E-Commerce – Top Three Financing Options To Startup Or Grow An Online Business

E-commerce businesses don’t need much capital to get started. But they do need additional funds to fuel growth and extend operations. Banks charge online businesses very high rates for loans. The approval provisos are usually so stringent that online businesses are often unable to qualify at all. Collaterals are a must; and with the high interest rate the loan becomes very risky for the owner.

Fortunately, small e-commerce businesses can look at alternate avenues to seed their business growth. Let’s discuss some of them.

Get funds from friends and family

If your funding needs are not too high (around $10,000-$50,000), consider acquiring seed capital by soliciting a loan from friends and family. Have a proper business plan at hand, so you can demonstrate how the money will be used and the expected returns during the next one to five year period. This will make the investors more enthusiastic and you more comfortable asking for the loan. Do this even if you are very close to the prospective loaner.

Consider taking a loan in phases. Make sure you give an account of how each loan installment has helped sustain the business before the next installment arrives.

Contact angel investors

Consider contacting angel investors if you need $100,000 or more as funds. Angels invest in startup businesses to support their growth and expansion. They look for businesses that have been in existence for 1-2 years or at least have solid workable ideas and a strong business plan. You’ll find many websites that help entrepreneurs network with business angels and vice versa. Ask questions to get an idea of the kind of arrangement the business angel wants. Find out which businesses they have invested in previously, the terms and type of agreement that will be used, repayment schedule or how much share they would want you to divest, etc., before accepting the loan.

Incorporate the business to offer private placements

Small businesses incorporate to get tax benefits, protection from personal liabilities, and to acquire funds for expansion. Businesses offer private placements, also called non-public offer, so they have control on who they bring on board and on the expectations of shareholders. With private placements, small businesses can raise a large amount of money in a short time. They also bring down the risks associated with a single investor contributing all the money and as a result putting her in a powerful position over the business.

Apply for a merchant cash advance

Another funding option open to small businesses is business or merchant cash advance (MCA). MCA providers buy a percentage of your future credit card receipts at about 15%-50% discount for a lump sum that is paid as an advance. The amount of advance is based on the monthly volume of your credit card sales, and time in business. It requires no collateral and minimal paperwork. The approval rates are high and the processing time is as short as 3-7 days. MCA works for businesses looking for immediate funds that can be paid back within a year.

Take advantage of the fact that you have more than the bank to go to if you want to expand your business. Whatever funding option you choose, ensure that you understand every aspect of the transaction. Don’t sign any agreements or accept loans without being very clear on the terms of repayment.

UK’s 10 Most Outstanding Local Business Directories

The success of local online business directories to supply information quickly on demand made them more enticing for consumers to use when looking for a local business. This increase in demand for local online business directories makes them important marketing tools for local businesses today. It doesn’t matter what type of business you own (i.e. law office, bookkeeping company, laundry shop, pizza parlor, etc.) local business listings can help you grow your business.

There’s a survey done on consumers and online business directories and it was found out that consumers prefer online business listings to quickly find businesses in their area. The survey revealed that over 50% of businesses found on directory searches result in either a call or visit by a willing customer. You need to make sure that the local business number called is your business!

Today, several online business directories offer free business listing-ensure that your business is visible on these free online directories. And although paid-for listings will often appear at the top of the directory results, there are strategies to get your business to the top of a directory using a free listing.

Ten Major Online Business Directories in UK

1. Yell.com

The leading online business directory with over 6 million monthly users, Yell.com allows free business listings but the option to customize your listing by adding in photos and description are non-existent at present. They have their site on paid listings and the price range from 300 pounds to 600 pounds depending on the business category.

Verdict: don’t miss the free business listing; spending some money on paid listing is a good investment too because of the site’s large pool of users.

2. Qype.co.uk

Qype.com.uk can handle ALL types of businesses directory listings. Qype’s users actively rate and recommend businesses on the site. So get your business mentioned on this site and watch out for a surge in sales! Qype lets businesses add lots of extra information for free like photos and business description. A full listing will really standout and getting good customer reviews can get you to the top of the listings for free. Qype do offer a paid-for listings service for approximately £50/month which represents good value in increasing leads with fewer effort on your part.

Verdict: list your business, add extra detail; consider their paid-for listings should your budget allows.

3. HotFrogUK.co.uk

A relative newcomer to UK, this bizarrely named directory has developed quickly thanks to its excellent Google PR. All listings are free and a business can add lots of extra information which will help you to get up their ranking and also start appearing in Google for relevant search terms.

Verdict: while the site is free, take the opportunity to list your business.

4. Vivastreet.co.uk

This is a free online classified advertising service, not a directory. Vivastreet has over 1.2 million users per month and enjoys a very good Google PR. No other site can promote events, special offers, promos, etc. like Vivastreet.co.uk. However, the free directory listings on the site will expire; you need to go back and re-list your advert on the site regularly. While your listing is on Vivastreet, however, it can do tremendous benefits to your Google Places listing.

Verdict: if you have special offers, promos, events, etc. to promote, the site is the best for you.

5. City-visitor.co.uk

Perhaps because the site has been here for quite some time now, its design is showing signs of obsolescence. They offer a basic free-listing which is useful as a citation for your Google Places listing. When the site convinces you to go for their paid-listing though, think twice because the value may not be commensurate with the money spent.

Verdict: list your business for free but not worth paying for.

6. FreeIndex.co.uk

FreeIndex.co.uk is another rising player in UK’s business directory listings arena. It’s free directory listings is not to be missed for all business owners. The site doesn’t buy business listings-all businesses on their directory have been listed by the owners themselves, which helps boost reputation on Google page ranking. The site is very good in generating leads for local businesses too.

Verdict: don’t hesitate to use the free business listing but take time to consider the lead generation offer of the site.

7. Bizwiki & AccessPlace

Two separate directories but they share information, so if you list on Bizwiki you get free directory listings on Access Place too! Their combined monthly audience is approximately 700,000, and you can list your business and extra information including photos, service description, opening hours, etc. for free.

Verdict: Recommendation: strive to get positive consumer reviews to push your listing to the top

8. Yelp.co.uk

Yelp is huge in the US; Google recently tried to buy them for a reported US$500m! They’ve been in the UK for a couple of years and are rapidly building a loyal audience; they’ve grown from 100k users to 500k in 12 months! Yelp is known originally for their restaurant reviews; now they cover all business categories. The site puts emphasis on good reviews, and to get good reviews means you need master how Yelp’s online community functions.

Verdict: it has the potential to become a major force in the business directory listings arena, so list now for free and start generating some positive user reviews.

9. Bview.co.uk

Bview.co.uk’s focus is on local promos more than local SEO London listings, which makes them a different online directory. The main focus is on London businesses providing them a venue to advertise their local promos, which is distributed to mobile apps and other relevant sites

Verdict: great lead generator if you have discount vouchers so list for free, add your promos vouchers and wait for the phone to ring.

10. ViewLondon.co.uk

Viewlondon.co.uk is a directory devoted to lifestyle and entertainment businesses, that is to say bars, clubs, pubs, restaurants, venues, etc. They now cover major cities in the UK and are expanding rapidly. The site allows listing businesses for free without limiting the information that can be added. They have several advertising and paid-listing opportunities; their service could be expensive but a lot of business owners say that their service works.

Verdict: if you’re into the entertainment business, then list your business for free and consider testing their paid-for options to see what the return is like.

Conclusion:

Online business directories are powerful local business marketing platform today. Local business owners should take advantage of the free listing opportunities and focus their efforts on getting directory users to leave sparkling reviews to boost their free directory listings rank. Don’t be afraid to spend your extra marketing money on these leading directories but make sure you shop around-it’s a competitive market!

Should We Consider a Home-Based Business?

Why should we consider a Home-Based Business in today’s economy? Changes in America’s workplace are forcing us to open our minds and consider alternatives which, in the past, may have been considered by some as non-traditional. But of course, many of those people who become wealthy consider alternatives that the majority of the population deems non-traditional; otherwise more people would be financially independent!

I’m not trying to say that all people can or should become wealthy, but it seems evident that the business and job environment for the masses is rapidly changing. I’m only asking that you have an open mind and allow me to share with you some ideas about the pursuit of success utilizing a home-based business.

It’s been said that a mind is like a parachute, it works better when it’s open!

Happiness and Satisfaction

First there are some questions which we must ask ourselves in order to see if we really are satisfied with our current life. If you read the following statements and they stir no particular emotion, then you’re probably happy with who you are and what you’re currently doing.

I wish I didn’t have to pay so much income tax.

I wish my job or business paid me more money.

I don’t have enough money for retirement.

I can’t afford to pay for my children’s education.

I wish my financial situation would allow me to at least semi-retire.

I get so tired of my boss telling me what to do.

I would like to have the flexibility to spend more time with my family.

My advancement does not depend upon my accomplishments.

I’m not paid what I’m worth.

I’m not accomplishing my personal and financial goals.

I’m tired of dealing with employees.

I wish my job wasn’t so stressful

I want to control with and for whom I work.

Do you identify with any of the above statements? Someone once said that success is a journey and not a destination. The purpose for this communiqué is to identify individuals who sincerely want more financial success in their life but don’t seem to have the right Vehicle for their journey.

Years of experience indicate that success depends not only on the development of the individual, but also on having the appropriate vehicle. How many times have you seen people pour their heart and soul into a job or business and still not achieve the success they desire? Maybe that has happened to you. Let’s assume that you have the desire and persistence necessary to achieve the success you want.

How about your current vehicle, will it take you where you want to go? If the future is as the past, are you on track to achieve your goals and dreams?

How about you? Have you properly prepared yourself for success? If the answer is no and you are one of those individuals that truly possesses the desire and persistence necessary for more success, I respectively ask that you allow me to share with you a personal development program and business opportunity concept that has the potential to be that Vehicle to success!

Risk Tolerance & Reliability

When evaluating a Vehicle, we look at four distinct areas. First, the Vehicle must be safe in relation to the risk tolerance of the person. What is deemed as safe to a young person starting their career is certainly different from that of a person in or near retirement. Regardless, the height of our success should be limited only by our ability to develop the mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, and financial aspects of our own being… The vehicle must never be the limiting factor in our success.

An opportunity’s reliability is a function of several factors including age, management, market, and compensation. Each of those topics warrants their own discussions.

Suitability

Next the Vehicle must be suitable for the individual. Experts have always said find something you like to do, figure out a way to make money from it and you will probably be successful. Professional athletes who earn fortunes playing a game they love are extremely fortunate. But, most of us have learned that we can’t always be financially successful working at our hobbies. However, we all deserve the opportunity to enjoy what we do and to work in a positive environment.

Effort vs. Reward

Next, the activities surrounding the Vehicle must be doable and provide opportunity in relation to effort! Not everyone can be a scientist, a doctor or a CEO of a Fortune 500 company. However, any individual can obtain financial success if they can match their abilities with the appropriate vehicle. The Vehicle must be time proven and be doable by a wide array of individuals of all ages, races, educational backgrounds, and business experience. In the cases where individuals have demonstrated true desire and persistence over a period of time, their income levels have equaled or exceeded that of many CEOs. Although education and experience may reduce the time period for achievement, desire and persistence are more important characteristics for success with our opportunity.

Other Desirable Traits

We believe using an appropriate home-based business as a vehicle for success addresses the four areas of concerns better than most other alternatives, whether for an additional $50 per month or for $50,000 per month of income. Having a home-based business is not a new concept. We’re asking that you consider adding a home-based business to your current job or business income. We believe that a home-based business possesses at least three additional desirable traits: a) immediate tax benefits, b) flexibility of time and activity, and c) a favorable opportunity to investment ratio.

Tax Benefits

Owning a home-based business allows us to immediately make many of our current home and automobile expenses tax-deductible. In addition, other tax benefits include converting children’s allowances and living expenses, medical and dental expenses not covered by insurance, educational expenses, and travel expenses to tax-deductible expenses. In total, there are at least nineteen different types of tax deductions applicable to the home-based business. In many cases, these are expenses we already have but which are not currently deductible. If done properly, converting these expenses to deductions can often save enough in income taxes to finance a major portion of the new home-based business!

Let Uncle Sam finance your home-based business.

Uncle Sam wants to give you these deductions for a home-based business in order that you generate more income for yourself and others which results eventually in more income taxes for the government. Although I’m not qualified to give tax advice, I can refer a tax service that I use which specializes in home-business tax deduction planning.

Current Trends in the Workplace

The availability of personal computers and people desiring flexibility of time and activity are the catalysts for a major movement of people working at home in corporate America. Those people desiring flexibility of time and activity and, in addition, want control of their financial destiny, are also starting home-based business en masse. Most people need additional income. Many people want more time with their families. Some simply want to have control of their time. We must be aware that the more obligations we have to other people, the less control we have over our own time. Our own desire for success is the only factor which controls the time of a home-based business owner.

Investment

Normally, when we think of our own business, serious investment immediately comes to mind. Many mortgage their homes to start a small business. Even if the individual possesses the desire to own their own traditional business, the majority of people do not have the proper education, experience, or disposition to successfully run a business which has risk of investment loss, debt, employees, inventory, advertising, customers, billings and collections and other on going problems! History shows that a majority of those businesses won’t last three years. In many cases, even if the business succeeds, it would not have the potential to provide financial independence without total domination of our time, energy and attention.

Franchises

Most franchises cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and a percentage of the gross revenue, regardless of profit. Our opportunity requires a very small investment and has virtually unlimited income potential. The potential is limited mainly by one’s own desire and persistence and time of involvement.

Network Marketing

We are not asking that anyone change everything immediately. We are however, suggesting that people consider the addition of the right Network Marketing home-based business starting their journey of financial success in a different direction. Having a home-based business is not a new concept. Network Marketing is not a new concept. Having a home-based Network Marketing business is not a new concept. However, never in the history of our country has the concept been so prevalent and is fast becoming the norm rather than the exception!

The reason is very simple. Our concept is providing American’s with what they want; control of their time and financial opportunities proportionate to their abilities and effort.

Many home-based businesses provide all those benefits listed above; however, they have limited financial opportunity!

With the right home-based Network Marketing business, one has all of the benefits and advantages of a home-based business and unlimited financial opportunity usually associated with a large traditional business.

Our next post will be concerning “Why Network Marketing as Your Home-Based Business”.