Nine Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

Have you ever thought about striking out on your own? After all, being your own boss can be an exciting prospect. However, owning a business isn’t for everyone. To be a successful entrepreneur, you must have — or develop — certain personality traits. Here are nine characteristics you should ideally possess to start and run your own business:

1. Motivation

Entrepreneurs are enthusiastic, optimistic and future-oriented. They believe they’ll be successful and are willing to risk their resources in pursuit of profit. They have high energy levels and are sometimes impatient. They are always thinking about their business and how to increase their market share. Are you self-motivated enough to do this, and can you stay motivated for extended periods of time? Can you bounce back in the face of challenges?

2. Creativity and Persuasiveness

Successful entrepreneurs have the creative capacity to recognize and pursue opportunities. They possess strong selling skills and are both persuasive and persistent. Are you willing to promote your business tirelessly and look for new ways to get the word out about your product or service?

3. Versatility 

Company workers can usually rely on a staff or colleagues to provide service or support. As an entrepreneur, you’ll typically start out as a “solopreneur,” meaning you will be on your own for a while. You may not have the luxury of hiring a support staff initially. Therefore, you will end up wearing several different hats, including secretary, bookkeeper and so on. You need to be mentally prepared to take on all these tasks at the beginning. Can you do that?

4. Superb Business Skills 

Entrepreneurs are naturally capable of setting up the internal systems, procedures and processes necessary to operate a business. They are focused on cash flow, sales and revenue at all times. Successful entrepreneurs rely on their business skills, know-how and contacts. Evaluate your current talents and professional network. Will your skills, contacts and experience readily transfer to the business idea you want to pursue?

5. Risk Tolerance

Launching any entrepreneurial venture is risky. Are you willing to assume that risk? You can reduce your risk by thoroughly researching your business concept, industry and market. You can also test your concept on a small scale. Can you get a letter of intent from prospective customers to purchase? If so, do you think customers would actually go through with their transaction?

6. Drive 

As an entrepreneur, you are in the driver’s seat, so you must be proactive in your approaches to everything. Are you a doer — someone willing to take the reins — or would you rather someone else do things for you?

7. Vision

One of your responsibilities as founder and head of your company is deciding where your business should go. That requires vision. Without it, your boat will be lost at sea. Are you the type of person who looks ahead and can see the big picture?

8. Flexibility and Open-Mindedness

While entrepreneurs need a steadfast vision and direction, they will face a lot of unknowns. You will need to be ready to tweak any initial plans and strategies. New and better ways of doing things may come along as well. Can you be open-minded and flexible in the face of change?

9. Decisiveness

As an entrepreneur, you won’t have room for procrastination or indecision. Not only will these traits stall progress, but they can also cause you to miss crucial opportunities that could move you toward success. Can you make decisions quickly and seize the moment?

 

 

 

Written By: Ruchira Agrawal
Source: Monster

10 Founders Share What Their Worst Boss Taught Them

We’ve all had bosses that make us crazy — whether it was a supervisor with a big temper, one that watched your every move or the one that never knew what he wanted. But even if at the time it was frustrating or demoralizing, there is an upside: You’ll never catch yourself being that kind of manager.

We caught up with 10 successful entrepreneurs who shared with us the lessons they learned from the worst bosses they’ve ever had.

 

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1. COMMUNICATE CLEARLY

Name: Daniella Yacobovsky
Company: BaubleBar
Lesson: One of the things I have learned is to communicate openly and honestly with the folks you work with. Try to understand where their requests and feedback are coming from and be open to feedback. When you’re first starting and you’re a small company, it’s definitely easier to do. As you grow and have more people, it is a harder thing to scale but that doesn’t take away it’s importance.

 

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2. FOLLOW THE GOLDEN RULE

Name: Gavin Armstrong
Company: Lucky Iron Fish
Lesson: People who are bullies act that way because they are insecure about something else. They are very demeaning and not appreciative.

You want to be very respectful of people working with you. Remember they work with you, not for you. Be complimentary of their work, because they are putting a lot of time and effort into it.

 

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3. HAVE STRONG CONVICTIONS

Name: Merrill Stubbs
Company: Food52
Lesson: Being indirect about what you want or what you expect is a really terrible tactic for managing people. It makes them feel like the ground is shifting beneath them — that’s an impediment and distraction from people doing their best work.

 

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4. BE A MENTOR

Name: Melissa Ben-Ishay
Company: Baked By Melissa
Lesson: The importance of open communication. When I think of the worst boss I ever hard, I don’t think of just one person.

I didn’t have a mentor. I didn’t have someone who wanted me to succeed. I didn’t have someone who took the time to sit down, have a conversation with me and help me be better at my job. So now, I really make the effort to be clear and honest with my employees and sit down with them and communicate.

 

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5. FOLLOW THROUGH

Name: Oliver Kharraz
Company: Zocdoc
Lesson: I learned to only make promises that I can keep. I remember how upset I was when promises were made to me that were not kept, and I promised myself that I wouldn’t do that.

 

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6. CONNECT WITH EVERY EMPLOYEE

Name: Jennie Ripps
Company: Owl’s Brew
Lesson: I learned how important it is to engage with my own team and also to ensure that there is buy-in across the board at an individual level.

 

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7. LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR

Name: Tim Chen
Company: Nerdwallet
Lesson: Ego gets in the way of success. I worked at a hedge fund that had a real “Lord of the Flies” feeling. It was pretty crazy. The problem with ego is the best ideas don’t win, because you have trouble facing the truth.

 

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8. TREAT EVERYONE WITH RESPECT

Name: Kyle Hill
Company: HomeHero
Lesson: The worst boss I had was actually a soccer coach I had in high school. I wouldn’t say he was a bad coach, but he yelled at me a lot. I realized that was something I could not handle. So my dad ended up pulling me from the team. I didn’t understand it at the time. I thought it wasn’t a big deal, and I had a tough skin.

But my dad was adamant about this, he said, “I don’t want people talking down to you because it hurts your self confidence. I need you to have the highest self confidence going into in everything you do in life; otherwise you’re not going to want to do it.”

I think it lends itself to being treated with respect and dignity. My dad said, “You can be stern, you can bench my son, you can take him aside and tell him what he needs to improve on. But don’t publicly reprimand him.”

Even to this day, I tell people, “If you’re upset with me, whether it’s my co-founder or an employee, talk to me like an adult.”

 

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9. DON’T STAND IN THE WAY OF INNOVATION

Name: Bastian Lehmann
Company: Postmates
Lesson: One thing I try to do is help the people that want to do more. I want to help them realize that when they are at Postmates.

The worst boss I ever had told me that I couldn’t do that. He was weak and afraid someone was more hungry than him. When I saw someone trying hard, and they gave it everything they had, that someone would not give them guidance and help them succeed.

 

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10. HAVE A CLEAR VISION

Name: Heidi Zak
Company: Thirdlove
Lesson: The one thing I’ve noticed from having different types of bosses is that the best ones have a clearly articulated vision of what the team is working toward. You have to communicate it effectively and do it often. That’s what I try to do; you can’t say it too often.

 

 

 

Written by: Nina Zipkin

Source: Entrepreneur

Is a SEP-IRA Right for Your Business?

If you’re like many small business owners, running your own business is an all-consuming endeavor.

In the face of everyday demands, choosing a retirement plan for your business can become a casualty. The idea of establishing a plan could evoke worries about complicated reporting and administration.

If this sounds familiar, then you may want to consider whether a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) may be right for you.

A SEP can be established by sole proprietors, partnerships, and corporations, including S corporations.

The advantages of the SEP begin with the flexibility to vary employer contributions each year from 0% up to a maximum of 25% of compensation, with a maximum dollar contribution of $53,000 in 2016.

Employees Vested

The percentage you contribute must be the same for all eligible employees. Eligible employees are those age 21 or older who have worked for you in three of the last five years and have earned at least $600 (in 2016). Employees are immediately 100% vested in all contributions.

There are no plan filings with the IRS, making administration simple and low cost. You only need to complete Form 5305 SEP and retain it for your own records. This form should be provided to all employees as they become eligible for participation.

Unlike other plans, a SEP may be established as late as the due date (including extensions) of your business’ tax filing (generally April 15th) for making contributions for the prior year.

A Menu of Options

Each eligible employee will be asked to establish his or her own SEP-IRA account and self-direct the investments within the account, relieving you of choosing a menu of investment options for the plan.The rules for accessing these funds are the same as those governing regular IRAs.

Distributions from SEP-IRA and traditional IRAs are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.¹

Unlike the self-employed 401(k), which is only available to business owners with no employees, you cannot take a loan from your SEP assets. Distributions from 401(k) plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.¹

The SEP earns the “simplified” in its name and stands as an attractive choice for business owners looking to maximize contributions while minimizing their administrative responsibilities.

 

 

1. IRAs have exceptions to avoid the 10% withdrawal penalty, including death and disability.

Airbnb in Talks to Urge Hosts to Use $15/Hr Unionized Cleaners

Provided by USA Today

SAN FRANCISCO — Airbnb is in final talks with the Services Employees International Union over an agreement to encourage the short-term rental company’s hosts to use unionized cleaners who are paid at least $15 an hour, the company said.

Under the agreement, Airbnb would endorse the SEIU’s national campaign for a $15 minimum wage. Airbnb would also urge its hosts to use union-backed cleaning services and would point hosts to such services on its website.

The agreement would allow the San Francisco-based company to “leverage the Airbnb platform to help create quality union jobs that pay a livable wage,” said Airbnb spokesman Christopher Nulty.

The agreement could give Airbnb much needed political goodwill as it faces efforts aimed against it in cities across the country. Opponents say it turns neighborhoods into hotel strips, takes much needed housing off the market and harms workers in the hotel industry.

UNITE HERE, a union that represents hotel workers among others, was “appalled” by news of the pending agreement and called upon the SEIU to reject any partnership with Airbnb, a company it says has “destroyed communities by driving up housing costs and killing good hotel jobs,” in the words of spokeswoman Annemarie Strassel.

She accused Airbnb of showing blatant disregard for city and state laws and refusing to cooperate with government agencies.

“A partnership with SEIU does little more than give political cover to Airbnb. It doesn’t strengthen workers, and in fact undercuts the standards we’ve fought so hard to build for housekeepers in the hospitality industry,” she said.

The Airbnb negotiations come as unions nationally are fighting for a $15 minimum wage, a campaign that has gained steam this spring under the banner of Fight for $15.

California became the largest state to enact a $15 minimum wage law, in January. The base earnings law will go into effect in six years, in 2022.

A SEIU spokesperson said no formal relationship or agreement between the Union and Airbnb currently exists, but that it was always looking for new ways to support working people and regularly talked with companies that were committed to doing right by their workers.

Written by Elizabeth Weise of USA Today

(Source: MSN)

 

3 Tips to Sink or Swim in the Startup World

CNBC's Maneet Ahuja interviews Shai Agassi, Nikita Fahrenholz and Lisa Falzone at the Forbes Under 30 Summit in Tel Aviv
CNBC

renholz and Lisa Falzone at the Forbes Under 3…CNBC’s Maneet Ahuja interviews Shai Agassi, Nikita Fahrenholz and Lisa Falzone at the Forbes Under 30…

How do you survive the world of startups? There’s no clear answer, but three entrepreneurs–Revel System CEO Lisa Falzone, Delivery Hero’s Nikita Fahrenholtz and Better Place founder Shai Agassi–took the stage of the FORBES Under 30 Summit, just off the beaches of Tel Aviv, to share some tips they’ve picked up during their adventures in startup land.

How to push passed the fear of failure?

Nikita Fahrenholtz: You have to get comfortable with it. I’ve failed so many times–it’s part of what makes you human. You change your mindset–I never thought about the negative consequences of an experiment but instead the positive outcome. You push through it and you ignore others’ opinions. You have to trust your intuition.

Shai Agassi: If you’re not willing to fail you won’t succeed. The difference between failure and successes is so minuscule you wont’ be able to tell the difference. Fail early, fail big and fail gracefully. And then you take the next step and you’ll invariably succeed.

Lisa Falzone: I was not good at failure. I had to study to overcome that fear to start a company. It’s about being OK with failure and know you’ll make mistakes. But it’s also about how fast you recover. We’re growing at 200% each year, so there will be pain but it’s about how agile we can be. I always look back to this quote from Theodore Roosevelt which basically says I’d rather stand in the arena and fail than be one of those cold timid souls that know neither victory or defeat.

How did you get your start in the business?

Nikita Fahrenholtz : I went into consulting because it seemed like a safe option after university. It was a great company but it wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to spend 16 hours a day in a windowless room talking about operation strategies. I quit after 7 months and talked with my friend (and future co-founder) about starting a company that ordered pizza online. My mom started to cry when I told her. I think she’s happy now.

Lisa Falzone: Point of sale is huge problem for retailers. There’s a joke in the business that the acronym POS really stands for piece of shit. That was a problem that I could solve. The iPad had just came out and we thought, let’s use this new technology and interface to create a good point of sale product. When you create something out of nothing, everything is hard. No one had printed a receipts from an iPad before, no one had found way to connect the iPad to the platforms. Now we’re doing all the check outs for Cinnabon and the Superbowl.

What are your plans for the future?

Nikita Fahrenholtz: Being based in Germany, we have to expanded rapidly because the home market is so small. We had to move quickly to France and Spain and Italy. With Delivery Hero we mapped out countires that were interesting for us and we found most attraive open spots. I’m not so much worried about US comapnies like GrubHub because they are so content with the U.S.–and if they get fancy they go to Canada. That means the rest of the world is ours.

Lisa Falzone: We’re working toward an IPO, I don’t think I could ever work for a large corp. We never built Revel to get sold and always wanted to remain independent – and going public is the best option.

And a final thought from Shai Agassi: “Bits, atoms, and cells are the three major upcoming shifts, but the biggest challenge will be finding the moral compass to steer them.”

Written by Steven Bertoni of Forbes

(Source: MSN)

 

Companies To Feel Pinch Of Tightened Tax Loopholes

money-tax-loopholes
Provided by IBT US
The upcoming U.S. tax filing deadline — Monday, April 18 — doesn’t just have regular Joes on edge. Massive corporate entities based in the U.S. are getting a little nervous, too, according to a report from the Financial Times.

The number of companies warning their investors about increased impact from taxes in 2015 has doubled from last year, the FT says.

The warnings come from the potential closing of myriad international tax loopholes, courtesy of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a consortium of 34 countries, including the Germany, the U.K. and the U.S.

Some of those loopholes include accounting tricks like shifting profits from Ireland, where tax rates are already relatively low, to Bermuda, where the company doesn’t pay any taxes. Companies are able to do this because the definitions of “residence” are different in U.S. and Irish tax law, allowing money made from sales in Ireland to wind up being “based” in Bermuda or another country considered a tax shelter.

The OECD estimates that various companies’ tax avoidance costs governments around $240 billion.

The companies that are likely to be hit hardest are those in the tech sector, like Apple, already-beleaguered Yahoo and Google. Travel site Priceline is already fighting a French tax penalty of 356 million euros ($397 million), and the U.K. is looking to take back 1 billion pounds ($1.4 billion) from corporations after eliminating a tax break on interest costs.

Google, the report notes, has included language about tax concerns for 10 years now. Other companies have also been proactive about warning investors that the tax hammer could fall at any moment.

But investors have been slow on the uptake. “I still think that investors are not asking the right questions. They are in early stages of understanding the issues,” Fiona Reynolds, the managing director of a network of fund managers, told the FT.

Written by Oriana Schwindt of International Business Times

(Source: MSN)

This Teenage Entrepreneur Created the First $500 Dialysis Machine

 

Illustration by James Taylor

It all started as a science fair project, inspired by her time working at a local hospital’s dialysis unit. Since then, Anya Pogharian’s $500 dialysis machine,Dialysave, has captured the attention of President Bill Clinton and the Cleveland Clinic.

Pogharian, 18, was shocked at the $30,000 cost of conventional dialysis machines–a price she felt was far too high for a lifesaving treatment.

Pogharian developed a prototype that’s able to filter 4 liters of blood in 25 minutes, much faster than the expected four hours that standard dialysis machines require. She’s now working on a third prototype as well as establishing a business framework for her invention–all while preparing for her first year of college.

She talked with Fortune about her invention, its ongoing development, and the leadership advice she’s been taking to heart. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

How did you go about creating the machine?

Basically, most of the research was done online. I read owner manuals of existing dialysis machines, which are not simple at all. They are really meant for engineers. That gave me enough background to build the first prototype, but it’s taken a lot more to improve each new version. The first prototype was to see if it was possible to design an affordable dialysis machine and to design a machine that’s much simpler to produce and use.

The second version was much more sophisticated and higher quality. That’s the one I used to test in a lab with real human blood. That was incredible. It filtered about four liters, equal to the blood volume of a child, in 25 minutes. It proved that it could work and helped me understand how to further develop my third prototype.

How has the invention been received so far?

Back in January last year there was an interview in Montreal which led to a nationwide interview that went viral. It was all around the world. I found articles in Russian, Armenian, German, even a dialect of Chinese. It was shocking from one day to the next there were about 100 different articles.

At that point, I was approached by many different people, including a Harvard University professor who has offered to help with the business side and EU scientists who are into affordable medical devices and the social benefit. The opportunities and offers for mentorship have been incredible.

I also had the opportunity to attend the Clinton Foundation Health Matters Summit in January where I was on a panel moderated by President Clinton, alongside the U.S. Surgeon General and [IBM’s Chief Health Officer] Kyu Rhee. That was one of the most incredible opportunities for me in terms of networking. It was so encouraging. People all over the States were willing to help with various aspects of it.

What are the next steps for the Dialysave machine?

The goal is to get it on the market eventually, which is a really long-term goal. It’s a third class medical device, which isn’t easy to get approved. I’m really focused on the science of it right now and getting that to the point of perfection, but I also need to build a good team of scientists and business partners. Right now, I’m managing it all on my own. Balancing it all is practically impossible, but it’s my passion.

What’s the best advice you’ve received so far about taking it to market?

Potential investors have said to, yes, focus on the science but really think of the business aspect at the same time because if you keep building prototypes it won’t lead to anything and won’t make an impact. You have to go through both steps at the same time.

Have you received any helpful leadership advice as a young entrepreneur?

It’s been mostly about knowing what you want to do. You have to have really solid goals, so that if something happens to stump you up or turn you around from your goals, you still push ahead. You can’t be a leader if you don’t have a solid path. If you want to lead the way and bring others with you, everyone needs to be on the same wavelength and know exactly where you’re going.

Written by Laura Lorenzetti of Fortune 

(Source: MSN)

Don’t Overlook These 7 Top Tax Breaks for the Self-Employed

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Getty Images/Hemera

Running your own business comes with plenty of challenges. But contrary to what many Americans think, the Internal Revenue Service does not want taxes to be one of them.

That’s because while the tax code does have its quirks, the IRS offers a host of valuable tax breaks for sole proprietors and the self-employed that are intended to help their businesses succeed.

“In its broadest terms, you can deduct all of the ordinary and necessary expenses that relate to the production of income in the business,” said Jeff Warnkin, a CPA at the JL Smith Group in Avon, Ohio.

That means a self-employed individual who keeps good records can write off a host of items come April, and significantly reduce their income taxes as a result.

Here are seven of the most valuable breaks for the self-employed:

• Health insurance deduction. “One of the most commonly missed items is the self-employed health insurance deduction,” Warnkin said. The premium is wholly deductible against your income tax, he said, and the tax savings can be big depending on your plan. Furthermore, in tax year 2015 there is an increase in the “individual mandate” penalty for taxpayers who do not have health coverage, so paying for your own insurance plan also can prevent added fees.

• Travel expenses. You don’t have to drive to a worksite in order to deduct business-related travel, said Chris Kichurchak, vice president at Strategic Wealth Partners in Independence, Ohio. “A person can deduct all expenses for any travel as long as there is at least one hour of documented business discussion,” Kichurchak said. In addition to parking and airfare expenses, you can also get a break-even if you’re just taking a trip in your personal vehicle. The standard mileage deduction is 57.5 cents per mile traveled in tax year 2015 for business purposes. And thanks to online mapping tools, it’s easy to reverse engineer the mileage if you forget to jot down your odometer readings right away.

• Clothing and uniforms. Any specialized clothing is tax deductible as a business expense, including safety goggles, work gloves or a uniform. But take care to remember the IRS specifies these items “not suitable for everyday use,” said Grafton “Cap” Willey, managing director at professional services provider CBIZ MHM. “A claim that you are required to wear a business suit when you normally would not have one in your wardrobe except for business reasons will not work,” Willey said.

• Education and association dues. Books or periodicals relating to your business are deductible on Schedule C of your tax return, as are any courses or continuing education you take. Any professional dues for associations or unions are also tax deductible. Simply make sure you have the proper documentation for both the expense and its relevance to your profession.

• Retirement savings.  You should be saving for retirement anyway, so the IRS offers a generous tax break to self-employed individuals who contribute to a qualified savings plan. One of the most popular is a simplified employee pension plan, or SEP, and can offer big tax advantages and can be created in minutes using any number of online providers. “A SEP is very easy to set up,” said Warnkin at the JL Smith Group. “It’s also very simple to fund.” Contribution limits are up to 25% of your net earnings from self-employment up to $53,000 a year. Those contributions are deductible from your income taxes, and can add up in a hurry if you’re making substantial savings to your SEP plan.

• Home office. Having a home office can unlock a host of valuable deductions, including breaks on your utility bills, property taxes and even upkeep on your home. The IRS allows self-employed Americans to take a break on these and other items based on the site of your office as a percentage of your home. In other words, a 200 square-foot office in a 2,000 square-foot home gives you a 10% break on qualified expenses. The catch, however, is that the tax man demands your office is used for “regular and exclusive” use, according to the IRS. “It can’t just be a corner of the living room,” Warnkin said. “It’s got to be a separate room, like a spare bedroom or something, that’s used exclusively for the business either administratively or because you meet clients there.”

• Tax and financial services. If any of the minutiae of the tax code gets to you or if you need help balancing the books, don’t fret. Professional services from a third-party accountant are tax deductible for your business, so you can get a tax break if you want or need an expert to check the math or regulations around your business activities in the past tax year.

Written by Jeff Reeves of USA Today

(Source: USA Today)

5 Tips for Securing a Small Business Loan

You have the greatest business idea, a no-fail plan, and a stellar team ready to help you execute your vision. With no capital, though, your entrepreneurial goals may remain just a dream.

The SBA reports startup companies typically encounter the most challengeswhen applying for a small-business loan. Here are five tips to keep in mind to secure the finances to power your small-business venture.

1. Find the Right Lender

There are many types of lenders you can approach for a small-business loan. Approaching the most appropriate one increases your chances of propelling your business. Lender choices include:

  • Large national financial institutions. You may approach your current bank for a traditional bank loan. Since you already have a built-in relationship, this lender may help point you in a better direction if they’re not able to help.
  • Alternative lenders. Alternative lenders bridge the gap between big banks and community lenders with moderate requirements. Alternative lenders such as SnapCap may help niche businesses secure fast business loans as they focus on potential growth versus business owners’ credit scores.
  • Community lenders and credit unions. Locally-owned banks or lenders with interest in the economic growth of a specific area may be a good fit for locally-focused businesses.

2. Do Your Homework

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Maxism-Fotolia.com

Find out what the lending institution requires in the approval process. You’ll typically need to:

  • Have a solid business plan. Loans are typically not granted to lending, speculating, or gambling ventures.
  • Have exceptional credit history. This includes both personal and business credit history, which should be verified by the three major credit bureaus.
  • Have strong personal and business assets. This proves to the lender you’ll be able to pay them back.
  • Have a positive relationship with the lender.Having a constructive relationship with the lender before you even apply for the loan may increase your chances of achieving it.

3. Sort Out the Details

The clearer you can present your business plan to the lender, the more they’ll be able to understand and trust in your venture; the more details you provide, the better. During the application process, you’ll want to communicate:

  • Why you need the money and what it will be used for. The more essential these factors are to the growth of your business, the more they’ll impact the lender. Bailing out business losses does not convey return of investment.
  • A detailed budget of how each portion of the loan will be spent. Use up-to-date financial documentation and cash flow projections researched by a qualified expert to support your claims. Be prepared to explain industry risk, based on government ratings.
  • The partners and suppliers you’ll be working with when spending loan money. Lenders will want to verify the businesses you’ll be spending your money with are credible, as well.

4. Come With the Right Team

Your business practices aren’t the only deciding factors in whether or not you’ll get a small-business loan. Lenders will also want to:

  • Know your leadership. The executive members of your business should have exemplary credit and business history.
  • Know your other investors. You’ll want to disclose who else is putting faith in your company and what their relationships are to you and your business.
  • Know you have equity in the company. If you are not personally invested in the business in some way, this decreases the trust the lender will have when considering distribution of the loan. You’ll want to convey passion when communicating to the lender about your business and provide examples of how you see your company growing, whether it’s through distribution partnerships or new product plans.

5. Get Free Help

Navigating the small-business loan process, especially for a business that is new to the ins and outs, can be tricky and overwhelming. Thankfully, there are free sources of support that can help you along the way:

  • SBAThis government organization is designed to help small businesses like yours succeed. You can find at least one branch office in every state. The SBA also represents a national network of about 100 women’s business centerstargeted to female entrepreneurs.
  • SCORESCORE provides a network of free business mentors, so you can find an expert directly related to your field and learn from their successes.
  • Small Business Development CentersSmall Business Development Centers (SBDCs) offer free business resources and assistance from professionals and professors. There are more than 900 centers across the country.

By taking the time to prepare for the small-business loan application process, creating a detailed business plan that addresses any concerns you may encounter, finding the ideal lender for your type of small business, surrounding yourself with colleagues and investors as driven as you are, and using free resources for help, you’ll be able to procure a small-business loan that could be the key driving force in your business future.

Written by Miguel Salcido of AllBusiness.com

(Source: MSN)

Take Advantage of Small Business Grants for Women

Investopedia

For a female owner of a small business or startup, there are a number of key things to focus on, especially finding funding for the business to get it off its feet and help it succeed and grow. There are a number of grants available and many that specifically target women entrepreneurs.

In 2014, the number of women-owned businesses in the United States reached just over 9 million. This is a clear illustration that female entrepreneurs are impacting the small business landscape, nationwide, in a tremendous way. To remain competitive and grow, entrepreneurs must have the money and the resources. The alarming fact is women entrepreneurs are regularly and more frequently being denied small business loans. And while there are several other possibilities for funding, grants are among the best because they do not have to be paid back.

It is important to note the federal government does not provide any grants for starting or expanding a business. Grants issued by the government require strict adherence to a list of highly specified guidelines and extensive reporting measures to ensure the money is being spent appropriately. Government grants are given only to non-commercial organizations such as nonprofits or education-focused institutions. It is likely most women business owners are required to seek out and apply for more private types of grants for funding. Five private grants are outlined below.

The Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program

Each year, the Eileen Fisher grant program gives out five awards. Among other requirements, the businesses must be entirely owned by women. The businesses must have fundamental principles that include social consciousness, full sustainability and constant innovation and creativity. The businesses that receive these grants must also be prepared with concepts and plans for expansion. The average amount per grant is generally around $25,000.

Huggies MomInspired Grant Program

The Huggies MomInspired Grant Program, administered by the Huggies Corporation, awards up to $15,000 to help women advance and further develop products and services innovated through the process of motherhood. Those who receive the grants are then awarded additional resources to further the development process of products and services and to aid moms in their startup businesses.

InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge

This business challenge is held every year and is sponsored by the Small Business Administration(SBA) Office of Women’s Business Ownership. Prize money is awarded to small businesses that have a significant and sustained impact on the daily lives of women. During the challenge, a variety of primarily women-owned businesses vie for one of three $30,000 prizes available. Candidates are required to develop some form of presentation that accurately and effectively represents their businesses and the impact their businesses have on the lives of women.

Mission Main Street Project

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Google collaborated to offer $3 million in total grants. In 2014, small businesses that received these grants were each given $150,000 to further develop and expand their businesses to allow them to have a maximum effect on the community in which they were located. Along with the grant money, recipients were also given a tour of Google headquarters and a Google Chromebook laptop.

37 Angels

37 Angels is actually a group or community of female angel investors that reviews thousands of applications from small businesses primarily owned by women. These investors focus on businesses that are female-friendly or female-oriented; however, the primary focus is choosing businesses that have a great deal of promise, express innovation and creativity, and are able to withstand expansion successfully. Applications can be submitted at 37angels.com to win the ability to pitch for funding from $50,000 up to $200,000.

Written by Julia Hawley of Investopedia

(Source: Investopedia)

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