Business Credit Reports Demystified

Businesses rely on credit to succeed. And yet, business credit can be an intimidating and confusing area. Your business is taking hold; you’ve found ways to grow your market, and you want to jump on the opportunities to expand by partnering with other businesses. Perhaps that means you want to take out a small business loan to acquire additional inventory to keep up with increasing demands. Or, perhaps you want to partner with a company you think will excel at managing your supply chain so that you can spend more time focusing on the areas in which your business thrives.

Business credit reports can help you identify your own business’ stability in the eyes of others who may want to partner with you, just as it provides you the ability to get a deeper look into the track records of business partners you choose to rely on. Here’s a guide that will help you demystify business credit reports, so that you can feel confident in knowing how to improve your business’ standing and make sure the businesses you partner with are solid too.

Check your credit reports.

Did you know that in an average two –year period, only 33% of small business owners view their own business’ credit reports? And yet, a low credit score can quickly sink your business. Low scores raise bright red flags. Just as you would hesitate to partner with another business with low scores, others will steer clear of your business if your scores are problematic.

Check your business’s credit reports so that you can know when problems arise and address them before they lower your business’ overall credit profile.

Credit Scores

Personal credit scores are confusing—who decided that the scale should span from 300 to 850? Fortunately, business credit scores are simpler. A business credit score ranges from 0 to 100. High scores are better and mean lower risk.

If you are looking to strengthen or build your business’ credit profile, try to get your business’ score above 75.  Likewise, if you are looking for businesses to partner with, look for ones with scores north of 75.

Payment History

Just like with personal credit, a business’ payment history affects its credit risk rating. One of the biggest factors in assessing credit worthiness is by examining the business’ payment history. Are payments being made on time? Are payments being made at the minimum amount or are debts being paid down faster? Slow repayment can indicate slow revenue and higher risk, while faster repayment can indicate growth and lower risk.

If you are trying to improve your business’ credit score, be sure to make payments on time, and where possible, pay more than the minimum payment. These practices demonstrate reliability and trustworthiness, and will improve your customers’ confidence.

Company Profile

A business credit report provides a company profile including age, industry, employment base, sales, prominent executives, and parent or subsidiary businesses. Older companies are typically more stable and have documented history that shows the company’s borrowing and spending habits. More recent businesses might also be safe, but you may have to dig a little deeper and analyze their credit reports a little more closely to determine that.

If you are trying to boost your business’ credit profile, use your credit reports to inform you on how you are doing in setting a consistent and positive pattern in credit-based borrowing and spending.

Filings and Legal Issues

There are usually two kinds of filings on a business credit report. One includes legal filings such as lawsuits, liens, or bankruptcies. These latter two can significantly increase risk. Lawsuits may or may not indicate credit risk, depending on the nature and pattern of lawsuits for a company. The other kind of filings are UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) filings. UCC filings can be used to interpret how a business provides collateral, or security, for the credit being provided.

About the Author
The author of this article is Nicole Johnson, a credit editor and expert at BestCreditRepairCompanys.com.

It Isn’t All About The Bottom Line When It Comes To Attracting The Best Staff

Of late, the majority of the talk when it comes to employment has been focusing on the lack of jobs for young people and the ever lessening scope for advancements in career progression. In other words, all we have to say is, ‘there are no jobs!’ This is an easy excuse for the next generation of workers who, in a lot of cases, seem more than happy just to give up on their futures and settle into a life of job seekers allowance and housing benefits.

It is very easy to live by this ethos and to assume that the job market is that difficult to break into without even giving it a good go. However, the truth is that the top jobs still need doing, and they need doing by the top employees. This, by default, suggests that if you are at the top of your game, the stand out candidate in your field, then you will be able to secure any job that you go for.

It’s a two-way street

In fact, whilst everybody struggles to get a job there are hundreds of employers out there who are struggling to find the right staff. Employment is a mine field that is very difficult to get to the other side of safely. Interviews and assessments can only show you so much about a potential employee and cannot give you a true indication of what that person will really be like as an employee. Just as employees are terrified of landing the wrong job, employers are terrified of hiring the wrong people.

As a way to combat this, employers must ensure that they keep their employee turnover at an absolute minimum whilst offering potential new candidates something that their competitors cannot.

Providing a decent salary is a must

The first thing that you think about when you consider how to try and keep employees happy is money. The salary that a company provides is often the first thing that somebody looks at when applying for a job and the top salaries are what the best candidates compete for. However, it is easy to assume that this will be enough when it comes to attracting the best staff to work for your company, when in reality there is a lot more to think about.

Consider employee benefits to retain staff levels

Employers are becoming much savvier with the benefits that they can offer to their employees as they are becoming more and more aware of the necessity for a high level of employee retention and for the hiring of the best candidates from the outset.

Thanks to the government’s moves to help provide employee benefits such as the ride to work scheme and the child care voucher schemes employers have been given more opportunities to make their employees believe they are well treated and to, most importantly save them money.

On top of these government-lead schemes there are many other ingenious ways that employers have sought to make their employees feel special. Free access to exclusive gyms, vouchers for various entertainment venues and competitions for various prizes help to keep a workforce motivated and committed to working for years to come.

Guest post contributed by Simon Jones, a professional recruiter who sees both sides of the spectrum when it comes to Employees & Employers. Simon has worked with both sides and seen people dealing with different employee problems, from co-op employee benefits from the co-operative to employers struggling to find the right staff.

The Business Benefits Of Effective Telephone Support

There are certain things in business that are essential to have any chance of regarding yourselves as a success. The obvious things are to consider how much money you are bringing in, in comparison to your competitors. After all, business is the game of money making and making money is the only way to win it. Another key thing to consider is the profile of your business, it is a well-known brand that is likely to progress in future years, are you classed as an up and coming world beater that simply needs time to grow.

Assessing the infrastructure of your business

Aside from the way that your business is construed externally it is also vital to gauge your success by assessing yourselves internally and scrutinising the infrastructure that you have in place. The infrastructure of a business is vital to ensuring that, if it is successful, that success will continue for many years into the future.

Workforce

The first thing to consider is the workforce. Without a happy workforce it is impossible to run a successful business. It is vital to treat them with care and attention so as to instil this ethos onto them when they are working for you. If you employees are hardworking and happy, then your clients and customers will be happy and will be more likely to continue using your services.

Move with the times

After this it is important to look at the development team that you have at your disposal. A stagnant business is going nowhere and is important to evolve with the times in order to guarantee on-going success in the future.

Keep clients satisfied

Once you have your end of the business under wraps it is time to start thinking about your clients and how they will need to be satisfied in order to ensure continual success in the future. It cannot be emphasised enough how important the clients are, because if they’re not happy then you’re not going to be able to have much success. It is important to do some market research and to what they want and need and then make sure adaptations are made in relation to your results. The key to business success is to never be happy with what you have got.

Telephone support

Something that is overlooked during a business analysis is the impact that telephone support can have upon a business. This is a crucial piece in what is a very complicated business and is something that, if done correctly can help make your business stand out from its competitors.

Telephone support is, in most cases, your client’s only true link to your business, which is why it can never be over-estimated. Helpful support delivered by personable and friendly people can help put a face to what they might see as a company devoid of character, one whose sole purpose is to exploit its users and to make money. If you have the ability to make you service users positively like your services and what you stand for then not only will they continue to support you in the future but they will also work to spread the notoriety of what you do.

Guest post contributed by Simon Jones, a technology and business blogger who loves helping people grow and expand their business, a big advocate of Telephone answering systems from the likes of Moneypenny to really free up time & provide a quality service for small businesses looking to expand.

A Simple Guide to USPS Address Validation

The United States Postal Service (USPS) uses standard addresses to identify all physical locations which can accept mail deliveries. Because of new construction or relocation, the USPS updates its database monthly, and provides recommendations for verifying mailing addresses. For businesses with heavy outgoing mail, it is important to verify that the mailing addresses they use are valid per the USPS Zip+4 address database.

The process used to validate a legitimate address follows two steps:

  • Standardization
  • Delivery Point Verification

What is Standardization?

Standardization is the process by which an address is put into a standard format which will more easily match the addresses in the USPS database. Components of standardization include the following:

Converting common terms to abbreviations – Most people are aware of the standard two letter abbreviations used to identify the various states within the United States. But many people don’t realize that the USPS also uses standard abbreviations to identify street suffixes and secondary units. The standard abbreviations can be found at the USPS website (USPS Official Abbreviations) and updating a mailing address with approved abbreviations is the first step in standardizing an address. For example, the USPS accepted abbreviation for AVENUE is AVE.

Correcting spelling errors – Just as with editing most documents, it is important to correct spelling errors within an address. Many street and city names use common terms, and if spelled incorrectly, they may not match a valid USPS address and end up as undeliverable. A good service or application will spell check an address looking for and correcting common terms.

Verifying and converting to uniform city names – Just as the USPS uses common abbreviations, they also maintain a list of uniform city names. Confusion can occur over time where city names may be referred to differently in advertising or city signage, so that many people don’t know the uniform city name used by the postal service. A non-uniform city name may make the mail undeliverable. An example of this issue is with New York – an address to New York City, Manhattan, the Big Apple, or NYC would need to be corrected to read simply New York as the city name to ensure deliverability.

Ensuring the address is complete – Perhaps the most important aspect of address standardization is to make sure the address has all components that the USPS, or any other delivery service, is expecting. By including all parts of the address, you ensure that each component is identified for what it is, i.e. street, city, or state. The addition of the zip code is the final check for the USPS to know they have identified the correct physical location.

The minimum parts on all mailing addresses for mail within the United States are street number, street name, city, state, and zip code. Zip Code lookup is one of the most used features of the USPS website and enables you to enter the street address, city, and state, and retrieve the zip code, with the four digit extension. This feature will also format the address following the standardization rules above.

What is Delivery Point Validation?

If an address is standardized correctly, it can be easily validated as a deliverable physical location. When an address is entered on the USPS zip code locator, it is put in standard format, verified that it is a valid location per the database, and given a ZIP+4 number which ensures the correct location will be reached.

By using a USPS Address Validation application or service, businesses can ensure their mail reaches its intended destination.

About the Author

This article was contributed by blogger Nicole. Nicole writes about print and Internet marketing secrets.

Do You Need A Business Coach?

Running a business can be very challenging. Employees typically have set duties and a clear focus. However, a business owner has to wear many hats, and have knowledge in all aspects of running a business. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to be completely knowledgeable in all the various arenas that the owner must function in. This is where a business coach can be a asset for your business.

What is a Business Coach?
A business coach is a professionally trained advisor who normally has an extensive background in starting and operating small businesses. Their function is to give advice and oversee the process of starting, running or expanding a small business. They can help the owner to set goals and targets and to get the essential skills and resources needed.

They will generally meet with you on a regular basis, to discuss the course your business is taking. They can help you to chart the course you want your business to take, as well as to help you handle the challenges along the way. Since they bring a fresh set of eyes from outside the organization, they are better able to step back and see the whole picture. This is especially vital, because the owner is often caught up in the day to day work of running the business, and it is easy to become so focused on one aspect of the operation that something else may begin to wander slightly off track.

Having this extra set of eyes helps you to keep your business continuously moving in the right direction. It helps you, as the owner, bring a sharp focus to what will make the business successful. They can also offer valuable advice on the practical business of steering your business in the way you want to go.

Types of Business Coaches
Many of these advisors focus on a specific area of your business. If you have a specific challenges, or are somewhat lacking in certain essential skills, their advice can help you focus on a specific aspect of guiding your business.

A General Planner will work o developing the strategic plan for your business. Without specific goals in mind, it is far too easy to get off course. They can help with overall plans, marketing strategies financial management and administrative or personnel issues. Their advice can be especially useful to a new owner, or someone who wants to take their company to the next level.

A Marketing and Promotional Planner will focus on communicating your message to your clients. Whether it is marketing, advertising and promotions or public relations, they can help you put your best foot forward and get the word out about your products or services.

A Financial Planner will help keep all of the financial details under control. They can help you to better understand your financial conditions, how to manage cash flow properly and how to select an appropriate and competitive pricing system. They can also help with personnel issues, like employee compensation and benefits.

When Dorris Marlin needed help starting out her business, she turned to Inscape Consulting Group. They offer the most experienced executive coaching Vancouver has to offer. To learn more, visit their website today.

Building Business Connections With Twitter – Is It A Reality?

Can we really build lasting connections with something as simple as Twitter? Remarkably, it’s easier and more possible than it seems. People who tweet about what they had for breakfast and serious businesses alike have Twitter accounts, and those connections you seek are not out of reach. Here are some reasons why building a business connection with Twitter is not only a reality, but a practical method of generating those connections.

1. Since businesses are all trying to improve their social presence, they respond when people tweet at them.

Businesses, universities, and people alike have their own Facebook pages, YouTube accounts, websites, and, in many circumstances, their own Twitter accounts. Businesses are trying to appeal to the public and want to portray themselves well within the social media. Because of this, it is likely for a business to respond to you if you were to tweet at them. Give it a shot and see how that small connection can grow into a partnership.

2. You can make a great impression with just 140 characters.

People don’t always have time to read a manifesto about what your business is planning on doing or all the specificities and intricacies that lie in your field. But they would love to read a short, compact, concise description of who you are and your ultimate goal. Say what you want to say and say it quickly; people and businesses are more drawn in by a quick statement than one would think.

3. Business people will judge your appearance based on your intro.

First impressions mean a lot. Psychologically speaking, people will tend to think better of you if your first impression was a good one. This is why it is imperative that your first impression – especially with businesses online – paints you in a desirable light. We have all been told to not judge a book by its cover but, sometimes, the cover indicates a lot of the content. Make your cover reflective of you and your business in the best possible ways and you will be exceptionally more prepared to make solid, dependable connections with other businesses on Twitter.

4. Employees are people too! Networking with lower level employees is an easy way to network to the top.

Every massive structure is made out of smaller pieces. A few examples: the Pyramids of Egypt, the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower, etc. Thus, employees make up a large part of corporations and businesses, and connections can be and are generated through connections at lower levels. Because of this it is important that your tweets appeal to all kinds of people, including lower-level employees. In this way you can build the groundwork for business connections, if in no other way than name recognition and familiarity with the employees of a larger business. Over time those connections can easily grow to be much, much bigger, and a combination of connection to the lower-level employees along with continued presence on social media sites such as Twitter can help to expand your business’s influence and familiarity, creating more connections. Be persistent, and see where it goes.

Today’s guest post was contributed by John Monts, blogger for www.RueZiffra.com. John has a relentless passion for writing and is an extraordinary social media consultant.

How To Make Your Home Business Flourish

Taking the leap of faith and believing in yourself can be a difficult task. Many people opt to start their own business from home, and ultimately fail. The unfortunate thing is that this failure can be avoided if the right steps are taken to begin with. Taking your business from an idea to a reality with growth and profitability is a daunting task, but can be accomplished if you focus on the steps necessary. Don’t burn out by trying to juggle everything yourself, or spend too much money trying to hire others for help. There are many options to make life easier such as serviced offices, accountants, simple organization skills, and product promotion skills and services.  Let’s take a look at what fizzles and what sizzles in a self starting business.

Putting yourself out there: This may seem like an obvious answer, but too many people don’t have a website or other means of self promotion. How can your business grow, if no one knows it exists? Create a website to sell your product, promote your services, and reach the world. Thanks to the help of  do-it-yourself website companies, starting your own site has never been easier. For a small fee, to nothing, you can do everything yourself.

Get some help: Although this is your business, there may be times when you need some extra help. If success takes off and you find yourself traveling to Australia for conference meetings, then you may need someone else to look after things. Hire on a freelancer, friend, independent contractor, or employee/peer. This will take the workload off and help divvy out the tasks. Cash flow will adjust to the amount of work that you bring in between the both of you.

Branch out to another location: If you feel that working from home begins to get a little crowded, try looking into serviced offices for rent. These are great options for the working individual just starting out that needs their own professional space. Your partner and yourself can manage funds enough to invest in an outsourced office of your own.

Focus on one thing: Take all of your time and focus and put it into one single product. Don’t try and juggle all of your time and energy into mass amounts of products for mass amounts of audiences. It’s best to play on your strengths, and market the hell out of one item. You’ll find yourself being much more profitable, and  suffering less from poor risks.

Expand: Once you’ve found success in one product, don’t be afraid to stretch out and offer similar items to your line. This will keep your business fresh, and offer your customers more variety in purchases. It will increase revenue and keep new customers coming. Developing a product line helps increase the interest and sales of what you have to offer.

Be loyal to your customers: Just as you have customers that will be loyal to you and your product, you should always remember to treat them just the same. Offering coupons, select deals, and sales is a great way to keep your current customers coming back for more. By giving your audience great deals on your product, it will encourage them to buy more, and spread the word on what you have to offer. Always remember to give back a little once you reach your initial profit.

Don’t burn yourself out when trying to start up your business. Starting out by picking a single product, perfecting it, and promoting it are easy ways to start the profit intake. Don’t be afraid to branch out, get your own space, or bring in a little help. All of these things can help build your business up the ladder of success.

David Bloomer is a stay at home dad who has found success in his home business.