Category Archives: Business

Tips for Avoid Stressful Jobs

Since they require putting your life on the line every day, it may not be surprising that jobs in the military and public safety again rank among this year’s most stressful positions, as new research finds. For the second year in a row, careers as enlisted military personnel, firefighters and police officers make up three of the top four most stressful jobs, according to CareerCasts’s annual Most Stressful Jobs report. Airline pilot also ranks in the top four for the second consecutive year. Kyle Kensing, online content editor for CareerCast, said many of the factors the company uses to evaluate workplace stress apply to military service, police work and firefighting more than, or at least as much as, any other career.

“These include physical demands, on-the-job hazards, environmental conditions, [and] the risk of personal injury or injury to another for whom the worker is directly responsible,” Kensing told Business News Daily. Overall, CareerCast’s ranking system considers 11 different job demands that can be expected to evoke stress, including the amount of travel, the growth potential, having deadlines, working in the public eye, competitiveness, physical demands, environmental conditions, hazards, risk to one’s own life, risk to the life of another and meeting the public. Although they may not include the same physical dangers, jobs that require strict deadlines, like jobs as newspaper reporters and broadcasters, also rank among the most stressful. In addition, those working in the news industry face the fear of lawsuits and a dwindling job market, factors that also keep stress levels high.

Although they may not include the same physical dangers, jobs that require strict deadlines, like jobs as newspaper reporters and broadcasters, also rank among the most stressful. In addition, those working in the news industry face the fear of lawsuits and a dwindling job market, factors that also keep stress levels high. Kensing named a common factor shared by some of the jobs on this year’s rankings: These professions are crucial to safety and democracy in the U.S. “Firefighters, military and police officers protect us, and newspaper reporters and broadcasters have a big impact in showing us the truth amidst the trend of ‘fake news,'” Kensing said.

Loans Still Pose Challenge for Small Businesses

While the ability of small businesses to obtain capital has improved in recent years, getting a traditional bank loan is still a tough obstacle, a new study finds.

Research from Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management and Dun & Bradstreet revealed that over the last four years, there has been a 13 percent increase in access to capital for small businesses. However, most are getting that money from personal assets and not banks or online lenders.

The study revealed that only 38 percent of small business respondents qualified for a bank loan within the last three months, compared with 70 percent of mid-size businesses. While that’s up from 30 percent in the first quarter of the year, it is down from a four-year high of 46 percent in the third quarter of 2014.

When it comes to alternative lenders, small businesses had the most success with merchant cash advances. The research found that 41 percent of the small businesses surveyed were able to obtain a merchant cash advance, compared with just 20 percent who were able to get a regular loan from an alternative lender.

Most small business owners are relying on their own personal assets to help fund their business. Specifically, more than 70 percent of those surveyed used personal savings, 45 percent used personal credit cards and 19 percent used cash from the sale of personal assets.

Crowdfunding is growing increasingly popular with small businesses. The research found that 19 percent of small businesses that sought financing in the past three months used crowdfunding as a funding source, compared with just 7 percent of mid-size businesses.

Jeff Stibel, vice chairman of Dun & Bradstreet, said when they began conducting these studies four years ago, small businesses were reeling from the effects of the Great Recession.

“Since then, we have seen steady progress for small businesses being able to acquire the capital they need, although the financing is still predominantly not coming through traditional lenders,” Stibel said in a statement. “It will be interesting to see how the new option of crowdfunding will affect small businesses, as our study has shown more eagerness to use that option as compared to their mid-sized counterparts.”

Although access to capital improved over the past three months, the number of small businesses needing it declined. Overall, demand for capital from small businesses dropped from 38 percent in the first quarter of the year, to 32 percent in the second quarter.

 

Mistakes to Avoid on Business

Business meetings have a longstanding reputation for being unexciting, boring and a waste of time. Entertainment and stock photos characterize meetings with scenes of bored employees watching the clock, rolling their eyes and falling asleep while the presenter seems to drone on interminably. Though the representations on TV and photos seem overdone, they’re true to life. According to a recent survey by enterprise intranet company Igloo Software, about half of all employees find meetings to be unproductive. More specifically, employees are annoyed with unnecessary meetings (76 percent), meetings going off-topic (59 percent) and people repeating one another (58 percent). “When people sense a meeting is lacking in productivity, they’re less likely to retain confidence it’s a good use of their time, and thus they disengage,” said Amanda Milligan, a spokeswoman for Igloo Software and project manager of the survey.

It’s important for managers to evaluate how they’re conducting meetings — and how often — to see if it’s the best for their teams, Milligan said. If your employees don’t seem to get anything out of company meetings, you may want to evaluate whether you’re making these mistakes.

Meetings without a distinct goal get classified as “pointless” and “unnecessary” by employees. “Meetings must have a clear purpose beyond a status report, which can be handled very well by one of the many online project management tools that are out on the market,” said Stephen Sheinbaum, founder of Bizfi, a financial technology company and alternative finance provider. “Make a meeting agenda, and send it to all attendees ahead of time [so] they know what is expected of them at the meeting.” Tim Eisenhauer, president of intranet provider Axero Solutions, agreed that forgoing an agenda is a big mistake, as this often leads to lengthy, off-topic meetings. “Keep it short,” Eisenhauer said. “Have defined start and end times, and most important, have someone to lead the meeting and keep it on track.” – See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/8633-business-meeting-mistakes.html#sthash.HhBzoJ2G.dpuf

Improve The Office Work Environment

The overall vibe of a workplace, from the office layout and break-room setup to co-worker dynamics and company culture, has a huge impact on your team’s performance and happiness. “Positive workplaces tend to exhibit a common set of traits that foster excellence, productivity and camaraderie,” Linnda Durré, wrote for Monster.com. The reverse is also true: If people are physically, mentally or emotionally uncomfortable in the office, they’re unlikely to be successful or satisfied with their jobs. Here are four ways you can improve your work environment and, in turn, employee engagement.

Smart businesses know that a good work environment starts with hiring the right people. “Make sure you’re hiring people who are professional, can work in a team and can contribute to a positive work environment,” said Jazmin Truesdale, a serial entrepreneur and CEO of Mino Enterprises. “One bad apple can spoil the bunch.” The same idea translates to those who are already in the office. When employees are working alongside a high density of toxic workers, there is a 47 percent chance that they, too, will become toxic, Dylan Minor, an assistant professor of managerial economics and decision sciences at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, told Business News Daily in 2015. Minor called the situation “ethical spillover,” reinforcing that toxicity is, in fact, contagious. “It’s amazing to watch one bad attitude affect everyone’s daily performance,” added Claire Marshall Crowell, chief operating officer of A. Marshall Family Foods/Puckett’s Grocery & Restaurant. “I can’t tell you how many times I have been thanked after letting poisonous employees go. Though it’s a hard thing to do, it ultimately impacts the working environment, which can be felt by not only our employees, but also by our [customers].”

 

Takes Off for Small Businesses

 

It’s been a four full months since the Title III equity crowdfunding provision of the Jumpstart Our Businesses (JOBS) Act went into effect, allowing small businesses and startups to raise up to $1 million annually in crowdfunded securities investments from both accredited and nonaccredited investors. As of Sept. 15, businesses had raised more than $7 million in capital investments using Title III.

Although Title III is a particularly young section of the JOBS Act, it’s been hailed as a potential game changer for small-scale financing. Whether a company’s projected growth is too flat to interest venture capitalists or an owner simply doesn’t want to end up beholden to one highly powerful investor, Title III is seen as a way to raise growth capital without sacrificing independence. Moreover, campaigns can be targeted at locals within a business’s community, helping to build a loyal customer base that maintains a stake in the company’s success.

WeFunder has tracked the growth of the equity crowdfunding industry so far, and the early statistics appear promising. More than 9,000 investors have contributed $7.14 million so far, helping to fund 29 successful offerings, three of which raised the full allotted amount of $1 million in capital. In just the past seven days, investors from the crowd have contributed $112,068 to small businesses.

For companies like stock-photography gallery Snapwire, which crowdsources made-to-order photos from over 300,000 photographers worldwide, leveraging the power of an already-engaged community led the company to immense success in its Title III equity crowdfunding campaign. In 72 hours, Snapwire had eclipsed its fundraising goal. Now, the company holds about 280 percent of its goal in investments.

“The very truthful reason we got into equity crowdfunding is that we struggled to raise capital from traditional [venture capitalists],” Chad Newell, CEO of Snapwire, told Business News Daily. “We were such a leader in doing this — nobody had run a successful campaign yet at the time. I had little expectations other than a fair degree of confidence that we’d be successful.”

For Newell, the key to success is about the market response to an idea, and Snapwire was lucky enough to have that 300,000-strong community of photographers who wanted to see the company succeed, he said.

“The crowd collectively makes the decision as to whether this is a good investment or not,” Newell said. “We’re 273 percent funded now, and we’re going for the full” legally permitted amount of $1 million.

Vincent Bradley, CEO of equity crowdfunding platform FlashFunders, said he is convinced Title III holds the potential to revolutionize finance for truly small businesses. While Bradley acknowledged that the provision is still in its infancy and there’s “work to be done,” he said equity crowdfunding holds special promise for brick-and-mortar businesses and those in highly regulated industries, such as alcohol or health care.

 

Alternative Financing Methods for Startups

Many aspiring entrepreneurs have an idea for their business but lack the capital to actually start it. Brand-new businesses are often turned down for bank loans, and even if your business is established, funds can still be tough to secure. Loans funded by the Small Business Administration are usually more accessible, but they are becoming increasingly competitive.

So what options are left for someone aspiring to be a small business owner? Here are six options beyond bank loans for financing your startup.

 

Online lending

Online lenders have become a popular alternative to traditional business loans. These platforms have the advantage of speed, as an application takes only about an hour to complete, and the decision and accompanying funds can be issued within days. Because of the ease and quickness of online lending, economist and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers said at the 2015 Lend It conference that he expects online lenders to eventually reach more than 70 percent of small businesses.

 

Tech Innovation than Angel Investors

Like all startups, young tech businesses need to find adequate sources of financing to ensure they can get off the ground. But how can you tell which source of financing best positions your new enterprise for success? Recently published research from the University at Buffalo School of Management suggest that tech entrepreneurs might be better off partnering with venture capitalists than angel investors. While researchers note that both angels and VCs are important, they found that VC-backed companies enjoyed several advantages. Tech startups backed by VCs were more likely to issue stocks sooner and often found buyers sooner than those backed by angels, according to the research published in the Journal. The difference, researchers posit, is that venture capital comes along with a larger network, giving them a greater reach when looking for additional investors. “Angels and venture capitalists are both critical to innovation in business,” said study co-author Supradeep Dutta, assistant professor of operations management and strategy in the UB School of Management. “But it’s not enough to just get a patent. You need a strong network to shape the impact of the innovation, and venture capitalists have that network.”

Dutta attributes the influence of VCs largely to the difference in how money is invested; angels are investing their own capital, he said, whereas VCs are managing a fund capitalized with other investors’ money, meaning tighter controls, stricter contracts, and harder deadlines. Because angels are more flexible, they often put less pressure on startups to quickly innovate and grow. Of course, sometimes an angel’s flexibility can be an advantage, Dutta added. While their limited influence means angels can only guide innovation so much, it also helps keep founders happy and willing to experiment, which can sometimes lead to breakthroughs. “While the stringent control rights that venture capitalists have can move startups toward success, it can also create conflict with founders,” Dutta said. “Angels, who are investing their own money, tend to be more flexible and less focused on immediate financial returns, allowing longer-term experimentation.”

Affordable Cities for Startups

For the second year in a row, cities in the South give entrepreneurs the best chances to keep their startup costs low, while big cities remain among the most expensive places to start a new business, new research finds.

The study from SmartAsset revealed that nine of the 10 cheapest cities to start a new business in are in southern states, including three in Tennessee.

To find the cities with the lowest startup costs, SmartAsset collected data on the typical costs of starting and running a business in 80 of the largest cities in the United States. They calculated the total expected startup costs over the first year of operation for a company based on five factors:

  • 1,000 square feet of office space.
  • The cost of gas and electricity for a 1,000-square-foot office.
  • The average cost of filing fees for either incorporation or filing as an LLC.
  • Legal and accounting fees.
  • Payroll costs for five full-time employees, earning the city’s median annual salary.

Topping this year’s rankings of the most affordable cities for startups is Chattanooga, Tennessee. The city is attractive for entrepreneurs looking to save money because of its relatively low costs for office space and employee payroll. The research shows that it would cost $225,442 for a business owner with five employees and a 1,000-square-foot office to run a first-year startup there. That’s up about 2 percent from a year ago when the costs were $221,000.

“If you decide to start a business in the Gig City, you’ll be in good company,” the study’s authors wrote. “Many startups and accelerators operate there, including the Lamp Post Group and Gigtank 365.”

Overall, the 10 most affordable cities to launch a startup in are:

  1. Chattanooga, Tennessee: $225,442
  2. Wichita, Kansas: $232,057
  3. Greensboro, North Carolina: $232,326
  4. Columbia, South Carolina: $232,541
  5. Knoxville, Tennessee: $232,620
  6. Little Rock, Arkansas: $233,877
  7. Memphis, Tennessee: $234,524
  8. Lexington, Kentucky: $234,945
  9. Orlando, Florida: $236,513
  10. Winston-Salem, North Carolina: $237,983

Similar to a year ago, many of the 10 most expensive locations for startups are larger cities, including three in northern California: San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland.

 

Required Business Reading

It’s curious how often uncommonly clear and commonsensical thinking about management comes from long-time laborers in the field. Perhaps decades of experience enable them to distill the subject to its essence — or maybe it’s just that 40 or 50 years of hard work have earned them the right to speak plainly.Samuel B. Bacharach, organizational behavior professor at Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR)  School since 1974, is one of those laborers.

“Leadership is a narrative of execution, that’s what it’s about,” says Bacharach, who is currently McKelvey-Grant Professor at Cornell. Until 2016, he served as director of the ILR’s Institute for Workplace Studies. Bacharach boils a leader’s job down to three things: working with people to generate ideas, mobilizing groups to move ideas forward, and sustaining momentum to get things done.

But just because leading is easily described, that doesn’t mean leading can be easily done. Bacharach has devoted much recent effort to bridging theory and practice to help leaders become more effective. He cofounded the Bacharach Leadership Group, a New York–based leadership development consultancy, has implemented his leadership training modules in a number of major corporations, and, with eCornell, the university’s online learning company, developed a 10-course corporate leadership training certificate for high-potential employees

A prolific author and editor of more than 20 books, including Keep Them On Your Side: Leading and Managing for Momentum (Platinum Press, 2006), Bacharach has increasingly focused his writing on practical leadership, too. His newest book, the first in a planned series, is The Agenda Mover: When Your Good Idea Is Not Enough (Cornell University Press, 2016). In it, Bacharach paraphrases Thomas Edison, reminding us that “a good idea without execution is a hallucination.”

When I asked Bacharach to share an essential reading list for leaders who are moving agendas through the maze of complex organizations, he recommended four books. “The first two books are about why ideas get stuck,” he explained, “and the second two are about the political skills you need to move ideas forward. In terms of moving strategy, these books raise essential questions that all mindful leaders should think about.”

Right for Your Business

So, your company needs money that you currently don’t have. Maybe your business is just taking flight and is still lacking the necessary funds, or perhaps you have high aspirations with low profits at the moment.

If loans are your go-to choice for financing, you’ll need to decide between a traditional bank loan and an alternative lender. For the latter, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending might be a smart option if you’re looking for a smoother, faster borrowing process.

According to Investopedia, P2P lending lets individuals borrow and lend money without an official financial institution as the intermediary. Lenders collect income from interest, usually at a higher cost than with traditional loans, while borrowers access financing they may not have been approved for elsewhere.

“P2P loans can often offer higher approval rates and competitive interest rates — a stellar combination,” said Emily Bartz, a writer at NextAdvisor.com, which provides independent research and comparison tools for financial, tech and business products. “The beauty of P2P lending is that it offers borrowers a more personal experience by avoiding big banks and financial institutions. Plus, borrowers can rest easy knowing that their lender is accredited and provides legitimate loan support.”

Another upside, according to Bartz, is that P2P lending is flexible, allowing borrowers to complete the process in pieces.