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Category Archives: Business

6 Way to Recruit the Best Employees

Money is important, but it’s not the only thing top talent wants. They want a work environment that challenges them, allows for innovation, makes work fun but also provides work-life balance. This could mean paid time off (PTO), the ability to work from home, time to volunteer in their communities or the ability to take unpaid leave to pursue interests, to name a few.

Personal finance writer Kevin Mulligan said your company needs to create an employee value proposition (EVP) to use as a selling point with candidates. This should describe what sets your organization apart and why people should want to work there.

“The more attractive your EVP is, the more likely you will be attracting the cream of the crop to your company,” Mulligan wrote in a BusinessDictionary article.

One of the best ways to draw candidates in is a mobile-friendly hiring process. Dr. John Sullivan, a Silicon Valley-based author and HR expert, said that more than 43 percent of job seekers use their mobile phones in their job searches.

“That number will continue to rise until the mobile phone is dominant in recruiting,” he wrote in an article on EREMedia.com.

To that end, your app or website should allow candidates to accept offers, hold live video interviews, complete referral tasks and self-schedule interviews. For retention purposes, you can also build in functions for new employees: an interactive employee handbook, benefit registration, access to PTO balances and more.

Even just a decade ago, it might have seemed like a distant dream to have full-time, off-site employees with the same exact technological capabilities as workers in the office. Today, advancements in cloud computing and videoconferencing have opened the doors to hiring remote staff members, so recruiters are no longer limited to candidates in close geographic proximity to the company’s headquarters.

“If your company is located in a competitive hiring market, you’d be better off searching for top talent in a less competitive area,” said Anthony Smith, founder and CEO of CRM software company Insightly. “Technology allows for smooth collaboration and communication no matter where employees are located, so you don’t need to lose out on experts in your field because of where your company is based.”

This goes back to the workforce’s “immediate” expectations. Top talent will move quickly, because it is in high demand. Be ahead of the curve by investigating ways to speed up your hiring process while still demanding high-quality candidates reach a high standard.

“Others may view your slow hiring as a mirror of the speed in which you make business decisions, and drop out because they expect faster decision making,” Sullivan wrote.

You can speed up hiring by prioritizing hires for revenue-generating or key positions, surveying past candidates for their perception of what worked and what didn’t, and identifying other unnecessary delays that seem to be common in each vacancy-fulfillment effort.

Sometimes the best way to attract a candidate to your organization is to show off the people he or she will join there. Taso Du Val, founder and CEO of global tech industry network Toptal, advised highlighting your company’s existing talent during the recruiting process.

“Talented individuals want to work with top talent, so showcasing the all-stars already on your team can help validate why other high-quality candidates should hop on board,” Du Val said.

Social media profiles have become standard tools for researching and evaluating talent. Instead of looking only at candidates’ résumés, thoroughly vet them by looking at their LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media profiles.

“Candidates’ social media profiles [can highlight] personal experiences and interests that tie into professional lives and skills, and may show the person is a perfect fit,” said Pete Kazanjy, founder of Modern Sales Salon and recruiter search engine TalentBin. “[Depending] on the type of job you’re recruiting for, make sure you’re looking at the right social networking sites to find candidates who may be off your radar.”

How to Find the Right SBA Loan

The SBA’s loan programs are designed specifically for small business owners who don’t have access to other reasonably termed financing. There are four main types of loan programs:

7(a) loan program: This is the SBA’s primary program to help startups and existing small businesses obtain financing. 7(a) loans are the most basic and most commonly used type of loan, as well as the most flexible. The money can be used for a variety of general business purposes, including working capital, machinery and equipment, furniture and fixtures, purchasing or renovating land and buildings, leasehold improvements and debt refinancing. Loan maturity is up to 10 years for working capital and generally up to 25 years for fixed assets. Borrowers can apply through a participating lender institution.

CDC/504 loan program: This program provides businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing for major assets, such as land and buildings. The loans are typically structured with the SBA providing 40 percent of the total project costs, a participating lender covering up to 50 percent and the borrower putting up the remaining 10 percent. Funds from a 504 loan can be used to purchase existing buildings, land or machinery, and to construct or renovate facilities. These loans cannot be used for working capital or inventory. Under the 504 program, a business qualifies if it has a tangible net worth of less than $15 million and an average net income of $5 million or less after federal income taxes for the two years before application. The maximum amount of a 504 loan is $5 million.

Microloan program: This program offers very small loans to startups, or newly established or growing small businesses. The loans can be used for working capital or the purchase of inventory, supplies, furniture, fixtures, machinery or equipment. The SBA makes funds available to specially designated intermediary lenders, which are nonprofit organizations with experience in lending and technical assistance. Those intermediaries then make loans of up to $50,000, with the average loan being about $13,000. The loan cannot be used to pay existing debts or to purchase real estate.

Disaster loans: The SBA offers this option to businesses that have been affected by a declared disaster. These low-interest loans can be used to repair or replace damaged real estate, personal property, machinery, equipment, inventory and business assets.

 

Can You Afford a Small Business Loan?

Figuring out whether you can afford to borrow money for your business is a crucial step in the loan process and one you should definitely take before approaching potential lenders. But determining if you have the resources to make your loan payments can be a bit tricky.

To demystify the math behind small business loans, Business News Daily spoke with two small business lending experts: Chris Hurn, co-founder and CEO of the small business commercial property financing firm Mercantile Capital Corp., and Ty Kiisel, director of content marketing at Lendio, an online platform that connects small business owners with potential lenders.

Can you?

Banks and other lenders use several tools to determine if a business entity is a good candidate for a loan, one of which is a debt service coverage ratio (DSCR). On one side of this ratio is the cash that you, the business owner, have available to pay back a loan in a given year. On the other side is the amount of money you’re borrowing per year, plus interest.

Figuring out your own DSCR isn’t as difficult as some lenders might have you believe, Hurn said. Start by calculating the cash available for your business. Cash available, or cash flow, is the movement of money into and out of your business, measured over a certain period of time — usually weekly, monthly or annually.

To calculate cash flow, start by adding the money that you have on hand at the beginning of the month (starting cash) to the money that comes into your business throughout the month (cash-in). Cash-in includes all the money you receive in sales, paid receivables and interest in a given month. Adding your starting cash to your cash-in will give you your total cash for the month.

Next, you’ll need to calculate how much cash is going out of your business every month (cash-out), including all your expenses for the month. Subtract this number from your total cash for the month to determine the monthly cash flow for your business.

Once you have a number for your monthly cash flow, multiply it by 12 to get your annual cash flow. Then, you can take a deep breath, because the hard part of figuring out your DSCR is over.

“The other side is simple,” said Hurn. “You just do a calculation to determine what the annual debt payments would be on the proposed loan.”

Of course, it’s hard to know exactly how much money you’ll end up receiving from a lender or what the terms of the loan will be, but you can make an estimate based on what you know you need to grow your business and the published interest rates for the lending institution you wish to use.

Now that you have both numbers calculated, you can put them side by side and start answering the question you started with: Can you afford a loan?

Hurn said that business owners with a DSCR of 1.25:1 — also known as 1.25 times coverage — are considered to be a good credit risk, and are usually able to afford, and therefore secure, financing. Kiisel estimated the optimal cash flow needed for a loan-worthy business a bit lower, at 1.15 times coverage.

But Hurn also noted that, over the years, he’s seen many businesses slip under the 1.25-times coverage threshold. For instance, sometimes, businesses that are growing very quickly and those that are expanding to bigger commercial spaces get loans despite having less cash flow.

Traditional Bank Loans

When it comes to alternative lenders, small businesses had the most success with merchant cash advances. The research found that 41 percent of the small businesses surveyed were able to obtain a merchant cash advance, compared with just 20 percent who were able to get a regular loan from an alternative lender.

Most small business owners are relying on their own personal assets to help fund their business. Specifically, more than 70 percent of those surveyed used personal savings, 45 percent used personal credit cards and 19 percent used cash from the sale of personal assets.

 Crowdfunding is growing increasingly popular with small businesses. The research found that 19 percent of small businesses that sought financing in the past three months used crowdfunding as a funding source, compared with just 7 percent of mid-size businesses.

Jeff Stibel, vice chairman of Dun & Bradstreet, said when they began conducting these studies four years ago, small businesses were reeling from the effects of the Great Recession.

“Since then, we have seen steady progress for small businesses being able to acquire the capital they need, although the financing is still predominantly not coming through traditional lenders,” Stibel said in a statement. “It will be interesting to see how the new option of crowdfunding will affect small businesses, as our study has shown more eagerness to use that option as compared to their mid-sized counterparts.”

Although access to capital improved over the past three months, the number of small businesses needing it declined. Overall, demand for capital from small businesses dropped from 38 percent in the first quarter of the year, to 32 percent in the second quarter.

Of those the small businesses that didn’t try to access capital over the past three months, 49 percent said it was because they had enough cash flow in place, while 24 percent indicated they already had sufficient financing. However, 16 percent didn’t apply for financing because they were worried they would be rejected, 12 percent shied away because of the weak economy and 7 percent said they were holding out for cheaper financing rates.

“Business borrowing habits suggest owners may not see a need for an immediate infusion of capital,” said Craig Everett, an assistant professor of finance and director of the Pepperdine Private Capital Markets Project. “However, these findings suggest business owners are still feeling the lasting impact of the recent recession and remain skittish about the future, as reflected in an abundance of caution when it comes to the economic environment.”

Despite the lower demand, the data indicates there could be a spike in the need for capital in the second half of the year. The research shows that 56 percent of small business said they likely would seek financing in the next six months for planned growth or expansion.

The research is a quarterly indicator produced by the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine, with the support of Dun & Bradstreet. The current data is based on surveys 1,097 small and mid-size businesses.

Best Time and Attendance Systems

Stratustime offers everything small businesses need in a time and attendance system. The cloud-based solution has a comprehensive assortment of time-tracking options, with employees able to clock in and out via traditional time clocks, internet-connected computers, mobile devices and telephones. The system also manages paid time off, generates employee schedules, monitors overtime hours, integrates with a wide range of payroll services and features a variety of mobile options. We were impressed with the system’s easy-to-use online portal, the company’s customer service and the system’s affordable monthly cost.

The uAttend time and attendance system is a good fit for very small businesses because it is cloud-based and requires no special software to install. The system is very flexible, letting employees clock in and out with time clocks, web browsers, mobile devices and telephones. uAttend’s time clocks are plug-and-play ready, send data in real time to the system, include lifetime guarantees and are among the cheapest we found. Besides being able to record when employees come and go, the system also manages paid time off, tracks how long employees work on specific projects and creates officewide schedules.

TSheets allows remote employees to clock in and out with laptop computers, smartphones, telephones, text messages and Twitter. Additionally, the system records not only exactly where workers start and end their shifts, but also their locations throughout the day. The pricing is extremely affordable, and the customer service is among the best we encountered.

TimeClock Plus is a time and attendance system that offers a lot of variety. Businesses can choose from three different service plans, which vary by price and the number of features included, and whether they want the system hosted in the cloud or installed and housed within their own business. The most comprehensive plan not only includes multiple ways to track when employees come and go, but also features a paid-time off management component and scheduling tools. Additionally, the system, especially the cloud-based option, is extremely affordable, and easy to use.

Best GPS Fleet Tracking

GPSTrackIt offers a full-featured, cloud-based mobile app that lets you monitor and manage your fleet even when you’re out of the office. Whereas many GPS fleet tracking apps limit capabilities, GPSTrackIt’s mobile app comes with everything you need to monitor vehicles and drivers from your iOS or Android device. We especially like that GPSTrackIt lets you customize the service, so you can build the perfect GPS fleet tracking app and cater it to your business’s unique needs.

Fleet Genius is a super-affordable GPS fleet tracking software that’s built specifically for small businesses looking for a low-cost way to track vehicles and drivers. The software is packed with features, but also offers a ton of flexibility with custom solutions and services. Packages start at just $3.95 per vehicle per month, and we like that there are no long-term contracts and no minimum number of vehicles required to use the software.

To find the best GPS fleet tracking software for small business, we started by creating a comprehensive list of vendors. Our sources include reputable review sites, business websites and input from small business owners themselves.

Next, we narrowed down our list to those that are suitable for small business. We then further cut down that list based on specific criteria and different use-case scenarios (the best-picks categories above). To come up with these criteria and categories, we asked small business owners what they look for in a GPS fleet tracking software and what they like and dislike about the one they are currently using. We also considered insight from vendors to gain a better understanding of what types of GPS fleet tracking software are best for small businesses.

As part of our research, we also contacted vendors, posing as small business owners shopping around for GPS fleet tracking software. This helped us better evaluate each software individually while assessing each company’s customer service. In addition, we tested software demos and apps when possible, to see which ones were easy to use and which were not worth the time or headache.

In total, we compiled a list of nearly 50 GPS fleet tracking software. Our top picks are InTouch GPS, GPSTrackIt and Fleet Genius. Those that made it to our short list include Fleetistics, NexTraq, FleetOutlook, Teletrac, Telogis, Fleetmatics, GPS Insight, Networkfleet by Verizon, Rhino Fleet Tracking, Geotab, Collective Data, LiveView GPS, Omnitracs, TomTom and Virtual Fleet Supervisor.

5 Low-Cost Business Ideas

Social media and the 24-hour news cycle have created the perfect storm of opportunity for creative professionals like writers and graphic designers, who can use their talents to create high-quality, shareable content for businesses and media outlets. Thanks to a growing part-time economy of freelance and contract workers, it’s easier than ever to market yourself as a professional freelancer.

For the musically gifted, offering lessons to others who want to learn an instrument can be a great source of extra income. Unless you’re teaching piano, students can likely bring their own instruments to your home for hour-long lessons. Stock up on sheet music or songbooks in varying genres and aimed at various skill levels so you can offer a wide selection for your potential clients. Voice lessons can also bring in a lot of money if you market yourself to local high school and community theater groups.

Larger firms can hire an agency or full-time staff member to run their Facebook and Twitter accounts and blogs, but small businesses often have to take care of their own social media marketing. With so many other responsibilities, business owners may be too busy or overwhelmed to spend time coming up with a great social media strategy. As a consultant, you can help them determine the best tactics, posting schedules and content for their target audience. As their follower counts grow, so will your business.

Etsy is a popular online marketplace that hosts thousands of at-home retailers and larger productions, like the highly-rated Wildflower + co., selling jewelry, patches and DIY merchandise. Starting an Etsy shop is incredibly affordable. It’s free to join the site and start a shop, though business owners should be aware there are three selling fees: the listing, transaction and payment-processing fees.

This business requires you to plan and prepare weekly or daily meals for your clients, so strong cooking skills and a working knowledge of nutrition and special diets (if applicable) are a must. You don’t necessarily need to have graduated from culinary school, but having some cooking classes under your belt will boost your credibility. While you may have to do some traveling to and from supermarkets and client homes, your customers should cover the cost of ingredients in addition to your service charge.

 

You Can Start with Your Kids for this Business

If your teen excels in a specific subject or has exceptional grades, encourage him or her to assist those in need of help through tutoring services. Your child can get paid for his or her knowledge and time spent helping others learn a skill or subject matter. This type of business is scalable, and live videoconferencing and electronic payments can bring your child’s skills online as well.

Kids are absorbing tons of social media knowledge at a young age. They’re becoming YouTube and Instagram stars with millions of followers for just being themselves. This could be invaluable knowledge for small businesses in your area. Encourage your child to apply his or her understanding of social platforms to consult for local shops and restaurants.

As long as houses come with lawns and outdoor maintenance, there will be a need for landscapers.The simplicity of the job, from mowing the lawn to trimming trees, means it can open doors to college degrees in the field, which can lead to jobs with theme parks or college campuses.

Technology has brought traditional job choices for teens into the modern age. Sites like SitterCity, Care.com and Rover.com have made it easy for people to hire and pay child or pet sitters. Encourage your child to gain some experience by babysitting for family members or neighbors. After they’ve gotten some experience, they can set up an online account to allow them to truly grow their business in an accessible way.

Sites like Etsy have transformed the way crafters bring their talent to the world. They no longer have to rely on fairs and events to show off their creations; instead, they can sell their products online to customers around the world. If your child has a knack for crafting and creativity, Etsy may offer a great business opportunity. Etsy has a comprehensive guide on fees and owning your own business, along with guidelines for minors.

Bringing your child’s passion for cooking or baking to the world can prove to be fruitful. There are competition shows on Food Network dedicated to the skills of young teens, as well as Shark Tank entrepreneurs who have used their baking skills to satiate the palates of people (and dogs!). Depending on your home state’s regulations, it could be fairly simple for you and your child to start a home catering or bakery business.

Your child’s business doesn’t necessarily need to check off the for-profit box. If you and your child are passionate about a social cause, starting a nonprofit charity may be a great start. There are hundreds of ways to raise money to profit those in need. Sit down and have a conversation about how to raise money for the cause. It is also a great opportunity to teach your child about the 501(c)(3) tax exemption and how it works.

Public interest in upcycling and recycling clothing and other items has led to the success of stores such as ReStore and vintage clothing shops. Collect unwanted items from neighbors, friends and family members, restore items to better quality, and sell them for fair prices. It’s a great way to be green and make some money from previously unwanted items.

Whatever new opportunity you and your child choose, this is a great time to teach the importance of work-life balance, responsibility and the importance of taxes. Encourage young entrepreneurs to try their best and seek success with their new business. Even if it doesn’t turn out as planned, you can show them that adversity is a part of life, and that failure is an opportunity to retool an idea or open a door to a new opportunity.

5 Business for Sports Lovers

Sports camp organizer

Organizing a sports camp is one great way to start a business revolving around any sport you love. A camp could focus on any level of competition and last just one day or as long as several weeks.

To boost your camp’s profile, be sure to bring in experts, like coaches and athletes, to offer attendees experienced insights into their respective games. Retaining a local athletic personality’s endorsement can also be a huge marketing benefit.

Sports bar

If you’ve ever had an interest in the restaurant business, a sports bar is the perfect idea for you. Provide a place for your fellow sports lovers to enjoy the game while you serve them a cold beer and their favorite game-day appetizers. This will take a considerable amount of startup capital, so it might be a good idea to go in on this venture with a business partner.

Sports memorabilia seller

Make a living collecting autographed jerseys, equipment and photos of major league athletes and selling them via online marketplaces like eBay. You’ll have to do a bit of traveling to track down the players people want, but once you have the autographs, mega-fans will pay thousands of dollars to own a piece of pro sports history.

Health/nutrition coach

Both major and minor league athletes need to stay in peak condition all year round, and part of that is making sure they consume a healthy, nutritious diet. Players need nutrition coaches to design healthful menus and keep their food intake on track. Online courses for nutrition certification are relatively inexpensive and usually take less than a year, so you could be making big bucks in no time.

Sporting goods retail store

Opening a retail store is a great way to get involved in the sports world. Whether you sell professional team paraphernalia, equipment for amateur athletes, or both, you’re sure to find a great customer base just about anywhere. You may want to scope out potential locations for nearby mega-competitors like Dick’s or Sports Authority, and open up in a spot with high demand.

8 Small Business for Entrepreneurs

Do you have a passion for home brewing? You might be able to turn your love of beer into a business. Urban residents are always looking for local artisans who can offer a small-scale, handcrafted experience, especially when it comes to craft beer. Chelsea Craft Brewing Company, for instance, has made its mark in the Bronx with its locally brewed beverage selection.

Cities make for a competitive atmosphere, but the right combination of talent, location and interest can make your brewery an interesting must-visit location.

With a lot of pet owners in apartment buildings, a big city is a great place for a part-time dog-walking business. City dwellers don’t have yards for their dogs to play in, and if they work long or irregular hours, they may not always have time to take Fido for his daily stroll. Put up flyers in your building, and see if any of your neighbors would be willing to entrust this task to you for a small fee. It’s important to educate yourself on not only the local dog walking market but also proper animal care and handling before starting this business.

Everyone needs to eat, so what better place to start a food service business than a place with tons of mouths to feed? Whether you choose to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant or a food truck, you have a good opportunity to draw in customers with a great menu and the right marketing tactics. While mobile restaurants parked on busy streets can bring in a lot of business, be sure to check your city’s local laws about street vendor permits to avoid legal issues.

Large metro areas tend to produce a lot of pollution. To combat this problem, many city residents are interested in living greener. Help them make their lives eco-friendlier by starting an eco-consulting service. These consultants evaluate homes and offices, and offer solutions to make the businesses more environmentally friendly. This could mean advising a switch to energy-efficient appliances or simply implementing a recycling program. Become a certified eco-consultant to boost your credibility with potential clients.

Major cities are historical hubs. Antique items not only bring intrigue into a city constantly growing and changing, but it helps remind people of their roots. If you’re educated in fine arts or have a knack for finding items that hold value, opening an antique store in a city may bring excitement and curiosity from all walks of life, local or otherwise. For example, Anastacia’s Antiques, a 25-year-old staple in Philadelphia, proves that the right formula of items and location will keep people coming back no matter the size of the city.

Between their jobs and carting their children from one activity to the next, most working parents have very little time left to take care of personal errands like grocery shopping, making returns at the mall or mailing packages. Assist clients and free up their days for the important moment in their life. Public transportation in cities makes getting from place to place more convenient and less expensive than driving around in a suburban area, so you can keep your overhead travel expenses down. To boost your resume, begin building your experiences through companies like TaskRabbit orAirtasker.

If you have an eye for design or a knack for organization, you can start a business helping city-dwellers make the most of their small living quarters. Apartment residents are constantly looking for ways to maximize their storage space and make cramped rooms feel bigger, so there will always be a market for organization and interior decorating services. Opening a physical office is also a great way for you to showcase your skills to potential clients.

Cities are melting pots of different cultures and backgrounds, so fluency in multiple languages is a big plus. You can put those language skills to good use by offering to translate written and spoken words from one language to another for clients. Broadening international ties and an increase in the number of non-English speakers in the United States makes this a fast-growing field, with the Bureau of Labor Services predicting 42 percent growth by 2020. You can start your own independent service and market yourself to businesses, schools, hospitals, courtrooms and conference centers.