PPP Loan Forgiveness Misconceptions
The do's and don'ts of PPP loan forgiveness.
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The covid-19 pandemic hasn’t been easy on anyone, including business owners. According to data released by the government about the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP loan), more than half of the funds were allocated to just 5% of businesses that applied for the aid.
Additionally, just 28% of the money was provided in amounts less than $150,000. Whether you are a business owner who received a PPP loan or not, you’ve probably contemplated various PPP loan forgiveness misconceptions. If you were denied the loan, you may have applied for bridge loans or alternative funding instead. If you received the loan, you could be concerned about how much of it will actually be forgiven.
We’ve compiled a list of common myths surrounding the PPP loan so that we can debunk them and clarify the situation. You’ll also find some other funding methods that could help keep your business afloat during these difficult times.
What is a PPP Loan?
In 2020, Congress introduced the Paycheck Protection Program, which provides forgivable loans aimed to help businesses cover operating expenses and maintain payroll. Small businesses with 500 employees or less were eligible to apply, along with sole proprietorships, independent contractors and the self-employed.
On January 11, 2021, businesses could apply for a second round of PPP funds. However, only businesses with less than 300 employees are eligible to apply. They must also prove that they’ve experienced a 25% reduction in gross receipts compared to the same period in 2019.
Debunking PPP Loan Myths
There has been a lot of changes to the program since it first was released, which has led to some widespread confusion about who is eligible and what the loan really offers.
Let’s review some common myths, so you can know the facts:
- Need employees to receive: If your business is registered as an S corp or C corp, then yes, you would have to have proof of payroll to receive this type of funding. However, self-employed individuals that are documented as such, or are designated as sole proprietors or independent contractors, are also eligible for aid.
- It’s a low-interest loan: The PPP loan comes with strict designations as to what it should be used for. The goal of the program is to make it possible for businesses to retain employees and continue covering payroll. It was not meant to be used as working capital. However, if you’re looking for a way to obtain capital that can be used for any purpose, then consider a small business loan or merchant cash advance.
- It’s for businesses going bankrupt: Your business does not have to be on the brink of bankruptcy to receive assistance. It simply requires that you show proof that your business has been affected negatively because of the pandemic.
PPP Loan Forgiveness Requirements
According the the SBA, PPP borrowers can have their loan fully forgiven if and only if the funds were used to cover:
- Payroll costs
- Mortgage interest
- Rent and utilities
Once the loan is funded, the clock for forgiveness is turned on, It began at eight weeks and was later extended to be 24 weeks. If a business fails to adhere to the forgiveness conditions, then the loan will have to be paid back to the bank. Here are the details straight from the SBA.
Loan Forgiveness Misconceptions
Despite the fact that the SBA has outlined its forgiveness conditions, there are still some misconceptions, including:
- It’s all or nothing: Although it’s optimal for the full loan amount to be forgiven, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. In fact, it can be reduced in degrees, depending on how you’ve used the funds. If you’ve spent more than 25% of your loan amount on non-payroll expenses, then the maximum forgivable amount will be your payroll costs divided by .75. Additionally, the total forgivable amount is in proportion to your reduction in headcount, or decreased by the total amount you reduced an employee’s wage by if it was more than a 25% reduction.
- Documentation doesn’t matter: For everything that you use your loan funds to cover, be sure to retain documentation. You’ll have to provide this information to your loan provider to be eligible for forgiveness. If you’re a sole proprietor, then you wouldn’t have used the funds for payroll. You are allowed to use it to replace lost income for up to $100,000 annualized.
- SBA calls the shots: While the SBA does oversee the program, the funds still come from a lender. As such, each lender may have their own requirements, so it’s important you cover all the bases and ask questions to understand loan forgiveness.
Bridge Loans and Alternative Funding Options
Since many small businesses were denied a PPP loan, and some won’t be eligible for the more recent round, it’s useful to know about other financing options.
A bridge loan is a short-term loan that can be used until you can find secure and more permanent funding. Bridge loans can provide you with immediate cash flow, but you’ll likely face high interest rates and have to provide a form of collateral (possibly real estate or inventory).
Furthermore, if you’re a retail business or a business with credit card transactions as sales, then consider a merchant cash advance. A merchant cash advance is not technically considered to be a loan. Instead, you’re selling future sales to a lender like Uplyft Capital today so you can have quick access to cash. Over time, you’ll pay back the sum as a portion of your sales.
The Paycheck Protection Program has always been intended to help businesses cover payroll costs and keep their employee head count the same despite the hurdles posed by the pandemic. Yet, many large businesses received the aid. And so, the government created another round of funds that more strictly stipulates its intention for small businesses.
Even so, many small businesses were unable to receive funding and are still seeking financial aid. Consider alternative funding methods like small business loans, bridge loans and merchant cash advances to achieve relief.
Reverse Consolidation: What Is it and How Does It Work?
Here's how a reverse consolidation could work for you.
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At some point or other, your business is likely to rely on a form of debt financing, or borrowing capital. Merchant cash advances provide a quick and easy way to almost immediately receive funds. To help pay back a merchant cash advance, some business owners look to use a reverse consolidation. If you have already used or are considering using a merchant cash advance for business funding, then it’s a good idea to understand what a reverse consolidation is and how it works.
Let’s jump into it!
What is a Merchant Cash Advance?
A merchant cash advance, or business cash advance, is a type of business financing method that is given to businesses to increase its working capital. They tend to be used in the short-term and are a great funding method for small and medium sized businesses that are getting started. Small companies tend to face hurdles when attempting to be approved for a loan, so a merchant cash advance can serve as a saving grace.
A merchant cash advance is typically a loan with a term that ranges between 2-24 months. The most popular term for a merchant cash advance is one year long. The financier then receives repayment for the loan by pulling payments from the business’ account through an automatic clearing house (ACH) or from the merchant account revenue.
What is Reverse Consolidation?
There are various types of consolidations for businesses who have taken out a merchant cash advance. Some of these include: factoring of business’ accounts receivable, alternative cash advance consolidation, and commercial real estate consolidation. But here, we will focus on a reverse consolidation and what it is.
A reverse consolidation means that a reverse consolidation funder will provide the business with a loan in exchange of taking on the daily or weekly payments incurred from the merchant cash advance. By doing so, the business is granted an extension on their repayment term. So, the business will pay back the reverse consolidation financier a portion of what it was paying the cash advance lender, but now, for a longer amount of time.
How Does Reverse Consolidation Work?
By extending the loan repayment term, a reverse consolidation lender provides a business with more breathing room. This is especially useful if cash flow is tight or credit sales aren’t performing as well as expected. By taking out a reverse consolidation, it can typically lower payments by 40% to 60%.
This means there’s higher net cash within the business because of the lower payments. It’s also a good way to consolidate multiple cash advances. The easiest way to think of a reverse consolidation on a merchant cash advance is that it turns the loan into a larger loan with a longer repayment period with small repayment amounts.
Reverse Consolidations Vs. Regular Consolidation
Both reverse consolidation and regular consolidation are used as methods to help pay back a merchant cash advance, but they differ in a major way.
A reverse consolidation continues to pay back the MCA lender, it’s just with funds from the reverse consolidation lender. On the other hand, a regular consolidation loan will give your business the funds to pay back your existing loans at once. Then, you have a new loan term with the consolidation lender instead of the MCA financier.
Benefits of Reverse Consolidation
Small businesses that are facing trouble paying back their MCA loans will look to a reverse consolidation lender for assistance. There are several benefits that come along with a reverse consolidation, like:
- Reduce weekly payments: The reverse consolidation lowers the weekly repayment that a business owes as the reverse consolidation lender takes on the debt to pay back the MCA lender.
- More access to cash: If a business has multiple MCAs to pay back on a daily or weekly basis, then it can become strapped for cash. Since the reverse consolidation lender will infuse the funds to pay back MCA lenders, the business is able to have more cash on hand. It will turn the multiple repayments owed into one sum that will then be owed back to the reverse consolidation lender.
- Bridge for better options: As a business with multiple MCA loans and debt stacking, it could be hard to obtain a traditional loan like a SBA loan. The high interest rates and short repayment terms become hard to keep up with. But, with the reverse consolidation options, businesses have an opportunity to receive more capital funding for the time being until the situation evolves and they can qualify for betting financing options.
Challenges of Reverse Consolidation
While a reverse consolidation may be a necessary and welcomed option, it doesn’t exist without its share of drawbacks. These downsides include:
- Not reducing debt in the short-term: Even though a reverse consolidation removes the burden on the business to pay back the MCA loan, it doesn’t reduce debt. In fact, it may end up increasing overall debt.
- Loan terms are long: Naturally, the smaller repayments owed at a time will result in a longer loan term. This is important to keep in mind in the event you’ll want to take out more loans in the future.
- Owe more money: The aid of the reverse consolidation lender comes at its own price. So, you can end up owing more money than what you had initially sought to borrow.
The Bottom Line
A merchant cash advance is a really useful tool for many types of businesses. For businesses with bad credit or businesses seeking cash quickly, a merchant cash advance can be the perfect solution. However, some businesses will find it hard to pay back merchant cash advances on a daily or weekly basis depending on their credit card sales.
If this happens, then it may be worthwhile to consider taking out a reverse consolidation loan, which will make the MCA repayments for you. In turn, you will extend your loan terms and make smaller, but overall more repayments directly back to the reverse consolidation lender.
Looking for a merchant cash advance provider? Look no further! Explore our programs.
Principles of Building Business Credit
Learn why your business credit matters.
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Any business with the goal to expand should focus on building business credit from the get go. Even if you’re not ready to apply for business funding today, the time will likely come in the future. To qualify for business funding and manage your working capital, it’s important to build your business credit. There are several steps you can take to do so, no matter where your business is currently at in regard to its finances.
Here, we will break down the definition of business credit and share some ways to build business credit. This way, you can properly assess your working capital.
What is Business Credit?
Business credit is a measurement tool that is used to qualify businesses for financing methods. In the same way that people have credit scores, businesses too have their own credit history and credit score. Business credit bureaus like Equifax, Dun & Bradstreet and Experian keep track of a business’ debt records.
This credit report is likely to be used by creditors, lenders, suppliers and insurance companies when they need to evaluate your creditworthiness to approve or deny applications and deals.
How to Build Business Credit
While there are ways to access business loans for bad credit, it’s less than optimal. Instead, you can follow these recommendations to build your business credit along your journey.
Some of these tips can be performed from the outset of starting your business. Others may happen over time. Either way, if you consistently take care of the following, your business credit will grow.
- Become known: Once you start doing business, you need to let people know about it. We aren’t just talking about marketing and making sales. It’s important that you start to use your business name and establish its reputation. For starters, list your business phone number in a directory. Open a bank account in your legal business name.
- Separate expenses: Piggybacking on the previous point, use your business bank account and personal bank account accordingly. Separate the two and keep your business expenses and transactions solely within your business’ bank account. This one step will help overcome many hurdles, like dealing with taxes and monitoring your business expenses. It’s also a good idea to separate personal and business accounts because if anything is legally to happen to your business (like being sued), then your personal finances won’t be put at risk.
- Build good relationships: Some vendors and suppliers report to credit bureaus, others don’t. If it’s possible to do so within your industry, try to establish some relationships with vendors who do report to the bureaus. This way, you can build your reputation as paying bills on time and boost your credit history. For the vendors who do report to the bureaus, try to set up payment terms based on extending a line of credit. This way, you pay invoices on net-30 or net-60 terms and prove your creditworthiness (trust that you will pay what you owe).
- Pay on time: Never miss a deadline to pay a vendor or bill. The detriments extend further than having to pay interest. It also will tarnish your credit score and go against the grain in your endeavor to build good business credit. What’s more is that if you are able to pay early, you can even get some extra brownie points and potentially fast track building desirable business credit.
- Open a business credit card: Business credit cards will report to the credit bureau, so it’s worthwhile to open one or maybe a few. Just know that if you cancel a credit card, it doesn’t work in your favor. So, start with one and pay bills on time, or even early. Be sure not to overextend business lines of credit. Only use as much as you know you can pay back. A good rule of thumb is to try and only use less than 30% of available credit.
- Incorporate your business: Consider establishing your business as an LLC (limited liability corporation) or incorporating your business (Inc.). Just like separating your bank accounts, this aids in removing liability on your person as to being held responsible for the business should you ever face legal ramifications.
- Get an EIN: An Employee Identification Number (EIN) is like a social security number for your business. It’s your federal tax ID and it’ll come in handy when opening business credit cards, business bank accounts and incorporating your entity.
- Monitor your credit: Credit reports can be faulty. It’s up to you to monitor your credit history that’s stored with the aforementioned credit bureaus to remedy any issues that may come up. If you do happen to come across a mistake, be sure to notify the credit bureau and have it fixed.
- Use credit to assess cash flow: With good credit, you may qualify for lower interest rates when agreeing to business financing. This helps manage cash flow. It’s always best to seek business funding with the lowest interest rates that you qualify for because the interest rate is the cost of borrowing the money. With a credit card, you can leverage the grace period before interest rates accrue whereas lines of credit won’t offer that same perk.
Benefits of Good Business Credit
We’ve touched on some of the benefits of having good business credit already. But, to make sure it’s extra clear, here’s why it’s so important:
- Access to working capital: With good credit, you will automatically expand your options as to what kind of business financing you qualify for. Of course, there are business loans for bad credit or alternative methods of funding like merchant cash advances which won’t hold your credit against you. However, it’s always optimal to have broader options when it comes to financing.
- Lower interest rates: Business loans will assess your credit score to extend loans. The better score you have, the higher likelihood you possess to get loans with lower interest rates. This is because you present less of a risk of defaulting (not paying back loans) to the lenders.
- Better terms: Vendors obviously prefer to supply goods to businesses they can trust will pay them. With good credit, you can set up preferable trade terms with your vendors and suppliers.
Building business credit is a great approach to expand your access to business funding options. The type and amount of debt you take on affects your working capital, so it’s the best case scenario not to carry debt.
With good business credit, you will be able to secure the best loan terms and deals possible as your business will be considered trustworthy since you’ve built a history of paying what you owe.
Denied a PPP Loan? Here’s What You Can Do
A look at various business funding options.
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PPP loans were issued to help keep small businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. As a form of unsecured finance, PPP loans were granted to qualifying businesses to help them continue to pay their employees, amongst other costs.There were strict eligibility requirements, as well as conditions as to what the loan had to be used to cover.
The Paycheck Protection Program is now on its second round of funding for eligible businesses. However, some business owners may have already been declined a PPP loan. If you applied, but received a denial, you may be wondering why. You may also be looking for alternative forms of business funding. On the upside, there are many other options you have available to your business (keep reading for more on these)!
We’re here to tell you everything you need to know after being denied a PPP loan. We will share some common funding methods so you can easily assess your alternative business funding options.
How to Know if Your PPP Application Was Denied
If your loan was denied, you’ll likely have received notice directly from the lender, rather than the SBA. It’s possible they won’t give a reason for your denial. There are some common reasons for denial, such as: a mistake in the application, your business doesn’t qualify for the loan or you have previously defaulted on a SBA loan. If you received a rejection without reason, you should try to contact the lender directly to find out why.
Alternatives to the PPP Loan
There are a few other kinds of loans that you can apply for in lieu of receiving a PPP loan.
The SBA has many other types of loans available for small businesses facing financial hardship and economic uncertainty. Here are a few options:
- SBA Express Bridge Loan: If you are a small business that has already established a relationship with an SBA Express Lender, you may be able to access up to $25,000 fast. An SBA Express Bridge Loan is meant to overcome a temporary loss of revenue to then apply for a SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
- SBA Debt Relief: Debt relief is granted to business owners who currently hold a SBA 7(a), 504 or Microloan, or those who took out loans from these programs before September 27,2020. The SBA will pay 6 months of principle, interest and fees associated with these loans.
- Employee retention tax credit: It’s possible that you can qualify for a refundable payroll tax credit for up to 50% of wages paid to every employee until December 31, 2020. Sole proprietors are eligible too.
- Pandemic emergency unemployment assistance: If you are a sole proprietor, independent contractor or self-employed, then you can apply for unemployment for up to 39 weeks.
Additional Business Funding Options
Whether you’ve been denied a PPP loan or are looking for unsecured financing options for your small business, you have a lot of routes to consider.
Let’s take a look at some popular business funding options that can provide you access to capital quickly:
- Business line of credit: A business line of credit offers you with flexibility to spend when you need to on credit. Much like a personal credit card works, a business line of credit means that you won’t have to apply for a lump sum of capital. Instead, you can borrow on credit up to the limit. Businesses tend to use a line of credit to expand payroll or cover operational expenses, among other reasons.
- Online term loans: An online term loan can loan you $5,000-$500,000. The interest rates tend to stand at 7-99% APR. On the upside, the turnaround time is very fast, taking just about a day. However, they have short repayment terms and may require daily or weekly repayment.
- Invoice factoring: As another form of unsecured finance (meaning you don’t need to put up collateral), you can leverage invoice factoring. Your future accounts receivable stand in as collateral. In this instance, your credit score is unlikely to impact your ability to use this method. Instead, your past sales and accounts receivable are a better indicator for approval.
- Merchant cash advance: Perhaps you applied for a PPP loan or any other kind of traditional loan, but you keep being denied. This could be because your credit score isn’t high enough, or your business doesn’t have enough history. As a solution, you can apply for a merchant cash advance, and receive a quick lump sum of cash fast for your financing needs.
- Crowdfunding: If you’re looking for ways to avoid borrowing money and having to pay it back, then consider crowdfunding. Crowdfunding pulls together money from various individuals, but it takes selling power to get buy-in for your idea or product. In exchange, you may provide the donors with product, services or equity for their investment.
- Equipment Financing: Unlike the main purpose of the PPP loan (which was to protect employees and cover payroll), you may need money to buy new equipment for your business. IN this case, the unsecured finance method of applying for an equipment loan could be your best bet. Equipment financing offers you a loan to cover the costs of buying new equipment. The new equipment serves as collateral should you default on paying back the loan and interest.
Business Funding Made Easy
Having the ability to access business funding quickly can greatly impact your success. Although many business owners were denied PPP loans, there are other SBA options to aid business owners facing the negative effects of COVID-19.
Additionally, alternative sources of unsecured finance like merchant cash advances or online term loans exist to meet the needs of small business owners.
10 Ways to Increase Sales Online
Cost effective methods to boost online sales.
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Did you know that there are more than 20 million ecommerce sites?
The world of online retail is extremely competitive. As a business owner of an ecommerce website, there are many things, both big and small, that can help you gain a competitive edge and boost your sales.
Depending on where you are in your business cycle, you may need to rely on financing methods like taking out a short term business loan to fund your efforts. Or, if you have enough cash flow, then you can reinvest into your business to increase profit.
We will break down 10 useful, tried and true optimization tips to boost your online sales. Then, we will get into various financing methods should you need some quick cash fast.
10 Optimization Tips to Boost Your Sales
- Optimize your site: Website optimization happens in several ways. For starters, it’s been shown that over 30% of website visitors will exit your website if it doesn’t load within 3 seconds. Some estimates even peg that for every 100ms delay in a site loading, 1% of customers will drop off. This proves how important it is to have a site that loads quickly. While there are different methods to increase site speed, one of the first things to do is to optimize site images to be small enough so they won’t delay loading the page. Beyond optimizing site speed, you’ll want to make sure that your website is responsive. This means that it can be viewed across different screen sizes, from desktops to laptops and tablets to mobile devices. You can accomplish this by testing across different device types like Android and iOs, as well as screen sizes.
- Boost SEO: You’ve probably heard about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) before. Most people have, but many don’t become experts in the field. That being said, it’s good to know some basics. SEO is a ranking system by which search engines like Google notice your site and return it in the results when someone performs a search. It’s based off of an evolving algorithm, which is impacted by keywords and more. To boost your SEO, you can hire SEO or content creation experts, but you can also start with small things like making sure all your website pages have a meta description. You also want to make sure that your content is of high quality and actually represents what your business provides.
- Use social media: Whether you have funding or not, social media is a great way to build your brand awareness and communicate with customers. Social media also helps to add to your credibility and allows people to easily refer you to friends through word of mouth advertising and tagging your business pages. It’s recommended to remain active across social media platforms, so a good place to start is with a Facebook Business Page, Instagram Business Account and Twitter for Business.
- Free shipping: Free shipping falls into a choice your business can make within its pricing structure. There’s a psychological factor associated with receiving free shipping. It’s a big part of the appeal for why people are willing to pay for Amazon Prime. Even if the price is baked into the cost of the good or equal to a percentage off, more often than not, people will be more willing to buy from a business that offers free shipping. This can also play as a competitive advantage for your ecommerce site to help beat out your competition.
- Tailor CTAs: A CTA stands for call-to-action, and it’s a direction to a consumer to take a step or action. For example, this would be a button that reads, “Buy Now.” If you can customize your CTAs to speak directly to the person reading it, you can boost your conversion rates. While this doesn’t necessarily mean every single person receives a different CTA, it means that you can group people within categories in the sales funnel. This means that visitors, leads and customers all receive tailored messaging.
- Declutter site navigation: You’ll want to lead your website visitors to take the action you desire, like for them to add an item to cart. To do this, your website design plays a crucial way in the way they navigate the site. One thing to look out for is a cluttered page or navigation menu. Rather than overdoing the site navigation, be sure it’s an easy-to-use way-finding tool. This way, customers will be led to exactly where you’d like them to go.
- Trust data: In today’s business world, data exists at every turn. But, data is only as powerful as what you choose to do with it. Be sure to set up website analytics by using a tool like Google Analytics. You can better understand how visitors get to your site, what they do on the site, and how long they spend on each page. With this type of information, you can glean insights to make the user experience better to convert sales.
- Ask for feedback: One of the most important aspects of business is satisfying your customers! While every business owner knows this, they don’t all spend time listening to their customers. Solicit feedback from your customers via surveys, phone calls, emails or whatever method makes sense for your business. Many businesses will offer incentives like a discount code for their next purchase if a customer fills out a survey. This is a win-win as you boost customer retention, make a sale, and can use the feedback to make the customer experience even better for your prospective clientele.
- Email marketing: Email marketing can start as soon as you have a potential customer’s email, or a lead. Then, you can increase your email marketing efforts by segmenting your audience into their respective place in the sales funnel. According to Hubspot, marketers who segment their audience notice as much as a 760% increase in revenue. Part of this is playing into the tailored CTAs tip from above. You get to speak directly to your audience and offer solutions to their respective needs through segmentation.
- Partnerships: If you’re just getting started or rapidly growing your online presence, consider forming a partnership with a better known brand. With a partnership, you can easily expand your reach and increase brand awareness at a lower cost than other marketing efforts. Both businesses can form a symbiotic relationship. These kinds of partnerships make the most sense when your business offering complements that of another. Consider an athletic clothing company partnering with a gym or an outdoor adventure company, for example.
Finding Financing for Your Online Business
As an online business owner, you may find yourself in need of quick cash to finance your business costs. While traditional bank loans are an option, many new businesses won’t qualify because of the strict requirements. However, there are alternative forms of funding like taking out a short term business loan to get the capital you need to increase your sales.
What is a Short Term Business Loan?
A short term business loan is a type of loan that supports a temporary business capital need. Many businesses who aren’t approved for lines of credit will look to short term business loans. This attractive funding option tends to have a lower credit limit than a business line of credit, but they also provide businesses with funding fast.
They get their name from the repayment structure, which tends to be short term. Rather than paying back monthly or yearly, short term loans are often repaid on a daily or weekly term. It’s important to look at the annual percentage rate (APR) which affects how much you’ll owe back on what you borrow.
Quick Facts: Short Term Loans
- Loan amount: Most short term loans are for the amounts of $5,000 to $300,000 because they are meant to cover short term needs.
- Repayment: Short term loans tend to be paid back in 6 to 18 months. This could be considered a good thing because you won’t carry debt for long, or it could be a downside as you’ll have to secure the money to pay back the loan quickly.
- Eligibility: On the upside, the eligibility requirements are much more lenient when it comes to short term loans versus traditional bank loans. This is why it’s such a great option for many new businesses. The approval and funding time is also much more fast than traditional loans.
Types of Short Term business loans
There are a variety of different types of short term business loans, including:
- Term loans
- Invoice financing
- Customer advances
- Payday loans
- Lines of credit
- Business credit cards
At Uplyft Capital, our focus is on merchant cash advances, a type of short term business loan that can provide you with approval and funding in less than a day. A merchant cash advance’s repayment structure is based on your business’ credit and debit card sales over a period of time. This means, you borrow money and then pay it back with a percentage of credit and debit card sales. It’s a great source of funding for businesses who need cash fast, have steady sales and are looking for alternatives to traditional loans.
Ecommerce businesses have skyrocketed over the years. New ecommerce sites make their way into the digital world on a daily basis. These digital storefronts have a grand opportunity to boost their sales with a variety of approaches and actions. For many, this will require some upfront capital for their short-term needs. That’s where a short-term business loan like a merchant cash advance can come into handy!
Once you devise the strategy by which you will grow your online sales, you can estimate your need for capital (if cash flow can’t cover the costs). Then, you have the option to apply for any type of short term business loan you wish to finance your expansion!
5 Ways to Grow a Profitable Small Business
Want to make more money for your small business—who doesn't?
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There are many ways to boost your bottom line.
From focusing on maximizing sales to minimizing costs, there are various methods you can try to find what works to fuel your growth the fastest. Depending on your strategy and goals, you’ll require different funding requirements and methods by which you can attain the capital.
Some business owners may opt for a short term business loan. Short-term business loans are a capital funding method used for a business needs like working capital, buying equipment or expanding. If you’ve been denied business loans because of your credit history and financial status, you need to know that there are ways to find funding through business loans for bad credit.
Before we jump into the logistics, let’s take a look at some of the most common ways by which small businesses can transform into profitable powerhouses.
5 Tips to Grow Your Small Business
- Retain existing customers: You’ve probably heard this one before, but it costs 5x more to attain a new customer than retain an existing customer. That’s why it’s so important and vital to your business’ growth to take care of the customers who already support you. In action, this means that you will want to invest marketing dollars and strategy toward engaging with customers who have already purchased from you. Whether this is by sending emails about new products or updates, offering incentives and promotions, giving them gifts, building a rewards program or asking for feedback, you can leverage a variety of methods to help satisfy current customers.
- Cash flow is king: While funding methods are helpful, you will still be paying a price of carrying interest. One of the best ways to reduce your interest, or the cost of money you borrow, is to borrow less. But, to do so, you’ll have to have a strong cash flow. Some ways to increase cash flow are: set up retainers, shorten your payment terms, or expand payment options to ACH or mobile payments to get paid more quickly.
- Create a referral process: Happy customers like to spread the good news about your business. When you are able to satisfy your customers, then they will tell their friends about the good experience. In fact, 83% of people trust recommendations that come from those they know. One of easiest ways to get people to want to refer others to your business is with an incentive or reward for doing so.
- Trust your timing: As you grow your business, you’ll need to hire employees. For every employee, there is a cost greater than just their salary to onboard them and bring them up to speed. That’s why it’s crucial that you trust your timing of when you hire new employees. The upfront cost will need to be made possible with either increased production/sales or business funding, like a short-term business loan.
- Optimize operating procedures: The ultimate road to efficiency is paved by lowering expenses and boosting profits. One way to increase profits is to try cross-selling and upselling products. At the same time, you should look to reduce expenses by investing in automation tools, clearly outlining processes for efficiency, and consider using part-time contractors over full-time employees until your finances are in good standing.
Have Bad Credit? Business Funding Options Still Exist
Options for business funding are plenty. If you have bad credit, then you may need to consider business loans for bad credit or short term business loans.
- Alternative lenders: Traditional lenders are institutions like banks. Many small businesses, especially those with bad credits, will be denied loans from banks. One of the next places they can look for financing is to alternative lenders. Alternative lenders have less strict requirements for loan approvals as compared to banks. They generally work by reviewing an application, approving it and supplying funding shortly thereafter. When banks dole out loans, they often ask for collateral in exchange to secure that even if they are not paid back in cash, they will be able to access assets, like real estate or equipment. Alternative lenders often disregard collateral and base their lending decision on the business’ creditworthiness.
- Co-signer: A co-signer is another party that accepts partial financial responsibility for any contracts signed. You can increase the odds of receiving a business loan with bad credit when you have the aid of a co-signer.
- Credit unions: Credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that look for ways to help their community prosper. That’s why they are likely to provide small loans to local businesses.
- Merchant cash advance: At Uplyft Capital, our mission is to provide small business owners with bad credit a clear and simple way to receive quick business funding. By filling out an application with some background information and telling us about your needs, you can be approved in the same day for capital financing. In exchange, you’ll pay back the capital over time through a portion of credit card sales. The amount you pay back can be proportional to you credit card sales, which will protect you in the event of a slow month of sales.
Growing a profitable small business won’t happen overnight. It’s useful to conduct research in your respective industry to figure out customer demand. Based on needs and funding options, you can outline a plan to run your business efficiently. This way, you can satisfy customers while maximizing profits and minimizing your costs.
The aforementioned strategies are just a few ways that small businesses can boost their bottom line. It could require a short-term business loan, an alternative funding method, or finding business loans for bad credit to make your dreams a reality.
Financial Leverage for E-commerce
Learn about the ins-and-outs of financial leverage for your online business.
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It’s estimated that 12-24 million ecommerce sites exist. With each day, new sites are added into the world. As with any type of business, having finances in order is key for growth and survival. Whether your financial leverage comes in a line of credit, loan, merchant cash advance or another form of funding, your ecommerce business will need it to make it.
Here, we will look at what financial leverage means in business, how it works, and your funding options for running an ecommerce business.
What is Financial Leverage?
When it comes to business, leverage can be defined as “using borrowed capital as a funding source” to expand assets. Since you’re borrowing money, or using debt, to finance assets with potential returns, it’s an investment strategy. The hope is that the benefits will eventually outweigh the costs. So, you’ll be able to pay back the debt, plus any interest, and gain profits.
As with any type of financing, there are both upsides and downsides. The benefits of using financial leverage like a line of credit, for example, include:
- Increasing available funds
- Boost credit
- Improve company growth
- Help promote potential acquisitions
- Grow profits
If your company is considered to be “highly leveraged,” then it means that most of the capital is in the form of debt. That comes with its own sets of risks, and we will get to that shortly.
How Financial Leverage Works
Financial leverage can be translated into a nominal amount by looking at a business’ financial statements. This will help you find out how much of the business is based in debt, or leveraged.
For starters, the main financial leverage formula to consider is:
Total Debt + Shareholder’s Equity = Financial Leverage Ratio
Shareholder’s equity can be calculated by taking the current number of outstanding shares multiplied by the current stock price. This will show you how much of your business is owed to others and not your own.
By looking at financial statements like a balance sheet, income statement or cash flow statement, you can also learn more about financial leverage with these formulas:
- Debt-to-assets ratio = total debt/total assets
- Debt-to-capital ratio = total debt / (total debt + total equity)
- Asset-to-equity ratio = total assets / total equity
- Debt-to-equity ratio = total debt / total assets
In these formulas, if you are running a retail ecommerce business and take out a line of credit, then that amount of credit becomes considered debt. It’s money you’re borrowing to buy assets, or equity. In this example, you may use this line of credit to purchase inventory, and inventory will translate to sales. Inventory is considered a current asset because it can be converted into cash within one year or less, if all goes well!
Risks of Financial Leverage
It’s easy to see from the above example that financial leverage is inherently taking on a risk. If you buy all that inventory on debt and cannot make sales, then you owe money and are not bringing in cash flow. That’s just one type of risk associated with financial leverage.
Financial leverage will also affect current and future cash flow. You’ll have to consider how much money you owe back on the borrowed principal amount as well as interest owed. Furthermore, your financial projections need to take into account financial leverage.
Depending on what you’re using the debt to purchase in forms of assets, there’s other risks like market risk, economic risk or the risk of natural disasters. If you use debt to purchase real estate and the values drop or a hurricane wipes out the building, then you’ve lost on your investment.
Know Your Options: Funding for Ecommerce
Whether you have brick-and-mortar location(s) or are solely running an online store, the explosion of ecommerce has ushered in the need for ecommerce funding. The good news is that since it’s such a popular business venture, there are many options to provide you with financial leverage.
- Bank loans: Bank loans are often one of the first places businesses look to for financing. However, when it comes to bank loans, there are many criteria your business will have to meet to be approved. This could make it somewhat challenging to get a small business loan from a bank if you’re a new business with little financial history, or if you have bad credit, to name a few hurdles. If that’s the case, then your next best bet is to focus on lines of credit.
- Business line of credit: If you have incremental business expenses, then a business line of credit could be what you need. A line of credit is a mix between a loan and a credit card which gives you a pre-approved amount of money that you can borrow. You’ll only pay interest on the amount you take. In most cases, a business line of credit will offer you with a bigger borrowing limit at a lower interest rate.
- Credit card: Like a personal credit card, a business credit card will lend you money and you’ll be expected to pay your credit card bill each month. In some instances, a business credit card can also serve like a loan where you may qualify for 0% intro APR (borrow without paying interest for a specified time period). As you use your credit card, you’re building your credit score, so it can be a win-win if you are starting up and able to pay your bills.
- SBA loan: An SBA loan is guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration. These loans are a great resource for businesses that qualify. But, to qualify, you will have to be somewhat established as the approval is stringent. In this case, an intermediary lender provides your business with the funds, but the SBA backs a certain amount, so that your repayment terms could work out to be better than bank loans.
- Inventory financing: For ecommerce businesses undergoing unexpected growth, invoice (purchase order) financing means that a lender will be willing to pay your supplier or manufacturer for you. In return, you pay back the lender, plus interest. This helps ecommerce businesses get inventory or products to their customers sooner than they would otherwise be able to afford to do. It’s beneficial to attract and retain new customers as your business’ brand awareness takes off.
- Merchant cash advance: If you expect to receive a steady inflow of credit card transactions in your ecommerce business, a merchant cash advance can be one of the easiest methods for quick financing. You simply fill out an online application and can be approved practically immediately to receive funds. In return, a defined portion of your future credit card sales will be used to pay back the borrowed money.
- Venture capital: Say your ecommerce business is rapidly expanding and in need of hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. Venture capital brings together investors that give you money upfront in exchange for equity in your business. Finding investors isn’t an easy path as you’ll have to prove the value of your business through a solid business plan and proof of concept.
Wrap Up: Financial Leverage and Ecommerce
Ecommerce businesses often rely on financial leverage because of the nature of the business. Whether you need a line of credit or quick cash to buy inventory, equipment, pay for warehousing or operational costs, etc., you will take on debt to grow.
Ecommerce is a quick-paced platform that requires you to provide value consistently to your customer. Since the internet moves so fast, you can set yourself apart by being prepared for whatever is to come. This will mean being able to get cash fast to meet spikes in demand and changing customer spending habits, so financial leverage is a concept you’ll want to know well.
Top Reasons Why Small Businesses Fail
The business world can feel like the Hunger Games.
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As small businesses enter respective markets, their first goal is to survive. The truth is that many won’t make it. However, from the massive amounts of businesses that don’t keep their doors open for very long, there have been a lot of lessons to learn from to become one of the ones that do.
According to the Small Business Administration, two thirds of businesses that have employees will survive at least two years. Only about half make it to lasting longer than five years. Within the first year alone, 20% of businesses have to call it quits.
No matter the industry you’re entering, as a small business, you will have an uphill battle to protect against your fragility. We aren’t here to scare you out of trying. In fact, we want you to finish reading this article, equipped with the knowledge and power to be one of the businesses that defy the odds.
Reasons For Failure
- Poor Management: No matter how many people make up your leadership team (at this stage, it could just be you), it has to be buttoned up. This means that decision-making happens in a timely manner, there’s staff to oversee processes and people, and everyone is aligned with the same vision. If you have a partner or executive leadership team, it’s vital that everyone is on the same page. Even if people do disagree with one another, your employees should only be able to witness leaders as being unified.
- Tips for success: Meet with a mentor, conduct your own research, learn and study how to lead. You can also look to companies you admire and learn about their leadership style and company culture. Ask your team for feedback, as well.
- Insufficient capital: A lot of new business owners are unaware about how much capital they’ll need to operate. If you underestimate your funds or misunderstand your cash flow, you may find yourself in a tight spot needing cash. Make sure you have enough cash to cover your costs until your sales will be high enough to sustain the business.
- Wrong Location: Real estate’s value is based on location. This, too, stands for your business. Depending on what service and product you’re going to provide, your customer base may exist in different locations. Of course, if you can conduct your business online, then this point can be moot for some. However, many businesses have an omnichannel model – with a brick and mortar storefront and ecommerce. When you sign a real estate lease, you need to make sure that you’re choosing a location with high foot traffic and a community that wants your product/service. You should take the following into consideration when deciding where to open: your target customer, competitors’ locations, warehousing distance, local incentive programs, safety, and the overall community feel.
- Tips for success: Conduct market research before opening your first location. If you found an area that you think is perfect for your needs, get on the ground and see how the community reacts to you being there. This could be with a pop-up shop or sampling your product in the community.
- Rapid growth: Going too fast can also cause failure. Many new businesses hit the ground running and see success. With the newfound success, they start to over expand and grow too fast. Some major problems can stem from over expanding. Firstly, you may not be able to fulfill customer demand. Additionally, you can over-invest in inventory and overestimate the strength of the demand. Then, if sales begin to cool, you have put a lot of your working capital into stagnant inventory. Both these situations can lead to a shut down.
- Tips for success: Strategically plan and manage your day-to-day operations. You can find automation and management tools that help to forecast your future sales based on data. With better information, you can make smarter decisions. Keep in mind that you may need to seek more funding even if your business is profitable.
- Marketing failures: We’ve touched on this before. You have to invest in marketing to succeed. But, this doesn’t mean throwing dollars to a marketing department with no results. Instead, it requires the adequate management of budgets and campaigns. You need to define your business goals and measures of success, or key performance indicators (KPIs). You’ll use these KPIs to track your success of each marketing initiative.
- Tips for success: Perform research so that you can invest your marketing budget wisely. Look at criteria like prospect reach, capital needed, and conversions. Take your time so that you can apply realistic projections and targets to track. Importantly, be adaptable. If you see a campaign that isn’t performing as well as you’d hope, fail fast and pivot to try something new.
The Bottom Line
Every business has their own fair share of hurdles. What works for one may not be the same formula for another. That’s why it’s so important that you understand your market and customer’s needs. The first step for a small business’ success resides in its value proposition. Be clear and communicative about why you start your business and the value you will bring to your customers.
When you care about your quality and service, you can take care of one of the biggest business challenges – retaining a loyal customer base. Besides this crucial piece of business, you’ll have to maintain strong leadership, obtain the right capital funding, open up shop in the smartest location, grow steadily and oversee your marketing plan closely.
The SBA’s data has shown that a business’ survival rate is somewhat independent of the economic situation. So, don’t be afraid to start something new if the economic environment is less than optimal. Your small business’ survival is more in your own control than you may think.
How to Get Business Funding with Bad Credit
Bad credit? Big problem? Not so much.
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When seeking business funding, there is a list of criteria you’ll have to meet for approval. Depending on the type of funding you want, the requirements will differ. But, what do you do if you have bad credit? The good news is that you can find funding, even with bad credit. We’re going to share some alternative business funding methods with you. Additionally, we’ll get to the bottom of what credit means, why it matters and what makes it good or bad.
What is Small Business Funding?
Small business funding is the process and act of borrowing capital. Capital is provided through business loans or lines of credit from lenders so that small businesses have money to cover their needs.
Depending on the type of business funding you select, there will be a unique process for approval. The amount of capital you can receive also varies by funding method.
Why Do Small Businesses Need Funding?
Every small business owner has their own set of needs at any given time. When cash flow is running low, access to quick capital can be the answer to many problems a business is likely to face. Some reasons why a small business may seek outside funding include:
- To hire staff
- Pay vendors
- Expand opportunities to grow the business or relocate
- Purchase or refinance real estate
- Add more inventory or buy materials
- Prepare for market or seasonal changes
- Buy new equipment or repair broken parts
- Manage payroll
- Reduce gaps in working capital
How to Get Business Funding
To receive small business funding, the process usually includes these steps:
- Business owner calculates the amount of capital they want to borrow and lets the lender know
- Business owner shares their desired financing option
- Business owner has a plan for how they will spend the capital to grow their business
- Business owner provides potential lender with financial documents like their gross sales and the amount of time they’ve been in business
The lender will assess if a borrower qualifies to receive funding. Even if a lender does not approve a borrower, they may still make suggestions for other sources of funding. Approval rates vary by the type of product a borrower applies to receive. The likelihood of being approved along with the amount of time the funding process takes can depend on:
- The approval requirements (as dictated by the lender)
- How the lender processes funds (expedited or not)
- The specific product the borrower applied for (i.e. line of credit vs. merchant cash advance vs. business loan)
What is Alternative Business Funding?
When small business owners don’t qualify for business loans for any list of reasons, then they can look to alternative business funding options. These provide borrowers with quality and accessible financing methods.
Alternate funding began in the 2000s because traditional lenders were facing a challenge to finance all small businesses. The economy and small businesses continue to rely on alternative business funding methods because they offer variety, convenience and better terms in specific cases.
Here’s a list of some types of alternative business funding options available to small business owners:
- Term loans
- Lines of credit
- Business credit cards
- Merchant cash advances
Alternative business funding is a good solution for any business owner who may have:
- Bad credit
- Low annual sales
- Tax liens
- Limited history in business
What is Credit and Why Does it Matter?
One of the most common reasons why small business owners get declined for loans is due to bad credit. Credit is the ability to borrow money and pay it back later. Creditors are banks, lenders, merchants and service providers who give money upfront (grant credit) because they trust you’ll be able to pay it back.
Creditworthiness or your credit refers to a rating that allows creditors to judge your likelihood of paying back the money. In the United States, creditworthiness is based on credit history, or your record of borrowing and paying back money. Independent credit bureaus store these records and share the reports with lenders.
Your credit report includes information like:
- How many credit card accounts you have (along with their credit limits and outstanding balances)
- If you make your monthly payments on time
- How many loans you have taken out and the amount you owe
- If you’ve had any financial setbacks like filing for bankruptcy or having a mortgage foreclosure
Credit matters in small business funding because it is one of the main criteria by which you are judged for approval. It also matters for when you sign a lease for an apartment or home (can affect the amount of your security deposit), take out insurance (helps determine your rate), open an account for a utility company or even to judge your character when you apply for a job.
How Do I Get Business Funding with Bad Credit?
If you’re worried that your credit won’t be good enough for a loan, or you’ve already been denied, it’s okay. There are still ways to get business funding with bad credit.
To be the best prepared for alternate funding, you should:
- Plan: Have a business plan ready to share with potential lenders. When your business looks organized and there’s a clear plan to grow it, lenders will be more likely to give you money.
- Review: Take the time to request your own credit report and look it over. See if there’s anything that is inaccurate. Even if not, take a look at what could be causing it to be so low and try to resolve those issues (i.e. late payments).
- Partner: Perhaps it is worth it to bring on a business partner with better credit. That way, they can be the one to fill out applications for traditional lending options. Or, your partner can be a cosigner.
- Crowdfunding: Consider using crowdsourcing financing methods like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. These platforms are best for businesses that want to make a product or provide something that the public can rally around. In most cases, people give money upfront to help fund the cost of getting the product made, and in exchange, they receive the product once it’s made.
- Merchant Cash Advance: A merchant cash advance is a great option for business owners who need cash fast and won’t make it past a strict approval process. At Uplyft Capital, we can provide borrowers with a lump sum of money very quickly. All you have to do is fill out an application to get started. Instead of credit dictating your creditworthiness, merchant cash advance lenders will look at your business credit card sales monthly. If you have frequent credit card transactions, it could be the best funding method because you’ll pay back the advance by promising a portion of your business’ future credit card sales.
Business Funding for Your Business
When it’s time to apply for business funding options, outline the criteria by which you’ll be judged. If you clearly don’t qualify according to lenders’ criteria, don’t waste your time trying.
Instead, re-evaluate where you stand financially and look to alternate sources of business funding. There is definitely a way to get the cash you need at any phase in your business cycle.
The 4 Stages of Business Growth and Relevant Resources
What are the stages of business growth?
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The stages of business growth can vary, but most experts will define either 4 or 5 stages of business growth. As someone looking to start a business or someone looking to grow a business, it’s useful to understand the general life cycle of a business so you can take the right steps at the right time to boost your chances of survival.
The world of business is ever changing and shifts along with supply, demand and consumer preferences. To establish a startup as a powerhouse and well-known brand, you will have to take calculated risks. Let’s take a look at the four main stages of business growth and things to consider during each step along the journey.
Some people will consider a business a startup at the inception of the idea. Others will only see a business as a startup when funding has been established and there’s some semblance of a customer base. No matter when you define the beginning of your startup phase, you have a minimum viable product (MVP) to work with and should turn your focus to:
a. Talent: The people you hire in the beginning of your business will set the stage for the company culture. While there is a cost to bring on a new hire, it proves to be worth it when you can find the type of people who are willing to do whatever it takes to make the business successful. Some traits to look for in your first employees include: flexibility, adaptability, desire to problem-solve, a willingness to learn and take on new jobs as needed.
b. Process establishment: The next business stage is scaling. But, before you scale, you want to have well-defined processes so that as you expand, control and quality do not fall behind. You need to make sure that processes are clear and iterative so that as the business grows, the processes will continue to work for you and not against you.
c. Customer service: As the holy grail of most businesses, customer service should always be at the top of your mind. Invest time, money and energy into supporting your customer base, especially those who are with you from the beginning.
d. Early adopters: Early adopters are those who are first to use a new product or service. To attract this customer base, you have to clearly define your target audience. Rather than spreading a lot of money across a wide net to attract people, focus on your core audience and let them help you build brand awareness through word of mouth. This will help to lower your customer acquisition cost and promote brand loyalty from the get go.
Every company has a different timeline for when they become profitable. But, once you move past the break-even point, then you’ll look to scale the business. At this point, you may look for additional business funding or reinvest your profits into the business.
a. Executives: At this point, it’s worthwhile to invest in at least one or two executives with experience in your industry. They can help to sharpen your go-to-market plan and optimize efforts.
b. Define roles: Since you recruited your team in the startup phase, you may not have clearly defined their roles since everything was getting up and running. Now, you’ve probably been able to better clarify what each person is responsible for doing, and if need be, you can bring on more team members who are experts in their respective roles.
c. Marketing: To boost your brand awareness, it’s the right time to invest in marketing and branding. From establishing a strong brand identity to communicating your value proposition to an audience, this is the time where you will begin to see your business take off.
Once your brand is established, your team is in place and your profits are growing, expansion is the next to do. The goal is to grow your market share. This can be done by:
a. New opportunities: Explore new opportunities for revenue. This may be by offering new products or services, expanding markets, creating up-selling features or growing brand equity in existing markets.
b. Stay focused: Hopefully, things are looking up. But, it’s important to also remain vigilant and aware that your product and services must retain their original (or better) quality or your success will be threatened.
c. Key aspect is cash: You’ll likely need cash on hand to expand. This is especially true if your expansion plan entails adding new products or services. There are several ways to receive business funding, but two common methods are by taking out a business loan or applying for a merchant cash advance.
How do you know you’ve made it? If your brand has become a household name or your market share is maximized, you’ve likely hit the maturity stage. You’re no longer focused on establishing your brand identity or expanding your markets, but rather, you are in the business of retaining customers and in it for the long haul.
a. Build customer loyalty: More than half of business’ sales generally come from existing customers. That’s why it’s so important to retain your customers and continue to provide them with the value you’ve always promised.
b. Organizational structure: While your organizational structure is solid, it’s useful to consider how you can innovate and try new ideas. In most instances, this type of culture can be generated and supported by the organization’s leaders so that everyone feels like they can contribute ideas and be heard.
The Bottom Line
Business moves fast. It takes agile business owners who are up for a challenge to make their business last in an overly competitive landscape. While every business and industry has their fair share of nuances in terms of business structure, communication and goals, these four stages of a business cycle have become somewhat universal.
Some important takeaways for business owners include: remember why you started, continue to prove your value to your customers, invest wisely by taking calculated risks and understand your business financing options at every step of your business’ life.