Tag Archives: SBA Loans
By Charles H. Green
Technology advancements over the past 20 years have had a significant impact on busines and industry, which has led to major changes in output, costs, productivity, employment, marketing and connectivity among other business metrics. Small companies have often been on the leading edge of these changes because they are more nimble and will often realize faster improvements (and profits) by adapting sooner.
The National Small Business Association (NSBA) recently conducted their second survey of technology adoption and dependency among their members and posted some interesting results. Among their key findings was a marked increase in usage of laptops also, from 67 percent in 2010 to 84 percent in 2013.
An interesting tangential finding was the drop in the number of small-business owners who pay an outside firm to handle their information technology (IT), which they asserted was likely driven by two factors: the economic challenges small businesses have faced in the past few years; and improved IT platforms and the growing reliance on–and therefore need to understand—these technology tools and platforms.
Other results from the small companies surveyed:
41% use tablet devices (which were not available during the 2010 survey);
60% allow some employees to telecommute (an increase of over one-third);
50% don’t have broadband or fast-speed internet because it’s still not available;
27% still don’t use social media to promote themselves.
Why is technology a ‘finance issue’ that should concern business lenders? Because it represents a harbinger of the future horizon for the success of that business.
1. Adaptation of new technology signals better productivity is ahead at a cheaper price;
2. Smaller firms can compete more effectively when visable through the web and recognized in social media. Without breaking into these frontiers, that business will be lost to anyone trying to find it.
3. Mobility will be the most heavily-travelled portal through which future consumers conduct business.
Read more at NSBA.
By. Charles H. Green
Gallup’s weekly survey of Americans’ confidence in the U.S. economy improved slightly over the past two weeks. Their U.S. Economic Confidence Index was -15 last week, similar to the -16 from the previous week, but up from -18 in the week ending Sept. 1. However, Americans continue to be less positive about the economy than they were in May and June.
Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index is based on Americans’ ratings of current economic conditions in the U.S. and their assessments of whether the economy is getting better or worse. The three-point increase in the overall index over the past two weeks is solely due to Americans’ rosier economic outlook.
Last week, 42% of Americans said the economy is getting better and 53% said it is getting worse, for a net economic outlook score of -11, six points higher than the -17 in the week ending Sept. 1.
Seventeen percent of Americans rate current economic conditions as “excellent” or “good,” while 35% rate them as “poor.” That results in a -18 net current conditions score, identical to what Gallup found for the week ending Sept. 1.
Economic confidence among consumers and businesses bode a directly relationship to short terms and long term economic activities such as household spending, large purchases and even marriage among consumers, and capital acquisitions, borrowing and investment among businesses.
Read More at Gallup Economy
By Charles H. Green
A review by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Patriot Express loans, valued at $703 million, have a higher default rate than other loans under SBA’s other loan guarantee programs. The GAO report also said that losses for Patriot Express have exceeded its income.
“The Patriot Express program’s overall default rate was significantly higher for smaller loans, especially for loans below $25,000 (20 percent),” according to GAO. And it was revealed that one lender accounted for more than 64 percent of these smaller loans and experienced higher default rates than the remaining lenders.
From 2007 through 2012, losses in the Patriot Express program exceeded income by $31.1 million (not accounting for future fee revenues or funds recovered from loans in default). Patriot Express has continually operated in the red.
In 2010, SBA extended the Patriot Express pilot through 2013 to allow time to evaluate the effect of the program. To date, SBA has not evaluated the program or established a plan of what it intends to do to evaluate it. SBA officials reported to GAO that they “focused their resources on evaluating 7(a) loans because there are many more of them and, therefore, they pose a greater risk to SBA than Patriot Express loans.”
GAO also asserted that SBA’s internal controls over lenders may not provide reasonable assurance that Patriot Express loans are only made to eligible members of the military community and that only these members benefit from loan proceeds. This finding may lead to more direct consequences to participating lenders as this evaluation continues.
Read more at GAO
According to a survey conducted by American Airlines in 2011, nearly half of the small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that responded indicated that 10 to 24 percent of their annual budget is allocated for travel expenses — and nearly all indicated that they are actively controlling airline costs. If your small business falls into those categories, we have some cost-saving travel tips for you (courtesy of the U.S. Small Business Administration)!
Use technology wisely to save on airfare. This includes online tools like Skype, Webex and Face Time that can connect you with partners, customers and satellite offices at little to no cost. Consider equipping your field reps or employees working remotely with tablets, smartphones or laptops to make it easy to interact with them. As an added plus, you can use a camera-equipped device to inspect property, equipment or products at a supplier’s or customer’s location. For more on how tech tools can make virtual meetings a part of your business, read this.
Reap the benefits of the sharing economy. If you’re looking to save $$$ on expenses like car rentals and hotel rooms — and don’t mind trying some non-traditional options — check out group sharing websites like ZipCar and ZimRide for the former and Airbnb and CouchSharing for the latter.
Use loyalty programs and business credit cards to save money. According to the same American Airlines survey cited earlier, SMBs say that enrolling their company in a B2B loyalty program is one of the top three methods of maximizing the value of their travel. If business travel often takes you to the same locations and hotels, consider establishing a corporate account that offers discounted rates with a hotel chain. Additionally, the SBA offers some tips for finding the right business credit cards that offer rewards and points programs here.
Shop bargain travel sites (with care). It’s possible to find deals on travel discount sites, especially if you’re combining a hotel, car and air ticket. Shop around, then cross check prices against the hotel or airline’s website or by phone to ensure that you’re getting the best deal available. Providers may match any online specials offered by discount sites, and their cancellation policies may be friendlier.
Manage your costs on the road. There’s an app for that! One to try is Wi-Fi Finder, a free app that lets you search over 500,000 Wi-Fi hot spots (free or paid) around the world to save you hotel Wi-Fi charges and keep you connected. For tracking and organizing your travel budget, the Travel Pocket app (available for a small fee) gives you parameters for time, location and category and lets you convert your reports into a spreadsheet.
Be smart about business expense tax deductions. You probably already know that you can deduct the cost of mileage, airfares and lodging on your tax return, but did you know you can also deduct 50 percent of meal costs, tips, and even dry cleaning or laundry you need doing on the road? The SBA offers more information on deducting your small business travel expenses on its http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/community-blogs/small-business-cents/going-road-how-deduct-your-small-business-trave.
Bon voyage and happy savings!
About the Author:
Beth Longware Duff is a professional editor and award-winning writer whose work on a wide variety of topics has been published in print and electronic media. She currently writes on a wide range of topics dealing with electronic payment processing and small business merchant services for Merchant Express.
Remember the good old days when the daily mail brought two or three pre-approved business credit line solicitations? When bankers were calling to take you to lunch and play golf? And they urged you to borrow even more money and of course, would always finance the deal’s closing costs.
If those days seemed too good to be true, the financial regurgitation of the last 24 months proved that in fact they were. September, 2010 marks the second anniversary of the darkest days of modern commercial banking. For many bankers, if not for bad loans, they would now have had no loans at all.
Over the past two years, small business lending has been stymied by many factors: Read More