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No matter how small or large your business, professionalism is crucial to long term success. Professionalism is integral to doing any job well. How you and your employees conduct themselves at work, with one another and when serving customers, affects your business image, internal morale, productivity, and growth.

Professionalism Rules for the Workplace

In order to run your business in a professional manner, model professional behavior, establish best practices for proper work conduct, train your staff, and enforce the rules.

Career professionalism must include:

  • Reliability: Be punctual and always on time, so that co-workers and customers can depend upon you. Get to work and meetings on time and return timely from lunch breaks, vacation, etc.
  • Positive attitude: Don’t let your personal mood affect your work, or other staff members and/or customers. If you cannot be upbeat at work, consider a new career. Start a business or new position that you truly enjoy.
  • Proper attire: Whether your work is in a conservative...
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Being involved in a startup can be very exciting, as they are often full of energy and fresh ideas. However, there are some pitfalls that can hamper the momentum of a new business. This article goes over some of the most common ones so that you can avoid them.

Pitfall 1: Not Using Contracts

In the early, busy days of a startup, it can be tempting to skip the use of contracts to save time and conserve energy. Don’t make this mistake. A contract protects you from issues like clients trying to change the terms of your agreement down the road. You should also use firm, written agreements when working with other businesses in joint ventures.

Pitfall 2: Not Understanding Payment Schedules

It is essential to have a firm handle on payment schedules, which contracts can help with. Many entrepreneurs mistakenly assume clients will pay on time without prodding. Some clients will, but for others, you may need to pursue payment with the contract in hand.

Pitfall 3: Lowballing Cost Estimates

Another common...

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Real estate is generally a pretty good investment for most people. After the 2008 real estate crash, many investors are a little more cautious than they used to be. If you’re looking for a steady income off real estate, medical office investments can be a good place to put your money. Here’s why.

High Demand

As Baby Boomers age, they need medical care. It’s not just keeping up with illness and disease but improving their quality of life through rehab and cosmetic surgeries. Gen X is right behind them with a love of sports and nutrition needs. And let’s not forget Millennials who are just as crazy for extreme sports and the care that goes with injuries. Healthcare will never go out of style.

Location, Location, Location

Real estate is all about location. Properties close to medical systems are highly sought after by developers and investors because physicians want to be close to the hospital. More facilities are being built to offer outpatient services, making a limited number of properties for medical office investments in demand. Developing sites for...

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The line between being a hard worker and developing workaholic tendencies is a fine one. To help you stay on the right side of that line, this article goes over several signs you should be on the lookout for.

1. Strained Relationships

According to Dr. Barbara Killinger, writing for Psychology Today, one of the key signs that a person is a workaholic is the decay of their interpersonal relationships. Dr. Killinger points out that a hard worker with a balanced life meets their professional responsibilities, yet is still there for family and friends. Workaholism, however, leads to a person obsessing only over their professional responsibilities, which can cost them dearly in the interpersonal realm.

2. Ill Health

Another workaholic symptom is ill health. Even if they are not diagnosed with a specific physical illness, people who work too much may feel tired or suffer from headaches. They might also drink too much...

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One of the most important actions facing a new business is hiring employees. As former CEO and author, Lawrence Bossidy stated, “I am convinced that nothing we do is more important than hiring and developing people. At the end of the day, you bet on people, not on strategies.” Even though hiring may sound daunting and might be new territory for you, move deliberately and with confidence. Hire well, knowing that your first employees will help set the tone for your business.

How to Know When to Hire

First, don’t hire in a moment of desperation. Even though you may face a mountain of work, don’t make a hasty decision that will burden you with other problems. Second, don’t hire if you don’t know what you’ll need your new hire to do. Rather, carefully determine the role, responsibilities, expectations, and compensation for your new employees. Third, don’t hire the first person who comes along; make a wise choice instead of hiring by accident.

Do move forward with hiring employees when:

  • You have funds on-hand to meet your...
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If your organization needs new equipment, you have to decide whether it is a better choice to lease the equipment or secure financing, such as a loan, to purchase it. Only you can decide which option is best for your company. However, understanding the differences between these two options can help you determine which option would be best for the financial health of your business.

Lease vs. Loan

Depending on your needs and situation, there are positives and negatives for both leasing and seeking a loan to purchase. Loans allow your organization to own the equipment once the loan is repaid, but the process may require more money upfront for the equipment. Leasing may not require money upfront, but may ultimately be more expensive if you are paying per month, and your organization does not own the equipment.

Things to Consider

If you are unsure whether a loan or lease would be better for your organization, here are a few things to consider as you deliberate your options:

  • How long will the equipment be needed? Will you use the equipment for the...
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The American Dream includes being your own boss. Immigrants from countries around the world want to come to the United States to become an entrepreneur. If you’re thinking of joining the immigrant business owners who have made a difference in this country, you’ll need to work with your embassy and the state department to understand visa requirements for businesses. Here are some tips for immigrant business owners.

Know Your Visa Options

L-1A/B visas let businesses transfer employees of their foreign business to the United States to start a branch here. The employer files Form I-129 to start the process. Once that is approved, the employee has another form to fill out to get approved. It takes time.

The E-2 Visa is for people who want to start a business in the United States. Not every country is eligible for this visa. Applicants can only stay for two years, then must reapply. An E-2 visa must demonstrate that the business has the capital to operate. E-2 visa holders cannot earn residency status but can change their visa status as the business grows.

The...

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Whether you lease or buy real estate, once you find a location for your business, you’re probably going to be locked in for a few years. It’s not like you can simply up and move every year. You have to think about how much office space you currently need and can afford while keeping in mind growth over the next few years. How much office space do you need?

Average Space Requirements

CEOs, managers, and VPs will probably need private offices, no matter what type of office style you have. Plan at least 150 square feet for managers, 200 sq. ft. for VPs and 400 sq. ft. for presidents and CEOs. Cubicles for other employees range from 125 to 175 sq. ft. Clerks and temps can usually get by with 100 sq. ft. You need to calculate the number of employees you have and determine how many square feet you need.

Once you know how much space you need for employees to work, consider permanent rooms and spaces that you might need. You should have some storage space, at least 200 square feet. Do you need a break room, a conference room, storage for servers? Will...

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Sometimes a traditional bank is not the best place to get a business loan. That’s especially true if you have a lower credit score, have been in business two years or less, and/or are looking for a smaller loan of less than $250k.

What’s Wrong with Major Banks when You Need a Business Loan?

Unfortunately, typical major banks are too rigid in their lending requirements and don’t see the upside in lending to the small business community. High administrative costs also stand in the way of traditional banks loaning funds to startups and business owners. Since the banks are failing to meet the needs of many entrepreneurs these days, there are many alternative lenders ready to offer you financial options for business funding.

Why Explore Alternative Lending?

For small business owners (SBOs) or entrepreneurs running a startup, alternative lending offers many benefits, including:

  • More flexible qualifications: Getting approved by an alternative financial institution is simpler for a borrower because these lenders don’t have strict, inflexible...
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All businesses require a positive cash flow in order to maintain a certain level of success, and certainly to experience any kind of real business growth. Even a medical practice requires a healthy cash flow in order to continue to provide outstanding health services to its patients. If your medical practice suffers from inconsistent cash flow, a merchant cash advance (MCA) may be just the answer. Here are some of the benefits your medical practice would receive from obtaining a merchant cash advance.

Financing Is Flexible

Because repayment for your merchant cash advance is based on the volume of your incoming credit card transactions, you only have to repay a certain percentage of what your patients remit to your medical practice. When payments are high, your MCA repayment can likewise be high, and the cash advance will be paid off sooner.

Help Your Practice Grow

The only way you can really grow your practice is to have the necessary funding on hand. When you receive a merchant cash advance, you will have immediate cash...

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If you’re looking for a flexible source of funding for your business, then a line of credit might be the right move. To help you decide, this article goes over the basics of how business lines of credit work and what you’ll need to do to apply for one.

The Basics of Business Lines of Credit

An easy way to understand business lines of credit is by thinking of them in comparison to loans. When a business takes out a loan, the business gains a lump sum of money that it must pay back to the lender, plus interest, on a monthly payment basis.

However, when a business obtains a line of credit, instead of a lump sum of money, the business gains access to a pool of funds from which it can withdraw money. For instance, if the line’s limit is $3,000, the business can choose to withdraw anywhere from $0 to $3,000. It will only need to pay back the amount withdrawn plus any applicable interest charges. As the business makes payments, the pool of money from which it can borrow replenishes.

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Outsourcing can be one of the best things to happen to an entrepreneur. When you’re starting a new business, you can’t do everything on your own, or with a small in-house staff. There are simply not enough hours in the day. Outsourcing can help a tiny start-up business function like a large, established brand—if it’s done wisely. Before you jump into outsourcing some of your business tasks, do some brainstorming and planning.

How to Make Smart Outsourcing Decisions

  • Consider what can be outsourced. Only outsource tasks you understand well. You must know what you want in order to train your outsourcer and/or evaluate how they’re doing. Repetitive tasks are ideal for outsourcing, as are smaller, one-off tasks like designing a logo or building your website. Don’t (at least early on) outsource big chunks of your business—such as your sales or marketing strategies.
  • Hire your outsourcing firm or consultant very carefully. Not just anyone will do. Plan to spend time researching and testing out the fit of your potential outsourcers. Check their references and ask...
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If your business relies on customers, then you’re probably always looking for new ways of lead generation. One of the best ways to get customers is to get people talking about your business. Small businesses often feel as if they have a hard time generating word of mouth, but in some ways, a small business has many more opportunities. Here are some ideas to get people talking about your business.

Offer Great Customer Service

You’ll get a lot of negative publicity if you don’t provide good customer service, so you want to treat your customers well. Deal with customer complaints instead of overlooking them, whether they come through social media or in person.

Watch Your Image

Are your drivers in your company’s truck courteous when they’re on the road? That’s your logo on the side of the truck. Customers are judging every aspect of your business, whether you know it or not. What about the parents of the baseball team you sponsor? Do they act rude while they’re wearing your team’s logo? You can’t control every person with your logo, but you can be aware of...

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Struggling with cash flow? You’re not alone. It’s a common enough situation for small businesses across the US. It’s not limited to new companies, either. Established firms, even larger companies, can face cash flow shortages. Factoring might be the answer to your financial challenges. How does it work and what should decision makers know?

What’s Factoring?

Factoring is nothing more than selling your accounts receivable invoices to a factor in exchange for cash up front. If your clients usually pay in 30, 60, or 90 days from the point of purchase, this arrangement allows you to get a percentage of that money now, often up to 90%, and the remaining balance less a fee once they pay. The arrangement allows you to increase cash flow and meet your needs.

Is It Affordable?

Factors charge a fee for their services. However, that fee can vary from one company to another. You may also find that factors unfamiliar with the specifics of your industry may assess higher fees due to that lack of familiarity. Working with a specialist is usually best for companies in the...

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It can be challenging to pursue business expansion as a startup because you need your limited funds just to keep your business running from day to day. Fortunately, you have several financing options to choose from to help make expansion possible. We highlight some of the most common ones below.

Bridge Loan

This type of short-term loan for business expansion is ideal if you need to refinance an existing mortgage due to property deterioration or want to invest in a distressed property. The interest rate is typically lower than other types of loans, and the lender only requires you to pay interest for the first six to 24 months. This provides you with more cash to devote to everyday business expenses.

Construction Loan

Are you interested in developing new properties but don’t have the cash on hand to do so right now? A construction loan could make a good option for you. Companies often pursue this type of business expansion loan to build multi-use office complexes, retail stores, restaurants, and new medical facilities. They...

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Thinking about investing in a hotel? Hotel ownership can be incredibly rewarding, but the process of financing and purchasing such a property differs from other avenues of business ownership. Borrowers should know several things before pursuing hotel ownership.

Franchise Agreements

Franchise agreements can be deal breakers when finding a lender, largely because major brand hotels often have agreements that do not allow for assignability to lenders or assumption by foreclosure purchasers.

Hotel Management Agreements

Most lenders will require that you have a hotel management agreement in place. This agreement cannot be terminated or changed in any way without the lender’s approval.

Cash Management

All hotel loans require some type of cash management mechanism be in place that requires all revenues from the property to be deposited directly into a bank account.

PIP Reserve

Another consideration with hotel ownership is the PIP reserve. In most cases, you’ll be required to deposit money to pay for the PIP, as well as a contingency fund,...

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Although immigrants make up just 13 percent of the population in the United States, they own 18 percent of the nation’s small businesses with under 100 employees. This information about immigrant-owned business comes from the joint research efforts of the Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Center and the Survey of Business Owners and the American Community Survey.

Additional Statistics on Immigrant-Owned Business

When an immigrant holds 50 percent or more of the ownership of a business, the immigrant-owned business generates approximately 15 percent of employment in the private sector. The industries with the highest percentage of immigrant ownership include:

  • Professional services
  • Retail
  • Construction
  • Education
  • Social Services
  • Hospitality

More than two-thirds of taxicab drivers are immigrants while slightly more than half of all dry cleaning businesses and gas stations are owned by immigrants.

The number of immigrant-owned business has grown substantially each decade. The...

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Most entrepreneurs feel there is never enough time in the day to finish everything on their to-do list. Since you can’t add time to the day, following productivity tips from some famous names can help you get a better handle on things.

Follow the Two-Pizza Rule of Jeff Bezos to Limit the Number of Meeting Participants

The CEO of Amazon.com has discovered that inviting too many people to a meeting is an unproductive waste of time. It can be difficult to control more than a dozen people, which means the meeting often turns into chaos with people clamoring to get their voices heard. To counteract this, Bezos came up with the two-pizza rule. This means he usually invites only six to eight people to a meeting, about the number served with two pizzas.

Focus on Only the Best Ideas Like Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs was a boss who took productivity seriously. He regularly invited his employees to corporate retreats and got them to come up with a list of 100 ways to improve the Apple Corporation in the next year. He immediately whittled...

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If you’re an investor looking for a new way to earn money, consider starting a commercial real estate investment business by using a hard money loan to finance it. Bankers understand that you may not yet have a lot of assets or meet the stringent requirements for a business loan when first launching a business. However, you can start a new revenue stream for yourself if you own any commercial real estate property.

What Is a Hard Money Loan?

To obtain a hard money loan, you must pledge the piece of real estate that you currently own as collateral. You receive funding from a direct lender. Since direct lenders do not have to adhere to numerous government regulations when approving loans, it is easier to obtain financing this way with what the industry refers to as a hard money loan. This also means that the lender cares much more about the potential of your property to generate income than it does about your business or personal credit.

A Hard Money Loan Can Help Grow Your Business

While this type of commercial real estate...

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If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ll know the importance of having a good business credit score. If you don’t have a solid credit score, you probably won’t be approved for any kind of loan by a traditional lender, and that will make securing funds much more difficult. Here are some tips on ways that you can fix your credit report, to get your credit score back on the upswing.

Make all payments on time

One of the aspects which factor into your credit score most heavily is making payments on time. If you haven’t been doing this, you’re bound to have a whole slew of late payment detail lines on your credit report, and there’s no quick way to have them fixed. Your best bet is to resolve to turn that situation around and make those payments on time so that you’re not continually getting dinged for them.

Pay down credit balances

The quickest way to improve your credit score is to pay down on any revolving credit balances that you have. This includes credit cards and business lines of credit, as well as any...

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The reason so much emphasis is placed on customer attention is that it’s simply much easier and much less costly to retain customers than it is to go out and find new ones constantly. Many organizations make the mistake of investing heavily in sales and marketing while investing very little in customer retention. Here are some customer retention tips you can use to save money, rather than constantly having to acquire new customers.

Follow Through on Promises

One simple way to help retain your customers is to follow through on any promises you’ve delivered so that you can meet the expectations of your customers. The best way to do this is to document any commitments you’ve made to clients, so you won’t be overlooking them.

Establish KPI’s

In order to ensure that you’re delivering value to your customers, you should mutually agree on key performance indicators which can be tracked. This will guarantee that you hold up your end of the bargain, and if you fail to do so, the indicators will make it clear exactly where your...

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In early 2018, the House of Representatives passed a bill that expanded the microloan program of the federally-funded Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide more opportunities for women and minorities to obtain business funding. The sponsor of the bill, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, introduced it to Congress because she felt lenders were not making enough loans to women-owned business and businesses owned by racial minorities. Not only do consumers lose out on what these entrepreneurs have to offer, but the lack of funding does not accurately reflect the diversity of business owners in the United States.

Statistics on Minority and Women-Owned Business

According to the National Women’s Business Council, women typically start a new business having raised only half the capital that men have available to them when launching a business. Additionally, women receive approximately five percent of small business loans despite the fact that they own 40 percent of American small businesses.

Businesses started and owned by racial minorities are...

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