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How Customer Loyalty Programs Grow Businesses

  
  
  
  

loyalty programsThink loyalty programs won’t benefit your business? Think again. In the U.S. today the average household has memberships to 12 loyalty programs according to research discovery engine Factbrowser.  And more than likely, as a consumer, you have joined loyalty programs to save money or earn points and free merchandise. My personal favorite, Panera Bread, offers great incentives like free coffee and pastries. 

Customer loyalty programs have been a longstanding marketing strategy for big box retailers such as Panera and Starbucks. . But with the birth of affordable, tech savvy iPad POS systems, smaller local businesses are now able to track consumer behavior and manage in-depth, successful customer loyalty programs.

So what are the big benefits loyalty programs bring to the table that make them so attractive?

Customer Retention
Insinuated in the word “loyalty”, these programs give customers a tangible reason to come back for more. And aside from increasing the frequency of customer visits (which is a great benefit in itself)  studies also show they increase the amount customers spend during their visits, in their efforts to unlock rewards. 

Attract New Customers
This perk is largely contingent on how exciting the rewards are for a business. A well advertised reward program, with attractive, valuable rewards will not only have existing customers coming back, but will also attract new business. This shouldn’t be the focus of a loyalty program but is certainly an added benefit. 

Data About Customer Behavior
With the right technology managing a loyalty program, businesses should be able to collect all kinds of great information about customer behavior. When they like to shop; what time of day, what time of year. The kinds of products they like to buy and how frequently they buy them. The products or services that increase ticket size the most or the best time of day to run sales and promotions. There is an unbelievable amount of data that can be captured from these programs and used strategically to boost sales and  cater to customers’ specific needs.

Spoil Your Best Customers
Once you have collected all this rich, insightful data about customer behavior, businesses now have the opportunity to distinguish the big spenders from the rest of the customers and give them the VIP treatment. Described by some marketing gurus as “rockstars”, customers that are extra loyal are a great asset for referral business and should have programs designed just for them.

Create Brand Rockstars

Once these “rockstars” are born they will take their high opinions and enthusiasm for the business on the road. They become a brand’s best advocates, boasting about products and services to their friends and relatives and posting positive comments on social media– which have far more clout than any advertisement or coupon.

The great news is, long gone are the days where implementing the technology for these types of programs cost thousands of dollars. There are several, very affordable loyalty program apps, that also double as payment programs designed for iPads such as talech and NCR Silver.

These programs are affordable, easy to set up and function equally as well as expensive POS systems  giving your business a competitive edge and greater profitability.

For more information about Customer Loyalty Programs contact us at NTC Texas.

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About the Author

Rachida EssadiqRachida Essadiq, Director of Marketing at NTC Texas is a successful five year marketing veteran, running events and campaigns for large to  small enterprises and non-profits.  She specializes in blogging, social media, branding/ identity and search engine optimization, striving to provide NTC Texas customers and fans with entertaining and valuable educational resources to find success in all areas of their businesses.

Choosing The Right iPhone Credit Card Reader System

  
  
  
  

Virtual Merchant MobileIn today’s marketplace, having the ability to process credit cards on the go is a must – regardless of business size or industry. From large restaurants chains to small retail shops to professionals and contractors - everyone is stepping up their game with mobile credit cards readers compatible with iPhones, iPads and other smartphones and tablets. And with the market flooded by new technology, apps and gadgets giving businesses mobile payment capabilities, how is one to choose?

There is actually very important criteria to consider when choosing a mobile credit card reader and its accompanying application or software. Just like a business would give important consideration to a point of sale system or inventory management program – they need to consider a few things before choosing a mobile credit card processor.

1) Security – Who wants to end up like Target? Systems hacked, customers upset, international news blasting your business’ vulnerabilities all over the world… Security can be a big problem if not handled properly – which is why we have listed it as the number one criteria. Some mobile credit card readers, given away for free, are not manufactured with security or compliance in mind. Every time a card is swiped through an unsecure reader, the customer’s information is vulnerable to theft and the business is open to bad publicity and potential fines.

The most secure mobile reader in the industry today: Magtek’s aDynamo
(Compatible with Apple, Android & Blackberry)

2) Supports Growth- There is nothing worse than investing in and setting up a system for your business and realizing – it has limited capabilities. Suddenly you realize that if the business begins to grow, you will have to install an entirely new system to support the growth. A great mobile credit card processing app will support multiple users and backend reporting – allowing owners and managers to log-in from an office computer and see real-time processing via mobile readers. It should also offer dynamic reporting and analytics – appropriate for a growing business. 

Virtual Merchant Mobile: Mobile Processing App Scalable for Any Size Business

3) Customizable Fee Structures – The market is flooded with mobile processing apps offering flat per transaction percentages (often between 2-3%) – which can be very appealing to smaller businesses with low processing volume. But as business picks up, those fees add up and business owners realize, those flat rates aren’t exactly competitive. A mobile processing app that allows for a customizable fee structure gives businesses the ability to work with the processor on obtaining lower rates for swiped debit cards than a swiped corporate card for example. These apps and processors give businesses more flexibility in negotiating rates specific to their type of business and volume.

Because of the “trendy” nature of apps and mobile accessories business owners tend to look at mobile processing as fun gadgets that can add to the novelty of their businesses. But as the payments industry moves quickly in the direction of mobile processing, it’s time for big business to take this trend as serious as they would any other major decision around business technology.

For more information about the most secure, scalable mobile apps and card readers in business contact us at NTC Texas.

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About the Author

Rachida EssadiqRachida Essadiq, Director of Marketing at NTC Texas is a successful five year marketing veteran, running events and campaigns for large to  small enterprises and non-profits.  She specializes in blogging, social media, branding/ identity and search engine optimization, striving to provide NTC Texas customers and fans with entertaining and valuable educational resources to find success in all areas of their businesses.

Top Photo Courtesy of Virtual Merchant Mobile.

Six Detrimental Mistakes Businesses Make

  
  
  
  

business mistakesExperience is by far the best teacher. But with the luxury of modern day mass communication, people no longer have to learn everything from their mistakes alone. Advisors and experts are quick to talk about what entrepreneurs “should be” doing to be successful but often leave out their hard won experience and tips on what “not to do.”

Lucky enough, the Internet is flooded with hundreds of articles outing some of the biggest mistakes frequently made by businesses. We chose some good ones: 

Forbes: Avoid the “Double Helix Trap” – Called a boom and bust cycle by Forbes contributor Dorie Clark (citing  author Barry Moltz),  a major trap businesses get caught in is neglecting sales and marketing efforts during busy times, leaving them short of prospects when the load lightens up.  Clark and Moltz suggest focusing on a more consistent approach to communication and lead nurturing, staying in touch over longer periods of time via social media and email. Clark recommends providing prospects with educational information and resources regularly– building credibility and brand recognition.

CNBC: Trying to Do It All –This CNBC article titled The 10 Biggest Mistakes Made By Small Business Owners  says a good recipe for failure is trying to be all things to your business. The article suggests that, like any other person, entrepreneurs cannot be good at everything. Typically, they have one or two talents or strengths that should be identified – and remain their focus. Other tasks within a business should be delegated. “Great companies are built on the foundation of exploiting a few strengths, not on trying to be masters of everything.”

Time: Not Knowing When to Pivot - “Many successful business ventures have come through calculating a new route,” the Time article explains. And too often it’s resistance to this change or poor timing that causes businesses to fail.  It’s not uncommon that as a business plan unfolds, changes in the original course will need to be made. Instead of approaching these times with close-mindedness and inflexibility, entrepreneurs should stay pliable and willing to make changes to do whatever it takes to stay on the path to success.

Inc.: Pricing Too Low - Brian Hamilton, CEO of Sagework shares his stance on pricing in his Inc.com article The 7 Biggest Financial Mistakes Businesses Make. “…it is almost always better to sell fewer units at higher prices than to sell more units at lower prices. High prices protect your margins and also enhance your brand,” writes Hamilton.  He recommends conducting deep industry research on pricing and positioning price points close to an industry average. He also recommends focusing on a solid product or service differentiator to create a scenario where the business can demand higher prices. 

Fast Company: Trying To Sell To New Customers Rather Than Taking Care of Old Ones -
Too many times once the sale is made, or a contract is signed, businesses move on to the next prospect, neglecting to nurture existing customers for up sells and referrals.  Word of mouth, referrals and reputation can be the most lucrative avenue for a business in attracting new business which makes taking care of the customer, and giving them a delightful experience, of the utmost importance.

AMEX Open Forum: Not Knowing What Problems Your Prospects Want You to Solve -  Business owners and sales people live and breathe their own products and  services, so it’s not uncommon for them to be focused and informed on the intricacies of their industry. The problem is, often that’s all they talk to the prospect about and fail to identify what problem their offering will solve for the customer.  The best knowledge a business can be armed with is the pain points of their customers. Forget about all the bells and whistles of your company or product, instead think about what you can do for the customer. 

All of these articles are full of great suggestions – click on the links to read the full articles. Have you learned some hard lessons and made mistakes in business? Share your experiences below!

Tax Tips for Businesses


About the Author

Rachida EssadiqRachida Essadiq, Director of Marketing at NTC Texas is a successful five year marketing veteran, running events and campaigns for large to  small enterprises and non-profits.  She specializes in blogging, social media, branding/ identity and search engine optimization, striving to provide NTC Texas customers and fans with entertaining and valuable educational resources to find success in all areas of their businesses.

Top Photo Courtesy of OTA Photos @ Flickr CC.

Why E-commerce Makes Sense for B2B

  
  
  
  
E commerceWhen most people think about E-commerce they think of Amazon, e-Bay and other online retailers selling products directly to consumers. But the scope and definition of E-commerce has expanded over the years to now include all kinds of businesses, including manufacturers, consultants, distributors and other types of B2Bs.

Now before you cringe at the thought of a B2B conducting business over the web you have to shatter your idea of a traditional E-commerce website altogether. B2B ecommerce sites take on a very different form than a traditional retail site. Instead of a focus on product display and search functions, B2B E-commerce sites act as an ambassador or virtual salesperson for a business, gently guiding prospects through the sales cycle and educating them about problems and solutions.

Three reasons why E-commerce sites make sense for B2Bs:

Efficiency – When used in the right ways, E-commerce sites can streamline a B2B sales process tremendously. From screening prospects, to filling basic orders for manufacturers to generating leads from online marketing activities – an E-commerce site can do multiple jobs at once, freeing up the sales team for warm leads, prospecting and large accounts.

Communication – Not to be depended on as the sole source of communication for a business, an ecommerce site can be an invaluable resource for displaying information and reviews about products and services. In today’s world, most research is conducted online and prospects feel more comfortable learning about a business’ from the comfort of a computer screen. Not to mention, it’s a great place to host a blog with helpful articles related to your industry.

Cost – Naturally, there is an upfront cost to developing the infrastructure for an E-commerce system. But over time, as online sales processes are fine-tuned managing an ecommerce site will actually prove to reduce administrative costs and maximize productivity in the sales department.  

Justin King, B2B E-Commerce Evangelist and Strategist, writes a blog focused on E-Commerce for B2B.  In one blog article titled,  5 Great B2B eCommerce Websites King discusses five great B2B sites and what they are doing well.

One of his examples that you may be familiar with is Quill Office Supplies. King praises Quill for the navigation and usability of their site among other things. “Quill.com is a great B2B site. They have focused on taxonomy, guided navigation, and search to make this a fantastic site,” King Said.

“I like how Quill merchandises as you hover over a category on their home page. Then as you go deeper into their site, they use product attributes to enable the customer to filter the search results.”

Another familiar example King gives is industrial supplier Grainger. “From search to guided navigation, their site is fantastic at getting customers to the right product. In addition, they have great account tools (as a logged in user), and have set the standard for features such as Quick Order, “ King says.

If you are a B2B owner or manager and have written off the world of E-commerce as a B2C space - think again. The tools and groundwork have shown up to ensure B2B business’s increased success and operability with the right E-commerce tools.

Tax Tips for Businesses


About the Author

Rachida EssadiqRachida Essadiq, Director of Marketing at NTC Texas is a successful five year marketing veteran, running events and campaigns for large to  small enterprises and non-profits.  She specializes in blogging, social media, branding/ identity and search engine optimization, striving to provide NTC Texas customers and fans with entertaining and valuable educational resources to find success in all areas of their businesses.

Top Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Five Apps to Help Manage a Business and Increase Productivity

  
  
  
  

NCR SilverApps and mobile technology have had a profound impact on our lives and connectivity on a personal level - from social media to lifestyle apps, they have changed the way we live. But an often overlooked function when used for business, mobile technology can be extremely useful in helping manage businesses to run smoother and more streamlined while increasing productivity.


Here are five great apps on the market that will help to do just that:


Contactually –Work Your Network
In business it’s all about who you know. With contact management applications like Contactually, entrepreneurs can easily cultivate and manage these relationships. With Contactually you will be prompted to take specific actions to reach out and interact with the people in your network (can be added by scanned business card). The app also tracks previous interactions to give you context, including social media interactions.

NCR Silver – Manage Your Business Better
Imagine one single program with the ability to capture customer information, manage loyalty and rewards programs, conduct marketing and promotional campaigns, and manage sales, inventory and payroll from one simple platform. NCR Silver can do all of this and accepts credit and debit cards, all from the convenience and mobility of an iPad. 

Mailstrom – Manages Your Messy Inbox
Hundreds and hundreds of emails a day – articles, junk, important documents – managing all of this can be a huge headache. Apps like Mailstrom help you clean up your inbox quickly and efficiciently . Mailstrom tracks your emails and gives you useful data like when you get most of your emails, which ones you don’t read and offers suggestions for unsubscribes.  

Asana – Collaborate on Projects, Communicate Better
All great projects take time, good communication and good management. In today’s busy fast paced world, the details can get lost in the mix, making collaboration a growing challenge for businesses. An intuitive interface allows users to manage projects together, communicate effectively and increase productivity.

inDinero – Manages Financial and Account Information 
Even with a full time accountant tracking expenses and income, it can be very helpful to have an automated system tool to track financial information for perspective and comparison.  inDinero pulls all transaction history from bank accounts, credit cards and other financial accounts, separates and organizes it into specific customizable categories. With no data entry involved, the app simply asks for account information and pulls all relevant info producing full accounting reports for your review.

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About the Author

Rachida EssadiqRachida Essadiq, Director of Marketing at NTC Texas is a successful five year marketing veteran, running events and campaigns for large to  small enterprises and non-profits.  She specializes in blogging, social media, branding/ identity and search engine optimization, striving to provide NTC Texas customers and fans with entertaining and valuable educational resources to find success in all areas of their businesses.

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The Value of a Business Coach to Business Owners

  
  
  
  

Business coaches can do much more than motivate their clients, contrary to what some may think.

They bring best practice business tools and help business owners and executives set specific goals and specific plans to get there, whether those goals relate to increasing revenues, changing the business's structure, sales, marketing or developing an exit strategy.

One of the main values a business coach can offer is accountability.

"A business coach works very intimately with a business owner in helping them see things they otherwise might not see and there is an accountability component to it," Certified Business Advisor and Coach Joseph Heilner said. "A business coach will hold a business owner accountable to drive the results that they together agree are what are desired for that business."


Business owners working with a coach can improve prioritization, efficiencies, and work life balance. For example, if someone sets out to run a painting business without establishing goals or priorities, they will probably be less successful than the business owner who sets monthly and annual net profit goals, as well as implements the plan to get there.

However, a business coach isn't just for small business owners or new companies.

Heilner points out that even the most accomplished professionals and business owners have businesses coaches to help them set concrete goals and help them reach those goals, including Google CEO, Eric Schmidt. 

So how does one pick the best business coach to fit their needs?

Because a business coach typically communicates with their clients frequently and advises them on critical business issues, the coach should be someone the owner trusts, has easy communication with, and is qualified in relation to their business. Heilner is a part of the international FocalPoint business network, requiring over 150 hours of education per year to retain his certification, which adds legitimacy and trust to his consulting practice. He also has over 20 years of experience as a corporate marketing executive, so while his education and background could make him a great fit to many different types of businesses, he would especially excel coaching a marketing executive due to his background.

Are you reaching your business goals? Tell us below!

Watch the interview clips:

Why You Need a Business Coach if You Own a Business (08:23)
About Certified Business Advisor, Coach Joseph Heilner (06:01)

Tax Tips for Businesses

About the Author

jackie clewsJackie Clews is a Co-Founder of Digital Marketing Direction, LLC and has spent nearly three years leading digital marketing strategies for various nonprofits and businesses. She believes effective data and content strategies with the right technology in place are the perfect recipe for maximizing online conversions and ROI.

Bitcoin Around The World: How Virtual Currencies Are Treated In 40 Different Countries

  
  
  
  

officialSenator Tom Carper (D-Del.) has clearly boned up on bitcoin. In a December interview with Bloomberg TV, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said what he knew about the contested currency "would fit into a very small thimble,” but now he has released a 25-page report prepared by the Library of Congress on how countries around the world are addressing, taxing and viewing cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

“This report has some good news – namely that the United States may not be as far behind the curve on virtual currencies as some have argued,” said Chairman Carper. “In fact, the United States might be leading the way for a number of nations when it comes to addressing this growing technology.”

The chairman’s praise of the United States may be a bit hasty considering many governments outlined in the report are listed as reviewing cryptocurrencies, a somewhat obfuscating non-action. Although, the report clearly identifies two countries as laying actual framework for bitcoin. China and Brazil have taken actual stances on the subject.

In December, China’s national bank denounced the validity of bitcoins by issuing “the Notice on Precautions Against the Risks of Bitcoins,” stating that financial institutions could not use the currency because “by nature the bitcoin is not a currency and should not be circulated and used in the market as a currency,” according to the report. The move halted a massive arbitrage play that bitcoin traders were using and caused the then rapidly rising digital currency to drop more than 50 percent in value.

Alternatively, Brazil has embraced the concept of electronic currencies. “On October 9, 2013, Brazil enacted Law No. 12,865, which created the possibility for the normalization of mobile payment systems and the creation of electronic currencies, including the bitcoin,” states the report. The law allows Brazil to regulate bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies and any future electronic currency.

But the majority of countries chose not to define bitcoin or reaffirmed the definition of legal tender, which bitcoin mostly doesn’t fit. “While there is no consistent or clear definition or treatment of digital currencies throughout the world,” Carper said, “this report underscores that bitcoin and other virtual currencies are present and growing in major economies, supporting the call for increased global cooperation.”

The report also states that Russia and Estonia show the most public interest in bitcoins. “According to Google’s search statistics, Estonia is the country with the second-largest number of Internet searches for the term “bitcoin”; Russia has the most such searches,” the report says. However, Russia has not yet ruled on digital currencies despite public interest. The report states that a Russian law firm cited article 140 of the Russian Civil Code as a way to consider bitcoin as “illegal currency operation subject to prosecution under the Russian law on administrative responsibility.” The report indicates that the Bank of Estonia currently monitors bitcoin transactions, but Estonia does not regulate them.

“Significantly, this report shows that other countries have addressed how virtual currencies are taxed,” Sen. Carper said, “and I urge the Internal Revenue to glean the findings from this survey to help determine its own treatment of virtual currencies.” Several countries, including Canada, Finland, Germany and Singapore, are taxing bitcoin and virtual currencies through Goods and Services taxation. “Our Committee will also continue to work closely with the Internal Revenue Service to get greater clarity as to their timelines and thought processes on dealing with the potential tax vulnerabilities of digital currencies.”

One notable dissident in the report is France. While other countries are treating virtual currencies like a barter or trade, France’s central bank issued a report that states “that the bitcoin cannot be considered a real currency or means of payment under current French laws, and criticizes it as a vehicle for speculation as well as an instrument for money laundering and other illegal activities.” The report proposes that bitcoin-to-fiat transactions should be limited to French authorized payment service providers, therefore reducing the risk of money laundering and fraud.

Money laundering is a concern around the world. Many of the countries listed in the report considered virtual currencies to be a danger and recommended avoidance of bitcoin. Recently in the United States, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) held a hearing on virtual currencies, with much discussion on anti-money laundering (AML) regulation. The NYDFS has yet to issue any regulation, AML or not, but proposed a timeline of sometime in 2014 for statewide regulation to exist.

Chairman Carper summed up the need for clarity on bitcoin and other virtual currencies well. “At the end of the day, I think this report is an important reminder to those of us in Congress as well as federal agencies that this technology continues to play an increasing role in our economy here in the United States as well as around the world, and we need to ensure that our policy making in this area is thoughtful, effective and timely.”

Find a full copy of the report here

Photo and article courtesy of International Business Times.

Tax Tips for Businesses

About the Author
eYXpglJRCameron Fuller is a Tech Journalist at Intermational Business Times. 


Adapting to the Affordable Care Act as a Business Owner

  
  
  
  

When Paula Harrington started the insurance brokering firm Harrington Insurance Solutions in 2009, she had no idea what 2010 would hold for her and her business.

In May of 2010 President Barack Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act, which set out to revolutionize the healthcare industry. When asked what the first thought was when the law was signed, she said, "change" (ironically).

"I wondered if it was going to be an opportunity to guide people through the change or if it was going to shrink my marketplace because they wouldn't need us anymore," Harrington said. "I'm finding there are more and more questions surrounding the Affordable Care Act because it was so big and so complex and still is."

In regards to businesses, those questions are coming from the business owners as well as employees. 

Business owners are wondering if they can still afford to offer health insurance to their employees or whether it makes more sense to pay a tax and let their employees go to the individual exchange directly.

At the same time, employees are being forced to really learn about health care insurance, many for the first time, as they try to figure out which option is actually best for them. Do they qualify for a subsidy through the exchange? Should they stick with their employers' insurance? Should they go directly to the "off exchange" market themselves?

Harrington says that's where her business can come in and evaluate all the changing options with the business owner and decide which makes the most sense for them and their employees at the time, regardless of the type of employees they have, whether they are 1099's, W-2's or a different type.

Just like a buyer does not pay a realtor (the seller technically does), the broker's client does not actually pay the broker; the insurance company does. So if you're a business owner looking to make the smartest business decision for your bottom line, but also help guide your employees through this process, a broker may prove to be a valuable resource.

With all the looming deadlines, like March 31 for the individual market, you might want to book that appointment sooner rather than later.

How is your business choosing to handle health insurance under the new regulations? Tell us below!

Watch the interview clips:

New Taxes, Medicare Cuts, and Other Healthcare Changes Outside the ACA (01:02)
Can I Keep My Doctor With My New Insurance? Maybe (05:48)
Knowledge Expertise Much More Valuable As a Broker, Thanks to the ACA (06:27)
About Harrington Insurance Solutions (02:34)
ACA Focus: Healthcare Options for Business Owners (03:22)

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About the Author

jackie clewsJackie Clews is a Co-Founder of Digital Marketing Direction, LLC and has spent nearly three years leading digital marketing strategies for various nonprofits and businesses. She believes effective data and content strategies with the right technology in place are the perfect recipe for maximizing online conversions and ROI.

Establishing and Managing a Business Credit Score

  
  
  
  

business credit scoresFor many small to medium sized businesses, a credit score can make all the difference in obtaining a line of credit for expansions or even obtaining a credit card processing account. While most business owners use their personal credit scores to validate their business' credibility, business credit scores have been available through services like Dun & Bradstreet (DNB) and Experian (EXPGF) for several years; although most business owners are unclear how to develop these scores. Beginning January 2014, FICO (Fair, Isaac & Company) has also made business credit scores available to business owners, when they were only previously available to lenders.  

With an abundance of resources available for people to learn how to successfully manage personal credit scores, there seems to be a shortage of resources available on successfully  managing business credit scores. The best resource we found, from the Small Business Administration (SBA), not only explains why it’s important to develop a credit score for your business, but also offers insight in to how to build these scores and maintain them.

Why Businesses Should Manage Their Business Credit (source SBA.gov)
A personal or business credit score can be the determining factor in being approved for a credit card processing account, and may affect fees and terms. The SBA offers additional input on the importance of managing business credit.

  • Securing more financing at better terms. Good credit can ensure that small businesses get financing when they need it. According to the SBA, insufficient or delayed financing is the second most common reason for business failure. And, since most loan decisions below $100k are automated, the business credit file will often dictate the amount and terms of a loan. For businesses with poor credit ratings, top national banks may increase credit card interest rates on average from 9% to 18% and loan interest rates on average from 8% to 12%.
  • Ensuring you get needed supplies at affordable terms. Suppliers evaluate your credit and make decisions about how much credit to extend to you – perhaps a $30K credit line could have been $60K with a stronger business credit file. Good business credit can ensure that you get the supplies you need under the best possible terms, freeing up more money for your business.
  • Protecting yourself against business identity theft. Actively managing your business credit file helps you ensure that fraudulent or incorrect information is not in the file. 15-30% of all commercial credit losses are due to fraudulent activity. It’s important that your business credit file truly reflects how good your credit is, and that you are aware of any inaccuracies and missing data so you can address them promptly.

5 Steps to Managing Business Credit (source sba.gov)

1. Determine whether or not you already have a business credit file. Small business owners should first know if they have a business credit file with D&B. You can find this out by calling D&B Customer Service at 1-866-785-0430 or visiting http://iupdate.dnb.com/iUpdate/mainlaunchpage.htm.
 
If you don’t have a business credit file, establish one by applying for a D-U-N-S® number. Small businesses should apply for a D-U-N-S® number, a unique business identification number, as soon as they start their enterprise to start the process of creating a business credit file.

If, when you call or visit the D&B web site, you determine that you already have a business credit file, review it completely to understand what information it contains. Add or modify the information as necessary to ensure that those looking at your business credit (such as vendors, suppliers and financial institutions) are making decisions based on complete and accurate information.

2. Establish a business credit history. When they are starting up, many small businesses use their personal credit and finances to get their business going. But they should establish a credit history by putting expenses (such as a business phone line) in their business name and using a commercial bank account to pay their bills.

3. Pay bills on time – and understand other factors that influence your credit rating. In order to improve your commercial credit scores and build a positive payment history, the most important thing to do is pay your bills on time. Be very careful not to overextend your business, and use any line of credit judiciously. While payment behavior is important, credit ratings are based on multiple factors. D&B, for example, maintains 150 factors that go into a credit rating, such as industry, revenues and number of employees.

4. Monitor your business credit file and keep it up to date. According to D&B, the credit score of about one in three businesses declines over just a three-month period. By monitoring your business credit file, you will be aware of any change in your ratings before it affects your relationships with customers, suppliers and financial institutions. You should keep your credit file current and accurate, reflecting changes such as location, number of employees, outstanding suits/liens and revenue - all of which impact your credit rating

5. Monitor your customers’ and vendors’ credit. Monitoring credit reports that provide a clear and complete picture of the credit standing of your customers can help you to determine how much credit, and on what terms, you should extend

FICO’s new service, through Creditera provides a business credit score monitoring service which allows business owners to manage their FICO and Experian credit scores for a $49.99 monthly fee. However, credit expert for CreditSesame.com , John Ulzheimer, advises in a recent A CNN Money article that although, “FICO’s scores have a solid reputation with banks and credit unions… Dun & Bradstreet's (DNB) Paydex score is more widely used for small business lending.”

For more information on monitoring business credit scores or credit card processing accounts, contact us at NTC Texas for help and resources.

 

Tax Tips for Businesses

 

About the Author

Rachida EssadiqRachida Essadiq, Director of Marketing at NTC Texas is a successful five year marketing veteran, running events and campaigns for large to  small enterprises and non-profits.  She specializes in blogging, social media, branding/ identity and search engine optimization, striving to provide NTC Texas customers and fans with entertaining and valuable educational resources to find success in all areas of their businesses.

Top Photo Courtesy of Simon Cunningham at Flickr CC

How a Dyslexic CEO Runs a Successful SEO Company

  
  
  
  

For anyone who's ever done keyword research for search engine optimization (SEO) or run a Google Adwords search engine marketing (SEM) campaign, they know how extremely detail oriented search is. 

For example, in the United States the average monthly Google searches for "accountant" is 22,200 but for "accountants" it is only 3,600. So if you're an accountant trying to attract potential clients to your site via search, you would want to make sure the term is singular in your headline or SEM campaign to increase the odds of being found.

In an industry that is highly detail oriented, who would think someone diagnosed with dyslexia, a reading disability that occurs when the brain does not properly recognize and process certain symbols, would excel at running an SEO business?

Eric McGehearty, Founder & CEO of Globe Runner, said it actually makes a lot of sense.

“Dyslexia really affects you very specifically in terms of reading and spelling. On the flip side, I have some really great strengths like creativity and concept understanding,” McGehearty said.

Nowadays search is all about creating compelling content, and lots of it, so that's where his creativity really gives him an advantage over his competition. One story he loves to tell is when he was trying to figure out how to spell "curious." He typed it into Word and then Google hoping the programs would autocorrect his spelling but to no avail. He then tried his version of "Curious George" which didn't work out either because both of those words are fairly complicated to spell. It wasn't until he typed "Monkey in the yellow hat" that "Curious George" came up and he got the correct spelling.

For anyone who has ever blogged about printers, accounting, real estate, or most other businesses they know obvious "sexy" topics run out quickly and it takes a lot of creativity to keep the content fresh to keep bringing new eyes to the site.

He also points out that "10 percent of the population has some sort of learning disability and 35 percent of entrepreneurs have a learning disability." Just check out this Inc. article that names some big "visionaries" such as Ted Turner and you might be surprised to find out what other individuals have achieved despite their learning disability. 

McGehearty is a great example of how entrepreneurs all over the world can leverage their strengths to overcome a weakness and come out on top. We also love how he continues to give back as a national spokesman for Learning Ally as philanthropic work is very dear to our hearts at NTC Texas.

What strengths have you leveraged to overcome an area of weakness? Tell us below!

Watch the interview clips:

About Globerunner, A Dallas-Based SEO Agency (03:14)
How To Get Creative to Overcome Short-Comings in Business (08:41)
From the SEO CEO: Demystifying Common Myths (02:19)

Tax Tips for Businesses

About the Author

jackie clewsJackie Clews is a Co-Founder of Digital Marketing Direction, LLC and has spent nearly three years leading digital marketing strategies for various nonprofits and businesses. She believes effective data and content strategies with the right technology in place are the perfect recipe for maximizing online conversions and ROI.

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