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// by Bridget Weston Pollack / Apr. 15, 2016 0 comments
smartphone app

Apps are everywhere. From your phone to your tablet to even your desktop computer, businesses of all types are offering easy-to-download applications to make your life easier.

If your business runs a little better with technology’s help, you might be tempted to develop an app of your own. Or you might have been approached by a company that claims that having an app for your business will be critical for increasing sales or customer engagement.

Before you start designing your company’s mobile app, consider a few important questions.

Do you need it?

Think about what an app can do -- accept payments, complete registrations, enhance engagement, allow for a bit of fun. Which of those functions, if any, would benefit your business?

Can the same be accomplished with a mobile-ready website? If the functions you’d like an app to serve are fairly straightforward, a mobile site might be all you need to encourage customers to complete tasks on their devices. A mobile-friendly format might even drive potential customers to learn more about you on their phones, rather than bookmarking your site to check out later on their laptops.

An app can make the hard work you put into your web design and functionality redundant. And if there’s no clear function that makes an app different and better from your mobile site, it’s probably not necessary.

Do your customers need it?

How many apps do you have on your phone for individual businesses you visit? How many of them did you download, use once, and forget about?

A forgotten app is worse than one that never existed. Your customers need a clear reason to use your app, either for enhanced convenience or to unlock special features.

For instance, if you operate a yoga, dance or martial arts studio, an app may help your customers sign up for classes on the go, potentially increasing your class attendance rate.

If you have a dog grooming studio, massage therapy practice or hair salon, an app may help clients schedule appointments quickly and easily -- right when they remember they want to book a service. An app may duplicate the scheduling service you offer on your website but make it easier for device fiends to follow through with their intent to visit your business.

An app can also make it easy for customers to track a rewards program or special offers. Instead of fussing with stamp cards, an app can track and manage customer visits.

Can you afford it?

If you’re contracting out the development and design of an app, you can expect to spend at least $25,000 -- and that’s for a bare-bones app that doesn’t offer much functionality. App development can easily approach the $100,000 range, depending on complexity. Bells and whistles are expensive!

If you’re especially tech savvy and plan to develop an app in-house, you’ll have to consider the time your employees will spend on such a project. It’s not just about the hours they get paid to work on the project -- it’s also about the time they spend away from other work.

Once your app has launched, it’s going to need care. You’ll need to publish updates and squash bugs. Who will take care of those tasks? An outside developer may require a retainer agreement to maintain your app. Meanwhile, your in-house team may need to work quickly to react to tech developments that require adapting your product.

If you want to discuss the best mobile options for your business, contact a SCORE mentor. They’ll be happy to help review your options opportunities to invest in technology tools to help your business grow.

Bridget Weston Pollack
Vice President of Marketing & Communications
SCORE
Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing & Communications at the SCORE Association. In this role, Bridget is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies for the organization to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services.
// by Michael Katz / Apr. 14, 2016 0 comments
dog with bowl of food

Tips on finding your most loyal clients (who will feed you well):

I guess I’m really not sure how smart our dog Abbie is. I mean, of course I’d like to believe she’s the canine Einstein (a great name for a rock band, by the way). But really, how can you tell? It’s not like you can give her some kind of doggie IQ test (I’m quite certain she can’t even hold a #2 pencil). I suppose I could base it on her behavior. But even then, it’s hard to reach a definitive conclusion.

One minute she’ll be showing off her smarts by slowly tapping the back door to indicate her interest in going outside. But then ten minutes later, I’ll stand there and watch as she insists on eating some of the horse poop she just found on the trail in the back woods.

She is smart enough to have figured out one thing, however: If you want food, don’t bother waiting by your food dish.

Here’s what I mean…

We feed Abbie twice a day: Once in the morning and once at lunchtime, around 12:30. By noon, if you happen to be in the house, Abbie will begin harassing you.

Subtly at first – looking sideways at you, following you around, pushing on you, etc. As 12:30 approaches though, and if you still haven’t fed her, she’ll be in your face like a vote-hungry politician in late October.

The point is, even though she knows that the food ultimately arrives in her bowl, she looks to people – not the bowl itself – to bring the meal. She understands the relation between cause and effect.

I am saying, however, that in my experience:

Many solo professionals in search of clients pay way too much attention to the bowl (i.e., prospects) and not nearly enough attention to the people who keep it filled (i.e., their existing relationships).

It seems like it makes sense to focus on prospects. After all, prospects become clients and clients are the ones who write the checks.

But there’s an earlier step, a step which if focused on consistently and thoroughly, keeps the prospect/client/money machine turning. It’s called “staying in front of the people you know.” Not “people who are likely to buy today” (or even ever).

I’m talking about a much larger group – “people you know.” The 500 or so co-members of the human race whom you’ve gotten to know in the course of your professional and personal life … and that you routinely ignore:

  • The people who send you an e-mail with a quick question that you don’t bother answering (you’re too busy chasing prospects).
  • The people who publish a newsletter with something useful or intriguing that you don’t bother replying to with a comment (you’re too busy chasing prospects).
  • The people you’re connected with on LinkedIn who mention that they just got a new job and whom you ignore (you’re too busy chasing prospects).

Here’s the bottom line. I know you’ve got a lot going on every day. And so it may seem more efficient to prioritize your marketing efforts and “go where the business is.”

The problem with this narrow, nothing-but-the-final-step-in-the-process focus is that it’s the business development equivalent of standing by an empty dog food dish.

It ignores the fact that it’s the people you already know – the ones who move along the continuum from loose acquaintance to colleague to friend to fan – who ultimately buy from you and/or send others your way.

Take it from Abbie: If you want to eat on time every day, step back from the food bowl and go find the people with the ability to fill it.

Michael Katz
Founder
Blue Penguin Content Club

Michael Katz is Founder and Chief Penguin of the Blue Penguin Content Club, a membership site for solos and freelancers with an interest in creating great content. Learn more here: http://bluepenguincontentclub.com/signupAlso connect with him on LinkedIn.
Blue Penguin Content Club | @MichaelJKatz | More from Michael

// by ATT Business Circle / Apr. 13, 2016 0 comments
business man using cell phone on plane

Time on the road can be a major part of doing business, and keeping projects on schedule and teams on track can be a challenge when you’re not at your desk. Arming yourself with the right tech tools and apps can make you more productive when you’re in transit or staying at a hotel room in a different city. Stay productive with a special purse, a business card reader app, video conferencing and more.

Review these productivity enhancing tools before your next trip.

Power up

A dead phone battery can lead to hours of lost productivity, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to find an available outlet for charging when you’re working at an airport gate or crowded coffee shop. Packing a portable reserve battery can keep your gadgets running. Mighty Purse, the EMTEC Power Pouch and Anker external batteries are some tools that will keep you from being tethered to the airport terminal wall—as long as you juice up your external battery before you hit the road.

Collaborate on the cloud

Sharing materials with your team via cloud-based services allows you to collaborate on projects from anywhere. Free or low-cost services including Dropbox and Google Drive™ let you work together on live documents wherever you have an Internet connection, so you don’t have to pause any aspect of your work when you’re on the road. Research your options to find the option that best serves your business. Train team members on how to use it properly, so you can continue your projects without interruption. 

Adopt a video conferencing app

Whether for a quick confab with a staffer or a virtual team meeting, apps including Google Hangouts™, Skype™, and Tango let you connect face to face from afar. These free services let you make Internet voice or video calls from any distance, and they function on any device. They are best suited for use by smaller groups; if you need to meet with 10 or more people, consider a paid service such as WebEx, GoToMeeting, or AT&T Connect®, all of which include mobile apps. If you often conduct video conferencing in a crowded environment, you might invest in a pair of headphones with an attached microphone from vendors such as Jabra® or Logitech®.

Set up your own hotspot

Setting up a mobile hotspot turns your smartphone into a Wi-Fi router for your other devices. You can connect your laptop to the Internet anywhere you get cell reception, which means you avoid the hassle of finding and paying for Wi-Fi. Most phone carriers provide monthly mobile hotspot subscription services for an additional charge, so research payment plans with your provider. The AT&T GoPhone® device allows you to keep several devices online at once, or invite up to 10 colleagues to log on as well.

Capture contacts and coordinate receipts

Business travelers tend to return home with pockets full of business cards and expense receipts, and organizing that information can be time consuming. Mobile apps help you capture it as you go and ensure it won’t get lost. Apps such as inDinero and Shoeboxed all offer reliable receipt tracking and keep your expenses organized. If your work is heavily business-card-dependent, consider networking apps such as ABBYY® Business Card Reader and CamCard, which use optical character recognition to scan business cards with your phone’s camera.

Access files remotely

Set up a virtual private network service to remotely access documents on your company’s server. Services such as VyprVPN™, AccessMyLAN® from AT&T, or QuickVPN for Small Business from Cisco allow a highly secure pathway to everything in your business databases, encrypting information so it remains protected no matter where you access it from. Most such services are based on monthly subscription fees, and they work with multiple systems and devices.

ATT Business Circle
SCORE Corporate Patron

Business Circle is a community where Small Business Owners can share stories and glean information to better understand how technology can address key business challenges, so they can trust in the solution and focus on what matters most of all: running their business.
bizcircle.att.com | @ATTSmallBiz | Facebook | More from AT&T Business Circle

// by Rieva Lesonsky / Apr. 12, 2016 0 comments
chip card terminal

If your small business accepts credit and debit card payments, then you probably know that October 1 was the deadline for U.S. merchants to upgrade their payment terminals to accept credit and debit cards that use chip technology.  

Even though the deadline was over six months ago, nearly half of retailers haven't updated any of their payment terminals, reports the 2016 EMV Adoption Survey from credit cards comparison website CardHub.

EMV payment technology provides additional security for credit and debit card transactions, so you'd think companies that have had data breaches in recent years would be especially eager to use it. However, some 43% of retailers that have experienced data breaches in the past 5 years haven’t updated their POS terminals.

Consumers aren't exactly clamoring for EMV technology. The survey found widespread ignorance about the technology: 41 percent of people either don't have or don't know if they have a credit or debit card with chip technology. Sixty-two percent don't know the difference between cards with chips and those without in terms of security protection. Fifty-six percent don't care whether or not a retailer’s POS terminal is chip-enabled.

But even if your customers don't care about EMV technology, you should. Why?

Because if your company hasn’t adopted chip-enabled terminals, your business is financially responsible if certain types of credit card fraud take place during a transaction with your business. Essentially, failing to get with the times when it comes to EMV technology is putting your business at risk.

As more big companies complete their migration to EMV-enabled terminals, consumers will become more familiar with this technology and will grow to expect it from your business. With so many other changes in payment technology happening — such as Apple Pay and other types of mobile wallet technology — now is a good time to be updating your point-of-sale system anyway. And if you've been having any issues with your payment card processor, maybe it's time to make a clean break and find a new one.

Ask your payment card processor about EMV-enabled terminals that will also work with NFC (near-field communication) payment technology, and you'll be ahead of the game. (Plus, you won't have to upgrade again for a while.)

Want to learn more about how chip cards affect your business? You can take this webinar hosted by SCORE to learn more about chip technology and how it affects your bottom line. Or talk to your SCORE mentor for help. Visit www.score.org to get matched with a mentor and get free advice anytime.

Rieva Lesonsky
Columnist and CEO
GrowBiz Media

Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. 
GrowBizMedia.com | @rieva | More from Rieva

// by Bridget Weston Pollack / Apr. 11, 2016 0 comments
couple working on finances

Anyone who’s missed a credit card payment even once knows the feeling: Absolute dread in the pit of your stomach and a paralyzing fear that your financial prospects are ruined.

If you own a business, that nagging worry about keeping up with your credit cards, payment history and FICO score doubles! Suddenly, you have your personal and your business credit reputation to track.

You should keep your personal and business finances separate when you kick off your entrepreneurial journey. But your personal finance management could still impact your business credit reputation more than you might expect.

Here are some aspects of credit to consider before you sign up for every credit card that has a good points plan.

Your credit history

If you have limited credit history -- for example, you’re starting your first business -- a bank or other lender will rely on your personal credit to make a judgment of your financial trustworthiness. If you’re a young entrepreneur, you may need to have a cosigner ready to vouch for your responsibility.

Many business lenders, regardless of your experience in small business ownership, will examine your personal credit score when they consider your application for a business loan. If you have a low credit score due to poor payment history or bankruptcy, it can send a signal to lenders that you’re not ready to manage business finances.

Your credit score

If you’re applying for a loan through the SBA, make sure your personal financial house is in order. Intuit reports that only 13 percent of SBA loan applicants get approved. If your FICO score is below 700, Intuit warns, you may not have a chance.

But financing options are available to business owners with all types of personal credit histories. Intuit notes that an angel investor may not be concerned with your personal finances but rather focuses on the business’ potential to earn. Similarly, if your business has been operational for long enough to show steady revenue and good cash flow, your credit score may not be consulted.

Your business plan

Your business plan can reveal elements of your personal finances that could raise questions when seeking a loan or investor. Did you note an owner’s salary in your business plan? Is the number reasonable and in line with what you might have made in your last full-time job? It feels good to call the shots in your own business, and it’s important to budget for your own salary when you’re planning for success. But an exorbitant starting salary for yourself could be a red flag to potential investors.

Your business credit card could affect your personal credit history

A credit card can help you build business credit history and help get your business on its feet while you work on loan applications or investor pitches. But pay attention to your card issuer’s policies before you sign up. If your name is on a credit card you use for business purchases, that card’s credit history could be included in your personal credit report -- even if you’re not a sole proprietorship. It all depends on which credit card company you choose and how they report your payment history. Bottom line: If you’re planning to use credit cards to pay for business expenses, treat them with the same diligence you would apply to your personal credit habits.

Not sure if you and your business are credit worthy? Get in touch with a SCORE mentor to review your situation, and make a plan for future success.

Bridget Weston Pollack
Vice President of Marketing & Communications
SCORE
Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing & Communications at the SCORE Association. In this role, Bridget is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies for the organization to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services.
// by Bridget Weston Pollack / Apr. 8, 2016 0 comments
How can technology help my small business?

We all use technology. But are you using it wisely when it comes to your small business?

SCORE’s new infographic, “How Can Technology Help My Small Business?” demonstrates how small businesses work with tech tools.

Mobile tech is everywhere.

An amazing 80 percent of business owners use a mobile device at least once each day, for scheduling, communication, task management, social media monitoring and even banking. However, 31 percent of business owners don’t have a mobile friendly website, according to a 2015 survey by software firm Clutch.

Business owners see customer relationship management (CRM) as a priority.

But only 29 percent use a CRM system to keep track of customers. Wasp Barcode’s 2015 State of Small Business report found that among that minority group using CRM systems, the group was highly fragmented across available platforms. With so many options on the market, choosing the best CRM solution can be a confusing process for any small business owner.

Small businesses are in the cloud

More than half of business owners use cloud-based storage, and 92 percent use at least one cloud-based solution. Owners cite cloud solutions’ cost effectiveness, flexibility, ease of use and increased agility as major benefits. But if your team isn’t aligned in the cloud-based tools, your efforts could become siloed and ineffective.

“Take a step back and inventory who is using what and why,” SMB Group advises. “Then look ahead to develop a more proactive and strategic cloud strategy that aligns with business goals, applications and workloads, IT resources and budgets, as well as your requirements in areas such as compliance, security and performance.”

Reliance on cloud-based tools for business means increased risk of cybercrime.

60 percent of cybercrimes are directed at small businesses, in part because small business are far less likely to have encryption for network security, mobile security, email security or online data protection. “Small businesses that have not made network security a priority should take the leap to protect both their company and customers,” entrepreneur John Rampton explained. “Don’t wait for something unfortunate to happen before taking action since it takes much longer to win back trust after you’ve lost it.”

How is your small business using technology in 2016?

What can you do to be more efficient, organized or secure? Talk to a SCORE mentor to learn how to invest wisely in technology for your business.

Bridget Weston Pollack
Vice President of Marketing & Communications
SCORE
Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing & Communications at the SCORE Association. In this role, Bridget is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies for the organization to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services.
// by Hal Shelton / Apr. 7, 2016 0 comments
business plan

Are you procrastinating writing or updating a business plan? Is it because you know it has to be 30 pages with half of them financials? This is one of several common business plan myths.

Let’s set the record the straight by dispelling three common myths about business plans.

Myth 1: Every business plan has the same format and is 30 pages long.

The 30-page business plan is the template found on many websites—the classic one-size-fits all approach. But this is inaccurate.

The stereotyped 30-page plan is often associated with applying for a six-figure traditional bank loan. However, these types of loans occur in less than 2 percent of the 565,000 start-ups launched each month. So your needs are likely different.

A one-person service business, which does not need third party funding, may only need a ten-page business plan that focuses on the messages and marketing.

Also, there are effective two-page, graphic-centered business plans used for established businesses that want to focus on a particular area, like marketing, and just need to make sure goals and actions plans are aligned.

To determine what business plan style is right for you, you need to know the purpose of your business plan. Is it to make sure you have all the bases covered, assess if your business idea is financially attractive before you commit your time and personal resources, apply for funding or some combination of these?

Also, you need to know your audience and what decisions you want them to make, so you know what information to provide. Is the plan just for yourself, your team, a banker to grant a loan, a customer to secure a contract, a vendor to obtain credit on purchases, etc?

Myth 2: Once written, a business plan does not need to be updated.

On the contrary, your business plan is probably out of date the day after it is written. This is due to the changing nature of your business, competitor actions and reactions to your entering the market, changing market conditions, use of estimates, your accomplishments and your decisions to take actions.

You should review your business plan at least once a year. Often, you and your team’s attention are focused on solving the daily business challenges, so once a year, take a pause and look ahead. This becomes the information for your business plan update. You can connect this review with an annual budget process.

Myth 3: A 30-page business plan with lots of financial information will get the bank loan needed to start or grow your business.

A business plan is just one of several criteria for getting a banker to review your loan application. Other criteria, and probably with as much weight, are your personal credit score, your ability to collateralize the loan, your ability to provide about 25 percent of the needed capital in cash and your experience in the business area.

In addition, if your two-page executive summary is not well done, your banker might not read any further.

Key Lessons

  • A business plan needs to be tailored to your specific situation: what is the purpose and who is the audience?
  • A business plan should be updated at least once a year, taking into account all of your market and competitor changes and challenges/opportunities.
  • A business plan is a necessary step but not a guarantee for obtaining funds.
Hal Shelton
Author and Mentor
SCORE

Hal is a SCORE mentor who is passionate about helping small businesses start and grow. He has been a CFO and board member for NYSE/NASDAQ publicly traded companies and nonprofits. He is currently an active investor in early-stage technology companies and is the Amazon bestselling author of The Secrets to Writing a Successful Business Plan.
secretsofbusinessplans.com​ | Washington D.C. SCOREMore From Hal

// by ATT Business Circle / Apr. 6, 2016 0 comments
taking picture of food with smartphone

It's not just for teens. Learn how to use this social media tool to make your marketing more creative.

If you spend time with almost any high school or college student, you will see Snapchat in play. This enormously popular social media tool lets someone send a “snap” directly to another individual that typically includes customizable photos, videos and text. That snap disappears 10 seconds after it is received, unless the user takes a screenshot. Snapchat reports that more than 60 percent of 13- to 34-year-olds in the U.S. use it, and more than 100 million of them check Snapchat daily.

While it may sound like a novelty, Snapchat is actually a powerful marketing medium. Its slow adoption among businesses creates a golden opportunity for your company to get a jump on the competition.

Review the following Snapchat uses to see if they spark ideas for how your small business can engage with this social media tool.

Showcase what you offer

Snapchat videos let you showcase your products or services with more creative flair than you might use elsewhere. Enlivening your short videos with personality and creativity will encourage people to share them with friends. The additions include text, doodles, fast forward, slow motion and lots of other effects that are genuinely easy to use. For example, a restaurant may snap videos of food preparation with a short phrase explaining what makes the dish so outstanding, or a clothing boutique could show employees modeling prom dresses in front of the dressing room mirror with an accompanying doodle or a few slow-motion twirls to highlight some aspect of the dresses.

Raise your visibility

Posting videos on Snapchat is free, but you can also pay Snapchat to feature your content on its Discover page, where users can flick through content that is published daily. On the Discover page, your company can post a snap to showcase your brand or convey your expertise alongside companies of all sizes. This is the spot on Snapchat where your company would post a snap about your company’s lifestyle, culture or activities. This snap can promote your identity and the unique strengths of your business. Keep in mind that Snapchat is regarded as a very laid-back app, so creating the aura of a “cool” company is essential.

Run promotions

Coupons or promotions shared through social media give users extra reason to pay attention to your business, and Snapchat’s features make it easy to share a deal. Assemble a coupon by taking a picture of the discounted item, write a caption detailing the discount, and add it to your story. A nail salon could snap a photo of its newest nail art design and write, “Show us this picture and get half off your manicure.” Or, just before lunchtime, snap an image of your lunch special with a note that it comes with a free drink if you show the cashier the image at checkout.

Prompt conversations

Snapchat is a two-way experience, so ask for feedback on the content you show, and encourage people to contribute. For example, if you display a photo of a dish your restaurant made, ask for feedback (to be sent to your account), or for people to send in their own recipe ideas/modifications. When you send a photo, attach a question to it that may prompt replies. These may generate friendly engagement between you and your customers and also yield valuable feedback. Ask for feedback on items in your store, or for people to create their own version of something. The responses you get could be illuminating, and this kind of interaction will help your customers feel more connected to your business.

Demonstrate expertise

Creating videos and posting text on social media sites is a great way to demonstrate your expertise and position yourself as a helpful resource for customers. On Snapchat, you can find new ways to creatively provide this advice. A bike store could show a series of photos with captions that shows step-by-step instructions on how to fix a busted bicycle chain, or a cosmetics store could do the same to demonstrate how to achieve a particular look. Because communications are brief on Snapchat, it’s best to find simple, memorable tips to share. Try out Snapchat’s array of creative filters and features to liven up your tips, but ensure you aren’t going overboard and obscuring the message of your advice. Providing helpful content should take precedence over wowing users with colorful add-ons.

ATT Business Circle
SCORE Corporate Patron

Business Circle is a community where Small Business Owners can share stories and glean information to better understand how technology can address key business challenges, so they can trust in the solution and focus on what matters most of all: running their business.
bizcircle.att.com | @ATTSmallBiz | Facebook | More from AT&T Business Circle

// by Rieva Lesonsky / Apr. 5, 2016 0 comments
man on staircase of money in sunshine

An annual study on the economic outlook for small businesses is out, and it has sunny news for entrepreneurs, except for one dark cloud.

A whopping 81 percent of small businesses in Dun & Bradstreet and Pepperdine University’s 2016 Economic Forecast expect their companies to perform better financially this year than in 2015.

Two-thirds expect to hire at least one employee in the coming year; in fact, one-fourth of respondents say they plan to hire between three and ten employees. In addition, 51 percent of small business owners say they gave their employees a pay raise in the last 12 months, and more than 60 percent plan to give workers raises in the coming 12 months.

It's not just employees who are enjoying financial gains: 46 percent of small business owners say they personally made more money in 2015 than in 2014, and almost three-fourths expect to make more money in 2016 than they did last year.

However, there is one dark cloud on the horizon that could cast a shadow on small business owners' sunny prospects: limited access to capital.

Limited access to capital is one of the three biggest barriers to growth for 2016, cited by 28 percent of the small business respondents. Increased access to capital was named the number-one change that would spur job growth in the coming year.

The study didn't delve deeper into what specific difficulties the survey respondents are having accessing capital, so it's hard to offer suggestions for improvement. However, if you're having trouble getting the capital you need, one factor that might be holding you back is your business's credit history.

For a newer business, a limited credit history can be a big stumbling block in getting traditional business loans. To help build your credit rating quickly, start by making sure that your company's suppliers and vendors are reporting your payments to credit reporting agencies. Not all do this automatically, and if they aren't, even making payments on time will not help build your credit history, so you may need to specifically request your suppliers report the information.

You can also improve your credit history by making even small purchases using business credit cards that report to business credit reporting agencies and making your credit card payments in full and on time. Again, not all business credit card issuers will report to business credit reporting agencies; choosing a card that does will help you improve your credit rating.

Just as with your personal credit history, it’s also important to make sure your business credit history is complete and accurate. Every year, be sure to obtain a copy of your business credit history and review it for errors or omissions. If there's anything wrong, take steps to correct it before applying for a loan.

If you have legitimately run into problems that have negatively affected your business credit rating, it may take a while to improve your credit score. Be patient, and keep working at it. If problems occur in the future, don't hide your head in the sand. Creditors will always appreciate efforts to make things right. At the first inkling that you may have trouble making payments, reach out to your creditors to let them know, and see if you can work out some type of payment plan. This can go a long way toward maintaining and/or repairing your credit score.

Speaking of scores, your SCORE mentor can help you get your business credit rating and other financials in shape to obtain the business financing you need. If you don't already have a mentor, visit www.score.org to get matched with one today.

Rieva Lesonsky
Columnist and CEO
GrowBiz Media

Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. 
GrowBizMedia.com | @rieva | More from Rieva

// by Jeanne Rossomme / Apr. 4, 2016 0 comments
group of women at a table

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a book launch party for a dynamic new author and entrepreneur - Danielle Tate. 

Elegant Entrepreneur: The Female Founders Guide to Starting & Growing your First Company is the book I wish I had read many years ago when starting my business.  It would have saved me months of lost time, misstarts and self-doubt.

Danielle earns credibility with her entrepreneurial background.  At the age of 25, Danielle was frustrated with all the red tape and complications in the simple act of changing her name after marriage.  As with all good entrepreneurs, she took this problem, researched the market and founded the online business, MissNowMrs. Her company is now a multi-million-dollar enterprise.

Danielle takes the learnings from starting her first business and distills them into wise, yet digestible, chapters beginning with a kernel of a business idea, to growth, funding and finally exit.  She explains each stage with real life examples from her own and dozens of other female entrepreneurs.  Each chapter ends with actionable insights, so you can put it all to use.

What I find unique and especially meaningful in Elegant Entrepreneur is its focus on female entrepreneurs.  Ms. Tate directly addresses issues such as confidence, work-life balance and how it feels at each stage – tapping into the power of intuition.  I also appreciate the unwavering focus on making money and the tough persistence to get there.

SCORE will be hosting a free webinar with Danielle Tate on Thursday, April 7th at 2 pm EST.  Having heard her speak, I can guarantee it will be worth it.  Register to learn more: "Building, Bootstrapping and Believing in Your Business Website​" webinar.

Jeanne Rossomme
President
RoadMap Marketing

Jeanne uses her 20 years of marketing know-how to help small business owners reach their goals. Before becoming an entrepreneur, she held a variety of marketing positions with DuPont and General Electric. Jeanne regularly hosts online webinars and workshops in both English and Spanish.
www.roadmapmarketing.com | @roadmapmarketin | More from Jeanne