Friday, October 21, 2011

BIG NEWS About the SBA 504 Refinance Program!

This could be a huge benefit for small business owners who need to consolidate debt or refinance a loan in order to increase working capital.

The funding was approved last year, but it has taken a while to develop the program and set requirements to qualify.  The criteria for qualifying for these loans for existing businesses has just been finalized. This video will give you the whole scoop!  Click here for the 504 Refinance Program Video

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS (updated by 504LoanExperts as of October 12,2011):

Refinance proceeds to be used for:

1.Owner-occupied commercial real estate.
2.Machinery and equipment.
3.Itemized Business Expenses (such as salaries, rent, utilities, inventory, paying-down payables and other obligations of the business).
4.Closing costs associated with the project.

Loan being refinanced must have been current for the past year with no past dues more than 30 days (loan deferments and/or modifications are now eligible for refinancing as long as borrowers have not been past due on these newly modified terms).

Debt must be two (2) years or older prior to the date the application is received by the SBA.
Small business concern must have been in business for two years prior to the submission of the application.
In addition to a cash contribution, the borrower’s 10% contribution may be satisfied by its equity in the Eligible Fixed Asset(s) serving as collateral for the Refinancing Project or by the equity in any other fixed assets that are acceptable to SBA as collateral. (An independent appraisal of the fair market value of the project assets and any additional assets offered as additional collateral must be provided, dated within 6 months of application submission — we will engage the appraiser).

No refinancing of loans with an existing federal guaranty (includes 7(a), 504 and USDA loans).

Once the SBA has satisfied the immediate demand, it will open the program to the other small business that have balloon notes and ultimately to small businesses that would realize a substantial cash flow benefit as a result of this program.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Marketing tip of the day

Tired of doing marketing research online? Well here is another option – leave the computer and hit the stores! Once you are there, don’t focus on you but focus on the customers. Look at what customers are buying, what are stores offering that’s attracting customers? What ideas can you get from them? What are stores offering as promotions and discounts? With this data you will learn a lot.

Having behavioral data is the best way of improving your knowledge of what people want and a great way to learn more about your target.

By doing this you will see some interesting customer behavior that you wouldn’t be able to find online, so if you’re tired of doing online marketing research... leave the computer and hit the stores. This way you will learn new things about your customers you would never find online!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It’s more than just the sale.....

Usually business owners or marketers feel like their job is to get prospective clients to fall for our marketing and purchase our product. The reality of marketing goes way beyond this.

Good marketers know that they need to manage the entire customer experience and not just a sale. By doing so, not only will you attract clients to purchase your goods and services, but you will keep them, communicate to them and leverage them to be loyal clients in the future. 

As a business owner or marketer, you should always focus on creating happy clients. That’s what it’s all about!  Don’t just focus on the front end but also on the after sale.  Focus on building long lasting relationships with your existing clients and you will see how they do the marketing for you. They will become some of your greatest marketing assets.  

How are you communicating to your clients? Are you just trying to sell them more? Focus on the complete messaging before, during and after the purchase. If you fail to do so, you will see that attracting and retaining clients will become more and more difficult with time.  

By focusing your marketing communication throughout their patronage with your company, you will maintain your current client base as well as setting your company up for word-of-mouth referrals and future growth.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

10 lessons Steve Jobs left us with

The legendary tech genius Steve Jobs passed away on Oct. 5, leaving a great void in the world. However, Jobs will also be remembered for leaving behind a series of memorable and illuminating speeches, which contain words of wisdom.

When reading these, think about how these lessons influence your personal life as well as your own business and how these affect every aspect of our professional and private lives.
• The most enduring innovations marry art and science

• To create the future, you can’t do it through focus groups

• Never fear failure

• You can’t connect the dots forward – only backward

• Listen to that voice in the back of your head that tells you if you’re on the right track or not

• Expect a lot from yourself and others

• Don’t care about being right. Care about succeeding

• Find the most talented people to surround yourself with

• Stay hungry, stay foolish

• Anything is possible through hard work, determination, and a sense of vision

-Steve Jobs

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Are You Ready?

There are signs that things are improving every so slightly in the economy ... especially for small business. Jeffrey Gitomer (in spite of his unlikely wardrobe) is a marketing "guru" focused on helping you improve your sales. He's proven himself over and over, and knows his subject well. Listen here while he tells you how to best take advantage of the little boom headed our way.

Small Business Trends for 2012

Melissa Thomas, Greenville Area Consultant with the SBDC, gave us some insight on 2012 Small Business Trends after attending the Association of Small Business Development Centers’ national conference in San Diego. Here are some points for everyone to consider, whether starting a business or looking to redirect their business path or products to fit the coming trends:

  • Every business should have a website and it should be optimized for mobile use. Consumers want value and expect a deal. 68% of people shop with coupons; 69% of consumers go online to comparison shop before making a purchase and 41% of those consumers go directly to a retailer's site.
  • Age 85 and up is the fastest growing demographic. In-home non-medical care is big business. 33% of people 75 and up live alone (40% of them have a disability). There are currently 4,600 adult day-care centers. However, this is not going to be enough. There will be a very steady need for handy-man services, cleaning, lawn maintenance, and companies that provide home-proofing for seniors. Gyms have seen a 300% increase in membership in people ages 55 and up, but they are not catering to them.
  • There are presently 85 million Baby Boomers. They spend more money on online shopping than any other age group. Because most Baby Boomers are almost retired there is a huge need for financial planners. 46% of women in this group were raised to believe men would handle financial planning. Now, 3% of those women say they agree with that... but 49% of women have no financial advisor.
  • There are 75 million children 18 years or younger. There were more kids born in 2007 in the United States than ever before. The U.S. has the largest toy market (other countries are buying our toys). There has also been a trend in certified green toys. Tweens (ages 8-14) have what Thomas calls "pester power". They spend $2,000/year of their own money on clothes, electronics, food, computer games, home furnishings, etc.
  • Popular Businesses:
    • Weddings - consolidated services and wedding rentals (for every aspect of the wedding) are becoming increasingly popular. 60% of people today are paying part of the wedding cost on their own.
    • Men's Health & Beauty - Barbershops have seen a 10% increase in the last 2 years. Yoga studios have seen a rise in male participants. Currently, there are 19 million men's grooming products on the market. By 2014, studies expect that number to be at least 28 million.
    • Retail - By 2015, online shopping will be a 279 billion dollar business.
    • Plus-size - 60% of adults 20 and older are overweight. Bridal wear (2.1 billion dollars/year), bikes, and nightclubs geared toward plus-size people are just a few of the many products and services for which this group will continue to demand.
    • Pets - 62% of families have one. In 2010, 55 billion dollars were spent on pets - this does not include food or veterinary costs.
    • Food - Butcher shops are making a strong comeback. Gluten free food sales have grown 74% from 2004-2008. Food trucks - like the ones in Wisconsin offering pizza after 10 p.m. in the bar districts - are in demand. 91% of people surveyed said they would eat from a food truck. 70% of people eat dessert once a week and it is predicted that pie on a stick will be the next big hit.
    • Cyber security is a 75 billion dollar industry.
    • By 2015, mobility/apps will be an 8 billion dollar business.
    • Translators are a 2.5 billion dollar industry.So … where does your business stand? Are you ready to grow? If you need to refocus your small business as we head toward 2012 and need a little guidance, give your local SBDC a call. We’re here to help you grow! Winthrop Regional SBDC, Rock Hill, SC: (803) 323-2283; Florence Area SBDC: (843) 661-8256; and Coastal Conway Area SBDC: (843) 349-4010.