• Loan broker calls business lending “a mess”

    Getting a business loan is confusing and difficult for most

    Yahoo! Small Business Advisor readers who want to understand "why small business lending is such a confusing mess" will be interested in a new columnist debuted yesterday by The New York Times "You're the Boss" blog.

    In the blogger spirit of curating web content, I'll summarize what Ami Kassar says, and point you to his full column for more details and so that you can follow him from here.

    The Times' "You're the Boss" blog features 14 writers with various perspectives on "the art of running a small business." Kassar's expertise comes from running a loan broker called MultiFunding that he says has worked to help hundreds of entrepreneurs navigate the capital-seeking process.

    Kassar calls the small-business lending market "highly inefficient" and "poorly understood." He explains:

    "There are now loan products out there with annual percentage rates of 4 or 5 percent and others as high as 60 or even 80 percent. In part, this is the unintended consequence of the big banks' tightening up

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  • Entrepreneurs and money: Is your relationship healthy?

    Women entrepreneurs often dislike discussing money, says business coach Linda Tomb

    Business coach Linda Tomb takes a three-step approach to helping women entrepreneurs find startup success. Once she has helped her clients get control of their time and sharpen their focus, Tomb turns to their relationship with money.

    "Your relationship with money is the relationship you'll have the longest," Tomb tells entrepreneurs. "Unless your business is really just a hobby, you must take a good look at how your business will make money."

    It might seem like obvious advice for anyone trying to start a business, but Tomb says many women she works with do not like to talk about money. And yet, at her speaking engagements, everyone has questions about money. So, Tomb pays special attention to the topic with her coaching clients.

    Be able to explain your business
    First she tells women to hone their approach to the outside world. "If you're going to make money doing something, you have to be able to explain what you do," she says. "It's astounding to me how many people think they're

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  • Small Business Reading – bad communication, business ideas and plans.

    customerdialogLast week we started this new blog series rounding up some of the best small business reading from here on Yahoo! Small Business Advisor and also elsewhere. We continue this week with some great advice and success stories.

    You should also take a look around some of what Yahoo! Small Business has to offer. Besides our domain name, web hosting and ecommerce products, we also have just added an innovative marketing dashboard that you can try for free even if you don't use our other products.

    We also have a tools section within Yahoo! Small Business Advisor where you can quickly and easily create a press release with a wizard, track packages, calculate loans and look up zip codes.

    We had an interesting set of stories in this week at Yahoo! Small Business Advisor that included the following:

    The inconvenient history of Silicon Valley. (It turns out that the entrepreneurial capital of the US was created on the back of LOTS of government support.)
    Four signs you're a terrible communicator.
    How

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  • Few claim health insurance tax credit

    If you claimed the Small Employer Health Insurance Tax Credit last year, congratulations. You are one of few employers who not only qualified but persevered through complex calculations.

    Health care tax credit too complex for employers

    According to a report issued this month by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, fewer than 12 percent of the businesses that were expected to claim the credit in 2010 did so. The GAO study, conducted at the request of Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee ranking member Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO), found that 170,300 small businesses claimed the credit in 2010 at a cost of $468 million.

    The numbers fall far below the estimates of government agencies and small business advocacy groups, which suggested that between 1.4 million and 4 million businesses would be eligible to claim the credit and that the cost of the credit would come to $2 billion in fiscal year 2010 and $40 billion from fiscal years 2010 to 2019.

    According to two

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  • 4 Cost-Effective Tips to Get More Customer Leads for Your Business

    findcustomers

    By Carol Roth

    Ask a small business owner what his or her top challenge is and most will rank "getting new customers" amongst their top issues. With customers more distracted and so many options to choose from, this can be even more of a challenge nowadays. Below, find four tips on how to generate more leads and customers in efficient ways that won't break the bank.

    Leverage Your Existing Customers: There's no better way to garner more business than directly and indirectly from customers that are already having an amazing experience with your business. Directly, talk to your customers about how you can earn more of their business, either through increased purchasing frequency, increased size of purchases or by meeting more of their needs with additional goods and services.

    Additionally, customers tend to spend time with other individuals or businesses that look a lot like them. That means that your customers are likely a connection point to other ideal customers for your business.

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  • Small Business Weekend Reading

    What better time than National Small Business Week to kick off a new weekly series of blog posts rounding up the best of the week that we have found both here at Yahoo! Small Business Advisor and elsewhere?

    It's been a big week for small businesses and a big week for us too. We posted a series of original interviews with executives from American Express, UPS, Verizon, Constant Contact and Orange Soda about small businesses and what their challenges are and each gave some advice on how to succeed and how to work with them. Why is that important? Well, we picked those companies because they all provide important services TO small businesses in different areas - financial services, logistics (ie shipping and fulfillment), communications and marketing. Plus we learned some great facts. Did you know that about half the GDP and half the employment in the US comes from small businesses? Did you know that UPS is a classic startup by a teenager in a basement? Only in 1907, not 2007!

    We also

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  • By: Mike Periú

    ThinkstockphotosThinkstockphotos

    Latino entrepreneurs across the country are for the most part missing out on the opportunity to build and grow large companies quickly. This is because most are missing a key ingredient: capital. And not just any capital, but the most important type of capital there is: "smart money". This refers to investors who are experienced in building companies and can provide expertise, advice industry knowledge and connections to help the entrepreneur avoid critical mistakes and recognize key opportunities.

    According to a recent study by the Center for Venture Research, only 6% of entrepreneurs that ask for capital from angel investors are Latino.  Even worse, just 2% of angel investors are themselves Latino.

    It's a complicated problem with no easy answers.

    Latinos are one of the most entrepreneurial groups in the United States yet they tend to start small "mom and pop" businesses which may at their peak have a handful of employees and provide a decent living standard for the

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  • Consciousness raising for startup success

    Asked what business tasks they could do better, "being more efficient" was top on the list of one in five entrepreneurs who responded to a recent national survey of small businesses. A cluttered calendar, daily distractions, and an overwhelming to-do list can keep any busy business owner from succeeding, and time management tips like the ones we shared here last week can help you streamline your schedule.

    An uncluttered mind is key to entrepreneurial success

    But getting control of your time is just one of three steps that business coach Linda Tomb recommends to business owners who seek greater success. Hand-in-hand with clearing the clutter from your calendar goes clearing the clutter from your mind, she says.

    Tomb's consultancy, Unleash Your Business, helps women entrepreneurs "grow a small business into a big business…with heart." In part two of our three-part "Time, Focus, Money" interview with Tomb, she says, "Focus is about taking charge of the thoughts that are occupying your brain. You can work till you drop but still be

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  • Crowdfunding: Why Your Business Can’t Afford to Ignore It

    By Scott Steinberg

    Crowdfunding Bible Book CoverCrowdfunding isn't just today's hottest new form of high-tech investment — it's also a potentially new and better approach to raising money online that threatens to upend traditional approaches to venture capital and angel investment. With the recent passage of the JOBS Act, suddenly, not only can you reach out and connect with qualified investors to launch new businesses and startups. You can also do so directly, without having to let VCs play ultimate judge and jury, or a small, but influential group of wealthy individuals dictating which products, projects and services deserve to be brought to market.

    Want to start your own business, looking to expand upon an existing line of products or services, or simply have a brilliant idea for tomorrow's next million-dollar invention? Services such as Kickstarter, IndieGogo, RocketHub and Peerbackers, which offer crowd funded investment solutions, literally give you the power to bring new businesses, products and innovations

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  • Best candidate for business? Entrepreneurs divided

    Small business owners are split

    With regard to who is the better candidate for small businesses, President Barack Obama has only a slight edge over Governor Mitt Romney, according to a survey of small business owners commissioned by Office Depot. The Office Depot Small Business Index, conducted in April and released today, revealed that 53 percent of small business owners see the current President as the top small business advocate, while 47 percent chose the former Massachusetts Governor.

    The Internet-based national survey, which interviewed 1,002 owners of businesses with between 1 and 99 employees, also asked respondents how they feel about the state of their business. Compared to a year ago, more small business owners say they are "much more or slightly more optimistic." There has been a drop in optimism, however, from January 2012. Survey interviews are conducted monthly.

    The survey also asked about measures of success. Most respondents define success as "being profitable" (73 percent); "having a work-life

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