““If I had six hours to chop down a tree…”

Graphic_If I had six hours to chop down a tree“If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.”

– Abraham Lincoln

 

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Small business time-saver: automate your social media posting

Logo_IFTTTSmall business owners rejoice (happy feet under the desk will suffice) – there’s an easy way to save yourself from a major social media time-suck.

Scene: You’re a big believer in developing new marketing content, and then sharing it across your social media.

(Excellent, you’re right on-trend!)

The deal: You write the piece, and post it on your blog (and you only post with pictures, right? … Of course you do)

The problem: You have to then post on Facebook, and Twitter, and LinkedIn, and Google+…. Half an hour… times 2 times a day… 5 times a week…

Srsly?

Our good friends (BFFs, really) over at Talent Zoo turned us on to an app called IFTTT – – If This, Then That.

With IFTTT, you can automate all the re-posting, and save yourself a ton of time.

The solution: Read all about it here

~ Christopher Smith, BusinessUS

What’s new in small business? Optimism(!)

1405572185-goldman_what_is_working

 

 

And now, a headline that wants to brighten your day, “Here’s a Round-Up of Small Business Surveys That’ll Cheer You Up

Lots of good topical research here into the mood of small business owners around the country. For example:

  • “…80 percent of the small businesses they polled grew their revenue in the past year and 90 percent forecast a revenue growth in 2015” (says the Accounting service Xero)
  • “…optimism is at a two-year high and 58 percent of those firms planned workforce increases” (says Vistage)
  • “…77 percent of small business owners feel they are “successful” and a majority of them believe that they have access to capital if they need

Are you a California small business needing a loan? Try BusinessUS

 

What makes a small business “small”?

Logo_SBAWe are asked all the time “What defines a small business?” and “Why does it matter?”

Many would answer that small businesses are anchors of a community, creating jobs and opportunity in cities and towns across America.

According to the SBA, “The two most widely used standards to qualify a business as small are 500 employees for most manufacturing and mining industries and $7.5 million in average annual receipts for many non-manufacturing industries.”

And to the second question, only a qualifying small business is able to provide certain services to the SBA, and qualifies for certain financing programs from the SBA. These include SBA 7(a) loans, the most common and popular small business loans which are provided by traditional bank, community bank and non-bank lenders, and up to 85% of which are guaranteed by the SBA.

Learn more about SBA loan programs here.

~Norris Lozano, CEO of BusinessUS

For small business, a lot of lending is moving online

Logo_Harvard_Business_ReviewWe’ve read multiple stories recently (here are just a few one, two, three, four…) about small business lenders accomplishing astonishing numbers with online lending platforms. In our research we’re finding that this new money appears easy to get (the online applications and due diligence are relatively simple), but the price is steep (annualized interest rates of up to 70%).

Problem is, small businesses have fewer financing options now then in the last decade. Indeed, small businesses have suffered 3 ways when it comes to acquiring capital they need to grow. According to the Harvard Business Review:

  1. “A decades-long trend toward consolidation of banking assets into fewer institutions is eliminating a key source of capital for small firms….”
  2. “…collateral owned by small businesses lost value during the financial crisis, potentially making small business borrowers less creditworthy today…”
  3. “In the recent recession, small-business sales were hit hard and may still be soft, undermining their demand for loan capital…”
  4. “…. tightening on loan terms, including the Federal Reserve Senior Loan Officer Survey, for small businesses increased at double-digit rates during the recession and recovery, and have eased at just single-digit rates over the past several quarters. Loosening has been much slower and more tentative for small firms than for large firms…” (italics added)

Despite the low barriers to lending, these expensive online lenders are not a sustainable solution to small business borrowing needs. What’s often overlooked in this discussion of small business loans are SBA loans. SBA loans are available from banks and non-bank lenders to American small businesses that “can not get credit elsewhere” (small businesses that are underserved by traditional lenders) at competitive rates (about 6%) with an SBA guarantee.

~ Norris Lozano

CEO of BusinessUS

Lozano congratulates Spirit of Small Business Award winners

spirit-sample-graphic_cropThe 2014 Spirit of Small Business Award winners for the Los Angeles District Office were announced today. The event is co-sponsored by the SBA.

Along with the team at BusinessUS, I would like to congratulate the winners for their success and their positive impacts on their communities. This year’s winners are:

East Ventura County – Agnew Multilingual

West Ventura County – Staples Construction Co.

South Santa Barbara County – The French Press

North Santa Barbara County – Old Town Market

San Luis Obispo County – The Wallace Group

Minority-Owned Business – Alliance Wealth Strategies

Women-Owned Business – Ohana Pet Hospital

Exporter of the Year – Zesto Audio

Green Business – AB Design Studio

Well done!

~ Norris Lozano, CEO of BusinessUS

7 Stages of Small Business Success

Phoenix_Business_Journal

 

Clate Mask, a guest blogger to the Phoenix Business Journal, has written a well-researched set of articles (there are 2, both linked here) outlining the 7 stages of small business success. The articles are full of good data and interesting insights – – take a few minutes:

7 Stages of Small Business Success – Part 1, (Stages 1-3)

7 Stages of Small Business Success, Part 2, (Stages 4-7)

~Norris Lozano, CEO of BusinessUS, a national non-bank lender based in Woodland Hills, CA

American Dream: Former Denny’s Waitress now owns 75 locations

dennys-dawn-lafreedaLike many young people, Dawn Lafreeda started her working life at age 16. Her first job was as a hostess at a local Denny’s restaurant.

But this determined woman’s life quickly took a turn that would be instrumental in defining her success: “During college, she took on a second job at a software company, where she learned about accounting and managing personnel.” At 23, she was able to leverage her skills and burning desire to succeed to acquire a Denny’s store in Globe, Arizona. (It’s 87 miles east of Phoenix, in case you’d like to look it up).

18 months later, she was offered 4 more stores in Texas. Now, “Lafreeda has increased her empire to 75 Denny’s locations in six states, becoming the largest single-owner franchisee in the system.”

Read more

jamalmashburn_D_20130911152954Here’s another great franchise-building story, about NBA star Jamal Mashburn.

 

~ This story is posted by Norris Lozano, CEO of BusinessUS.

He’s Back: Al Gore, “The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate”

gore-600-1403097332Al Gore is back with an even stronger message on climate change and a low-carbon economy necessity. His article in Rolling Stone is detailed, stark, and ultimatelty, optimistic:

“Is there enough time? Yes. Damage has been done, and the period of consequences will continue for some time to come, but there is still time to avoid the catastrophes that most threaten our future. Each of the trends described above – in technology, business, economics and politics – represents a break from the past. Taken together, they add up to genuine and realistic hope that we are finally putting ourselves on a path to solve the climate crisis.”

~ Norris Lozano, CEO of BusinessUS

May is California Small Business Month, but…

Cal vs. TXPROCLAMATION BY THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

California is home to the most innovative and competitive firms in the world, placing us consistently among the top ten economies. The vast majority of these businesses employ 500 or fewer workers.

Small businesses embody the entrepreneurial spirit that has driven the economy of our Golden State. Over half of our private-sector workforce is employed by small business.

This month, we reaffirm our commitment to helping California’s small businesses thrive and prosper. The Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, along with key agencies of state government, works to facilitate economic growth through collaboration with small businesses. Supporting small-scale private-sector job creators is among our most promising strategies to enhance California’s human capital, expand job opportunities and increase our competitive advantage in the global marketplace.

NOW THEREFORE I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim May 2012, as “Small Business Month.”

Well OK Governor Brown, but WHAT ABOUT THIS?

Inc.: In California’s Kevin McCarthy, A Small Business Advocate Rises to GOP’s Top

Kevin-McCarthy_37943With the election of Kevin McCarthy, BusinessUS and other California small businesses find ourselves in an interesting political position: both the Majority Leader and the Minority Leader of the House, and the SBA Administrator, are from our home state.

Read more about Kevin McCarthy and small business here

“In McCarthy, Republicans have found a moderate voice with strong business ties, and the ability to understand the concerns of smaller businesses. They have also found someone who may be able to unify the fractious voices that have prevented the Republican caucus from taking meaningful action on legislation like immigration reform.”

Nancy Pelosi: “After raising $1.8 million for Democrats through her leadership PAC in 2002, Pelosi got the top job when Minority Leader Dick Gephardt. She was the first woman to ever lead a party in Congress. In 2006, she teamed up with Schumer, Harry Reid, and Rahm Emanuel and hatched a plan to take back Congress. …and it totally worked! Democrats won the majority in both chambers, and Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House. In the first 100 hours of being Speaker in 2006, Pelosi raised the minimum wage, enacted the 9/11 commission report, ended many tax subsidies to oil companies, and made new rules about lobbying.”

Read more about Pelosi’s successes here 

SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet has a wide range of experience having been a business owner, founder of a Latino-owned community bank and a former California cabinet secretary. She’s also been an advocate for Hispanics.

“She knows business and she knows the economics and the business of raising capital, and the importance of building a solid small business community,” says Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, president of Los Angeles-based Berkhemer-Clayton, an executive search firm. She has known Contreras-Sweet for about 25 years and worked with her at nonprofit groups including the March of Dimes.

Contreras-Sweet, 58, first became a business owner in 1980, as a partner in the 7UP/RC Bottling of Southern California. She also served on the board of directors of the health insurer Blue Cross of California. In 1999, she became secretary of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency and was the first Hispanic woman in the state Cabinet. She held that post until 2003.

Here’s a good summary of the SBA Administrator’s California career

~ Norris Lozano, CEO of BusinessUS

Programming expert Chris Serra joins BusinessUS technology team

DeathtoStock_Wired2PRESS RELEASE: “We are extremely fortunate to have a programmer of Chris Serra’s stature join our technology team,” says Norris Lozano, CEO of BusinessUS. “Chris’ deep knowledge and 16 years’ experience in solving complex technology issues will help us develop the best-in-class technology platform we need to compete.”

Read the full release here