Would A Fast Cash Advance Solve A Long-Term Financial Problem?

Upon getting information about an upcoming school science fair and the need to consider a topic of interest, many students will typically have no idea where to get started. While the science fair is typically a common occurrence in any school at any grade level, there are different types of topics that should be taken a look at depending on the age of the student. After first taking a look at the many different categories of science projects, you will be able to locate a suitable choice of topic to take to the next level.There is a wide variety of categories that fall under the types of science projects that can be chosen for a school science fair. These include biology, chemistry, physics, microbiology, biochemistry, medicine, environmental, mathematics, engineering, and earth science. While you may not have yet learned very much in any of these categories, don’t be afraid to see what each one entails. Taking a good look at your interests will allow you to focus on the right direction to take.Many resources are also available for those who are unsure as to the topic they are wanting to use to create their science projects. If you take a look at the topics that fall under the biology category, you will likely notice that there are topics that deal with plants, animals, and humans. For those who are in 2nd grade or 3rd grade, an interesting topic may be to determine if ants are picky over what type of food they eat. While this topic might not be of interest to an 8th grader, it is certainly something in the biology category that an elementary school student would enjoy.Along with the biology category, a high school student may want to take a look at diffusion and osmosis in animal cells as this would be a more appropriate topic for the grade level. A student in 6th grade would be more advanced than an elementary school student, but not as advanced as a high school student. At this middle school grade level, a topic of how pH levels effect the lifespan of a tadpole may be of interest.Whichever resource is used to locate a topic for science projects, it is always a good idea to consider the grade level of the student prior to making a selection. It is always assumed to be best to have a project at an appropriate level in order to keep the attention of the student and provide a fun and enjoyable learning experience.

Marketing Your E-commerce Business Through Social Media Networks

The goal with social network marketing is twofold:1. You are trying to enhance your site’s community by establishing outposts on social networking sites so people who share your interests, or are interested in your products and services, find you and your site.2. Getting involved in social networking multiplies the number of places that your site and your products can be found by search engines, which is critically important to the success of your e-commerce business.How To Leverage Social Media Networks To Our Advantage?Simply, we are trying to spread the word about your e-commerce business. You can take your product reviews or blog posts and spread them as far as possible online enlisting the help of these sites. It’s important to make sure the content you’re promoting is interesting and helpful to the audience you’re trying to reach. Remember, people like to do business with their friends if they’ve never met you offline. By being reasonable and participating in social networking, you’ll expand your credibility and potential customer base in many important and helpful ways.It’s also important to recognize that these social media outlets were designed to serve as conversation platforms, and not as overt marketing channels. Sending messages that are overly promotional or commercial is often compared to shouting at a party where everyone else is chatting quietly, and the backlash can overwhelm the benefits of participation. As an ecommerce business owner I recommend taking a couple of weeks to monitor the various sites to get a sense of the patterns and informal rules before posting anything.Which Sites Do You Need To Target?Here’s a brief overview of the important sites you need to target:Digg.com: Digg is a popular social news website in which community members vote articles up and down, with the most popular articles appearing on the front page. Users submit articles on topics including technology, world & business, science, gaming, lifestyle, entertainment, sports and offbeat. Having an article reach the home page can generate a tremendous amount of traffic to your e-commerce venture very quickly, but a Digg link can be helpful even if you don’t make the front page. Your link will be archived and available to search engines, as well as being available to users who search within the Digg archives directly.Twitter.com: Twitter is generating a ton of online buzz, and for good reason. The short messaging service is evolving into a communication and news platform that e-commerce ventures can’t afford to ignore anymore. Twitter allows users to exchange short messages that are limited to 140 characters, which is roughly about 25 words or so. Many sites have found good success posting (“tweeting,” in Twitter lingo) short summaries of new blog posts or product reviews, highlighting interesting articles or trends in their area of expertise, or just reaching out and seeing who might be interested in the same things they are.Twitter’s ‘hashtag’ (#) function, for instance, makes it very easy for users to search on specific events or topics other users have marked with hashtag function. Many attendees at popular conferences, for instance, use hashtag searches to find and meet each other. Check Twitter’s search page (search.twitter.com) to see popular topics generating user interest.Facebook.com: Facebook has long been popular with college-aged students, but since it opened its doors to a general audience, the site has been growing rapidly, with most new users coming from an adult audience that’s over 30. To reach this growing audience, e-commerce venture owners can create positive marketing relationships on Facebook in two ways. The first and most obvious way is to invite customers to “friend” you on the site. You may not want customers to share the same details or photos you’re sharing with friends and family members, but you can create limited profiles that allow people to get a bit of a behind-the-scenes look into your business without revealing too many personal details.In addition, while Facebook is best known for its personal “profiles,” it does let organizations create pages that allow Facebook members to become fans of your e-commerce venture. While they may be more likely to become fans of a football team or a Bollywood star, Facebook fan pages give your venture another opportunity to highlight interesting content related to your business and, almost more importantly, provide search engines with another place to discover content about, and related to, your e-commerce venture and your market niche.If you do not have a personal Facebook account, you can create a specific account for your business. According to Facebook, a business account can add information, photos or videos just as a personal account can, but can’t see information about visitors and can’t explore other areas of Facebook, so this might not be the best option for your e-commerce venture.MySpace.com: Similarly, MySpace is a popular site especially with younger consumers, that’s becoming an important marketing tool for e-commerce businesses (and a critical outlet for bands to reach their audience). As with Facebook, you can reach this growing audience by forming relationships with customers and other people. In addition to setting up a profile, MySpace lets users join and create groups that attract people who share your interests or hobbies. If you’re trying to sell guitar accessories online, joining groups that serve guitar players would give you great insights into their interests and equipment needs, and allows you to share content and create relationships with other members of the guitar-playing community.Does Social Media Networks Really Help?If you want your e-commerce business to stand out amongst the crowd it’s becoming necessary to have these tools on your website. Your business will not survive over the long term if you are not connected with the audiences within these networks. Furthermore you can achieve great success simply by offering something of value and your e-commerce business can go viral very quickly.Take the time to understand how these social media outlets fit into your e-commerce business and over time you will start to see the benefits.
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Alternative Financing Vs. Venture Capital: Which Option Is Best for Boosting Working Capital?

There are several potential financing options available to cash-strapped businesses that need a healthy dose of working capital. A bank loan or line of credit is often the first option that owners think of – and for businesses that qualify, this may be the best option.

In today’s uncertain business, economic and regulatory environment, qualifying for a bank loan can be difficult – especially for start-up companies and those that have experienced any type of financial difficulty. Sometimes, owners of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan decide that seeking venture capital or bringing on equity investors are other viable options.

But are they really? While there are some potential benefits to bringing venture capital and so-called “angel” investors into your business, there are drawbacks as well. Unfortunately, owners sometimes don’t think about these drawbacks until the ink has dried on a contract with a venture capitalist or angel investor – and it’s too late to back out of the deal.

Different Types of Financing

One problem with bringing in equity investors to help provide a working capital boost is that working capital and equity are really two different types of financing.

Working capital – or the money that is used to pay business expenses incurred during the time lag until cash from sales (or accounts receivable) is collected – is short-term in nature, so it should be financed via a short-term financing tool. Equity, however, should generally be used to finance rapid growth, business expansion, acquisitions or the purchase of long-term assets, which are defined as assets that are repaid over more than one 12-month business cycle.

But the biggest drawback to bringing equity investors into your business is a potential loss of control. When you sell equity (or shares) in your business to venture capitalists or angels, you are giving up a percentage of ownership in your business, and you may be doing so at an inopportune time. With this dilution of ownership most often comes a loss of control over some or all of the most important business decisions that must be made.

Sometimes, owners are enticed to sell equity by the fact that there is little (if any) out-of-pocket expense. Unlike debt financing, you don’t usually pay interest with equity financing. The equity investor gains its return via the ownership stake gained in your business. But the long-term “cost” of selling equity is always much higher than the short-term cost of debt, in terms of both actual cash cost as well as soft costs like the loss of control and stewardship of your company and the potential future value of the ownership shares that are sold.

Alternative Financing Solutions

But what if your business needs working capital and you don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit? Alternative financing solutions are often appropriate for injecting working capital into businesses in this situation. Three of the most common types of alternative financing used by such businesses are:

1. Full-Service Factoring – Businesses sell outstanding accounts receivable on an ongoing basis to a commercial finance (or factoring) company at a discount. The factoring company then manages the receivable until it is paid. Factoring is a well-established and accepted method of temporary alternative finance that is especially well-suited for rapidly growing companies and those with customer concentrations.

2. Accounts Receivable (A/R) Financing – A/R financing is an ideal solution for companies that are not yet bankable but have a stable financial condition and a more diverse customer base. Here, the business provides details on all accounts receivable and pledges those assets as collateral. The proceeds of those receivables are sent to a lockbox while the finance company calculates a borrowing base to determine the amount the company can borrow. When the borrower needs money, it makes an advance request and the finance company advances money using a percentage of the accounts receivable.

3. Asset-Based Lending (ABL) – This is a credit facility secured by all of a company’s assets, which may include A/R, equipment and inventory. Unlike with factoring, the business continues to manage and collect its own receivables and submits collateral reports on an ongoing basis to the finance company, which will review and periodically audit the reports.

In addition to providing working capital and enabling owners to maintain business control, alternative financing may provide other benefits as well:

It’s easy to determine the exact cost of financing and obtain an increase.
Professional collateral management can be included depending on the facility type and the lender.
Real-time, online interactive reporting is often available.
It may provide the business with access to more capital.
It’s flexible – financing ebbs and flows with the business’ needs.
It’s important to note that there are some circumstances in which equity is a viable and attractive financing solution. This is especially true in cases of business expansion and acquisition and new product launches – these are capital needs that are not generally well suited to debt financing. However, equity is not usually the appropriate financing solution to solve a working capital problem or help plug a cash-flow gap.

A Precious Commodity

Remember that business equity is a precious commodity that should only be considered under the right circumstances and at the right time. When equity financing is sought, ideally this should be done at a time when the company has good growth prospects and a significant cash need for this growth. Ideally, majority ownership (and thus, absolute control) should remain with the company founder(s).

Alternative financing solutions like factoring, A/R financing and ABL can provide the working capital boost many cash-strapped businesses that don’t qualify for bank financing need – without diluting ownership and possibly giving up business control at an inopportune time for the owner. If and when these companies become bankable later, it’s often an easy transition to a traditional bank line of credit. Your banker may be able to refer you to a commercial finance company that can offer the right type of alternative financing solution for your particular situation.

Taking the time to understand all the different financing options available to your business, and the pros and cons of each, is the best way to make sure you choose the best option for your business. The use of alternative financing can help your company grow without diluting your ownership. After all, it’s your business – shouldn’t you keep as much of it as possible?