small business solutions

Small Business Solutions and Help

small business solutions

Most small business owners will need help at some point. Two of the most difficult aspects about small business help are knowing that help is needed and realizing where to turn for help. Small businesses typically involve entrepreneurial and independent people accustomed to working on their own, so asking for help can be easier said than done.

The need for timely and practical small business solutions often starts with one specific question or problem that just won’t go away. Whatever prompts a sense that help might be needed, it is highly recommended that viable solutions be examined before it is literally too late. Timing is everything, especially when it comes to effective small business help.

Solving Commercial Financing Problems

I prepared a short video presentation covering several financial topics that represent an excellent starting point for any discussion of small business help. Among the timely problems and risk areas covered are the following:

  • Eight Recurring Problems for Small Businesses
  • Five Candidates for Improved Business Finance Communication
  • Eight Areas to Use Commercial Finance Negotiating
  • The FDIC Problem Banks List

The “Right” Small Business Help Can Be Hard to Find

Problems for small businesses come in all sizes. Practical and effective business solutions should be sought for the highest-priority problems in a timely manner. Help might realistically be required to decide which problem should be tackled first.

When looking for viable solutions, the most obvious possibilities might not be the best choice. The need for creative new ideas is where the “outside of the box” concept originated, and the term is now typically associated with finding new solutions rather than relying on old and ineffective solutions.

The most difficult business problems are those likely to need “outside of the box” business solutions. While it will not always be apparent that thinking outside of the box is required, there have been a number of significant changes impacting most small businesses and commercial real estate financing during the past several years. Anytime change is involved is a good indicator that different business solutions will be required (or should at least be considered).

thinking outside the box
The Need to Eliminate Recurring Problems

Another situation requiring new business solutions is whenever the same problem keeps recurring. The video presentation described in the first section above discussed eight areas that typically serve as repeat problem areas for most small businesses. Three examples include business communications with other companies, excessive operating expenses and financial negotiations with your commercial lenders.

Does your business have “the same old problems?”

Here is a SlideShare presentation that I prepared to illustrate helpful perspectives about choices and risks:

banks saying no

What If Your Bank Says No?

The commercial lending process has grown more challenging for small business owners, and business bank consulting might prove to be the most successful strategy for achieving commercial loan and working capital financing improvements. Selecting a business loan expert is easily the most important step in hiring a qualified commercial bank consultant. No matter how difficult it might seem, this task must be pursued until a business owner is satisfied.

Is your bank currently saying “Yes” to your funding requests? What if they say “No?” Here are three immediate tasks for small business owners interested in finding the “best” source of commercial financing:

  • Evaluate non-bank lending sources
  • Distinguish between good banks and bad banks
  • Fire and replace an ineffective bank

The Importance of Non-bank Financing

It is essential to include non-bank sources in the overall evaluation of practical commercial loan options, so the selected small business finance expert must not only be familiar with banks but also equally capable of evaluating sources of non-bank financing (a financial strategy sometimes referred to as “Business Loans without Banks”). The business bank consultant will need to have a working knowledge of what distinguishes bad banks from good banks as well as the ability to identify effective non-bank sources that can provide small business financing services that are increasingly unavailable even from the good banks.

It should be noted that while it is likely that the thorough review of alternative business financing strategies might not be as urgent if an existing commercial bank is performing as needed by a business, there are still compelling reasons to consider other options in the event that something unexpected happens. For example, if their bank is classified as a bad bank, realistically it will be necessary for a small business owner to entertain the idea of firing their banker either sooner or later.

banks saying no

Searching for the Good Banks: The Need for Commercial Lending Experts

If it becomes necessary to replace a bank, it should be realized in advance that based upon specialized small business finance criteria, only a few banks can pass the stringent tests to be viewed as a good bank. If a small business is currently using what is deemed to be a bad bank but still needs an ongoing banking relationship, a vital part of commercial bank consulting will be the identification of at least one good bank candidate. Even though many financial experts will debate whether there are any good banks left standing, the search for them must realistically continue.

With the ongoing debate as to whether banks are really eliminating or reducing their small business financing services, fortunately there is plenty of data available to objectively confirm the sharp downward trend in working capital loans and commercial mortgages made by banks in recent months and years. But even when faced with public reporting of their actual loan activity, it is almost a sure thing that banks referred to as bad banks will have a conflicting view of the results. It does not help the position taken by banks (statements that they are lending at a normal level to small businesses) when commercial borrowers recall that during recent banking chaos banks were not the most reliable sources of information even when testifying before Congress.

Disagreements About Bank Lending Activity to Small Businesses

With widespread public reports indicating that small business financing has fallen to the lowest levels in many years, banks are simultaneously boasting about the supposedly robust level of their business loan activity. In one possible explanation for the disparity, banks might be offsetting a clear decrease in small business lending with an increase of commercial loans to large corporations.

Before completing any new financial agreements, borrowers should benefit by calling upon the business bank consultant to help them make a final call or to serve as a commercial finance expert providing them with a candid second opinion. This report is strongly encouraging small business owners to take aggressive action when determining which commercial real estate financing and working capital loan options are realistic for their business circumstances. Glaring differences such as those discussed above seem to make a compelling case for efforts to improve small business financing with the strategic use of commercial bank consulting.

What do you plan to do if your bank says no?

banking practices

Risky Banking Practices

banking practices
Many risky banking practices contributed to financial losses in the stock market before the beginning of the Great Depression. An important corrective measure was the Banking Act of 1933. This law was also known as the the Glass-Steagall Act.

Almost immediately after the Banking Act of 1933 was put into place, the financial firms began lobbying for “deregulation” of banks. Ultimately these institutions apparently decided that their cause for deregulation would be enhanced if other industries were deregulated first.

This approach gained full momentum under President Reagan. Even though banks were not yet deregulated, they began acting as if they were and the savings and loan crisis was just the first result. During the 1990s, Citicorp attempted a merger with Travelers Group that was ruled to be illegal because it combined banking, securities, and insurance activities in one company. This was a direct violation of the Glass-Steagall Act.

Instead of forcing these two companies to abandon their merger, Congress (with a lot of help from bank lobbyists) decided to abolish the Glass-Steagall Act and replaced it with the Gramm-Leach-Billey Act (also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999). Some observers refer to this date as the financial equivalent of “The Day the Music Died” in the Don McLean classic (American Pie). The rest is history. The first chapter in this new financial history book was the Enron scandal, the second chapter was subprime mortgages, the third chapter was the banking crisis of 2008, and the fourth chapter is a work in progress.

Bankers have been seeking less controls and regulations governing their financial activities since the beginning of banking time. After Thomas Jefferson served as President of the United States over 200 years ago, he spent a great deal of his time and energy trying to convince everyone that bank changes were needed. While there are different variations of this quote making the rounds because Jefferson repeated it often and said it a little differently each time, he said the following:

  • “Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.”

How Has Promoting Blogs and Websites Changed?

Should we just keep on doing things the same way? Is everything working how it should on your websites and blogs?

It is always appropriate to remember some of the advice provided by Albert Einstein. His observations have proven to be timeless and universal. Here is one piece of wisdom which he offered: “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.”

In terms of updating and revising elements which will provide the best possible promotion of your blog and website, a combination of the following should do the trick:

  • Webpages with original information that is not duplicate or spun content.
  • Content ranging from a bare minimum of 700 words to 1500 words or more per page.
  • Original (not stock) images.
  • Video content.
  • Appropriate keyword density.

In the latest version of Build It and They Will Come, the five business writing elements listed above will be found and valued by the search engines and they will do your promoting for you.

What you don’t do in promoting your website can be as important as what you do. In the evolving world of search engine optimization, it is very easy to to use the “flavor of the month” and keep on using it until it has been overdone.

promoting websites and blogs

Article marketing is a very prominent example of running an SEO strategy into the ground. This happened in several steps. The first was to offer authors two to half a dozen or more self-serving links. Squidoo and HubPages got their start in part by appealing to link-hungry bloggers. I have used Squidoo since 2006, but in the past ten months they have lost virtually 100% of their value for promoting websites. In my view, Squidoo is on the “do not do” list for website promotion, and HubPages also appears to have lost search engine appeal for marketing benefits. (Update: Squidoo was sold to HubPages and no longer exists as a separate entity.)

The next step was to offer article distribution services with hundreds of variations built upon one article. While search engines did not initially count each of these versions as duplicate content, they eventually caught on to the trick being played upon them. Search engine results have now severely penalized article spinning, so you should definitely avoid that in your efforts for website promotion.

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I also think that virtually all versions of article marketing are effectively dead even when you write one original article and submit it to a quality article directory like EzineArticles. I have also used this site since 2006, and I think that they did everything right, but I stopped using them several months ago. The value of promotional links from an article directory is so minimal (and even possibly negative in value) that it is not a cost-effective marketing strategy for 2013 and beyond.

Eliminating ClickBank links could also be a winning strategy. In other words, by avoiding the use of affiliate links to the myriad ClickBank marketing opportunities, your website is likely to improve in search engine rankings. Google (and the rest of the internet) have reached a point of no return and seem to be penalizing links to affiliate promotions of all kinds. ClickBank is simply the biggest of the targets at this point.

What would Albert Einstein do?

One Non-Traditional Business Presentation Leads to Another

business presentation strategies

Business presentations can mean different things to different people, but a common theme seems to be an intent to convey a call to action in one fashion or another. There are prominent software alternatives that include the word “presentation” in their official names or informal descriptions. If someone is asked to make a corporate presentation on any number of topics, there can be fixed assumptions about what will be included or excluded. This article will not be about business presentation strategies that are likely to involve “traditional” presentations.

A Special Note: Business Identity Theft and Content Theft on the Internet

The content on this page appears (without legal permission) in a variety of locations throughout the internet without any credit whatsoever to the author, Stephen Bush (that would be me). This is not the first time this has happened to me, but it is time for such internet thievery to be stopped. This is nothing less than a new variation of business identity theft. Thankfully Google has embarked on a challenging mission to identify illegal and irresponsible duplicate content from the face of the internet earth. In the meantime, readers are rightfully confused. In a variation of “Don’t shoot the messenger,” please blame the growing population of internet content thieves for this confusion rather than the ethical writers who produced the original writing.

A Call to Action With a Pass or Fail Outcome

There are several variations of a “call to action” that typically fall outside of traditional business presentations. Two examples of these non-traditional presentation strategies are the following business communication processes:

  • Business proposal writing
  • Business negotiating

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While both of the above illustrations might be outside of mainstream presentations, they are both arguably among the most important and critical management activities within any company. Both also represent clear examples of persuasive communicating at its finest. Both usually result in a clear “pass or fail” outcome: a proposal that is either accepted or rejected and negotiations that are either successful or unsuccessful.

Hidden Business Opportunities

Business negotiations and writing proposals often provide hidden opportunities to tell a corporate story in a manner that can provide extensive and long-term dividends. If done effectively, business proposals and negotiating can create a positive corporate image that lasts long after the “presentation” itself even when the immediate result is not favorable. Here are some typical possibilities:

  • A “losing” proposal that presented a company in a favorable light results in a competitor that had the winning proposal later inviting the losing business to participate in a joint venture proposal effort.
  • Despite a negotiating process that results in a “failure” to reach an immediate consensus, a potential buyer of goods or services approaches a business about the possibility of a separate business relationship.


One Non-Traditional Presentation Leads to Another

Proposals and negotiations can be found together in some instances. In many Request for Proposal (RFP) processes, price and cost negotiations are intentionally left until last. This eliminates the need for all potential bidders to unnecessarily devote time to calculating and presenting detailed cost data. More often than not, the proposal process created by the RFP establishes an initial proposal evaluation stage in which several top candidates are identified. Once this occurs, those submitting the leading proposals (based on the RFP scoring guidelines) are invited to participate in the negotiating stage. When done effectively, one non-traditional business presentation leads to another.

social media sites

Love or Hate Social Media?

social media sites

Businesses and individuals everywhere are adding social media to their growing list of companies and activities which qualify for confusion and uncertainty as to whether we should love them or hate them. Banks were a previous leading candidate for this informal ongoing assessment that there will probably always be services that most of wish we could live without but cannot in the current environment. While banking institutions have not really been displaced in this regard, they do now have some regular company.

Business communications is always full of challenges like this. In the case of social media sites, practical communication strategies are needed if for no other reason than the growing unpopularity of some “popular” choices.

Career Training Solutions

career training

Career Training Help

Searching for employment and career help is unfortunately a popular activity when business and economic circumstances continue to be uncertain. Effective career training solutions can be part of a successful search. There are several key attributes to look for, and here are two of them:

  • Cost Effectiveness
  • Flexibility

Because of several serious challenges impacting employment and traditional careers, the importance of focusing on effective career training programs is likely to continue for an extended period.