solve problems and grow; regardless of how and in what format this content is packaged. Today we’re going to take you through our five favorite small business magazines and why you, as a business owner, need to be consulting these resources.

Here are our top 5 small business magazines (and their tablet companions) :

1. Inc.

Inc. is the veritable bible for small business owners. If you were stuck on a desert island selling widgets and had only one magazine to consult from, I would recommend Inc hands down. This magazine is chock-full of amazing statistics, case studies, interviews and reviews about small business owners and startups who have found success and why. Too many young readers today are inundated with stories of successful tech startups. Rest assured that Inc. will provide you with a wide variety of successful small business stories. They will provide you with stories of why learning to tell jokes is good for business to a who’s who of crowdfunding platforms and which ones small businesses should leverage depending on their specific needs.

  • Get Real by Jason Fried – co-founder of 37 Signals (software company that created Basecamp) and author of Rework pens this column that normally appears between pages 35 and 40
  • Crunching the Numbers – I love the charts and graphs that are included in this section. For instance, did you know that the cities that experienced the greatest increase in the number of jobs at companies with fewer than 100 employees from August 10 to August 11 were Orlando, Atlanta and Greensboro, North Carolina (who would have guessed these cities?)
  • Tech Trends­­ – John Brandon does a great job with this column. He reviews all the latest gadgets and new technology that make your life as a small business owner easier.

iPad app: Appears that as of February, 2012 Inc. does not have an iPad app based on my extensive searches in the App. store that returned no results for this magazine.

2. Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur magazine is a must have for anyone looking to start a small business. Entrepreneur’s target is more narrowly focused than Inc’s but that’s what makes it so great. Within this magazine you will find every pain point imaginable to starting and running a profitable business (economy, work/life balance issues, co-founder discord, death of a co-founder, production issues, supply chain problems, to name just a few). You will find articles ranging from how a 14-year old kid started his own candle company based on manly scents (fresh cut grass, steak and wood chips, to name a few) to how two guys pivoted and turned their failing lifestyle website into a flash deals site and made a profit in the first month.

  • Lead Gen ­– Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs.com and Co-Author of Content Rules authors this column that speaks to the power of great content and how to reach your customers through online content.
  • Linked – Chris Brogan. Founder of Human Business Works and co-author of Trust Agents is one of the preeminent experts in relationship and digital marketing. If you have enough time to read only one column in this magazine each month, read his.

iPad app: This app needs some work. When you zoom in to read on the iPad, the text becomes difficult to read. The abundance of ads on this app is also bothersome and takes away from the overall experience.

Cost. Free (comes with Entrepreneur print subscription)

3. Fast Company

Of the three magazines we have reviewed thus far, Fast Company is certainly the edgiest and hippest. To be honest, there’s a reason why this publication is #3 on the list behind Inc and Entrepreneur. A salient example for those who like sports, is that Fast Company is to ESPN The Magazine what Inc. is to Sports Illustrated. SI is the preeminent resource in sports journalism in the United States, much as Inc. is widely regarded as the benchmark for publications for small businesses and startups. ESPN the Magazine on the other hand is flashy, heavy on images and graphics and appeals to a hipper, younger generation than Sports Illustrated. By no means is this a bad thing, but I felt that I should use this example to illustrate the difference between Fast Company and their approach versus Inc.’s approach.

One aspect of Fast Company that I enjoy much more than the previous two publications on this list is their long form feature stories. Fast Company’s featured stories tend to be much more content-rich and just plain longer in general than its counterparts. I love that I can sit down and read one of these stories and am captivated for 20 minutes.

  • Tech Edge­ – authored by Farhad Manjoo, this column is very similar to Tech Trends in Inc. just with a little more irreverence.

iPad app: Appears that as of February, 2012 Fast Company does not have an iPad app based on my extensive searches in the App. store that returned no results for this magazine.

4. Wired

Wired is an incredible magazine. I don’t care who you are, this magazine is always, always visually stunning and filled with incredible content about science and technology. There is no doubt in my mind that Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired. sits down with all departments within the company to ensure that design, content and layout all flow and play nice together. While this magazine tends to be very science and tech heavy, there are amazing pieces of information here that are applicable to small businesses, especially those who are progressive and technology-oriented.

  • Dear Mr. Know-it-all – this is an awesome column where Mr. Know it All fields questions from those looking to navigate their issues in the 21st century. Some questions may surprise you, but you’ll find the answers even more interesting.
  • Test – they test everything from Universal remotes to solar charges to ultrabooks – very neat column.

iPad app – amazing layout (which is par for the course for Wired) but loading the iPad edition by my count takes between 6 and 8 minutes (depending on the length of the issue), which in my opinion is tired not wired.

Cost. Free (comes with Wired print subscription)

5. Bloomberg Businessweek

Bloomberg Businessweek is obviously a behemoth in the business and financial news sector. While this periodical isn’t tailored specifically for small businesses and startups, there’s a ton of information you can cull from Bloomberg. The great thing about Bloomberg is that it’s laid out in a format that is easy-to-read and digestible. A few sections I particularly enjoy are the Technology and Companies and Industries sections. Both contain information that is pertinent for small businesses.

iPad app – I haven’t played around much with the app on my iPad but from my limited experience, this seems like another great app for the iPad

Cost. Free (comes with Bloomberg print subscription)

What do you think of my list of the top small business magazines? Who did I miss? Do you disagree with any of my choices? We would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave your thoughts in the Comments section below.

About Jim Armstrong

Jim Armstrong is the Co-Founder of Get Busy Media and a paid search specialist. Since 2008, Jim has built his knowledge around emerging media and leveraged several experiences to develop a keen understanding of internet marketing. His core competencies include search marketing, SEO, email marketing, social media marketing and online reputation management. Jim currently works for Google, as an account manager. When not diving headfirst into his next project, Jim enjoys spending time with his family, fishing and writing. Jim on Google+

Comments

I love Forbes online and have followed some of their contributors in particular.




Buying a Business: What You Need to Know #business #strategy


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Buying a Business: What You Need to Know

For some people, buying an existing business is a better option than starting one from scratch. Why? Because someone else has done much of the legwork for you, such as establishing a customer base, hiring employees, and negotiating a lease. Still, you’ll need to do some thorough research to make sure that what you see is what you’ll get.

What Type of Business Should You Buy?

Look for a business that has some connection to types of work you’ve done in the past, classes you’ve taken, or perhaps skills you’ve developed through a hobby. It’s almost always a mistake to buy a business you know little about, no matter how good it looks. For one thing, your lack of knowledge about the industry might cause you to overpay. And if you do buy the business, you’ll have to struggle up a steep learning curve afterward.

But do try to choose a business that you’re excited by. It’s easier to succeed in business when you enjoy the work you’re doing. To learn more, read Start the Right New Business for You.

Finding a Business to Buy

As you begin your hunt for the perfect company, consider starting close to home. For instance, if you’re currently employed by a small business you like, find out whether the present owner would consider selling. Or, ask business associates and friends for leads on similar businesses that may be on the market. Many of the best business opportunities surface by word of mouth — and are snapped up before their owners ever list them for sale.

Other avenues to explore include newspaper or online ads, trade associations, real estate brokers, and business suppliers. Finally, there are business brokers — people who earn a commission from business owners who need help finding buyers. It’s fine to use a broker to help locate a business opportunity, but it’s foolish to rely on a broker — who doesn’t make a commission until a sale is made — for advice about the quality of a business or the fairness of its selling price.

Research the Business’s History and Finances

Before you seriously consider buying a particular business, find out as much as you can about it. Thoroughly review copies of the business’s certified financial records, including cash flow statements, balance sheets, accounts payable and receivable, employee files including benefits and any employee contracts, and major contracts and leases, as well as any past lawsuits and other relevant information.

This review (lawyers call it “due diligence”) will not only help you understand how the company ticks, but will alert you to potential problems. For instance, if a major contract like a lease prohibits you from taking it over without the landlord or other party’s permission, you won’t want to finalize the deal without getting that permission.

Don’t be shy about asking for information about the business, and if the seller refuses to supply it, or if you find any misinformation, this may be a sign that you should look elsewhere. For an extensive list of questions you’ll want answered before committing to a purchase, see The Complete Guide to Buying a Business . by Fred S. Steingold (Nolo).

Closing the Deal

If you’ve thoroughly investigated a company and wish to go ahead with a purchase, there are a few more steps you’ll have to take. First, you and the owner will have to agree on a fair purchase price. A good way to do this is to hire an experienced appraiser. Next, you and the business owner will agree on which assets you’ll buy (such as a building and equipment) and the terms of payment. Most often, businesses are purchased on an installment plan, with a sizable down payment.

After you have outlined the terms on which you and the seller agree, you’ll need to create a written sales agreement and possibly have a lawyer review it before you sign on the dotted line. One good resource is The Complete Guide to Buying a Business . by Fred S. Steingold (Nolo), which contains a fill-in-the-blank sales agreement. Or if you’d prefer to hire a lawyer for help with this document-intensive process, Nolo’s Lawyer Directory will provide you with detailed personal profiles of lawyers in your area — all of whom have taken a pledge to treat their clients with respect.




What Federal Licenses and Permits Does Your Business Need? #free #business #advertising


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If your business is involved in activities supervised and regulated by a federal agency – such as selling alcohol, firearms, commercial fishing, etc. – then you may need to obtain a federal license or permit. Here is a brief list of business activities that require these forms and information on how to apply.

If you import or transport animals, animal products, biologics, biotechnology or plants across state lines, you’ll need to apply for a permit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

If you manufacture, wholesale, import, or sell alcoholic beverages at a retail location, you will need to register your business and obtain certain federal permits (for tax purposes) with the U.S. Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The website has a number of online tools that make this process straightforward. If you are just starting a business in this trade, start by reading the TTB’s New Visitors Guide which offers helpful information for small business owners.

Remember, you will also need to contact your local Alcohol Beverage Control Board for local alcohol business permit and licensing information.

Does your business involve the operation of aircraft; the transportation of goods or people via air; or aircraft maintenance? If so, you’ll need to apply for one or more of the following licenses and certificates from the Federal Aviation Administration:

Firearms, Ammunition and Explosives

Businesses who manufacture, deal and import firearms, ammunitions and explosives must comply with the Gun Control Act’s licensing requirements. The Act is administered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Refer to the following resources from the ATF to make sure your business is properly licensed:

If your business is engaged in any wildlife related activity, including the import/export of wildlife and derivative products, must obtain an appropriate permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Commercial fishing businesses are required to obtain a license for fishing activities from the NOAA Fisheries Service. This guide includes quick links to permit applications and information.

If you provide ocean transportation or facilitate the shipment of cargo by sea, you’ll need to apply here for a license from the Federal Maritime Commission.

Mining and Drilling

Businesses involved in the drilling for natural gas, oil or other mineral resources on federal lands may be required to obtain a drilling permit from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (formerly the Minerals Management Service).

Producers of commercial nuclear energy and fuel cycle facilities as well as businesses involved in the distribution and disposal of nuclear materials must apply for a license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Radio and Television Broadcasting

If your business broadcasts information by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable, you may be required to obtain a license from The Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Transportation and Logistics

If you operate an oversize or overweight vehicle, you’ll need to abide by the U.S. Department of Transportation offers guidelines on maximum weight. Permits for oversize / overweight vehicles are issued by your state government. Get contact information here .




Everything You Need to Know about Minority Business Grants – Small Business Blog #sell #business


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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.



Do You Really Need that Master – s Degree? #do #you #need #a #masters #to #get #a #phd, #most #comment


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Do You Really Need that Master s Degree?

Note: This is a post from Joan Concilio, Man Vs. Debt community manager. Read more about Joan.

Dear Joan, the letter begins, I am pleased to inform you of your acceptance into the Master of Business Administration Program for the Fall 2007 term. On behalf of the faculty and our MBA students, I welcome you as a part of our campus family.

I was thisclose five years ago to committing 3 more years of my life and more than $20,000 of my money to a graduate degree at my alma mater.

It sounded like a good idea for a lot of reasons.

  • My company was offering some degree of tuition reimbursement.
  • I had an undergrad degree in mathematics with some work already done at a master s level, so I d get double credit for some work already done.
  • I wanted to run my own business someday.
  • My daughter was in school, so I could attend many classes without daycare issues.
  • No one in my family had yet gotten an advanced degree.
  • I loved to learn.

I got as far as meeting with my advisor and planning out the schedule you see above. And then, only weeks before it was time to start classes, I bailed on the entire thing.

The grad-school scam

Take a minute and a half of your time and watch this video. Funnily, this came my way just this month not during my graduate angst phase in 2007. Not-so-funnily, it encapsulates a lot of my struggle with the grad-school system.

When I got my bachelor s degree in 2002, I was still among the first handful of people in my family to graduate from college. I had a good job, a wonderful daughter, and this really nifty piece of paper saying I had really made it!

Why on earth wouldn t I want to keep going for more.

If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone!

The closing lines of the video clip above really got to me. It s a joke, but yet, for me, it s not quite.

Even early in my college career, I was darn proud of my money skills. I had one semester s worth of loans from my bachelor s coursework, and it was paid off the summer after graduation. I d dodged that bullet purposefully and through a lot of hard work yet here I was, ready to jump in front of the next one?

If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. Whether it s a decision about going to college at all (and THAT S a loaded issue I ll save for another post) or the specific question of whether to pursue a graduate degree like an MBA, if you re a working professional or entrepreneur, the question is going to come up.

In my circle of friends, the everyone s doing it pressure didn t help. I had two other friends ready to enter the SAME master s program at the same time. My teacher friends were well on their way to master s degrees in education, simply thanks to the continuing education courses they were already required to take. And here I was, not even USING the mathematics degree I had earned at my job as a newspaper editor.

Going back to school seemed like the American dream for us.

Sure, it ll cost a bunch of money up front and take a lot of my time. But imagine the earnings potential I ll have afterward!

When I really took my beliefs about education out and examined them as I prepared to go back into the classroom, I had a total epiphany.

Separating higher education from higher education

I mentioned before that I love to learn. One of my sisters and I have joked that if perennial college student were a paying job, we d apply in a heartbeat. We would collect degrees like some people do postcards.

But I ve come to realize that the higher education system isn t the path to education for me.

Let me stop here and say that there are times when I think an advanced degree is a great thing. I want my doctor and my attorney to have one, for instance. For my teacher friends, who are required to amass credits as they work, why on earth would they outlay the money and time and NOT use it to build toward something that will significantly change their earning potential?

But for someone like me, the degree isn t the end result I m really going for. And that s what stopped me from walking back through the college doors in 2007. It turned out that I didn t need the formal system in order to learn what I wanted to learn. There were two main reasons why I bailed on grad school at the last minute.

REASON #1:I ve always been a self-directed learner. I don t really want to take a prescribed set of courses because someone else says they re what I need to know, and I don t want to take a survey of accounting course when I ve worked as a business accountant in the past, just because the degree says I need that particular credit. Mostly, though, I don t want to pay someone to give me information I could get on my own.

Again, there are degrees for which that s not true. If I had gone to med school (as my high-school plan was), I d be dissecting cadavers, and they sort of frown on you going off and doing that on your own!

REASON #2: I m not interested in narrowing my interests. I d still like to learn more about theoretical mathematics and some of the other things I specialized in during my undergrad career, like dynamical systems. I m definitely interested in the quality and organizational theory aspects that were part of the MBA-that-wasn t. I wouldn t mind deepening my medical knowledge. Oh, and I have almost enough credits for another bachelor s degree in philosophy and religion, and I ve actually considered attending seminary to further that. But I don t want to pick just one.

Do you really need that piece of paper?

I m lucky to have a choice. To do what I love, I don t need a piece of paper saying I m a master at it. In fact, I m a happy Joan-of-all-trades in many ways. There are certainly some passions that don t allow for that, and I realize this approach won t work for everyone.

But in my case, I ve decided to meet my insatiable need to be learning in some lower-cost, lower-stress, higher-flexibility ways. The best part is, since we homeschool, we can learn as a family something we sure couldn t do in a high-priced master s degree program.

There are hundreds of resources I could list, from Khan Academy to our local library system to auditing individual college courses without credit, to the great free-online-learning directory No Excuse List . They re the sorts of things I d encourage anyone to check out, regardless of your current education level!

Hey, that s working for me. In your case, maybe you do need that piece of paper that says master or doctor.

The point isn t that advanced degrees are bad.

The point is that higher education is a BUSINESS, designed to make a profit. If you choose to buy, make sure you ve carefully done the research the way you would before choosing your home or your vehicle.

Don t get talked into the Maserati Master s Degree just because all your friends have one! Sometimes, the Ford Taurus Free Online Education will get you where you want to go just as well!

Today in the comments, I d like to do something a little different. In addition to hearing your thoughts on the grad-school issue in general, if you re willing to share, I d love to know what degrees you have, if any, and how useful you found them!

Was your higher education experience worthwhile?

Comment and let us know!




10 Influential Business Books You Need To Read To Be Successful #online #business #directory


#business books

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10 Influential Business Books You Need To Read To Be Successful

10 Influential Business Books You Need To Read To Be Successful

Take a minute and think about some of the most successful people you know.

I d bet they re great with people, are super-productive, and think differently than most. After all, that s how they got to be where they are today.

Jealous of them? You don t have to be. You can learn these same skills by studying some of the best business books that can help you take your game to the next level. Here s 10 of my favorites.

1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie s best-selling book that helped to launch a personal growth empire should be required reading for everyone who wants to learn how to build and nurture relationships for a lifetime. Read this book and you ll learn some simple advice than can help you build popularity points within your current network and just as important, expand it to others.

2. Focal Point by Brian Tracy

Got a lot on your to-do list? Of course you do. But what separates productive people from others is their ability to focus on a singular task at a time, and getting it done before moving on to the next one.

Sounds simple in theory, but this can be extremely difficult in practice. In Focal Point Brian Tracy offers tips to help build discipline and organization into your day so you can get more stuff done.

3. Purple Cow by Seth Godin

Creating a me-too product can be easy at the start but can doom you to business failure. That s why marketing maverick Seth Godin recommends creating a product that is truly different from anything already available in the marketplace.

In essence by making the product different you ll be building the marketing into the actual product development which just makes your actual marketing a helluva lot easier.

4. Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz

If you ve struggled with procrastination or small thinking, this is the book for you. In it Schwartz offers practical advice that can help you get inspired and motivated to create a bigger life for yourself. And with it can be a more lucrative and rewarding career.

5. Man s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankel

It can be difficult for lots of people to keep things in perspective, especially when working on high priority and urgent projects at work. Man s Search for Meaning can be a life-changing book in the sense that it can open your eyes to a first-hand experience of one of the greatest atrocities in the history of mankind, while also teaching a valuable lesson about having purpose.

6. 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

Solo-entrepreneurs can learn a ton from the guy who made lifestyle design popular. But guess what? The 4HWW isn t just for guys and girls who want to start a small online business.

Smart moves like outsourcing, following the 80/20 rule, and automating processes should be made by entry-level workers and established executives alike.

7. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

I remember sitting on a couch and opening this book on a Saturday morning, thinking I d get through a chapter and then get on with my day. Instead, about 12 hours later, I was finished with the book. The concepts in it were mind-blowing to me.

To think that thoughts can create your reality sounded a little far-fetched at first. But after going through the book and understanding that your thoughts create your beliefs, which lead to actions, which then lead to habits .well you can get where I m going with this.

If you focus your thoughts on success, achieving it will be much more likely than thinking about obstacles, failures and everything else that can get in your way.

8. One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard

If you re going to read one management book in your life, this should be it. It s simple. You can read it in an afternoon. And the advice works.

9. Lean Start-Up by Eric Ries

Before you create any sort of business you ll want to give Lean Start-Up a read through. Doing so can save you money, time and other resources you could have potentially wasted otherwise.

10. The Monk and the Riddle by Randy Komisar

The story Randy Komisar shares in the Monk and the Riddle offers advice about not just about how you need to think when starting a new business, but also about how to build a life you re passionate about.

Understanding the technical aspects of launching a start-up is great, but if you don t have the staying power to stick with it when the going gets tough then it s not likely to work. This book can help you understand this lesson before you spend blood, sweat and tears on a project that you re heart isn t into.

Set a Goal For Yourself




How much liability car insurance do I need? #how #much #car #insurance #do #i #need


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How much liability car insurance do I need?

Image Gallery: Car Safety The amount of liability insurance that you need depends on the value of the assets you’re protecting. See more car safety pictures.

Accidents always seem to happen when you’re short of funds, up to your eyeballs in debt and unable to take time off. However, the threat of a lawsuit or a massive payout to other victims can make a bad situation much, much worse. Fortunately, liability auto insurance can screen you from the worst of the financial fallout by indemnifying you (paying others for bills you’re held liable for, up to your coverage limit) and defending you (mounting a legal defense if necessary and covered under your policy). But how much liability car insurance do you really need? The answer depends on where you live, how much you stand to lose, how much risk you expose yourself to and how lucky you feel.

State laws handle liability in one of two ways. In tort law states, the insurer of the person legally found to have caused the accident compensates the other parties for damages. In a no-fault state. your own insurer pays you with no finding of fault taking place. In these states, you would probably carry a Personal Injury Protection policy (PIP) that pays for your medical expenses, rehabilitation, funeral costs, lost wages and so forth. No-fault states limit lawsuits but do not wholly prevent them, so many states allow for additional coverage called Residual Bodily Injury Liability Coverage as a hedge against possible lawsuits or PIP shortfalls.

Keep Reading Below

The amount of liability insurance that you need depends on the value of the assets you’re protecting, which can add up quickly if your policy covers a business. Commercial auto insurance policies usually have liability limits of approximately $1 million and may include provisions that cover rented vehicles or employees’ cars if driven for company business. If you plan to use your personal liability policy to cover your company’s vehicles, beware: Some policy provisions exclude business-related liability. Either way, if you use your vehicle for business, consider carrying a higher liability limit. If you’re ever sued, you’ll need to protect both your business and personal assets.

When choosing a policy, you should also consider how much risk you regularly carry. More drivers on your policy means more chances for accidents, and transporting more passengers (from a work or school carpool, for example) increases the number of third parties involved in any potential accident, thereby increasing your liability exposure.

Ultimately, there’s no all-purpose formula for how much liability car insurance you truly need. One rule of thumb recommends carrying a limit that at least equals to your net worth, balanced against your risk-aversion and how much you can afford to pay in premiums. If the same company insures your car, home and other property, you might also qualify for an umbrella policy — usually around $100,000 to $300,000 in general liability coverage, with an upper limit of about $1 million. Whatever you decide, find out your options by discussing your specific situation with an insurance agent.

For more information about insurance, the cost of car ownership and other related topics, follow the links on the next page.

Print |
a data-track-gtm Byline href http www.howstuffworks.com about-author.htm gerbis Nicholas Gerbis a How much liability car insurance do I need 14 July 2010. br HowStuffWorks.com. lt http auto.howstuffworks.com under-the-hood cost-of-car-ownership liability-car-insurance.htm gt 5 August 2017″ href=”#”>Citation Date




Cars from Charity – Free Charity Cars – Car Donation – Make A Wish – Cars for Needy – Cars for the Poor – Autos for the poor #free #charity #cars,charity #cars,free #cars,car #donation,donate #a #car,car #charity,free,donate #vehicle,donate #auto, #low #income, #poor, #divorced, #no #transportation, #need #a #car, #need #an #auto, #car #give #a #way, #free #drawing, #disaadvantaged,


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Receive a Car from Charity for FREE!

If you are a needy family or an individual where having a car would make a substantial difference in your life, you
could possibly be eligible to receive a car from a car charity organization or a nonprofit organization. If so, the car
you will receive will be absolutely free as someone with a heart has already donated it, just for someone like you.

Not having a car sometimes means not getting to work at the best job you possibly can because the bus doesn t go
that far. Or if it does go that far, you have to make so many stops and change buses so many times it will take you
hours just to get to work, and the same number of hours to get back. Plus sometimes public transportation can be
dangerous, especially for women and children. You really do have to be careful.

Not having a car also means something as simple as going to the grocery store can be quite a feat. Not to mention
trying to make doctor s visits or staying up with case worker visits or being able to go get your public assistance aid.
Receiving a car from charity can actually change your daily life to such an unbelievable degree, you may just be
shocked. You ll think you stepped into someone else s life.

The best part? If you qualify, you don t have to purchase the car. It will be donated to you absolutely free. Free is
something we can all use, but especially those in need.

General Qualifications to Receive a Car from Charity
The working poor who just can t make ends meet
Victims of natural disaster
Those with medical needs that limit work abilities
Domestic violence victims rebuilding their lives
Families or individuals living in transitional housing
Struggling military families
Those transitioning from public assistance back into the work force or into the work force for the first time
Nonprofit Organizations offering donated cars to their clients

There are some other circumstances that also qualify you to be able to receive a car from charity, so just check your
local car donation center or local nonprofit organization and simply apply. A few good sources to start with are:
http://www.onlinecardonation.org/charity-help.htm
http://www.freecharitycars.org/

Each car donation center and nonprofit organization is a little different, so be sure to ask the specific center or
nonprofit you are attempting to work with for their qualifications and requirements to receive a car from charity. As a
general guideline:
Most centers and nonprofits have specific paper applications to be filled out
Some centers and nonprofits accept plea letters
Some centers and nonprofits have online applications
If you are a caseworker attempting to apply for a client, you may be required to fill out a separate application
http://www.freecharitycars.org/has a social platform where you can join and vote for people in need of a car you
support in their efforts to get a free car from charity

There is help out there for you and light at the end of the tunnel. Life will get better. Take the first step now. All you
have to do is be eligible to receive a car from charity and take the necessary steps to apply. We wish you the best!

1-800-CHARITY CARSAward Winning Car Charity-Seen on CBS NBC-Full Retail Tax Deduction 800CharityCars.org
Make-A-Wish Car DonationGet 100% tax deduction, 501(c)(3) Easy, free towing, 30 seconds to do www.
WheelsForWishes.org
Kars4KidsCar Donation Fast Pickup, Maximum Tax Deduction. Quick and Easy. Donate Now! Kars4Kids.org




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


#small business loans

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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.

Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you’ll never miss a post.

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




Comprehensive vs, do i need collision coverage.#Do #i #need #collision #coverage


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Comprehensive vs. Collision Coverage

Do i need collision coverage

Do i need collision coverage

If you’ve recently purchased a new vehicle, you know that in order to drive in most states, you need to purchase a basic type of car insurance, but you may be overwhelmed by your coverage options. Comprehensive and collision are the two types of physical damage coverage available on car insurance policies. Both play an important role in keeping your vehicle in tip-top shape. Minor dents and dings all the way up to full-blown car crunching can be repaired, or the insurance company can at least pay out enough money to make you whole again.

Compare the two types of coverage to help determine what you need to protect your vehicle.

Comprehensive Coverage

Regardless of the car you drive or where you drive it, by owning and operating a vehicle and driving it on public roads, your car is vulnerable to all types of losses. Think of comprehensive coverage as an all-encompassing coverage that protects your vehicle against physical damage caused by anything other than a collision—and protects you from having to pay for it.

Comprehensive Key Points

Can be used in combination with any other coverage or even as a standalone coverage.

Covers contact with an animal, most commonly deer.

Provides protection against storm damage including wind, hail, and flood.

Repairs damage from vandals keying your car, breaking into your car, or even theft.

Often offers a reasonably priced coverage with a low deductible.

Collision Coverage

Collision coverage is probably the most important coverage to protect your vehicle against physical damage. It is not difficult to accidentally hit something when driving. Somebody is always at fault, and that someone could be you. Some of the most significant damage to your vehicle can come from collision with another vehicle, tree, pole, or guard rail.

Collision Key Points

Collision can only be purchased when combined with liability and comprehensive coverage.

Repairs damage when two vehicles in drive or reverse collide with each other.

Covers damage to your vehicle when you hit ice and slide into an inanimate object.

Pothole damage falls under collision coverage.

Collision coverage can get expensive, so to lower costs most people choose a $500 deductible or higher.

The “Best” Coverage

For some, the best coverage is the cheapest car insurance policy that makes them able to legally drive on the road. For others, the best coverage is the type that covers the full cost of repairs on your vehicle when you file a claim. The only way to be certain you are fully protected is to purchase both comprehensive coverage and collision coverage. Each coverage has its own job to do.

Comprehensive claims are a little more common because more people carry comprehensive coverage on their vehicles. It is the cheaper of the two types of physical damage coverage. Plus, comprehensive coerage addresses the animal- and weather-related damages that are so prevalent when it comes to vehicles.

Collision coverage is there for you when you make a mistake. It is very frustrating to cause damage to your own vehicle, but being covered on your insurance policy can help make you feel a little better.

When selecting coverage for your vehicle, the biggest thing to consider is the cost of the coverage versus the value of your vehicle and potential costs of repairs. Once you determine you have the ability to cover the damages out of your own pocket, it is time to reduce coverage.




Gather the Info You – ll Need #boston #business #journal


#apply for a business loan

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The SBA is not your only source for small business loans. State and local economic development agencies as well as numerous nonprofit organizations provide low-interest loans to small business owners who may not qualify for traditional commercial loans. This page will help to ensure that you are prepared when you decide to apply for a small business loan.

Documentation Needed for Small Business Loan Applications

While every loan program has specific forms you need to fill out and documents you need to submit, you will likely need to submit much of the same information for different loan packages. Before you start applying for loans, you should get some basic documentation together. The following are typical items that will be required for any small business loan application:

Personal Background. Either as part of the loan application or as a separate document, you will probably be asked to provide some personal background information, including previous addresses, names used, criminal record, educational background, etc.

Resumes. Some lenders require evidence of management or business experience, particularly for loans that are intended to be used to start a new business.

Business Plan. All loan programs require a sound business plan to be submitted with the loan application. The business plan should include a complete set of projected financial statements, including profit and loss, cash flow and a balance sheet.

Personal Credit Report. Your lender will obtain your personal credit report as part of the application process. However, you should obtain a credit report from all three major consumer credit rating agencies before submitting a loan application to the lender. Inaccuracies and blemishes on your credit report can hurt your chances of getting a loan approved. It’s critical you try to clear these up before beginning the application process.

Business Credit Report. If you are already in business, you should be prepared to submit a credit report for your business. As with the personal credit report, it is important to review your business’ credit report before beginning the application process.

Income Tax Returns. Most loan programs require applicants to submit personal and business income tax returns for the previous 3 years.

Financial Statements. Many loan programs require owners with more than a 20 percent stake in your business to submit signed personal financial statements. You may also be required to provide projected financial statements either as part of, or separate from, your business plan. It is a good idea to have these prepared and ready in case a program for which you are applying requires these documents to be submitted individually.

Bank Statements. Many loan programs require one year of personal and business bank statements to be submitted as part of a loan package.

Collateral. Collateral requirements vary greatly. Some loan programs do not require collateral. Loans involving higher risk factors for default require substantial collateral. Strong business plans and financial statements can help you avoid putting up collateral. In any case, it is a good idea to prepare a collateral document that describes cost/value of personal or business property that will be used to secure a loan.

Legal Documents. Depending on a loan’s specific requirements, your lender may require you to submit one or more legal documents. Make sure you have the following items in order, if applicable:

Business licenses and registrations required for you to conduct business

Articles of Incorporation

Copies of contracts you have with any third parties

Questions Your Lender Will Ask You

Forms vary by program and lending institution, but they all ask for the same information. You should be prepared to answer the following questions. It’s a good idea to have this information prepared before you fill out the application:

Why are you applying for this loan?

How will the loan proceeds be used?

What assets need to be purchased, and who are your suppliers?

What other business debt do you have, and who are your creditors?

Who are the members of your management team?




Which Web Host Do You Need? Six Small-Business Plans Compared #business #news


#business web hosting

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Which Web Host Do You Need? Six Small-Business Plans Compared

Websites don’t build themselves. They require a considerable investment of energy, expertise, and design know-how to construct and launch. But building a site is only half the story: Websites also have to be hosted on servers. ready for–you hope–the thousands of people who are dying to read your content, hire your firm, or pay for your services.

A comparison of the pricing and basic features of six Web hosts. Much like the servers that websites reside on, Web hosting services are rapidly approaching commodity status, as providers offer many of the same features while racing to the bottom on pricing. But although many Web hosting services look alike and cost about the same, appearances can be deceiving–there are nontrivial differences, particularly among higher-end plans. (Check out “Understanding Web Host Plans ” for more details on what various terms mean.)

While hundreds of options are available, this article takes a closer look at some of the big players (along with a few smaller ones). The chart shown here outlines several basic features:

Pricing: What will all of this cost you? All prices are rounded to the nearest dollar, and generally reflect the cheapest long-term contract available. Remember that discounts, promotions, paying up front, and signing up for multiyear contracts can cause these figures to fluctuate considerably.

Catch-all email: Does the host offer a service to route all email sent to any address (whether or not that address has been set up) to a catch-all inbox?

Email autoresponders: Is a service that can automatically respond to incoming email included?

Static IP addresses: Does the site provide static IP addresses (for an additional charge)?

24/7 phone support: Is round-the-clock support available at no charge?

Another chart, on the second page of this article, compares site-building tools and other features for developers.

We chose not to focus heavily on ISP-delivered Web hosting services, since generally you can purchase them only if you use that ISP for your Internet access. However, a basic plan usually comes free with your monthly account, and if your needs are (very) simple, using such a plan beats paying for a separate Web host.

Comcast

Let’s be real: The only reason anyone would host a business website with Comcast or another ISP is because it’s free, included with the price of your Internet service. And with that free service, you get what you pay for: Comcast allows an ultrabasic website with a maximum of three pages, no shopping carts or extra site tools, and just 10MB of storage space and a 100MB data-transfer limit each month. The management interface is spare.

This kind of service may fit some business users just fine, namely the ones who simply want to put a calling card on the Internet in order to stake their claim to a domain name, build up a little SEO, and provide contact information to prospective customers. But for most businesses, basic ISP hosting just won’t cut it for their needs.

You can upgrade the service plan so that it’s competitive with other hosts, but prices escalate exceedingly quickly. Comcast’s most expensive offering, at a stunning $80 added to your bill per month, is in line with the $4 or $5 monthly service plan that you can get from virtually anyone else.

BlueHost

BlueHost built its Web hosting management interface around the cPanel control panel, a truly ugly and utilitarian system that is nonetheless the industry standard today. cPanel is designed for pros who know what they’re doing, and BlueHost offers little hand-holding if you need help getting started (although the company promises average tech support hold times of less than 30 seconds).

But what BlueHost lacks in friendliness it makes up for in exhaustiveness: With over 75 installation scripts at hand, you can point and click your way to building just about any kind of website–blog, wiki, e-commerce–without a lot of fuss. The service plan is unremarkable yet comprehensive and–the big draw for most BlueHost customers (including this writer)–cheap. Pro packages can reach $20 a month, but most customers squeak by on the less-than-$4-per-month basic plan .

1 1

You surely know the name–any computer-magazine reader should be familiar with 1 1. thanks to its generous print-advertising budget. 1 1 lets you configure your service in one of two ways: either with a traditional Linux or Windows hosting plan, or with a unique plan called 1 1 MyWebsite.

The main difference between the two is that the latter includes the MyWebsite website-building app, a surprisingly powerful and easy-to-use system that gives you drag-and-drop design capabilities and hundreds of templates to use on your hosted website. We found using MyWebsite even easier than setting up a site in a simple tool like Blogger, and businesses with modest needs will probably love the features. It’s just a shame that MyWebsite isn’t also included as an option with the traditional hosting options. If you go with a more standard Linux hosting account, the default site-building tool you get is a much less exciting app called 1 1 WebsiteBuilder.

Beyond those tools, 1 1’s control panel is decidedly limited, and a bit confusing. But once you find the boatload of install scripts available, you’ll discover that they’re among the best in the industry. Along with various homegrown apps (including its own shopping-cart system), 1 1 supports a bevy of industry-standard add-ons, and it even has mobile website management and monitoring tools for your smartphone. 1 1 also touts its uptime, noting that it stores user data simultaneously in two separate data centers located 20 miles apart to guard against disasters.

If you do consider 1 1, remember to skip the stripped-down Starter package. The Unlimited and Business plans are available for essentially the same price, and offer much more in the way of features.

Which Web Host Do You Need? Six.




What You Need to About Small Business Templates #business #marketing


#business templates

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What You Need to About Small Business Templates

There was a time, long ago, when the company opened a new process which was relatively unexplored. When you look back to the colonial times it was not very many businesses. The town Baker was not very competitive because it was probably the only baker around. Fast forward to today, and the small business has become a very big business. Small companies have already started so often that there are many small business templates available when starting a business or perform functions within the company.

There are templates out there today to help a person in the process of launching new businesses. If you look at the franchises available today, many of them are opening every store in a certain way. It help investors to rationalize certain functions and marginal costs. If you do not do something the same way every time you all can do it much faster and often save a lot of money at the same time.

Small shops, where the ownership remains in the hands of large corporations are well known to the following pattern. They are able to benefit even more from the individual store, because the corporation owns a very small store fronts. Many times they ensure the creation of new shop windows and buy in bulk. This saves even more money. Creating a cookie cutter store and perform the same function, and save a lot of time.







Why Your Business Phones Need an Upgrade #business #cars


#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 Business Partnerships #advertise #my #business


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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.




What You Need to Know About Stock Markets Today #new #small #business #loans


#financial markets today

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What You Need to Know About Stock Markets Today

By Anne Kates Smith | October 2010

Thanks to electronic trading, the stock market is wilder than ever.

Editor’s Note: We are re-featuring this guide to understanding the markets in light of the announcement on February 15 that the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange has agreed to merge with Deutsche Boerse. The merger would create the world’s largest operator of financial markets. Deutsche Boerse shareholders would own 60% of the merged company; NYSE Euronext shareholders, 40%. The text below has been updated since publication in the October 2010 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the data is as of February 16, 2011.

1. There’s no “there” there. You may picture a bustling exchange, where commerce begins and ends with the clang of a bell. But the “stock market” is an increasingly fragmented collection of more than 50 trading platforms, almost all electronic, with various protocols, rules and oversight.

2. The Big Board has shrunk. Images of the New York Stock Exchange still dominate business-news broadcasts. But, in fact, just 34% of the trading volume in stocks listed on the NYSE actually occurs on the exchange, down from 79% in 2005. Nasdaq, the first electronic exchange, accounts for about one-fifth of all U.S. stock trading. Newer exchanges, such as Direct Edge, in Jersey City, N.J. and BATS Exchange, in Kansas City, Mo. each account for about 10% of trading volume. About 30% of U.S. trading volume takes place off exchanges.

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3. ECNs are the new matchmakers. Electronic communication networks match up buy and sell orders at specified prices for institutional investors and brokers. This is where “after-hours” trading occurs. In addition, hundreds of broker-dealers execute trades internally, filling orders out of their own inventory.

4. Some trades are shrouded in mystery. You’ve heard of dark stars. Now there are dark pools — private networks, sponsored by securities firms, where professionals trade without displaying price quotes to the public beforehand. Such dark pools account for more than 10% of stock-trading volume. The Securities and Exchange Commission wants to make dark pools more transparent to avoid a two-tier market that denies the public important pricing information.

5. You’re sure to get the best price — most days. According to an SEC rule, your trade is supposed to be routed to the platform with the best price at that moment. But when some venues aren’t functioning as normal, exchanges may override the rule. The rule didn’t apply during the “flash crash” of May 2010, when an intentional slowdown on the NYSE caused orders to be routed elsewhere, at lower prices.

6. There are fewer traffic cops. In the old days, specialists and market makers kept markets liquid by stepping up to buy — or sell — when a stampede of investors headed the other way. Now, not all exchanges require market makers. High-frequency traders, who program computers to profit from minute price discrepancies and can execute trades in milliseconds, were supposed to fill the void. But they don’t have to, despite the fact that they often account for 50% or more of total trading volume.

7. Stoplights are coming. A pilot plan, recently extended until April, calls for stock-by-stock circuit breakers that would be applicable across all trading platforms. The plan currently applies to stocks in Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, the Russell 1000 index and certain exchange-traded funds, and calls for a trading pause if the share price changes by 10% within a five-minute period. Since December, market makers in exchange-listed securities have been required to maintain continuous buy and sell quotes within a certain range of a security’s most recent share price, putting an end to occasionally ridiculous quotes, far removed from prevailing prices, that were never meant to be executed.




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


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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.




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


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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.

Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you’ll never miss a post.

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




Which Web Host Do You Need? Six Small-Business Plans Compared #business #plan #writers


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Which Web Host Do You Need? Six Small-Business Plans Compared

Websites don’t build themselves. They require a considerable investment of energy, expertise, and design know-how to construct and launch. But building a site is only half the story: Websites also have to be hosted on servers. ready for–you hope–the thousands of people who are dying to read your content, hire your firm, or pay for your services.

A comparison of the pricing and basic features of six Web hosts. Much like the servers that websites reside on, Web hosting services are rapidly approaching commodity status, as providers offer many of the same features while racing to the bottom on pricing. But although many Web hosting services look alike and cost about the same, appearances can be deceiving–there are nontrivial differences, particularly among higher-end plans. (Check out “Understanding Web Host Plans ” for more details on what various terms mean.)

While hundreds of options are available, this article takes a closer look at some of the big players (along with a few smaller ones). The chart shown here outlines several basic features:

Pricing: What will all of this cost you? All prices are rounded to the nearest dollar, and generally reflect the cheapest long-term contract available. Remember that discounts, promotions, paying up front, and signing up for multiyear contracts can cause these figures to fluctuate considerably.

Catch-all email: Does the host offer a service to route all email sent to any address (whether or not that address has been set up) to a catch-all inbox?

Email autoresponders: Is a service that can automatically respond to incoming email included?

Static IP addresses: Does the site provide static IP addresses (for an additional charge)?

24/7 phone support: Is round-the-clock support available at no charge?

Another chart, on the second page of this article, compares site-building tools and other features for developers.

We chose not to focus heavily on ISP-delivered Web hosting services, since generally you can purchase them only if you use that ISP for your Internet access. However, a basic plan usually comes free with your monthly account, and if your needs are (very) simple, using such a plan beats paying for a separate Web host.

Comcast

Let’s be real: The only reason anyone would host a business website with Comcast or another ISP is because it’s free, included with the price of your Internet service. And with that free service, you get what you pay for: Comcast allows an ultrabasic website with a maximum of three pages, no shopping carts or extra site tools, and just 10MB of storage space and a 100MB data-transfer limit each month. The management interface is spare.

This kind of service may fit some business users just fine, namely the ones who simply want to put a calling card on the Internet in order to stake their claim to a domain name, build up a little SEO, and provide contact information to prospective customers. But for most businesses, basic ISP hosting just won’t cut it for their needs.

You can upgrade the service plan so that it’s competitive with other hosts, but prices escalate exceedingly quickly. Comcast’s most expensive offering, at a stunning $80 added to your bill per month, is in line with the $4 or $5 monthly service plan that you can get from virtually anyone else.

BlueHost

BlueHost built its Web hosting management interface around the cPanel control panel, a truly ugly and utilitarian system that is nonetheless the industry standard today. cPanel is designed for pros who know what they’re doing, and BlueHost offers little hand-holding if you need help getting started (although the company promises average tech support hold times of less than 30 seconds).

But what BlueHost lacks in friendliness it makes up for in exhaustiveness: With over 75 installation scripts at hand, you can point and click your way to building just about any kind of website–blog, wiki, e-commerce–without a lot of fuss. The service plan is unremarkable yet comprehensive and–the big draw for most BlueHost customers (including this writer)–cheap. Pro packages can reach $20 a month, but most customers squeak by on the less-than-$4-per-month basic plan .

1 1

You surely know the name–any computer-magazine reader should be familiar with 1 1. thanks to its generous print-advertising budget. 1 1 lets you configure your service in one of two ways: either with a traditional Linux or Windows hosting plan, or with a unique plan called 1 1 MyWebsite.

The main difference between the two is that the latter includes the MyWebsite website-building app, a surprisingly powerful and easy-to-use system that gives you drag-and-drop design capabilities and hundreds of templates to use on your hosted website. We found using MyWebsite even easier than setting up a site in a simple tool like Blogger, and businesses with modest needs will probably love the features. It’s just a shame that MyWebsite isn’t also included as an option with the traditional hosting options. If you go with a more standard Linux hosting account, the default site-building tool you get is a much less exciting app called 1 1 WebsiteBuilder.

Beyond those tools, 1 1’s control panel is decidedly limited, and a bit confusing. But once you find the boatload of install scripts available, you’ll discover that they’re among the best in the industry. Along with various homegrown apps (including its own shopping-cart system), 1 1 supports a bevy of industry-standard add-ons, and it even has mobile website management and monitoring tools for your smartphone. 1 1 also touts its uptime, noting that it stores user data simultaneously in two separate data centers located 20 miles apart to guard against disasters.

If you do consider 1 1, remember to skip the stripped-down Starter package. The Unlimited and Business plans are available for essentially the same price, and offer much more in the way of features.

Which Web Host Do You Need? Six.




What You Need to About Small Business Templates #business #partnership


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What You Need to About Small Business Templates

There was a time, long ago, when the company opened a new process which was relatively unexplored. When you look back to the colonial times it was not very many businesses. The town Baker was not very competitive because it was probably the only baker around. Fast forward to today, and the small business has become a very big business. Small companies have already started so often that there are many small business templates available when starting a business or perform functions within the company.

There are templates out there today to help a person in the process of launching new businesses. If you look at the franchises available today, many of them are opening every store in a certain way. It help investors to rationalize certain functions and marginal costs. If you do not do something the same way every time you all can do it much faster and often save a lot of money at the same time.

Small shops, where the ownership remains in the hands of large corporations are well known to the following pattern. They are able to benefit even more from the individual store, because the corporation owns a very small store fronts. Many times they ensure the creation of new shop windows and buy in bulk. This saves even more money. Creating a cookie cutter store and perform the same function, and save a lot of time.







10 Influential Business Books You Need To Read To Be Successful #entrepreneurship #ideas


#business books

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10 Influential Business Books You Need To Read To Be Successful

10 Influential Business Books You Need To Read To Be Successful

Take a minute and think about some of the most successful people you know.

I d bet they re great with people, are super-productive, and think differently than most. After all, that s how they got to be where they are today.

Jealous of them? You don t have to be. You can learn these same skills by studying some of the best business books that can help you take your game to the next level. Here s 10 of my favorites.

1. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie s best-selling book that helped to launch a personal growth empire should be required reading for everyone who wants to learn how to build and nurture relationships for a lifetime. Read this book and you ll learn some simple advice than can help you build popularity points within your current network and just as important, expand it to others.

2. Focal Point by Brian Tracy

Got a lot on your to-do list? Of course you do. But what separates productive people from others is their ability to focus on a singular task at a time, and getting it done before moving on to the next one.

Sounds simple in theory, but this can be extremely difficult in practice. In Focal Point Brian Tracy offers tips to help build discipline and organization into your day so you can get more stuff done.

3. Purple Cow by Seth Godin

Creating a me-too product can be easy at the start but can doom you to business failure. That s why marketing maverick Seth Godin recommends creating a product that is truly different from anything already available in the marketplace.

In essence by making the product different you ll be building the marketing into the actual product development which just makes your actual marketing a helluva lot easier.

4. Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz

If you ve struggled with procrastination or small thinking, this is the book for you. In it Schwartz offers practical advice that can help you get inspired and motivated to create a bigger life for yourself. And with it can be a more lucrative and rewarding career.

5. Man s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankel

It can be difficult for lots of people to keep things in perspective, especially when working on high priority and urgent projects at work. Man s Search for Meaning can be a life-changing book in the sense that it can open your eyes to a first-hand experience of one of the greatest atrocities in the history of mankind, while also teaching a valuable lesson about having purpose.

6. 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

Solo-entrepreneurs can learn a ton from the guy who made lifestyle design popular. But guess what? The 4HWW isn t just for guys and girls who want to start a small online business.

Smart moves like outsourcing, following the 80/20 rule, and automating processes should be made by entry-level workers and established executives alike.

7. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

I remember sitting on a couch and opening this book on a Saturday morning, thinking I d get through a chapter and then get on with my day. Instead, about 12 hours later, I was finished with the book. The concepts in it were mind-blowing to me.

To think that thoughts can create your reality sounded a little far-fetched at first. But after going through the book and understanding that your thoughts create your beliefs, which lead to actions, which then lead to habits .well you can get where I m going with this.

If you focus your thoughts on success, achieving it will be much more likely than thinking about obstacles, failures and everything else that can get in your way.

8. One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard

If you re going to read one management book in your life, this should be it. It s simple. You can read it in an afternoon. And the advice works.

9. Lean Start-Up by Eric Ries

Before you create any sort of business you ll want to give Lean Start-Up a read through. Doing so can save you money, time and other resources you could have potentially wasted otherwise.

10. The Monk and the Riddle by Randy Komisar

The story Randy Komisar shares in the Monk and the Riddle offers advice about not just about how you need to think when starting a new business, but also about how to build a life you re passionate about.

Understanding the technical aspects of launching a start-up is great, but if you don t have the staying power to stick with it when the going gets tough then it s not likely to work. This book can help you understand this lesson before you spend blood, sweat and tears on a project that you re heart isn t into.

Set a Goal For Yourself




What You Need to Know About Stock Markets Today #loans #to #start #a #business


#financial markets today

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What You Need to Know About Stock Markets Today

By Anne Kates Smith | October 2010

Thanks to electronic trading, the stock market is wilder than ever.

Editor’s Note: We are re-featuring this guide to understanding the markets in light of the announcement on February 15 that the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange has agreed to merge with Deutsche Boerse. The merger would create the world’s largest operator of financial markets. Deutsche Boerse shareholders would own 60% of the merged company; NYSE Euronext shareholders, 40%. The text below has been updated since publication in the October 2010 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the data is as of February 16, 2011.

1. There’s no “there” there. You may picture a bustling exchange, where commerce begins and ends with the clang of a bell. But the “stock market” is an increasingly fragmented collection of more than 50 trading platforms, almost all electronic, with various protocols, rules and oversight.

2. The Big Board has shrunk. Images of the New York Stock Exchange still dominate business-news broadcasts. But, in fact, just 34% of the trading volume in stocks listed on the NYSE actually occurs on the exchange, down from 79% in 2005. Nasdaq, the first electronic exchange, accounts for about one-fifth of all U.S. stock trading. Newer exchanges, such as Direct Edge, in Jersey City, N.J. and BATS Exchange, in Kansas City, Mo. each account for about 10% of trading volume. About 30% of U.S. trading volume takes place off exchanges.

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3. ECNs are the new matchmakers. Electronic communication networks match up buy and sell orders at specified prices for institutional investors and brokers. This is where “after-hours” trading occurs. In addition, hundreds of broker-dealers execute trades internally, filling orders out of their own inventory.

4. Some trades are shrouded in mystery. You’ve heard of dark stars. Now there are dark pools — private networks, sponsored by securities firms, where professionals trade without displaying price quotes to the public beforehand. Such dark pools account for more than 10% of stock-trading volume. The Securities and Exchange Commission wants to make dark pools more transparent to avoid a two-tier market that denies the public important pricing information.

5. You’re sure to get the best price — most days. According to an SEC rule, your trade is supposed to be routed to the platform with the best price at that moment. But when some venues aren’t functioning as normal, exchanges may override the rule. The rule didn’t apply during the “flash crash” of May 2010, when an intentional slowdown on the NYSE caused orders to be routed elsewhere, at lower prices.

6. There are fewer traffic cops. In the old days, specialists and market makers kept markets liquid by stepping up to buy — or sell — when a stampede of investors headed the other way. Now, not all exchanges require market makers. High-frequency traders, who program computers to profit from minute price discrepancies and can execute trades in milliseconds, were supposed to fill the void. But they don’t have to, despite the fact that they often account for 50% or more of total trading volume.

7. Stoplights are coming. A pilot plan, recently extended until April, calls for stock-by-stock circuit breakers that would be applicable across all trading platforms. The plan currently applies to stocks in Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, the Russell 1000 index and certain exchange-traded funds, and calls for a trading pause if the share price changes by 10% within a five-minute period. Since December, market makers in exchange-listed securities have been required to maintain continuous buy and sell quotes within a certain range of a security’s most recent share price, putting an end to occasionally ridiculous quotes, far removed from prevailing prices, that were never meant to be executed.




Which Web Host Do You Need? Six Small-Business Plans Compared #ideas #for #starting #a #business


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Which Web Host Do You Need? Six Small-Business Plans Compared

Websites don’t build themselves. They require a considerable investment of energy, expertise, and design know-how to construct and launch. But building a site is only half the story: Websites also have to be hosted on servers. ready for–you hope–the thousands of people who are dying to read your content, hire your firm, or pay for your services.

A comparison of the pricing and basic features of six Web hosts. Much like the servers that websites reside on, Web hosting services are rapidly approaching commodity status, as providers offer many of the same features while racing to the bottom on pricing. But although many Web hosting services look alike and cost about the same, appearances can be deceiving–there are nontrivial differences, particularly among higher-end plans. (Check out “Understanding Web Host Plans ” for more details on what various terms mean.)

While hundreds of options are available, this article takes a closer look at some of the big players (along with a few smaller ones). The chart shown here outlines several basic features:

Pricing: What will all of this cost you? All prices are rounded to the nearest dollar, and generally reflect the cheapest long-term contract available. Remember that discounts, promotions, paying up front, and signing up for multiyear contracts can cause these figures to fluctuate considerably.

Catch-all email: Does the host offer a service to route all email sent to any address (whether or not that address has been set up) to a catch-all inbox?

Email autoresponders: Is a service that can automatically respond to incoming email included?

Static IP addresses: Does the site provide static IP addresses (for an additional charge)?

24/7 phone support: Is round-the-clock support available at no charge?

Another chart, on the second page of this article, compares site-building tools and other features for developers.

We chose not to focus heavily on ISP-delivered Web hosting services, since generally you can purchase them only if you use that ISP for your Internet access. However, a basic plan usually comes free with your monthly account, and if your needs are (very) simple, using such a plan beats paying for a separate Web host.

Comcast

Let’s be real: The only reason anyone would host a business website with Comcast or another ISP is because it’s free, included with the price of your Internet service. And with that free service, you get what you pay for: Comcast allows an ultrabasic website with a maximum of three pages, no shopping carts or extra site tools, and just 10MB of storage space and a 100MB data-transfer limit each month. The management interface is spare.

This kind of service may fit some business users just fine, namely the ones who simply want to put a calling card on the Internet in order to stake their claim to a domain name, build up a little SEO, and provide contact information to prospective customers. But for most businesses, basic ISP hosting just won’t cut it for their needs.

You can upgrade the service plan so that it’s competitive with other hosts, but prices escalate exceedingly quickly. Comcast’s most expensive offering, at a stunning $80 added to your bill per month, is in line with the $4 or $5 monthly service plan that you can get from virtually anyone else.

BlueHost

BlueHost built its Web hosting management interface around the cPanel control panel, a truly ugly and utilitarian system that is nonetheless the industry standard today. cPanel is designed for pros who know what they’re doing, and BlueHost offers little hand-holding if you need help getting started (although the company promises average tech support hold times of less than 30 seconds).

But what BlueHost lacks in friendliness it makes up for in exhaustiveness: With over 75 installation scripts at hand, you can point and click your way to building just about any kind of website–blog, wiki, e-commerce–without a lot of fuss. The service plan is unremarkable yet comprehensive and–the big draw for most BlueHost customers (including this writer)–cheap. Pro packages can reach $20 a month, but most customers squeak by on the less-than-$4-per-month basic plan .

1 1

You surely know the name–any computer-magazine reader should be familiar with 1 1. thanks to its generous print-advertising budget. 1 1 lets you configure your service in one of two ways: either with a traditional Linux or Windows hosting plan, or with a unique plan called 1 1 MyWebsite.

The main difference between the two is that the latter includes the MyWebsite website-building app, a surprisingly powerful and easy-to-use system that gives you drag-and-drop design capabilities and hundreds of templates to use on your hosted website. We found using MyWebsite even easier than setting up a site in a simple tool like Blogger, and businesses with modest needs will probably love the features. It’s just a shame that MyWebsite isn’t also included as an option with the traditional hosting options. If you go with a more standard Linux hosting account, the default site-building tool you get is a much less exciting app called 1 1 WebsiteBuilder.

Beyond those tools, 1 1’s control panel is decidedly limited, and a bit confusing. But once you find the boatload of install scripts available, you’ll discover that they’re among the best in the industry. Along with various homegrown apps (including its own shopping-cart system), 1 1 supports a bevy of industry-standard add-ons, and it even has mobile website management and monitoring tools for your smartphone. 1 1 also touts its uptime, noting that it stores user data simultaneously in two separate data centers located 20 miles apart to guard against disasters.

If you do consider 1 1, remember to skip the stripped-down Starter package. The Unlimited and Business plans are available for essentially the same price, and offer much more in the way of features.

Which Web Host Do You Need? Six.




Everything You Need to Know about Minority Business Grants – Small Business Blog #business #accounting


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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.



Buying a Business: What You Need to Know #cincinnati #business #courier


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Buying a Business: What You Need to Know

For some people, buying an existing business is a better option than starting one from scratch. Why? Because someone else has done much of the legwork for you, such as establishing a customer base, hiring employees, and negotiating a lease. Still, you’ll need to do some thorough research to make sure that what you see is what you’ll get.

What Type of Business Should You Buy?

Look for a business that has some connection to types of work you’ve done in the past, classes you’ve taken, or perhaps skills you’ve developed through a hobby. It’s almost always a mistake to buy a business you know little about, no matter how good it looks. For one thing, your lack of knowledge about the industry might cause you to overpay. And if you do buy the business, you’ll have to struggle up a steep learning curve afterward.

But do try to choose a business that you’re excited by. It’s easier to succeed in business when you enjoy the work you’re doing. To learn more, read Start the Right New Business for You.

Finding a Business to Buy

As you begin your hunt for the perfect company, consider starting close to home. For instance, if you’re currently employed by a small business you like, find out whether the present owner would consider selling. Or, ask business associates and friends for leads on similar businesses that may be on the market. Many of the best business opportunities surface by word of mouth — and are snapped up before their owners ever list them for sale.

Other avenues to explore include newspaper or online ads, trade associations, real estate brokers, and business suppliers. Finally, there are business brokers — people who earn a commission from business owners who need help finding buyers. It’s fine to use a broker to help locate a business opportunity, but it’s foolish to rely on a broker — who doesn’t make a commission until a sale is made — for advice about the quality of a business or the fairness of its selling price.

Research the Business’s History and Finances

Before you seriously consider buying a particular business, find out as much as you can about it. Thoroughly review copies of the business’s certified financial records, including cash flow statements, balance sheets, accounts payable and receivable, employee files including benefits and any employee contracts, and major contracts and leases, as well as any past lawsuits and other relevant information.

This review (lawyers call it “due diligence”) will not only help you understand how the company ticks, but will alert you to potential problems. For instance, if a major contract like a lease prohibits you from taking it over without the landlord or other party’s permission, you won’t want to finalize the deal without getting that permission.

Don’t be shy about asking for information about the business, and if the seller refuses to supply it, or if you find any misinformation, this may be a sign that you should look elsewhere. For an extensive list of questions you’ll want answered before committing to a purchase, see The Complete Guide to Buying a Business . by Fred S. Steingold (Nolo).

Closing the Deal

If you’ve thoroughly investigated a company and wish to go ahead with a purchase, there are a few more steps you’ll have to take. First, you and the owner will have to agree on a fair purchase price. A good way to do this is to hire an experienced appraiser. Next, you and the business owner will agree on which assets you’ll buy (such as a building and equipment) and the terms of payment. Most often, businesses are purchased on an installment plan, with a sizable down payment.

After you have outlined the terms on which you and the seller agree, you’ll need to create a written sales agreement and possibly have a lawyer review it before you sign on the dotted line. One good resource is The Complete Guide to Buying a Business . by Fred S. Steingold (Nolo), which contains a fill-in-the-blank sales agreement. Or if you’d prefer to hire a lawyer for help with this document-intensive process, Nolo’s Lawyer Directory will provide you with detailed personal profiles of lawyers in your area — all of whom have taken a pledge to treat their clients with respect.




11 Grants for Women-Owned Businesses You Need to Know About #getting #a #small #business #loan


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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.




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


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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.




Everything You Need to Know about Minority Business Grants – Small Business Blog #business #management #jobs


#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.



How to Name Your Business: 10 Things You Need to Know #naming #a #business


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Picking a killer name for your business is harder than it might seem.

One of the things to think about when choosing a company name is how it will look in the subject line of an email, according to cloud-based analytics company DataHero. Then there’s how it will sound when it’s said aloud. A number of leading companies in recent history have chosen names with between five and 10 letters and at least one hard consonant: Google. Starbucks, Verizon.

Before naming your company. check out these tips from entrepreneurs who have been through the process, some of whom have even named the same company more than once.

1. Don’t rush the process.

There’s no set amount of time it should take for you to settle on a name for your company, but know that it could take six months of iterating before you make a final decision. An important thing to remember is to continue working on other aspects of the business as you get closer to picking a name, says Charlie Miner, founder of furniture and lighting e-commerce company WorkOf. “You don’t want the process of naming to prevent you from moving the business forward,” he says.

2. Think about your audience.

Venture capital database CB Insights was initially founded under the name Chubby Brain, something co-founder Anand Sanwal says represented his attempt to come up with a name that was cool, funky, and “startup-sounding.” Sanwal’s philosophy changed after he heard from the investment banks and other institutional clients that would be citing his startup’s data in their marketing materials. “Nobody wanted to put ‘Source: Chubby Brain’ at the bottom of a deck, because it’s not a real big credibility builder,” Sanwal says.

3. Make it easy to spell.

It’s okay to use unique spelling, a la Chick-fil-A, but don’t make your company’s name so unconventional that it’s hard to remember. “I’ve seen some startup names where I’ll think, was that four ‘E’s’ or three?” CB Insights’s Sanwal says.

4. Short is better than long.

Not every company can have a short, simple, one-syllable name like Box, Dell, or Lyft, but if you come up with a great long name and a great short name, you should probably go with the short one. Acquiring the rights to short web domain names, however, can be pricey, if not impossible, so make sure to check the availability of your desired URL first.

5. Factor in search engine optimization.

Making your company easy to find in search engines is an important consideration when picking a name. If you’re going to use a proper noun for your name, you should think about how that decision will impact SEO. Choosing a common term like “Bell,” for example, would make it hard to place your company on the first (or second) page of search results on Google.

6. Enlist a focus group (or groups).

Once you have a shortlist of names you like, it’s a good idea to see how other people respond to each one. “Survey as many people as you can,” says Bridie Loverro, co-founder of QuadJobs, an online marketplace connecting college and grad students to local employers. “The name to choose may not necessarily be the one people like best, but the one they remember most.”

7. Keep your options open.

Having to change your name after pivoting from one business model to another isn’t the end of the world, but if you can pivot and still retain the brand identity you’ve already built up, that’s ideal. Picking a name that doesn’t pigeonhole your company to one specific service will help. “The goal is to create something that is broad enough to intuitively answer who you are and that speaks to your core customer base, but also gives you room to grow into other areas,” says Logan Sugarman, co-founder of wellness concierge service Refresh Body.

8. Keep mobile in mind.

If customers can buy your products through a mobile app, you might want to factor in how your company name will look on a mobile app icon. A friendly sounding name like Shopify might also lend itself better to mobile users compared a three-letter acronym that doesn’t convey anything about your brand.

9. Don’t obsess over a descriptive name.

The name of your company doesn’t have to make it clear what your business is. While it helps to reference the spirit of your brand in some way (think: food delivery company Seamless), avoid a name that sounds specific to an entirely different industry. As Neil Patel, co-founder of web analytics company Crazy Egg writes, the name NomNom suggests food, and therefore doesn’t work if you’re starting a financial services software-as-a-service company.

10. Make the name visually distinctive.

After you pick your name, you should consider adding a custom feature that makes the brand more than just the word or words in the title. Some examples include unconventional capitalization, combining two words into one, or adding a unique design touch, like the curled “C” in the first letter of the bedding startup Casper. “It’s about developing a more fully fleshed out visual identity,” says WorkOf’s Miner.




Which Web Host Do You Need? Six Small-Business Plans Compared #sba #grants


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Which Web Host Do You Need? Six Small-Business Plans Compared

Websites don’t build themselves. They require a considerable investment of energy, expertise, and design know-how to construct and launch. But building a site is only half the story: Websites also have to be hosted on servers. ready for–you hope–the thousands of people who are dying to read your content, hire your firm, or pay for your services.

A comparison of the pricing and basic features of six Web hosts. Much like the servers that websites reside on, Web hosting services are rapidly approaching commodity status, as providers offer many of the same features while racing to the bottom on pricing. But although many Web hosting services look alike and cost about the same, appearances can be deceiving–there are nontrivial differences, particularly among higher-end plans. (Check out “Understanding Web Host Plans ” for more details on what various terms mean.)

While hundreds of options are available, this article takes a closer look at some of the big players (along with a few smaller ones). The chart shown here outlines several basic features:

Pricing: What will all of this cost you? All prices are rounded to the nearest dollar, and generally reflect the cheapest long-term contract available. Remember that discounts, promotions, paying up front, and signing up for multiyear contracts can cause these figures to fluctuate considerably.

Catch-all email: Does the host offer a service to route all email sent to any address (whether or not that address has been set up) to a catch-all inbox?

Email autoresponders: Is a service that can automatically respond to incoming email included?

Static IP addresses: Does the site provide static IP addresses (for an additional charge)?

24/7 phone support: Is round-the-clock support available at no charge?

Another chart, on the second page of this article, compares site-building tools and other features for developers.

We chose not to focus heavily on ISP-delivered Web hosting services, since generally you can purchase them only if you use that ISP for your Internet access. However, a basic plan usually comes free with your monthly account, and if your needs are (very) simple, using such a plan beats paying for a separate Web host.

Comcast

Let’s be real: The only reason anyone would host a business website with Comcast or another ISP is because it’s free, included with the price of your Internet service. And with that free service, you get what you pay for: Comcast allows an ultrabasic website with a maximum of three pages, no shopping carts or extra site tools, and just 10MB of storage space and a 100MB data-transfer limit each month. The management interface is spare.

This kind of service may fit some business users just fine, namely the ones who simply want to put a calling card on the Internet in order to stake their claim to a domain name, build up a little SEO, and provide contact information to prospective customers. But for most businesses, basic ISP hosting just won’t cut it for their needs.

You can upgrade the service plan so that it’s competitive with other hosts, but prices escalate exceedingly quickly. Comcast’s most expensive offering, at a stunning $80 added to your bill per month, is in line with the $4 or $5 monthly service plan that you can get from virtually anyone else.

BlueHost

BlueHost built its Web hosting management interface around the cPanel control panel, a truly ugly and utilitarian system that is nonetheless the industry standard today. cPanel is designed for pros who know what they’re doing, and BlueHost offers little hand-holding if you need help getting started (although the company promises average tech support hold times of less than 30 seconds).

But what BlueHost lacks in friendliness it makes up for in exhaustiveness: With over 75 installation scripts at hand, you can point and click your way to building just about any kind of website–blog, wiki, e-commerce–without a lot of fuss. The service plan is unremarkable yet comprehensive and–the big draw for most BlueHost customers (including this writer)–cheap. Pro packages can reach $20 a month, but most customers squeak by on the less-than-$4-per-month basic plan .

1 1

You surely know the name–any computer-magazine reader should be familiar with 1 1. thanks to its generous print-advertising budget. 1 1 lets you configure your service in one of two ways: either with a traditional Linux or Windows hosting plan, or with a unique plan called 1 1 MyWebsite.

The main difference between the two is that the latter includes the MyWebsite website-building app, a surprisingly powerful and easy-to-use system that gives you drag-and-drop design capabilities and hundreds of templates to use on your hosted website. We found using MyWebsite even easier than setting up a site in a simple tool like Blogger, and businesses with modest needs will probably love the features. It’s just a shame that MyWebsite isn’t also included as an option with the traditional hosting options. If you go with a more standard Linux hosting account, the default site-building tool you get is a much less exciting app called 1 1 WebsiteBuilder.

Beyond those tools, 1 1’s control panel is decidedly limited, and a bit confusing. But once you find the boatload of install scripts available, you’ll discover that they’re among the best in the industry. Along with various homegrown apps (including its own shopping-cart system), 1 1 supports a bevy of industry-standard add-ons, and it even has mobile website management and monitoring tools for your smartphone. 1 1 also touts its uptime, noting that it stores user data simultaneously in two separate data centers located 20 miles apart to guard against disasters.

If you do consider 1 1, remember to skip the stripped-down Starter package. The Unlimited and Business plans are available for essentially the same price, and offer much more in the way of features.

Which Web Host Do You Need? Six.




Everything You Need to Know about Minority Business Grants – Small Business Blog #business #sale


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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.



Buying a Business: What You Need to Know #business #mentor


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Buying a Business: What You Need to Know

For some people, buying an existing business is a better option than starting one from scratch. Why? Because someone else has done much of the legwork for you, such as establishing a customer base, hiring employees, and negotiating a lease. Still, you’ll need to do some thorough research to make sure that what you see is what you’ll get.

What Type of Business Should You Buy?

Look for a business that has some connection to types of work you’ve done in the past, classes you’ve taken, or perhaps skills you’ve developed through a hobby. It’s almost always a mistake to buy a business you know little about, no matter how good it looks. For one thing, your lack of knowledge about the industry might cause you to overpay. And if you do buy the business, you’ll have to struggle up a steep learning curve afterward.

But do try to choose a business that you’re excited by. It’s easier to succeed in business when you enjoy the work you’re doing. To learn more, read Start the Right New Business for You.

Finding a Business to Buy

As you begin your hunt for the perfect company, consider starting close to home. For instance, if you’re currently employed by a small business you like, find out whether the present owner would consider selling. Or, ask business associates and friends for leads on similar businesses that may be on the market. Many of the best business opportunities surface by word of mouth — and are snapped up before their owners ever list them for sale.

Other avenues to explore include newspaper or online ads, trade associations, real estate brokers, and business suppliers. Finally, there are business brokers — people who earn a commission from business owners who need help finding buyers. It’s fine to use a broker to help locate a business opportunity, but it’s foolish to rely on a broker — who doesn’t make a commission until a sale is made — for advice about the quality of a business or the fairness of its selling price.

Research the Business’s History and Finances

Before you seriously consider buying a particular business, find out as much as you can about it. Thoroughly review copies of the business’s certified financial records, including cash flow statements, balance sheets, accounts payable and receivable, employee files including benefits and any employee contracts, and major contracts and leases, as well as any past lawsuits and other relevant information.

This review (lawyers call it “due diligence”) will not only help you understand how the company ticks, but will alert you to potential problems. For instance, if a major contract like a lease prohibits you from taking it over without the landlord or other party’s permission, you won’t want to finalize the deal without getting that permission.

Don’t be shy about asking for information about the business, and if the seller refuses to supply it, or if you find any misinformation, this may be a sign that you should look elsewhere. For an extensive list of questions you’ll want answered before committing to a purchase, see The Complete Guide to Buying a Business . by Fred S. Steingold (Nolo).

Closing the Deal

If you’ve thoroughly investigated a company and wish to go ahead with a purchase, there are a few more steps you’ll have to take. First, you and the owner will have to agree on a fair purchase price. A good way to do this is to hire an experienced appraiser. Next, you and the business owner will agree on which assets you’ll buy (such as a building and equipment) and the terms of payment. Most often, businesses are purchased on an installment plan, with a sizable down payment.

After you have outlined the terms on which you and the seller agree, you’ll need to create a written sales agreement and possibly have a lawyer review it before you sign on the dotted line. One good resource is The Complete Guide to Buying a Business . by Fred S. Steingold (Nolo), which contains a fill-in-the-blank sales agreement. Or if you’d prefer to hire a lawyer for help with this document-intensive process, Nolo’s Lawyer Directory will provide you with detailed personal profiles of lawyers in your area — all of whom have taken a pledge to treat their clients with respect.




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


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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 #business #flyer #templates


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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.




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


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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.




What You Need to Know About Stock Markets Today #business #partner #wanted


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What You Need to Know About Stock Markets Today

By Anne Kates Smith | October 2010

Thanks to electronic trading, the stock market is wilder than ever.

Editor’s Note: We are re-featuring this guide to understanding the markets in light of the announcement on February 15 that the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange has agreed to merge with Deutsche Boerse. The merger would create the world’s largest operator of financial markets. Deutsche Boerse shareholders would own 60% of the merged company; NYSE Euronext shareholders, 40%. The text below has been updated since publication in the October 2010 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the data is as of February 16, 2011.

1. There’s no “there” there. You may picture a bustling exchange, where commerce begins and ends with the clang of a bell. But the “stock market” is an increasingly fragmented collection of more than 50 trading platforms, almost all electronic, with various protocols, rules and oversight.

2. The Big Board has shrunk. Images of the New York Stock Exchange still dominate business-news broadcasts. But, in fact, just 34% of the trading volume in stocks listed on the NYSE actually occurs on the exchange, down from 79% in 2005. Nasdaq, the first electronic exchange, accounts for about one-fifth of all U.S. stock trading. Newer exchanges, such as Direct Edge, in Jersey City, N.J. and BATS Exchange, in Kansas City, Mo. each account for about 10% of trading volume. About 30% of U.S. trading volume takes place off exchanges.

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3. ECNs are the new matchmakers. Electronic communication networks match up buy and sell orders at specified prices for institutional investors and brokers. This is where “after-hours” trading occurs. In addition, hundreds of broker-dealers execute trades internally, filling orders out of their own inventory.

4. Some trades are shrouded in mystery. You’ve heard of dark stars. Now there are dark pools — private networks, sponsored by securities firms, where professionals trade without displaying price quotes to the public beforehand. Such dark pools account for more than 10% of stock-trading volume. The Securities and Exchange Commission wants to make dark pools more transparent to avoid a two-tier market that denies the public important pricing information.

5. You’re sure to get the best price — most days. According to an SEC rule, your trade is supposed to be routed to the platform with the best price at that moment. But when some venues aren’t functioning as normal, exchanges may override the rule. The rule didn’t apply during the “flash crash” of May 2010, when an intentional slowdown on the NYSE caused orders to be routed elsewhere, at lower prices.

6. There are fewer traffic cops. In the old days, specialists and market makers kept markets liquid by stepping up to buy — or sell — when a stampede of investors headed the other way. Now, not all exchanges require market makers. High-frequency traders, who program computers to profit from minute price discrepancies and can execute trades in milliseconds, were supposed to fill the void. But they don’t have to, despite the fact that they often account for 50% or more of total trading volume.

7. Stoplights are coming. A pilot plan, recently extended until April, calls for stock-by-stock circuit breakers that would be applicable across all trading platforms. The plan currently applies to stocks in Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, the Russell 1000 index and certain exchange-traded funds, and calls for a trading pause if the share price changes by 10% within a five-minute period. Since December, market makers in exchange-listed securities have been required to maintain continuous buy and sell quotes within a certain range of a security’s most recent share price, putting an end to occasionally ridiculous quotes, far removed from prevailing prices, that were never meant to be executed.




5 Small Business Magazines You Need to Be Reading #business #from #home


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5 Must-Read Magazines for Your Small Business

You may be asking yourself, why am I soliciting print advice from a digital marketing resource center? Well, we at Get Busy Media find value in content that helps small businesses solve problems and grow; regardless of how and in what format this content is packaged. Today we’re going to take you through our five favorite small business magazines and why you, as a business owner, need to be consulting these resources.

Here are our top 5 small business magazines (and their tablet companions) :

1. Inc.

Inc. is the veritable bible for small business owners. If you were stuck on a desert island selling widgets and had only one magazine to consult from, I would recommend Inc hands down. This magazine is chock-full of amazing statistics, case studies, interviews and reviews about small business owners and startups who have found success and why. Too many young readers today are inundated with stories of successful tech startups. Rest assured that Inc. will provide you with a wide variety of successful small business stories. They will provide you with stories of why learning to tell jokes is good for business to a who’s who of crowdfunding platforms and which ones small businesses should leverage depending on their specific needs.

  • Get Real by Jason Fried – co-founder of 37 Signals (software company that created Basecamp) and author of Rework pens this column that normally appears between pages 35 and 40
  • Crunching the Numbers – I love the charts and graphs that are included in this section. For instance, did you know that the cities that experienced the greatest increase in the number of jobs at companies with fewer than 100 employees from August 10 to August 11 were Orlando, Atlanta and Greensboro, North Carolina (who would have guessed these cities?)
  • Tech Trends­­ – John Brandon does a great job with this column. He reviews all the latest gadgets and new technology that make your life as a small business owner easier.

iPad app: Appears that as of February, 2012 Inc. does not have an iPad app based on my extensive searches in the App. store that returned no results for this magazine.

2. Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur magazine is a must have for anyone looking to start a small business. Entrepreneur’s target is more narrowly focused than Inc’s but that’s what makes it so great. Within this magazine you will find every pain point imaginable to starting and running a profitable business (economy, work/life balance issues, co-founder discord, death of a co-founder, production issues, supply chain problems, to name just a few). You will find articles ranging from how a 14-year old kid started his own candle company based on manly scents (fresh cut grass, steak and wood chips, to name a few) to how two guys pivoted and turned their failing lifestyle website into a flash deals site and made a profit in the first month.

  • Lead Gen ­– Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs.com and Co-Author of Content Rules authors this column that speaks to the power of great content and how to reach your customers through online content.
  • Linked – Chris Brogan. Founder of Human Business Works and co-author of Trust Agents is one of the preeminent experts in relationship and digital marketing. If you have enough time to read only one column in this magazine each month, read his.

iPad app: This app needs some work. When you zoom in to read on the iPad, the text becomes difficult to read. The abundance of ads on this app is also bothersome and takes away from the overall experience.

Cost. Free (comes with Entrepreneur print subscription)

3. Fast Company

Of the three magazines we have reviewed thus far, Fast Company is certainly the edgiest and hippest. To be honest, there’s a reason why this publication is #3 on the list behind Inc and Entrepreneur. A salient example for those who like sports, is that Fast Company is to ESPN The Magazine what Inc. is to Sports Illustrated. SI is the preeminent resource in sports journalism in the United States, much as Inc. is widely regarded as the benchmark for publications for small businesses and startups. ESPN the Magazine on the other hand is flashy, heavy on images and graphics and appeals to a hipper, younger generation than Sports Illustrated. By no means is this a bad thing, but I felt that I should use this example to illustrate the difference between Fast Company and their approach versus Inc.’s approach.

One aspect of Fast Company that I enjoy much more than the previous two publications on this list is their long form feature stories. Fast Company’s featured stories tend to be much more content-rich and just plain longer in general than its counterparts. I love that I can sit down and read one of these stories and am captivated for 20 minutes.

  • Tech Edge­ – authored by Farhad Manjoo, this column is very similar to Tech Trends in Inc. just with a little more irreverence.

iPad app: Appears that as of February, 2012 Fast Company does not have an iPad app based on my extensive searches in the App. store that returned no results for this magazine.

4. Wired

Wired is an incredible magazine. I don’t care who you are, this magazine is always, always visually stunning and filled with incredible content about science and technology. There is no doubt in my mind that Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired. sits down with all departments within the company to ensure that design, content and layout all flow and play nice together. While this magazine tends to be very science and tech heavy, there are amazing pieces of information here that are applicable to small businesses, especially those who are progressive and technology-oriented.

  • Dear Mr. Know-it-all – this is an awesome column where Mr. Know it All fields questions from those looking to navigate their issues in the 21st century. Some questions may surprise you, but you’ll find the answers even more interesting.
  • Test – they test everything from Universal remotes to solar charges to ultrabooks – very neat column.

iPad app – amazing layout (which is par for the course for Wired) but loading the iPad edition by my count takes between 6 and 8 minutes (depending on the length of the issue), which in my opinion is tired not wired.

Cost. Free (comes with Wired print subscription)

5. Bloomberg Businessweek

Bloomberg Businessweek is obviously a behemoth in the business and financial news sector. While this periodical isn’t tailored specifically for small businesses and startups, there’s a ton of information you can cull from Bloomberg. The great thing about Bloomberg is that it’s laid out in a format that is easy-to-read and digestible. A few sections I particularly enjoy are the Technology and Companies and Industries sections. Both contain information that is pertinent for small businesses.

iPad app – I haven’t played around much with the app on my iPad but from my limited experience, this seems like another great app for the iPad

Cost. Free (comes with Bloomberg print subscription)

What do you think of my list of the top small business magazines? Who did I miss? Do you disagree with any of my choices? We would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave your thoughts in the Comments section below.

About Jim Armstrong

Jim Armstrong is the Co-Founder of Get Busy Media and a paid search specialist. Since 2008, Jim has built his knowledge around emerging media and leveraged several experiences to develop a keen understanding of internet marketing. His core competencies include search marketing, SEO, email marketing, social media marketing and online reputation management. Jim currently works for Google, as an account manager. When not diving headfirst into his next project, Jim enjoys spending time with his family, fishing and writing. Jim on Google+

Comments

I love Forbes online and have followed some of their contributors in particular.




How to Name Your Business: 10 Things You Need to Know #business #loans #rates


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Picking a killer name for your business is harder than it might seem.

One of the things to think about when choosing a company name is how it will look in the subject line of an email, according to cloud-based analytics company DataHero. Then there’s how it will sound when it’s said aloud. A number of leading companies in recent history have chosen names with between five and 10 letters and at least one hard consonant: Google. Starbucks, Verizon.

Before naming your company. check out these tips from entrepreneurs who have been through the process, some of whom have even named the same company more than once.

1. Don’t rush the process.

There’s no set amount of time it should take for you to settle on a name for your company, but know that it could take six months of iterating before you make a final decision. An important thing to remember is to continue working on other aspects of the business as you get closer to picking a name, says Charlie Miner, founder of furniture and lighting e-commerce company WorkOf. “You don’t want the process of naming to prevent you from moving the business forward,” he says.

2. Think about your audience.

Venture capital database CB Insights was initially founded under the name Chubby Brain, something co-founder Anand Sanwal says represented his attempt to come up with a name that was cool, funky, and “startup-sounding.” Sanwal’s philosophy changed after he heard from the investment banks and other institutional clients that would be citing his startup’s data in their marketing materials. “Nobody wanted to put ‘Source: Chubby Brain’ at the bottom of a deck, because it’s not a real big credibility builder,” Sanwal says.

3. Make it easy to spell.

It’s okay to use unique spelling, a la Chick-fil-A, but don’t make your company’s name so unconventional that it’s hard to remember. “I’ve seen some startup names where I’ll think, was that four ‘E’s’ or three?” CB Insights’s Sanwal says.

4. Short is better than long.

Not every company can have a short, simple, one-syllable name like Box, Dell, or Lyft, but if you come up with a great long name and a great short name, you should probably go with the short one. Acquiring the rights to short web domain names, however, can be pricey, if not impossible, so make sure to check the availability of your desired URL first.

5. Factor in search engine optimization.

Making your company easy to find in search engines is an important consideration when picking a name. If you’re going to use a proper noun for your name, you should think about how that decision will impact SEO. Choosing a common term like “Bell,” for example, would make it hard to place your company on the first (or second) page of search results on Google.

6. Enlist a focus group (or groups).

Once you have a shortlist of names you like, it’s a good idea to see how other people respond to each one. “Survey as many people as you can,” says Bridie Loverro, co-founder of QuadJobs, an online marketplace connecting college and grad students to local employers. “The name to choose may not necessarily be the one people like best, but the one they remember most.”

7. Keep your options open.

Having to change your name after pivoting from one business model to another isn’t the end of the world, but if you can pivot and still retain the brand identity you’ve already built up, that’s ideal. Picking a name that doesn’t pigeonhole your company to one specific service will help. “The goal is to create something that is broad enough to intuitively answer who you are and that speaks to your core customer base, but also gives you room to grow into other areas,” says Logan Sugarman, co-founder of wellness concierge service Refresh Body.

8. Keep mobile in mind.

If customers can buy your products through a mobile app, you might want to factor in how your company name will look on a mobile app icon. A friendly sounding name like Shopify might also lend itself better to mobile users compared a three-letter acronym that doesn’t convey anything about your brand.

9. Don’t obsess over a descriptive name.

The name of your company doesn’t have to make it clear what your business is. While it helps to reference the spirit of your brand in some way (think: food delivery company Seamless), avoid a name that sounds specific to an entirely different industry. As Neil Patel, co-founder of web analytics company Crazy Egg writes, the name NomNom suggests food, and therefore doesn’t work if you’re starting a financial services software-as-a-service company.

10. Make the name visually distinctive.

After you pick your name, you should consider adding a custom feature that makes the brand more than just the word or words in the title. Some examples include unconventional capitalization, combining two words into one, or adding a unique design touch, like the curled “C” in the first letter of the bedding startup Casper. “It’s about developing a more fully fleshed out visual identity,” says WorkOf’s Miner.




11 Grants for Women-Owned Businesses You Need to Know About #small #business #start #up


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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.




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