How to Get Financing For Your Small Business

In today’s hostile economic environment, access to capital is the primary differentiating factor between those businesses which have been able to expand and gain market share versus those that have experienced enormous drops in revenue. The reason many small businesses have seen their sales and cash flow drop dramatically, many to the point of closing their doors, while many large U.S. corporations have managed to increase sales, open new retail operations, and grow earnings per share is that a small business almost always relies exclusively on traditional commercial bank financing, such as SBA loans and unsecured lines of credit, while large publicly traded corporations have access to the public markets, such as the stock market or bond market, for access to capital.

Prior to the onset of the financial crises of 2008 and the ensuing Great Recession, many of the largest U.S. commercial banks were engaging in an easy money policy and openly lending to small businesses, whose owners had good credit scores and some industry experience. Many of these business loans consisted of unsecured commercial lines of credit and installment loans that required no collateral. These loans were almost always exclusively backed by a personal guaranty from the business owner. This is why good personal credit was all that was required to virtually guarantee a business loan approval.

During this period, thousands of small business owners used these business loans and lines of credit to access the capital they needed to fund working capital needs that included payroll expenses, equipment purchases, maintenance, repairs, marketing, tax obligations, and expansion opportunities. Easy access to these capital resources allowed many small businesses to flourish and to manage cash flow needs as they arose. Yet, many business owners grew overly optimistic and many made aggressive growth forecasts and took on increasingly risky bets.

As a result, many ambitious business owners began to expand their business operations and borrowed heavily from small business loans and lines of credit, with the anticipation of being able to pay back these heavy debt loads through future growth and increased profits. As long as banks maintained this ‘easy money’ policy, asset values continued to rise, consumers continued to spend, and business owners continued to expand through the use of increased leverage. But, eventually, this party, would come to an abrupt ending.

When the financial crisis of 2008 began with the sudden collapse of Lehman Brothers, one of the oldest and most renowned banking institutions on Wall Street, a financial panic and contagion spread throughout the credit markets. The ensuing freeze of the credit markets caused the gears of the U.S. financial system to come to a grinding halt. Banks stopped lending overnight and the sudden lack of easy money which had caused asset values, especially home prices, to increase in recent years, now cause those very same asset values to plummet. As asset values imploded, commercial bank balance sheets deteriorated and stock prices collapsed. The days of easy money had ended. The party was officially over.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, the Great Recession that followed created a vacuum in the capital markets. The very same commercial banks that had freely and easily lent money to small businesses and small business owners, now suffered from a lack of capital on their balance sheets – one that threatened their very own existence. Almost overnight, many commercial banks closed off further access to business lines of credit and called due the outstanding balances on business loans. Small businesses, which relied on the working capital from these business lines of credit, could no longer meet their cash flow needs and debt obligations. Unable to cope with a sudden and dramatic drop in sales and revenue, many small businesses failed.

Since many of these same small businesses were responsible for having created millions of jobs, every time one of these enterprises failed the unemployment rate increased. As the financial crisis deepened, commercial banks went into a tailspin that eventually threatened the collapse of the entire financial system. Although Congress and Federal Reserve Bank led a tax payer funded bailout of the entire banking system, the damage had been done. Hundreds of billions of dollars were injected into the banking system to prop up the balance sheets of what were effectively defunct institutions. Yet, during this process, no provision was ever made that required these banks to loan money out to consumers or private businesses.

Instead of using a portion of these taxpayer funds to support small businesses and avert unnecessary business failures and increased unemployment, commercial banks chose to continue to deny access to capital to thousands of small businesses and small business owners. Even after receiving a historic taxpayer funded bailout, the commercial banks embraced an ‘every man for himself’ attitude and continue to cut off access to business lines of credit and commercial loans, regardless of the credit history or timely payments on such lines and loans. Small business bankruptcies skyrocketed and high unemployment persisted.

During this same period, when small businesses were being choked into non-existence, as a result of the lack of capital which was created by commercial banks, large publicly-traded corporations managed to survive and even grow their businesses. They were mainly able to do so by issuing debt, through the bond markets, or raising equity, by issuing shares through the equity markets. While large public companies were raising hundreds of millions of dollars in fresh capital, thousands of small businesses were being put under by banks that closed off existing commercial lines of credit and refused to issue new small business loans.

Even now, in mid 2012, more than four years since the onset of the financial crisis, the vast majority of small businesses have no means of access to capital. Commercial banks continue to refuse to lend on an unsecured basis to almost all small businesses. To even have a minute chance of being approved for a small business loan or business line of credit, a small business must possess tangible collateral that a bank could easily sell for an amount equal to the value of the business loan or line of credit. Any small business without collateral has virtually no chance at attaining a loan approval, even through the SBA, without significant collateral such as equipment or inventory.

When a small business cannot demonstrate collateral to provide security for the small business loan, the commercial bank will ask for the small business owner to secure the loan with his or her own personal assets or equity, such as equity in a house or cash in a checking, savings, or retirement account, such as a 401k or IRA. This latter situation places the personal assets of the owner at risk in the event of a small business failure. Additionally, virtually all small business loans will require the business owner to have excellent personal credit and FICO scores, as well as require a personal guaranty. Finally, multiple years of financial statements, including tax returns for the business, demonstrated sustained profitability will be required in just about every small business loan application.

A failure or lack of ability to provide any of these stringent requirements will often result in an immediate denial in the application for almost all small business loans or commercial lines of credit. In many instances, denials for business loans are being issued to applicants which have provided each of these requirements. Therefore, being able to qualify with good personal credit, collateral, and strong financial statements and tax returns still does not guarantee approval of a business loan request in the post financial crisis economic climate. Access to capital for small businesses and small business owners is more difficult than ever.

As a result of this persistent capital vacuum, small businesses and small business owners have begun to seek out alternative sources of business capital and business loans. Many small business owners seeking cash flow for existing business operations or funds to finance expansion have discovered alternative business financing through the use of merchant credit card cash advance loans and small business installment loans offered by private investors. These merchant cash advance loans offer significant advantages to small businesses and small business owners when compared to traditional commercial bank loans.

Merchant cash advance loans, sometimes referred to as factoring loans, are based on the amount of average credit card volume a merchant or retail outlet, processes over a three to six month period. Any merchant or retail operator that accepts credit cards as payment from customers, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover, is virtually guaranteed an approval for a merchant credit card advance. The total amount of cash advance that a merchant qualifies for is determined by this three to six month average and the funds are generally deposited in the business checking account of the small business within a seven to ten day period from the time of approval.

A set repayment amount is fixed and the repayment of the cash advance plus interest is predetermined at the time the advance is approved by the lender. For instance, if a merchant or retailer processes approximately $1,000 per day in credit cards from its customers, the monthly average of total credit cards processed equals $30,000. If the merchant qualifies for $30,000 for a cash advance and the factoring rate is 1.20, the total that would need to be repaid is $30,000 – plus 20% of $30,000 which equals $6,000 – for a total repayment amount of $36,000. Therefore, the merchant would receive a lump sum of $30,000 cash, deposited in the business checking account, and a total of $36,000 would need to be repaid.

The repayment is made by automatically deducting a pre-determined amount of each of the merchant’s daily future credit card sales – usually at a rate of 20% of total daily credit cards processed. Thus, the merchant does not have to write checks or send payments. The fixed percent is simply deducted from future credit sales until the total sum due of $36,000 is paid off. The advantage to this type of financing versus a commercial bank loan is that a merchant cash advance is not reported on the personal credit report of the business owner. This effectively separates the personal financial affairs of the small business owner from the financial affairs of the small business entity.

A second advantage to a merchant credit card cash advance is that an approval does not require a personal guaranty from the business owner. If the business is unable to repay the merchant cash advance loan in full, the business owner is not held personally responsible and cannot be forced to post personal collateral as security for the merchant advance. The owner removes the financial consequences that often accompany a commercial bank business loan that requires a personal guaranty and often forces business owners into personal bankruptcy in the even that their business venture fails and cannot repay the outstanding loan balance.

A third, and distinct advantage, is that a merchant credit card cash advance loan does not require any collateral as additional security for the loan. The future credit card receivables are the security for the cash advance repayment, thus no additional collateral requirements exist. Since the majority of small businesses do not have physical equipment or inventory that can be posted as collateral for a traditional bank loan, this type of financing is a phenomenal alternative for thousands of retail businesses, merchants, sole proprietorships, and online stores seeking access to capital. Such businesses would be denied automatically for a traditional business loan simply because of the lack of collateral to serve as added security for the bank or lender.

Finally, a merchant credit card advance loan approval does not depend upon the strong or perfect personal credit of the business owner. In fact, the business owner’s personal credit can be quite poor and have a low FICO score, and this will not disqualify the business from being approved for the cash advance. The business owner’s personal credit is usually checked only for the purpose of helping to determine that factoring rate at which the total loan repayment will be made. However, even a business owner with a recently discharged personal bankruptcy can qualify for a merchant credit card cash advance loan.

Since the cash funds being lent on merchant credit card advances is provided by a network of private investors, these lenders are not regulated or affected by the new capital requirements that have placed a constraint on the commercial banking industry. The merchant cash advance approvals are determined by internal underwriting guidelines developed by the private lenders in the network. Each loan application is reviewed and processed on a case-by-case basis and approvals are issued within 24 to 48 hours from receipt of a complete application, including the previous three to six months of merchant credit statements.

What Are the Fabric Dyeing Methods?

The process of colouring, by applying fabric dyes to loose fibre, thread and fabric are called fabric dyeing. Being carried out for thousands of years, it has experimented in many different ways until today, and good results have been obtained. At the present time, Viktoria Fabric Dyes, which is one of the biggest brandmarks of fabric dyeing, suggests 3 different styles of it. These are; Bucket or Sink Method, Boiling Method and Washing-Machine Method. These methods will be explained in the following passages.

I. Bucket or Sink Method
• This fabric dyeing method is carried out by filling a bucket or a large container with water or occluding the drain of the sink; so as to fill it with water.
• If the operation is carried out somewhere out of the sink; the cover should be spread so as not the water to flow out.
• Before starting this fabric dyeing operation, the sink or the bullet should be filled with 60 C hot water, as the experts advise, and the powder fabric dye should be dissolved with hot water in another container.
• If the colour is too light, a little bit more dye should be added, but if it is too dark hot water should be added.
• The dissolved dye should be poured to the place where the water is and should be stirred for a while.
• After being cleared of all of its stains, the object to be dyed is put where the dye is, by being wet, and water and the dye are stirred for 10 minutes, without giving a break.
• The fabric that is kept in the water for at least half an hour and mostly for an hour, is taken out of the water when decided that it has the expected colour.
• Just after dyeing, Fiske fabric dye stabilizer is applied in accordance with the instructions.
• You should then rinse the dyed fabric with cold water. After this, wash your fabric with warm water and a soft detergent; rinse it and dry it. After getting dried, your fabric will have the expected colour.

II. Boiling Method
Boiling is another method used for fabric dyeing.

• A large pot in which fabric can move easily is filled with water and this pot is put on the cookstove. The cookstove is switched on and when the water begins boiling the dye is added into the water.
• The object to be dyed is wetted and thrown into the water.
• The object to be dyed is put where the dye is, by wetting; after being cleaned of all its stains. It is stirred in the first 10 minutes without giving a break.
• After this step, rinse the dyed fabric with cold water. Then, wash your fabric with warm water and soft detergent, rinse and dry it. After drying, your fabric will have the expected colour.

III. Washing Machine Method
You can easily dye your fabric with washing machine fabric dyeing method.
• The temperature level of the washing machine should be fixed at the highest level. Also, the time setting should be fixed in a way that the machine will operate at least 30 minutes.
• The fabric dye is melted completely by stirring it with hot water in a plastic pot. In it, 1 teaspoon of washing-up liquid is added.
• In another pot; if cotton or linen is being dyed, salt should be dissolved in 4 glasses of very hot water; and if silk or nylon is being dyed, a cup of vinegar and 2-4 glasses of hot water should be blended(mixed( together.
• Firstly the dye, and after that, the vinegar and salt are spilt into the detergent box of the washing machine and it should be switched on.
• After the machine stops, the dyed fabric is washed one more time with warm water and it becomes ready to use.

Elderspeak and Invisible Old People

This past September (September 1st to be exact) I was in a wheelchair in an emergency room with a fractured knee cap that occurred in a moment of fully lucid but impaired equilibrium. But here’s the good news: the bottle of beer I was carrying remained unscathed. No shattered glass or a drop of foamy goodness was lost. (That takes talent!) I should have known better than to imbibe in the second bottle of brew but as the saying goes, “What the heck. I was having a good time.” Even better news: the white jeans I was wearing survived without a mark or tear.

Have I learned my lesson? Yes, of course, I have. I’m not a dumb bunny. I no longer drink beer. I now drink white wine. Best of all, my sense of humor remains intact.

After a long wait in the emergency room, I was wheeled into a room by an attendant who thought I was his “sweetie” and waited some more for a nurse (or anyone) to appear. My daughter and son-in-law were standing behind my chair when a nurse arrived. Then the fun began. As if I was not there, the nurse asked my daughter for details about how my injury occurred.

I was thinking, “Why isn’t the nurse asking ME those questions. It’s MY injury!” Irritation gnawed at me until I finally swung the bulky chair around to face the nurse, hitting a few cabinets in the process. (I should have turned the chair before she entered the room but the space was small.) In a calm, polite tone of voice, I said, “Excuse me, I can hear and understand everything you say and I can answer all your questions. You can speak to ME. I’m not senile.” And I smiled.

The poor woman was taken aback. No one had probably spoken to her like that before. After all, she was just applying the accepted protocol for dealing with an old/older person – it’s a cultural thing, a “given” – white hair equals incompetence or senility. In her eyes, she had done nothing wrong. I knew that and that’s why I intentionally spoke to her in a calm, polite tone of voice.

Old people get used to and even expect (but don’t like) to be treated as if they don’t exist or are incompetent. It’s a societal assumption that old people can’t think clearly or remember much and they can’t hear or understand if you speak too softly or too fast. After all, most old people are senile or close to it so you have to be patronizing and deal with them as if they are children. Really? REALLY?

Not all old people are on the brink of senility – most are not even close. Mature people function quite well if they are spoken to with respect and treated with the assumption they are competent. If they are mentally impaired, acknowledge their existence and treat them respectfully.

Let’s get to the elderspeak element of the “old people are invisible” syndrome which I already experienced before I became invisible. It is beyond annoying and disrespectful. Here is an unrelated example, but typical of the elderspeak iceberg:

My sister and her husband were dedicated runners. They were “mature” – not teenagers. On their daily run around the community and their neighborhood, neighbors, sitting on their front lawn, many with a can of bubbly in their hand, yelled to them as they flew by, “you guys are so cute!” Was my sister angry? You bet. Please don’t call mature persons “cute”. A six-year-old child is cute. To call an elder “cute” is as demeaning and infantilizing as it gets.

Here’s more: If you are a healthcare worker, a mature female patient you just met is not your “sweetie” or “honey”. Terms of endearment are appropriate only when there is a romantic relationship. Egads! What a revelation! An old person in a romantic relationship? [gasp!] That’s disgusting! Really? No, it’s not. Oh, one more thing: Do not call me “young lady”. It’s patronizing, demeaning, condescending and disrespectful. (Okay, okay, I’m being overly sensitive – and grumpy.)

If those in authority call you cute or utter another term of endearment, it’s tempting to want to haul off and smack them into reality, but don’t give in to the temptation. Turn it around on them and tell them how cute they are, and what a sweetie pie they are for telling you how cute you are. Be sure to smile as you do it. Take note of their flustered or confused reaction.

Facts About Medicare Insurance The Government’s Website Doesn’t Explain

When it comes to investigating Medicare options, many personal financial educators refer individuals to the Medicare.gov website. The official U.S. government website for Medicare is, without question, the most comprehensive of informational portals.

But it can be overwhelming. Especially for the 11,000 men and women who turn 65 every day and first become eligible for Medicare. For most, the terminology is tantamount to learning a new language. Medicare health care plan options are more complex and varied than most are used to.

And, there are some important things the government website doesn’t tell you. For example, it fails to clearly point out the importance of your first plan enrollment. Nowhere on the website does it say that the Medicare plan choice may be irrevocable.

Nor does it really explain what questions to ask before choosing a plan. The Medicare.gov does a great job of offering impartial comparisons, such as premium rates. But when it comes to subjective elements, these are something the website can’t obviously address.

Anyone who has been Medicare eligible for a few years will tell you that selecting the right Medicare plan is not easy. In fact, some industry estimates find that between 25 and 40 percent of people switch after making a choice. Navigating the complexity is especially hard when you are first eligible for Medicare. That’s more so if your current or prior healthcare coverage consisted of a few options pre-selected by your employer or trade union.

One of the Medicare.gov features is the appearance of being able to directly connect with an insurance company. And while it’s logical to think that ‘buying directly’ is going to be better and save you money, it’s simply not true. Quite the contrary. It could be a significant and costly mistake.

The following are things to consider when using the Medicare.gov website as shared by the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance, a national advocacy and educational organization.

1. Medicare.gov is much easier to use for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. But that is just one of the options available to you. It may or may not be your best option. For those who prefer to see any doctor or specialist, only a Medigap plan offers that option. For those who travel or spend time in another state, a Medicare Advantage might not cover you outside of your primary area.

2. The Medicare.gov website doesn’t make it easy to understand things that matter such as in-network, out-of-pocket costs, drug plan coverage, coordination with Veteran’s coverage and Medicaid. “In Network” matters if you decide a Medicare Advantage plan is best for you. Knowing which local doctors, hospitals and especially specialists participate can be tricky to find on your own.

3. Medicare.gov’s Plan Comparisons seem very detailed. But they miss some important information that’s vital. For example, the decision you make when turning 65 could be irrevocable. Switching Medicare plans is not always possible. Medicare.gov does not tell you what’s possible if you don’t like your choice or when your chosen plan changes. These are all very important things to know before locking in a choice.

4. Medicare.gov’s Plan Finder prescription drug search can be confusing for those taking multiple medications. It’s especially important for the millions who take insulin medications.

5. Medicare.gov lists Medicare Advantage plan ancillary benefits (vision, dental, etc.). Unfortunately, there’s little detail of specifically what’s covered in terms of benefits and service providers.

Buying direct from an insurance company such as UnitedHealthcare (NYSE: UNH), Aetna (NYSE: AET), Cigna (NYSE: CI), or Humana (NYSE: HUM) — several of the leaders – or calling an 800-number may or may not be your best option. Is the person on the other end of the line a captive agent for the particular insurance company? Do they get some incentive for touting one particular plan over another?

Comparing Medicare plan options is always your smartest move. A local Medicare professional who is knowledgeable in local options including Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement and prescription drug plan choices can be a well spent hour. Today most insurance agents will arrange an online meeting to discuss options and answer questions.

A national online directory listing Medicare insurance agents is offered by the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance. Access is free and private, unlike most websites that require you enter information before displaying results. Whether you are turning 65 or just have Medicare insurance questions you want answered, it’s a resource worth knowing about.

That local expertise and experience comes at no cost. And, the same plans that are available online or available directly from the insurance company can be sold by an agent appointed with the particular company. Perhaps most important, it’s available for the very same cost.

OK Preservities In Our Skincare, Natural or Not

There’s been a lot of talk on Social Media about the safety of preservatives these days and that’s a good thing! There is unfortunately a lot of misinformation as well. Let’s set the record straight!

Any product that is made with water requires a preservative. It’s to prevent bacteria, mold, fungus or other critters from growing in the product. Preservatives are needed to prevent contamination. Let’s talk about the preservative, Phenoxyethanol, specifically.

It rates a four on the Cosmetic safety database (0-10 scale, and four is measured at its most concentrated and isolated level, which means it’s not measured in a product). Pretty good, considered most other preservatives are measured at around seven or higher.

So let’s put it in perspective. Penoxyethanol is approved at 1% in products (Canada, Japan, and The European Union). When you consider toxicity is relative to dosage, 1% makes this is a very low risk. (Look at your label, and your preservative should be the last item on the list. Ingredients are listed in order of percentage, from the highest to the lowest. So the last ingredient on the list basically means it is the one at the lowest amount in your product).

It is also important to know how to decipher the information you read about. It’s sometimes easy to panic when you see a list of warnings, restrictions, numbers on scales, and jump to conclusions.

Penoxyethanol is a safe preservative that is approved for use at a very low dosage percentage (1%). Think of it in a 240ml/8oz bottle of lotion, for instance. At 1%, it is not a lot of preservative in your product.

Certain chemicals on their own can be concerning, but when combined are harmless. Let’s use the example of Lye. Horrible stuff on its own but mix it with water and oil and it creates soap. Add Olive Oil and you now have a soap gentle enough for children!

And.. be aware of those who might suggest that “if you can’t pronounce it, it shouldn’t be in your skincare. After all, Penoxyethanol is certainly not an easy word of the toung; but as we have disussed, you are better off to have this in your “Natural” or “Clean” skincare, than to put up with the many other chemicals available and so often utilized.

Finally, read your labels, ask questions and remember… Just because there’s a recipe on the internet for a great body scrub, it doesn’t make everyone a chemist.

Why You Don’t Need Laxatives for Weight Loss or Colon Health

Digestive health is easy to maintain, and you don’t need laxatives to maintain great colon health. Learning what your best proteins are, and combining them in your genetic zone of eating, you can keep being happy healthy and IBS free,even through old age.

Taking laxatives is dangerous for your health. Removing electrolytes from your body can damage your brain and cause seizures. Suppose you are driving and have a seizure. This could take your life unnecessarily.

Taking laxatives can have a rebound effect on your small intestine and colon. Your small intestine cannot absorb the nutrients your body needs, and the colon will stop working naturally, when it is being told when to work. This can lead to a damaged colon which has to be cut out and attached to your stomach with a colostomy bag to the outside for waste collection.

Taking laxatives causes your kidneys to shut down. When you remove all the water from your body through your colon, there is no reason for the kidneys to work, and they can shut down, causing you to have to go on dialysis.

Lastly, taking laxatives, can damage your heart. The electrolyte balance must be maintained for healthy signaling and rhythmic beating. Removing all the electrolytes from your system damages this delicate balance.

Learning how to fine-tune your eating for your best digestive health, starts with a book to learn which proteins work for your genetic blood type. Next learning which zone will work for you can be done by a simple genetic test. Are you low carb, or low fat. Are you balanced, or Mediterranean? Do you feel better eating protein, or vegetables?

Do you have any genetic aberrations, that could cause you to need additional nutritional support is another thing the simple genetic test will tell you. 40% of the population has MTHFR and eating the foods you need to support this condition will keep your colon clean and you happier and healthier.

Depending on supplementation can cause problems, because over supplementation, can cause a buildup of folic acid in the system, leading to cancer or an auto immune disease.

Learning how to manage your portion sizes, so you can help your colon heal. You may then learn how to maintain your best aging weight as well as keep your colon happy.

A happy balance of proteins and vegetables, for lunch or dinner.Fruits and fortified cereals with almond milk or fruit with yogurt or quinoa. You pick what you like best.

Learn which proteins are best for you, and which to avoid. Being open to change helps, because change is necessary to keep belly fat off.

The free newsletters, where you can get free coaching, and learn how to fine tune your eating.