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.

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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. 

Five Essentials You Need To Run Your Business

No start up launches with the goal of being shut down, but unfortunately every year, thousands of small businesses are forced to close their doors after finding themselves unable to survive in their industry. However, it is possible to drastically increase your chances of commercial success by investing in a few essentials. You need to have a good strategy that will guarantee you continued success, and these five key points can aide in laying a strong foundation for that long-term success.

1. Digitalization and social media plan
With the modern prevalence of the digital, if you are not online, you simply do not exist. Having a social media plan, from building a user-friendly website to crafting a digital advertising campaign, in place will help you reach your target audience, build lasting customer relationships, and share business information quickly and effectively.

2. Hire seasoned professionals
It can be tempting to hire friends to design a logo or help out with documentation, but nothing can compare with the benefits of hiring a seasoned professional. Not only will a seasoned professional guarantee that a great job gets done in a timely manner, but, with a good relationship, it can also turn into great advertising. For example, your logo in a graphic designer’s portfolio can lead to unexpected marketing.

3. Work with a call center outsourcing service
The most obvious and compelling advantage of working with a call center outsourcing service center is their cost cutting abilities. The hassle and burden of hiring, monitoring, and training representatives is transferred from business owner to call center operative, allowing the small business to focus on managing the more important aspects of his or her business. A call center outsourcing service handles a business’s customer service, builds customer care and retention, acts as the contact center, and can be set up to collect receivables and assets owed to your business.

4. Make a budget and stick with it.
Too often, start up business owners will justify every expense as good for the long term success. And while certain aspects are necessary, getting control of your spending and keeping tabs on your bills is essential. Assign a maximum amount you are willing to spend on every item your business needs. Additionally, plan for a worst case scenario and add a buffer amount to prevent you from accidently falling back into a financial cesspool.

5. Distinct brand identity
As much as a business needs to provide a desirable product and service, it equally needs a desirable, well-thought out brand identity. Brand identity is essential in reaching your target audience, outlining why your business’s product or service is different and what makes it their must-have. Your brand identity should be integrated with all of your promotional materials, logo, business cards, website, and other social media applications.

Starting and running your own business can be very rewarding if you take control of your business’s success from the start. Follow these five essential tips in order to help your company have a successful opening and long-term running success.

Randy is an entrepreneur who like to share advice of his successes and failures to those who will be starting a business, which include aspiring entrepreneurs.

Simple Tips To Level Up Your Small Business

Did you know more small businesses close down each year than those that start out in the market? Numbers further dwindle as time passes. Many do not even make it through the first five years, which is a critical phase in establishing recognition with the buyers. In order to distinguish yourself from the rest of the competition, your small business needs to step up. In a crowded market, the only way to make profit is to stand out. Below are a few tips you should consider when taking your small business to the next level.

Sell a Unique Product or Uniquely Sell a Product

Having a product that is distinct from those offered on the market is definitely an advantage. Nevertheless, ask yourself, what makes this product different and in turn, better than competitors? Even with a life-changing product, you are not assured of success. Without the proper recognition from potential customers, your product will stagnate. This is where promotions and advertisements play a huge role.

Even when selling a common good, standing out efficiently has the potential of drawing away clients from competitors. By taking advantage of social media, which is practically free advertising, and the rest of the internet, you can make your brand or product known. Make use of a blog to expound on what you are selling and gain some loyal followers in the process. Keep your blog interesting, eye grabbing and well maintained to catch the attention of internet users.

Invest in Promoting What You Have

If you have a background in graphic design or in SEO, then it will be good for you. Since humans process images thousands of times faster than words, you will need an eye-catching material –a well-designed blog or site should be in order. However, if you simply do not have the time, effort or skills to translate your business proposals into a living, breathing work of art, consider employing someone who can. A well-developed site usually gains positive reviews from potential clients, thus more exposure.

Apart from a great website that customers would be eager to visit, creating a logo shows that you are a serious competitor in the market. Have one that is distinct and easy to remember so that you are the first that comes to mind. Navigate the internet traffic towards your site with the use of keywords. Articles that are uniquely written with transparency could be enough to catch attention.

Secure Your Assets

Security for small businesses should include insurance where certain aspects other than general liabilities should be covered. Consider hiring a tandem: an accountant and a business attorney to keep taxes paid, trace funds, trace expenses, and generally keep you out of trouble. Do so as a small investment to protect your business. While improving visibility and sales is always a top priority, take the necessary steps of caution. This will cost you less than when you are neck high in deep waters.

It is through creativity and ingenuity that your small business will stand out from a sea of competitors. Even with a one-of-a-kind product, when it lacks the push to be recognized in the market and sold to buyers, it will plateau in sales early on. In a “been there, done that” market, it truly is a challenge to stick out. However, with the right know-how and dedication, you will be able to grow your own business in no time.

Paul Smith is a retired lawyer and business man. He now spends his freetime writing and reading for fun.

Heavy Equipment Moving Options

When you’re managing a construction company you have a lot of responsibilities you need to take care of.  Along with managing your employees, you need to make sure that your equipment gets to where it needs to be.  Transporting heavy equipment can be difficult regardless of how far the equipment needs to travel. If something goes wrong during the move your next project is going to be seriously delayed.  There are a variety of ways you can transport equipment from site to site, each way should be considered before the start of each project.

Special Trailers

Some construction managers may try to save on costs by trying to ship their construction equipment on regular sized trailers but if you want to ship your equipment safely and efficiently, you should rent special trailers to ship your equipment.  Before you start looking into which special trailers you’d like to use, make sure that you have the right clearance to do so.  Most states require some kind of special permit or license to use special trailers, so be sure to check what the rules are in the state you need to have your equipment transported to.  After you make sure you have the right permits you can consider what kind of special equipment you need.  Some step deck and double drop trailers can make transporting tall or very heavy equipment easy.

Towing

If you’re shipping equipment to a site that isn’t too far, you may be able to tow some pieces of heavy equipment.  With the right equipment, you may even be able to handle the towing yourself.  Before you attempt to tow your equipment, make sure that you know if anything specific needs to be done to your heavy equipment to transport it safely.  Some heavy equipment may need to have adjustments made to their gearbox or to the tires.   If you don’t think you have the right equipment, you should consider contacting a heavy equipment shipping company to help you with the moving.  By hiring a heavy equipment shipping company you will ensure that no costly damage is done to the equipment during transport.

Qualities to Look for In a Shipping Company

There are going to be quite a few companies that claim they can ship your heavy equipment, so you want to make sure that you can get the best one for the job.  Visit the site of the company you’re interested in using and check to see if they have equipment like cranes, special ramps, and sturdy flat beds and trailers to ensure that they have the right tools to move your heavy equipment.  Also make sure that they have some sort of insurance policy in place to ensure that you’ll be reimbursed if any damage takes place to your heavy equipment during the move.  Also be sure to review all of the options they offer to ensure that you’re getting the exact services you need for the job; you don’t want to sign a contract that doesn’t have the exact services that best fit your needs.

Blogger and entrepreneur who loves to help others cultivate their small businesses and enjoys biking, rollerblading, and golf