If you’ve been looking for simple, proven and tested, step-by-step methods for generating more leads for your small business, then this article may just have the answer. Firstly, I want you to stop for a moment and think about all the advertising you’ve seen over the past week.
How many of those actual ads can you name? Researchers estimate that over the past seven days, you have been exposed to as many as 117,000 ads based on national averages. So out of 117,000 ads, how many can you name?
If you’re fairly attentive, you may be able to come up with 3 or 4 specific ads… but I’ll bet that’s because you probably see those ads over and over… week in and week out. Let’s face the facts… repetition works. When you see any advertisement multiple times every day you’re bound to eventually begin to recall the ad. But now answer this question.
What few ads you do remember, how many of their products or services have you bought? Because I have a passion for marketing I tend to go online and research for well accepted ads. Take for example a series of ads from online trading company E*Trade which uses babies to promote their products. These have a massive audience on both TV and YouTube. They even had one during the Superbowl. I think they’re a scream. But… I don’t have an E*Trade account. Never have, never will. Why should I?
What benefits do they offer me as a potential buyer of online trading services that any of the hundreds of other stock trading services offer? See my point? Does a smart-aleck, wise-cracking baby have any relevance to online stock trading whatsoever? Of course not. So why does E*Trade continue to make these commercials? Believe it or not, there is a reason… and by the end of this short presentation, you’ll fully understand what that reason is.
Businesses today are led to believe that all they have to do to build a successful business is create some type of attention-grabbing form of marketing and they will generate leads at will. Nothing could be further from the truth. And that’s just in the area of marketing. What about generating fast cash flow? EVERY small business needs to generate fast cash flow. So how do you do that as a small business owner? What about generating profits? Generating more cash flow is great… but not if you don’t get to put any of it in your pocket at the end of the day. How would you like the answers to all of these problems?
In this article I am going to reveal to you the three biggest lead generation mistakes small business owners make… and outline how you can overcome them.
Here are the three mistakes. Mistake #1… they fail to get professional help. Mistake #2… they don’t know the fundamentals required to successfully market their business and attract as many new clients as their business can handle. And mistake #3… they have no idea how to use their marketing to generate immediate cash flow. Let’s explore these three in depth, and show you how you can easily and systematically overcome each one of them.
Mistake #1… small business owners fail to get professional help. Can you name me just one professional athlete who does NOT have a coach? There aren’t any. Tiger Woods actually has a total of 9 coaches guiding him in everything from his golf game to his financial investments. But do small business owners really need professional help? Remember the TV ads we previously discussed? Those ads are created by “professionals.” Unfortunately, those professionals have no clue what they’re doing. Everything they’re doing in marketing and advertising today is wrong! But let me prove that to you right now.
If you currently use any form of marketing such as a print ad, brochure, postcard, flyer… or for that matter… your company website, take it out and look at it carefully. And if you don’t have any form of marketing right now, take out a sheet of paper and sketch out what you think would make for an effective ad for your business. It doesn’t have to be anything formal or fancy… just create a basic outline of the ad and where you would locate the various elements on the page.
Now that you have your ad… or a mock up of your ad sitting in front of you, let me provide you with the little known secrets that produce more leads than your business can handle. 99% of all marketing professionals DON’T know the lead generation secrets I’m about to reveal to you. This information is so powerful and compelling, it will position you in the top 1% of all lead generation professionals today. This example will show you why every small business owner should acquire our step-by-step roadmap as they start to generate leads for their business.
Here’s what a true marketing professional will know… and help you implement into your marketing. It’s known as the “marketing equation.” This marketing equation will let you quit competing on price… and let you start selling your product or service for what it’s really worth. You will drive in more leads and increase your advertising response by 10 to more than 100 times. You will convert a higher percentage of those leads and dramatically increase your number of sales. You will get a bigger bang for your marketing buck. The bottom line is this you will literally create a profit faucet that you will have TOTAL control over.
First, you MUST understand what marketing is supposed to do. Its purpose is actually three fold. Its first job is to capture the attention of your target market. Second, it must give them the hope that reading or listening to your marketing will give them enough information to help them make the best decision possible when buying whatever you sell. In other words, train and teach them how to recognize the true value of your product or service… and conclude that you… and you alone… offer the best value versus your competition. Marketing’s third job is to lower the risk of taking the next step in the buying process… and if necessary… continue to educate the prospect regarding the value you offer.
Marketing that accomplishes these three objectives will result in your prospects and customers coming to one single conclusion, that they would have to be an absolute fool to do business with anyone else but you, regardless of price. It’s estimated that as many as 96% of all small businesses fail within their first 5 years. The main reason for this tremendously high failure rate has to do with the lack of expertise when it comes to generating leads and making the phone ring.
Most small businesses don’t know anything about those three things that marketing is supposed to do. But there’s also an additional problem to consider. Most small business owners use a tactical marketing approach instead of a strategic approach. Let me explain.
Running an ad in the local newspaper… sending out an email or direct mail letter… airing a radio or TV ad on a local media station are all examples of tactical marketing. Now don’t get me wrong… the newspaper, radio or direct mail can be successful marketing channels… If your marketing message is powerful and compelling. But that’s the problem… the message is the strategic side of marketing… and yet, it’s the most neglected.
This distinction between strategic and tactical marketing is huge and one you need to be acutely aware of anytime you start talking about generating more leads. Many companies mistakenly assume that when you talk about lead generation, you’re automatically talking about tactical lead generation… placing ads, sending out mailers, joining a networking group, attending tradeshows, implementing a prospect follow up system and so on.
They fail to realize that the strategic side of the coin, what you say in your marketing and how you say it is almost always more important than the marketing medium where you say it. If you fail to make this distinction, then you risk becoming jaded towards certain forms of marketing and advertising that should be a part of your tactical plan, but you eliminate them from consideration because they haven’t worked for you in the past.
When lead generation results are less than optimal, small business owners tend to almost always blame the marketing medium… like the newspaper the ad ran in or the postcards they sent out. They blame the tactical part of the plan… without any regard for how good or how bad the strategic messaging in that marketing piece was. People often say things like, “we tried radio and it doesn’t work for our kind of business,” or “we sent out 50,000 pieces of direct mail and only generated 3 orders. It just doesn’t work.”
Just because it didn’t work, don’t assume that it won’t work. Most people don’t have the evaluation skills or the know-how to judge whether poor marketing results from poor strategy or poor tactical execution. This is where our step-by-step roadmap can generate more leads than your business can handle.
For example, most small business owners rely heavily on platitudes in their marketing. They say things like – we have the lowest prices… the best service… we’re family owned and operated… we offer convenient hours… the best value… not to mention that we’ve been in business since 1431 B.C. Look at your own marketing that I asked you to acquire or create earlier. How many platitudes did you use in your own marketing?
By the way, this is NOT your fault. Small business owners have been conditioned to think this is the proper way to market their businesses… since most advertising follows this same pathetic marketing formula… including the Fortune 500 types.
As human beings, we’re all after just one thing when we buy something… the best deal! Unfortunately, when you use platitudes in your marketing, there’s absolutely no way to tell who is actually offering the best deal. Everyone says they have the lowest prices, the highest quality and the best rates. So who do you believe? There’s only one way to know… and that’s to research every single business that offers what you want to buy. How many of us have the time or patience to do that?
So most of us just automatically assume that everyone is pretty much the same, and therefore we default to calling on the business that offers us the lowest price. When you can’t communicate the true value your business offers, you’re doomed to forever compete on price. Our marketing equation will change all of that for you forever. It’s going to be the backbone of your strategic marketing plan. It’s the foundation on which everything else we build for you is based. Let me give you a quick overview and then spend some time going through it with you in detail.
A proper marketing equation has four main components. First, it must interrupt your prospects. It must get your qualified prospect to pay attention to your lead generation marketing. Simple enough to say, but a lot more difficult to pull off in real life unless you understand what you’re about to learn here. The interrupt is done through your headline if your marketing is in print… or it’s the first thing you say if your marketing through radio or TV. The second component is engage. Once your prospect is interrupted, it’s critical you give your reader the promise that information is forthcoming that will help the prospect make the best buying decision possible. In other words, it must help facilitate their decision to pick you over anyone else. This is the job of our subheadline.
The interrupt is our headline that highlights a specific problem that your prospects are looking for a solution to… and the engage is our subheadline that promises them that you offer a solution to the problem we mentioned in our headline.
The third component you need to include is ‘educate’. Once you have interrupted and engaged your prospect, you have to give information that allows them to logically understand how and why you solve the problem they’re facing. This is accomplished by giving detailed, quantifiable, specific and revealing information. This is typically done in the body copy of your ad. When you educate, you need to reveal to your prospects the important and relevant information they need to know when making a good decision, and that your business… and yours alone… provides it to them. The interrupt and engage hit the prospects emotional hot buttons. Educate is the logic they need to justify picking up the phone and calling you.
The fourth and final component of the marketing equation is your offer. Now that you have interrupted your prospect based on problems that are important to them… engaged by a promise of the solution… and they’ve examined the educational information that makes your solution real and believable… the last step you need to take is to give them a low risk way to take the next step in your sales process. You do this by offering a free marketing tool, such as a report, brochure, seminar, audio, video or something that will continue to educate them. Your offer will allow your prospect to feel in control of their final decision to call and buy from you.
So your marketing equation is interrupt, engage, educate and offer and together they equal market domination. Now here’s the problem. Most marketing today only contains two of these components. They interrupt by throwing something at you that’s either familiar like Tiger Woods… or unusual like a monkey or talking pets. Sometimes they like to use both, as in the case of the E*Trade baby. Then once they grab your attention, they make you some type of offer such as “call now for whatever.” They have left out the engage and the educate, and marketing seldom succeeds when that happens.
In fact, the only time this type of marketing does succeed is when you can afford to run the ad over and over nonstop for an extended period of time. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz… melts in your mouth, not in your hand… and the burgers are better at… have literally been rammed down our throats by Fortune 500 types. After hearing these slogans thousands of times, of course we’re going to remember them. But how can a small business owner like you that doesn’t have a billion dollar marketing budget successfully market your business. The answer… you can’t… UNLESS you follow the entire marketing equation.
And finally the third biggest mistake small business owners make is that they have no idea how to use their marketing to generate immediate cash flow. When you follow this marketing equation in every form of marketing you do… from your business cards to your company website, the financial results are instantaneous and immediate.
So in conclusion, the three biggest lead generation mistakes small businesses make are #1… they fail to get professional help. #2… they don’t know the fundamentals required to successfully market their business and attract as many new clients as their business can handle. And #3… they have no idea how to use their marketing to generate immediate cash flow.
The above marketing equation contains the fundamental components for instantly making your phone ring and positioning your business as the dominant force in your market. It provides the marketing foundation that will enable you to generate immediate cash flow. And small businesses can use this information as a minimum standard when seeking out professional help for their business.
Generate more leads through your website with affordable Inbound Marketing Services . Improve your ROI and grow your business. Free consultations.
There are 28 million small businesses in the US. The sad reality is that most of them fail within the first few years of operation. The small percentage that survive stay small forever. A select few manage to grow into huge businesses. But why them and not the others? What are the factors that enable unknowns to become household brands? One thing for sure that it takes much more than hard work, luck, and timing. Read on to see if your small business has what it takes to make the leap into the big league?
Many small business owners’ lives are chaotic due to lack of systems. Systems are hard, but they enable small businesses to scale. Systems are not glorious like sales, marketing, or research and development. Some say that systems are boring, after all, it is a back office function. Systems separate struggling small businesses from those that grow by leaps and bounds. Creating systems can be a daunting task, and for many, the prospect of taking on yet another project is out of the question. For some, it is a catch-22 situation. You may say “How do I carve out extra time from my already hectic schedule.” The correct way to think of systems is that creating them is an investment in your business.
One of the greatest challenges that small business owners face is that the they are perpetual decision makers. The owner is involved in everything from sales, customer service, research and development, bookkeeping, so an and so forth. Creating systems is the first step toward a business where not every decision is dependent on the entrepreneur. Systems allow people to plug in and go. Systems include operating procedures and manuals that can bring a new team member up to speed in no time. It is what takes small out of small business.
Franchise businesses are often more successful than independently operated ones simply because they are built on systems. The franchisee may be paying a premium in upstart costs compared to an independent business, but it makes sense for many because they don’t have to worry about developing systems. Someone already went ahead and created the necessary systems for success. When you buy a franchise you are taking a system that has been proved to work. Does it mean that you have to buy a franchise to succeed? Absolutely not, but you have to think of your own independent business as a franchise. Create procedures for everything. Don’t leave anything to guesswork.
Most small businesses do without systems, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. While you might get away with it in the beginning the lack of systems will create huge bottle necks down the road. The lack of systems will reduce your profits. Why? Because you and your employees will have to reinvent the wheel day in and day out. systems minimize the element of surprise. With systems in place your team is able to deliver consistent service. Businesses with consistently good service will outperform those with fluctuating quality service.
In addition to making your life easier, systems also increase the value of your business. Buyers want to buy businesses that are built on systems. The presence of systems tell buyers that the business doesn’t entirely rely on you. Creating systems help you create a turnkey operation, appealing to buyers. Business systems are assets that enable your company to run without you.
Investors love highly scalable companies because they have the potential to multiply revenue with minimal incremental cost. You simply can’t substantially grow a business without cracking the scaling code. Some business are built to scale while others are forever destined for small business status. Unfortunately, many professional service providers are not scalable because they rely on personal output. So, if your goal is to build a big company avoid consulting types of businesses. A software company, on the other hand, is a highly scalable business model. Once the software product has been completed it can be sold millions of times with minimal costs. In other words, their increased revenues cost less to deliver than current revenues. What this means is that a scalable business will be able to increase the operating margin as revenue grows.
A highly scalable business requires small variable costs that the company can control. Variable cost changes with the volume of business. Fixed costs do not vary with sales. For example, for a software company fixed costs include the cost of the office location, computers, and furniture. These cannot be quickly added or liquidated. Salaries on the other hand are a variable cost since workers can be hired and fired relatively fast.
Most consulting businesses like marketing agencies are not scalable because they are unable to substantially increase their revenue without greatly increasing their variable costs. Such businesses are considered poor investments.
To build a scalable business you should start with a scalable idea. Scalable businesses have high margins. They require low support and staff expenses. Scalable businesses allow you to work on your business as opposed to working in your business. If you find yourself constantly working in your business your business is either not scalable or not yet ready to scale.
Truly scalable businesses are highly automated. Automation helps you reduce variable costs such as labor. It is at this point when scaling and systems begin to work together. If you truly want to become a market leader or dominate your industry, scalability is the only way to do it without a miracle.
Board of advisors
If your goal is rapid growth, you must have a board that you can rely on for your big audacious goals. The life of an entrepreneur can be a lonely one. Often you feel like you are all alone with all the decisions you have to make. Your board will share some of the burdens of making key decisions and it will tell the outside world that you are systematic about your business, and that you understand that you need to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. Your board will help you with large strategic goals. It can help with your overall business plan, policy issues, financial questions, strategic partnerships, and more.
Your board shouldn’t be utilized to deal with routine tactical challenges. Don’t waste the boards time on daily employee issues or what color the chose for your new office. Rather, let your board help you with strategic advice, or by helping you with making introductions to strategic partners and recruiting talent.
Fellow entrepreneurs and business leaders make excellent board members. Before you build your board you should have a clear understanding of what areas you need help with. Ask yourself what skills do you currently lack that you need to take your business to the next level? Is it marketing, intellectual property, or finance? Whatever it is you need help with should influence the ultimate makeup of your board. You could hire a recruiter, but they are expensive. It is best if you perform the search yourself.
Your board is not a group of your closest friends. It is a group of professionals, each with a respective specialty. One might be an IP attorney while another a retired CEO. You are not looking for a group of yes men. If you build a great board, each member will have more experience than you and each will know much more than you. If you feel like the dumbest person in the room, you are on the right track.
Your board of advisors will not join you for the money, but there are costs involved. It is a good idea to compensate your advisors. At least, you should cover their expenses. Do they need to travel to your board meetings? Are there hotel and other expenses? It is also advisable to pay a per meeting fee that might be a few hundreds or a few thousand dollars. In addition to monetary compensation, you could chose to offer stock as payment.
IP (Intellectual Property)
Most small business owners care most about time and money. Some understand that IP is as good as money in the bank. It is considered one of the most important assets of some of the most valuable companies in the world. Even though IP is an intangible asset, it’s almost impossible to build a hugely successful business without it. If you are going to dominate your industry or at least be one of its key players, IP is a must. You can often read about huge business acquisition deals structured around IP. Often, IP is the reason companies are bought and sold for huge multiples.
Simply put, IP makes your company more competitive. Without IP you end up competing on price and efficiency, a tough way to build your business. When you compete through IP you often set your own price, a luxury most businesses never experience. Since innovation is the main driver in business, developing IP should be a key objective for all companies that want to enter the big league.
If you are an early stage company wanting to attract investors, your IP might be what closes the deal for you. Investors look at IP with regard to the level of income it may generate through its life. Some companies bet their futures on IP. Richard Thoman, the CEO of Xerox, declared that the “management of IP is how value added is going to be created at Xerox.” An excellent example of IP management is IBM; it managed to generate about $1 billion from IP by 1990. IP is the intangible asset that can become your free cash flow.
When IP is properly managed it can prevent your competitors from copying your products or services. You can avoid wasteful investment in R&D. IP is a revenue generating profit machine that makes your company more valuable and competitive, getting you ever so closer to market domination.
Many small business owners, wrongly believe, that brand building is reserved for giant corporations. But, building your brand should be a key focus from the very early stages of your company’s life. Your brand is another intangible asset you can’t build a market leading company without. It is your brand that may enable your business one day to avoid competing on price only. It is your brand that may one day help you dominate your market. It is through the power of your brand that you will be able to minimize your new customer acquisition costs.
Successful brands are easily recognizable. Virtually all fortune 500 companies have managed to build a strong brand image. Powerful brands instill certain images in consumers from tradition, to quality, to innovation, to any number of thoughts and feelings. As competition increases, so does the importance of building credible brands.
Brands are not born out of thin air, they are strategically developed. Building your brand is no less important than developing your sales strategy or R&D. The process of building your brand is a never ending job. There is no such thing as a finished brand. Finished brands are for businesses that are finished. You can never think of brand building as a project with a beginning and an end.
While advertising is important it is not advertising that creates your brand. Your brand is a reflection on everything that your company does. Your brand is the quality of your product or service. It is also the way you treat your customers, and even your employees. Your brand is shaped by how the world perceives you.
The value of each brand fluctuates. Your company scores big on your latest product and the value of your brand rises. One of your employees publicly ridicules one of your upset customers and your brand suffers. The good news is that for the most part, you are in charge of your brand’s destiny.
Even the worlds greatest brands are not always on an upward trajectory. Strong brands can help your company survive disasters. Recently, the Toyota brand had been plagued by millions of recalls, yet the company managed to come out of it all with an even stronger brand.
It is true that not each small business wants to become an industry leader. But, it’s also true that there are no accidental market leaders. Most small businesses are family owned and operated, and there is nothing wrong with that. You can be happy, fulfilled, and wealthy running a small business. But, if your choice is to grow your business into a true market leader you have to build your business on systems. You have to be able to crack the scaling code, so you can dramatically increase your revenue with minimal expenses. You will need trusted advisors that are smarter and more experienced than you. It will be an uphill battle, or perhaps even impossible without proper IP management. Your brand will soften the blow when you are hit with disasters. Of course, there are other factors such as luck and timing that transform small businesses into huge success stories, but the above five make for a good start.
Unlike big business owners, small business owners have the burden of taking care of every single aspect of their business – recruitment, marketing, finance, accounts, managing employees to managing vendors, and so forth. But here we focused only on books that can help you gain marketing knowledge and skills. Here are the top 10 books on marketing which we believe are helpful for new as well as established small business owners.
Book # 1: The New Rules of Marketing & PR – David Meerman Scott
In the new marketing scenario, the methods such as ad copy, etc. do not bring results for your business. With the popularity of smartphones and other devices and proliferation of the Internet, new methods, rules, etc. of marketing have evolved. This book discusses the importance and benefits of using such techniques.
David M Scott provides fresh examples of success from various industries and businesses across the world. He highlights the new tools and techniques that marketers should use to communicate with their buyers directly – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. In short, this book is a guide that offers actionable strategies and insider tips that can be implemented immediately.
Book # 2: Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking – Andy Sernovitz
This book by Andy Sernovitz emphasizes the use of word of mouth marketing for businesses. The book elaborates purpose of blogs, social media, viral emails, etc. – when to use them and how to make them work.
Word of mouth is an effective tool to share information quickly and easily to promote businesses. It is an effective tool that can promote your business via your customers, friends and relations.
Book # 3: Guerrilla Marketing: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business – Jay Conrad Levinson
This book furnishes strategies for Internet marketing, tips on using technology like pod-casting and automated marketing, programs for targeting prospects, cultivating repeat, referral business, management lessons in the age of telecommuting and freelance employees, etc. – exclusively for small businesses.
Book # 4: Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide – John Jantsch
John Jantsch is a well-known expert in small business marketing. In the book, he discusses all the proven tools and tactics together in a step-by-step marketing system. This road map helps small business owners in knowing what they need to do to market their businesses.
Book # 5: Smarter, Faster, Cheaper: Non-Boring, Fluff-Free Strategies for Marketing and Promoting Your Business – David Siteman Garland
This book provides strategies for building, marketing and promoting businesses. These techniques are smarter, faster, cheaper and therefore save your time and money. The book is equally helpful for start-ups as well as those who are already in the market for sometime.
Book # 6: Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed: Leverage Resources, Establish Online Credibility and Crush Your Competition – Patrick Schwerdtfeger
This book provides effective practical strategies and tactics – a complete tool kit to use resources sensibly, to establish online credibility. If you apply these strategies, you can get good results for your business within a brief span of time.
Book # 7: Ultimate Small Business Marketing Guide – James Stephenson
This book is an essential guide for every business owner. James Stephenson presents in this book 1500 great marketing ideas that are sure to boost your sales revenue, profits and customer loyalty and also to help you stay ahead of your competitors.
Book # 8: Web Marketing for Small Businesses: 7 Steps to Explosive Business Growth – Stephanie Diamond
Marketing for small businesses was difficult in the past. But today, it is not the case. Web marketing enables small businesses to take advantage of marketing opportunities and win new customers.
The book ‘Web Marketing for Small Businesses: 7 Steps to Explosive Business Growth’ focuses on different ways of marketing with a detailed strategy to put them into action. The main content of the book comprises checklists – niche, brand, story, search, content, social media tactics, traditional tactics and results. This book helps you implement web marketing strategies.
Book # 9: Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook – Dave Kerpen
This book is a key to unlock the door to new opportunities. It tells you about how to build brand awareness by engaging customers in social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and other social media networking sites.
Book # 10: 500 Social Media Marketing Tips: Essential Advice, Hints and Strategy for Business: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and More! – Andrew Macarthy
This book is a guide to small businesses. It provides 500 social media marketing tips covering all the web’s biggest players like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube and others. These tips will help you build brand awareness in social media networks, attract and engage your customers and ultimately help you increase sales.
Now, when we talk about small business loans, we mean just that – small business loans. We are not talking about a $1 million loan to purchase some commercial real estate or $500,000 to buy some investment property. We are not talking about a $3 million credit line just to show capital on a balance sheet. And, we are not talking about a $250,000 equipment loan for a regional construction company.
We are talking about true small business credit – loans under $150,000. Capital amounts that the 22 million small businesses in this country could use at some point in time for working capital, to renovate their location, purchase inventory, marketing, meeting payroll, developing new products or to simply have the capital on hand to acquire and satisfy customers (what business is really about).
But, we have heard ad nauseam that banks are just not lending to small businesses – claiming there is too much risk in smaller firms. So, many small companies are not even applying for credit anymore out of fear of being turned down. And, as a result, we are seeing small businesses not reach for or obtaining their full potential – essentially letting profitable opportunities slip by.
However, just because banks don’t see the true value of small companies, that does not mean that others don’t – others who are willing to do what they can to fund your business.
The Benefits Of Small Business
There are some 22 million small businesses in the U.S. and they are quite the power house.
According to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, small businesses;
Provide two-thirds of all new jobs in the nation.
Contribute almost 50% to our Gross Domestic Product.
Account for 97.8% of all exports. And,
Create 16.5% more innovation than larger firms.
All items that help make America the country that it is.
But, if banks think these firms are too risky, that is OK, because given the entrepreneurial spirit in this country, other financing firms (lenders) are stepping up to cover the small business loans that banks and traditional lenders will not. So now, you don’t have to be afraid of being turned down anymore.
3 Sources That Will Fund Your Small Business
1) SBA Loans: Sure, SBA loans have to go through banks – which are not lending. However, banks might not be lending for their own loan portfolios but they are lending under the SBA’s programs.
Did you know that over the last three years, the SBA has been growing the number and dollar amount of the under $150,000 loans they back – even given that banks (who originate these products) are not approving them?
From the latest SBA data;
In 2012, the SBA guaranteed 14,520 under $150,000 loans for a total loan amount of over $802 million. In 2014 (two years later), the SBA increase the number of these loans to 16,043 with a total volume of $955 million – with a down year in 2013.
Part of this increase is the fact that the SBA has reduced or waived its fees on these smaller loans. From the SBA’s website:
“The SBA determined to eliminate the fees on loans of $150,000 or less after conducting a review of the 7(a) Loan Program. As a result, a small business owner obtaining a $150,000 loan will save more than $2,500.”
Bottom line – the SBA is actually doing what it can to fund small businesses in this country – including yours.
Programs to look for:
The 7(a) program offers nearly any business loan under the sun from working capital to commercial real estate.
The CDC/504 program only focuses on real estate and equipment lending. But, if your business needs either one of these under the $150,000 amount – including renovating your location – then by all means as this is a great program.
And, the express program – which is capped at $350,000 – is a great program. Quick and easy access to needed capital.
Now, for some quick benefits of SBA loans. The SBA’s guarantee does several things:
By capping interest rates and fees, these products tend to be cheaper in the long-run for the borrower.
Lower down payment requirements – meaning that you can keep more of your own money in your own business.
Long loan terms also allow payments on these facilities to be more affordable. Just image which loan payment would be easier to make on a $100,000 loan at 10% interest. A bank may require the loan to be repaid in 36 months – making the monthly payment $3,227. While the SBA could extend the term to 6 years (72 months) making their monthly payment $1,853. The lower the payment amount, the easier it is to cover with current cash flow, making the overall loan less risky and easier to get approved.
Express programs can significantly speed up funding as some traditional business loans can take months to close while those under the express programs can be funded in the matter of weeks.
If you have been fearful of applying for a SBA loan, knock it off and go apply!
2) Alternative Lending: Alternative loans (non-bank loans) from factoring and business cash advances to revenue based loans have really picked up steam over the last 5 plus years.
These lenders are focused solely on small businesses and as such have created products that allow them to approve more loans to companies that traditional lenders will not touch – by not using old and outdated underwriting standards but by focusing more on technology.
Most alternative lenders – especially the leaders in this space – have seen their loan volumes (thus their approval rates) – increase by 150% or more year after year.
A couple of examples: According to the SBA, their largest lender – Wells Fargo – approved and funded just over $266 million in small business financing last year. However, OnDeck Capital, a leading revenue based lender, nearly doubled that amount over the same period. Further, CAN Capital claims to have funded over $800 million in 2013 – far out pacing even the top 100 SBA lenders combined.
While these loans are high-cost loans, they offer several benefits like approvals when other lenders say “no” as well as quick (in the matter of days) funding.
3) New Players: Peer-to-peer lending is know for its ability to match regular people who have extra money to lend with regular people who need to borrow. These loans are typically personal loans that can be used for nearly any purpose – like starting or growing a small business.
However, just this year, Lending Club – the leader in P2P lending – has begun to offer a true small business loan product where businesses can borrower anywhere from $15,000 to $100,000 at low rates. And, their approval and funding is not based on some standard cookie cutter formula that most businesses just do not meet but comes from regular people who listen to your story and decide for themselves the merit of your financing request.
Capital for your business is still available.
Don’t always believe what you hear. Sure, small business lending is tight – when compared to the hey days of the mid-2000s. But, that does not mean that you still cannot get the funding your small business needs to start, grow and succeed.