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A Serial Entrepreneur Becomes A Millionaire From An Accidental Startup

Monis Rahman, serial entrepreneur, accidentally launched Rozee.pk when he needed to find more programmers for his startup.

Getting A Mentor

I had a strategy session with a business start-up owner a few months ago. She was six months into her start-up and needed some ideas during her development stage.

Simple Steps To Creating Your First Website

When you make that decision to start a business, you immediately become a multi-tasking maniac. Let's face it, you will have a lot of work on your hands.

Why 'Core Competency' Is Important To A Startup

Well, I like the answer that Norm Brodsky gives in his book, The Knack: "It was the one thing we had that our competitors couldn't offer, and by the time they caught up, we had a foothold in the market and were known for providing that service."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

CAN YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH REALLY TAKE PLACE IN AN ELEVATOR?

Last week, I was fortunate to attend a conference for Black Enterprise Magazine in Charlotte, North Carolina. The list of sponsors included American Express and their collaborative partner, Make Mine a Million Dollar Organization. There was an elevator-pitch-contest that took place where five contestants had to give their elevator pitch for their business and get critiqued by judges afterwards. The winner received a 3-day trip to New York to pitch their idea to the MSNBC business show and also received funding from American Express.

This was an enlightening experience that had me thinking: "just how good is my elevator pitch?" Your elevator pitch is the sentence that defines your company and what it represents. It is named elevator pitch because it should be able to take place within an elevator--during those brief seconds it take for you to encounter someone and for them to exit the elevator. So naturally, a good pitch is a few words long; but still explains your business or company motto.

Can your pitch take place in an elevator? The previous winners of this contest advise that if you are pitching your idea, to make sure your elevator pitch contains these elements:
  • Authenticity
  • Audience
  • Mission
  • Viability
  • Contact

Comments? Post here...

Cheryl Isaac is the Chief Executive Officer of Isaac Business Services and can be reached at [email protected]

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

WILL BANKS LEND TO SMALL BUSINESSES?


A survey released this month by the Federal Reserve found that about half of U.S. banks are tightening their standards on loans to small firms; compared with about 30% that reported doing so earlier this year.

According to Business First News, up to May 2, the number of 7(a) loans approved by the SBA was down by more than 19% this fiscal year compared with the same period a year earlier. For those who are unaware, the 7(a) SBA loans are a popular source of working capital for small business owners: the popular SBA express and community express loans fall within this category. These loans offer long terms and low monthly payments and depending on which one achieved, (i.e. the SBA express) the business owner is usually not acquired to produce documents (like tax returns or business sales documents).

So what could be done about all of this in a declining economy, when even Christine Barry, a research director at Aite Group (financial services consulting firm) feels like, "it's absolutely harder for small businesses to get credit today?" Well, Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, feels like this survey by the Federal Reserve, "underscores the need to pass legislation to lower fees and stimulate lending for the largest source of new jobs: America's small businesses." The problem that some have is that these fees cover default and program costs for the SBA; but the same lower fees would then encourage more community banks to make 7(a) loans.

So what do business owners think about all of this? Well, a net 15% of large U.S. banks reported loan demand from small businesses had declined. Small business owners are cynical of bank-loan approval and are finding other methods to finance their ventures. However, banks are still lending; just with stricter lending criteria and higher rates and fees.

My advice for times like these: if all else fails, look for smaller community banks and credit unions. Although their rates may be higher, they tend to have a lower "large percentage of damaged loans" to recover from. Also, credit unions and small community banks newly opened will tend to have different underwriting methods--they might not judge your credit application simply from a computer-based standard; they could include an actual evaluation-based-method. You might even see a couple of underwriters strolling around their branches (something you will not see in a big bank atmosphere). There are also social networks out there (Zopa for instance) that have acquired more "out-of-the-box" methods to give small business owners what they need. Lastly, try to obtain credit cards to help fund your immediate cash-flow needs and use them wisely. Pay off a good sum each month and let the credit bureaus analyze how much of your balance you use each month versus how much you pay off. Remember, continue to build your business credit even in these tumultuous times.

To get more information on the survey, go to: federalreserve.gov

Comments? Post here...



Cheryl Isaac is the author of this blog and the Chief Executive Officer of Isaac Business Services

Friday, May 9, 2008

EZINE ARTICLES PROMOTE WRITERS

Ever heard of Ezine Articles? It is a matching web service where writers and experts are united with publishers on the web and it is run by a small team of actual people!!

Here's how it works: You share your passion and expertise and people read and listen. Every single article proposed is reviewed by an actual person and the author has exclusive rights to their published articles.

What's in it for you? It promotes you or your business, and pairs you with people around the world via a searchable database. Your articles are sought for and read by people all over the world. If you have a passion for writing or teaching, you can view this website at www.ezinearticles.com

Let me know what you think...



Wednesday, May 7, 2008

YOUR BUSINESS BANKER

How good is your relationship with your banker?

When I was a banker, the customers that achieved progress for their business through me were the ones that established a relationship with me. They returned my calls, they stopped by to see me, they emailed me, and they called whenever they advanced further with their business. They made me understand their business and its needs; as a result, I had a vested interest! The banking process is usually a relationship-building process that seems like the "waiting game" sometimes; my advice to you is to learn it and appreciate it because it is essential to your business building process.

Here's some advice from a commercial lender at Huntington Bank (he spoke at a seminar I attended):

He stressed the 5 C's of Business Banking:
  • Character: Build a credit history for your company
  • Capacity: How is your cash flow as you meet payment commitments?
  • Collateral: Non-cash assets to secure the loan and what will happen to that once you prepare your exit strategy (in other words, does the bank lose money)
  • Capital: What is your personal or business net worth?
  • Conditions: Outside factors that may affect payment (i.e. are you a cyclical business)

Questions, Comments? Post here....

Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and the Chief Executive Officer of Isaac Business Services www.IsaacBusinessServices.com

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Your Business Credit

Discussion continued....

It is at this stage that the former banker in me is revitalized and my question to you is:
How are you planning to build your Business Credit?

While starting his business, this is the stage where my husband realized just how much he loved me; I was able to use my banking experience to help him establish a relationship with a business banker. I was then able to help him position his finances and learn new and easier ways to make banking more convenient for him. We would sit at the kitchen table and discuss business online banking, reducing debt-to-income ratios, figuring out how much he needed to start and run a successful law practice, etc. I also helped him separate business and personal credit and showed him how to realize whether or not a credit application was actually including his business credit as well. My husband was my "guinea pig" because his law firm was my first client.

I think that building credit for the business is something that is usually overlooked or not stressed enough. Entrepreneurs are often leery about their community banks or credit providers because they are not aware of the criteria these institutions establish. There is usually a lack of communication between the financing industry and the small business owner.

So, I suggest you start your financial brainstorming. Here are some tips from my friends at American Express Blue:

American Express Blue provides these tips for protecting and building your business credit:
  • Demonstrate good debt management skills
  • Use the right financial tools
  • Understand lender's guidelines
  • Minimize bad credit risks
  • Separate Business and Personal credit

You must understand what financiers look for and learn how to position yourself accordingly. Sometimes, this may mean waiting until you can get the funding you need; while you situate your credit. Remember to go after the right tools (i.e. if you don't need all the money right away, choose a line of credit vs. a loan), pay your bills on time and separate your business and personal credit (i.e. don't pay for groceries with your business account).

We will visit the importance of forming a relationship with your banker in the next topic...Stay tuned...Questions, comments? Post here...

Cheryl Isaac is the author of this blog and the Chief Executive Officer of Isaac Business Services

www.IsaacBusinessServices.com

Friday, May 2, 2008

ESSENTIALS OF YOUR BUSINESS PLAN

Topic continued...

Once you start transferring your information to a business plan, these are the topics essential to your business plan:
  • Executive Summary : This is very important: here is where you want to explain your company and its objectives, mission, keys to success, etc. Upon first reading this, the reader should understand what your company is about before going further.
  • Company Summary: Talk about the ownership and give a start-up summary
  • Market Analysis Summary: Crucial to your success; this is where you define your target market, show the research you have done and how to get around your weaknesses and highlight your strengths, show your competition and the buying patterns of your prospects, etc
  • Strategy & Implementation Summary: what will be your marketing, advertising, internet and sales strategy?
  • Management Summary: highlight your personnel and their strengths and show what they bring to the company (if you are seeking venture capitalism, this part is very important).
  • Financial Plan: This is the breakdown of your financial statements--cash flow, profit and loss, start-up costs, projected balance sheet, projected sales, break-even analysis, etc.

Lastly, I strongly suggest you get a consultant to professionally draft a plan for you; or at least seek advice from the free counselors available through your Small Business and SBA offices. If you need a professional business writer, you can contact us at: www.IsaacBusinessServices.com

Questions, Comments? Post here....

Cheryl Isaac is the writer of this blog and the Chief Executive Officer of Isaac Business Services.

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