promotion-tricks

8 Ways to Promote Your SMB Like a Boss

promotion-tricks

We help businesses grow by accessing much-needed capital they can use for activities like equipment purchases, operational support and fulfilling product orders.

But how do you promote your business to get the word out to your customers and prospects?

That’s just as important, and finding the right tactics that are cost-effective and don’t consume all your time is the key. So let’s take a look at eight actionable ways to promote your SMB like a pro and get connected to new customers that will become long-term clients.

1. Special for First-Time Customers

Nothing entices new customers more than getting a special deal, like a trial version of your product or service at a discounted rate. This kind of offer might lead to a longer-term business relationship.

2. Reward Loyalty

Loyalty breeds more loyalty, so reward your committed customers. Give them a discount or upgrade their service for staying with you or for bringing you new customers through a referral.

3. Do Something for Charity

It’s good to be good, and donating your product or service to a charity will allow you to raise your profile, network and meet potential new customers. Promote your good deeds and achievements via social media and your website. Your customers will love hearing about your involvement.

4. Survey your Customers

People love competitions and the chance to give their opinion. Create a simple survey using SurveyMonkey (free options available) and promote it via your company newsletter, a special mailing list, email directly to the client, social media promotions, blog posts, websites and anywhere your customers will look. You can then create a newsworthy press release with your results, and use the data to improve your business strategy.

Related: 7 Old-School SMB Marketing Tricks to Put Up Your Sleeve

Related: 7 New-School Digital Marketing Tricks For Your SMB

5. Sponsor Something Magnificent

Look around for incredible and unique sponsorship opportunities. There are some hidden gems out there that deliver a big bang for surprisingly small price tags. Depending on your business, you can consider everything from industry events to local teams.

6. Customer Service

Good customer service is critical for customer retention and positive word of mouth. And you can use your great customer service scores to promote your company, especially if you’ve received industry or internal ratings. Add your high-quality scores to the homepage of your website, in email signatures, and create a blog post about your service. Your customers may already be providing free advertising – touting the amazing service they’ve received from you. So check sites like Yelp for your reviews, and capture positive quotes from those sites to potentially leverage in future advertising.

7. Go Green

Showing people that you care about the world is a great way to get them to care about your business. So why not go green and trumpet your environmental credentials? You’ll target a market that cares about the environment, and show a more personal and caring side that customers can relate to, rather than a corporate brand that sometimes gets lost in the noise.

8. Meetups

Networking is the lifeblood of business. Make sure you find the right events – avoid the stuffy, boring and irrelevant ones. Go online, ask around and book yourself into a couple new meetups. These can be invaluable places to learn about other people’s businesses and to promote your own in a genuine way. There’s no easy way about this though, as meetups are all about building high-quality relationships with real people. Arm yourself with business cards, a warm smile and no expectations – you’ll be happy you went.

Do you have a tip to share about how your business has effectively done promotions? Tell us in the comments section.

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Watch: How This Tampa Bay Finance Pro Is Funding Startups & Enterprises

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Liquid Capital Bay Area Principal, Mark Coyle, recently took to the airwaves on The Consumer Quarterback Show based out of Tampa Bay to talk about the state of the Florida economic market and how his business can help small and medium-sized businesses in the area.

Live from iHeartRadio, show host, Brandon Rimes, talked to Mark about different types of loans and funding he has available to work with businesses and get them moving in the right direction.

“I’m a local lender that is part of a global network of alternative lenders. Essentially what we do is help small to medium-sized enterprises with working capital solutions,” Mark explained.

“In the business to consumer world, when we go into a small business owner and purchase a good or service, we will pay the same day. ”

“Whereas when you’re in the business to business world and you deliver a good or service…you don’t get paid for anywhere from 30, 60 or 90 days.”

Mark explains that he generally works with two types of clients in this situation. The first is people who have what he calls “good problems.” These clients can be earlier in their business lifecycle, and have received a loan for startup capital but have outgrown that loan very quickly.

“..maybe they were projected to get growth of 20% and they received a growth of 100 or 200% – and they simply don’t have the working capital to facilitate the growth opportunities that are in front of them,” Mark goes on to explain.

“I’m able to help them to shorten the lifecycle of those receivables by factoring and advancing the majority of capital against that receivable so that they can make payroll, replenish their inventory, continue to deliver the goods or services to their clients, and grow with demand.”

The second group of clients Mark works with are people who have successfully received bank loans over a longer period of time and found success, but now they have a “trigger event” that requires more assistance.

“Maybe they had a piece of capital equipment that was $500,000 that went out. They weren’t budgeted to replace it, so they replace it and are overleveraged. And the bank doesn’t feel warm and fuzzy about extending them a line of credit. So where I come into place is to assist them with, again, working capital solutions to better their financial picture and get them back to a bankable situation.”

Mark explains that his products and services are not in conflict with banks, as he works with the banks to help get clients back into a traditional bankable situation. Once they get the assistance from Liquid Capital Bay Area, his clients’ books look a lot better from a bank point of view, so they can go ahead and get traditional funding.

Watch segment: State of the Tampa Bay Area economy

When it comes to the local Florida and Bay Area economy, Mark sees a positive future.

“I think the local economy is doing very well. From a larger perspective, I think there’s a lot of capital. I think the market is plush with money. …

And that speaks well to the opportunities Mark can afford business owners in the area.

“We are seeing businesses that kind of fall under the two buckets I spoke of – having growth trajectories or maybe having a bump in the road, and we’re able to come in and help them realize that growth or keep them sustainable and get them through the hard times.”

Watch segment: Advice for Tampa Bay Area business owners

Brandon asked what businesses owners should avoid when looking for funding and assistance, and Mark offered sensible advice

“What I would say to a small business owner who has a growth opportunity in front of them or is in danger of insolvency and isn’t able to get bank financing is — think outside the box and don’t stop there, because there are other options.

“There are opportunities that don’t fall within the traditional financing realm. …

“Partner with somebody who has your best interests in mind. Me, as a local business owner that partners with local business owners to better their situation, I’ll walk away from a deal 10 times out of 10 if it’s not the best for them. And there are many times where I’ve looked my customers in the eye and said – look, I can put you in a product that will make my company money but it won’t better my situation – you’re either in the same spot or worse. Let’s come back and talk in six months.”

Mark closes by advising business owners to make sure they’re working with a company that has your best interest in mind.

“And I think it’s definitely a good opportunity to deal local, where you can sit down over a cup of coffee…and know who you’re dealing with. Not a website, not a phone number and not dealing with somebody five states away.”

 

brexit

Will Brexit Impact Your Business Operations?

brexit

There’s no doubt one of the world’s largest economies has made a splash in the business news lately. How could Great Britain’s exit from the European Union impact our business community in North America?

We look at the highlights from across the media to see what analysts and outlets are saying, and what to watch out for.

1. “How bad will Brexit get? Here’s what top economists are saying.”

From: Vox World

“On June 23, British voters decided to vote “Leave” anyway. And now they’re left to grapple with the consequences — including any economic turmoil that may follow.

“So how bad would severing ties with the EU be? On the day after the vote, markets plunged sharply around the world, suggesting serious economic risks were on the horizon. But economists have differing views on just what Brexit would mean — and exactly how dire it could get. Here’s a running roundup from around the web.”

Key takeaway: Brexit is a crisis in Britain, but there is no sure sign this is a crisis for North American business…yet. The key thing to remember is that if you’re dealing with British businesses, EU businesses that rely heavily on Britain, or if your clients are doing just that, then you should keep a close eye on what’s happening. For most businesses dealing primarily with other North American companies, Brexit may not have an immediate impact other than stirring the already-mirky waters of the psychology of business economics.

2. “‘Brexit’ in America: A Warning Shot Against Globalization”

From: The New York Times

“For all the shock and awe on Wall Street and financial markets around the globe on Friday, the imminent danger to the underlying American economy is relatively small. What’s far more worrisome is whether Britain’s decision represents an end to the economic integration and opening markets that have helped propel sales at companies like Eastman over the last few decades. …

““In the near term, you’re seeing markets being roiled, and feedback effects for the Federal Reserve,” Mr. Hubbard said. But for now, at least in the United States, “I don’t think it’s going to raise recession probabilities.” …

“When it comes to commerce, Britain is not even among the United States’ top five trading partners — it’s currently the seventh largest…”

Key takeaway: This lackadaisical stance seems to make us feel like Brexit will have little-to-no impact on American business, unless you’re like the Eastman company mentioned and have operations in both the U.S. and Britain. Instead, they cite opportunities for trade and partnerships elsewhere, potentially exposed because of the changes in the world markets. Perhaps your business can take a look across other borders for new opportunity knocking.

3. “Brexit jitters claim a Canadian IPO”

From: Globe and Mail

“The market turmoil that erupted in the aftermath of the Brexit vote has claimed a prominent Canadian casualty: MCAP Corp.’s initial public offering.

“The mortgage lender filed for a $275-million IPO in May, and institutional and retail orders soon started flowing, according to people familiar with the offering. A few days before Britain’s referendum, things came to a halt. On Wednesday, the deal was pulled altogether.”

Key takeaway: Although Brexit wasn’t the direct cause of failure, the market’s insecurity with what would amount from Brexit turmoil was enough to massively impact this business. But keep in mind, this was a huge enterprise with a muli-million dollar IPO at stake, so it’s not as relatable to most SMBs. Keep an eye on the papers for these types of stories, as enterprise analysts can give you early warning signals of what’s to come in the market.

4. “Impacts on Small Businesses And Startups In The U.S.”

From: Fast Company

“Small business owners, along with multinational companies, must understand that hundreds of laws, rules, and agreements governing everything from trade and immigration to agricultural subsidies will be rewritten, and that will impact contractual agreements,” Wojcik says. …

“Now that Brexit has happened, Todd believes slow growth here in the U.S. is likely to continue. “Paradoxically, even with all the economic and political uncertainty, if a tech entrepreneur has a good idea, it could continue to be a great time to go out and try to raise capital,” Todd contends. …

“”The strongest of small businesses know how to withstand turbulence, adapting quickly to changing environments,” Holoubek says. “When your service or product helps larger corporations do the same, times of great uncertainty become a win-win.””

Key takeaway: Although there are certain risks starting a cross-border business, this may be a great time to find valuable investment at lower rates. And if you’re a small business supporting a larger enterprise, you could have just stumbled into the sweet spot as SMBs can generally weather these storms very well, and that means more money in your pockets.

5. “After the Brexit Vote: The impact on US & Soviet relations”

From: Richmond Times

“As the U.S. heads into an election campaign, Washington’s influence on events in Europe and elsewhere is ebbing. President Obama went to Ottawa two weeks ago to confer with his Canadian and Mexican counterparts about coping with Brexit’s impact on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These leaders foresee growing opposition to free trade during the U.S. election campaign and beyond. Continued close relations on trade and commerce are important U.S. interests, but the overriding U.S. priority is the strength and cohesiveness of NATO. It was responsible for forging peace and prosperity in Europe for nearly 70 years and eventually bringing former Soviet satellites under its defense umbrella. If the EU begins to unravel under the stress of nationalist pressures, NATO’s defense shield will remain a vital U.S. interest in Europe.”

Key takeaway: Economics, politics and Russian relationships. We’ve seen over and over in reality and the movies. You better believe these discussions will be all over every news outlet, late night comedy talk show and blog, so keep watching for impacts on your business.

CoverStory-Success

Success By Example: Q&A’s

CoverStory-Success

Story originally from In Business Magazine Greater Phoenix Area.

Small business is thriving in Arizona, and in Metro Phoenix specifically. Arizona State University and Grand Canyon University have programs focused on fostering entrepreneurialism; many of the Maricopa County community colleges are also active in this space with specialized programs, notably GateWay Community College‘s incubator, Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation; and numerous business incubators and accelerators throughout the Valley are helping startups launch successfully into the business community.

Success begets success, and In Business Magazine asked Joel Gottesman, Prinicpal at Liquid Capital of Arizona, to share insights on best practices and the changing business environment, based on his experience in these core concerns of all business enterprises: finance, human resources, leadership and management, marketing and communication, sales, and technology.

Question: Are there traditional “truths” (attitudes, ways of doing things) that need to be discarded in today’s business world?

Answer: Traditional “truths” would hold that you fund growth by obtaining capital (from yourself, friends and family, or established investor infrastructure), and then obtain working capital debt through alternative financing such as factoring or asset-based lending, or through a bank loan if the more stringent credit standards can be met. If additional capital is still needed, there are some new ways of raising capital through crowd funding, which is becoming more of a reality and utilizes social media to reach investors more readily. Other options include contract manufacturing or joint venturing for an initial period to reduce the time it takes to move forward on your growth plan.

Question 2: What is an innovative best practice you would advise to a fellow small-businessperson?

Answer: Find your sweet spot on how to engage prospective or existing customers or referral sources for growing your business. Social media provides a great opportunity to be out there to establish your business brand in a way that is not a “hard sell.” You have the opportunity to associate yourself and your business with creative trends and new ideas. Depending on your business model, LinkedIn and Twitter offer opportunities to build your network and business brand.

tax deductions

8 Tax Deductions You Need To Know Right Now

tax deductions

Come tax season, everyone should try and get a little something back, and businesses are no exception. Tax deductions won’t save a floundering business from closing up shop – but to the shrewd business owner, they can make the difference between a good year and a great year.

Note: The deductions listed below may not be recognized in your area. Be sure to consult a tax specialist for more information on how you can save your business money through prudent financial planning.

1.    Get Networking and Get a Deduction

Remember that expenses like membership fees to professional organizations are completely deductible, so you’ll never have to make the hard choice between getting the inside edge on a potential client or paying annual membership in order to attend networking events. Professional fees and licenses are also deductible.

2.    Real Estate Interest

If your business owns a physical location or any real estate, be sure to claim the entire amount of interest you paid during the year.

3.    Maintenance and Repair Fees

You spend money keeping your machinery and equipment in proper working order, and these amounts are often deductible. Just be mindful that you might run into exceptions if the repairs add additional value to the property. Your accountant should flag those circumstances.

4.    Meals and Entertainment

Meeting a client? Attending a business lunch? You don’t necessarily have to pay completely out of pocket. Claim a meals and entertainment deduction equal to 50% of the amount you paid for attending these activities. A $40 lunch may not sound like a big deal, but over the course of the year it adds up to more than you might think.

Tip: Before you leave the table, turn the receipt over and write who you were there with and what you discussed. This little note will help justify your claims in the event of a future audit.

5.    Your Car

Let’s face it – if you’re using your personal vehicle to get the job done and keep your clients happy, then you should be compensated for mileage, gas, wear and tear. Keep a logbook in your glove compartment to write down when you’ve used your personal vehicle for business use. Or go digital and use an app like MileIQ or TaxMileage that keeps it all logged on your smartphone. If you want to avoid the headache altogether, ask your accountant about your tax rules – you may be able to simplify your car expenses by using a percentage of total costs as your business deduction.

6.    Bad Debt

If you have a customer that hasn’t paid their due for your products or services, or maybe they’re simply taking too long to pay, then your accounts receivable is at risk of becoming bad debt. In spite of the name, bad debts aren’t “all bad” – as these amounts can be deducted.

But in the end, nobody likes bad debts. So if you’re keen on avoiding them altogether, consider factoring your accounts receivable. Full disclosure – this is a service we offer at Liquid Capital, and we’ve seen this strategy work very well for clients over and over again.

Factoring means that you sell your accounts receivables to a third party company and they will do all the work to collect from your client. While you may not be collecting the full face value of your A/R, the trade-off is quite beneficial. You’ll get certainty that you’ll be paid, your cash flow is instantly increased with money at hand, and the cost of factoring is fully tax deductible.

7.    Travel Deductions

Depending on your business, you may spend a considerable amount of time and money on the road meeting clients, stakeholders, suppliers and attending conferences. Any costs for transportation and lodging while out of town on a business trip are deductible. Sadly, regular local commuting is not, so that could be a benefit to attending an out-of-town event.

8.    Advertising

Advertising and promotion could also fall under your tax deductions as the “cost of doing business.” Some business owners shy away from advertising because the costs lower your profits, but keep in mind that this also lowers your taxable income. And the rewards of additional advertising could bring significantly higher future revenues. You’ll have to determine the right balance of cash in hand vs. advertising for future growth.

In the end, it’s always important to talk with your accountant about all expenses and tax deductions. What may be an acceptable deduction this year may not be the same next year.

manufacturing

Factoring & Purchase Order Financing Combine To Build A Distributor’s Business

manufacturing

When a Canadian distributor for a European manufacturer of innovative ground screws needed funding for large orders they turned to Greg Norris at Liquid Capital in Toronto and Mark Polinsky of Gateway Trade Funding near Chicago.

The distributor’s products are used in construction to establish a foundation in virtually any terrain. As an alternative to concrete slab foundations, the ground screws allow quick and stable foundations to be installed where traditional solutions may not be ideal. However, shipping the product from the Czech Republic meant that there was a considerable lag time between when payment to the manufacturer was due and when the distributor could collect from the purchaser.

Traditional bank financing was not available because of a number of hurdles including international currency conversions, the innovative and non-traditional nature of the product and the involvement of somewhat risky construction projects.

Funding the transaction

Norris was able to structure a solution involving purchase order financing and factoring that worked well for the distributor, allowing them to create the cash flow needed to complete transactions for customers in both the US and Canada.

“This solution was not without several challenges,” said Norris. “Working with multiple players in multiple countries and funding the significant transportation time all complicated the transactions. Working with Gateway Trade Funding outside Chicago, we were able to fund this and then manage all of the logistics and needs of each participant.”

Funding these transactions is expected to exceed $2.5 million (USD). “The financing solution allows this particular distributor to capture business they would not otherwise be able to transact,” said Polinsky. “It’s helping them to grow their business while introducing innovative solutions to their customers.”

How your business can do the same

Liquid Capital may be able to offer your business purchase order financing and factoring similar to this case. If you’ve been denied traditional bank loans because of issues like international currency conversions or what the banks deem as a risky project, then there is another option with Liquid Capital.

BNN finance video

Watch BNN Video: Funding Alternative To Hard-To-Get Bank Loans

You may be one of the many businesses all across the U.S. and Canada that have a hard time getting access to bank loans. Either you don’t have the required assets deemed necessary by the banks, your gross income is deemed ‘too low,’ or you may have a limited operating history.

Without access to capital, your company will have a hard time growing and becoming more profitable.

“Factoring” is an alternative to the traditional bank loan—and it’s not yet widely known. This funding option is already very popular overseas and allows you to increase your cash flow to put your resources towards operating your business the way you want.

Watch Robert Thompson-So, Chief Strategy Officer of Liquid Capital explain to BNN how factoring finance solutions help small to medium-sized business leverage their accounts receivable to get to the next level.

Consider factoring as an option for your business, and make the most of your working capital.

old school marketing

7 Old-School SMB Marketing Tricks To Put Up Your Sleeve

old school marketing

Running a small or medium-sized business isn’t easy. One of the hardest parts is figuring out how to market and promote your company. You’re not alone.

There are traditional methods like newspapers, radio and TV, along with newer media tactics including digital advertising, search marketing and social media. How will you figure out which tactics to invest your time and energy into, and what will give you the most bang for you buck?

There’s no doubt that new-school digital marketing methods are effective, but you might be neglecting traditional tried, tested and true methods that are still valuable. And with everybody rushing to the new strategies, there could be less competition back in old-school marketing.

Here are seven useful tips and tricks you can use to build a successful marketing campaign using those traditional methods of marketing.

1. Get Your Story Published in the Local Newspaper

Newspapers might seem outdated, but there are great opportunities that still exist in your local paper – especially since most papers also have a supporting website where stories are published.

Contact the Editor of the business section and show how your startup is different from all the others out there. Create a compelling story about your history, what you offer the community and how you are raising the bar in the business world. Every publication is interested in intriguing stories, and by offering a cost effective pitch (aka free), you may be able to persuade them to write a profile-raising piece on you.

2. Talk to Magazine Editors

You may be thinking, “What? First outdated newspapers and now outdated magazines?” It’s true – magazines can be a great way to get exposure for your business, and there are plenty around looking to publish your story.

Local exposure is the best, so start with the most local publication possible. It may be a small town or niche business magazine that you target. And make sure you get links to your website included in the online version of the story so that the readers can quickly click to your business site.

Bonus: Ask the magazine if you can contribute to an ‘Ask the Expert’ column. Then provide ongoing expert pieces for them to publish, either in the print version or online.

3. Make Effective Business Cards, and Don’t Forget to Hand Them Out

Business cards are low tech but remain important for networking. Don’t leave home without them, as you never know who you’ll bump into.

Make sure your business card contains all relevant contact information, like your website address and any social media accounts – especially LinkedIn if you’re a B2B professional.

And make use of any blank space on your cards to provide details about your products, services and a reason for people to connect with you. For example, you could include a special discount only to people with your business card. That gives them a reason to hold onto your card.

Bonus: Get their business card as well, and then connect with them on LinkedIn or other social media accounts that same day. Make sure to follow-up with a message to add a personal touch to your new business relationship.

4. Set Up a Referral Program

If you have a large number of suppliers you regularly work with, set up a referral program to get your customers rewards. Imagine being able to offer your customers exclusive discounts on additional products and services? That would be reason enough to keep coming back to you.

And if you take this traditional program into the new-school, you can offer your referral program as part of your company e-newsletter. By signing up for these emails, your customers will have handy access to all the promotions at your business and other partner stores.

5. Offer Seasonal Discounts and Sales

Everyone likes a summer saving or a winter deal! It doesn’t really matter the season, just give your customers a discount for shopping at a particular time of year. Or create a theme around a seasonal holiday like Halloween, to offer Spooky Savings and Frighteningly Low Prices. There’s a certain charm to having specials around holidays, and it shows your customers that you can have a little fun with your business as well.

6. Send Good Old Fashioned Snail Mail

Mail drops are definitely old-school, but don’t underestimate them. Dropping leaflets through people’s mailboxes still has a measurable effect as long as you do this strategically. Keep your radius tight if you have a physical store location, so people will have a better chance of popping in your store.

Make sure your mailer has a clear call-to-action on it as well. Better yet, give them an incentive to hold on to that piece of mail. For example, include a code they need to enter for a website promotion or tell them to present that mailer in your store to receive a free piece of swag.

Bonus: Create a hard copy flyer, then take advantage of the message boards available at other local businesses. A flyer can be a quick, cheap and easy promotion of your company. Make sure you get permission first, and don’t forget your strong calls-to-action.

7. Connect with Your Local Chamber of Commerce

Your local Chamber of Commerce can always offer some valuable help. Make sure you join up so that you can network with other local business owners. It’s surprisingly effective to chat with other business owners in your area and learn the tactics they use to market to their customers and prospects.

Then follow the Chamber of Commerce online and make sure you attend events throughout the year. You may be able to get ongoing support and assistance that would cost thousands of dollars from third party sources.

Do you have an old-school method of marketing your business that has worked effectively? Tell us in the comments section.

cash flow solutions

3 Cash Flow Solutions To Relieve Your Business Funding Woes

cash flow solutions

4 out of 5 businesses fail within the first 18 months!” Sound familiar?

How about, “Companies without experienced managers are more likely to crash and burn.”

You’ve undoubtedly heard these quotes about new business ventures.

Sadly, legions of entrepreneurs have come face-to-face with the realization that the companies they’ve built and nurtured from day one were much more likely to fail than they were to succeed.

This is not necessarily due to the entrepreneur’s lack of business acumen. And it doesn’t mean that the products or services they offered were poorly executed. So what could it be?

The truth of the matter is that many businesses fail because of a lack of funding and irregular cash flow. How do you avoid these pitfalls?

Why Traditional Small and Medium Business Funding Doesn’t Work

Traditionally, if you were looking to build your own business you needed two things: an idea and the money to make it happen.

With a fully fleshed out idea, an eager entrepreneur would then approach an investor or financial institution. Both sides would agree to the method of investment (shares or debt) and then determine how interest or dividends will be paid. That’s a pretty typical scenario we’re all used to seeing.

The problem is that many new companies have incredibly volatile start-up years, and very few businesses experience a regular income stream. Failure to make repayments on loans could not only result in penalties, but also a freeze or recall of capital at a crucial time. Or worse, it could force the business to close their doors altogether.

Owners are finding that this “capital rigidity” is no longer the best way to do business in an economy that is seeing more than 500,000 small businesses emerge each and every month in the United States alone.

Because small businesses continue to represent a growing portion of the economy, it is in everyone’s best interest to ensure fledgling enterprises succeed – and that means securing capital.

Insufficient or unreliable capital can cripple an emerging business. Not having enough cash on hand to purchase inventory or hire employees can result in a delay or inability to fulfill orders. Either way, your company’s reputation can take a hit and you may not recover.

This is where creative cash flow solutions come into play. You may not have even realized these were options for your business, but take a closer look. It just may save your business.

Cash Flow Solution #1: Factoring and Invoice Advancements

Rather than funding your business through the use of credit cards or your own personal finances, many entrepreneurs are adopting a better strategy – factoring.

Factoring your ‘accounts receivables’ is essentially selling a company’s account receivables to a third party firm. The third party gets repaid for those accounts once the entrepreneur’s clients have paid up, but in the meantime you get access to cash flow now.

In this way, factoring and invoice advancements act as a short-term loan that allows the business owner to get around the tough loan requirements from a bank.

With that up-front cash, you can invest money in your business operations and execute on your growth strategies in order to secure new accounts and bring more clients into your company. It’s a win-win.

Cash Flow Solution #2: Demand Dividends through private investors

For the micro-enterprise, debt repayments can place a heavy burden on the business owner. That’s where private investment based on your free cash flow can come in handy.

Demand dividends is a loan system based on repayment only when you enter a more stable period where you have free cash flow. That system helps to align investor and entrepreneur goals in three ways:

  1. Determining a reasonable timeframe for capital return (a grace period may be between 10—24 months until repayment may begin)a
  2. Matching the return to the volatility of the market segment
  3. Tying repayments to the business owner’s ability to make payments (simply put, eliminating fixed repayments)

 Demand dividends tie repayments to cash flow and provides a greater grace period than traditional capital loans.

In plain English, you get a loan, can grow your business, and pay that loan back once you’re becoming more profitable. Just make sure you reach that stage fast enough!

Cash Flow Solution #3: Crowdfunding – Give the People What they Want

Crowdfunding has grown dramatically in popularity among small business owners as a means of raising capital.

If the public finds a business plan compelling and the entrepreneur has motivated potential investors, this can work extremely well.

For example, by offering a significant discount on an awesome new product concept when it goes to market, an entrepreneur can gain huge attention on crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter.

The risk to investors is much smaller because typical investment levels are small and shared with hundreds or even thousands of other investors.

In fact, many investors may not even think of themselves as an “investor” in the traditional sense. These new sites are set up more closely to e-commerce retailers, and to investors the experience is more closely related to a Black Friday deal where you need to scoop the other shoppers to get the coolest new product.

content marketing

Cash In With Content Marketing

content marketing

Whatever term you use – content marketing, sponsored content, or content strategy – it all comes down to giving buying audiences substantive, relevant, useful information in an easy-to-access format, enabling them to consider doing business with you.

Here’s how Content Marketing Institute (CMI) explains this strategic marketing approach: “Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty.”

CMI was founded by Joe Pulizzi, a leader in the content marketing movement. His weekly blog, This Week In Content Marketing, recently explored one of the most frequently asked questions about the practice: How does content marketing differ from advertising? Think of content marketing as an invitation vs. advertising, which is unsolicited information and oftentimes an unwanted interruption.

Understanding the difference between advertising and content marketing is half the battle of implementing a content marketing program. The bigger hurdle for many companies is thinking they don’t have meaningful content to share. Every business does! For example, a golf equipment supplier can create a blog with posts on golf trends, the difference in clubs, or how to choose apparel to ensure a comfortable playing experience in extreme heat. A security company could provide prospects with a whitepaper featuring tips for avoiding burglaries. A staffing firm’s e-newsletters can feature articles on how to develop an employee manual or the difference between independent contractors and employees.

PRNewswire explains how to distribute and drive content in its whitepaper “Why Content Marketing’s Really a Question of Marketing Your Content.” A key takeaway from the report: “Developing and executing a content distribution strategy is important because it can help you from both a search and social sharing perspective. After all, people are more likely to share content that you have actively distributed socially yourself. That sharing generates positive signals that search engines not only detect but could also reward with better rankings, which in turn can lead to more organic search traffic and even more social sharing.”

Take time to brainstorm what content would be interesting and valuable to your target audience; then build messages and delivery methods from there. The bonus: Metrics. The data from website visits, email campaigns, and social media activities will influence your content strategy and efforts as you work toward maintaining long-term relationships with your audiences.

Image via Joe the Goat Farmer