Social Media Time Management for Small Businesses

by Crestmark 28. May 2013 05:13


Small businesses are told to have a social media strategy to stay competitive.  For the most part, they know it’s necessary; they’re just not sure where to go with it.  Which social media outlets are most successful?  Which platform will get your company the most publicity? How do you manage your time between the endless amounts of new social platforms being released every day?  With all the other management and marketing strategies your business has going on, social media may seem like the last thing you want to add to your “to-do” list.  However, it doesn’t have to be a stressful process.

Develop a Plan: First and foremost, before just jumping into the social media pool, you’ll need to have a solid strategy.  Don’t just start posting and commenting without a plan.  Know your target audience; get a feel for who you’re trying to reach and what you’re trying to get out of using social media to reach customers. This will help you maintain credibility and relevance as a business.

Test the Waters: So this is your first social campaign- maybe ever.  Don’t panic!  Social media is a platform that doesn’t thrive on perfection.  Use trial and error to determine what engages followers.  Ask questions.  Don’t be afraid to learn from others and even learn from your clients!  Being “new” to social media can be a great excuse to learn and gain respect from consumers who don’t expect you to know all the ropes just yet. 

Start Small: One of the biggest mistakes you can make in your social media endeavors is to take on more than you can handle.  If this is your first ever attempt at going social- don’t create a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vine, and Instagram all at once.  It is always better to do one thing really well than to try and haphazardly to have your hands in everything at once. For entrepreneurs—and really anyone in a B2B industry—Linkedin is a great place to start to grow your network.

Track, Track, Track: Keep a close eye on your website analytics and definitely take a few minutes to install a social media dashboard. These custom Google dashboards will not only allow you to see how many people are coming to your site from every social network (whether you have a profile on there or not), but what devices those users are coming from and how those users end up converting.

Have you already gotten started with your social media efforts? Connect with Crestmark on Linkedin today! 

 

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Financing the US Oil Boom

by Crestmark 22. May 2013 10:59

Although scientists have known about the presence of crude oil in North Dakota for decades, it wasn't until 2008 that technology made it possible to extract oil from the rocks of Bakken shale. Now, with fracking, North Dakota is home 200 active oil rigs, and it produces around 20 million barrels of oil each month.

oil financing

This oil boom is a tremendous boost to the economy. While other parts of the nation have suffered through a recession, North Dakota has enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate in the country. The population of some small towns has doubled in recent years due to the influx of workers for the oil fields. The benefits of the Bakken shale oil fields have spread to other areas of the United States and Canada as well.

While the huge increase in oil production is great for the economy, it would not be possible without access to working capital to support the growth. Crestmark is proud to partner with companies in the oil & gas industry to provide financing solutions to support their businesses. Capital is often needed for pipeline expansion, refineries, staffing, trucking, machinery, temporary housing and many other things. Through a variety of lending options, Crestmark is able to offer flexible financing to help continue the growth in North Dakota and throughout the United States.

As the oil industry grows, it provides a trickle-down effect that strengthens the local economy as well. More workers moving to the area creates a new demand for restaurants and supermarkets, car dealerships, and many other services.

All of these new businesses also require access to working capital to get up and running. Not only is Crestmark equipped to handle to financing needs of large oil & gas companies, but we are also a strong partner to small businesses, offering SBA loans alongside our asset-based lending, accounts receivable financing, and factoring programs.

To speak with a lending expert, give us a call at 888.999.8050 or fill out our online contact form.

 

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Industry Financing

The Need for Flexibility in Fast Fashion

by Crestmark 25. April 2013 02:57

"Fast fashion" is a term used to describe the newest trend in high-fashion apparel. In order to compete with second-hand stores and bargain brands, some formerly high-price designers have begun offering large quantities of affordable, attractive clothing engineered to capture a buyer's attention and inspire an impulse buy. In order to keep profits high, designers must release a constant stream of affordable and desirable clothing.               

             textiles financing


The key to success in the fast fashion industry is creating a product that provides an irresistible temptation—it should be something customers want now. Creating this environment requires the designer to be flexible and courageous, and designers must be able to change their tactics quickly to keep up with market demand. Fashion today is an industry with a short shelf-life, and this creates a unique set of requirements for financing any fashion business.

When looking for a lending institution to finance your fast fashion business, you'll need to choose  a lender with a quick turnaround and competitive rates. Your profit margin will be slim, especially in the beginning, while you focus on building a loyal customer base and establishing sourcing relationships, so keeping your costs as low as possible will enable you to maximize profitability. Moreover, a fast-paced industry, such as fashion, requires a  financial partner that can respond to  your needs quickly, not one that labors over decisions or credit applications.

Other attractive features in a lending relationship include options for import or export financing. As your business grows, you may want to expand beyond our borders and begin marketing the product overseas, and export financing is an important tool in that process. Similarly, importing product can help keep prices down and make it easier to keep up with a competitive industry but only if you have a financial partner that both understands your trade cycle and offers competitive import financing options.

Finally, finding a lender who is flexible and who can add value to your business is crucial. Any time you ship product to customers, you run the risk of not being paid. By choosing a non-recourse factor, you can reduce the credit risk to you posed by these circumstances. For any fast-moving business with uncertain profits, this is extremely important.

Launching any business comes with risk, but choosing the right lending institution will help mitigate these risks and increase your chances of success.. Careful research, coupled with  an understanding of your needs, will help you find the right financial fit. In choosing the right financial institution, to finance your fast paced, fashion business, you will be placing your business in the best place to succeed. 

 

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Industry Financing

Is Accounts Receivable Financing Right for Your Business?

by Crestmark 10. April 2013 06:44

 

When it comes to financing your business, it can be challenging to determine which type of financing is right for your particular business in your particular situation. Accounts Receivable (A/R) financing allows you to borrow money against your existing invoices – this can be a great option, but how do you know if it’s right for you?

Here are six indicators that will help you determine if accounts receivable financing is the best option for you:

1. Inability to Obtain Traditional Lending – To be considered for a loan, lenders evaluate the kind of risks your company takes on in order to approve your loan. New businesses can have a hard time getting quality loan rates because the risk to the bank is higher, and the lack of collateral allowance often stands in the way of being approved. However, if you find your business turned down by traditional lenders, A/R financing could be an option.

2. Quick Growth – Quick growth doesn’t seem like bad news, but if it is an unanticipated surge in sales, you may find yourself struggling to catch your breath. This unexpected growth expansion can require extra supplies for manufacturing, more staff, and often more money to pay the bills. Unfortunately these frequently occur well before your company receives income from the growth.  If this is the case, you may be a good candidate for an A/R loan.

3. Expanded Offerings – Introducing a new product line, service, or other new branch of your business can be very exciting, but it also comes with a unique set of challenges. There’s often a need to invest in new equipment, personnel, or other items necessary to get this part of your business up and running.  In this scenario, A/R financing may be a good option.

4. Seasonal Sales – While many businesses experience relatively stable sales throughout the year, others can be very seasonal. High demand for seasonal merchandise or expected participation in upcoming events can cause sales to skyrocket, in which case, accounts receivable financing might suit you.

5. Strong Customers - Lenders are more likely to offer accounts receivable financing to companies with paying customers whose credit is in good standing.  While overdue accounts can be used as collateral, some lenders prefer to deal with customers that are less than 90 days late. Some lenders, including  here at Crestmark, provide invoice collection efforts and client credit reviews as part of their services.

6. Net Payment Time - Accounts receivable financing might be right for your business if your invoices request payment within 30 or 60 days. You could be a good candidate if you only need a quick infusion of money before the payments are due to bridge the gap between accounts payable and accounts receivable.

If your business is currently experiencing any/all of the items listed above, AR financing may be a great option.  For additional information, and to speak with a lending expert in regards to your particular business, give us a call at 888.999.8050.

Has your business run into any of these circumstances? Has accounts receivable financing worked for you?

 

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Accounts Receivable Financing

Seven Questions to Ask Yourself When Testing a Business Idea

by Crestmark 8. April 2013 06:45

Most people have come up with a potential business idea at some point in their lives. After all, the idea is the easy part. Before investing time or energy into a new business, it's important to critically analyze the idea to ensure it will be a smart use of resources. Here are seven things every new business owner should consider before moving forward and getting serious with an idea: 


1. What is the customer profile? There’s no sense in starting a business without any customers, and the better you understand your potential market, the more likely your business is to grow and succeed. The current state of the economy makes it even more crucial to take some time to research your target audience because targeting everyone in general will be too expensive. Who are your potential competitors targeting? You might find they’re missing out on a niche market you can take advantage of once you’re in business.

2. What resources are needed? Understanding the full, up-front cost of a project is vital to ensuring its success. Consider the cost of materials, labor, advertising costs and other expenses. Will the costs outweigh the profits? If an idea isn't financially feasible, put it on hold for a later time.

3. What is the purchasing cycle? The longer it takes for profits to reach the business, the more money must be spent up-front. Understanding your purchasing cycle beforehand will help with budgeting. Once you’ve decided to move forward with an idea, remember—whether your business will have a short cycle like most retail stores, or one that lasts for months: find ways to reach your customers at each point in the cycle.

4. What product or service is this replacing? In order to effectively sell something, a company must convince its customers to buy its products instead of something else. Determine what item customers will be willing to give up in exchange for the service offered by the new business. This will also help when the time comes to advertise the product.

 

sales forecast5. What is a reasonable sales forecast? Determine how many sales can be reasonably expected, and compare this figure against the production cost of the item or service. For example, a restaurant owner might consider the occupancy of the restaurant, the average cost of a menu item and how many people could be expected to stop in on an average day. It might help to review competing businesses to draw estimates from their data. 


6. How much growth potential is there? If you’re producing a hand-crafted item, for example, can it be mass-produced if the demand requires? Services that must be rendered by a skilled individual cannot be produced in high quantities. Leave room for growth, but establish limits early on.

7. Will the idea be viable in several years? Some business ideas seem appealing at first but would not be attractive in the long haul. Before deciding on a new enterprise, an entrepreneur needs to decide if he could be happy at that same business two, five or even 10 years down the road.


Of course, a successful business needs more than a smart idea, but testing each new idea against these criteria will help to create a secure foundation for the business to grow upon. 

 

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