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:

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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.

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.

Business Training Help

Cost Effective Business Training

Cost Effective Business Training

The need for small business training help often goes unanswered because of potential costs or a misunderstanding of the business training goals. Once this confusion is eliminated, business training help can contribute to increased effectiveness in eight key areas (including business communication). As for costs, one of the key goals to be addressed is cost-effectiveness. This particular training goal requires particular attention.

How Can Businesses Improve Public Relations With Their Bank?

Which Way to Better Public Relations With Your Banker?

Which Way to Better Public Relations With Your Banker?

The state of business communications between small businesses and their banking institutions is effectively on life support. This is clearly not a good condition to be in, and most small business owners would change this situation in a heartbeat if they could. One potential solution to this dilemma is for each small business owner to engage in a variation of a public relations campaign in an effort to improve business communications with their bankers and banks.

This will generally involve two activities that many companies are somewhat lacking in:

  • Business Writing
  • Business Negotiating

Even in situations where there are significant negotiating and writing skills present, the use of a business public relations expert should be evaluated. After all, this is an important part in maintaining or restoring the financial health of a company!

Replacing Business Financing from Banks

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Many of us have service agreements to repair and replace air conditioners, furnaces and cars if they are not working. What are small businesses supposed to do if their commercial financing from a bank no longer works?

There are some effective small business finance alternatives to commercial bank loans. While success will be different for each business, there are several business financing choices available to consider as effective replacements for working capital financing and commercial loans previously obtained from banks which are no longer providing business finance services to small businesses. Three of them are briefly described below.

Small business owners are likely to hear reports from multiple sources about the increasing difficulty in obtaining business loans from banks. As a result, a prudent alternative is for commercial borrowers to explore whether there are effective commercial finance options to replace bank financing.

One of the chief ongoing criticisms reported by many small business owners is the failure of most banks to satisfactorily meet their routine daily commercial loan needs. Even if there has been a long and prosperous working relationship with a bank, very few small businesses have the financial means to overlook the current business loan shortfall exhibited by most banks. One common (but incorrect) response is that nothing can be done to replace the traditional source of commercial financing although it does seem that the reality of less bank financing is acknowledged by many commercial borrowers. For most small businesses needing to explore immediate ways for replacing bank business loans, the three examples provided below are illustrations of practical small business finance strategies readily available to them.

  • Working capital loans
  • Accounts receivable financing
  • Credit card receivables factoring

Among the most useful options to replace business bank financing are working capital loans from non-bank sources that do not require commercial property or other assets as collateral. This kind of business financing might be needed to replace a line of credit which is being reduced or eliminated by a traditional bank. Perhaps a business borrower needs new business funding to buy supplies or inventory. A reliable source of working capital is a key ingredient for continued success for even the most successful business. Traditional banks might need to be replaced by more effective commercial lending sources because as noted both here and in media reports, banks are rarely doing an adequate job of filling this critical role.

Accounts receivable financing is another practical business finance choice to replace bank financing. To bridge a cash flow gap between sales and payment from customers, this form of receivables factoring can be helpful. While this is by no means a new form of business financing, the major use has typically been by large corporations. Commercial borrowers are rapidly learning to adopt this effective financial strategy due to banks exiting their previous active role of providing small business loans.

A commercial funding approach generally referred to as credit card receivables factoring or business cash advance will also be a useful alternative for businesses which regularly accept credit cards from their customers. By allocating a portion of future credit card processing toward repayment, it is a way for businesses to receive cash now and gradually repay the amount provided.

None of the working capital financing options just noted are totally free of potential complications or problems. At the same time, it should be noted that the sudden lack of reliable bank financing for small business owners is itself a major complication and problem requiring a timely solution. As with any business service, the advantages and disadvantages need to be thoroughly reviewed before finalizing any new arrangement for business financing.

Small Businesses Need to Learn from Mistakes

Reviewing Books about Mistakes

Mistakes are certainly an unavoidable part of life, and small business owners are likely to experience more than their fair share from time to time. While I just noted that “mistakes are unavoidable”, it is more accurate to say the following:

  • Mistakes are inevitable.
  • Some mistakes are avoidable.
  • Individuals should always try to learn from their mistakes.

Learning from mistakes is of course easier said than done. I have reviewed a wide variety of books about mistakes, and I have published a concise summary of what I found and recommend based on my findings. In the recent chaotic financial and economic environment, we have seen some new sources and causes of mistakes that require a closer look by small businesses so that they can be avoided whenever possible.