3 Tips from National Small Business Week 2013

SBA NSBW 2013This week marked the 50th anniversary of the SBA’s National Small Business Week. Throughout the week and across the country and internet, events were held with the aim of helping small business owners manage and run their businesses more efficiently. From tips on protecting your small business from cyber-attacks to how to find funding, experts and panelists provided attendees of breakout sessions and Google+ hangouts with valuable information. Here are 3 of the top takeaways from National Small Business Week 2013. Read the full entry

FACTA Fright is FTC Halloween Red Flags Trick

Red Flag FACTAThe time has finally arrived. After multiple delays stretching a year, the much-feared FACTA Red Flags Rules — new anti-fraud legislation that requires millions of credit-granting businesses (both large and small) to implement identify-theft safeguards — take effect just after midnight on Halloween (technically, on Nov. 1, 2009).  The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the rules enforcer, had previously delayed the effective date of FACTA requirements three times.

The problem is this: Despite an FTC effort to educate small businesses and other entities about FACTA red flags requirements, confusion still reigns over what businesses are covered. Even FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz himself has suggested that Congress may simply have written the law too broadly. Leibowitz ordered his staff to beef up its efforts to educate businesses about compliance and provide more clarity on which businesses are covered, and what they must do to comply.  BUT NOTE THIS INSIDE INFO: FTC insiders say the Commission is highly unlikely to take enforcement action against businesses that know their customers or clients individually, or if they perform services in or around their customers’ homes, or if they operate in sectors where identity theft is rare and they have not themselves been the target of identity theft. Read the full entry

A New Way to Rate Customers with no Credit History

Recession-damaged small and mid-sized businesses would like to extend credit to customers with little if any credit history if they could do it without great risk. Now there’s a way. FICO — the Closeup portrait of a happy young woman lying on floor and shoppcompany behind the ubiquitous FICO credit score we all know and love — has created a new FICO Expansion Score to help businesses evaluate the estimated 50-70 million U.S. consumers who have either no traditional credit history or thin credit bureau files at Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

This group of potential customers is heavy on students, senior citizens and recent immigrants, so the scoring model is based on non-traditional credit data such as subscription memberships, bank deposit account activity and utility histories. The resulting scores use the same 300-850 scoring range as the traditional FICO and can also be used in combination with the traditional score when making credit decisions.  The new scoring system can help identify responsible, credit-worthy customers who can meet their obligations but simply haven’t had an opportunity to establish a traditional credit history. Read the full entry

Free SBA Bridge Loans Start June 15

zero-percentIf your small business is hurting and needs help, the free money starts flowing on June 15. And yes, it really is free — as in interest-free and with no SBA fees attached.   Starting June 15, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will guarantee newly-authorized America’s Recovery Capital (ARC) small business bridge loans created under the economic stimulus and recovery act.

ARC bridge loans are deferred-payment loans of up to $35,000 available to established, viable, for-profit small businesses that are suffering hardship right now and need short-term help to make principal and interest payments on existing debt.  These loans are interest-free to the borrower (you), and 100 percent guaranteed by the SBA. Here’s how it works: Read the full entry