Drowning in Cash: 5 Unusual Ways to Fund Your Business

Posted on 08. May, 2014 by .

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Business funds

Unless you’re fortunate enough to have been born with a silver spoon in your mouth, funding a new business venture is likely to involve a seemingly endless struggle with the green stuff.

For fledgling firms, cash is especially tight, with begging letters to bank managers, endless loan forms and countless snobbish letters rebuffing your pleas for funding.

But times have changed.

Gone are the days of relying on a cash injection from your local financial institution, with many modern start-ups looking at more unorthodox ways to fund their business goals.

Check out the top five below …

1. Use a Factoring Company

Countless rapidly expanding businesses are using factoring companies as a handy alternative to the traditional overdraft.

This route involves your firm selling the majority of invoices to a factoring firm at a discount. They’ll then provide you with a cash advance, usually at around 70-90 per cent of the value of the invoice.

2. Join the Crowdfunding Movement

Crowdfunding is one of the hottest ways of raising cash and it involves collecting finance from a large number of backers by using various digital platforms.

Crowdfunding has helped finance non-profit campaigns, political campaigns and charities, and can be very fruitful for businesses keen to involve unknowns in their capital raising efforts.

3. Obtain Government Backing

In Britain, it’s possible for businesses to benefit from the Funding for Lending scheme introduced by the Bank of England over two years ago.

The scheme allows building societies and banks to borrow from the Bank of England at lower rates, which means they can lend more freely to businesses just like yours.

4. Find an Angel

Not a real angel, of course, that would be a bit odd, but an angel investor equipped with the wealth and experience to help your firm grow from small acorn to mighty oak.

Estimates reckon business angels inject over £800m into new companies every year in the UK, with shares in that organisation the typical upshot of their financial backing.

5. Venture Capital

When you’re attempting to build a business up from the ground, suddenly handing an element of control to a venture capitalist may make you more than a little uncomfortable.

However, this arrangement can actually be very beneficial for new businesses, assuming the investor and firm they’re investing in is a match. Typically, above average returns tend to make the risk for investors worthwhile.

 Image by Howard Lake on Flickr

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Both Sides of the Sale: Listing Agents Vs. Buying Agents

Posted on 27. Apr, 2014 by .

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property agents to buy and sell your property

You’re moving out of your home and into another one. You might not have given it much thought, but you have to have an agent for both the sale and purchase of a home. So, whom do you use? Do you have the agent who is selling your home also act as the buyer when you go for your new one or do you hire an entirely different agent for the new home purchase?

How a buyer’s agents work

A good buying agent is patient and a good listener. The agent’s job is to listen to your needs and then match your values with a home. He (or she) is good at showing homes, knows how to solve complicated problems unique to the home-buying process, understands how homes are constructed and how to make improvements that increase home values.

The buyer’s agent also knows which neighborhoods are suitable for specific demographics. For example, if you’re a single person, your wants are different from a family. Likewise, if you’re a young family, your needs are much different from a senior couple.

Buyer’s agents need to be very organized and polite. They also need to play well with others and very charismatic. They’re responsible for making sure the buyer is both comfortable with the home purchase and is getting what they want.

How listing agents work

Listing agents are responsible for helping the seller sell the home. They must be good at negotiation, market analysis, and marketing. They have to offer extensive marketing advice to the buyer and work to sell the home. They often use a combination of direct mail, networking, and online marketing to sell.

They also need to understand staging and how to showcase the home in the best possible light. Finally, listing agents need to know the limits of the property’s value so that they can sell the home for the highest possible price for the seller.

Why you should hire a separate agents

You should find real estate agents to sell and buy your home when your present home and neighborhood is located in different cities where the agent won’t have expertise in both. You should also consider separate agents when the agent you’re working with really only has experience in either buying or selling. Finally, agents who specialize in neighborhoods tend to maintain a backlog of clients who are looking to buy or sell. So, they may be able to recommend an agent for the other side of the transaction for you.

When to have one agent do both

It’s nice to be able to talk to the same real estate agent for both sides of the transaction. An agent that does both the buying and the listing for you can coordinate simultaneous closings through one title company, thus savings you money and making things more streamlined for you.

If you really like and trust your agent, there’s nothing wrong with using him for both transactions. Just make sure he’s competent with buying and listing. Finally, it’s OK to use the same agent for listing and buying when you’re moving within the same city or town and there aren’t many agents to choose from.

Annette Goree is a real estate guru. From researching market trends to practical insights, she enjoys blogging about the ins and outs of buying and selling property.

Image by dirtymouse on Flickr

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Crucial Elements of a Successful Trade Show Experience

Posted on 11. Mar, 2014 by .

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setting up a trade boothThis is a guest post

You are going to your first trade show and it is the first time you are exhibiting. You’ve probably already been to thedisplayoutlet.com and gotten all your convention display gear and paraphernalia, but understandably you have a small case of nerves and are wondering if you are prepared. After all, there’s a big difference between strolling the aisles and actually exhibiting. Here’s a brief checklist to see if you’re up to the challenge.

Plan Ahead

This means you start early—some say six months out—and really do your homework. Know who is attending, plan your logistics, plan your goals. (More on that in a minute: think sales.) Have everything worked out in advance as far as your team: who will man the booth, break times, scheduling re: arrival and set-up, everything. Plan your message and have a strategy to attract visitors into your space with an interesting and visually-arresting set of displays. You only have six seconds to grab their attention at a show. Make the most of those six seconds.

Emphasize Sales

Make sure your team knows the number one goal is to secure sales. That’s why you are getting leads, harvesting contacts; that’s why you’re going to follow up on the leads. The number one priority is to get your maximum ROI (return on investment) on that pricey trade show and that means sales. Selecting the right people for your booth is important, too. In fact, it’s absolutely critical. Not everybody is up to it. Sales are not everybody’s cup of tea, especially in a fast-paced, chaotic convention atmosphere. You rise or fall on their efforts, so choose them well.

Prepare for Follow-Ups, BEFORE the Show

Everybody knows it’s important to develop new leads at shows, but it’s how those leads are followed up that separates the big boys from the also-rans. You should prepare kits (and strategies) in advance for the booth personnel that will help develop the leads, answer customer’s questions, and establish a basis for follow-ups. Your home base staff should be coordinated with this effort so it is a complete effort. You don’t want an isolated, weekend “maximum effort” show by your show staff alone. Your pre-game and follow through are equally important here.

You’ve prepared, you’ve done your homework. Now, get out to those shows and grow your business. You can always find an excellent selection of trade show materials, all at great prices, simply by visiting http://thedisplayoutlet.com.

Image by schoschie

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Paralysis By Analysis: Improve Your Odds of Financial Success With These 5 Investment Tips

Posted on 13. Feb, 2014 by .

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Analyse trading stock

You’re new to the stock investing game, and you don’t know where to begin. There are so many “experts” out there – all of them claiming to have the perfect formula for investing. What you need are basic principles, though, not hard and fast rules. And, for that, you can study the greats.

Always invest with a margin of safety

The margin of safety is a concept first pioneered by value investors Benjamin Graham and David Dodd. It’s the principle of buying a security at a significant discount to its intrinsic value. This is thought to minimize the downside risk of an investment while providing exceptional returns.

In other words, Graham’s approach was to find stocks that he thought were worth $1, but were selling for just $0.50. He was very good at finding those discounts in the market.

Know what kind of investor you are

One thing that online discount brokers can’t tell you is what type of investor you are. That’s something that requires a little bit of introspection. Do you scare easily when the market drops? What about when the market rises – are you overly excited about the companies you invest in?

Some investors don’t like to pour over financial statements or go on fishing expeditions in search of excellent management. If this describes you, you’re probably well-suited toward being a passive investor. In other words, you’re probably better off buying an index fund than you are researching a company.

But, even if you like analyzing stocks, it doesn’t mean you’re an investor. You could be a speculator. The famous Benjamin Graham believed that an investor looks at a stock as a part of a business. The stockholder is the owner of the business. The speculator looks at company stock as expensive pieces of paper with no real value. The speculator trades on price. The investor buys companies.

Consider a company’s products or services

Does the company you want to invest in have products or services that have sufficient market potential? In other words, is the company manufacturing goods, or providing services, that make sizable increases in sales possible for at least several years?

A company seeking long-term growth needs to have products that address a large and expanding market. Those products and services have to solve a problem for people, and people have to want to pay for it.

For example, a company like McDonalds seems like a sure thing. But, when it first opened its doors, it wasn’t. The McDonald brothers and, later, Ray Kroc, had to come up with an idea that would be both profitable and have staying power. Today, it’s almost unthinkable that McD’s would go out of business. But, as an investor, you had to have that vision when the company launched its IPO to realize the full profit potential of the company.

Consider the company’s sales organization

One of the things Philip Fisher focused on was the company’s sales organization. Fisher wrote that few products or services are worth buying in their own right – they needed exceptional merchandising and sales plans. Marketing is another aspect to look at. How does the company get its product to market?

Does it have a wide distribution chain? Does it have a competent sales force? Is it prepared for growth? Does it have the ability to scale on demand? These are all things to look for in a company.

Buy companies with good employee relations

This is something a lot of investors just plain don’t pay attention to, or they don’t know how to assess this. According to Fisher, a company with good labor relations tends to be a lot more profitable than one with mediocre relations. That’s because happy employees are likely to be more productive. There’s no single criteria to measure this, but there are a few things to look for.

First, how does management view its employees? A company with good labor relations tends to value its employees highly. Executives don’t hide in their office, and employee morale is usually high. How is the company’s profit margin? How about its employee pay? Companies with higher than average profits and higher than average employee pay tend to be more profitable, overall, than companies with high profits but average or below-average employee pay.

Companies with good employee relations will always try to settle employee grievances quickly, with a focus on making everyone involved happy. That way, everyone wins.

Jarryd Harden is a veteran in finance. He often writes about smart investing and money management on financial blogs.

Image by LendingMemo

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How I Spend a Holiday

Posted on 04. Jan, 2014 by .

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Guy happy about spending at Christmas

As someone who writes a personal finance blog, you would probably expect me to have a whole bunch of ideas about how to have a really cheap holiday over the Christmas period and some extra tips on how to save money on everything from wrapping paper to New Years Eve crackers.

I’m sorry, I don’t.

I’ve spent more money in the last couple of weeks than I care to think about. I’ve bought a bunch of lavish gifts, gallons of alcohol (mostly for myself :)) and a metric ton (that’s right, I’m Australian) of food that didn’t even go close to fitting into my shopping budget.

Know what though? I’m happy.

Sure I get the odd twinge thinking about how quickly my family and I have been able to burn cash and there is a good chance that there might be some belt tightening in the weeks to come, but all in all I’m pretty damn happy.

Holidays are for holiday-ing

I’ve got to confess that 2013 was a pretty shitty year. There were a few highlights, but generally it was pretty much a write off. I didn’t really take a break from work, I lost focus and motivation for a lot of projects that I had planned for the year and I let a lot of very minor things bother me far more than I should have.

This Christmas break has been exactly what I needed. I needed to switch off, I needed to relax and unwind and I needed to feel like I could reward myself and my family for making it through a pretty tough year.

Unfortunately it took such a long time and such a significant personal impact to realise that holidays are for holiday-ing!

No one can withhold personal reward forever, it just isn’t healthy. Slaving away at work, on budgets, monitoring savings plans, developing side hustles and doing everything else you can to save money is hard work. Far too hard to go un-rewarded for an extended period of time, which is why holidays need to be extravagant and regular.

My New Years Resolution

I like to think that I get smarter as I get older, often it takes a while for me to realise things, but I usually take notice eventually.

In the last two weeks I’ve felt like I’ve been transformed. I feel better, more alert and my motivation is returning (I’m still in holiday mode). Somewhere in the last couple of years of trying to push as hard as I can, I forgot how good it can be to simply stop doing everything and do the complete opposite.

Unsurprisingly I had absolutely no resolutions for the New Year, but as I start to warm up again I’ve got at least one that I plan to keep as reoccurring.

Take more holidays.

Not just time off, but holidays. Go places I don’t regularly  go to, buy things I don’t regularly buy. Throw concepts of productivity out the window, sleep during the day, read fiction, watch videos, or even really crap television, download massively time consuming apps on my iPhone or forgo technology altogether.

Do different stuff and forget about the restrictions!

I’ve got to say that having a real holiday has been the best thing I’ve forgotten how to do in quite some time and I plan to do more of it far more regularly in the future. That doesn’t mean I’m throwing everything out the window, I’m just going to be more mindful of life wealth instead of just financial wealth.

Here’s to a great 2014! 

Image by apdk

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