Tag Archives: small business association

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Study: Women Owners Have Better Work-Life Balance

With October designated by the Small Business Association as Women in Small Business Month, BMO Harris Bank today issued the results of a survey that found 40 percent of female small business owners say they have a good work/life balance, compared to 29 percent of male owners.

The survey of 580 U.S. small business owners also found:
• The proportion of men and women who say they have no work/life balance is similar – 5 percent and 6 percent respectively
• A third (32 percent) of men say they try to have a balance, but “often” work too much. This compares to 17 percent of women

A similar number of men and women (34 percent and 37 percent) say they generally have found a balance, but “sometimes” work too much. “We are seeing some positive changes in the small business sector, with more women now starting their own businesses than in the past. The results of our survey further drives home that female small business owners are making strides, with an 11 percent lead over men when it comes to saying they’ve found a work-life balance,” said Mollie Gawronski, Head, Small Business Strategy, BMO Harris Bank.

“There are an estimated 9.1 million women owned businesses in the United States today, with that number on a continuous growth trajectory,” said Emilia DiMenco, President and CEO, Women’s Business Development Center. “With the support of economic development centers such as the Women’s Business Development Center, women learn how to effectively and efficiently operate sustainable and profitable businesses which create jobs that lead to thriving communities.”

According to BMO Economics, small business confidence has risen to the best level in almost seven years in recent months, and small business employment has rebounded to well above pre-recession levels even as employment in mid- and large-size firms remain below their respective peaks. In terms of improving U.S. employment, strength has been concentrated in professional and business services, industries with higher proportions of women workers.

When asked about the work/life balance of their employees, both genders were of similar minds. Most women (89 percent) and men (85 percent) said it was important to them. However, women were notably more likely than men to describe it as “very important” (57 percent versus 44 percent).

“Striking that balance involves a number of factors, from hours worked to traveling and family time. When it comes to finances, time and efficiency is of the essence. We offer small business owners the option to get all of their banking needs in one place, from a business credit card to payment processing,” added Ms. Gawronski.

BMO Harris Bank recently launched the Small Business Builder, which offers a customizable package of business banking products and services with a number of special offers. It starts with a small business checking account, and can be built to include a business credit card, small business loans or lines of credit, payment processing, overdraft protection and access to bill pay and mobile banking.

If business is booming, but your personal life isn’t, BMO Harris offers the following tips to find a better balance:

Manage your hours: being a small business owner rarely means working 9-5, but shutting off is still important. Fielding calls and emails late at night and throughout the weekend might indicate to clients that you are available to work 24 hours a day.
Be realistic about what you can accomplish each day: planning a too-busy workday may prevent you from dealing with issues and opportunities that inevitably come up. Overbooking may actually cause you to be less time-efficient, because you’ve overextended yourself.

Delegate to others: at work, don’t be afraid to let go. While you may want to maintain control, hiring the right talent should allow you to disperse the workload among your employees. In life, ensure that your network of family and friends understands the lifestyle required to be an entrepreneur, and have them step in when you can’t get away.

Become as efficient as possible: Being organized can help you complete more work in less time. Use technology and software to coordinate and track various tasks. Put your finances in one place so you’re not constantly trying to remember what loan or account is where.

Small Business Association, SBA Loans

SBA Loans 101: Funding Small Business Expansion

Funding expansion of small business creates new jobs: SBA Loans 101

All the talk about the American Job Act has many thinking about how crucial the creation of jobs is to an economic turnaround. The reality is a majority of new jobs will not be a result of hiring by large corporations or government; new jobs are going to come from the growth of small business.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 95 percent of all businesses in Arizona are small businesses with less than 100 employees. These businesses employ 32 percent of the state’s workforce.

In most cases, small businesses must expand in order to create more jobs. For small business owners, expansion requires funding. While bank loans can be difficult for a small business to secure, a loan may be a more appealing option than finding investors or financial partners that may want a percentage of the company and input on how decisions are made.

A Small Business Association (SBA) loan or SBA loan is an option to consider. SBA loans are issued through banks to specifically help small businesses with their growth, including hiring new employees, adding more equipment and making other necessary changes. The questions then are how much cash SBA loans provide, and what does it take to qualify?

While the government-backed guarantee portion of SBA loans increased from $2 million to $5 million in 2010, protecting banks even more in the event that the borrower defaults, it is still difficult for small businesses to receive an SBA loan.

In order to qualify for an SBA loan from your bank, your business must be a for-profit business, have a sufficient amount of owner equity invested in the business and have already used other financial resources first, including personal assets.

You may also need to determine what type of SBA loan you may need. There are three specific categories:

•    The 7(a) Loan Program includes financial help for businesses with special requirements. For example, funds are available for loans to businesses that handle exports to foreign countries, businesses that operate in rural areas, and for other very specific purposes.

•    The Microloan Program provides small, short-term loans to small business concerns and certain types of not-for-profit child-care centers. The maximum loan amount is $50,000, but the average microloan is about $13,000.

•    The CDC/504 loan program is a long-term financing tool, designed to encourage economic development within a community. The 504 program accomplishes this by providing small businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing to acquire major fixed assets for expansion or modernization.

When applying for an SBA loan, it is important to remember that bankers, now more than ever, will be looking closely at the documents submitted. When you are preparing your loan application for your banker, you typically have to include:

•    An overview of the business
•    A description on the purpose of the loan request, and how it will be used
•    A plan to repay the loan
•    Collateral in the event that you cannot repay the loan
•    Personal financial statements for the last three years
•    Business financial statements for the last three years

Understanding what lenders are looking for is important regardless of what solution you may seek to finance the expansion of your small business. Working closely with the lender to make sure you are supplying the correct materials will save both parties time and energy in the process and hopefully help to secure the funding needed.

For more information about SBA loans, visit sba.gov.

[stextbox id=”grey”]Robyn Barrett is founder and managing member of FSW Funding, formerly Factors Southwest LLC, specializing in factoring financing for small to mid-size companies. For more information, visit www.fswfunding.com.[/stextbox]