3 Podcasts That Every Business Owner Should Listen To

It’s important for small business owners to continue educating themselves on running a successful business, managing employees, marketing and customer service. This is the only way to stay ahead of the competition by learning about the latest trends and concepts in your industry.

The roadback that many business owners encounter is lack of time; with spending all of their time managing their company, they are not always able to attend classes or read books. After reading today’s article, however, no one will be able to give the excuse of not having the time to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills as we will explain how to learn on the go, while driving in the car or during a morning jog – with business-related podcasts.

Dorm Room Tycoon

This podcast is led by William Channer, who is not only the co-founder of Panda, a smart online news reader, but also a journalist and co-author of Ways to Connect: On Interface and Product Design. Channer provides his real life experience in the business world, along with other well-known entrepreneurs and industry leaders, to help individuals grow their startups.

Channer has over 150 podcasts with the likes of co-founder of PayPal, Max Levchin; founder of Tumblr, David Karp; founder of Basecamp, Jason Fried; and co-founder of Recode, Walt Mossberg.

Popular topics on his podcast include:

  • Preparing for Startup Growth
  • Why Marketing is Everything
  • Building a Consumer Product
  • Pursuing Disruptive Ideas
  • How to Acquire Users

Mixergy

If you wanted to take advice from an entrepreneur who became a millionaire in his 20s, than you want to listen to Andrew Warner’s podcast, Mixergy. He was able to start an internet business that generated over $30 million dollars a year with no business experience.

When listening to his podcast, you’ll hear over 1,110 episodes containing interviews with the likes of Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales; star of Shark Tank and founder of Corcoran Group, Barbara Corcoran; and Jessica Jackley of Kiva.

Popular topics include:

  • Selling on Amazon? Don’t miss this interview.
  • How to build a company using the psychology of incentives
  • Case Study: Hiring a salesperson
  • Finding Your Message, Building a Tribe, Changing the World
  • Why sell a profitable company to take a risk on a new one?

The #AskGaryVee Show podcast

The host of this podcast,Gary Vaynerchuck, has an extensive resume and professional experience. His first win happened straight out of college, when he took over his family’s wine business and grew revenues from $3 million to $60 million in five years. Since then, he has started Vayner Media, co-founded VaynerRSE, a $25 investment fund and has invested in companies such as Uber, Facebook, Tumblr and Birchbox.

Gary shares his extensive knowledge of business ownership in segments that include his advice on business practices as well as segments from his public speeches and interviews.

Podcasts include:

  • When You Get to Do What You Want To Do, You’ve Won
  • Triple Down on Positivity
  • Losing the Micro Battle to Win the War
  • Instilling Confidence
  • Overnight Success

Once you hear the interesting ideas of these industry leaders, you will need capital to realize those goals. IOU Financial wants to help you grow your business with small business loans of up to $300,000 in under 48 hours. Contact us to learn more.

3 Marketing Ideas That Won’t Cost an Arm and a Leg

Whether you have just come up with a clever idea for a product or are already operating a business, you must continuously market your brand to stay relevant in your industry. Many small business owners don’t know what marketing channels are available to them that would properly accommodate their budgets. The good news is that there are plenty of marketing ideas that can be implemented that won’t cost an arm and a leg. We present three of our favorites in this blog:

Create Videos

Videos are replacing text as the new medium by which people search for and process information. Many businesses are putting their name on the map by creating instructional videos on YouTube. This platform provides free access to its 1 billion users around the world.

Although you can make the videos elaborate and allocate a big budget to this endeavour, all you really need is a phone with video capabilities and an Internet connection to get started. Make sure that you are an expert in your field, providing useful and engaging advice to your viewers.

More and more companies are utilizing videos as part of their marketing campaign, and finding it to be extremely effective. In fact, one source states that “a user’s positive experience with a video ad increases their purchase intent by 97% and brand association by 139%.” We like those stats!

Focus on Cross-Promotion

Remember that no man is an island and that other small business owners are struggling to market their companies as well. Spending money on marketing materials can be expensive, but it can be affordable if you split that fee with one or two other businesses.

Don’t just involve any company, consider what is relevant to your customer base, and approach those owners. In addition to creating a co-branded advertisement online and in print, you can also increase your advertising exposure to new customers if each business promotes the other one on social media and in house.

Go Where Your Customers Are

You can spend your money on a television commercial, but will your target clients see it? The most effective marketing is targeted marketing, meaning you need to know your customers and where you can find them.

If your customers are local because you operate a store, then you should focus on becoming an active member of your community. Sponsor school events, charities and local little leagues to get your name known in your neighborhood.

If you operate an online business, knowing the demographics of your customers will help you learn how to target them. Younger people tend to check Snapchat and Instagram often, while professionals gather on LinkedIn.

Each and every one of these ideas can be implemented completely free, but having a marketing budget can help you reach your marketing goal faster. IOU Financial is committed to helping business owners start and grow their businesses. Contact us today to inquire about getting working capital up to $300,000 in less than 48 hours.

How to Center your Business Goals and Finish the Year Strong

A large portion of us set both personal and professional New Year’s resolutions; however, 80% give up on those resolutions after just one month, according to a source. With only four months remaining in 2017, this is the time to revisit your business goals and finish the year off strong.

Revisit Your Goals from the Beginning of the Year

It’s a common attitude to simply give up on goals if you have forgotten about them during the previous months. Although you may tell yourself that you will simply try again come 2018, you will likely find yourself in the same situation.

It’s never too late in the year to get back on track with your goals. Start by revising your goals from the beginning of the year. Make a spreadsheet and mark the goals that you have accomplished (if any). Concentrate on the goals that haven’t been realized and adjust your plans for getting them done.

For example, your goal may have been to raise your website’s unique visitor count to 12,000 this year, which would break down to 1,000 new visitors per month. However, if at this point you have only reached 4,000, it’s unlikely you will be able to get 8,000 more in the next four months. Adjust your goals to make it possible to achieve them this year.

Set Measurable Objectives

The trick to actually realizing your goals is to avoid making ambiguous plans, and focus on setting measurable objectives. Just as planning to lose weight does not hold you accountable to lose a particular number, neither does getting a better work/life balance, raising sales or working more efficiently commit you to any particular action or number.

To increase your chances of reaching a goal, you must break down your objectives into small and measurable tasks with specific deadlines. If you want to raise sales by 10% in the next year, you must make a plan for how you will achieve that. You may need to set aside a certain budget to market every single month, or to hire and train new salespeople. Either of those actions will require you to plan and take certain steps, and the results are measurable, so that you can keep yourself accountable for staying on track.

Reward Yourself

It’s not uncommon for us to tell ourselves that a big reward is warranted after achieving a certain goal. However, promising yourself a vacation or a luxurious shopping spree can seem very far away when you are just starting to tackle a goal. Although a large and meaningful reward can be promising, you should consider the role that immediate gratification can play as a part of motivation.

Set up smaller rewards that will motivate you to keep on your path in realizing a goal. These can involve giving yourself a day to sleep in late, treating yourself to a scrumptious dessert, allowing 30 minutes to browse the internet for pleasure, etc. Although big rewards can be a lot more encouraging, knowing that a small reward is just around the corner can be a lot more motivating in helping you pursue your goals.

If your goals require financial assistance to make them come true, turn to IOU Financial. We can provide you with a small business loan of up to $300,000 in under 48 hours!

How to Protect Your Business from Fraud

Companies with fewer than 100 employees annually lose a median of $155,000 because of fraud. It turns out that small businesses are more exposed to fraud than are their larger kin. Credit card abuse is a major weak spot, but by no means the only one.

Below are eight ways to protect your small business from fraud and cybercrime:

Check your employees:

Hiring honest people is essential if you want to reduce fraud, especially for staff members that handle cash or high-value inventory, have spending authority, or can access private financial/customer data. To stay compliant with legal privacy rules, consider using a private screening firm. Always verify resumes and do web searches on job candidates.

Protect your financial accounts:

Credit cards and bank accounts are frequent targets of fraud. When starting your own business, separate personal cards and accounts from business ones – this makes it a little harder for fraudsters to steal all your money. It also helps you fill out your tax returns accurately. Secure your credit cards, and don’t hand them over to employees unless you know them well. Go paperless and make payments via online bill pay. Get a secure mailbox for receiving and sending bills. Finally, review your online banking activity daily.

Protect your computers:

Invest in software that makes you more secure: anti-malware, anti-virus and spyware protection programs. Backup your data onto the cloud to guard against cyber blackmail, and automate your backups. Explore server virtualization, which eases disaster recovery. Encrypt all your data and use solid passwords that you keep secure.

Consider a banking-only computer:

By designating one computer exclusively for all your online banking, you avoid threats from email, social media and web-surfing, at least on this one computer. Although mobile banking seems nifty, best to avoid it if you are concerned about fraud.

Get serious about passwords:

Having a password policy makes a lot of sense, even though it takes some extra work. First, have all business passwords expire every 60 to 90 days. This lowers the risk of password theft. Set password standards, including length and use of special characters. Use unique passwords for different systems and accounts.

Train your staff:

Make your employees your allies in the fight against fraud. Invest in regular training sessions that teach your staff to detect and prevent security threats that can lead to fraud. It’s important to train employees to be alert to phishing fraud, in which phony emails look like they came from management.

Spending authority:

If you delegate check-writing or online payment authority, divide that authority between two, unrelated employees. This helps to prevent internal fraud in areas such as purchasing. Set spending limits that demand your approval for sufficiently large expenditures. It’s a good idea to stay away from paper checks altogether, since they are inherently less safe.

Fraud insurance:

Despite your best efforts, fraud and cybercrime can occur. You can protect yourself by purchasing an insurance policy covering losses from fraud and crime. Use credit cards with built-in insurance that provides $0 exposure to fraud.

One way IOU Financial customers enjoy increased security is through daily or weekly automatic repayment from your checking account. These payments are much smaller than would be a monthly repayment, which means any irregularities would be immediately apparent. Interbank transfers are more secure than are paper-based transactions, which is why you should move exclusively to online banking.

Running your business takes a lot of work. Recognize areas that you may have overlooked while managing your day-to-day operations with our 7 Secrets to Small Business Success!

 

How to Build and Keep Your Business’ Good Credit Score

More than likely, you depended on your personal credit when you launched your small business. However, a growing business must tap higher amounts of capital, and a good business credit score will prove helpful in this regard.

Business Credit Score

Your business credit, also known as trade or commercial credit, is based on the likelihood that your enterprise will repay its debts. Like personal scores, your business credit score is calculated using several inputs, including your payment history, bankruptcies, collections and your credit utilization ratio – your outstanding credit balance divided by your available credit. In addition, your business credit score might include considerations about your company’s size and your industry. Keep in mind that your business credit report can be requested without your permission, and you’ll have to pay to get a copy of your business credit report.

Creating a Good Credit Score

It makes sense to establish your business credit score as soon as possible, because you don’t want to look desperate if you suddenly need credit. You’ll find many lenders require a company to operate for two years, although an IOU Financial loan needs only one year of history. If you’re operating, you should be building your business score. Here’s how to do it:

Obtain Federal Employer Identification Number:

This will help separate your business from your personal finances. You should also get a business checking account and a business phone number. For optimal protection of your personal assets, consider establishing your business as a limited liability company or a corporation.

Get a DUNS number:

Dun & Bradstreet is a corporate credit reporting agency that issues a universal identification number, the DUNS number, that is recognized around the globe. A DUNS number opens doors to some corporate and government contracts, as well as loans from the Small Business Administration. More to the point, D&B will create and track your business credit profile when you get a DUNS number, leading to an accurate credit score.

Establish credit accounts:

Obtain one or more business credit/debit/charge cards, including a gas card if your business has vehicles. Also, open credit accounts with your suppliers, including office supply stores.

Use your credit responsibly:

Pay your bills on time, and even ahead of schedule. Nothing helps your credit score like an unblemished repayment record. If money is tight, you can get a commercial loan and pay off your other debts. One of the biggest challenges a small business faces is making the monthly loan payment. IOU Financial has a better idea – daily or weekly automatic payments that you’ll barely notice.

Don’t be delinquent, renegotiate:

If you’re having trouble paying your credit accounts, don’t miss payments. Instead, reach out to your suppliers for looser terms. Many will agree rather than risk default.

Mind your credit utilization ratio:

A ratio below 20 percent is great. It means that you have the means to handle a sudden need for money without scrambling to obtain additional credit. It also indicates you are operating your business well. Make it a priority: Calculate your CRU and get it down below 20 percent.

Check your credit report:

Get an updated business credit report every three months and check for mistakes. One derogatory mistake can sink you credit score, so clean them up as soon as you identify them.

It’s wonderful to have a good credit score, but bear in mind that IOU Financial doesn’t require it to lend you money. If you’ve owned and operated your own business for at least a year, clear $100,000 in annual revenue, average a daily bank balance of at least $3,000, and make at least 10 bank deposits a month (for retail/e-tail companies), IOU Financial will do everything possible to approve your loan request, even if your credit score is less than good.

How Businesses Effectively Manage Debt

Cash is the fuel that allows your business to operate. With it, you can buy inventory or raw materials, and wait for sluggish receivables to be paid. You can invest in expansion or other opportunities to grow your business, and have a cushion to pay bills during tough times. Debt is a time-honored way to get cash when you don’t have enough. When managed well, debt can be a significant boost to your business, but poorly managed debt can lead you down the road to Chapter 11.

Managing debt wisely is the mark of a well-run business. Here are some tips for owners to effectively use debt:

Be interest-rate aware:

Are you stuck with a high-interest small business loan that demands a mountainous monthly payment? If so, you should consider refinancing your loan at a lower interest rate. Your original loan might have been based on your credit rating, and if that is less than perfect, you can do better by choosing a lender that rates you more on cash flow, such as IOU Financial. Also, when you borrow from IOU Financial, you make daily payments, which abolishes the dreaded monthly repayment.

Work with suppliers:

Your suppliers want you to succeed, because they sell to you. Use this attitude to negotiate favorable credit terms with them, such as bulk discounts, and extended payment terms. Let your suppliers know that their flexibility will result in your loyalty. Another strategy is to join a buying consortium composed of several nearby small businesses, thereby increasing the size of your orders and qualifying for greater bulk discounts and better credit terms.

Milk extra space:

Are you paying a mortgage on more space than you need? You might not want to move to smaller quarters due to the expense and the risk always attendant upon a new location. Instead, consider subleasing your extra space, say for companies that need extra storage space or a small office. This can have the effect of reducing the net cost of your mortgage debt.

Don’t be fooled by alternative financing:

Some businesses turn to expedients like factoring invoices or wholesaling inventory rather than taking out a loan. However, many don’t understand the true costs of these tactics. For example, when you factor invoices, you lock in a lower profit margin, since you will be getting only 85 to 90 cents on the dollar, a much higher price than the interest on a good loan. Wholesaling inventory can result in an even-larger haircut. You’ll find that, most often, regular commercial debt is your best alternative.

Avoid being too debt-averse:

There is some old-school thinking out there that debt is always bad. Debt is neither good nor bad – it is a tool that can be used well or poorly. It’s not a good idea to take on debt for frivolous reasons, but it’s also bad thinking to avoid debt when it can enable greater profits, fuel growth or bridge seasonal sales slumps. You can use a business loan to seize sudden opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach.

The miracle of leverage:

If you have good profit margins but are constrained by limited cash, borrowing money allows you to increase sales and profits by letting you increase your offerings. Leverage – the use of debt – can boost your return on assets and return on equity. As long as your incremental returns exceed your incremental costs, your profits will increase through leverage.

Be wary of unwanted partners:

When you borrow money, you remain in charge of your business. If you instead invite in equity partners, you now have to deal with others who might not agree with your ideas. If you don’t want junior partners questioning your every move, stick to debt financing and avoid the extra headaches.

Two Effective Ways to Ensure Your Business is Generating Word-of-Mouth Referrals

There are so many forms of advertising and marketing today that many business owners forget about the most efficient, tried-and-true form… word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM). Nine out of 10 people seek out their friends and family members’ opinions about shopping experiences, and trust those over any type of ads. Knowing this fact makes it imperative to focus on actively generating word-of-mouth referrals to grow your brand’s reputation and your sales! This can easily be accomplished with these two effective strategies:

Focus on the E’s

Suzanne Fanning, President of WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association), has the following advice about generating word-of-mouth referrals – “Engage, Equip, Empower.”

Engage

 If you want your customers to talk about your products or services, you must be part of that conversation! The first step is learning all there is to know about your shoppers, their patterns, trends, likes and dislikes. The second step is engaging with them on social media, in stores and online. Respond to reviews, ask for feedback and encourage your followers to keep on talking!

Equip

 If you want your customers to talk about you, give them something to talk about! An ordinary shopping experience doesn’t generate any buzz; however, something extraordinary does!

Consider what strengths your business offers – it can be unique products, exemplary customer service, knowledgeable staff, hassle-free return policies or even some humor tied into the shopping experience.

The best salespeople learn what their customers want, and figure out a way to deliver it to them. Once your customers are happy, their natural reaction is to share that excitement with others around them!

Empower

 Motivate your customers to spread the word about your company! People want to feel needed and valued, and it’s up to the business owners to create that energy for their shoppers!

Make it easy to for your customers to generate word-of-mouth referrals by creating business profiles on sites such as Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Share your profiles with your customers, asking them to leave reviews, post pictures and share information with their circles.

Reward

Your customers may have a lot of positive things to say about your brand, but not a lot of time to say them. How do you entice them to do so? With rewards!

Consider utilizing your best customers to be your “spokespeople” and spread the word online! If you have a loyal customer write a testimonial, you can share that on your site, email it to your subscribers and upload it to social media! Offer the spokespeople exclusive discounts or special previews of new products and services to make them feel special.

Another way to encourage WOMM is with contests; you can ask your customers to write reviews, testimonials or simply share your social media page with their circle of friends, ensuring them an entry into a contest for each action!

Starting a referral program can be extremely beneficial, as well. You can reward every individual who brings in new business with discounts, free items or other perks. Take Dropbox as an example; they offered both the old and new customer free storage space for every referral – thereby increasing their customer base and sales!

Although word-of-mouth referrals are free, motivating your customers to market your company for you will likely not be! IOU Financial wants to help you fund this goal with a small business loan. Contact us today to find out how to get a loan of up to $300,000 in under 48 hours.