What Type of Lender is Right for My Business?

by Crestmark 10. July 2014 05:54

When business owners or executives first realize the need for working capital, it can be difficult to know where to start. People often ask, “Should I call my local bank? What about non-traditional lenders? What’s the difference between the two?” We hear this all the time, and wanted to provide a resource to help! 

We recently released an Infographic titled “What Type of Lender is Right for My Business?” This provides a quick and easy reference piece for prospective borrowers to determine whether they’d be better suited pursuing a traditional bank line of credit, or to look into alternative financing. Each lending option has unique characteristics, and this infographic helps clarify how different business situations are best suited for certain lending options. 

The infographic follows a flow-chart format, and leads users through a series of yes / no choices about their business. Key points that determine the right fit include: 

- Does your business have three or more years of positive business history?

- Do you have limited or negative equity?

- Do you have limited or inconsistent profitability?

- Do your assets exceed your liabilities?

- Does your business have positive trends?

- Are there opportunities for growth?

By answering each of these questions, it’s easy to see whether your business may qualify for traditional or non-traditional lending. We are excited about this release, and hope that many businesses find this useful! 

              is alternate lending right for my business

Are you in the market for a business loan? If so, ask yourself the questions on this infographic and then give us a call to discuss! We’d love to help walk you through the process of figuring out what lending option would be best for you and your business. 

 

 

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Grad Students Take the Lion's Share of Rising Student Loan Debt

by Crestmark 2. July 2014 09:42

Students getting college degrees are borrowing more money to complete their educations than they have in the past. Student loans have topped $1 trillion. A study recently released by the New America Foundation shows that student loan debt is outpacing all other types of loans except for residential mortgages. Students seeking advanced degrees comprise only 17 percent of student loan borrowers, but they're getting the lion's share of the money.

  


The study revealed that grad students borrowed an average of $57,600 in 2012, as compared to just $40,209 in 2004. That's an increase of 43 percent in just eight years. Students are hoping that advanced degrees will give them better employment opportunities in a struggling economy.

After completing an undergraduate program, many students are finding it difficult to land a job. The philosophy is that going back to school to get a higher degree will make them more competitive in the workforce. A bachelor's degree is no longer enough for some careers. The New America Foundation research showed that some students with master's degrees weren't necessarily getting higher salaries, just hoping to get the edge over the competition. How much they borrowed was directly related to their field of interest.

For example, students borrowing money for Master of Arts degrees dropped $58,500 in 2012, for an average of $20,500 more per student. On the other hand, the average student financing a business administration master's program in 2012 borrowed $42,000, only $600 more than their counterpart in 2004.

According to non-profit American Student Assistance, of the 20 million students attending college every year, about 12 million borrow money to help cover their expenses. The consumer Finance Protection Bureau reports that of the more than $1 trillion in student loans, $150 billion comes from private lenders, and the other $864 billion is connected to federal funding.

 

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Understanding Your Business' Buying Cycle and Making the Most of It

by Crestmark 9. June 2014 11:50

Making sales is part of running your day-to-day business – it’s what brings in revenue and keeps the business moving forward. We all hope that customers come to us ready to buy, but in reality, there’s a lot more to it than that.

 buying cycle

The traditional buying cycle is broken down into three segments that your customers move through in the process of making a purchase. By understanding your business' buying cycle, you can take the right steps and make the most of it.

Awareness

The first step in the buying cycle is when potential customers discover that they have a need for your product. They're not ready to buy, but they are aware of their need and your potential to fill that need. You can find these potential customers through marketing efforts and by increasing awareness of your brand. Introduce yourself. Capture their attention without pushing for a sale. The use of email newsletters, blogs, and direct mail alerts about upcoming sales are examples of the soft, but necessary, approach during this fragile part of the buying cycle.

Consideration

During this second phase of the buying process, your potential customers are seeking information. They're considering a purchase and want to be educated about your company and your products. The availability of information is critical in this stage. Prospects are likely to read customer reviews, visit your website for product descriptions and make comparisons of their options. Their sense of urgency has elevated beyond curiosity, and this stage is often triggered by an event that sparks an increased interest. For example, they may have run out of an item or have an upcoming project where use of your product could make or break their success.

Identify the various triggers that prompt people to buy your products and make it known that you can provide solutions to these problems. Build website and newsletter content around these issues. Make testimonials from previous customers available and accessible for those in the second step of the buying cycle. Quench their thirst for information, and continue to build their trust.

Making a Purchase

When someone is ready to buy, you need to be ready to sell. Customers want attention in this third and final phase. If they already have a contact for your company, it's important that this person is available or that your customer can somehow initiate the sale right away. Providing around-the-clock automated ordering or live support is another option to help your customers make their purchases when they're ready. Information about forms of payment and how to contact your company should be visible on all of your marketing materials and on your website to capture the lead and close the sale.

Identifying and understanding how your customers fit into the buying cycle can help your business gain qualified leads and increase your sales. So take a look at your business – what can you do to improve your customers experience in each of these stages? The proper planning and implementation here can be a huge step forward for any business.

 

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How Online Banking is Changing the Industry

by Crestmark 22. May 2014 05:16

Back in the day, people walked into their banks and stood in long lines to deposit checks or make withdrawals. With the birth of automated tellers, direct deposit and online banking, consumers have slowly withdrawn from face-to-face visits. Online banking is changing the industry and the role of bank branches has changed with it.

      

While online mobile connections make simple transactions more accessible and efficient, there is still a need for the local bank branch. A recent survey from Bankrate.com reveals that 30 percent of Americans haven't visited a bank branch within the past six months. When they do go, the purpose of their visits is no longer to make a simple deposit or withdrawal – they want consultation and personalized attention.

Impact of Age

The Bankrate.com survey also found that the age of the consumer has an impact on how they do their banking. For example, 52 percent of banking customers age 50 and older have visited a bank branch within the past 30 days. Only 42 percent of consumers age 30 and younger have made their way to a bank branch in the last 30 days.

Older Americans are traditionally slower to adopt new technology, such as online and mobile banking, but as time passes, they have learned to embrace it. According to a study by Digital Insight, 36 percent of seniors and 60 percent of Baby Boomers were actively using digital banking in 2011, as compared to 40 percent and 64 percent respectively in 2013. That number is predicted to increase to 55 percent of seniors and 70 percent of Baby Boomers by 2016.

Impact of Technology

Fewer customers visit bank branches to handle routine transactions that can now be done on their mobile devices and desktop computers. As a result, the size and layout of bank branch locations is beginning to change. They're smaller, and the teller line is no longer the central focus. The emergence of automated kiosks for express services and financial loan officers with tablets who can cater to customers anywhere in the room is a direct impact of technology.

While mobile and web technology are expected to continue eclipsing brick-and-mortar branches in the future, don't count out the branches completely just yet. People may have taken day-to-day transactions into their own hands, but consultation for financing and resolution of account problems have come to the forefront of face-to-face banking needs, and the value of real human interaction there isn’t likely to diminish anytime soon.

 

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Economic Impact Abounds As NCAA Narrows to Final Four

by Crestmark 2. April 2014 09:42

March may be over, but the madness is in full swing as the NCAA tournament comes down to the Final Four. With barely a week to go in this annual fascination with college basketball, companies large and small are feeling the financial effects – some good, some not so much. Whether they're plagued by employees losing productivity or bolstered by a sudden influx of tournament-hungry patrons, the impact is undeniable. 

march madness

A Blow to Productivity

According to a recent report from outplacement and career transitioning company Challenger, Gray and Christmas, more than 50 million American workers are participating in office pools. While the annual practice may have cost companies approximately $1.2 billion in lost production time in the first week of the basketball tournament alone, the firm has cautioned corporate executives to avoid taking a hard line against bracket pools, friendly discussions at the water cooler and those taking time out for updates. A blow to employee morale and loss of camaraderie could be even more costly to a company's bottom line in the long run.

A Rise in Morale  

While the setback to productivity has declined as the basketball games have transitioned to evening and weekend play, the excitement of bracket busters and newly formed kinships at the office continues. Companies that allow employees to wear their favorite teams' colors or check office pool updates on the clock can still reap the benefits of enthusiastic workers. A pre-tournament survey by staffing services firm OfficeTeam found that 32 percent of the 300 senior managers surveyed believed that support of March Madness activities had a positive impact on worker morale, compared to just 20 percent in 2013.

A Boon to Business

On the other side of the financial fence, many merchants have seen a rise in business during the NCAA tournament. Hotels, restaurants and shops in host cities have experienced a surge in bookings, as have providers for air and ground  transportation. Mid-West bracket host city Indianapolis, for example, expected a $20 million spending impact from this past weekend's showdowns between the University of Kentucky and University of Louisville, as well as the University of Tennessee and University of Michigan. Kentucky eked out a win against Michigan amid an economic boost for Indianapolis merchants.

Meanwhile, restaurants and sports bars throughout the country offering televised games with food and drink specials are drawing record crowds of their own. In some cases, employees for these businesses are picking up extra shifts and working longer hours to meet the demand.  

With the semi-final games set for Friday, April 4 and the championship on Sunday, April 6, 2014, the eyes of millions of Americans are on the Florida Gators, Connecticut Huskies, Wisconsin Badgers and the Kentucky Wildcats. While there's no doubt that the economic impact of the NCAA tournament has created both winners and losers, only three games remain until it's back to business as usual.  

 

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