2020 Economy: Make Sure Your Business is Ready

Thinking about creating a new year business plan for 2020? If so, consider spending a little extra time to make three instead. That way, you can operate your business with the ability to accelerate and slow down to reach your destination as soon as possible, while avoiding an accident. That’s why three plans are better than one.

No need to worry, though. It won’t take three times as long as writing a single new year business plan. The second and third plans are simple modifications of your basic “medium speed” plan. The foundational plan is based on your best guess of what you can expect business conditions to be in the coming year. You can downshift or upshift to the other two plans a few months into 2020 if things are turning out not as well as you had expected, or, ideally, even better.

What Are Your Sales Drivers?

If you usually create a business plan by extrapolating current year revenue and expense trends and put them into the next year’s budget, it’s time to sharpen your pencil. What are the main drivers of your sales?

First, you’ll need to think about how your business is affected by various factors. Identify the most important ones. Then, try to estimate the impact each has on your business performance.

Depending upon the kind of business you’re in, you’re likely to find that some of the following “macro” factors impact your annual revenue results:

  • The overall strength of the local and / or national economy
  • The population growth rate in your community, particularly any influx of the kind of new residents who are your best sales prospects
  • Consumer and commercial interest rates
  • Labor market conditions impacting your ability to find and keep good employees on board affordably

Add to that set of revenue forecast variables any factors unique to your business, including:

  • The planned introduction of new products and services, or discontinuation of any current ones
  • The anticipated impact of any new sales and marketing strategy, including planned opening of new business locations
  • Projected efficiency gains, whether through new technology, processes or staff training, enabling an increase in your output of products or services at competitive prices

Setting An Expense Budget

The other side of the budgeting part of creating a new year business plan is expenses. Those are usually easier to predict than revenue. Most expense categories correlate to your current fixed expenses, such as rent and equipment lease payments, or are variable expenses (e.g. raw materials) driven by your revenue projections.

There’s more to a business plan than a budget, of course. But, you can’t have one without the other. It helps to start thinking of ways to grow or strengthen your business. After, give those ideas a reality check through the budgeting process.

There’s another audience to keep in mind: potential lenders and investors. Finding a supportive lender might be essential to fulfilling your base level plan.

While lenders rely heavily on your financial track record, balance sheet and possible business collateral or personal asset pledges when evaluating a loan proposal, they also want to know how you intend to use the loan proceeds. In general, the more effort you have put into the plan, the better your chances of getting the loan approved. Or the lower the interest rate you would otherwise be charged.

Creating a business roadmap for the coming year that’s compatible with the three-plan strategy involves giving careful thought to the timing-specific planned expenditures. You need to think carefully about the relationship between the revenue and related expense categories on a timeline basis.

This is where the three-speed triple business planning strategy comes into the picture. Think of it as advance planning for alternative business scenarios, relying on revenue benchmarks along the way.


Festivus Brews: How the Beer Industry is Embracing this Non-Holiday

The holiday season is diverse with traditions from many religions and cultures. One somewhat new tradition, Festivus, isn’t really a holiday, at all. It’s gaining steam in the beer community, though. From special recipes to all-out parties, the beer industry adapted Festivus into their marketing plans in unique ways.

What is Festivus?

December 23rd marks the annual secular celebration, Festivus. It was created as a way to push back against all of the commercialism that other holidays bring. While not widely known until a 1997 Seinfeld episode brought it into the popular mainstream, Festivus’ simplicity and theme attracts many fans. Must-have’s for the “non-holiday” include an undecorated metal pole instead of a lavish tree and the “airing of grievances.”

The beer industry responds

Part of Festivus’ allure is how it’s presented as a way for everyone to get together and reject commercialism, no matter your background or religion. Beer found its way into the celebration quite easily. Beer fits in at any event, even one marked by a jovial pushing back at the norm. Sitting around drinking the perfect pale ale with friends sounds like perfection. It’s even given many brewers ideas for concocting recipes for the occasion. Several small-batch breweries offer themed drinks in celebration of the holiday. The brewery, Northern Brewer, sells a DIY Festivus Miracle Holiday Ale Extract Beer Recipe Kit, complete with yeast, fizz drops and canned wort (which is optional).

Festivus beers and ales come in bottles, cans, and on-tap. One of the breweries seeing success with their Festivus brew is Market Garden Brewery in Cleveland, Ohio. Sam McNulty, one of the co-founders, reveals how they came up with the seasonal brew.

“When brewmaster Andy Tveekrem was perfecting the recipe, and we tried the beer for the first time, we knew at first sip that this was going to be a winning brew. But how to set it apart from all the other Christmas beers crowding the shelves and draft towers? My business partner, Mike Foran, is a massive Seinfeld fan and came up with the idea of naming it for the ‘rest of us.”

That’s how their Festivus Holiday Ale was born.

More than ale

This holiday can be more than creating the perfect brew. Market Garden Brewery takes the holiday further. They throw a big party on December 23rd, complete with the airing of grievances, feats of strengths, and a Festivus pole. This is an addition to their Festivus-themed beer recipe, which gained overwhelming popularity over the years.

“Each year, we’ve had to add brewing capacity just to keep up with holiday ale sales increases. Every year we brew more than we think we’ll sell, but every year we’ve run out of it too early,” says McNulty.

Tips for others considering a Festivus marketing plan

It’s tempting to latch onto the idea of Festivus as your next big holiday. But, it’s important that small businesses understand its true essence. It’s not really about purchasing anything at all. After Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the lead-up to Christmas sales, most consumers are tired from shopping.

However, Festivus offers a chance for consumers to get away from the noise, kick back, and celebrate all things simple. It’s a break in the chaos before Christmas and New Year’s. For many, it’s a little silly, too. Festivus is for Seinfeld fans, those who don’t celebrate any traditional holidays, or anyone who just needs to complain and enjoy a new kind of ale. It gives people the space to air their grievances and have fun while doing so. In a world where not everything is always merry and bright, Festivus brings that joy for us when we need it most.


5 Best Movies About Small Business Owners

Becoming a small business owner is never easy. Many often look to external sources for inspiration and motivation to continue along their path. Movies about small business always engage, encourage and inspire viewers. Cinematography uniquely captures life and business lessons in an easy-to-digest format, making it a great source of inspiration. For some of the best movies about small business, explore these 5 titles that share important entrepreneurial lessons.

What Women Want (2000)

In this heartfelt romantic comedy, Mel Gibson plays Nick Marshall, an arrogant advertising executive at a small marketing firm in Chicago. Although the plot is unrealistic–a hairdryer accident in a bathtub miraculously enables him to hear women’s inner thoughts–the movie provides an entertaining look at gender differences. It also displays some tangible lessons about the cut-throat marketing world and the importance of understanding your target audience.

Jerry Maguire (1996)

This is the story of sports agent, Jerry Maguire, who leaves a major talent agency after putting his morals before business. Armed only with his industry experience, his former secretary from the agency and a single capricious client, Maguire begins rebuilding his career. He starts his own independent agency and learns about the hardships that many small business owners face. Overall, he encounters the challenges of running and managing a business while simultaneously fostering close personal relationships.

Joy (2015)

Based on the true story of Joy Mangano, this film depicts a headstrong inventor’s rise to fame at QVC. Joy, played by Jennifer Lawrence, comes from a disadvantaged background. Despite the odds, she pursues her ambitions. Joy faces challenges in financing, production, patent law and negotiations. Family jeopardizes what little success she has achieved to that point. She uses drive and determination to overcome those obstacles and goes on to become one of the biggest success stories in QVC history.

You’ve Got Mail (1998)

This charming story follows Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan). She’s the owner and operator of a family-run bookstore called “The Shop Around the Corner.” The store is threatened when retail giant Fox Books opens a superstore down the street. Kathleen ultimately decides to close the store, which her mother first opened. Despite the painful experience, closing a business is necessary to move on to better things.

Chef (2014)

This is a comedy-drama starring Jon Favreau  as chef Carl Casper. Carl is stuck under a controlling restaurant owner, Riva. Although he yearns for more creative dishes, Riva pressures Carl to cook without flavor and creativity. After a scathing review from a restaurant critic, Carl decides to branch out on his own. He starts making innovative dishes in a a traveling food truck. As the movie progresses, we see that freedom of expression and taking risks are essential for creating memorable, unique experiences.


How This “Boring” Business Got Great Results From Content Marketing…By Trying Something Different

Do you ever feel like your business is too “boring” to try creative marketing? Even if you’re in an industry that is rather technical; if you’re normally by-the-books, or behind-the-scenes; even if your business works in ways that don’t always mesh well with the most exciting and innovative marketing campaigns; there are still some surprising ways to get creative with your business marketing.

The home heating and air conditioning business isn’t typically the most creative industry for digital marketing. How can such a straightforward business come up with clever marketing ideas or a flashy social media presence? But one HVAC company, Irish Heating and Air Conditioning–based in California’s Central Valley–found a way to generate big marketing success by doing something creative.

Irish Heating and Air Conditioning

Ryyan Murphy is the owner of Irish Heating and Air Conditioning. He worked with Contractor Calls, a digital marketing agency for contractors and home service businesses, on a new strategy to generate website traffic. Ryyan didn’t publish the usual industry-related blog posts about heating and air conditioning. They focused their content marketing strategy on creatively responding to the needs and seasonal interests of the local community in Modesto, California.

“Engagement for HVAC-related content is typically fairly low, especially during the off season between summer and winter,” Ryyan said. “We have been trying to expand our business into the Modesto market over the past year, so our digital marketing team decided to try something new that would be locally focused and Halloween related.”

Halloween Fun for the Community

Irish Heating and Air Conditioning created and published a special guide on their website for “The Best Family Friendly Halloween Events in Modesto (2019).” They knew that people were looking for ideas for family Halloween events in Modesto, and they provided a piece of content to help answer that local need on Google search results.

“The other search results for ‘the best family friendly Halloween events in Modesto’ were overall low quality, we decided to develop and publish a Halloween events guide that would boost Irish Heating and Air Conditioning’s engagement with local parents,” said Joe Goldstein, Director of SEO & Operations for Contractor Calls. “Many of the local parents are also local homeowners and potential HVAC customers in a very broad sense.”

The Halloween events guide is helpful, detailed and locally specific. It lists locations for pumpkin farms, trick or treating events, haunted houses and more. They even incorporated photos and videos. Anyone in Modesto, California could use this guide as a resource for fun Halloween ideas for their family.

Irish Heating and Air Conditioning achieved a month-over-month website traffic increase of 57.29 percent during the autumn, which is usually slow.

What are some lessons that other “boring” businesses can take away from this success story?

Make Content for Your Community

Irish Heating and Air Conditioning are experts in HVAC services, not experts in “Halloween”. That doesn’t matter! They got great results from publishing community-focused content that didn’t even involve the company’s services. They created trust and goodwill by helping people in Modesto get good information about family-friendly Halloween activities.

Go Hyperlocal

Ryyan and his team saw an opportunity where high-traffic search keywords in their local target market were underserved. They created a new piece of content to own that space. How many other search keywords are currently up for grabs in your local market? Selling to a specific geographic area, opens up opportunities for your website to serve your community with hyperfocused content.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Lots of HVAC company owners might be reluctant to get too “creative” with their content marketing. People want their HVAC service providers to be smart, capable, and on time – not wild and wacky. It’s possible, though, for a “boring” business to succeed by trying something different.

“A lot of people in this industry might push back on an idea that is outside of their usual service offerings,” said Joe Goldstein. “But we have a particularly good rapport with Ryyan Murphy at Irish Heating and Air Conditioning, and he trusts us and he was open to trying this new approach.”

Cross-Promote Your Local Content

There are a variety of ways to cross-promote your “creative” content. For future opportunities, Joe Goldstein recommends using other strategies with community-focused, seasonal content.

“The traffic increase from this Halloween guide was great, and we also got strong engagement with it on Facebook,” Joe Goldstein said. “To get even bigger results next time, we would probably try featuring the guide more heavily on other landing pages, reaching out to the local Halloween attractions sooner and asking them to share our guide on their social channels, and encouraging more conversation in the comments. In the future, we will also include more than one major promotion in the landing page to turn a wider variety of casual visitors into leads.”

Once your business has published your locally-focused, community-oriented content, look for ways to get local link-building and press mentions. People love to read about what’s happening in their local area; make your website part of the conversation – even if it’s not immediately related to your business or industry.

Be Generous

Business owners love involving themselves in their communities by donating, volunteering and contributing to the community in other ways. Why not take that same attitude of community spirit with your content marketing? There are many ways to be generous with your creative content marketing. You can solve problems and helps make people’s lives better…even if it’s not “about” your business at all.

“People often respond better to content when they can’t immediately see how the business will benefit, when they don’t feel like they’re being sold something,” Joe Goldstein said.

The last line invites people to contact Irish Heating and Air Conditioning if they need furnace repair. But other than that, there’s no mention of the business at all; it’s just a helpful website article to show people some ideas for how to have a happier Halloween.

“We’re in business to help people, solve problems, and serve our communities, and it’s been fun to see how our content marketing can accomplish that, even if it doesn’t have anything to do with HVAC services,” said Ryyan Murphy. “We hope to keep trying more of these creative content marketing ideas in the future.”

Want to learn more about creative marketing ideas for “boring” businesses? Check out this article from Contractor Calls: “Local Content: The Key to Content Marketing in a Boring Industry.”


What Can Your Business Learn About Marketing from a Japanese Martial Arts Dojo?

Josephine Fan is co-owner of Long Island Aikikai, a martial arts dojo in Bay Shore, New York, that teaches the Japanese martial art of Aikido. Aikido involves various techniques for close combat self-defense; it’s featured in movies like the John Wick trilogy. It has strong visual components that make it ideal for videos.

Last year, Josephine started to focus on expanding her dojo’s social media presence. She started out with only 64 followers on Instagram, and in less than year they now have 14,600 followers – all from organic content, not any paid promotion or purchased followers. Josephine shared videos and photos of their dojo’s Aikido martial arts. She built up a significant online presence for her business.

“We built this following just from consistently posting cool and interesting videos, and we became more and more well known in the community,” Josephine said. “We have had students come in saying they were interested in taking lessons at our dojo because of what they saw on social media.”

Josephine Fan has also used the lessons from her company’s success story to write a social media marketing guide for dojos – and the lessons are the same for many businesses.

What can you learn from Long Island Aikikai, besides “self-defense?”

Embrace the Visual Element

Since Aikido is so visually impactful, it’s interesting that Josephine Fan got inspiration from fashion Instagrams.

“One of my good friends is a fashion blogger with more than 60,000 Instagram followers and she actually gave me the idea and the starting tips,” Josephine said. “I knew we needed to get onto the social media marketing train since technology is evolving so fast.”

Long Island Aikikai’s social media videos do a great job of visually capturing the essence of aikido, often in a minute or less. The company’s social media presence makes the martial art look much more real and accessible. People who’re interested but hesitant to sign up might see these videos and reevaluate.

How can your business maximize the visual elements of what you offer? If you run a restaurant, try posting well-plated, stylishly composed food photography. If you run a brick-and-mortar retail store, think about which products look best on camera. Think about how to capture the visual appeal of your store with favorable lighting and camera angles. Consider hiring a professional photographer or videographer to capture some good shots of your business. Good visuals are more important than ever, especially on Instagram.

Be Consistent

Another lesson that Josephine learned is that it’s important to keep a consistent schedule for social media. Post every day, or on a regular schedule.

Don’t get discouraged if results aren’t immediate. Trial and error is necessary before you figure out which social media strategies work best for your business.

“To be honest, the first couple of weeks felt like hitting my head against a brick wall,” Josephine said. “I couldn’t tell if what I was doing was working because we would only get a follower here and there. Then when I got the ‘formula’ down, the followers began to cascade.”

And don’t feel like you have to manage your business’s social media all by yourself. There are a lot of great marketing apps available now, many of them for free or at low cost, that can help you schedule your social media posts in advance, track results, make visually appealing images to share, and more.

Ignore the Trolls

Negativity might come your way when you start out. There are unfortunately many angry people on social media who just want to criticize your business and your social media posts.

Josephine learned to shut them out and focus on growing her audience of enthusiastic fans.

“I realized that I had to throw away the previous hangups about getting criticisms on the videos via social media troll comments, and just do it no matter what,” Josephine said. “That was a difficult hurdle to cross but once I did, it was very liberating to not care so much about those one or two aggressive comments and just keep focusing on the positive.”

Engage with the people who care about your business, and ignore the rest.

Find the Right “Formula” for Social Media Success

There is no one right answer for “how to get more followers on social media,” because it all depends on your business, your brand, your target market, and your particular skills and savvy for how to create and share content. Certain times of day or days of the week might work best for your business or industry, depending on which types of customers you’re trying to reach.

Josephine Fan found a successful formula for Instagram marketing, which she describes in her social media marketing guide:

  • Post 1-4 posts per day, spaced out evenly. This means that if you post 4 times a day, make sure to space the posts 6 hours apart. Don’t post too frequently.
  • Prepare a week’s worth of content at a time. Social media marketing apps make it easy to prepare and pre-schedule a week’s worth of posts. This way, you can focus on social media one day and run your business the others.
  • Don’t skip a day – you’ll lose followers. People love consistency. When Josephine took a few weeks off of posting during the holidays, the number of new followers per post decreased dramatically. She went from 60 followers per post to 1-2 followers per post. “I noticed that if I stopped posting for even a few days, I had to build up the momentum again later,” Josephine said.

Some types of content might result in massive numbers of new shares and new followers. Others might not get any results. However, if you keep trying and testing, you can find a comfortable and repeatable formula for social media success. Long Island Aikikai is a great example.

Learn more about Long Island Aikikai and check out their awesome martial arts videos on Instagram at @liaikikai!


Do Your New Year Small Business Plans Include Doing Less?

As 2019 is coming to an end, do you find yourself making new year small business plans? 2020 is bound to be a busy year for business, but that doesn’t mean you need to add to your to-do list. In fact, you might find yourself accomplishing more by doing less. Here’s what four small business owners plan on stopping in the year ahead.

Trying to Do Everything Yourself

Many small business owners try to get everything done themselves. For solopreneurs, it may seem like there’s no other choice. Small business owners with small teams might find it easier to complete a task solo instead of training their employees on how to complete an assignment. However, wearing all of the hats can lead to burnout. By focusing on their personal power, small business owners can spend more time moving their business forward.

Suzi Whitford, CEO of Start A Mom Blog, agrees and says, “I plan to stop doing the things that I can outsource, such as proofreading, formatting posts, creating promotional images, and basic customer service. By doing this, it will free up time for me to focus on serving my students and customers in the best way possible.”

Forcing Business Tactics

There’s many great courses, programs and training for small business owners. It can feel overwhelming, though, sorting through potential sales and business tactics to find what works best for your business. Yet, it seems like every time you go online you’re inundated with advertisements about how to do this-and-that in order to grow a successful business. When you’re making new year small business plans, remember this: not all business advice is universal.

“I intend to stop over-planning and let things flow,” says life coach Victoria James. “I’m bringing on ease and choosing paths of the least resistance. I’m inviting natural business which feels good, rather than chasing it in a way that’s out of alignment with me and my values.”

new year plans for small business Photo by Felipe Furtado

Photo by Felipe Furtado

Indulging in the Comparison Trap

Do you often find yourself comparing your business to your competitors and peers? It’s easy to judge your growth based on what you see others doing. But, the problem is that you don’t see the whole story. Is your competitor De Verdad outperforming you? Does the social media highlight reel accurately reflect their business doings? No one truly knows whether another person or business is struggling. Don’t let their successes weigh you down.

“In 2020, I’d like to stop comparing myself to other small business owners, specifically mompreneurs,” says Priya Virmani, a personal stylist and founder of Privee by Priya. She continues, “It’s silly to beat yourself up based on another’s seeming success.”

Stressing About Social Media

As a small business owner, you understand the importance of social media. You also know how stressful it can feel to continuously post quality content and reply to your audience, all while doing your normal work. When you’re working on your new year small business plans, take a moment to reflect on the time you dedicate to social media, and whether or not you’re seeing a return on that time investment.

Writer Tara Bosler says, “What I plan to stop in 2020: obsessing about any social media content. If I have something to post, I’ll post. If not, oh well!”

Virmani agrees and plans to change up her social media approach in the new year. She says, “I’d like to defy the classic Facebook group model that ultimately sucks an audience in just to sell them a program. I’d like to have fun with Instagram instead. It’s so crazy to always feel like we should be milking every touch point.”

When you’re working on your new year small business plans, make sure to ask yourself, “what am I doing now that isn’t serving me, or what can I do less of so I can be more productive in other areas?” Eliminating some of your to-do list will make space for something better.

 


Fulfill Your American Made Holiday Wishes

Once you’ve put away those Thanksgiving leftovers, it suddenly hits you: The holidays are De Verdad underway. For most of us that means annual traditions, gift giving and keeping cozy as winter settles in.

Oh, and shopping.

According to the National Retail Federation, you’ll be spending around $1,048 this holiday season. This includes $659 on gifts, $227 on food and decorations. It leaves $162 for that little something extra for yourself or your family.

And thanks to the creativity of our neighbors across this country, an American made holiday season is just a handful of clicks away.

Annual traditions

Whether you like it real (18%, according to the American Christmas Tree Association) or artificial (82%), a big part of your Christmas tree’s charm is its ornaments. To add St. Nicholas themed metal ornaments to your boughs this Christmas, check out Wendell August Forge.

This year, Hanukkah runs from sundown on December 22 through sundown on December 30. Consider a hand-made menorah from Blackthorne Forge as the centerpiece of your family’s celebration.

Kwanzaa is celebrated each year from December 26 through January 1. To replenish your Kinara, Africa Imports offers an American-made set of three green, three red, and one black candles.

And, holiday gatherings wouldn’t be complete without some football. Wilson Sporting Goodsis an essential stop before kicking off your backyard scrimmage in American made holiday style.

Gift-giving

If a bicycle is on someone’s wish list this year, a number of American-assembled options can help you make that happen. From Dirt King USA’s tricycles to Seven Cycles’ custom mountain, racing, and endurance bikes, you’ll find a new ride for any level biker.

If you want your loved one to think of you in a pampering way all year long, consider a giving a soap subscription. The Grecian Soap Company and Dr. Squatch Soap Co . offer two different takes on the natural approach to getting clean.

We know your generosity stretches beyond your human bonds at this time of year. For the favorite canine in your life, consider a dog bedfrom West Paw Design, and if your kitty digs squeezing into small boxes—compression therapy is definitely a thing—pick up a cardboard-free cat snuggler from Whisker+Box [km12] .

And hey, if that last gift is proving incredibly elusive, we know the feeling. So head over to The White House Gift Shop to peruse an extensive assortment of products made in the USA.

Keeping cozy

Winter months mean chilly days and colder nights, even if you live in the southern reaches of the United States. Smartwool [km14] offers a variety of cozy sock styles to keep your feet warm around the clock in any time zone, .

For a layer of warmth on the sofa or in the bedroom, check out the colorful spectrum of hand- and machine-made quilts carried by QuiltBroker.

If the weather outside is frequently frightful, you’ll be hard-pressed to find footwear as reliably warm and weather resistant as L.L.Bean’s boots, one of many products manufactured in the USA by the Maine-based company.

Sometimes, you might need a little warming from the inside. For a spin on your favorite spirit, a hand-made whiskey barrel from UncommonGoods [km17] allows for some in-home aging.

The 2019 Holidays will come and go in the blink of an eye. American-made goods for an American-made holiday can help start traditions and bring festive memories that can last a lifetime.


Best Sources for Short Term Finance

Short term finance options abound for businesses that need capital to meet immediate financial needs. Along with business loans, there are other ways to obtain working capital outside of what’s offered by traditional financial institutions. So, if you need short term business financing to improve cash flow or for another reason, consider these options.

1. Short term loan

Term loans are exactly what they sound like: a business loan repaid over a set term. These loans have fixed or variable interest rates, with varying borrowing limits.

A short term loan could help fill cash flow gaps or cover working capital needs. For instance, this type of financing could cover your payroll costs during the slow season or stock on up inventory. Short term loans are typically designed to be repaid in a year or less, though some lenders offer terms up to 36 months.

2. Merchant cash advance

Merchant cash advances offer a convenient way to acquire working capital for businesses with less than perfect credit. A merchant cash advance isn’t a traditional business loan. In fact, it’s not a loan at all. Instead, you receive an upfront sum of cash in exchange for a percentage of your future sales.

This type of financing may be appropriate for newer businesses that lack an operating history or strong credit. The caveat is that merchant cash advances can be more expensive than other types of short term business financing.

3. Accounts receivable financing

Accounts receivable financing allows businesses to leverage their outstanding receivables for a loan. There are two ways this type of financing can work. First, the accounts receivable financing company could lend you money based on the value of your outstanding invoices. You’d then pay the financing company back, along with a fee or factor rate. The other option is selling your outstanding invoices outright to the financing company. Then, it’s up to the lender to collect on those invoices from your customers.

In each case, this type of financing can be convenient for business owners. It’s possible to get funding in just a few business days. Like merchant cash advances, perfect credit isn’t required. It’s important to consider the factor rate and fees, however. This way, you understand what this short term business financing is costing you.

4. Inventory financing

Inventory financing is a short term financimg avenue that product-based small businesses might consider. This type of financing offers working capital to purchase inventory. The inventory serves as collateral for the loan.

Here’s the idea: You should start repaying the loan fairly quickly as you sell the inventory you purchased. Inventory financing is interesting if you come across a great deal on inventory that you’d like to take advantage of. Alternately, you could use inventory financing to stock up for the busy season when cash flow is slower.

5. Business line of credit

A line of credit can offer flexible financing for the short term. With a business line of credit, you have a set amount of money you can borrow against. As you pay back what you borrow, you free up available credit.

This business loan alternative is attractive if you only want to pay interest on the amount of credit you’re using. With short or long term loans, you’d pay interest on the entire amount borrowed. A business line of credit generally requires a good credit score to qualify; the better your credit, the better your interest rate.

6. Trade credit

Also called vendor or supplier credit, trade credit is another way to bolster cash flow temporarily. With trade credit, your vendors allow you time to pay for products or supplies, instead of giving them cash on delivery. For example, payment may be due on Net 30 or Net 60 terms.

An advantage of using trade credit for the short term is that your vendors may charge little or no interest. In turn, this can be a helpful way to establish your business credit score and history if you’re able to report vendor tradelines to business credit bureaus.

7. Business credit cards

A business credit card isn’t the same as a business loan, but it can work well for short term finance needs. A business credit card is similar to a line of credit. You make purchases against your credit limit; as you pay them off (with interest), you free up available credit for new charges.

Also, a business credit card may be easier to qualify for than a business loan. Credit card companies typically check your personal – not your business – credit score. Many business credit cards also offer the opportunity to earn valuable rewards in the form of miles, points or cash back.

 

When comparing short term business financing, cover the basics. Check the interest rate and fees, repayment terms, whether any collateral is needed and the minimum requirements to qualify. This way, you’ll find the best short term finance solution for your business.


Loans for Dentists: When a Credit Card Won’t Cut It

If you’re one of the nearly 200,000 dentists in the U.S., building and maintaining a thriving practice is certainly a key goal. You might not know where to find the best fit for financing that meets your needs when you’re exploring loans for dentists. You also might wonder if you’ll qualify for any financing, especially if you recently graduated from dental school.

Credit cards are certainly one way to close funding gaps. Over time, however, your credit score may fall victim to this strategy and might decrease. Maxed-out cards and high credit utilization rates can do a real number on your credit score. Not to mention that the interest rate on credit card debt can also cut into your practice’s profits.

There are a wide variety of loans for dentists to help your practice meet its goals, no matter the stage of your dental career.

The type of financing you need depends on what’s best for your practice’s needs. From loans to lines of credit, here are your funding options.

Business loans for dental practices

Funding immediate business needs could be satisfied by a rewards credit card with a generous credit limit. If you max out that card, however, you’ll be removing an immediate funding option meant for emergency expenses.

If your dental practice has an established track record, solid financials, and a business plan that charts out a path to continued revenue success, business loans could be an ideal solution to preserve your available credit card buying power.

Short-term loans for dentists are ideal for bridging cash flow gaps and maybe the occasional building repair or pay raise to retain a key employee. Longer-term loans can help you achieve larger projects like upgrading your practice’s patient management and billing software or even a renovation to your waiting room.

You’ll be looking at flexible terms, loan amounts, and even repayment schedules that can flex with your revenue flow.

SBA dental practice loans

When you need capital for your dental practice, your first thought might not be for an SBA (Small Business Administration) loan. However, Préstamos de la sba can offer dental professionals favorable terms, flexible maturity dates, and wide-ranging use of funds to meet a variety of business needs.

SBA loan amounts range from $50,000 to $5.5 million. While terms vary by use of funds, a typical repayment timeline ranges from five to 25 years.

While the SBA guarantees a portion of these loans for dentists (usually around 85 percent), loans are offered through banks and credit unions in your local community and online lending partners like Kapitus.

The qualification process for an SBA loan is rigorous. Business owners need to prepare multiple months’ worth of financial statements as part of the application process. SBA lenders will also typically require collateral to back the loan. It could be equipment or real estate that you currently own. Interest rates will typically be lower than non-collateralized loans.

Dental practice equipment loans

When your goal is to provide the utmost quality in dental care, you’ll have a continuous eye on equipment that can help you deliver.

From patient chairs to cabinetry, and x-ray imaging tools to lights, equipment loans can help you set your office up for success. As your practice grows, loans can help you keep up without feeling a crunch on your cash flow.

There is also the option to finance equipment leases with an upgrade option. This means your practice can keep up with the most current technology to better serve your patients. You won’t have to worry about your financing outlasting the relevance of your equipment.

Working capital and business lines of credit for dental practices

UNA business line of credit could be a powerful financial tool if you want a stream of capital that can be used for any purpose. Whether you need a working capital infusion for your practice or some cash to help navigate seasonality, a line of credit gives you cash at a moment’s notice.

SBA loans and traditional business loans have more rigorous underwriting processes. But, lines of credit are more flexible in their approval process. A line of credit is also applicable when your dental practice doesn’t have an immediate need for cash. You’ll have it ready when the need arises. You won’t have to endure the approval process when time is of the essence.

An unsecured business line of credit has a higher interest rate than a traditional business loan or line secured by collateral. However, an advantage to a line of credit is only having to borrow exactly as much as you need. This can help you save interest costs long-term. You’re only paying interest on what you’ve drawn on your line.

Helix financing

Like most healthcare businesses, dental practices have specific waters to navigate. As the insurance landscape becomes more nuanced, your cash flow might slow down. Delayed insurance payouts and low premiums can take a bite out of your cash-on-hand.

Helix healthcare financing from Kapitus can help free that cash back up.

Helix financing is designed with the needs of your dental practice in mind. They have an expedited underwriting process. The process infuses anywhere from $20,000 to $500,000 into your business in as little as three days. You’ll be hard-pressed to be caught short for capital again.

Terms for repayment are also flexible and intended to keep you out of a cash crunch as time goes on. Terms range from six months to ten years. Helix can help you shake free of the financial confines related to insurance payout timelines.

Next steps

Review the wide variety of financial tools and loans for dentists available. And, think about what your upcoming financial needs might be.

It might help to organize your business goals by short-term and long-term. Then sort those projected capital needs by dollar amount. This process can help you determine which financial solution will help your practice at the most reasonable cost over the term you need the funds.

Keep in mind that collateral-backed loans will likely offer the most favorable interest rates. They typically have longer approval windows. You’ll need to do some planning if they’re part of your business financing plans. Lines of credit can have shorter approval windows and offer funds at the ready when you need them.

If you’re curious about the above loans for dentists that might be the best fit for your business, reach out to the team at Kapitus. They’ll help you find the best solution for your growing practice while leaving your credit cards out of the mix and in your wallet.


Tap Into the Advantages of User Reviews

User reviews are increasing in power. More people are using reviews when deciding which products to buy, services to use or restaurants to eat at. In fact, some people go so far as to avoid restaurants and service providers who do not have high positive ratings. According to Inc. magazine, 88 percent of customers looking to buy a product are influenced by the online reviews they read. However, many small business owners do not realize the numerous advantages of user reviews. Even more don’t know how to harness them.

Increase your rank, visibility and stand out from competitors.

More reviews can help increase your Google rankings, especially in those searches that are location-based. When searching terms such as “pizza restaurants near me” or “painting contractors in Detroit”, Google provides a map with a list of firms at the top of the first page. Obtaining a position up top increases your visibility and, along with the positive reviews, helps you stand out from your competitors. With a limited marketing budget, you can capitalize on this by focusing on obtaining reviews in conjunction with search engine optimization (SEO). This you can outsource to an online marketing firm for a moderate cost. But, be sure to read their reviews or get references before you agree to a paying relationship with them.

Consider the experience of Mr. Wise Electric, an electrical contractor serving both residential and commercial customers in the Atlanta metro area south of Buckhead. Owner and manager, AJ Nelson, noticed unsolicited positive customer reviews six to seven years ago and has seen an impact on business since. “I get feedback from customers and potential customers that they read the reviews. That puts them in a position to trust Mr. Wise Electric.”

Proactively solicit user reviews.

Should you ask customers for reviews? This really depends on your situation.

Nelson said that, while they may occasionally request a review, “I think it’s more genuine if they do it without my request”. However, he acknowledged that his firm has used Square as its merchant services provider since 2012. Square has been actively soliciting reviews on behalf of its customers since 2015-2016. Nelson knows that some of his customers have read these. Furthermore, Square offers a rewards program that the reviews are tied to, and this may incentivize customers to complete a review.

Wingler Construction, based in Whitehall, OH, outsources their website ranking and review solicitation to one firm. Vice president, Jessie Kemmerling, notifies the firm when a job is complete. The firm sends the customer an email requesting feedback and a user review. This automation takes the stress out of following up.

Manage your online reputation.

Proactively managing your user reviews helps you to maintain your online reputation. According to Inc., one one-star review needs four five-star reviews to maintain a four-star average. Regularly requesting reviews from satisfied customers more proactively counteracts that bad review.

Beginning in late 2018, Kemmerling made a concerted effort to get reviews. She realized that years old bad reviews on Yelp were negatively impacting business. An internet marketing firm reached out to the company and made their case and she bought in. That firm launched a combined effort to get existing and recent former customers posted on Google. Their efforts worked and the firm now has a 4.7-star ranking on Google and a five-star ranking on a related site. Kemmerling believes that some of the advantages of user reviews are how they help build trust and shorten sales cycles.

Increase revenues and profitability with user reviews.

Mr. Wise Electric wants to capture significant market share in their target area. Nelson noted, “I don’t think we’d have the impact on the market or be as known as we are [without the reviews].” Why? Because they’re experiencing unexpected benefits. “The reviews help make the customer willing to pay more to get quality”. Reviews also help attract target customers. “When you get reviews, you get the customers who are looking for a particular type of contractor”. The reviews tell them whether or not their firm is that contractor. Finally, user reviews reduce their advertising costs. Therefore, reviews are very valuable.

His firm uses Next Door, Nelson notes. Just as with user reviews, this app captures word-of-mouth experiences. If someone shares their positive experience with their neighbors, it increases the level of familiarity for others. “If a lot of people are familiar with the contractor, then that helps,” he stated.

The advantages of user reviews are significant. Tap into them to rev up your marketing, shorten your sales cycle and increase your profits.


How this Online Pet Store Built a Community of Reptile Owners…With Free Crickets!

Business owners are always brainstorming fresh, unique marketing strategies for their companies. In the social media age, it feels like everyone is bombarded with advertisements from brands. How do you cut through the clutter? The answer is simple: give away free crickets.

Perhaps that strategy sounds strange. But if you’re in the business of selling pet food to exotic reptile owners, “free crickets” can be a game-changer. That’s what Jeff Neal, owner of The Critter Depot, discovered when he was testing a new marketing plan. The Critter Depot is a specialty online retailer for reptile owners, shipping millions of live feeder insects every month. They sell crickets, mealworms, fly larvae, roaches and other tasty treats reptiles love to eat.

For the Love of Critters

The Critter Depot is also a supportive and informative resource for reptile pet owners. In addition to supporting reptile enthusiasts, Jeff Neal started a new online community for people who love their scaly, spiky creatures: a reptile network called CritterFam.com.

“CritterFam.com is our recently launched reptile network, where owners can post pics of their beautiful pets, and comment and support each other,” Jeff Neal said.

It’s very challenging, setting up a new online community. There’s already Facebook and Instagram and other social networks. What if you build a new site but no one uses it? No one likes being the only person at a party, even if they have a lovable pet lizard to keep them company. Would Critter Fam turn out successful, or would it end up being “Friendster for Lizard-lovers?”

“We struggled with the challenge of starting a new network and trying to attract users,” Jeff said. “People want to participate in a thriving and engaging community, and most newly-created networks just don’t have that level of engagement. We needed to figure out a way to quickly generate interest and build engagement on our site, especially in a way that would have a positive network effect and get more people involved.”

But how can you motivate reptile owners to participate in an online social network? What do reptiles love most, other than “heat lamps” and “comfortable rocks to rest upon?” It turns out the answer is: crickets!

“After some brainstorming, we decided that we would incentivize users to participate in Critter Fam by giving away a Year Supply of Free Crickets,” Jeff said. “This is how the Cricket Contest was born.”

Incentivization Increases Brand Traction

Held monthly, the Cricket Contest is a photo competition encouraging reptile owners to share snapshots of their most photogenic lizards, snakes and skinks, with the prize each month being a year’s supply of crickets. Reptile owners get a chance to win free crickets by sharing photos of their pets and participating in Critter Fam. So far, it’s been a big success!

“The network has only been active for about 8 months, but we already have about 2,000 members, who post pictures and share topics about reptiles and amphibians,” Jeff said.

But how does Critter Fam select a winner? After all, reptile beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To decide which bearded dragon pics are truly cricket-worthy each month, Critter Fam uses old-fashioned crowdsourcing – a.k.a. democracy.

“The photos that people share on our site are all wonderful, but unfortunately we can’t give free product to everyone,” Jeff Neal said. “To choose a winner each month, we came up with the concept of ‘Critter Gold,’ a voting system where users award points by upvoting people’s posts. Each post has an icon in the upper right corner, and when users click that icon, they give that post Critter Gold. At the end of each month, the post with the most Critter Gold wins a year supply of free crickets.”

The Critter Fam Cricket Contest has been a big success. The site is full of fun photos of lizards lounging in their well-furnished terrariums, cuddling with their owners and even enjoying a car ride in a windshield “hammock” o wearing a “wizard lizard” costume. It’s fun to see the different ways that people engage with their pets and share joy with a community.

There are a few key marketing lessons that your business can take away from Jeff Neal’s Critter Fam success story.

Go Deeper Into Niche Marketing

It can be hard to strike the right balance between growing your brand and rewarding your most loyal customers; Critter Fam is successful because they built a fun community for a niche audience who cares deeply about the subject.

Your business probably can’t compete with a mainstream social site – but you don’t have to. You can set up your own niche version of “Facebook for reptile lovers” or whatever your niche may be.

“People want to see really engaging content that they can relate to,” Jeff said. “And I think that’s why our reptile network has done well so far, because it’s pulling together like-minded people who have the same questions and interests. Social media sites are popular, and forums are essentially social media sites for niches.”

Be a Community Builder

The new frontier of small business marketing goes beyond making sales to your customers, and moves toward building a larger community where your customers can make connections with each other and get additional value from your business.

“There are already reptile forums that have been around for a long time,” Jeff said. “But they aren’t connected with an eCommerce store, so this gives our experience a little bit of a twist. And it could become a trend.”

Think about the ways you can generate a larger sense of community surrounding your business. If you own a brick-and-mortar retail store, look to share your space with local artists or nonprofit organizations after hours. If you’re a business consultant, start a discussion group on LinkedIn. Give people a reason to stay in touch with your business and keep coming back — be generous and connect people with each other.

Adopt a Guerrilla Marketing Mindset

Jeff Neal could have taken the easy way out and just bought more Google ads to sell more crickets. But instead, he got creative and built something much bigger.

“My advice for other business owners is that you really need to be creative,” Jeff said. “Don’t just post on Facebook or buy Google ads, because everyone else is doing that. Instead, you need to embrace the mindset of a guerrilla marketer, and figure out ways to get your product or service in front of thousands of people.”

Congratulations to Jeff Neal and the Critter Depot on the success of your marketing strategy and new Critter Fam site. Hopefully you’ll be giving away crickets (and selling even more crickets) for many years to come!


This Air Force Veteran is Bringing Military Challenge Coins to First Responders and Beyond!

The U.S. military has many traditions for how they reward performance and create a shared sense of identity. They range from medals to salutes to nicknames, but one of the more underrated and unique traditions are the challenge coins.

Many civilians might not know this but in the military, service members get the chance to earn special coins called “challenge coins”. All branches of military service use challenge coins which commanding officers give out for rewarding a job well done, building morale, and creating better teamwork and unit cohesion. Each President of the United States issues special challenge coins to military members during ceremonies. For military service members and veterans who collect and carry them, challenge coins are badges of comradeship, and reminders of the military’s close-knit culture.

Another tradition is that military members should carry their unit’s challenge coin with them wherever they go. They can be “challenged” (often when out at bars or restaurants) to show their coin at any time to prove that they are a member of a specific military group. And if you don’t have your challenge coin on you, you owe your challenger a round of drinks!

Kevin Tuohy, military veteran, used his love of challenge coins as inspiration to create a new successful business: Adrenaline Challenge Coins. Based in Orange County, California, his company supplies high-quality custom challenge coins to organizations such as military, law enforcement, and fire departments. They’re also branching out into different fields, introducing the concept of challenge coins to new audiences.

Kevin’s success story offers some inspiring lessons to other business owners.

It Started as a Hobby…and Quickly Grew!

turn your hobby into a business

After completing his military service, Kevin Tuohy became a firefighter – a job he had always wanted and one that he truly loved. But in 2011, he retired from the fire department and started thinking about what was next.

“I started Adrenaline Challenge Coins because I loved the history and tradition of [them], and thought I could make better and less expensive coins than what was out there,” Kevin said. “This was going to be a ‘hobby job’ to fill my free time, but with great word of mouth, a top-quality product at the best prices, and friends and contacts throughout the military, police and firefighter communities, we grew into a full-fledged business.”

Eight years later and Adrenaline Challenge Coins is the official/licensed coin provider to the NFL, NCAA, General Motors, the World Police & Fire Games, the FDNY Foundation and more.

Tuohy’s Lesson: Other aspiring entrepreneurs have ideas to start a business, but might feel like it’s just a side project or a hobby. Tuohy’s story teaches us that we shouldn’t sell ourselves and our ideas short. You may just find that your business ideas have a powerful momentum of their own, just as Tuohy’s did!

Start By Marketing to Your “Inner Circle”

market to your inner circle lesson 1

When Kevin started marketing his new business, he reached out to fellow firefighters, police and military veterans. They understood challenge coins and were receptive to hearing from a new business that was part of their institutional culture.

“Being a veteran gave me an instant ‘in’ with the biggest challenge coin community in the world,” Kevin said. “Military, police and firefighters are a very tight-knit and loyal community. People who choose these types of professions tend to have an instant trust and loyalty to each other. [Veterans and firefighters own and operate my business]. We [live] in this community, and we understand what it means to honor the traditions. Every customer is family, and should be treated accordingly.”

Vistaprint selected Adrenaline Challenge Coins to participate as a vendor at L.A. Fleet Week 2019 and Kevin introduced his business to a wider audience of military members and veterans. Kevin’s company was one of three veteran-owned businesses chosen by Vistaprint for their Micro Main Street program to celebrate small businesses.

Tuohy’s Lesson: No matter what business you’re in, even if you’re a new startup or a first-time entrepreneur, you probably have an “inner circle” of people who already know and trust you. Start building relationships with the customers who know you best, and they will spread the word.

Stand Up for Your Values

stand up for your values

Values from the military and Tuohy’s drive to serve others shaped his life and career as a veteran business owner.

Tuohy says that Adrenaline Challenge Coins helped raise tens of thousands of dollars. The company’s donated to organizations like A Million Thanks, Wounded Warriors, and Flags of Honor. They even donate to firefighters and other first responders who were killed or injured in the line of duty. Even before founding his company, Kevin was a co-founder of a fundraising effort for families of the victims of the World Trade Center attack on 9/11. Their goal was to raise $30,000, but they ended up raising $1.1 million!

“As veterans and firefighters, giving back has been a part of our nature,” Kevin said.

Tuohy’s Lesson: Just as the military has a strong sense of mission, many of the most successful businesses have a “mission” not only to make money, but to serve a larger cause. What cause or mission does your business support? What is your spirit of service?

Branch Out into New Markets

Adrenaline Challenge Coins doesn’t just make challenge coins for military organizations and first responders. The company is expanding the market for challenge coins by introducing the concept to sports fans. The company offers NCAA sports-themed coins so fans can honor their favorite college athletics teams. They created a patented challenge coin-bottle opener designed for the NFL, too. Football fans can now celebrate their favorite teams in a fun way.

Kevin also found that crossover between sports and first responders by being selected as the official challenge coin provider to the World Police and Fire Games, an Olympic-style competition with thousands of athletes who are firefighters and law enforcement officers from all over the world.

“This was one of my favorite success stories,” Kevin said. “Until 2011, these Games never used challenge coins as part of their collectibles. Because we know this community so well, and because of the quality and pricing of our product, we were selected as the official provider and have been making custom coins for every Games since 2011. We are already locked in for the next two Games, 2021 in Rotterdam and 2023 in Winnipeg.”

Challenge coins aren’t just for the military or first responders. They’re for anyone who loves being part of a community and wants to show their support. Kevin and his team expanded the reach of their business by finding crossover appeal.

Learn more about Kevin’s business and check out their stylish coin designs at www.AdrenalineChallengeCoins.com


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