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.
Time is Money: How to Maximize Both as an Entrepreneur or Business Owner
Are you wearing too many hats? Being pulled in a hundred different directions? Having trouble completing tasks because new things keep coming up?
The hours you spend working are as important as the money made in that hour. Your time is money; wasted time results in wasted cash. You can change this with some simple time management hacks.
Your productivity depends on your time management. Once you master this, everything in your business will become simpler. Keep reading to learn how to make the most of your time as a business owner.
Invest in Great Employees
Many business owners find themselves hiring employees far too often. A high turnover of staff means the time you take to plan and to train goes to waste.
The trick to saving time on hiring is making the right hires in the first place. And, making the job so great they don’t want to leave!
You can do this by creating an Employee Development Plan. Any employees that you truly value and depend on should have a path for growth. They should have benefits and perks that make working for you worthwhile.
When recruiting new hires, be very detailed in what you’re looking for. Weed out the lazy, unenthusiastic applicants from the hard working and passionate candidates.
Once you hire great employees who love working for you, they can take a load off your plate. Remember to ask for their feedback and input on new ideas. You trust them to do a good job, so you can delegate tasks to them.
Track your Time
Spend a week recording everything you do from morning to night. You can do this with Google Calendar or on paper. Write the tasks you work on each hour or the free time you spend.
After one week, review your log.
How many tasks did you switch between in any given hour? How many tasks comprised of you fixing other people’s work? Did you miss any deadlines or lose out on any profit?
You may realize you’re working an extreme number of hours per week. Or, that you’re struggling to move projects forward because you aren’t focused enough.
This problem is very common for business owners. It gets solved by automating and delegating tasks.
Thanks to the magic of technology, we don’t have to manually complete many tasks. If you haven’t leaned into automation, now’s the time to start.
Automation is when you let technology automatically complete tasks without your constant approval. You set up the rules and expectations, then the frequency of the automation. After that, your load is a little lighter.
Here are some tasks automation can help with:
- Email marketing
- Assigning inbound leads
- Following up with networking peers
- Offering free content to attract leads
- Identifying the hottest leads
- Tracking accounts receivable
The list goes on and on. Did you know that 80 percent of top-performing businesses use automation for marketing? 80 percent of these highly successful people can’t be wrong.
Look at your business’s tasks and systems. Where could automation help you?
Not all tasks can get automated; some should get delegated. As a business owner and entrepreneur, you’re used to doing everything yourself. “If you want it done right, do it yourself” right?
Most of the time, “done is better than perfect.” You need to decide which tasks demand your attention and which ones your employees can do.
This might mean training your top employees on new roles and duties. This is great because it shows them you believe in them and it lightens your workload.
Look back at your time log for the week. Find at least three things that you can delegate. Start the process of transferring those responsibilities to someone else.
This will give you more time to do the things only you can.
Work in Batches
Jumping from one task to another in completely different realms is awful for productivity. Switching gears all the time ruins your focus and lowers your energy.
Instead, start working in batches through calendar blocking.
Schedule your day to complete all like-minded tasks in the same block of time. That could mean spending all of Monday morning working on payroll duties. Or, all of Monday afternoon updating the company website and planning new components.
Consider using an app for all your scheduling needs, like this company. Every employee can download the app and have access to all work-related things.
By staying in the same realm of tasks for a larger chunk of time, you can focus completely on that umbrella of tasks. You can use your time more efficiently and get more done.
Look around your office. Is it messy? Is there clutter everywhere, especially on your desk?
This is a subconscious productivity-destroyer. How can your mind think clearly when your space feels confused and chaotic? Both you and your employees are less productive when the space is messy.
Start by cleaning your personal office. Your desk should only have things you use every day or make you happy. File loose papers or shred them.
Declutter the floor. Boxes should get put away and objects returned to their home in the office. Hire a cleaner to deep clean the space.
Then, set new expectations for your staff on office cleanliness. Like tools need to get put back after use and don’t leave rotten food molding in desk drawers.
You may need to buy some organizational systems to keep this momentum going. Get some low-maintenance plants to put around the office and lift the mood. Make the office a calm and clean place to work for everyone.
If Time is Money, Are You Spending Yours Wisely?
As a business owner, you’re supposed to be hustling and grinding. But, you can do more by working smarter, not harder.
Boost your productivity and profits by getting better at time management. Put systems in place that save you time and let you focus on important things. Your time is money; making better use of it will result in higher earnings.
For more tips on being a business owner, productivity, and making more money, check out this article.
The Ultimate Guide To Streamlining Your Accounts Payable Process
Let’s face it: the process of improving and streamlining your accounts payable process can feel like you’re drowning in a sea of busywork. It’s also one of the most important, yet overlooked, processes within a business that can actually make you go from negative to positive in monthly ROI. This is especially true with online businesses, as many of use are using various automation, SEO, and marketing tools that have built-in recurring monthly costs… but how many of them are we actually using, yet still paying for?
This is something I occasionally talk about on the blog, as it’s a great reminder to always keep an eye on not just what your monthly expenses are, but also what they are actually being spent on. We all watch the incoming and outgoing money within our businesses and brands, but many of us will forget to actually look through our credit card and banking statements to see who is billing what. Soon enough, you could have thousands in monthly recurring bills, and not even realize that you aren’t utilizing such services.
It’s not just affiliate marketers and bloggers that have to deal with these types of issues, it’s businesses of all sizes — and it really comes down to the various payment processors, invoice tracking, and tax software being used. The truth is that an inefficient accounts payable system costs you in time , money, and anxiety. Between chasing down your tax information, waiting for invoices to be verified, and frantically paying bills at the last second, things will slip through the cracks.
You won’t just lose money. Your company’s reputation will suffer as a result. You might lose important business relationships that you’ve worked hard to build.
It’s time to make a change for the better.
Read on to learn how to improve your current accounts payable procedures.
1. Look for Patterns in Your Payments
The first thing that you need to do when you’re ready to make over your accounts payable process?
Think about how you can get out in front of upcoming payments.
The best way to do this is to look for payment and invoice patterns, and then create a matching schedule of accounts payable.
For example, do you know that your supplier sends you a bill on the first Monday of every month? If so, you know that this payment to your suppliers is a fixed cost every month. You should schedule an automatic payment, since it will likely be in the same amount each time.
Additionally, figure out who you sent the most money to, the most frequently.
This will help you to keep better track of your spending pattern, and know who to prioritize when it comes to getting payments out on time.
One more thing you might discover during this review process?
The fact that you’re not exactly spending your company’s money in the most effective way. Taking a closer look at things won’t just help you to spend less time each month on accounts payable.
There’s also a good chance that it will help to save you some serious money.
2. Define Your Invoice Payment Strategy
You know that paying invoices on time and in the correct amount is an essential way to maintain excellent relationships with freelancers and suppliers alike.
However, if you’ve noticed that your accounts payable process seems to be missing the mark when it comes to invoices?
You need to make a change — and fast.
First of all, decide when you’ll pay the invoices that are sent to you. Is the goal simply to get them paid as quickly as possible? Or, is it better to send payments at a set date?
Determine the payment method that you use. Will you write them a check, or do they prefer to get their money sent to them via systems like PayPal? And which method of payment works best for your business?
You should also make sure that you have a strong record-keeping system in place when it comes to your invoices. That way, even if something does go wrong, you’ll be able to track exactly when and how it happened.
One final piece of often-overlooked advice?
It’s simple: make sure that you have the right employees working on accounts payable.
Is now the time to create a specific accounts payable department, as opposed to assigning invoices to “whoever has time” to complete them? What short of qualifications do the people working in accounts payable have? What sort of training program have you implemented?
These are certainly all things to consider — and to speak with your team honestly about.
If you need to hire someone new, then the cost of bringing them on will likely pay for itself in the time the rest of your team members will earn back.
3. Consider a Payment Automation System
Of course, if you’re truly serious about improving your current accounts payable process, then you’re likely going to need to invest in a payment automation system.
Look for a system that allows you to make payments in a variety of currencies and payment methods. You should also decide on an option that helps you to eliminate as many rejected payments as possible.
The goal here is to find a platform that helps you through every part of the AP process — including making early payments.
Also, ensure that the payment automation system you choose helps you to keeps things secure and compliant. The right system will scan potential payees and identify potentially fraudulent or problematic companies.
Finally, make sure that you take a close look at the transaction fees of any payment automation system you use. Remember that fees are usually charged on a per-transaction basis. So, cut down on the number of individual payments if possible.
Looking to learn more about what makes a great payment automation system?
If so, be sure that you check out the Tipalti website, to learn how their platform could save up to 80% of your accounts payable team’s time.
Once you’ve implemented each of these solutions and accounts payable processes, you may finally be at zen with your personal and business finances.
Ready to Overhaul Your Accounts Payable Process?
We hope that this post has helped you to understand what it takes to truly improve your accounts payable process — and eliminate errors in the process.
Of course, tackling accounts payable is just one smart of what helps you to streamline your time at the office, and get more out of every day.
You need to ensure that you have a strong digital and print marketing strategy, that you employees feel motivated within the work environment, and much more.
Keep on coming back to our blog to score even more tips on how to take your company to even higher heights.
How to Pick the Best Business Credit Cards for Startups
You obviously know about the existence of business credit cards, and you may have even heard about the benefits they give to companies, but you’re still worried about getting one for your startup. If that’s that the case… don’t be. I’ve personally used credit cards for my business expenses for over 20 years now, and as long as you stay on top of your payments, they are perfectly fine.
Right now, you may think you’re playing it safe by avoiding the plastic, but in reality, you’re missing out on a ton of great deals that could help your business grow and become more successful.
There are a variety of credit cards that you could choose from, and each card offers their own unique trademarks that you could use to your advantage. Let’s have a look at some of the best business credit cards for startups.
The Best Business Credit Cards for Startups That You Should Use
Depending on your type of business, you can gain some serious perks to help you level up your business game. Keep reading to find out more.
Decide How Fast You’re Paying the Monthly Bill
The first thing you need to worry about is the amount of time you think you will need to take care of your monthly statements.
Some companies can pay off their fees in full every month like clockwork. Others may only be able to pay off the bare minimum in order to keep things rolling. There are cards for both types of businesses.
If you know how to make the full payment each month, you should go for a card that gives you longer grace periods and a lot of rewards so you can capitalize on all of the benefits.
Charge cards are also handy for those who always pay in full. These little guys give you the money you need, as long as you’re able to pay it off within a 30-day time frame.
If you’d rather take your time paying off the card, then get a credit card that has a low-interest rate or a 0% APR to allow you time to pay everything off without any backlash.
As for my own personal and business expenses, I’ve always been a fan of American Express, and have been a customer of theirs since 2003. You can see a few of my other preferred business credit cards for entrepreneurs and bloggers as well.
Think About Operating Costs
One of the biggest reasons (if not, the biggest) why you want a credit card is to take care of the operating costs that come with every business.
Look through the spending log and see which of your operations takes up the most of your money, and then find a card that gives you benefits directly related to those operating costs.
For example, if you spend a lot on customer service, get a card that offers bonus points on spending in this category. That way you get returns as you spend cash.
The last thing that you should be worried about when choosing a credit card is are the credit expenses.
Different cards offer different costs on their monthly and annual fees. More often than not, this is directly related to the number of benefits and perks you get from using it.
The general rule of thumb is that the more basic the card is, the less you’ll have to pay in fees, and vice versa. It’s up to you to decide if you’re going to take the thrifty approach or if your business can fork the extra cash for the bonuses.
If you want to learn more about what card would suit your company best, check out this website for a list of credit card reviews and other things that could help your small business soar.
The One Stop for All Your Startup Business Needs
Now that you know about some of the best business credit cards for startups, you can make moves to grow your business! When starting to apply for different cards online, you may find better success with lower level credit options and stay away from American Express until you have a decent credit score or business history. If all of that already looks good, then apply away!
As mentioned, I’ve been making money online and helping businesses grow their reach and exposure for well over two decades now. If you ever have any questions or are in need of services, just send me an email and I’ll be sure to give you the answers that you need.
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