Why SBA Loans Make Sense For Banks & Business Owners


 

A great source of funding to start or grow your business is SBA loans.

SBA loans are issued by private banks. However, the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) guarantees a percentage of each loan. What this means is the following: if you, the entrepreneur or business owner, default on the loan (i.e., can't pay it back), the issuing bank only loses a small percentage of the money it lent you. The United States government essentially pays for the rest.

Because of this guarantee program, banks don't bear as much risk and are much more prone to issue SBA loans. This makes it easier for entrepreneurs like you to get these loans. Conversely, without the program, banks wouldn't make as many loans, and fewer businesses would get funding.

When small businesses grow, everybody wins. The entrepreneur can start or grow their business. In doing so, they create jobs. And their employees then have money to buy things. And the economy grows.

Small business funding challenges during the recession

But, as you may have noticed, business owners are still having trouble getting access to capital, namely 1) Small dollar loans, and 2) Loans in the niche industries affected by recession, such as real estate, finance, etc.

If you think about it, most small businesses don't need $1 million or even $500,000, and wouldn't even know what to do with it all. In many cases, even $100,000 can go a long, long way towards boosting revenues (or even doubling them) if invested in more lead generation campaigns, building a sales team, etc.

The odds are you can suffice with a smaller loan amount. In the past this has been more difficult because banks are geared towards extending larger loans since they can earn more interest for the same amount of due diligence per loan.

What the SBA is doing for small businesses

The SBA recently launched two loan-guarantee revisions that simplify and streamline paperwork even more for banks and borrowers.

One of them, the Small Loan Advantage program, is off to a strong start. It allows banks to make loans at more affordable rates, and brings more opportunities to borrow smaller loan amounts, like $50,000 to $100,000 or even less....which is great if that's all you need!

Applying for a small SBA loan from banks

To take advantage of this for yourself, find out which local bank makes the most SBA loans. You can often find this information on the bank's website. Or you can visit the branch or call them. Ask them how many SBA loans they make and how often they fund loans in the dollar range of what you need.

Find the local bank that is most active in the SBA loan program and apply for a loan. If the bank says you're not ready for the loan, don't hesitate to ask them why. Ideally, you can then fix the issue, and come back shortly thereafter and get the loan.

The SBA wants you to succeed as an entrepreneur and business owner. As mentioned, when you do, you will create jobs and stimulate the economy. So consider SBA loans as a funding source; they might be perfect for your business.

Suggested Resource: Want funding for your business? Then check out our Truth About Funding program to learn how you can access the 41 sources of funding available to entrepreneurs like you. Click here to learn more.

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Is Your Business One of the Chosen Few?


 

Is your business healthy and interesting enough to attract an investor and / or buyer to take a “leap of faith" on it?

As in funding / buying it at a price well beyond what its historic “proof” - customers, revenues, cash flows - might reasonably justify?

The hard reality, for most businesses, is that this is just never going to happen.

The equally hard reality is that, again for most businesses, that this is an unfixable problem. Unfixable for reasons including:

  • Lack of scalability to their business models (see most, but by no means all service businesses) or non-existent / de minimis brands, intellectual property, trade secrets, etc.
  • They compete in industries in long-term decline, usually because of technology advances (see retail, newspapers, commercial printing, desktop computing, cable television, et al.).
  • And my overlooked favorite, their management lacks the “right stuff” - talent, training, work ethic - to ever fix the business problems "of consequence."

Now, I'll get to some options for unfixable businesses in a moment.  

But let’s first look at the other side, those “chosen few” companies that opposed to being unfixable have the wind at their backs and oysters at their feet!

These businesses have the "good stuff" going on - growing revenues, healthy margins, next gen technology, cool brands, charismatic leadership - and their main stress is just to decide which of the plentiful, high potential opportunities to pursue.

For these businesses, there are investors and buyers everywhere that are excited to take big leaps of faith and offer them money to grow and / or sell.

And as I talked about on my “Maximizing Business Value in the Trump Economy” webinar last week, with business and consumer confidence soaring now is one of the best times ever to reach out to them. 

With that happy aside, what are those folks at businesses that just feel “unfixable” to do?

Well, the cold truth is that they most likely need to either:

1.  Try to sell themselves to a “strategic” buyer - someone to come in and either a) replace tired management with new blood and / or b) exploit “synergies” such as combining a business with strong marketing with one with great products / services or finding efficiencies through reducing redundancies, admin, etc.

2.  Just accept that the business just can’t be sold
nor fundamentally grown. And then like heck work to just suck as much money out of it as possible before its inevitable demise.

And oh, if there is just not enough money in that unfixable business to make it worth it to keep doing at all?

Well then let's shut it down, cry in our soup for perhaps even more than a little bit, and then move on to that next bigger and far better thing.

So if you are one of the chosen ones, or very much believe that you might be, then go for it full force.

And do so now when conditions are hot like this. Investors and buyers are wanting and waiting to take that chance and leap of faith!

And if you’re not, that is ok too.

Because yes in this 21st Century World of ours, there are a million ways to go.

One of those ways might be to sell the business, another to run it as absolutely best you can as profitably as you can. 

It is just always very good to know what you are - and what you're not.

And to then plan accordingly.

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10 MORE Obstacles That Are Limiting Your Success


 

The other day I wrote an article entitled "10 Obstacles That Are Limiting Your Growth." In it, I revealed 10 common things that block entrepreneurs and business owners from achieving the success they deserve.

Those 10 obstacles included:

1. Lack of Skill
2. Bad or Negative Attitude

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Maximizing Business Value in the "Trump Economy" [Recorded Webinar]


 

Since Election Day, the stock market has risen more than 15%, and business confidence has reached its highest level in 9 years.

This exuberance was on full display earlier this month with the Snap IPO, both the first big tech IPO of 2017 and one that performed above even its most optimistic expectations, with a market valuation at today’s market close north of $24 billion.

For a company with less than $500 million in revenues, and that last year lost $47 million.  

Remarkable on one level, but when viewed through the wider lenses of the bullish outlook for the economy and the “it just goes on and on” low interest rate environment, not entirely surprising.

 While frothy conditions like these have characterized past markets, the dynamics of this "Trump Rally" just feel different.

Let’s start with the dynamic of tone.

Quite simply, when the highest profile person in the world's economy - the U.S. president - is in so many ways a pure “promoter personality,” that this quality of “hype and sizzle” is only naturally more rewarded and expected.

For executives seeking to launch new products, raise capital, and / or to sell their companies at a high valuation, this does not mean just “blowing hot air” is an effective strategy but...

...it does mean that if ever there was a time where talking through the more “optimistic scenarios” as to our business forecasts is both okay and to be expected, then that time is certainly now.

The next dynamic is political.  

With Republicans in control of most levers of the Federal Government, big policy changes affecting huge swaths of the U.S. economy are potentially coming - to health care, taxes, regulations, infrastructure, trade, immigration, and more.

Whatever your political opinions are of these changes, they are on the minds of business and investment decision-makers everywhere.

And so we all need a plan as to how to react and profit from them.

A third dynamic not entirely unique to this rally, but always characteristic of bull markets is the heightened value placed on speed and velocity.

In this context, a long time Silicon Valley venture capital colleague of mine shared with me his views on a low revenue, no profit but $2 billion+ valuation company in which his firm was invested.

He said he and his partners felt at least 25% of that valuation - or $500 million dollars - was driven solely by the charismatic and “velocity-focused” leadership of that company’s CEO and founder.

Yes, investors were willing pay a half billion dollar premium for a leader capable of driving fast business action and results.

These are both strange and uniquely encouraging times and markets.

The future remains uncertain, but for now the guidance is to bake speed, political awareness, and perhaps even more than a bit of hype into your business model and presentation...
...and watch both your business results and its value soar.

P.S. Recorded Webinar: Five Steps to Maximize Your Valuation in the "Trump Economy"

Please follow this link for a recorded video webinar - Five Steps to Maximize Your Valuation in the "Trump Economy" - where I discuss the 5 steps you can take to dramatically increase the sale price of your business, and dramatically decrease the time needed to achieve it, including:

  • How to tailor your business value and sale story specifically for the unique conditions of the Trump Economy.
  • The 3 Mistakes that most Entrepreneurs and Executives make that effectively render their businesses unsellable
  • The 5 things that all businesses that sell for high valuations have and do
  • A simple formula to determine how much your business could be worth if you execute the right plan

Webinar Recording

To listen to the recorded webinar, follow the below link:  

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6422083971613896449 

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10 Obstacles That Are Limiting Your Growth


 

There are many mental and personal blockages that can hinder you from achieving your full potential in business. Blockages in business can be compared to fatty deposits around your arteries that impede blood pumped from the heart from reaching its destination.

For you to succeed in your business, you must identify and eliminate such blockages promptly.

Here are 10 common blockages that can impede your success. As you read through the list, mark any of them that might be affecting you and/or your business:

1. Lack of Skill
- As information increases, many business owners soon find out that there is much to learn. Whether it's getting up to date on new tax laws, learning about social media, or practicing negotiation techniques, take the time to keep your skills sharp.

2. Bad or Negative Attitude
- While it may be easy to learn new skills, attitude is what makes or breaks a company. Whether you think you can or think you can't - you're right! Check your attitude frequently.

3. Lack of Focus
- I always tell people that if they do one thing, they can do an A+ job; but that the second they do something else, they can only do a B+ job on each. And the bottom line is that to succeed in business, you must do an A job or better. So, make sure you focus on specific projects so you can excel at them.

4. Procrastination
- Procrastination is high among the top five time wasters. Creating deadlines is an effective way of preventing procrastination. Though it may feel restrictive or even stressful, having a deadline can activate your brain and infuse new thoughts and ideas.

5. Monotony
- It pays to try out something new once in a while. There is always a new instructional video with a different method from the text book methods learned in school. Doing something differently offers you the necessary relief from the routine and repetition that is common in many businesses.

6. Control Issues
- Sometimes the tiny voice in your head may urge you not to give up control, so you end up micromanaging everything. It is important to have faith in the people you hire. Hiring qualified people for your business helps you to focus on specific tasks and minimizes your chances of overworking yourself.

7. Overworking Yourself
- Sometimes you may overwork yourself even without realizing it. When you get overworked, you become less productive. Take it easy, go on vacation if possible. Your decision-making abilities become compromised when you are tired. Stick to a schedule and get some rest.

8. Seeking Approval
- In business, you may sometimes unconsciously or even consciously wait for someone to encourage you or give you permission to take a step. Acknowledge your own abilities and make decisions on what is best for business, not based on pride of emotional approval.

9. Lack of Creativity
- Keeping a journal can remedy a lack of creativity. Sometimes a new idea will pop up at a random time or place. Jotting down ideas and inspirations helps to unblock your mind. Apart from noting down random ideas for future reference, journals provide a useful way to track personal progress.

10. Thinking Small - With the current technological capabilities, it is easy to access success stories. Surround yourself with people who think big. Read books, blogs and watch motivational videos, etc. In business, if you aim low, you strike low. Aim high. 

How many of these blockages did you circle? There is no right or wrong answer. Whether you picked one or twenty, you have work to do. Study the blockages you marked and start with the one you feel is impacting you the most.

Work on removing this blockage for 30 days. Then pick the next one that is having an impact on your business and start working on that one. As you stretch beyond your comfort zone and tear down barriers, your business will grow.

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Mr. Aravinda Korala on ATMs, FinTech, Mobile and More [Recorded Video Conference]


 

On this recorded video conference, Mr. Aravinda Korala, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of KAL Software, joins us for the March edition of our Growthink Innovators video conference series.

Mr. Korala started his company in 1989, and has built KAL into the world’s largest independent supplier of Automated Teller Machine (ATM) software, with installations in more than 80 countries and over 300,000 ATMs worldwide. Marquee clients include Citibank, ING, UniCredit, and China Construction Bank.

Along the way, Aravinda has truly travelled the world, averaging more than 40 weeks per year of international travel, visiting with banks and financial industry technology providers around the globe.

From this lifetime of experience and relationships, Aravinda has developed deep wisdom as to what is real and what is hype when it comes to banking and financial industry disruption brought on by the FinTech revolution.

A Conversation Not to be Missed!

On the recorded video conference Aravinda and I discuss:  

  • The transformations that will shape the bank branch of the future 
  • The role of the ATM and other types of self-service machines in the future delivery of financial transactions.  
  • How can banks’ IT departments can preserve their flexibility and protect their budgets as their hardware and software vendor(s) scramble to adjust to the various and significant FinTech industry disruption and changes
  • And much, much more!

Who is This For?

This Innovator Series conversation is designed for:

  • Entrepreneurs and executives looking to learn from someone who has truly done it - built a great, global company from scratch and from a lifetime of high intensity, high integrity effort
  • Banking professionals (both in business and technical roles), with a vested stake in the fast-changing financial technology landscape.
  • Anyone just curious about how consumers and banks will be impacted by the projected $150 billion investment into new financial technologies over the next 3-5 years.
To view the video conference recording, click the link below:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2633180096350683394

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Crowdlending for Entrepreneurs Is Finally Here


 

What Is Crowdlending?

In brief, Crowdlending is when individuals lend you money.

This is important because oftentimes banks don't want to lend money to entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Crowdlending eliminates the banks as an intermediary and allows individuals to lend money to other individuals. Another name for Crowdlending is "peer to peer" lending.

A Brief History of Crowdlending

Crowdlending has been around for several years. The biggest two Crowdlending companies/websites are Prosper and Lending Club.

While the crowd-loans on these sites are structured as personal loans to the business owner, they can be used for business use. For example, small business owner and clothing designer Lara Miller has received three loans via Prosper which she used to launch her new website and clothing lines.

Clearly, you could consider taking a loan for your business from a friend or family member. However, with Crowdlending, you have a much larger number of potential lenders. Also, while not being able to repay your loan is always a terrible situation, it's clearly worse when you know and see the lender often.

Additionally, many individual lenders on Crowdlending websites take a portfolio approach. That is, they lend to several people. So one of their loans defaulting may not be devastating to them as it might to a friend or family member making just one loan.

Debt Versus Equity


In brief, raising equity is selling shares of your company. You are not required to pay interest on the funding or the principal back. However, the investor owns a piece of your company and if/when you exit, they will take their share.

Conversely, with debt, you have to pay both interest and the principle back.

It is important to note that equity is oftentimes MUCH more expensive than debt in the long-run. Let me give you a simple example.

Let's say you sell 40% of the equity in your business for $1 million. A year later, you are able to sell your company for $10 million. The investor would get $4 million of the sales price (40%). So, the cost to you of the $1 million investment was $4 million.

Conversely, let's say the investor lent you the $1 million at 10% interest. In that case, the cost of the funding would have been $1.1 million - which is the principle and interest you would have to pay back.

In this scenario, debt funding would have cost you ONLY $1.1 million, nearly 75% less than the $4 million cost of equity funding.

Crowdlending Versus Debt


Crowdlending, gives you several benefits over traditional debt or bank loans:

1) Your chances of raising Crowdlending are much higher since banks reject many more loan applications

2) Crowdlending gets you lower interest rates than banks because you are eliminating the bank as a "middle man"

3) Crowdlending has much fewer requirements with regards to the application and documents you need to submit

4) Crowdlending dollars are generally raised much faster than bank loans

Crowdlending For Businesses

I have been telling entrepreneurs about Prosper and Lending Club for years. Because they are relatively easy and low-cost forms of funding. However, they both have a big negative, in that you can generally only raise loans less than $35,000.

That's why I will thrilled when I recently spoke with Endurance Lending Network.

Endurance has amassed a bunch of non-bank lenders including successful entrepreneurs, wealthy individuals, family offices and institutional investors. And, these individuals lend between $25,000 and $500,000 to businesses - the amounts entrepreneurs and business owners actually need.

Conclusion

Crowdlending is a great new way to raise money to start or grow your business. It's much easier, faster and less expensive than both bank loans and equity funding, making it a perfect choice for most entrepreneurs and business owners.

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What Do Top Athletes and Top Executives Have in Common?


 

Businesspeople, of course, love sports. This is evident in so many ways.

From the vast sums spent by companies on sports advertising, sponsorships, luxury suites, etc., and more to the point from the common sayings and cliches of both worlds.

These range from the classic sales axioms - "take your swings," "get the deal across the end zone," "this one is a Hail Mary," to the universal pleas of coaches and managers "to be a team player," "support each other", and my eternal favorite to “bring your A-game.”

The sayings might be trite, but the mindsets and daily actions of top athletes and top executives are
very similar.

It starts with sports at its most fundamental - keeping score and at the end of the game having a winner and a loser.

Top executives lead from a similar “no excuses” frame.

Top marketers know their prospects either filled out the “Contact Us” form or they didn’t.

For top salespeople, their prospects either bought or they didn’t.

Top managers have either happy, productive employees, or they don't.

And the companies that top CEOs lead are either growing and profitable, or are shrinking and losing money.

And just like with top athletes, it is all on them and them alone.  

The flip side of this tough love “win or lose and there is no in between” frame is how "tabula rasa" sports naturally are.

The best athletes always focus on the next game.

They don’t rest on past glories and accomplishments nor catastrophize the "damning effect" of past losses and setbacks.

Famed coach Bill Belichick is a great example in this regard.

Before he won five Super Bowls with the New England Patriots, his record in his first head coaching job with the Cleveland Browns was a middling 36-44.

Yes, it is nice to have a track record of business success, and for sure it is discouraging to have one of failure.
 

But...top executives know that the true value of their enterprises is based solely on its intended plan of accomplishment - and its probability of achieving that plan- in the months, quarters, and years to come.

And then my favorite, and hardest, lesson from sports for business is how much top executives can learn from the life choices of the very best and most successful athletes.

The very best athletes - the Olympic Gold Medalists, the Masters Champions, the Super Bowl Winning Quarterbacks - define and value themselves through their sporting accomplishments.

For the very best, it is far more than a game.

It is a burning desire to win that runs as deep and hard as desire can.

And from that desire flow a whole series of life choices and disciplines.

What to eat, what to drink.

When to sleep, when to rise.

Who to have as trainers, advisors, coaches.

All of these life and professional decisions and more are guided by the simple goals of winning, of striving to win, of being the best.

Now, does being a peak performing executive require the same kind of monomaniacal focus and discipline?

Yes it does.

The negative of this is that it is a lot of work and sacrifice.

The positive is that for the executives at the top of their profession, and for those striving hard to get there, their work is truly a labor of love.

And the sweetness and joy and satisfaction they feel when it all comes together and their businesses just take off and prosper....

....makes it so much worth it!

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Fast-Track Millionaires: 5 Modern Success Stories to Replicate


 

Becoming a millionaire entrepreneur is possible, and many people have shown us how they managed to quickly build empires.

If you are an entrepreneur and are looking for inspiration, then these 5 modern success stories will certainly motivate you.

1. Sara Blakely

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It's March 1st, Five Ways to Profit from Today's Frothy Markets


 

Today the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 21,068, up 15% since Election Day, with since that time more than $3 trillion in new investment wealth having been created.

This rally has been both deep and consistent, with almost all market sectors participating, and with market volatility levels at their lowest level in 34 years.

What is driving the rally is the hope that the aspects of the new administration's policies that are clearly pro-business, namely tax, regulatory, healthcare reform and infrastructure investment, will outweigh those that potentially are not - trade and immigration.

Whatever the long-term might hold, and let us always remember legendary economist John Manynard Keynes’ dictum that "In the long run, we are all dead," at this moment the “animal spirits” of capitalism are at a
very juicy high water mark.

So the smart and ambitious executive feels and knows that now is the time to just get after it.

So, on this March 1st, with all of the exuberance and confidence in the business air, here are five ways to take advantage:

#5. Sell Your Company. Rising public markets, with big companies flush with fresh equity and thus able to more assertively pursue growth-by-acquisition strategies, creates a virtuous trickle-down effect on valuations and business sale probabilities for even the smallest of firms.

Primarily, the acquisition targets of the public market big boys are mid-sized businesses - $100 million to $1 billion in transaction value.

These mid-sized companies in turn look to, via acquisition as well, improve their strategic profile and growth rate through seeking buyout targets with enterprise values of less than $100 million.

Both observing and participating in this uptick in buyer demand are private equity firms - sensing a shorter time frames to exits for their portfolio companies.

For sellers, the natural result of all of this buyer confidence and urgency is better pricing and faster closings.

These conditions won’t last forever of course, but right now is about as perfect a business sale climate as we have seen felt since the 1990s.

#4. Prepare to Sell. The above is all well and good, but the significant majority of companies are just too small and financially unimpressive to even consider being sold.

If your business falls into this category, then instead focus on preparing to sell through researching and then emulating the attributes of the more successful businesses in your market.

Even if this research yields just the “obvious” insights - i.e. that my business needs to make more money, have more predictable revenue, have a better brand, etc. - simply taking the time to make the comparison is almost always illuminating and actionable.

#3. Ask Yourself What is Wrong. Talented executives are usually well aware of what they need to do to grow their businesses to attain their strategic and financial goals.

But they just can't seem to get it done.

Their classic bugaboos have been the same since time immemorial - clients not buying as much, or as easily, or at as high a price.

And / or employees not performing well enough, or the better ones not sticking around long enough.

How about instead of blaming stalling growth on problem customers and employees we place it where it squarely belongs?

On the shoulders of our leadership.

The best executives, when they see that their prospects and the customers are the wrong ones, they pivot and instead pursue, secure, and service the right ones.

If their employees aren't performing as they should, they either fire them or usually far better identify and improve those aspects of their business culture holding everyone back.

Yes, let’s channel Harry Truman and
always have the buck only stop with us.

#2. Learn More, Complain Less. Whether one agrees or with the policies of the new administration, or finds irksome the personality of the new President, the incessantly negative and gossiping media coverage about it is mostly pointless and usually depressing.

Let’s instead listen to Bill Belichick, the most winningest coach in football history and “Do Our Jobs.”

Let's tune out all of the toxic noise and instead invest our “media time” in learning how to do more of what we as executives and business owners should always focus on above else - growing the sales, profits, and value of our companies. 

#1. Speed Everything Up. No one knows how long the current market rally and big leap in business confidence will last.

But it will come to an end.

And instead of riding this upward wave, we will be dragged down by a declining and fear filled market.

So while the going is good, let’s act.

Let’s write that business plan. Launch that new sales campaign.

Make that new hire. Invest in that new product.

Do so with care and preparation and precision for sure, but absolutely don’t wait for things to be perfect before you do so.

We are in arguably historically good markets.

Shame on us all if we don't fully take advantage.

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