With the recent passing of a $2 trillion U.S. stimulus package, small business owners impacted by COVID-19 have been given options for low-interest loans, financial assistance, and other aid that can help them in this uncertain economic time.
Aside from this stimulus package, a number of private, state and local institutions have also stepped up to provide aid, assistance, and loans to small business owners suddenly facing unforeseen challenges.
With a number of different options emerging, small business owners might be asking themselves, “Which options am I eligible for?” and “Which funding option is right for my particular business?”
To help business owners and entrepreneurs looking for financing options, we’ve compiled a list of public and private opportunities for small businesses.
National Funding Resources for Small Businesses
The Small Business Administration is a federally funded organization that provides loans, debt relief, and other financial aid to small businesses with 500 employees or less.
Currently, the Small Business Administration oversees small business loans from SBA-approved lenders, such as banks. While SBA doesn’t lend money directly to small business owners, it sets guidelines for loans made by its partnering lenders, community development organizations, and micro-lending institutions. This process reduces the risk for lenders, which — in turn — enables more small businesses to receive loans.
Here are a few examples of loans that the Small Business Administration coordinates:
This program provides low-interest loans of up to $10 million funded by the recently passed CARES Act. These loans aim to prevent the financial downturn of small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The program assists business owners in paying employee payroll, mortgage payments, or other vital business expenses.
According to the SBA’s site, up to 100% of the loan is forgivable and partial forgiveness will be granted if all employees stay on the payroll for eight weeks or more after a business receives the loan.
As part of another emergency preparedness act, small businesses impacted by COVID-19 can apply on the SBA site for a low-interest disaster loan of up to $2 million. Applicants will receive a decision about their loan within three days of applying.
These low-interest loans will have a payback period of up to 30 years, determined by lenders on a case-by-case basis. Each loan’s interest rate will be 2.75% for non-profits and 3.75% for other small businesses.
The 7(a) loan program is the SBA’s primary program for small businesses. The terms and conditions, like the guarantee percentage and loan amount, vary by the type of loan. These small business loans are often used for smaller startup business costs and are not related to emergencies or disasters.
The 7(a) loan size is usually between $350,000 and $5 million. Lenders are not required to take collateral for loans up to $25,000. For loans over $350,000, the SBA requires a lender to accept as much collateral as possible. This collateral could include a business’ fixed assets, trading assets, or real estate.
Express loans are similar to 7(a) Small Business Loans in that they max at $350,000 and will require lender collateral. The key difference is that applicants will get a decision and disbursement within 36 hours of applying for the loan. Like other SBA loans, the lender determines the eligibility and the loan’s terms.
Aside from the loans mentioned above, SBA also offers assistance for veterans, businesses that require short-term seasonal loans, and small businesses that need loans for international trading purposes.
While SBA primarily provides loans, the administration also works with organizations to provide grants to businesses in certain fields, such as scientific research and development and exporting. Information about these specific grant opportunities can be found on the SBA’s grant page.
Grants.gov is a comprehensive site that educates grant applicants about funding opportunities and allows them to search a huge catalog of federal, state, and local grants from a variety of different organizations.
While anyone can use the website to find grants for many different purposes, small business owners can filter searches to grants that directly pertain to their company or industry.
Although there are thousands of searchable grants on this database, it’s important to note that many of them focus on non-profits, health, education, or public service. Additionally, many of the grants offered are from federal or state-funded organizations. This means that some for-profit small businesses might have difficulty finding grants related to their field.
Private Assistance and Lenders
In the coming months, many private banks will be offering assistance or special funding opportunities for individuals or small businesses. Here’s a quick rundown of companies with temporary assistance or ongoing small business loan programs:
In light of COVID-19, JPMorgan Chase has pledged $2 million to its nonprofit partners around the world and $8 million to “assist small businesses vulnerable to significant economic hardships in the U.S., China, and Europe.”
The banking company says they will be working with community development financial institutions around the world that will provide low or zero-interest loans and interest rate buydowns to owners. JPMorgan Chase will also aim to financially help those who’ve benefited from its Ascend and Entrepreneurs of Color funds.
Along with the aid noted above, Chase and JPMorgan are SBA-approved lenders, meaning they offer many of SBA’s low-interest loan options. They also offer real-estate, equipment, and business trade financing to small businesses.
Small business owners can also apply for short-term loans of up to $5,000. These loans have fixed or adjustable rates and can be paid back between one and seven years.
TD Bank offers credit lines, loans, mortgages, and equipment leasing to small businesses.
According to TD, credit lines are best for borrowing $25,000 to $500,000. However, larger lines are available for commercial-sized businesses. Interest rates vary based on the credit line. When paying the money back, credit line recipients have the option to pay towards the overall credit line, or just pay interest-only.
When it comes to loans, mortgages, and equipment leasing, TD Bank says it can lend up to $1 million to small business owners. Similarly to credit lines, larger loans are available for commercial companies.
According to Capital One’s website, the loans require monthly payments with a max payback period of five years. The company also aids small businesses in consolidating debt, so they only have to pay one lender each month.
According to a recent press release from Wells Fargo, the banking chain will soon be offering resources to meet the urgent needs of small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
As part of Wells Fargo’s initiative, the institution will dedicate $2 million “to the deployment of flexible capital in collaboration with Opportunity Fund and will also provide immediate cash boosts and financial coaching support of entrepreneurs and their low-wage workers in coordination with SaverLife.”
Aside from the initiative noted above, Wells Fargo offers three types of loans: unsecured business loans, Equipment Express Loans, and an Advancing Term loan. The first two loans are aimed at one time projects or purchases.
The loans can be for an amount between $10,000 and $100,000 and have payback periods of one to five years or two to six years respectively. The Advancing term loan is a $100,000 to $500,000 working capital loan which requires business assets as collateral.
The banking institution also offers credit lines between $5,000 to $100,000. Interest rates vary depending on the line. No collateral is required for these lines and all businesses that use them are automatically enrolled in Wells Fargo’s rewards program. For larger businesses, which make $2-to-$5-million annually, Wells Fargo also offers a Prime Line valued between $100,000 and $500,000
BlueVine is an organization that provides small businesses with loans between $5,000 and $5 million. Interest rates for loans and credit lines start at 4.8% and vary based on the type and size of loan selected. The company offers three specific types of lending: Credit lines of up to $250,000 with no repayment penalties. term loans of up to $250,000, and Invoice factoring — a credit line specifically for invoices — of up to $5 million.
To apply for a BlueVine credit line or loan, you must have $10,000 in revenue and have been in business for more than six months. The business owner must also have higher than a 600 FICO score. Eligibility information is not noted online for BlueVine’s invoice factoring service.
Once an application is submitted to BlueVine, the lender could respond within five minutes or 24 hours.
Funding Circle offers small business loans between $25,000 and $500,000. Loans are fixed term and can have a payback period between six months and five years. Interest and origination fees might vary based on the type and size of the loan.
The company says that loan applicants will receive a decision within 24 hours of applying. According to its website, Funding Circle also provides loans for female entrepreneurs, minorities, and small business acquisitions.
Small businesses that are interested in working with this company to receive Paycheck Protection Program loans can sign up to receive email notifications when applications are launched specifically for it.
It’s important to note that certain Funding Circle loans require a one-time fee before they’re dispersed. When an applicant is approved for a loan, they’ll receive the fee and interest information before being required to commit to the loan.
To receive a loan from Funding Circle, business owners must have an Experian credit score of 660. Additionally, businesses in some industries are ineligible for term loans. These industries include speculative real estate, nonprofit organizations, weapons manufacturers, gambling businesses, and marijuana dispensaries. They also cannot provide loans to businesses in Nevada due to the state’s lending regulations.
PayPal offers small business loans between $5,000 and $500,000 to companies that have been in business for nine months or more and have a free PayPal Business profile.
According to PayPal’s site, no interest is due on the loan if it is paid back within the first six months. The amount of interest and payback period varies based on the type of loan businesses apply for.
To receive a PayPal loan, businesses must be more than nine months old, earn $42,000 annual revenue, and not have any active bankruptcies. Any business owner in the United States can apply for a PayPal loan, but they must have a FICO score of at least 550. Like Funding Circle, PayPal notes that some industries are ineligible for business loans.
For retail customers and small business customers, Citi has waived fees on certificate of deposit withdrawals until May 2020. For small businesses, Citi will also provide waivers for monthly service fees and remote deposit capture.
Additionally, those with a Citi credit card might qualify for a forbearance program which would delay them from needing to pay back their full balance.
State and Local Funding Resources for Small Businesses
Each state offers different benefits, tax exemptions, loans, or grant opportunities for businesses. To learn more about state-based assistance and funding, visit your state department’s website.
For example, small business owners in Massachusetts can visit mass.gov to find information about state-mandated COVID-19 relief. On this page, you’ll find information about Massachusetts’ own relief funding, as well as federal loan options.
Local Banks and Credit Unions
While many big banks are currently offering loans related to the financial climate, your local bank or smaller chains might also be allowing small business owners to take out loan amounts with interest rates and payback periods that work for them.
Tips for Picking the Right Funding
While the CARES Act and private business initiatives have opened the door to a number of financial opportunities for businesses, there are still a few things small business owners should keep in mind.
First, it’s important to note that some of the loans above might come with fees. For example, you might have to pay a small fee to disburse the loan in the first place.
Secondly, some of these loans do not disperse all at once. For instance, loans of up to $10 million designated by the CARES Act will offer small businesses a cash advance of up to $10,000 before the rest of the funds are dispersed.
Before committing to a loan, small businesses might need to look at their timeline for paying bills and other expenses and make sure that a loan’s disbursement works for them.
Lastly, and most importantly, when accepting a loan, a small business owner agrees to pay it back.
While some loan programs are currently offering deferment or partial forgiveness programs, most will expect all the funds plus interest to be paid back. As business owners research these loans, they should fully understand the payback and interest rate terms before committing. They should also have a financial plan and backup plan for how they will pay off the loans and interest in the future, regardless of whether their business is or is not running.
Disclaimer: This blog post is meant as a basic resource and not a comprehensive guide. We will regularly update it to add more information as funding opportunities become available or change.
Birthdays are contagious. No one actually remembers the day they were born, other people remember it for you. And the way we celebrate them is cultural, a shared process that keeps changing.
People keep track of birthdays, and today used to be mine.
Sixty of them.
It doesn’t feel like it’s been that many. Time flies when you’re busy. Lots and lots of projects. Countless friends made, lessons learned and ideas shared. Quite a journey, with lucky breaks and advantages again and again, beginning with my parents, the cultural identity, time and town where I was born… I wouldn’t have been able to go on this journey without you, thank you.
But today’s not my birthday (no need to send an email or a card). I’ve never really liked my birthday (it’s a long story involving a non-existent parrot), and the only reason for this post is to talk about who owns my birthday now.
What happens if we start celebrating our birthdays differently? Today belongs to the 20,000 + people who are on their way to a permanent supply of clean drinking water because readers like you brought their birthday (and mine) to charity:water. Thank you. Now, particularly now, when the world is in pain and when so many people are wrestling with health, the economy and justice, it’s more urgent than ever to think of someone you’ve never met living a life that’s hard to imagine.
And today, because it celebrates a round number, I’m hoping you will join in and help us break charity:water’s birthday record. And maybe donate your birthday too. Better still, if you subscribe as a monthly donor, you become a core supporter of a movement that changes lives with persistence and care.
How it works:
If you have the ability, I’m hoping you’ll click here and donate to charity:water to celebrate what used to be my birthday.
And either way, I’m hoping you’ll also donate your birthday to them. Because when it’s your turn to celebrate a missing parrot or a lost cake, you can ask your friends, and they can do what you just did.
It’s hard to visualize 21,000 people, mostly kids, fighting illness because the water in their village is undrinkable. That’s about three times the population of the town where I live. Thanks to all of you, my projects, including this blog, have already raised nearly a million dollars to build long-term solutions to this problem.
Will you help me double that?
Even one kid who lives the life he or she is capable of is worth this blog post and worth your support.
SEO Negotiation: How to Ace the Business Side of SEO — Best of Whiteboard Friday
Posted by BritneyMuller
SEO has become more important than ever, but it isn’t all meta tags and content. A huge part of the success you’ll see is tied up in the inevitable business negotiations. In this helpful Whiteboard Friday from August of 2018, our resident expert Britney Muller walks us through a bevy of smart tips and considerations that will strengthen your SEO negotiation skills, whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie to the practice.
Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. So today we are going over all things SEO negotiation, so starting to get into some of the business side of SEO. As most of you know, negotiation is all about leverage.
It’s what you have to offer and what the other side is looking to gain and leveraging that throughout the process. So something that you can go in and confidently talk about as SEOs is the fact that SEO has around 20X more opportunity than both mobile and desktop PPC combined.
This is a really, really big deal. It’s something that you can showcase. These are the stats to back it up. We will also link to the research to this down below. Good to kind of have that in your back pocket. Aside from this, you will obviously have your audit. So potential client, you’re looking to get this deal.
Get the most out of the SEO audit
☑ Highlight the opportunities, not the screw-ups
You’re going to do an audit, and something that I have always suggested is that instead of highlighting the things that the potential client is doing wrong, or screwed up, is to really highlight those opportunities. Start to get them excited about what it is that their site is capable of and that you could help them with. I think that sheds a really positive light and moves you in the right direction.
☑ Explain their competitive advantage
I think this is really interesting in many spaces where you can sort of say, “Okay, your competitors are here, and you’re currently here and this is why,”and to show them proof. That makes them feel as though you have a strong understanding of the landscape and can sort of help them get there.
☑ Emphasize quick wins
I almost didn’t put this in here because I think quick wins is sort of a sketchy term. Essentially, you really do want to showcase what it is you can do quickly, but you want to…
☑ Under-promise, over-deliver
You don’t want to lose trust or credibility with a potential client by overpromising something that you can’t deliver. Get off to the right start. Under-promise, over-deliver.
Smart negotiation tactics
☑ Do your research
Know everything you can about this clientPerhaps what deals they’ve done in the past, what agencies they’ve worked with. You can get all sorts of knowledge about that before going into negotiation that will really help you.
☑ Prioritize your terms
So all too often, people go into a negotiation thinking me, me, me, me, when really you also need to be thinking about, “Well, what am I willing to lose?What can I give up to reach a point that we can both agree on?” Really important to think about as you go in.
This is a very old, funny negotiation tactic where when the other side counters, you flinch. You do this like flinch, and you go, “Oh, is that the best you can do?” It’s super silly. It might be used against you, in which case you can just say, “Nice flinch.” But it does tend to help you get better deals.
So take that with a grain of salt. But I look forward to your feedback down below. It’s so funny.
☑ Use the words “fair” and “comfortable”
The words “fair” and “comfortable” do really well in negotiations. These words are inarguable. You can’t argue with fair. “I want to do what is comfortable for us both. I want us both to reach terms that are fair.”
You want to use these terms to put the other side at ease and to also help bridge that gap where you can come out with a win-win situation.
☑ Never be the key decision maker
I see this all too often when people go off on their own, and instantly on their business cards and in their head and email they’re the CEO.
They are this. You don’t have to be that, and you sort of lose leverage when you are. When I owned my agency for six years, I enjoyed not being CEO. I liked having a board of directors that I could reach out to during a negotiation and not being the sole decision maker. Even if you feel that you are the sole decision maker, I know that there are people that care about you and that are looking out for your business that you could contact as sort of a business mentor, and you could use that in negotiation. You can use that to help you. Something to think about.
Tips for negotiation newbies
So for the newbies, a lot of you are probably like, “I can never go on my own. I can never do these things.” I’m from northern Minnesota. I have been super awkward about discussing money my whole life for any sort of business deal. If I could do it, I promise any one of you watching this can do it.
☑ Power pose!
I’m not kidding, promise. Some tips that I learned, when I had my agency, was to power pose before negotiations. So there’s a great TED talk on this that we can link to down below. I do this before most of my big speaking gigs, thanks to Mike Ramsey who told me to do this at SMX Advanced 3 years ago.
Go ahead and power pose. Feel good. Feel confident. Amp yourself up.
☑ Walk the walk
You’ve got to when it comes to some of these things and to just feel comfortable in that space.
☑ Good > perfect
Know that good is better than perfect. A lot of us are perfectionists, and we just have to execute good. Trying to be perfect will kill us all.
☑ Screw imposter syndrome
Many of the speakers that I go on different conference circuits with all struggle with this. It’s totally normal, but it’s good to acknowledge that it’s so silly. So to try to take that silly voice out of your head and start to feel good about the things that you are able to offer.
Take inspiration where you can find it
I highly suggest you check out Brian Tracy’s old-school negotiation podcasts. He has some old videos. They’re so good. But he talks about leverage all the time and has two really great examples that I love so much. One being jade merchants. So these jade merchants that would take out pieces of jade and they would watch people’s reactions piece by piece that they brought out.
So they knew what piece interested this person the most, and that would be the higher price. It was brilliant. Then the time constraints is he has an example of people doing business deals in China. When they landed, the Chinese would greet them and say, “Oh, can I see your return flight ticket? I just want to know when you’re leaving.”
They would not make a deal until that last second. The more you know about some of these leverage tactics, the more you can be aware of them if they were to be used against you or if you were to leverage something like that. Super interesting stuff.
Take the time to get to know their business
☑ Tie in ROI
Lastly, just really take the time to get to know someone’s business. It just shows that you care, and you’re able to prioritize what it is that you can deliver based on where they make the most money off of the products or services that they offer. That helps you tie in the ROI of the things that you can accomplish.
☑ Know the order of products/services that make them the most money
One real quick example was my previous company. We worked with plastic surgeons, and we really worked hard to understand that funnel of how people decide to get any sort of elective procedure. It came down to two things.
It was before and after photos and price. So we knew that we could optimize for those two things and do very well in their space. So showing that you care, going the extra mile, sort of tying all of these things together, I really hope this helps. I look forward to the feedback down below. I know this was a little bit different Whiteboard Friday, but I thought it would be a fun topic to cover.
So thank you so much for joining me on this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I will see you all soon. Bye.
Scoop up more SEO insights at MozCon Virtual this July
Don’t miss exclusive data, tips, workflows, and advice from Britney and our other fantastic speakers at this year’s MozCon Virtual! Chock full of the SEO industry’s top thought leadership, for the first time ever MozCon will be completely remote-friendly. It’s like 20+ of your favorite Whiteboard Fridays on vitamins and doubled in size, plus interactive Q&A, virtual networking, and full access to the video bundle:
Still not convinced? Moz VP Product, Rob Ousbey, is here to share five highly persuasive reasons to attend!
Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!
Now Is The Time To Find And Correct Your Digital Strategy Pitfalls
/Every brand or enterprise is crafting and refining their digital strategy on a daily basis. However, especially in the world of B2B, companies fall into many of the same mistakes.
According to a 2019 Forrester report, “44% of B2B buyers expect to do more than half of their work-related purchasing online in the next three years.” In the wake of COVID-19, that figure is probably even higher. It is crucial that marketers create engaging digital content, leveraging every digital touchpoint as an opportunity to build trust and strengthen relationships.
Marketers have access to more target audience research and data than ever before, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to avoid pitfalls. Let’s consider the consequential B2B marketing mistakes that companies are making, and demonstrate why a digital strategy audit is the solution.
Your Content Shouldn’t Reflect Your Organization Chart
Too often, companies — particularly B2B enterprises — build their websites and digital assets around their internal organization structure rather than a customer’s needs. As an example, imagine you are a customer looking for a mop. You surf to a company’s website to buy a complete cleaning solution, but they have separate pages for mop handles and mop heads because they operate as separate divisions. Now you have to research the parts separately, figure out what you need and ensure they are compatible with one another. That’s not a huge ask for a mop, but imagine you are purchasing a complicated business system with hardware, software and a consultative service component.
Your Messaging Should Focus On The Customer, Not The Product
Companies often lead with the news of the capability or product they just launched, but prospects don’t come to your website for product announcements. They visit because they have a question or a problem. Your messaging should show people you understand that problem. This is a best practice for all marketers, but it is especially true for those marketing to developers, engineers and the C-suite. These audiences are highly skeptical of “marketing speak” and an overly product-forward content strategy will turn them off. Plus, leading with product makes your company seem uninterested in building strong audience bonds.
Don’t Overload One Area Of The Buyer Journey With Content But Neglect Others
Another mistake that is easy to overlook when you are inside the organization is creating content around some areas of the buyer journey, but not others. If your organization doesn’t have a healthy mix of content formats, you may be making this error. For example, you might have multiple white papers and blog articles that are relevant to a prospect comparing competitive solutions, but no video to share on social media to create brand awareness.
It is also common to create content for one audience segment but forget about other personas, or simply run out of time and resources. B2B purchasing decisions involve multiple decision-makers with different priorities and needs. A complete digital strategy needs to encompass all of them, which is part of what makes B2B marketing so challenging.
Don’t Overuse Jargon
Your existing customers know your lingo, but new ones may not. It is important that your messaging and content use natural language, rather than jargon, so it resonates with your audience. This may sound like a simple one, but it can be hard to catch yourself because you are accustomed to the company’s lexicon.
Why Now Is The Time For A Digital Assessment
The first step in fixing mistakes is finding them. Your company may have slowed or even stopped marketing initiatives in response to COVID-19, so use this time to audit your digital strategy.
There isn’t an industry on the planet that hasn’t been upended by the pandemic. Buying processes have changed overnight, so even if your company has managed to avoid these marketing traps, you still need to audit your strategy and update it to reflect the new normal.
A comprehensive review should include:
- A content audit and effectiveness assessment;
- A website CX health assessment;
- A channel audit and effectiveness assessment;
- A brand message assessment; and
- An event strategy assessment.
The good news is an audit will likely uncover low-hanging fruit — low-effort/high-impact actions you can take to drive fast results for your company. Next, you can devise a plan for tackling the bigger initiatives.
Remember, as a B2B marketer, your goal is to build relationships with prospects and to lead them through their consideration journey, fostering trust every step of the way. The missteps above compromise your ability to do so. An audit kicks off the process of doing this right.
Greg Harbinson is the Senior Strategy Director at Centerline Digital, where he focuses his time on helping companies create messaging and experiences to better communicate with their customers. His work includes building messaging frameworks, defining the information architecture for websites, designing customer experience programs and helping companies understand the best ways to solve communication problems.
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