It is no secret that our economy is in bad shape, and It is quite possible that no one is feeling the strain as much as small business owners. After all, is there any group that needs access to financing more than business owners? How are entrepreneurs going to be affected, and what can you do to keep your business successful in the midst of this economic downturn?
The primary piece of advice from most experts is keep pursuing your business goals rather than sitting on your hands and waiting for the crisis to blow over. Though the conventional wisdom might be that It is impossible to obtain financing in the midst of a crisis such as the one we are experiencing now, it is possible to continue to grow your business. Here are five ways to find financing:
1. Stay Local. Instead of pursuing financing at large, national institutions, try local or regional banks, investors, and lenders. Face-to-face contact with someone can make a difference, especially if you can convince a lender of the value that your business will add to the local economy and landscape.
2. Examine the details. Make sure your loan package is fine-tuned and well-researched. Go over it with a fine-tooth comb before presenting it to a lender. It should include complete financial statements, a business plan, referrals from past and current clients, a competitive analysis, and a SWOT analysis.
3. Cut spending. Curb your spending whenever possible, both personally and within in your business. At the same time, do not stop investing in technology or pursuing your marketing plans. Cut where it makes sense, not where It is going to hurt your business.
4. Finance with Equity. Although it sounds counterintuitive, equity financing can grow your business. Just be sure to use smart, quality investors rather than just anyone who comes along.
5. Use the Assets you Already Have. Many lenders are ready and willing to make asset-based loans. If you already have strong assets then this may be the way to go for you.
And here are five things to avoid.
1. Slashing prices. Unless you are absolutely certain that cutting prices on your products or services will make a difference in your sales, then do not do it. Be aware that, in actuality, reducing prices rarely makes a difference, so do your homework first.
2. Stopping the search for money. Although it may not seem like it, there is still money out there, so do not stop looking for it. Sure, you may have to settle for less or lower your valuation, but It is a big mistake just to stop looking.
3. Stopping your networking efforts. Networking is more important than ever in an economic downturn. You would better believe that your potential customers are not out looking for ways to spend money, so you need to generate sales leads now more than ever.
4. Stopping the conversation. Maintaining the conversation with your customers and your vendors is key. Your vendors and customers are your best source of information about what is going in the marketplace, what people are looking for, and what they need. Do not wait for an economic upswing to revisit your conversations with them. Get the information they have right now and put it to use for your company.
5. Thinking about the future. While it may seem abysmal and pointless now, always keep your eye on the future. If you have a great idea, it will be a great idea in a bad economy or in a good economy. Do whatever you can to pursue it instead of waiting for what you perceive to be a more optimal opportunity.
The BLACK Man in the WHITE House: Racism Is Alive and Well in America
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. While this law was created to protect voter's rights and eliminate segregation in schools, restaurants and workplaces, the reality is that 50 years later Americans are still battling with these issues.
While many say racism is over and point to the fact that America has its first black president, Barack Obama's election actually ignited racial tension in the country, rather than ending it. As a result white supremacists, hate crimes and internet sites like Stormfront have grown exponentially.
These extremist organizations are fueled by an increased fear of nonwhites' power in government and the rising number of immigrants that are taking over "their" America. Racists choose to disregard the laws of this country in favor of their own warped ideology.
In the last couple of weeks, Cliven Bundy, Donald Sterling and Paul Ryan made racial comments that went viral, and dominated numerous hours of media coverage. Many Republicans stood up for Bundy prior to his racial comments, even though he was convicted of owing the federal government $1 million and refused to pay it. The NBA took unprecedented action against Sterling. And Paul Ryan defended his statements by saying, "I'm not a racist. I was inarticulate."
Sport franchises, corporation executives and politicians are riddled with racists of varying degrees. Most just have the common sense to avoid public pronouncements of their views, but that doesn't mean racism doesn't exist.
Playing into the racial frenzy that is sweeping our country are Republican governors like Scott Walker, Rick Perry and Rick Scott. All are hoping to suppress minorities' voting rights in their states in order to pass legislation that most Americans, especially minorities, don't support. After all, if only whites could vote, things would be very different.
With this mindset, many Republican Congressional representatives want to roll back the clock to the good ol' days of the fifties and sixties. The Supreme Court is aiding in this mounting discrimination with their recent decision to gut portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This action to quash the Act, which was passed in response to Jim Crow laws is offensive to anyone's sense of fairness and justice for all.
Like the poll taxes and literacy tests of a bygone era, state issued IDs and voter-roll purges, coupled with reduced voting hours are all intended to keep minorities from exercising their constitutional right to vote.
In addition to voting rights, our courts and penal system discriminate against minorities. Young African American men are arrested four times as often as white men for carrying the same amount of marijuana, which is still illegal in most states. These arrests for minor crimes lead many black teenagers to follow unlawful pursuits rather than paths they may have taken without the scar of the arrest on their record. Also in question is the fairness of our judicial process. Two recent judgments handed down by predominantly white juries emphasize this unfairness.
These Florida verdicts vindicated white men who killed African American teenagers. George Zimmerman's "not guilty" verdict for the murder of Trayvon Martin was considered by many to have a racially influenced outcome. In another case that had racial overtones, a jury was deadlocked on whether Michael Dunn, a white man, was guilty of murder for shooting to death a black teenager over loud music. I wonder if the races of the victim and accused had been switched, if the judgments would have been different. Actually, I really don't wonder; unfortunately I know the answer.
Education is seen as one way to lower the number of incarcerated black men and help minorities become productive, tax-paying members of society. Yet, the Supreme Court stepped in and put up a road block making it harder to accomplish this goal.
In an April 2014 decision, the Supreme Court upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment that bans affirmative action as part of the admission process in the state's public universities. Seven other states currently have the same sanctions. States that forbid affirmative action in higher education, like Florida and California, have seen a significant drop in the enrollment of black and Hispanic students in many of their top colleges and universities.
Americans need to take notice of what is happening and not support the rebels that include many Republican elected officials. The diversity, which made our country great, needs to be seen in the leadership of America, as well as its average citizen. Racism is a communal problem and needs everyone working together to make life better, not for just a few, but for all.
The question of how to achieve less racism and more acceptances is complex and has no clear black and white answer.
By Gerry Myers
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