What Magic Happens When A Business Marketing Plan Comes Together?

For most business owners the key to success lies in a solid marketing plan with strong marketing tactics.A marketing plan is a blueprint that outlines a company’ overall marketing efforts.There are a ton of plan templates readily available on the internet.Taking advantage of these plan templates and marketing calendars can help determine the success or failure of your business in 2015Now, what happens when a marketing plan comes together?1. You will discover who your best most important audience is and what your clients want from youHopefully you are creating and offering products and services with a specific target audience in mind.However, you may find that clients, customers and patients other than your targeted audience will also been able to benefit from what you have to offer.Understanding who your audience is a key component in marketing, sales and improving your services and/or products.2. Increases awareness of your companyMost people won’t pay any attention to your company, unless they need you. They only care about themselves, it human nature.A marketing plan enables you to formulate a way to help future clients see the benefits of using your product or service. When done right, this establishes your credibility in the marketplace and hopefully solidifies your business as a reliable source.3. You will be prepared. When you have a good marketing strategy you’ll be surprised at how fast your company will be able to respond to unexpected marketing and developments from your competition.A well-written plan that covers all bases will include a projection on possible threats and detailed ways you can respond or capitalize off them. 4. Obtaining FinanceCompanies, including small businesses often need to acquire extra financing.A well-thought out business plan along with detailed marketing is evidence of good planning which could be extremely helpful in obtaining loans.Without a solid business plan and marketing strategy, even the most profitable business would have a difficult time getting financing. Free sample marketing plans are readily available online, they can serve as good examples while saving you time creating your documents.5. Save MoneyOne of the biggest benefits of a marketing strategy that your business is more likely to save money.The average marketing plan includes a set budget that will be used in your marketing efforts for the year.Yes, by outline your marketing plans, and specifying how much money is going to be used to support various marketing efforts it helps your company save a lot of money on unplanned marketing campaigns.If you and your team hasn’t sat down to develop a marketing plan for the year, it’s time to do so now.Start off with a marketing template to help outline your company’s marketing strategies the expand from there.There are so many benefits from having a marketing plan that it would be insane to start 2015 without one.

Alternative Financing Vs. Venture Capital: Which Option Is Best for Boosting Working Capital?

There are several potential financing options available to cash-strapped businesses that need a healthy dose of working capital. A bank loan or line of credit is often the first option that owners think of – and for businesses that qualify, this may be the best option.

In today’s uncertain business, economic and regulatory environment, qualifying for a bank loan can be difficult – especially for start-up companies and those that have experienced any type of financial difficulty. Sometimes, owners of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan decide that seeking venture capital or bringing on equity investors are other viable options.

But are they really? While there are some potential benefits to bringing venture capital and so-called “angel” investors into your business, there are drawbacks as well. Unfortunately, owners sometimes don’t think about these drawbacks until the ink has dried on a contract with a venture capitalist or angel investor – and it’s too late to back out of the deal.

Different Types of Financing

One problem with bringing in equity investors to help provide a working capital boost is that working capital and equity are really two different types of financing.

Working capital – or the money that is used to pay business expenses incurred during the time lag until cash from sales (or accounts receivable) is collected – is short-term in nature, so it should be financed via a short-term financing tool. Equity, however, should generally be used to finance rapid growth, business expansion, acquisitions or the purchase of long-term assets, which are defined as assets that are repaid over more than one 12-month business cycle.

But the biggest drawback to bringing equity investors into your business is a potential loss of control. When you sell equity (or shares) in your business to venture capitalists or angels, you are giving up a percentage of ownership in your business, and you may be doing so at an inopportune time. With this dilution of ownership most often comes a loss of control over some or all of the most important business decisions that must be made.

Sometimes, owners are enticed to sell equity by the fact that there is little (if any) out-of-pocket expense. Unlike debt financing, you don’t usually pay interest with equity financing. The equity investor gains its return via the ownership stake gained in your business. But the long-term “cost” of selling equity is always much higher than the short-term cost of debt, in terms of both actual cash cost as well as soft costs like the loss of control and stewardship of your company and the potential future value of the ownership shares that are sold.

Alternative Financing Solutions

But what if your business needs working capital and you don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit? Alternative financing solutions are often appropriate for injecting working capital into businesses in this situation. Three of the most common types of alternative financing used by such businesses are:

1. Full-Service Factoring – Businesses sell outstanding accounts receivable on an ongoing basis to a commercial finance (or factoring) company at a discount. The factoring company then manages the receivable until it is paid. Factoring is a well-established and accepted method of temporary alternative finance that is especially well-suited for rapidly growing companies and those with customer concentrations.

2. Accounts Receivable (A/R) Financing – A/R financing is an ideal solution for companies that are not yet bankable but have a stable financial condition and a more diverse customer base. Here, the business provides details on all accounts receivable and pledges those assets as collateral. The proceeds of those receivables are sent to a lockbox while the finance company calculates a borrowing base to determine the amount the company can borrow. When the borrower needs money, it makes an advance request and the finance company advances money using a percentage of the accounts receivable.

3. Asset-Based Lending (ABL) – This is a credit facility secured by all of a company’s assets, which may include A/R, equipment and inventory. Unlike with factoring, the business continues to manage and collect its own receivables and submits collateral reports on an ongoing basis to the finance company, which will review and periodically audit the reports.

In addition to providing working capital and enabling owners to maintain business control, alternative financing may provide other benefits as well:

It’s easy to determine the exact cost of financing and obtain an increase.
Professional collateral management can be included depending on the facility type and the lender.
Real-time, online interactive reporting is often available.
It may provide the business with access to more capital.
It’s flexible – financing ebbs and flows with the business’ needs.
It’s important to note that there are some circumstances in which equity is a viable and attractive financing solution. This is especially true in cases of business expansion and acquisition and new product launches – these are capital needs that are not generally well suited to debt financing. However, equity is not usually the appropriate financing solution to solve a working capital problem or help plug a cash-flow gap.

A Precious Commodity

Remember that business equity is a precious commodity that should only be considered under the right circumstances and at the right time. When equity financing is sought, ideally this should be done at a time when the company has good growth prospects and a significant cash need for this growth. Ideally, majority ownership (and thus, absolute control) should remain with the company founder(s).

Alternative financing solutions like factoring, A/R financing and ABL can provide the working capital boost many cash-strapped businesses that don’t qualify for bank financing need – without diluting ownership and possibly giving up business control at an inopportune time for the owner. If and when these companies become bankable later, it’s often an easy transition to a traditional bank line of credit. Your banker may be able to refer you to a commercial finance company that can offer the right type of alternative financing solution for your particular situation.

Taking the time to understand all the different financing options available to your business, and the pros and cons of each, is the best way to make sure you choose the best option for your business. The use of alternative financing can help your company grow without diluting your ownership. After all, it’s your business – shouldn’t you keep as much of it as possible?

Red Flags When Buying Online Health Insurance

In the past, without the Internet, everything is done via the telephone or person-to-person meeting. If you need to buy an accessory for your car, you will have to drive to the car accessories store and make the purchase. If you are hungry you need to go to the restaurant or fast food chain to order and get your food. If you need to meet with a client overseas, you will have to book a flight to go to that country.That was in the past. Today, many thanks to the Internet, everything is done online. For anything you need, an online store is offering and you don’t have to get up from your chair to do that. All it takes is a click of the button on your computer screen. Even buying health insurance plan for yourself or your family can be done online. The information available online is enormous and there are hundreds of that offer online health insurance. But buying health insurance cannot be compared to other products offered online; it is a serious matter and as such it requires providing some personal information through the website to facilitate the processing of your request for quote or application.While buying online health insurance can be convenient and fast, there are some things you need to watch out for. You should be able to detect red-flag signs before you get to the stage of finally making the purchase. Check the list below:1. Be doubtful about the reputation of any website that does not post their physical address and contact details. With such information posted on their site, you can physically inspect the office or address instead of just calling the phone. Sites that don’t provide these details should be avoided.2. All selling agents – whether online or offline will be required by law to employ registered insurance agents to sell these services in whichever manner. If an insurer’s agent declines to give their full details, it’s a warning bell. With their full details you will be able to check with the licensing department if he or she is indeed a licensed agent.3. Any website should be able to provide you with full details on the coverage and what are not covered by the plan that you are planning to buy. If the insurer cannot provide you with such details, end the transaction.4. Reputable online insurance providers will enforce strict confidentiality with respect to any personal information or detail you are providing them relevant to your application. It is important that you read their privacy policy to see their procedures and protocols upon receipt of the confidential information. Any website that does not have the icon (lock symbol) or other indicators of security on their webpage should be avoided. They should place high priority on the security of information passed to them.5. You should receive the original insurance policy and not just the printed form even if you have purchased an online health insurance. The Internet is just a tool used for the initial sales transactions. All the legal documents that need to be signed should be original and carries the insurer’s company seal with the company’s authorized signature. Be sure to check all the documents carefully to make sure they are legitimate documents from the insurer.It may be daunting and a little intimidating when you shop for health insurance online but it’s the easiest and fastest way for you to collect the information, assistance and selection you need. You just need to be observant and extra careful when dealing with just the screen of your desktop.