Archive for

Settle Your Small Business Taxes With a Peer-To-Peer Loan

Like the saying goes, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes.” Unfortunately, small businesses know this saying all too well.

Unlike employees who look forward to their refund every April, small businesses loath the approaching spring, knowing they will have to pay Uncle Sam its share of their profits. Each year, small businesses struggling to turn a profit in an increasingly competitive business environment must pay taxes in order to keep their doors open.

With dwindling profit margins and tightened lending restrictions, however, many small business owners find themselves between a rock and a hard place when it comes time to pay the tax man. Although a business may have steady sales and revenue or thousands of dollars in inventory, banks and traditional lending institutions simply aren’t handing out small business loans like they were in year’s past, leaving small business owners with few funding options to pay their tax bill.

Thankfully, peer-to-peer lending, or social lending, has solved this growing dilemma. These modern social lending marketplaces have connected millions of borrowers with individual investors. Borrowers receive low-interest, fixed-rate loans that can be paid off in two to five years, while investors are able to benefit from decent returns in an economy with sinking bond and savings rates.

Thus, it’s a win-win situation for both small business owners in need of immediate funding and investors looking to make a small profit while helping others.

From Desperation to Exultation: One Man’s Venture into Peer-to-Peer Lending

John Mitchell is an Ohio-based small business owner who found himself in such a predicament just last year. As the owner of the only hardware store in a small town, John’s store flourished the first few years it was open.

After getting his inventory levels, pricing models, and management just right, he decided to expand his business by opening a second location in a neighboring town. John sunk all of his profits into opening his new store, which meant he was short on funds come tax time. However, knowing the success of his business, he thought he would simply get a small loan from the bank that housed his accounts and provided him with the initial loan he used to launch his business four years earlier.

Unfortunately, he witnessed first-hand the effect the recession has had on lending regulations as the banker he’s known for years denied his loan application. If he couldn’t get a loan there, where could he?

On the brink of despair, John took to the Internet to research loan options. After digging through forums and trying a few different searches, he ran across peer-to-peer lending. In less than a week after going through the quick and easy application process, he received a personal loan at a low rate for the amount he needed. A week later, John sent a check for the full amount to the IRS, and less than eight months later, he was able to pay off the loan with the profits from his new store!

If you are a small business owner who has found yourself in a similar circumstance, peer-to-peer lending can do the same for you as well, but how does peer-to-peer lending work?

How Peer-to-Peer Lending Works

A breakthrough product or service emerges every generation, and in the early 2000′s, the emerging breakthrough was social networking. From helping in the organization of overthrowing political regimes to staying in touch with friends and family members, social networking has had a profound effect on our daily lives. Now, it’s changing the small business financing landscape as well.

Peer-to-peer lending is a modern social networking solution for small businesses in search of a way of securing alternative funding. The goal of peer-to-peer lending sites, such as Prosper and Lending Club, is simply to connect individual investors with those in need of funding, and these sites are becoming an increasingly useful tool for small business owners who are unable to secure funding from traditional lenders.

Rather than jumping through endless hoops only to be denied by a bank, small businesses can receive funding via peer-to-peer lending in no time at all by following three simple steps:

Step 1: Create a Profile and Loan Listing

There are a myriad of peer-to-peer lending networks to choose from, so your first step is to research the best ones and create a profile and loan listing on the site you choose. The loan listing is essentially a cost-free ad that indicates the amount of money you need and your desired interest rate.

Step 2: Let the Bidding Process Begin

After your listing goes live, investors have the opportunity to begin bidding on your listing, providing you with the interest rate and loan amount they are willing to offer you. A major advantage of this bidding process is the fact that it can intensify as more and more lenders begin competing for your business.

When this happens, interest rates will begin dropping, potentially allowing you to obtain a much lower interest rate than you expected. It’s important to note, however, that your credit score, income, and debt-to-income ratio plays a role in the lending decision process.

Step 3: Funding and Paying Back the Loan

Another benefit of borrowing from peer-to-peer lenders is that you can accept several bids to receive your requested loan amount. For instance, if you ask for $10,000 in your loan listing to pay your business taxes, you can acquire the amount from collecting $2,000 from five different borrowers.

This makes it much easier for borrowers to receive the money they need. However, instead of making five separate payments, you would only make one payment, because the peer-to-peer lending site is responsible for dispersing the money to lenders until loans are repaid in full. They simply charge a small fee for this service.

With increased lending regulations, banks are tightening their purse strings more than ever before, making it much more difficult for small businesses to receive the funding they need to expand their business or even pay their taxes. Thankfully, peer-to-peer lending has proven to be a worthy competitor in the small business lending marketplace. If you are a small business owner and find yourself unable to pay your taxes as April approaches, or backed taxes for that matter, a peer-to-peer loan is an ideal option.

Ten Critical Questions You Must Ask When Searching For A Legitimate Network Marketing Business

So you’ve decided to start a home based business, but you are not sure if the network marketing company you want to join is right for you. Everything you have heard about them is “TOPS”. But you’re getting all of your information from the company’s independent associates and the up-line. Every time you get on a conference call, the information they provide sounds great. The presenter say everyone is making tons of money, going on trips all the time, driving expensive cars, and living in mansions. Who wouldn’t want to be part of all that success? They talk about the company, the product, and the opportunity. And then, it’s decision time. All of the excitement gets your adrenalin pumping and you’re ready to jump in. But you decide to be cautious, and do a little research on your own. After you arrive home, and its just you and the mirror, you have second thoughts. “Can I really do this business?”, you ask yourself. “What happens if I can’t get anyone to join?” “Is this one of the legitimate home based business opportunities? Or is this another MLM company that feeds off of people like me?” All of sudden, you are not confident as as you were on the opportunity call. Don’t feel bad because you’re not alone.

Tens of thousands of North Americans decide to start a home based business every year. And many of them opt for a network marketing opportunity. But the facts remain the same, whether it is a traditional business venture, or an MLM opportunity, most new home based businesses aren’t successful. Why? Its a combination of poor or no research, bad business planning, and unrealistic income expectations.

When a person enters the network marketing arena, it usually goes something like this. A friend invites them to an opportunity meeting or to listen in on a opportunity call. When they do so, They usually get caught up in all the hype, and before they can say “What am I getting myself into?”, they have brought into a business, and joined a company they really know nothing about. It happens all to frequently; from hotel conference rooms to private homes, to conference calls, thousands of people join business opportunities every week.

Most of these new business owners never get their business off the ground. And if they do, most never turn a profit. Why? The main reason is that most people aren’t ready to start their own business. They weren’t looking to start a new business in the first place; usually someone else convinced them to do so.

But there are some people who are ready, and are looking to get started with a business opportunity. And you may be one of them. If so, you probably already have the passion and the drive to make it happen.You probably have the investment money to get it started. And you probably have the money to sustain yourself and your family while you build your business. You are ready. You have researched a number of MLM and network marketing companies that peak your business interest. And now its time to put them to the test. Here are ten questions you must ask before going into business with a MLM or network marketing company:

1. Is the company solid? Financially, and Ethically.

A. How long have they been in business and what is their financial situation? There are hundreds, if not thousands of new business opportunities that have popped up in the last ten years. It is a good rule of thumb that if a business has been around for 5 years, they should be making a profit.

B. Are there a lot of complaints with the BBB, or your State Attorney General’s office? If a company has more than a few complaints, that should trigger a yellow (caution) flag.

2. Is there a real need in the marketplace for their service or products?

A. What percentage of people need the product or service? If your product or service is only needed by a small percentage of people, then you will have a difficult time marketing it.

B. What percentage of people want the product or service? If everyone wants it, or could use it, but very few know its available, then you might have a gold mine. Still, you will have to get the word out; and that’s where the company will be counting on you. There must be a balance between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’, or supply and demand, for a product to be successful in the marketplace.

3. Does their product or service support itself without offering the business opportunity?

A. In other words, is the product affordable or is it overpriced? Many companies offer inflated prices on their products or services, making it difficult to sell. Often times this leads the associates selling the business opportunity, instead of offering the products. Beware of companies that offer extremely low commissions when you make a sale on the product side, but give huge bonuses when you recruit someone into the business.

B. Is the product or service exclusive to network marketing or can you get it anywhere? If a potential customer can get your product just about anywhere, it will be that much harder for you to make a profit and you will need to be able to convince your potential customer that what you have is better than the rest.

4. Do they have a real internet presence?

A. Can your prospects purchase the product from you online? This is a must in 21st century network marketing. Building a client base will still require human interaction, but when your customer is ready f to make another purchase, this is the easiest, and safest, way to provide them with immediate access to your product(s).

B. Is the company new to the internet? Do they have a proven track record? This is important to your success when it comes time to make the sale, or recruit an associate. A good company will always have an IT department with web developers that keep the content current.

5. Can you recruit online?

A. Can you manage your down-line online? It is vital to your business to be able to track your sales to the penny. Many companies only provide BPV, or product volume, etc. But you want to have daily access to gauge your sales volume in dollars and cents. This also pertains to your down-line. You should have the potential to send broadcast messages and thing of this sort. It will be a very important for communication with your organization.

6. After the initial investment, how much money can you expect to invest before you see a check? One of the advantages in going into business with a MLM or network marketing company is supposed to be the low initial investment. Combined with the potential for quick income, these to items are essential in building a successful business. Its called ROI (Return on Investment). The faster you receive it, the greater potential you have of growing you business. The bottom line is if you don’t see yourself drawing a commission within 90 days of starting you business, then another caution flag should go up.

7. How fast and how often do they pay commissions?

A. Are checks distributed once a month, once a week, or once a day? Many years ago, MLM companies only cut checks at the end of the month. Today, that’s hardly acceptable. Today, money moves a lot quicker then it use to. And it has to in network marketing. Getting your commissions to you as quickly as possible is vital so that you will have money to sustain your business.

B. Are checks direct deposited? Point blank; this is a must.

8. Is there a real potential for override income?

A. If you are at least one level above your recruit, are you entitled to override income? Some companies expect you and your organization to produce a certain amount of volume, or meet certain monthly quotas, before you can receive override income from your downline. Generally, a good rule is to find a company that offers over-rides; if you recruit someone and they are at least one level below you, you should be entitled to overrides from them and their organization.

9. Is there potential for real residual income?

A. If your customer continues to buy the product or service, do you get monthly commissions? Residual income means you get paid, as long as the customer you introduced to the company, continues to purchase the service or products. This is a no-brainer and real way to build wealth in network marketing.

10. Is there real training?

A. When you join a MLM company, more than likely, they will encourage you to make your list by going after your warm market. Your warm market is your relatives, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. They will encourage you to have a home meeting, bring your guests to the weekly hotel meeting, or invite them on a conference call. That is all good for generating a quick return on your investment while you are learning the business. But what happens if and when the list drys up? What happens if the person who recruited you drops out of the business? Are your up-line folks accessible? Are there company sponsored training and events?

B. Is there training that teaches you how to really tap into 21st century internet marketing? Today the internet is the engine that drives network marketing. Billions of dollars are earned in network marketing utilizing the world wide web. When you decide on your business, make sure that your recruiter has a plan that will position you so that you will be noticed on-line. Make sure that it includes training that will teach you how to target your market and drive traffic to your website. This is the single most important lesson that you will have to learn to ensure you are successful with your new business.

So here you have it. The ten questions that must be asked to determine if the company your are interested in offers a legitimate home based business opportunity. You want a company that will assist you in laying the foundation for real success. If that company provides good, concrete answers to these questions, then it’s a good bet that going into business with them will be beneficial. Researching to find the right company and network marketing business to join could very well be the most rewarding time you will invest in your future.

How to Write a Business Plan for a Computer Repair Business

So, you have decided to open up a new computer repair business, but really are not sure how to proceed. If that is the case, below we are going to tell you everything that you need to do in order to not only make an educated business decision. But also, the steps you need to take to create a comprehensive business plans that will at the very least, provide you an excellent road map for your new venture.

There are many different kinds of formats used to create a business plan. In this example, we are going to assume that you will not need an outside financing source and that your computer repair business will only be a local operation, at least initially.

The concept behind a business plan is relatively simple to understand and execute. Essentially, you want to make sure that what you are thinking about opening is financially viable, and if so, then write down everything that you need to accomplish in order to turn your idea into a profitable endeavor. Below we are going to layout a traditional business plan and let you know precisely how to complete each section.

# 1 – Executive Summary – You really do not have to work on this section of the business plan if you do not planning on showing it to anybody, or you are not looking for investors or an outside financing source. That being said, if you are really serious about turning your new enterprise into a profitable going concern that has the ability to not only grow, but is also sustainable, you should sit down and spend a few hours writing out the executive summary.

The executive summary which is also sometimes called the management summary, goes at the very beginning of the report, but should only be written AFTER you have completed the entire business plan. Its intended purpose is to capture the reader’s attention, get them interested in the business, and briefly explain the concept and everything else that is contain in the report.

# 2 – Business Description – This is where the real work starts when you decide it is time to get serious, and begin writing out your business plan. What you want to try and do is to get all of you ideas down on paper so that you can refer back them in the future if you need to.

Please do not be concerned with you writing style at this point, but only the information. Later, after you are sure you have included everything that you want or need, you can go back and clean up the material. Below are some of the things that need to be discussed in this section.

A) Why you believe this is a good business to start.

B) What do you know about this type of business.

C) What skills are you bringing to the table.

D) What skills do you need to acquire.

E) Who is your market.

F) Why is there a need for the service or product you plan on supplying?

G) Why you believe that your business will be able to serve your market better than any of your competitors.

H) What will make your business standout from the competition.

Okay, you get the idea. Please do not limit yourself to the things we discussed above, but also include anything and everything else that you think could be important.

# 3 – Market Analysis – This might be the most important consideration for anybody that is thinking about opening up a new computer repair business. After all, if there are already 14 other similar companies competing in your neighborhood, it would probably be a good idea to think about doing something else.

In all seriousness, you really have to understand your competition at the highest level, know what their fees are, be familiar with the services they provide, and figure out a way to improve on everything that they do. If you are confident you can meet or exceed the stipulations mentioned above, then your new business just might have a chance of succeeding. Below you will find some of the areas you need to research and be familiar with.

A) Write down each and every store or standalone operation that you will be competing against.

B) Note each and every service that they provide.

C) Figure out exactly what they charge for each job.

D) Here is the tough one, ask yourself, now that I know everything about my competition, how am I going to everything they do, better and cheaper?

If you are able to answer that last question, and you are happy with the way you answered it, you just might have a real chance of making it.

# 4 – Organization and Management – More than likely when you first start your computer repair business, you are not going to have any employees. But, there are going to be certain jobs, like setting up a computer network for a large company that could require a little extra manpower. If so, have you thought about who you know that you can bring in at a moment’s notice that would be willing to work part-time.

Next, people that enjoy working on computers are usually very organized and hopefully you happen to be one of them. If not, it is really going to be very hard for you to run a company that is in an industry that is time sensitive. After all, when you tell somebody that you are going to arrive at their home or business at 4 pm, and you show up three hours later, do you really think that they are going to call you the next time they have a computer problem?

Another thing that you need to take into consideration in this section, is as your company grows and you acquire more and more customers, when do you hire another computer technician and who do you hire? Do your hire somebody that already has a great deal of experience and will demand a very high salary? Or, do you hire a novice that you can train that will be less expensive? Below are some of the things you are going to need to ask yourself in order to complete this section of the business plan.

A) Am I organized, and if not, how do I improve in this area?

B) Am I good at training people?

C) Do I have any friends that will part-time work?

D) Do I know how to delegate, or do I have to do everything myself, so that I know it was done correctly?

E) Can I accept other people’s shortcomings and help them improve in those areas?

F) Should I invest my capital in my staff and how much of an investment can I justify?

And, you thought it was going to be easy to open a small computer repair business. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it. If you are not prepared to at the very least to answer some of or all of the question in this section, starting your very own business just might not be a great career choice.

# 5 – Services and Products – This is an area that you really should not have too much trouble with. If you do, then you definitely should not be thinking about starting a computer repair business. In this section, you need to use the information you gathered about your competition and write down all the services or products you plan on promoting, as well as the fees you plan on charging for your services.

# 6 – Marketing, Advertising, and Sales – Computer geeks by their very nature are usually not outgoing people that make good salesman. That being said, your business needs customers and to get them you are going to have to think out of the box and come up with some creative ideas. We are going to provide you a few proven marketing and advertising techniques below, but you really need to figure out what your competition is doing in this area, and then either copy them or come up with better schemes.

A – Website – Of course you are going to have to build a website, after all, you are in the computer business. Hopefully, you know how to properly SEO your new site, if not, find somebody that does before you waste your time, effort, and money by creating a site that nobody is ever going to see.

The good thing about a computer repair businesses is that virtually every one of them is a local operation. That means that your competition on the internet for highly targeted traffic will not be that fierce. In other words, if you correctly onsite and offsite SEO your new website, there is a very good chance that it will move up the search engine rankings extremely quickly and you will get to Google’s first page, and just maybe, the top spot on that page in only a couple of months.

TIP # 1 – Remember this is a local business, and when you select your URL it is critical that you choose a local name. What we mean by that is, if the name of your new business is “Joe’s Computer Repairs”, that is not what you want to use for its URL. Instead, you want to use your towns name in the URL.

That means if you live in Dallas for example, you want your URL to be “DallasComputerRepair.com”. The reason you want to do this is very simple to understand, all of the search engines will move your site up their rankings whenever somebody in Dallas types in the search term “Computer Repair”.

TIP # 2 – For any new business, it is absolutely critical that when somebody does find your website, you get them to either give you a call or send you an email. To do this, you really have to offer a great deal that everybody who visits your site, is sure to see. A few examples you could use are the following.

I – Second repair visit FREE.

II – Half price on service calls for all new customers.

III – Free antivirus and malware software for all new customers on first service call.

B – Low Cost or Free Advertising – All new businesses have the same problem, which is they are not generating any cash. Thus, they cannot afford to spend too much on marketing or advertising. So, you have to find ways to promote your business that are either totally free, or cost very little. Below we are going to provide a few suggestions, but you know your local market far better than we ever could, and you need to come up with your own marketing ideas.

I – Craigslist’s – If you are not familiar with this site, it allows you to place classified ads for free, so use it. In addition, there are quite a few other sites that provide the same free service, so please find them, and use them.

II – Social Media – Almost everybody has heard of the following websites Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. These types of sites are called social media and they allow their users to interact with one another. If you were able to build up a strong local following on anyone of these sites, almost assuredly, your business would eventually turn into a huge success story.

111 – Flyers – Printing out 10,000 flyers is not that expensive and they can be a fantastic marketing tool. Not only can you hand them out in your neighborhood, you can also distribute them to the local businesses and put them up on bulletin boards at grocery stores.

IV – Neighborhood Newspapers – If you are fortunate enough to live in an area that receives a free neighborhood newspaper delivered to your door each week, you might want to think about advertising in it. Their advertising fees are very reasonable, and your ads just might be able to generate enough leads to get your new business off the ground.

It really does not matter if you are the very best computer repair engineer in the world, if nobody knows about you, your business will surely fail. In reality, this might be the most important section in your business plan, because if you do not develop a marketing and advertising program that is going to work in your local market, almost assuredly your new business will not be around for more than a year, if that long.

# 7 – Financial Projections – The great thing about starting a computer repair business, is that in most cases, you will not have to spend a great deal of money to get it up and running. You do not have to rent a store, more than likely you already have a car, computer, and some, if not most of the software that you need. In addition, you do not have to put anybody on the payroll right away. So, other than your advertising expense, you really do not have any cash flowing out of the business.

The most important thing for you to note in the financial projection section of your business plan are the capital expenditures you need to make to open the business. These could include but are not limited to a new laptop computer, more software, a better cell phone plan, and your advertising expenses.

As for your income projections, you should definitely set goals for yourself using realistic figures. After all, you do not want to set your goals so high, that you later become discouraged when you don’t achieve them, and you do not want to set them so low, so as to not challenged yourself.

Conclusion

For the most part, the people that do well in business not only had a great idea to start with, but were also committed to their company and were willing to put in the time and effort that was required to make their firm a success. Working for yourself requires far more determination and discipline than just about anything else you can do in life.

That being said, starting a new computer repair business is not without its risks. But, then again, it is not without its rewards either. If you feel the time is right and you have all the skills that are required to run this type of business, then why not go for it? After all, what is the worst that can happen; you lose a little bit of time and money, and end up having to get a job working for somebody else if your business does not make it.