Small Business Grants Vs ARC Loans

Small businesses are an important part of the American economy. According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), they supply roughly 55 percent of all jobs in the private sector, and they generate about half of all privately generated Gross Domestic Products (GDP), according to some estimates. There are over 27 million small businesses in the United States. They can be self-employed, home-based, Internet-based, and owned by men, women, and minorities, producing a very broad range of innovative products and services. Yet they continue to struggle in securing financing to start or grow their businesses.

Small businesses have always relied on commercial banks for business loans. The increase in bank consolidations has resulted in larger banks, making it more difficult for the small business owner to secure funding for their business. Since more than 60% of small businesses rely on credit lines and loans, and the bulk of this financing comes from the banking sector, small businesses are increasingly looking for more sources to fund their businesses.

The good news is that there are many other sources available for small business owners, including government-backed loans, and grants. The major difference between the two is that loans need to be repaid; grants do not. However, the U.S. government, recognizing the important role that small businesses play in our national economy, recently announced the availability of interest-free ARC loans. Grants and ARC loans offer two additional sources for small business funding that are worth investigating.

Business Grants

Grants are not loans. Grants are free money that does not have to be repaid. Government grants are offered only to local and state, educational, and public housing organizations, and non-profits, and do not apply to start-ups. In addition, the government may offer some specialized grants to companies engaged in environmental efforts like energy efficiency and recycling, as well as businesses that train youth and senior citizens on the latest technology. That’s why they are referred to as “special purpose grants.” So, where do other small businesses go for grant money?

Grants are available from local government agencies and private corporations and organizations. Some of the private sources include trusts and foundations such as the Gates Foundation, the Lilly Endowment, Ford Foundation, Hasbro Industries Charitable Trust, W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the Kipling Foundation, Clorox Company, Allstate Foundation, and International Paper Company. Each source has their guidelines on what type of business will qualify for grant money, and the business owner must meet the criteria. Grant money can be as small as $500 or as large as $5 million. The application process is long and tedious, requiring the applicant to present a solid business plan. The competition for grants is keen with no guarantee that the applicant will receive the money. But for small businesses who qualify and are willing to tough it out in order to get free money, it is worth it.

ARC Loans

Business loans in general differ from grants in that they need to be repaid, with interest. In addition, grants are based on the presentation of a well-written business plan, while loans are based on credit scores and often require collateral.

Recently, however, the U.S. government announced a new program of interest-free loans called ARC (America’s Recovery Capital) loans, an extension of the 2009 Recovery Act, offered through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). ARC loans provide up to $35,000 (one time only) of interest-free money specifically to small business owners to help them pay down debt on other loans. In essence, it buys them time to get back on their feet. The loans are available until September 30, 2010, or until the funds are depleted (only 10,000 loans are available), and are offered through SBA lenders only. SBA pays the fee to the lenders; the borrower pays back only the principal. Other specifics on ARC loans include:

* Only private, for-profit enterprises up to 500 employees are eligible; non-profits are not eligible
* Business must be at least two years old
* Business must demonstrate an immediate financial hardship
* Loan money can only be used to pay off existing outstanding small business debt
* Loan money is paid out to the borrower over a six month period
* Repayment of the principal begins after the last loan disbursement is received
* Borrower has up to five years to repay the loan principal

The new ARC loans offer both advantages and disadvantages. The advantages include instant cash flow improvement, more money to re-invest in the business, and more time to restructure the business and position it for future success. For some small businesses, it is just what they need to survive. For others, the disadvantages include the strict criteria for qualification and use of ARC loan money. In addition, unlike grant money that does not have to be repaid, ARC loans need to be repaid. So, a small business owner who meets the qualifications must present a solid business plan that convinces the SBA lender they will be in a position to repay the loan within the time period allotted. That is the risk for the borrower, the lender, and the SBA who is guaranteeing the new ARC loans.

Do Your Real Estate Signs Include The Right Info?

Do you know what information on your real estate sign will get you the most results? We do. Don’t gamble – design a custom sign that says all the right things.

What are “all the right things?”

It’s fairly obvious that certain things should be included on your real estate sign, but you do have options. Quite a few, as it turns out.

Because we have 25 years of experience in the industry, we know what makes an effective real estate sign. And we’re happy to share our secrets with you.

An effective real estate sign starts with a plan:

What is your main attraction? It may be the well-known and trusted real estate company you work for. Maybe it’s your name – a lot of people know you. Or it might be the size of the houses you generally sell. Whatever your biggest appeal is, use it.

Perhaps you know a lot of people in your relatively small community. You’re on the PTA, the town council and you coach little league every summer. In that case, you’ll want to sell yourself. Make your name larger than any other text on the sign. Include a professional picture of yourself.

The key is “supersizing” the most important info on your sign, whatever that may be. Then move on the other info you’ll want to include.

What info do I want to include?

You have options. Here they are:

· Company name: Unless you are an independent realtor, you’ll need this on your sign.

· Your name: “Sam Green” works, but so does “Call Sam.” It depends whether you want to seem casual or high-end. Consider the general price range of your houses.

· For Sale/For Rent/Foreclosure: Duh.

· Phone number: You can use your office number, but we think it’s a better idea to use your cell number. This way, you can speak to potential clients 24/7.

· Website/email: You might want to include both, but one is really all you need. Your website is preferable – that way clients can browse your other houses and easily find your email.

· Photos: If you don’t want to your face on a sign, consider a picture of a house, a set of keys or a welcome mat. People remember a sign 300% better if it has a picture on it. And opt for color over black and white.

· Size of the house: You might want to include specifics such as “2 bed 2 bath.” It can peak interest if that size is just what the client has been looking for, but it’s certainly not essential.

· QR code: A “quick response” code is something you’ll start to see more and more on real estate signs. Basically, a QR code is a small graphic that anyone with a smart phone can snap a photo of and be automatically directed to your website (or a video on you tube, or an article you wrote, etc.). It’s a quick and tech savvy way to bring in more clients.

A few other considerations

There are some things to keep in mind when choosing which info to include on your custom real estate sign.

Don’t overcrowd your sign. Excessive text is overwhelming to a reader, who may just look away. Keep your sign simple and uncluttered.

Contrasting colors will draw more eyes to your sign. Black on yellow, for example is a great option. You can read more about that here.

A distinctive size real estate sign will help you stand out. Most companies offer only standard sizes, but good companies offer frames that will get you noticed.

If you’d like help designing your real estate signs, ask a graphic designer to help you out.

Are You an Entrepreneur or a Small Business Owner?

Do you want to be an Entrepreneur or a Small Business Owner? Is there a difference, and does it matter?

There is a difference, and it’s easy to confuse the two or use the two terms interchangeably. A Small Business Owner owns their own business, but also actively participates in that business. Often the Small Business Owner is critical to the ongoing success of the company. Without him or her, the business either does not exist (i.e. medical, legal, accounting, consulting, freelancing) or would suffer greatly in the owner’s absence for any period of time.

We often use the term “Solopreneur” to refer to the individual practitioner who is their own boss but must personally deliver a service or create a product for their business to generate revenue. While this may certainly be better than working for someone else, it’s still about trading time for money – and time is our most limited resource.

Whether you are a Solopreneur or a Small Business Owner, you likely own a business that depends primarily on you. Perhaps the business is run by you and a couple of other founders. The point is, only a few people know and can execute on the secret recipe at the foundation of your business. And those key people must be present for the business to operate.

An Entrepreneur instead builds a business and supporting systems that are independent from the founder. The founder may well be an integral (or exclusive) part of the businesses initially, but the goal is always to grow the business to the point where the owner does not have to be involved in day-to-day operations. When you build a business that continues to generate revenues in your absence, then you have created a truly leveraged model and can call yourself an Entrepreneur.

Many of us start as Small Business Owners, enjoy success, and grow our companies. We may then move on to creating a larger business that does not require us to be present, and we graduate to the level of Entrepreneurship. If we repeat this multiple times, then we may call ourselves Serial Entrepreneurs.

“Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.”
Howard Stevenson, Harvard Business School Professor.
You may not be clear at the start as to which one you want to grow up to be, an Entrepreneur or a Small Business Owner. But by asking yourself a series of hard questions, and honestly assessing your true desires, you are more likely to start a business that suits you best. And it’s certainly acceptable if you want to be Small Business Owner… we are not saying that’s a bad thing. But it’s important for you to begin understanding the difference between the two as it may impact the type of business you build and how you plan to develop it.

It’s also important to avoid creating another low-paying harder-working “job”, like the one you may already have! Michael Gerber explains this situation best in his seminal book “The E-Myth”. This book is a must read for small business owners, with one of its major themes being the difference between working “in” your business (you make the pies) versus working “on” your business (others make the pies following your recipe and systems).

As you prepare to become your own boss, or if you have already started a small business, it’s important to keep your long-term vision in mind. Doing so will help you determine the type of business you start and build, helping ensure that you achieve your definition of success.

Do you want to be an Entrepreneur or a Small Business Owner? Here are some questions to ask to help you determine want you really want:

Do you want to own just one or two locations (i.e. one or two franchise units, or your own practice) or do you want to create something bigger with multiple locations and perhaps grow internationally (i.e. offer franchises and hire others to run the business)?
Do you want to work in the business (i.e. make the donuts) or do you want to have someone else manage the day-to-day operations (i.e. someone else makes the donuts following your instructions)?
Are you looking for a job or are you looking to create a self-managing company (a business that does not rely on your day-to-day presence for success)?
Do you prefer to create or do you enjoy executing?
Do you envision creating multiple different businesses across multiple industries?
Are you able to let go of all of the details, or are you a micro-manager?
Are you the only person who can deliver your service or product, or can you teach others how to do it?
Is your goal to work hard until a certain age and then retire, or continue creating and leading your businesses until you are no longer mentally capable?
Can you sell your business as it currently operates and without you having to continue being part of it?

What Are the Fabric Dyeing Methods?

The process of colouring, by applying fabric dyes to loose fibre, thread and fabric are called fabric dyeing. Being carried out for thousands of years, it has experimented in many different ways until today, and good results have been obtained. At the present time, Viktoria Fabric Dyes, which is one of the biggest brandmarks of fabric dyeing, suggests 3 different styles of it. These are; Bucket or Sink Method, Boiling Method and Washing-Machine Method. These methods will be explained in the following passages.

I. Bucket or Sink Method
• This fabric dyeing method is carried out by filling a bucket or a large container with water or occluding the drain of the sink; so as to fill it with water.
• If the operation is carried out somewhere out of the sink; the cover should be spread so as not the water to flow out.
• Before starting this fabric dyeing operation, the sink or the bullet should be filled with 60 C hot water, as the experts advise, and the powder fabric dye should be dissolved with hot water in another container.
• If the colour is too light, a little bit more dye should be added, but if it is too dark hot water should be added.
• The dissolved dye should be poured to the place where the water is and should be stirred for a while.
• After being cleared of all of its stains, the object to be dyed is put where the dye is, by being wet, and water and the dye are stirred for 10 minutes, without giving a break.
• The fabric that is kept in the water for at least half an hour and mostly for an hour, is taken out of the water when decided that it has the expected colour.
• Just after dyeing, Fiske fabric dye stabilizer is applied in accordance with the instructions.
• You should then rinse the dyed fabric with cold water. After this, wash your fabric with warm water and a soft detergent; rinse it and dry it. After getting dried, your fabric will have the expected colour.

II. Boiling Method
Boiling is another method used for fabric dyeing.

• A large pot in which fabric can move easily is filled with water and this pot is put on the cookstove. The cookstove is switched on and when the water begins boiling the dye is added into the water.
• The object to be dyed is wetted and thrown into the water.
• The object to be dyed is put where the dye is, by wetting; after being cleaned of all its stains. It is stirred in the first 10 minutes without giving a break.
• After this step, rinse the dyed fabric with cold water. Then, wash your fabric with warm water and soft detergent, rinse and dry it. After drying, your fabric will have the expected colour.

III. Washing Machine Method
You can easily dye your fabric with washing machine fabric dyeing method.
• The temperature level of the washing machine should be fixed at the highest level. Also, the time setting should be fixed in a way that the machine will operate at least 30 minutes.
• The fabric dye is melted completely by stirring it with hot water in a plastic pot. In it, 1 teaspoon of washing-up liquid is added.
• In another pot; if cotton or linen is being dyed, salt should be dissolved in 4 glasses of very hot water; and if silk or nylon is being dyed, a cup of vinegar and 2-4 glasses of hot water should be blended(mixed( together.
• Firstly the dye, and after that, the vinegar and salt are spilt into the detergent box of the washing machine and it should be switched on.
• After the machine stops, the dyed fabric is washed one more time with warm water and it becomes ready to use.

Elderspeak and Invisible Old People

This past September (September 1st to be exact) I was in a wheelchair in an emergency room with a fractured knee cap that occurred in a moment of fully lucid but impaired equilibrium. But here’s the good news: the bottle of beer I was carrying remained unscathed. No shattered glass or a drop of foamy goodness was lost. (That takes talent!) I should have known better than to imbibe in the second bottle of brew but as the saying goes, “What the heck. I was having a good time.” Even better news: the white jeans I was wearing survived without a mark or tear.

Have I learned my lesson? Yes, of course, I have. I’m not a dumb bunny. I no longer drink beer. I now drink white wine. Best of all, my sense of humor remains intact.

After a long wait in the emergency room, I was wheeled into a room by an attendant who thought I was his “sweetie” and waited some more for a nurse (or anyone) to appear. My daughter and son-in-law were standing behind my chair when a nurse arrived. Then the fun began. As if I was not there, the nurse asked my daughter for details about how my injury occurred.

I was thinking, “Why isn’t the nurse asking ME those questions. It’s MY injury!” Irritation gnawed at me until I finally swung the bulky chair around to face the nurse, hitting a few cabinets in the process. (I should have turned the chair before she entered the room but the space was small.) In a calm, polite tone of voice, I said, “Excuse me, I can hear and understand everything you say and I can answer all your questions. You can speak to ME. I’m not senile.” And I smiled.

The poor woman was taken aback. No one had probably spoken to her like that before. After all, she was just applying the accepted protocol for dealing with an old/older person – it’s a cultural thing, a “given” – white hair equals incompetence or senility. In her eyes, she had done nothing wrong. I knew that and that’s why I intentionally spoke to her in a calm, polite tone of voice.

Old people get used to and even expect (but don’t like) to be treated as if they don’t exist or are incompetent. It’s a societal assumption that old people can’t think clearly or remember much and they can’t hear or understand if you speak too softly or too fast. After all, most old people are senile or close to it so you have to be patronizing and deal with them as if they are children. Really? REALLY?

Not all old people are on the brink of senility – most are not even close. Mature people function quite well if they are spoken to with respect and treated with the assumption they are competent. If they are mentally impaired, acknowledge their existence and treat them respectfully.

Let’s get to the elderspeak element of the “old people are invisible” syndrome which I already experienced before I became invisible. It is beyond annoying and disrespectful. Here is an unrelated example, but typical of the elderspeak iceberg:

My sister and her husband were dedicated runners. They were “mature” – not teenagers. On their daily run around the community and their neighborhood, neighbors, sitting on their front lawn, many with a can of bubbly in their hand, yelled to them as they flew by, “you guys are so cute!” Was my sister angry? You bet. Please don’t call mature persons “cute”. A six-year-old child is cute. To call an elder “cute” is as demeaning and infantilizing as it gets.

Here’s more: If you are a healthcare worker, a mature female patient you just met is not your “sweetie” or “honey”. Terms of endearment are appropriate only when there is a romantic relationship. Egads! What a revelation! An old person in a romantic relationship? [gasp!] That’s disgusting! Really? No, it’s not. Oh, one more thing: Do not call me “young lady”. It’s patronizing, demeaning, condescending and disrespectful. (Okay, okay, I’m being overly sensitive – and grumpy.)

If those in authority call you cute or utter another term of endearment, it’s tempting to want to haul off and smack them into reality, but don’t give in to the temptation. Turn it around on them and tell them how cute they are, and what a sweetie pie they are for telling you how cute you are. Be sure to smile as you do it. Take note of their flustered or confused reaction.

Facts About Medicare Insurance The Government’s Website Doesn’t Explain

When it comes to investigating Medicare options, many personal financial educators refer individuals to the Medicare.gov website. The official U.S. government website for Medicare is, without question, the most comprehensive of informational portals.

But it can be overwhelming. Especially for the 11,000 men and women who turn 65 every day and first become eligible for Medicare. For most, the terminology is tantamount to learning a new language. Medicare health care plan options are more complex and varied than most are used to.

And, there are some important things the government website doesn’t tell you. For example, it fails to clearly point out the importance of your first plan enrollment. Nowhere on the website does it say that the Medicare plan choice may be irrevocable.

Nor does it really explain what questions to ask before choosing a plan. The Medicare.gov does a great job of offering impartial comparisons, such as premium rates. But when it comes to subjective elements, these are something the website can’t obviously address.

Anyone who has been Medicare eligible for a few years will tell you that selecting the right Medicare plan is not easy. In fact, some industry estimates find that between 25 and 40 percent of people switch after making a choice. Navigating the complexity is especially hard when you are first eligible for Medicare. That’s more so if your current or prior healthcare coverage consisted of a few options pre-selected by your employer or trade union.

One of the Medicare.gov features is the appearance of being able to directly connect with an insurance company. And while it’s logical to think that ‘buying directly’ is going to be better and save you money, it’s simply not true. Quite the contrary. It could be a significant and costly mistake.

The following are things to consider when using the Medicare.gov website as shared by the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance, a national advocacy and educational organization.

1. Medicare.gov is much easier to use for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. But that is just one of the options available to you. It may or may not be your best option. For those who prefer to see any doctor or specialist, only a Medigap plan offers that option. For those who travel or spend time in another state, a Medicare Advantage might not cover you outside of your primary area.

2. The Medicare.gov website doesn’t make it easy to understand things that matter such as in-network, out-of-pocket costs, drug plan coverage, coordination with Veteran’s coverage and Medicaid. “In Network” matters if you decide a Medicare Advantage plan is best for you. Knowing which local doctors, hospitals and especially specialists participate can be tricky to find on your own.

3. Medicare.gov’s Plan Comparisons seem very detailed. But they miss some important information that’s vital. For example, the decision you make when turning 65 could be irrevocable. Switching Medicare plans is not always possible. Medicare.gov does not tell you what’s possible if you don’t like your choice or when your chosen plan changes. These are all very important things to know before locking in a choice.

4. Medicare.gov’s Plan Finder prescription drug search can be confusing for those taking multiple medications. It’s especially important for the millions who take insulin medications.

5. Medicare.gov lists Medicare Advantage plan ancillary benefits (vision, dental, etc.). Unfortunately, there’s little detail of specifically what’s covered in terms of benefits and service providers.

Buying direct from an insurance company such as UnitedHealthcare (NYSE: UNH), Aetna (NYSE: AET), Cigna (NYSE: CI), or Humana (NYSE: HUM) — several of the leaders – or calling an 800-number may or may not be your best option. Is the person on the other end of the line a captive agent for the particular insurance company? Do they get some incentive for touting one particular plan over another?

Comparing Medicare plan options is always your smartest move. A local Medicare professional who is knowledgeable in local options including Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement and prescription drug plan choices can be a well spent hour. Today most insurance agents will arrange an online meeting to discuss options and answer questions.

A national online directory listing Medicare insurance agents is offered by the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance. Access is free and private, unlike most websites that require you enter information before displaying results. Whether you are turning 65 or just have Medicare insurance questions you want answered, it’s a resource worth knowing about.

That local expertise and experience comes at no cost. And, the same plans that are available online or available directly from the insurance company can be sold by an agent appointed with the particular company. Perhaps most important, it’s available for the very same cost.

OK Preservities In Our Skincare, Natural or Not

There’s been a lot of talk on Social Media about the safety of preservatives these days and that’s a good thing! There is unfortunately a lot of misinformation as well. Let’s set the record straight!

Any product that is made with water requires a preservative. It’s to prevent bacteria, mold, fungus or other critters from growing in the product. Preservatives are needed to prevent contamination. Let’s talk about the preservative, Phenoxyethanol, specifically.

It rates a four on the Cosmetic safety database (0-10 scale, and four is measured at its most concentrated and isolated level, which means it’s not measured in a product). Pretty good, considered most other preservatives are measured at around seven or higher.

So let’s put it in perspective. Penoxyethanol is approved at 1% in products (Canada, Japan, and The European Union). When you consider toxicity is relative to dosage, 1% makes this is a very low risk. (Look at your label, and your preservative should be the last item on the list. Ingredients are listed in order of percentage, from the highest to the lowest. So the last ingredient on the list basically means it is the one at the lowest amount in your product).

It is also important to know how to decipher the information you read about. It’s sometimes easy to panic when you see a list of warnings, restrictions, numbers on scales, and jump to conclusions.

Penoxyethanol is a safe preservative that is approved for use at a very low dosage percentage (1%). Think of it in a 240ml/8oz bottle of lotion, for instance. At 1%, it is not a lot of preservative in your product.

Certain chemicals on their own can be concerning, but when combined are harmless. Let’s use the example of Lye. Horrible stuff on its own but mix it with water and oil and it creates soap. Add Olive Oil and you now have a soap gentle enough for children!

And.. be aware of those who might suggest that “if you can’t pronounce it, it shouldn’t be in your skincare. After all, Penoxyethanol is certainly not an easy word of the toung; but as we have disussed, you are better off to have this in your “Natural” or “Clean” skincare, than to put up with the many other chemicals available and so often utilized.

Finally, read your labels, ask questions and remember… Just because there’s a recipe on the internet for a great body scrub, it doesn’t make everyone a chemist.

Why You Don’t Need Laxatives for Weight Loss or Colon Health

Digestive health is easy to maintain, and you don’t need laxatives to maintain great colon health. Learning what your best proteins are, and combining them in your genetic zone of eating, you can keep being happy healthy and IBS free,even through old age.

Taking laxatives is dangerous for your health. Removing electrolytes from your body can damage your brain and cause seizures. Suppose you are driving and have a seizure. This could take your life unnecessarily.

Taking laxatives can have a rebound effect on your small intestine and colon. Your small intestine cannot absorb the nutrients your body needs, and the colon will stop working naturally, when it is being told when to work. This can lead to a damaged colon which has to be cut out and attached to your stomach with a colostomy bag to the outside for waste collection.

Taking laxatives causes your kidneys to shut down. When you remove all the water from your body through your colon, there is no reason for the kidneys to work, and they can shut down, causing you to have to go on dialysis.

Lastly, taking laxatives, can damage your heart. The electrolyte balance must be maintained for healthy signaling and rhythmic beating. Removing all the electrolytes from your system damages this delicate balance.

Learning how to fine-tune your eating for your best digestive health, starts with a book to learn which proteins work for your genetic blood type. Next learning which zone will work for you can be done by a simple genetic test. Are you low carb, or low fat. Are you balanced, or Mediterranean? Do you feel better eating protein, or vegetables?

Do you have any genetic aberrations, that could cause you to need additional nutritional support is another thing the simple genetic test will tell you. 40% of the population has MTHFR and eating the foods you need to support this condition will keep your colon clean and you happier and healthier.

Depending on supplementation can cause problems, because over supplementation, can cause a buildup of folic acid in the system, leading to cancer or an auto immune disease.

Learning how to manage your portion sizes, so you can help your colon heal. You may then learn how to maintain your best aging weight as well as keep your colon happy.

A happy balance of proteins and vegetables, for lunch or dinner.Fruits and fortified cereals with almond milk or fruit with yogurt or quinoa. You pick what you like best.

Learn which proteins are best for you, and which to avoid. Being open to change helps, because change is necessary to keep belly fat off.

The free newsletters, where you can get free coaching, and learn how to fine tune your eating.