Business Services Online

If you are a small business owner or plan to be one then there are many business services online which will help you run your business much more easily and much more efficiently. The biggest advantage of the internet is that it has made the whole world smaller and has allowed us to share our information anywhere we want. And since businesses are based on contacts and information, the internet has given every business to become a truly global entity which is not confined by any geographical borders.

The biggest reason that businesses used to be consolidated in a small area was information and contacts. Being closer to customers and competitors meant you will be able to observe the changes in the industry and demand and adjust your business practices accordingly. This close view allowed sharp minded business men to react quickly and beat the competition. The business services online today provide you with the power to do all of this all over the world.

There are some absolutely great business services online which many people do not know about. One thing that businesses are finding very useful is cloud computing. Cloud computing is a system of networking wherein your data is stores on the network and not on your PC so you can access it from anywhere. This allows you to share data between as many people as you want.

Another great business service online is online workspaces. These workspaces make things easier for the management and the workers. The management can easily assign tasks to people and manage their progress with some simple clicks and the workers can see what they have to do just by logging on.

Another great service is conferencing tools. These allow people from different countries to just talk on video chat. This allows companies to grow beyond borders and still be able to have meetings, make decisions and discuss problems as if they were talking face to face.

There are many other great business services online which really help you streamline your business and work more efficiently and quickly.

Break the Mold in the Service Industry – Create a Sense of Mission Which Drives the Company

The service industry is one where competition is high and fierce. Start-ups are fairly low in part because the majority of work is dependent upon the entrepreneur selling his or her skills. One major problem is that companies offering very similar or the exact same services often times are weakly differentiated when it comes to what they offer. They may state that their service is superior over their competition. What does this really mean? Having that as the separation between you and your competition will only make it harder to win the contract.

Companies that are recognized for their innovation, creativity, and passion are ones that have a sense of mission. It is not enough to just have a mission statement where you state your goal of the business. These days, you have to win people’s trust on a global scale. How do you do that? Find something that you and your company want to fight for. Whether it is to improve the environment, help the orangutans, or end starvation, your company must be driven through that sense of mission. By doing this, you set the company apart from the competition immediately. It is also clear why you are in business- and it is not just for the money.

A great example of this is Tesla Motors. They are a new auto-maker started in Silicon Valley. The company’s mission is to make exotic, super cars that have zero impact on the environment. They are out to prove that electric cars can be just as powerful, if not more powerful than their gasoline cousins. Through this sense of mission, people who want an alternative to gasoline vehicles and believe in helping the environment and understand the company’s stance on environmental issues. This creates a connection between the company and customer. As the company further markets their stance on the environment and how their products help it, people will start to believe more in the company and be more willing to purchase their products.

Identifying and Exploiting Markets for the Service Industry

If you are in the service industry then you realize that you must give the customer what they want and compete in the marketplace with other companies that also offer services. One thing that service industry executives need to consider is that once you get into the marketplace you will find customers who will tell you they wish you to modify your services and they are willing to pay you more if you can do this for them.

As more and more customers demand different kinds of variations of the services that you already provide it makes sense for your service company to also offer those lines of services. In fact quite often you will find that many of the additional services that are asked for in various markets by your customers will be more profitable than the current services you provided when he started.

This is because most likely you picked a series of types of services that were very common in the marketplace and as you got more and more into the industry and all the sub-sector industry niches that you serve, you found other services that people wanted you to do and were willing to pay you a lot more to do them.

Indeed, such new services may have little if any competition and it makes sense to exploit these niches and identify them as early as possible so you can make more money in the marketplace in your service business. Perhaps you might consider all this in 2006.

USDA Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program – Noteworthy Revisions For Community Banks

The Business and Industry (B&I) loan program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA or Agency) guarantees loans by qualified lenders to benefit rural businesses. For eligible projects, community banks can obtain an 80% guarantee for loans up to $5 million, a 70% guarantee for loans between $5 million and $10 million and a 60% guarantee for loans between $10 million and $25 million. The B&I guaranteed loan program allows lenders to expand their loan portfolio, obtain a deficiency guarantee, increase earnings by participating in the secondary market, make loans in smaller communities with traditionally lower collateral values and extend loans above their legal lending limits.

For each loan, lenders submit a detailed guarantee application to the Agency office in the state where the project is located. Approval or denial decisions generally take several weeks. Projects eligible for B&I financing include business acquisitions, commercial real estate purchases, startup costs and working capital, machinery and equipment purchases and some refinances.

On December 17, 2008, the USDA published a new interim rule pertaining to the B&I loan program in the Federal Register. Effective October 1, 2009, the new rule is designed to streamline the application, accelerate the guarantee approval process and expand the types of eligible projects. The Agency ultimately decided to abandon the new rule and instead focus on working within the existing regulatory framework to improve the B&I loan program.

Under the previous rule, the B&I loan program required lenders to compile burdensome applications and to deal with lengthy approval timelines and limited loan features. For example, a common lender complaint has been the laborious guarantee application process. For every loan under the previous regulations, B&I lenders had to submit to the local Agency all of their underwriting and loan approval documents, at least three B&I application forms, the draft loan agreement, copies of loan origination and servicing policies and procedures, and details concerning lending history, experience and their relationship with regulators. The Agency also awarded guarantees on a “priority scoring” basis, which gave loans in particularly rural areas with compelling purposes priority over otherwise eligible loans that earned a lower “score”. An approval or denial decision for lower scoring loans could take months from the application submission.

The USDA aims to reduce these drawbacks with the revised rule. The new rule attempts to streamline the original application process. Lenders must apply to participate in the guaranteed loan program by submitting background information such as descriptions of lending history and experience, policy and procedures and documentation concerning regulatory compliance (7 CFR 5001.9). Although lenders had to submit this information under the old rule, they are now permitted to submit summaries instead of copies of their policies and procedures (§5001.9(a)(1)). Once approved by the agency, lenders will no longer have to submit this background information when applying for loan guarantees (§5001.9(b)(4)). The revised rule also reduces the number of guarantee application forms (§ 5001.12(a)) and eliminates the draft loan agreement (§5001.34). In addition to simplifying the application process, the new rule endeavors to reduce the guarantee approval timeline.

Two changes aim to accelerate the guarantee approval process. The Agency has eliminated its “priority scoring” system in favor of a simpler first-come-first-serve approach (§5001.103(f)(1)). Additionally, the Agency has created a preferred lender program (PLP) (§5001.9(d)). The benefits of obtaining PLP status include a ten day approval or denial decision (§5001.11(c)), a smaller guarantee application package (§5001.12(b)) and the opportunity to obtain preferred status in more than one state with a single PLP application (§5001.9(d)(2)). In addition to streamlining the application process, the Agency has introduced some new loan features to the B&I loan program.

B&I guarantees may now be issued for additional uses and purposes. Under the previous regulations, lines of credit were ineligible. Lines of credit are now eligible when used for annual operating/business expenses, debts advanced for the current operating cycle, scheduled non-delinquent term borrower debt or closing costs (§5001.103(b)(2)(xix)). Projects involving leasehold improvements and the purchase of mixed use commercial and residential buildings are also now eligible for B&I guarantees (§5001.103(b)(2)(xviii, xx)). Another new feature removes the prohibition that interest rates change no more often than quarterly, and allows lenders to set a variable rate that adjusts as often as daily (§5001.31(a)). These new features allow lenders to obtain a valuable B&I guarantee for projects that previously were ineligible.

Although these features are now available to lenders, some revisions to the rule are less clear and useful tools have been eliminated. For example, the Agency has replaced the proposed cash equity criterion with a debt-to-tangible net worth ratio criterion (§5001.6(c)), but has failed to define this calculation other than referring to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Additionally, the rule eliminates the Agency’s limited authority to issue 90% guarantees. Again, the Agency ultimately decided to abandon the new rule and instead focus on working within the existing regulatory framework to improve the B&I loan program.