That's right. It seems like somebody in Washington finally figured out a great way to stimulate the economy...by helping small businesses! I mean, we make up more than 95% of ALL businesses and create more jobs than the big guys. What took them so long?
The SBA announced today that next month, they will launch a program to give struggling businesses an interest-free loan of up to $35,000.
It's part of the nation's overall economic stimulus package and the SBA was allotted $730 million to loan out, interest-free.
It's a five year loan, and the recipients won't have to make their first payment for one year. Stan Nakano, SBA's district director in Salt Lake explained, "the whole idea is to help these small businesses make debt payments on existing loans that they already have. They won't be charged interest on it. Then, they can hopefully use that cash flow for other expenses, paying employees, suppliers, etc."
Businesses can begin applying for these loans June 15. These loans are for established businesses only, which have been open for at least two years.
For more info, or to see if your business would qualify, click here.
Pass this along to all of the small business owners you know that have been hit hard by this economy...and then let's all get busy and start stimulating!
Utah's Authorized Duct Tape Marketing Coach
Quote of the Day: "Responsible people do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice."
Do you ever feel like you are moving at a turtle's pace? Working hard and not getting anywhere?
Troy and I have been part of the Dixie's Biggest Loser competition put on by a few local Herbalife Personal Wellness Coaches. It is 12 weeks long and started on December 8th. It has been so much fun and just the push we needed to get us into gear - however, the weight hasn't come off as easily as we thought originally.
We work out 4-6 days a week, eat healthy, drink water and protein - and then get on the scale every Monday and I see a number like 1 - 1.5 lbs. per week (Troy's is more around 3-4 lbs.). I always think to myself - are you SERIOUS? Only 1 pound? I worked my butt off!!!
But then Troy reminds me that slow and steady always wins the race. It's all about changing your habits, attitudes and lifestyle - not about the numbers on the scale.
In life and business, it seems like anything worth getting takes a lot of patience, perserverance and hard work. It makes you stretch yourself and dig down deep inside to find the passion and determination to get it done. Especially in today's economy. Businesses are failing left and right - homes and jobs are being lost - it's hard to keep perservering. But, we must!
I urge you to put yourself in the tortoises shoes in the race of life. Find your passion, set realistic goals for yourself and then just start pushing along. It may take months to years before you see results and there will be many times where you will just want to GIVE UP - but you CAN'T! Just keep pushing along slowly and steadily and before you know it, you will have WON THE RACE!!!
Quote of the Day: "Civilizations decline when they stop believing in themselves; ours has thrived because we have never lost our conviction that our values are worth defending." - George P. Schultz
I came across an interesting article today about business debt. Joseph Lizio, from Business Money Today, discusses how debt can be a great way to take advantage of a opportunities that will arise in growing a business IF it is managed properly!
He illustrates his point with the following example:
Two similar businesses (Business ABC and Business XYZ). Each earns $10,000 per month in profits. Both have an opportunity to purchase a second piece of equipment for $120,000 that would double the business's profits.
Business ABC - saves its monthly profits and plans to purchase the equipment in a year from now - assuming that the opportunity has not disappeared.
Business XYZ - leverages its current monthly profits, takes a loan and buys the equipment right now. The business uses its current earnings to qualify for the loan and plans to use the additional profits from the new equipment to repay the loan - called leverage.
(Note: does not have to be just for equipment - could be working capital to bid and win a large customer, to change location that has better traffic, to build inventory, or even to complete a big order that was just received).
One year later:
Business ABC - now has $120,000 in the bank ($10,000 per month for 12 months) and wants to purchase the equipment. However, the equipment, due to inflation, now costs $130,000. So, Business ABC will have to wait and save for an additional month before it can purchase the equipment and double its monthly profits.
Business XYZ - has been earning $20,000 per month with the new equipment - less the cost of the loan (say $4,000 per month for an 8%, 36 month facility - life of the equipment). It now has $192,000 in the bank.
So, which business is better off?
Business XYZ - due to financing the equipment - has earned $6,000 per month more than Business ABC over the last 12 months (or $72,000 in total). Not only does this business use the equipment to pay for itself, it has generated additional profits to find and fund new opportunities.
Now, I thought that this was a good article because it points out that debt is not always bad. You see, there's a difference between GOOD debt and BAD debt. Bad debt is going into debt for anything that does not have the potential to make the money back for you. Examples: clothes, eating out, cars, televisions, etc. These items decrease in value once you buy them and will not help you pay back the money you are borrowing to get them.
Good debt, on the other hand, is debt that allows you to buy something that is creating value and cashflow so that you can earn more money than you were without the asset and will be able to pay back the loan from its proceeds. Examples: rental properties (some of them), businesses, equipment, etc.
You see, like the example of the businesses above - sometimes waiting until you have the money can hurt you in the long run IF what you are waiting to buy is something that has the potential to create value and income for you.
Now, I'm not saying to run out and rack up some debt - I'm just saying that some people are so closed-minded about going into debt that they are missing out on opportunities that could really help them get ahead in the long run. Don't be scared of having debt - just be SMART about it and make wise decisions.
-Troy Braithwaite, Utah's Authorized Duct Tape Marketing Coach
Quote of the Day: "Instead of wallowing in my misery, I just made some changes." - Stephanie Mills
I read an interesting article today on the Business Know How blog. It's entitled "Your Small Business In 2009". It brings about a couple of items of interest:
1 - Economists are predicting that more startups will be coming this year. This could be due to a couple of reasons: 1) High job losses and limited traditional employment options, and 2) it's easier and cheaper than ever to start a small business in today's economy. And with more and more layoffs expected to continue in 2009, I have a hard time disagreeing with them - people are running out of employment options and are going to have to take control and start making money on their own.
2- Despite the increase in start-ups expected, it is also being predicted that small businesses will have to wait until the second half of the year to see any glimmer of economic improvement. So, what do they advise in the meantime: Focus on business fundamentals, refine your business plan, and keep your belt tightened. These are all great pieces of advice.
3- As far as technology goes, it is being predicted that most small business will turn to "in the cloud" (web-based) software for most of their needs. Why? It is much more affordable, because you only pay for what you use/need and it makes working virtually much more possible and efficient. They also believe we will see an increase in server virtualization, open source software and great use of free online social networking, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Again, I think they are right on the money with these predictions because I have basically turned to all of these options. I have recently taken my entire business virtual which has caused me to move all of my data to a virtual server and I have also started looking at switching to more "in the cloud" services.
4- In this time of tight budgets, it is actually MORE important than ever that the small businessperson STEP UP their marketing. I have been saying this over and over again and wanted proof that it's not just because I am bias to marketing. IT IS more important than ever to market right now and be proactive in your business. It is truly the only way businesses will survive. And, as always, there are low cost ways of marketing effectively. They include: blogging, coupons and online social media.
So, what is going to happen in YOUR business in 2009?
-Troy Braithwaite, Utah's Authorized Duct Tape Marketing Coach
Quote of the Day: "Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time." - Jim Rohn
Drastic times call for drastic measures. With so much uncertainty surrounding our economy, it is time for all small business owners to take a deep look at their business and figure out where they can "trim the fat".
In most cases, if you REALLY look closely at what you are paying for and the benefit you are receiving, you will be suprised at how much you can cut back. Most of us get lazy and start paying for luxuries through our business because we "think we need them" or just because we can.
Well, times have changed. If your bottom line is shrinking, it is time to take action NOW! Don't wait for the economy to turn around. Take this opportunity to really trim the excess fat and create a more efficient business. Then, instead of just surviving in this economy, you will thrive in it. And then, once the economy does turn back around, you will be that much better off.
Now, I know this is hard to do. I have been doing it in my own business - and it is HARD. Change is never easy; it's easier to just continue on the path that we are on and hope that we will still make it to our destination. Unfortunately, by not ADAPTING to our current economy, it's comparable to following a road map from the year 1980 - chances are, the roads have changed and if you are looking at the wrong map, you are going to get LOST!
So, sit down today, pull out your financial statements and take a couple of hours to review them. Find areas where technology may have changed and there are better options out there now. Look for luxury items that are unnecessary today. Look for unproductive assets that could be liquidated. It's going to take some time - but it will be well worth the investment. You will become more aware of your business and will be able to make better decisions for it. This will result in you running a better business. I guarantee if you do this and truly create a "lean, mean, profit-making machine" out of your business, you will look back at these uncertain times and realize that they were a key factor in your success - they are forcing us all to do things we should have done years ago!
-Troy, Utah's Authorized Duct Tape Marketing Coach
Quote of the Day: "The right performance of this hour's duties will be the best preparation for the hours or ages that follow it" - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Every Monday morning at 6:00am, I roll-out of bed and get ready for my early morning Toastmasters. For those who aren't familiar with Toastmasters, it is an educational program focused on developing Public Speaking skills. No matter what your skill level is, when it comes to speaking, Toastmasters is the place to be.
I joined Toastmasters about 3 months ago because I wanted to sharpen up on my speaking skills. It has been a great experience so far. At every Toastmasters meeting, there are different jobs and tasks assigned to the group members. One person conducts the meeting, another one is assigned to tell a joke, another one is in charge of table talk, other people time the speakers, and then a couple of members speak. Every member critiques the speakers each time; so it's a great place to get good feedback on what went wrong, what went good, etc.
My favorite part of Toastmasters is the horn. One of the members is assigned to blow a loud horn everytime a speaker says "um" or other crutch words. It really catches people off-guard and makes them think before speaking to make sure they don't use these filler words.
At today's Toastmasters meeting, we had two people give their "IceBreaker" speeches, which is the first of a series of speeches that they will give. They both did a great job - it is always nice to see new people coming to better themselves and get over their fear of public speaking.
So, if you want to become a better and more confident speaker, whether it be for business, church, or just to tell stories to the kids, I highly recommend joining Toastmasters. Our local group meets on Monday mornings at 7am at JB's on Main Street in St. George. To find the local Toastmasters in your area, visit www.toastmasters.org.
-Troy, Utah's Authorized Duct Tape Marketing Coach
Quote of the Day: "Half of the world is on the wrong scent in the pursuit of happiness. They think is consists in having and getting, and in being served by others. On the contrary, it consists of giving, and in serving others. -Henry Drummond
For those of you that live in Utah have probably noticed that in order to save energy, ALL of the State Offices work 4 days a week/10 hours a day. Governor Huntsman initiated this back in the summer when fuel and energy prices were skyrocketing. So, everyone works Monday - Thursday and then have Friday off.
When we first heard about it, we were intrigued by the move and mentioned something to our employees about trying it out. They were up for it and so we tried it out for a week. Turns out, they LOVED IT! Even though 10 straight hours of doing accounting work doesn't sound too fun, they felt like they were able to get A LOT more done and really enjoyed having Fridays off.
So, thanks to the State for the idea, we are now more efficient, save energy and have happier employees! Win, Win, Win!!! Hopefully one day Troy and I will get Fridays off as well.
But now, every Thursday, when I leave the office, I say, "Have a Good Weekend". And this is the case not only for my office but for all of the State Employees. So, if you see more people out shopping and running errands on Fridays now, you now know why - because Thursday is the NEW Friday!
Have a good weekend!
-Brooke, That Quickbooks Girl
Quote of the Day: "The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become." - Charles du Bos
A really awesome company emailed me a "Marketing and Accounting Tips" newsletter today (just in case you didn't know or receive it - we are the awesome company that send these newsletters out bi-weekly). Because it looked so good (sorry, I'll keep the praises to a minimum), I actually took the time to read it and the article "5 Ways to Trim Overhead Expenses" peaked my interest. I have been noticing my telephone/internet bill from Qwest going up and up each month and have not found the time to call them yet.
So, I picked up the phone today and called them about my service. Turns out that since I signed up (a year ago) they have upgraded their internet to a 5 x faster speed - and right now it is being offered for a LOWER price than what I'm paying for my slower DSL. And, for upgrading my speed (and downgrading my price), I was able to get 2 months for FREE!!!
I was also able to cut a $50 MONTHLY charge that just "happened" to show up on our bill. It wasn't even a Qwest charge, it was from one of their partner companies that is trying to take advantage of the fact that most people don't read their bills or look at their accounting reports very carefully.
All in all, it never hurts to pick up the phone and call a vendor to see what they can do about your price and/or service. Many credit card companies will lower your interest rate if you just call and ask them. A few minutes on the phone can save you hundreds of dollars over time.
So, start becoming proactive today and don't wait for others to act for you. Good luck and I would love to hear about ways that you have trimmed your expenses lately!
P.S. - If you don't have accounting records to look at and review - you've got bigger problems on your hands then some overhead expenses! Call or email me and we'll talk about it.
-Troy, Utah's Duct Tape Marketing Coach
Quote of the Day: "Your goals are the road map that guide you and show you what is possible for your life." - Les Brown
Brooke and I love watching the TV Show, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch on CNBC. It's a great educational show about small businesses and always motivates us to do better.
Tonight's show was a great one that talked about the reality of our economy and how it might be getting worse before it get's better. We have certainly seen this come true in our area, Southern Utah. Many business owner's take this as they should give up on their "dream" of owning a business and go back to working for somebody else. Donny talked about how it's not about giving up the dream but "adjusting" our businesses to fit into this economy.
Brooke and I always talk about this concept - we can either complain about the economy and do nothing about it or we can look at the current situation and find an opportunity with it. We really need to take a look at our businesses and find out WHAT we can do to make them better and really flourish in today's economy.
We have done this in our own business - with rising energy prices and rising costs in doing business, we have taken our company paperless and are now doing the same for our clients. It has made a huge difference!
First off, we have saved TONS of gas for us and our clients - we have been driving around less picking and dropping off documents and instead of scheduling face-to-face meetings and trainings, we have done a lot of them over the phone using Remote Access software, such as Log Me In.
Secondly, we have cut our paper and ink costs to 1/4 of what they were before. We have done this by investing in dual monitors so we can review everything on the screens without having to print them out. It's amazing how much paper, ink and time we were wasting prior to going paperless!
Lastly, we now scan and email more documents and have stopped printing and mailing unnecessary items.
These are some of the steps we have taken to ADJUST our business to today's economy - what are some steps you have been implementing?
Quote of the Day: "The chief factor in any man's success or failure must be his own character." - Theodore Roosevelt