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What You Need to Know Before Applying for a Business Loan

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On the internet, it might seem quite easy to start a business of your own. In most cases, all you need is a domain name, web hosting, and an idea for your business. However, if you’re going to start a much larger business where you might be hiring employees and need investment money, you might be considering your different options for funding the company or even taking out a business loan.

While there is nothing wrong with investing in your company and getting funding for the necessary start-up phases, it is wrong to not have a clear understanding of what you should know beforehand. Not all business loans are the same, nor are the methods of getting funding for your business. Just like the internet has changed the rest of the world, it definitely changes the way people can create a business, get access to investment money, and build a successful brand in the process.

To help with this process, below you will find a list of resources and key data points that you should know before applying for a business loan.

Review Online Lenders and Banks

Not only has the internet completely change the way business is done in the world today, it’s now offered the opportunity for anyone to get started with an online business of their own. At the same time, it’s also eliminated the need to walk into a bank and apply for a loan in person. Now everything can be done online, along with the necessary research and due diligence to find a quality lender or bank that is right for you or your business.

With this in mind, it’s important to read through online reviews of top lenders and banks, while also searching what the best small business loans are. Not only will you find ratings for each lender, you will also find real reviews from customers and clients who have already gone through the process. No matter what type of loan you might be looking for, it’s likely there is already a resource guide online covering that exact topic and focus. Once you’ve found a selection of top lender that fit your needs, you should narrow down your list to just a few and then make your final decision based of each of the key points below.

Explore Your Funding Options

As mentioned earlier, there are many different options when it comes to borrowing money. Gone are the days when you have to dress up in a suit, throw together a huge business plan and walk into a local bank and pray they will accept your idea. Now it’s all about filing online and finding the right investor or bank for your loan request.

For those in need of getting their hands on money fast, cash advance and payday loan websites are an opportunity (though they usually come at a higher cost), while PayPal also has their own working capital borrowing program as well (which has proven to work well for many existing online businesses). The benefit to having so many options is having the ability to find the right borrowing method that not only fills your need but also has a wide range of payment options to choose from.

Know Your Credit Score

One of the most important factors when getting any type of loan is going to be your credit score. Individuals have a personal credit score and businesses actually have a credit score as well. Depending on the quality of the score and your financial history, the amount that you can actually borrow will vary along with the interest rate that you will have to pay the loan back.

A high credit score is anything above 700, while a low credit score it would be anything below 600. The higher your credit score, the more success and lower fees you will find when borrowing.

A recent article in HuffingtonPost had the following to say in reference to credit scores and loan financing:

FICO credit scores range from 300 to 850. Higher figures represent greater creditworthiness. Anything above 600 is typically considered all right, but you ideally want a score in the 700-850 range for optimal borrowing capability.

As Experian notes, credit scores are calculated using the following formula:

  • 35 percent: Payment history
  • 30 percent: Amounts owed
  • 15 percent: Length of credit history
  • 10 percent: New credit
  • 10 percent: Types of credit used

Have a Good Idea on How Much You Need

Before applying for a financial loan, it’s best to know why you are going to need the money in the first place and also how much you are going to need. Based on your personal and business history, along with your credit score, the amount of money you can apply for it and be accepted will vary. Another consideration here for how much you should be borrowing will also come down to your repayment plan and interest rates charged by your bank or lender. There is also a big difference between a credit line and a bank loan, as one will charge interest on the total amount borrowed versus the other which will only charge interest on the amount you actually take out.

Understand Loan Repayments and Interest Rates

As a business owner or entrepreneur, you are very good at what you do — which is running your business. However, this doesn’t mean that you will know everything there is about business financing and the terms and conditions that might be placed into your potential long. This is why it’s extremely important to take the time and research all loan repayments and interest rates before applying for your next loan. with so many different options now available online, not all loans are built the same way as traditional bank loans. Some might have upfront costs, others will have interest rates that you can pay over time and some will have a combination of both.

After reading through each of the resource guides and key points above, you should have a much better understanding of what it takes to get a loan for your business, while also knowing how much to request in the process. For more resources and business funding options, be sure to read through our six ways to fund your startup idea article.

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Entrepreneurship

Must-Have Business Tools and Resources to Grow Your Startup Online

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Have a business of your own, or currently working towards starting one of your own? Great work!

Whether you’ve already started or just in the pre-planning process, you will likely have noticed that the world of online and offline business has changed a lot over the years. Not only is it now easier to get started with a business of your own, it’s also more saturated and flooded than ever before — which also mean more competition, headaches, day to day tasks, and overall management of your business to get that upper edge.

In short, if you want to survive and compete against the best, you will need a little help from some of the top tools, services, solutions, and guides on the internet today. To help with this process, today we are going to take a look at some of my favorite tools and resources that I use and recommend for every business owner.

Web Hosting and Site Development

I first started created websites back in the mid-90s, and everything was straight HTML back then. I even had one site that was made up of more than 10,000+ pages of HTML — all done by hand (no programming at all, and also powered by 16 dedicated Dell servers). This would all seem like a nightmare today, as WordPress and shared hosting has made the process of creating a website or blog extremely easy and affordable. There are NO technical skills required to start a website these days — all it takes is a click of a button and walking through a few simple steps. Best of all, WordPress makes it possible to have a great looking site without ever needing to touch a line of code or be a graphic designer.

When it comes to web hosting, you have more than enough to choose from. In short, if you want to go live with your first website or blog and need to grab a domain name, it’s best to go with a shared hosting plan — usually under $5 to $10 per month. I personally recommend Bluehost, as they are one of the largest and most trusted hosting brands in the world today. They are also the #1 hosting solution, as recommended by WordPress.

As a reader of ZacJohnson.com, all new sign-ups to Bluehost through this blog will receive a free domain name, 60% off hosting plans and also have SSL and WordPress set up on their new site for free.

Email Lead Generation, Mailing and Call to Actions

No matter what type of business or brand you are running, email and content marketing are key. If you have a website or blog, it’s crucial to have a website loaded with great content, but also call to actions to get your audience to take action and engage.

At the same time, you also need to make sure your content is working for you 24/ — specifically bu getting new subscribers to your mailing list daily. Here are two of (my favorite and) best ways to implement these strategies into your business right now.

  1. OptinMonster – You’ve likely seen popup subscribe and call to action forms online. They’re also likely to have been created and running through the power of OptinMonster (created by Syed Balkhi). This tool not only provides the best popup and newsletter subscription forms online, they also have full integration with WordPress to create call to actions and split testing throughout all different areas of your site.
  2. AfterOffers – If you are looking for a solution to increase your mailing list, while not having to sign a long-term contract, AfterOffers is probably a great option for you. This platform has a network of hand-selected sites that promote your newsletter list to their audience and provide only 100% opt-in subscribers delivered in realtime right to your list. Check out their site and see how you can start building your mailing list immediately.
  3. Constant Contact – Every business will need to have the ability to manage their email lists, send out to subscribers, and also have the necessary tracking features and tools to scale in the process. That is exactly what you will find with Constant Contact. You can sign up for a free trial at their site and see what email marketing and list management opportunities they have for your business.

Once you have the power of email marketing working for your business, you can scale it virtually forever. For this to work best, you will need to have solid call to actions through your site, a sales funnel, an autoresponder series, and also putting in the time and effort to set up new email campaigns and traffic sources.

Everyday Business Tools and Email Usage

Of all the tools and resources that business owners use daily, email is probably the most common. A lot of people like to spend hours per day on social media, but if you were to track my time, I think I spend most of it within Gmail — and making all of the new business connections and deals happen!

Gmail out of the box is great in itself, but there are many great tools and applications that can be added in as well. For example, I get a TON of emails daily about advertising and guest blogging on various sites. Thanks to the use of ‘Canned Responses‘, I only need to write a response email once, then click a couple of buttons to have that same template email sent in response to each request.

I’m also a huge fan of using custom email signatures. Right now I’m using Wisestamp, which instantly adds my profile photo, contact info, social profiles and site information to all of the emails I send out daily. This easily adds up to thousands of new people getting a better first impression of myself monthly through email, versus just seeing an email with the signature of “Zac Johnson”.

Lastly, Gmail and Google are great for all of the “suite” tools they have to offer such as Google Docs and Sheets. I use both of these applications daily, and best of all, not only are they free, they are also all stored in the cloud and accessible right within your account.

All in One Maintenance Software

As an entrepreneur or site owner, you are likely running many different aspects of your business. Whether it’s emails, invoicing, revenue reports or tracking your latest ad campaign, you likely have a lot of files all over the place and not many ways to connect each of them together. This might not seem like a huge problem now, but over the course of a year it could add up to hundreds of hours of wasted time.

Instead of having to open and create individual files within Excel and Word, sending out emails through Gmail, and then managing and tracking progress through phone calls and writing notes down on paper… it can actually all be done and tracked seamlessly through the power of CMMS. The ultimate dream of bloggers, affiliate marketers, and business owners is to be able to run their business and day to day operations from anywhere. Having access to an application that brings all of your daily tools and applications together is one of the best ways to move towards that goal

With more people using their mobile devices to run their business and check for updates, a mobile-powered CMMS can help anyone get more work done.

The Treasure Chest of an Entrepreneur is Always Growing!

As you can imagine, every entrepreneur and site/business owner likely has their own preferred set of tools and methods for running their own business. Today I’ve listed just a few of my favorite tools and methods for improving your day to day operations. While I’ve only scratched the surface, I’ll keep updating this article and resource as I find more time.

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Entrepreneurship

Why Online and Offline Real Estate are Always Great Investments

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No matter what profession you’ve chosen to go into, investing in real estate (both online and offline) is one of the best ways to safeguard your future financial security. You may be thinking, but I don’t know anything about investing. The good news is you don’t have to be a hotshot Wall Street professional to get started. Just like pretty much any type of investing or necessary further education requirements, you can learn all of the basics online.

The great thing about investing in real estate is that even making small investments can later provide big returns. While offline real estate and properties will likely cost thousands of dollars to start investing in, online properties (in the form of domain names) can cost as little as $10 to get started. In either case, there is plenty of time, work, and research required for each. Yes, people are making good money, but it would also be a huge mistake to think it’s easy.

To help with the thought process behind investing in offline and online properties, let’s take a look at some of the different investment options out there, and why it continues to be one of the best ROI business models out there.

It’s Reliable, and Property is Always in Demand

Since the dawn of the Great American Dream, real estate has been considered one of smartest long-term investments available. It’s also one of the biggest reasons young couples have long been advised to purchase a small starter home at the beginning of their marriage with the promise that after a few years they could sell at a profit and pad those retirement accounts. So while you may have never felt compelled to have that front yard and white picket fence, you might want to reconsider. Also be sure to consider your home locations, as you never know when the unexpected might happen!

Economic tides will continue to ebb and flow, but property values tend to almost always increase over time, regardless of the market. Why? Because people will always need shelter, so why not kill two birds with one stone? Shelter wrapped up in an investment is pretty much a win-win.  Additionally, while new companies and brands come and go, housing will always remain a necessity, even if there are slight dips in the market.

Taking all of these perspectives and focusing them towards online real estate and domain names, you have even more limitations and value in what you may own. Think of .com, .net, and .org domains as the premium houses of the world. When you get a generic one-word domain, think of it as the most expensive and valuable house in the state! Some domain names will go on to sell for millions of dollars, but it’s extremely rare and unlikely.

You Don’t Need Trade Floor Skills

It’s true that understanding stock market investments can take years of knowledge and practice, but real estate isn’t nearly as complex. Yes, it will require some research, and you’ll have to do a considerable amount of evaluation, but there’s not nearly as much guesswork and volatility with property compared to investing in the latest and greatest trends, like cryptocurrency. Really, it all boils down to figuring out what the real estate market looks like in your area as well as what’s available and it’s quality. Start by visiting open houses and auctions. Connect with others who’ve made property investments and read as much as you can on the topic.

When buying or selling a home, you can go through a realtor. The same holds true for buying and selling domain names online — except it’s often done through a domain broker. Just like realtors, a domain broker is going to do most of the work for you, as they likely have many connections and potential buyers or sellers in place. At the same time, you will also have to pay a percentage (usually 10-30%) for their efforts and success rates.

Go Big, or Go Small — All Options are Available

If you’re interested in buying a home, considering buying a rental property instead. And don’t worry, if do decide to invest in a rental it doesn’t mean you have to actually manage the property yourself.  You may decide to hire a property management company to oversee the daily operations. A manager can screen tenants, collect rent payments and show the property to interested parties. Or you may decide to manage the property yourself and function as a landlord. However, if the latter is the case and you don’t have any property management experience, you may want to seek out some advice and tips for new landlords.

This same concept is happening daily in the world of domain names as well. With domain brokers like GreatDomains, NameJet, Pool, and others, sometimes domain names can sell for five, six, or even seven figures. In most cases, these domains will be purchased outright and paid in advance. However, there are times when it makes sense to sell domains at a faster rate and offer a payment plan, which allows for more buyers to take action.

The Internet is Your Ally

Another reason there’s no better time to invest in real estate is the sole factor of technology.  Whether it’s the topic of buying, selling or managing real estate the sheer amount of resources you have at your disposal is mind-blowing. With just the click of a button, you can research and make an appointment with experts, realtors, property management companies, and home inspectors (a must before making any purchases). There are also hundreds if not thousands of threads on what you should know before investing, not to mention the added benefit of social media. Gone are the days of taking out a newspaper ad. So if you’re looking to strategically buy and sell to see returns, platforms such as Facebook, and even Craigslist, can provide additional marketing support to get your real estate listings seen.

When it comes to buying and selling domain names, the internet is your bread and butter — in fact, it’s kind of your only option! The good news is that there is a whole world of resources out there, domain expiration services, auction marketplaces to buy and sell domains, and much more. Take advantage of everything the internet has to offer in reference to learning more about buying and selling domain names or site properties, then get ready to make your first move!

It Can Be Tax Deductible

While tax codes allow for a range of deductions, including everything from the interest on your mortgage and money spent on renovation to a range of upkeep and maintenance costs, they do vary by state. You’ll want to investigate, or even consult with an accountant in your area, but in general, most rental property expenses can be written off as business expenses.

If you currently have an online business and are investing in domain names, this would definitely fall under the realm of a write-off (investment/cost) for the business. Of course, if you were to sell the domain name for big money, that would also funnel back into the business and eventually be taxed the same as any other incoming revenue.

Investing in the Offline and Online World of Property and Real Estate

No matter what type of property you are looking to invest in, always be sure to put in the time and effort to completely understand what you are getting into. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Finding that killer domain name on a GoDaddy or NameCheap search and getting it for $10!… Yea, that’s probably a perfect example of ‘too good to be true‘.

At the same time, you may feel hesitant about shelling out the dollars, but if you do your research and select carefully, the financial benefits can be great. The more comfortable you get with the idea of planning out your investments and taking action, the more likely you are to find success in the long run.

However, like most great investments it’ll take dedication and work on your end so don’t hesitate to seek support and get your questions answered!

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Entrepreneurship

5 Ways to Make Real Money with Legalized Sports Betting

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With sports betting now on its way to being completely legalized throughout the United States, this is going to be a huge opportunity for anyone looking to make some serious money. Of course, most people are immediately thinking of how they can make money by actually betting on games and putting their sports expertise to use. However, this is still unlikely for the average person to accomplish and there are better ways to make money, such as being an information source or business, versus being a player in the system.

Today we are going to look at five different ways you can actually start making some serious money through the use of legalized sports betting. These methods will consist of everything from starting your own website, putting your expertise to use, and of course everyone’s favorite… affiliate marketing.

Billions of dollars will be generated through the use of legalized sports betting in the coming years, so make sure you jump into this space as soon as possible so you can get a head start over the coming competition.

Start an Affiliate Rating/Directory Site

Whenever something new and exciting comes into play, the majority of people are going to search Google for information and how to get started. This is something we have already seen in the cryptocurrency space and people wanting to jump invest and make money with Bitcoin. The same will happen with legalized sports betting and how people can start placing bets online.

A quick search on SEMRush for “how to bet on sports” will give you just a taste of the volume and wide range of search option that will soon rapidly expand in size. The only question here is, will these users find your site, or your competition?

For anyone interested in making money through this method, affiliate marketing and creating a rating or directory site of top places to make bets online would be ideal. While it is pretty easy to create a website or blog, the main obstacle here will be getting traffic to your website. Since there is already massive competition in this space and advertisers with a ton of money, you will need to look at other options besides pay-per-click marketing and other methods commonly being used. The more creative and value-driven you can get with your content and marketing, the better.

The benefit of creating an affiliate site is that you don’t have to deal with any of the customers or actually place any orders or bets. Your site will earn a commission every time a new player is referred to another site, and often these commissions are in the $100 plus range. Another benefit of promoting such offers is that there are usually large initial deposit bonuses which can increase your conversions heavily.

Launch Your Own Sports Betting Course

Sticking with the theme of the previous point, many people are going to want to learn how to place sports bets of their own. Unlike in a casino where you just walk up to a table and can place a bet (without having an idea of how to play), in sports betting there are a lot more advanced and different ways to place a bet. The more you know and understand this, the better your odds of winning.

With so many people looking up this information, it will provide a whole new audience an opportunity for people to make money. If you already know what you are doing in the world of sports betting and have some experience, you could easily create an online course of your own that not only walks the user through how to make the best bets on their favorite sports teams, you could also show them how to sign up for online sights and placing bets on video as well.

To see a few examples of online sports betting courses that are already working pretty well, just head over to Clickbank and search through their affiliate marketplace.

While looking through the different offers on their site, also consider your options with expanding to affiliate marketing as a merchant. Once you have a proven product or service to offer, you could drastically expand your business and reach by paying a commission to affiliates in order to promote your product — much like we covered in the previous point.

In addition to creating your own product and making a higher profit margin on each sale, another benefit here is that you could potentially create your own brand, mailing list, and following in the process.

Monetize an Existing Sports Blog

Sports blogging is one of the most active and competitive spaces on the internet today. There has always been an active discussion on how to best make money with a sports blog, as its one of the hardest things to monetize because of it’s audience type. Most people are visiting these sites to get scores and highlights, not to buy something.

However, with legalized sports betting now coming into play this might be an easier niche market to monetize thanks to global interest in sports, and online betting. Is it only a matter of time before we see a sports betting section added to ESPN and also seeing ‘place your bet’ ads throughout the site?

Again, the benefit here is that you can run a sports website the same as you always intended, but now you can integrate affiliate marketing and promoting relevant content to your audience in the process. Unlike selling individual game tickets, memorabilia, or collectibles, when promoting sports betting ads or affiliate offers on your site, this is something that could potentially relate to all audiences on a global scale, while also offering a much higher revenue in the process.

Create a Sports Betting Focused Agency

As we’ve already pointed out several times through this article, there is going to be a massive amount of money pouring into this space over the next several months and years. With that in mind, you don’t necessarily have to have a sports betting focused business to make money — At least, targeted towards recruiting players and having your own product.

To get your entrepreneur mind and financial dreams moving in the right direction, look no further than the latest figures out of Nevada, and how they’ve just recently surpassed all previous revenue expectations in reference to their sportsbooks earnings. Not only is big money being made/spent, it’s also going to be focused on advertising and reaching new audiences as well.

With an always growing demand for new advertising and leads to be generated, this means there is a larger need for online marketing companies and agencies as well. I’m sure many of my readers already have an expertise in SEO or social media and other creative ways to market a business, which could make this opportunity right up their alley.

Taking these same talents and practices, you could actually start an agency that is focused on just promoting online sports betting and charge a higher premium. Instead of just being a ‘marketing agency’, become a ‘sports betting marketing agency’.

Build Your Own Blog, Brand & Podcast

Combining each of the practices mentioned above, one of the best ways to take advantage of legalized sports betting is to actually build a blog, brand, or even a podcast of your own. The more ownership and authority you have within a niche market, the more opportunity you will have overtime.

We’ve already seen some explosive growth in the world of podcasting over the past several years. With several sports betting podcasts already out there, it’s not a matter of how many are available, but also which are the best and can make a grand following for themselves. If you think the market is already too saturated — it’s not. Thousands of people are listening to podcasts for the first time daily, and this will only increase as legalized sports betting makes its way across the country.

Again, this all goes back to if sports betting is something you are passionate about and have an expertise for. Starting a blog or website is one thing, but a podcast is another. Without the necessary funds to push your brand or service to the masses, these platforms will all take time to grow if you are only focusing on word-of-mouth and organic results.

However, with all of that being said — if you have a proven track record for selecting winning teams while also making a profit consistently, this is something that could definitely help improve your reach, brand, and authority over time.

The Business of Sports Betting is Here to Stay

With the legalization of sports betting now in play, billions of dollars will be generated on an annual basis. It’s not just the casinos and bet takers that are going to be making money, it’s also the professional sports associations, state taxes, and everyone in between. The only real people who are potentially not going to make money in all of this, are the players.

I actually just had the opportunity to visit the Borgata in Atlantic City and place my first legal sports bet in their casino. It was a simple $50 bet for the Lakers to win the 2019 NBA Finals and pays 6-1. It was quite a fun experience and I can see how this industry is just going to explode with new opportunity and revenue growth!

If sports betting is something that you would love to start a business around, you need to take the time to consider each of the options above and create something that will continue to generate revenue for the years to come.

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Hi, I’m Zac Johnson

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