5 Sources of Financing For Small Business Growth

In the experience of many small businesses over the years, one thing is certain – no matter what type of business you start, it is going to require money from somewhere. Although many entrepreneurs are one-person companies, raising sufficient money is often overlooked seriously by many new startups. The word sufficient here is defined as the amount of money that will really make this business succeed through practical and aggressive means.

Most of the time, the passion of starting a new business overtakes common sense and a real clear idea of the startup and operating capital needed is lacking. So it is advised that when you consider shopping for money to start your business, that you do so after completing some form of a business plan. Even if you take money out of your own pocket or borrow on the equity on your home or from your credit card, it is essential that you know ahead of time that it will be well spent.

Let’s take a look at the most popular options for financing small companies.

Credit Cards

This is the easiest type of money to obtain. According to the Small and Medium Size Business Survey of 2007 by the National Small Business Association (NASB) credit cards are the number 1 financing choice of 61% of businesses of 0 to 4 employees. Frequently, the instant that a small business is formed, the owner takes the EIN number to the bank and starts a checking account. Oftentimes, these small business owners are encouraged to sign up for a credit card and offered favorable terms (sometimes 0% financing) for the first few months.

The problem with credit cards is that the interest rate is often very high at 15 to 20% + and according to the NASB, 71% of small and medium-sized businesses are carrying balances from month to month. This has grown from 64% in 2000. The amount of interest expense carried thus obviously affects profitability and cash flow. If credit cards are used as the principal source of financing, the situation is even worse because the amount borrowed is often higher in this case.

The advantage of credit cards is that there are no barriers to this form of borrowing. This is easy money to obtain. There is no system of checks and balances to ensure that the purpose for which the financing is being carried out is qualified by formal business planning and review.

Earnings of the Business

This may seem a bit obvious, but plowing cash back into the firm from earnings is a form of financing. It is important to keep that in mind, because the cash that becomes available from operations could alternatively be used as a distribution to owners or shareholders. Some of these owners may require that they receive distributions. Depending on the stage of the business, this could have deleterious effects on the business, with respect to growth.

Putting money back into the business should be done consciously, with a clear idea for what specifically the money will be used. If the money is getting put back strictly to grow inventory, it may take a much longer time to grow the business. However, if the money is getting put back to invest in systems and people that represent critical choke points in the current business operations, that is a much better plan for higher growth.

Line of Credit

This could come in the form of a business asset or home secured loan. This means that the bank will utilize the company’s property (equipment, building, accounts receivables) or personal property (usually your home) to ensure that they will obtain significant value in the event that you default on your loan. This is also a much easier form of loan to obtain however is best used for incremental financing not a major infusion of cash.

Bank Loan

One of the best strategies early in the business is to establish good relationships with a community bank in your area with assets around $100 to $200 million. Ideally, their investments in the sub-prime mortgage business are limited so that their interest in lending in general is not tainted. Discuss your business and forthcoming lending interests with the individual that has the final say so on the loan approval. Unsecured loans will be the only option for new businesses and usually have serious limitations on the amount that can be financed and usually comes with higher interest rates.

Private Equity Firms

These are venture capital or private investors that will invest in your business in return for some direct control (or say so) into company matters so that they can extract the return that they expect from your company. This requires that you carefully choose from people/firms with whom you develop a good rapport and that are familiar with your type of business.

Private equity is a good choice for small businesses that need to move to the next level due to limitations on the current business that presents obstacles to growth. This is because, the firms that will invest their money will want to see a good operating and financial track record before they inject their money.

Good advice for small companies at this level is to hire an investment banker. Although this carries a cost to achieve this financing, it allows the banker to attend to this specialized form of financing and allow you to keep focused on running your business. One thing is certain, you will be required to complete a formal business plan for this option.

Video Marketing – Trump the Competition and Win New Customers In No Time

As a savvy marketer, you’re always looking for an edge. Competition for customers is keen. You need to generate leads, build your brand, and promote your products and services.

Fortunately, online video marketing helps you do that. And when it’s properly integrated you’ll see results in a zip.

Simply put video marketing works and now ranks as the sixth most popular content marketing tactic. Seventy percent of B2B marketers create online video.

Let’s examine five compelling facts about online video marketing:

Fact #1: Online video marketing is exploding

To say that video marketing is growing is an understatement. Its rate of acceptance and adoption is remarkable. Alexa, for example, ranks YouTube, as the third most popular website in the world. In just the U.S., YouTube has over 189 million unique viewers.

But effective marketing must be targeted. For B2B marketers that’s not a problem. Today, 83% of senior executives watch more online video than last year, according to a survey by Forbes Insights.

This means you can achieve greater exposure. More viewers – viewers that matter – lead to more customers. And more customers lead to more sales. You won’t have to explain this to your boss.

Fact #2: Online video marketing is versatile

One reason online video is so popular lies in its versatility. Marketers can use online video to repurpose other marketing materials such as white papers and case studies.

Also, marketers can promote their products and services using a fresh delivery method that informs, educates and even entertains prospects.

Internet videos can be found in e-newsletters, blogs and websites. And prospects and customers can subscribe to them as RSS feeds.

Let’s not forget social media. Videos abound on sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, to name a few.

Versatility translates into extraordinary marketing power. Video introduces a new way of communicating. It enhances existing marketing platforms by bringing them to life, such as email marketing.

This uncovers a sea of new consumers who perhaps wouldn’t “read” your content. Viewing videos is faster and in many cases more preferable to reading text. Now you’re reaching a wider audience.

Fact #3: Shareability is fast and effortless

In the same Forbes study mentioned above, 54% of senior executives said they share

videos with their colleagues every week. A slightly greater percentage, 59%, says they receive work-related videos.

Again, these statistics show that online videos are highly shareable. More important to B2B marketers is that decision makers share and receive these videos.

The future for sharing videos online is bright. The data suggest this trend will significantly increase. Younger executives share videos at much greater rates. While 47% of all executive say they post videos to social networks, that percentage increases to 69% for younger executives.

Fact #4: Video Search Engine Optimization Extends Reach and Access

Search engine optimization work wonders for textual content. And it works especially well for videos. As with text, video content has to be useful. Relevant and valuable content attracts prospects.

For videos embedded on your website, you can optimize videos by including keywords in the title. And use those keywords in the description.

On YouTube you have three opportunities to add keywords. A form pops up that includes fields for the title, the description and tags.

Optimizing your videos makes them easier for your target audience to find. Keep those senior executives in mind when optimizing your videos.

Fact #5: Internet Video Achieves Great Impact with Low Cost

By now, I’m sure you agree that video marketing has great impact. It reaches millions of viewers, depending on the platform you use. Its shareability is instantaneous. And it does a good job in reaching and attracting your target market.

Video drives action. According to a Forrester report, click-through rates easily double and even triple when inserting video into emails.

Michael Miller, author of The Idiot’s Guide to Video Marketing estimates that a business can invest as little as a $1,000 dollars to develop quality videos. Some businesses may not need an investment at all.

Round Out Your Marketing Campaigns with Video

If you haven’t already integrated videos into your marketing, consider adding it now.

You can easily rev up your lead generation and branding by adding online video to your marketing mix. Video has many advantages with no obvious downside.

It adds another dimension to your marketing content, while expanding your prospect universe. More viewers lead to more conversions. More conversions lead to more profits.

It’s fast. It’s affordable. Most importantly, your customers love it.

3 Tips To Make Sure You Avoid Foreclosure At All Costs

After the recent real estate boom in Texas and nationwide, there are many homeowners concerned about lagging property values, spiking mortgage payments and the economy in general. When the dream of homeownership is threatened by the possibility of default on a mortgage, Texas homeowners have avenues available to them to avoid foreclosure. Here are three things you can do to avoid foreclosure of your Texas home.

Know your refinance options.

If you have an adjustable rate mortgage or interest-only mortgage, you can and should plan for the time when your payment “adjusts.” It’s usually going to be much higher than your introductory payments.

But it’s not a good idea to count on refinancing before your payment adjusts to avoid a payment spike. Property values could stagnate, someone in your household could lose a job, or you may have unforeseen expenses in the meantime that would make it difficult to refinance.

While you shouldn’t count on refinancing as a slam dunk solution, it’s important to know your options in advance. You’ll get the best refinanced loan if you own at least 20 percent equity in your home when you apply. If that is unlikely, because of stagnating property values or the fact you haven’t paid down enough principal, research your options and know how much a refinanced loan is likely to cost in closing costs and fees. The time to understand what refinanced loan is best for you is before you get a drastic monthly payment adjustment.

Contact and work with your lender.

Many homeowners are reluctant to let their lender know they’re having trouble or are anticipating problems making their monthly payments. But it’s in your lender’s interest to make sure you continue paying on your loan, and they are always willing to discuss options with you. Contact them as soon as you foresee problems.

If you wait and begin getting default notices from your lender, definitely do not ignore them. They very worst thing you can do is pretend you don’t have a problem.

Your lender may talk to you about several options. One is loan forbearance, in which you stop making payments for a certain amount of time until you’re back on your feet. Another is a payment plan for repaying past due payments and fees. You may even learn about a modified loan that is easier on your financial situation. There may be any number of other constructive options. Don’t hesitate to work with your lender!

Consult with a listing agent

One option available to Texas homeowners behind on their payments is a “short sale.” In a short sale your lender agrees to let you sell your home for less than the balance you owe on your mortgage. Your lender may still work out a repayment plan with you for the difference, and the difference between what you sell for an the market value may be treated as income for tax purposes, so this isn’t a totally painless option. Still, it is increasingly a more desirable course for troubled homeowners than foreclosure.

Whether you live in Dallas TX, Houston, Austin, or anywhere else in Texas, a local listing agent can help you determine the likely sales price of your home on the open market, and help you market your home as a short sale. A listing agent’s expertise in the CITY real estate market can be invaluable if you’re considering a short sale to avoid foreclosure.