Friday, April 29, 2011

A Recovery In Small Business Lending?

Good news in this post by Diana Ransom on

When the Small Business Administration's enhanced loan guarantee slipped back down to pre-recession levels in May of last year, small-business owners got nervous.

Provisions in the 2009 Recovery Act and four subsequent extensions had lifted the SBA guarantee on 7(a) loans to 90 percent and reduced borrower fees on most 7(a) and 504 loans. When the provisions expired, that guarantee went to 75 percent to 85 percent.

The question was: Without that enhanced guarantee, would small-business owners get the loans they needed if banks suddenly had to take on more risk?

So far it looks like the answer is yes. JP Morgan Chase yesterday announced that it would increase its commitment to lend $12 billion to U.S. small businesses in 2011 -- a 20 percent increase over 2010.

Although the nation's other two biggest banks, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, don't have a similar commitment to lend to small businesses, they say they're optimistic about keeping up a robust effort. Already, in the first quarter of 2011, Wells Fargo made $3.7 billion in new loan commitments to U.S. small businesses. This is a 27 percent increase over the first quarter of 2010, according to Marc Bernstein, head of Wells Fargo's Small Business Segment.

read full article here....

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Control Costs by Strategically Reducing Payroll Expense

OED Certifed Advisor Dana Komar spotlights the difference between slashing payroll and strategically reducing costs.

One of the most effective ways to reduce payroll is to minimize scheduling and reduce the overall number of people you employ. However, adjustments should not be done blindly as the wrong decisions could have a negative impact on your operation. The first step to make sure that doesn’t happen is to use past sales data to truly understand the demand patterns of your customers. If you have hourly employees, you need to know demand by hour. If your employees are on salary, it is sufficient to evaluate demand at a more aggregate level.

The next step is to determine the true capacity of who or what produces your product—whether it be a machine or a person. Don’t forget about machine downtime and employee personal time. Then using your demand analysis, schedule employees and machines operators so that their total production matches your expected demand. This will ensure you do not waste money on excess capacity, and that you have enough for the operation to run smoothly.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Small Business Looks to Social Media w/Measurable Goals

With more people using more social media, discerning fact from fiction and fad and seem challenging. What does seem clear is this: Users habits are evolving with new communication methods. This is really nothing shocking. This has happened for centuries, as evidenced by the fact that this piece is not being written with a plume, or sent to you via carrier pigeon. So how do you build awareness for your business in this day and age?

For a growing number of businesses, the answer is the same as every other business category: set measurable goals. According to a poll performed by of over 400 US businesses, 40% said they are adopting its use. Troubling though is that among the same 400, 45% expressed a hazy understanding of how best to use and measure. In order to tap in to these powerful resources as the awareness tools they can be, you need to first figure out what you want to do. Are you a direct to consumer business, or B2B? Is Facebook the best launch point, or are you trying to start a following AND discussion, like a Linked In group.

For some more insight, we recommend a quick look at articles like Mike Taylor’s at or check in with a firm like OED’s Social media support, GotoGrlz. The brief amount of time you invest with with them will help you sort priorities, set goals, design and develop something that follows your brand, and get your buzz going. You never know who will Stumble upon you… but then again, Stumble’s a whole other thing!

Tell us what you're doing for your business now. Visit for our small business survey.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Too busy to develop your pipeline!

John Walters of 1-2-1 Business Consulting talks about the hidden challenge of being booked solid with current clients.

I’ve spoken to several Business Owners lately who have told me that business has picked up in 2011, and that’s great. However, a number of them are so engrossed in serving their existing customers that they have switched off to the fact that they still need to manage the pipeline of new business.

A number of them have told me that because they are so busy they no longer have time to carry out marketing. They say, “don’t worry”, we’ll get back to marketing when things are a little less crazy.

My message to you is that this spells real danger!

Things may be good now, but the reality is that you need to be constantly working on your pipeline. By constantly adding to your pipeline you will hopefully get to the stage where you are short of capacity, and even when you are capacity constrained, you should still be working on your pipeline.


You should remember that not all of your prospects will come through; some of your customers will take less than they predicted and some will take more. Because of this uncertainty you need to push on with developing a strong pipeline.

Also experience tells me that people become very creative when they are under pressure to increase capacity to take on additional business, and all businesses like additional volumes.

Have you the tools in place to monitor your pipeline?

We’re talking about estimating and measuring your future demand. Businesses do this by taking their prospective clients, estimating their business volumes, and then applying a probability factor, representing how much of the business they think they will capture.

Depending on the level of sophistication of the business, and the complexity of the sales quotation process, they often apply percentages to reflect the different stages of the selling process, and where they are in the process.

So please make sure that you have the necessary tools in place and that you are actively developing your pipeline.

Don’t hesitate to contact us should you need support with designing and implementing appropriate tools to monitor your pipeline. We have the experience and we are there for you.

Good Luck.

Find more scheduling and efficiency strategies in OED's Online Community, and via special events located at

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

SBA & Small Business Matchmaking Day

Calling all businesses looking for funding, confused by funding, and/or struggling to make sense of it all! The SBA's NJ District Office, in cooperation with the NJ Small Business Development Center of Northwest Jersey, is holding a matchmaking event June 22. Lenders will be on hand to talk about the process, offer instructaional guidance on  proposal preparations, and discuss ways to increase chances of success for Small Business-back loans. Details are located on our site!

We know that most of you are not in New Jersey, however, a good many are and we hope you can take advantage of this event! The SBA loan process has been likened to scavenger hunt, root canal, childbirth, and more. As we hear about events like these, designed to support entrepreneurs in gaining access to funds, we'll gladly share with all.

Comment to us or send details via twitter or email if you know of any SBA goings-on in your region!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

If you could ask SBA one thing, what would it?

If you could ask the SBA one question, what would it be?

Well, here's your chance! OED will be hosting it's Small Business Symposium 2011 this June 9th. Cohosted by the NJSBDC, we'll be hosting a TownHall style panel discussion and workshops for entrepreneurs. We'll be separating fact from fiction re: health care legislation's impact on small business, the do's and don'ts of Social Media as a business AND as an employer, changes to 1099 reporting requirements, and more.

To get the ball rolling, we've asked our Twon hall Panelists to respond to the most-buzzed about questions from our members, friends, and followers. So.... what do  you want to know? Email now through June 1st!