Dave Hall Launches New Las Vegas Business Podcast


Dave Hall has been doing radio and podcasting for years. He has taken all of this experience and knowledge and he created a business podcast that focuses on the Las Vegas area. The purpose of the show is to educate and entertain Las Vegas entrepreneurs on ideas and strategies that can help them be more successful business owners.

In the short 2 months of doing this show Dave has already jumped to the top of iTunes New and Noteworthy and has become Las Vegas’s #1 Business Podcast. With over 15 episodes aired on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and at www.davehallsba.com/rethinklasvegas and dozens already recorded and waiting in the wings. If you do any business in Las Vegas you do not want to miss this Podcast.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/rethink-your-business-las/id897997720?mt=2

Stitcher Radio: http://app.stitcher.com/browse/feed/52269/episodes

LinkedIn: Rethink Your Business Las Vegas Podcast

Website: www.davehallsba.com/rethinklasvegas

If you would like to be a guest on the podcast and you live or work in Las Vegas, email CR Thelin the podcast producer at cr@davehallsba.com


Expanding your Business Presence through Email Marketing

In today’s show Daniel Miller, Sales Manager for Benchmark, an email marketing company, shares with us how we can get more out of our email marketing Daniel Millercampaigns by using double opt in.  He also talks about why it is better to grow your email list organically than to purchase a list

For More information visit: www.benchmarkemail.com


Expanding your Business Presence through Email Marketing

Daniel Miller is the Sales Manager for Benchmark, an email marketing company.  In today’s interview Daniel answered a number of the key questions most small business owners have regarding email marketing.

What is a definition of email marketing and is it different than spam?  Email marketing is when you actually get permission from those you are sending emails to and spam is when you just send out random emails to people whether they want them or not.

How is the best way for someone to grow their email marketing list?  You can buy a list, but the best way is to do it organically through social media.   Social media allows you to connect with a large number of people in a short period of time.  The biggest thing to remember though when doing any type of marketing is to make sure your information looks good and that it includes a call to action.  We are beyond the days when you could just send out boring email.  Today people want to receive something that will benefit them.

How do you know what to give people you want to add to your list?  You first need to find out who your company is and who you want your customer to be.  Once you figure this out you can figure out what it is your target customer really wants.  Use this knowledge to provide them with something that will be of some benefit to them.

Can you buy an email list?  Yes, but it isn’t a good idea.  Let’s say you buy a list of a million emails and you immediately create an email and send it out.  Of this million people who you send your email too, there are only about 1% of these people who have any interest in hearing from you.  The other 99% you are just bothering and it is creating negative goodwill towards your business.

Does buying a list work for some businesses?  Yes, and if you decide to buy a list you want to find as much information about how the list was gathered as you can.  This is going to let you know how you can better approach each of these people.

Is there such a thing as buying an opt in contact list?  No, these are two pretty contradictory terms.  If someone buys a list there is no way they could have actually opted in, because opt in means you actually are wanting to receive information from me.  Now they may have opted in to receive information from businesses in your industry, but they didn’t opt in to receive information specifically from you.

Does blacklisting still occur?  Yes, there are still a number of nonprofit groups out there who are trying to limit the amount of spam that goes out the world.

What is double opt in?  Opt in is when you make a knowing decision to request information from a given business.   With double opt in you not only decide you want to receive information from a given source, you also confirm through a second email that you were serious.  This is what double opt in is.  Most marketing people think this is unnecessary, but with the spam traps this is great insurance.

How often they should send an email out?  For every single business it is going to be different.  For example, a retail store may get away with sending out a daily email.  An automotive dealership could never get away with this.  In fact, they may be lucky to send out something on a monthly basis.

The best question to ask yourself is how often do your customers need your product.  This will help determine how often you should be sending out emails.

What is the average open rate on email?  It is anywhere between 10 and 15%.  The way emails are tracked is when the images inside the email are opened.  If you do not ever open any of the images, it is as if the email was never opened.  Therefore, there is about another 10% who open the email but never load the images.

Are there things people can do to increase the open rate?  Reduce the size of your images and add more text to your email.  You can also make sure you are looking at the reporting results of who is actually opening up your emails.

How do companies like Benchmark help clients?  We make it easier to not only establish an email marketing campaign, but we also have a number of tracking tools you can use to track the effectiveness of your marketing.  We specialize in providing free education to help people realize the benefits of how email marketing can change their organization.

If you want to reach Daniel or learn more about how Benchmark can help your organization, please link to him through my website at www.davehallsba.com.

Listen to the full interview with Daniel miller on iTunes

or visit my website www.davehallsba.com/podcasts

Do you want to build your network?

Andy Lopata is a professional speaker, author, and master networker.  He has spent the last 14 years of his life helping people get connected.  In fact, he has andy lopatabecome so good at it that he is now referred to as Mr. Network in the UK.  Today he will share with us some key tips to help each of us become better connected.

For More information visit: www.lopata.co.uk


Do you want to build your network?

In today’s interview I had the opportunity of talking with Andy Lopata.  He has spent the last 14 years of his life helping people get connected.  In fact, he has become so good at it that he is now referred to as Mr. Network in the UK.  His got started in networking when his father started what became the largest networking group in the UK and has never looked back.  Even after his father sold the company, Andy retained his passion for networking and has continued to help thousands of people get connected.

In fact, Andy says he was actually glad when his father sold the company because it got him out of the day-to-day responsibilities of managing the company so he could focus 100% on what it is he loves, which is connecting other people.

This is something I can relate to very easily, because I had the same story in my own life.  When I left college my goal was to build the largest CPA firm in Vegas and my partners and I almost did that.  We actually grew from a small start up to being the second largest local firm within a 15 year period.  The only problem was once I reached my goal, it wasn’t what I thought it would be.  My days were filled with meetings and managing employees, rather than being out helping the clients like I always enjoyed doing.

As a result, in my own life, I sold my practice and started going back to meeting with clients on a daily basis, which I continue to do to this day.

As we talked about this, Andy reminded the listeners that for most of them they will start their business because they have a product or service they are passionate about.  To keep this passion, you need to make sure you surround yourself with other people who can do the things you don’t want to do, so you can spend your time on those things you really enjoy.  By doing this, you will find your business will have a lot better chance of long-term success.

As we transitioned into talking about the key things someone should consider in learning how to become a better networker, I asked Andy how you get started in picking a network to join.  He said the most important thing is to make sure you start with an objective of what you want to accomplish by joining a networking group.  He said to make sure you never just join a networking group because you have been invited.  You need to make sure you do some research on the group and make sure it will help you meet your goals.  A simple way to analyze most groups is to look at how long after the meeting people stay.  The longer they stay the better connected the members are becoming.

For most people Andy says they need to have three main objectives, but admits that based on individual circumstances you might have other objectives as well.  These three main objectives are to become better know, to become better equipped and to become better connected.

As you look at any group you are going to join, you need to look at how it is going to help you reach these objectives.  Once you have found a group that you believe will help you reach your objectives, you then need to ask yourself what you are going to do in the group to help you reach your goals.  Networking is as much about your involvement as anything.

Andy also recommends that before you join a networking group that you make sure you have already taken the time to get to know your current contacts and make sure they are aware you are trying to build your business.

I asked Andy where trust comes in when networking.  He said that trust comes right at the top of any relationship.  He said networking is about supporting and helping each other and we won’t do this if we don’t trust each other.  We build trust as we get to really know others.  The way you do this is by being patient.  You don’t go to a meeting and immediately ask how others can help you.  You have got to go to the meetings and let people get to know you and then they will be willing to help you.

Andy says that in order to be successful in any networking group you need to make sure you remember three things.  Visibility, Credibility, and Profitability.  First you need to be visible.  People need to see you, which means you need to get out and involved.  Then you need credibility.  This will come as others get to know who you really are, your goals and your passions.  Then the last thing you have is profitability.  This happens when you have truly accomplished the other two things.

To prove his point Andy shared an experience he had with an insurance salesman who on his first day at a networking event stood up and offered everyone at the meeting a free insurance quote if they would just give him their card.  He said nobody gave him their card.  As a result, this individual said this is a waste of time that networking groups don’t work.

Andy said his father then took him aside and explained to him the importance of visibility, credibility and profitability.  He told the gentlemen he needed to not only stay, but get involved in the group and then he could try it again in six months.  This individual stayed and in six months he once again offered a free quote if others would give him their business card.  By this time he had established credibility and as a result, he got cards from everyone in the room.

As I listed to this story it reminded me of a situation I had just had in my own life where I had been with a bunch of CPA’s and attorneys who offer financial planning services, but they were all very reluctant to make referrals to the financial planners they were working with.  I saw this as a prime example of what Andy had been talking about.  The reason these people were so reluctant to give the referral is because they did not yet trust the financial advisor enough to know he wouldn’t end up causing him problems latter on down the road.

If you have relationships where you are reluctant to send referrals to, you need to strengthen the relationship, because most times it goes both ways.  If you are reluctant to send a referral, the other person is also going to be reluctant to send a referral to you.

I asked any how much time someone should spend on networking.  He said it is different for everyone.  He said the best thing is to figure out how much time you have and then make sure you are committed to giving that amount of time each week to networking activities.

Andy went on to share a story of someone who he knew who was attending about 10 networking meetings a week.  He went to five breakfast meetings, three lunch meetings and a few dinners a week.  Andy said if you looked at this on the surface, you would assume this guy would be getting a lot of referrals, but he said this wasn’t the case at all.  He said because the guy was meeting so many people he was building a very wide network group, but it had no depth.  This guy had no time to follow up and therefore, he wasn’t building enough trust to get him referrals.

Andy recommends that instead of the above, you actually start with two or three people you know, but not as well as you would like and invite them to breakfast or lunch.  He says you will be able to accomplish far more than the above guy who was spending his day networking.

I asked Andy about the importance of listening when meeting with others.  He said it is critical part of building relationships.  In fact, he gave us some great advice.  He says when someone else begins to talk you need to ask yourself, why is this person saying what they are saying and why is it important to them?  Unfortunately, he says most of us don’t do this. Most of us spend the time we are listening trying to come up with our own response, which shows we don’t really care about what the other person is saying.

As we closed the podcast he gave us two other great tips for helping us build our networks.  The first is to take time to learn what our connections are interested in.  By doing this, it will give us the opportunity to build deeper relationships; because we can try to send them information or get them involved in activities they have a passion for.

Second he said it is critical you build a system for following up.  His recommendation is to follow the 24/7/30 rule.  This is that you follow up within 24 hours, again in a week and then again in 30 days.  If you will do this he says you will be able to build the trust needed to form a strong connection.

You can get a hold of Andy at www.lopata.co.uk to learn more about how you can improve your networking.  You can also follow him on twitter at andylopata.

Listen to the full interview with Andy Lopata on iTunes

or visit my website www.davehallsba.com/podcasts

Trust Based Marketing: The Key to a Successful Business

Jerry Fletcher is the founder and CEO of Z-Axis Marketing and is known in professional circles as the Network Ninja.  In this podcast he shares with us some Jerryfletchergreat tips that if used, Jerry guarantees will double each of our businesses.  

For More information visit: www.z-axismarketing.com


Trust Based Marketing:  The Key to a Successful Business

I had the opportunity of speaking with Jerry Fletcher who is the founder and CEO of Z-Axis Marketing, a national marketing company that specializes in using trust based marketing to build businesses.

I started the podcast by asking him how he got into the marketing industry.  He said it all started when he was going to the University of Cincinnati.  The school had a co-op program that allowed him to go to school for 6 weeks and then work for 6 weeks.  It was during this time he got his passion for marketing.  His first job out of college came after he wrote a paper under his wife’s name.  A marketing agency out of Minneapolis ended up calling his wife and interviewing her about Jerry.  After about a ½ hour she handed the phone to Jerry and it didn’t take him long to realize this was the opportunity he was looking for.

He says he stayed in Minneapolis until one winter when he was walking down the street and his sinuses froze.  It was at this time he realized he needed to move to a warmer climate.  He ended up in Oregon, which is where he still resides.

Knowing that name recognition is important in marketing, I asked Jerry how he came up with his business name, Z-Axis Marketing?  He said the Z axis is used to identify marketing in business, but he admits it was a mistake.  Jerry said not only is it hard to spell, it is also hard to remember.  As a result Jerry says it has limited his ability to be found on the internet.  Although he still uses the name for his main company, he has now changed the name he uses to promote his business to his own name, Jerry Fletcher.

I then asked Jerry about trust based marketing and what it is?  He said it is all about building a business on relationships, which he says is great for many small businesses, because it can usually be done without spending a lot of money.  He admits that trust based marketing is something that most people want to do, but they think they have to do something else.  Because we all want to be successful, we all want to do the newest thing and there is nothing new about building relationships.

I asked Jerry what our listeners could do to get started and he gave the following advice.  He said to start you need to identify what it is you really really really want to accomplish.  This is your mission.  Then you need to figure out where your business is at.  This is your position.  Once you know your mission and your position you need to align the two.  If you can do this, he guarantees you will be successful.

Jerry went on to talk about how important it is that we each have a 30 second pitch of what our business does.  Because this is where the relationship starts, he says this is critical that you spend time to get it right and have it be something compelling to spike the interest of those you are communicating with.  He shared a great story of how this worked for him in his own life.

He then shared with me the importance of using a CRM (customer relationship management) system to keep up with your relationships.  He says this is critical because most of our brains aren’t that good at keeping track of everything, and so we need a computer system to help us.

He then shared the two tips he guarantees will double our business.  First, after you meet with someone you need to write down the results of your meeting.  Second, you need to make a plan of how you are going to follow up with this individual and then do it.  Although these two steps seem so simple it is something very few people ever do.  They have their first meeting with someone and then they never follow-up and the relationship is lost.

Knowing that many of our listeners are on a tight budget, I asked if Jerry could share with us some inexpensive marketing ideas.  He ended up giving us seven great ones that each one of us can use in our own businesses.

  1. Make sure you are networking.  Make it a point to be known in your community and in those organizations that cater to your target customers.  This is where you perfect your 30 second speech.
  2. Use your email list to ask your contacts to pass along your information to others they might know who could benefit from your products or services.
  3. Make sure your products and services can help others.  You need to be able to show how your products or services can help your clients better their businesses.
  4. Get published.  When people see you have written something they believe you are an expert in that area.
  5. Find partners.  Partners are a great way to get you in front of the people you really need to get in front of.
  6. Use social media.  This can be a great tool, but you need to make sure you monitor your time spent.
  7. Try one of the social deal sites.  This might sound crazy, but for the right business it can work extremely well.

He closed by talking about the two things you must never do in marketing.  Jerry says you can’t be inconsistent and you can’t every do anything in your marketing that diminishes trust with your customers.

We ended up talking about a number of things that aren’t included in this article, so if you are looking to learn how trust based marketing can better your business, you will want to make sure you listen to the full podcast.

Listen to the full interview with Jerry Fletcher on iTunes

or visit my website www.davehallsba.com/podcasts

Email Marketing is a Must for Every Business

lisa smithLisa Smith, who is the founder and CEO of CustomerConnect shares with us why she believes every business, should be using email marketing, and what each of us can do to make sure the email marketing we do is effective.

For More information visit: www.customerconnectmktg.com


Email Marketing

Today I had the opportunity of talking with Lisa Smith, who is the founder and CEO of CustomerConnect, a company that specializes in email marketing.  Lisa has spent most of her career training entrepreneurs and continues to do so by helping them understand how to effectively use email marketing for their businesses.

Lisa says email marketing is so important because it helps you keep top of mind awareness with your customers, which ultimately will convert into sales.  She does admit though that most small business owner’s do not do a very good job with email marketing, because they do not have the resources to do it in house and therefore, they don’t make it a top priority.

She says that companies like hers are out there to help with this process, because it is their job to make sure you get an email out on a consistent basis to those people who are expecting it.   She says one of the biggest things email marketing does for you is helps you build a reputation, and so depending on how you manage this part of your business it can be either good or bad.

Lisa says effective email marketers make sure they are not only sending out emails on a consistent basis, but they are also making sure it includes relevant content and that it stays consistent with the other types of marketing they are doing.

I asked Lisa what someone should do to get started in putting an email marketing campaign together and she suggests the first thing they need to do is to enter into a contract with an email service provider.  There are a number of reasons to do this.  First, they will help simplify the process of putting together your content.  Second, they will provide you with accountability tools, so you can see how effective your email campaigns are.  Third, they help you get into the inbox’s of the people you are sending information too.

Once you have done this, Lisa says it is important that you start getting good content together.  Many people struggle with this, so she suggests you start with providing answers in article form to the FAQ’s your current customers have.  Once you have gone through these, you then need to look at what questions your customers should be asking, but are not.  Your newsletter can provide answers to these questions.  Then the last thing is to look at current information that is affecting your clients and provide information on these topics.

We talked about why email marketing is so important.  Lisa says it is because it is one of the few marketing mediums still out there that allows you to target market to people who are really interested in you and your business.  Very few other types of marketing allow you to do this.  As a result, statistically it provides a great return on your investment.  The average ROI on email marketing is $43 to every $1 spent.

She also says it is important to do email marketing because it helps you build your pipeline.  By keeping your business in the “top of mind awareness” area for your customers, they will be more likely to spend money with you during the slow seasons your business may have.

We talked about whether or not people should buy email lists.  Lisa said she personally doesn’t recommend it, for a number of reasons.  First, they are expensive.  Second, the information gets outdated very quickly.  Most people change their email on an average of once a year.  Third, you have a much less likely chance your email is ever going to get read, because SPAM filters catch most emails you send from purchased lists.

She says the way you need to build your email list is to do it through your current contacts, both those you now have and those you are building.  Every person should be asked if they want to be a part of your email marketing list, before you ever include them.  By doing this you are building a list of people who are very interested in your business and what you have to offer.  Therefore, the conversion rate into sales is going to be substantially higher.

We concluded by talking about the importance of offering those who you want to sign up for your email list something of value.  Lisa says it doesn’t have to be expensive, but it should be perceived as value to those who are signing up.  It may be an e-book or just a discount on their next purchase.

Just think about it, if you were able to send an email out to every person you have an email address for and only 3% of them did business with your company, how much more money you could bring in? Now times that number by 12, since you should be sending something out at least on a monthly basis.  Hopefully, you can now see how much you are missing if you are not currently doing email marketing.

Listen to the full interview with Lisa Smith on iTunes

or visit my website www.davehallsba.com/podcasts

Obamacare and Fiscal Cliff. Is Your Business Ready?

Ben Smith David Hall CPAAre you ready for the financial effects Obamacare and the Fiscal Cliff are going to have on your business?  Today’s podcast is with Ben Smith, who is the tax manager with Dave Hall SBA.  In this podcast he shares with us some of the critical issues that are facing small business owners as we close 2012 and look towards 2013.

For More information visit: www.davehallsba.com


Obamacare and Fiscal Cliff. Is Your Business Ready?

Today I had the opportunity of talking with Ben Smith, who is the tax manager with Dave Hall SBA, about Obamacare and the Fiscal Cliff.  Ben is an expert who specializes in tax law and any current tax changes so he can provide his clients with the most up-to-date tax preparation and planning services available.

I started the podcast by talking about Obamacare and I asked Ben to give us a simple definition of what Obamacare is.  He mentioned that most people know Obamacare as a healthcare plan, which he says is not fair, because it is far more than that.  Yes, it mandates laws governing healthcare providers and includes provisions to require every American to have healthcare, but it also includes substantial tax provisions that will affect many businesses and individuals.

Since so many people do look at Obamacare as being a healthcare plan.  I asked Ben who is going to be responsible for providing this health coverage.  He said that only companies with 50 or more employees are required to provide insurance for their employees and that if you work for a company who has less employees than this, you are actually responsible to purchase the insurance yourself.

I mentioned that I don’t think this is how many American’s see this.  It is my understanding that most of them look at it as if they are going to get FREE healthcare in some way.  He agreed, but reminded us that is not the case at all.  In fact, he says that you may even work for a large company and still not get your health coverage paid for, because your employer can elect to pay the mandated penalty instead of provide you with coverage.  He said in this situation, you are actually going to still have to pick up the insurance yourself, or also be subject to a penalty.

Ben says we do still have a year to prepare for this because most of the mandates of Obamacare don’t kick in January 1, 2014.  However, if you are a small employer who is currently providing health insurance for your employees, you want to make sure you are taking advantage of the incentives that are currently out there, because many of the incentives have already been started.

The biggest thing we both agreed to when dealing with Obamacare, because it is such a large bill, is that you not only need to get professional advice, but that you need to get the right professional advice.  Ben says this law is so big, you will probably find you will not only need an accountant, but also an insurance agent, and possibly even an attorney, to make sure you handle it correctly for you and your business.

We went on to talk about the tax effects of Obamacare and Ben mentioned that it includes two types of tax provisions.  First, it includes traditional taxes that are directly assessed to individuals, which we all see.  Then there are the back taxes that are often hidden to where most of America never sees these.  These taxes are used to shift income from one group of people to another group.  Obamacare is full of both of these.

One of the direct taxes most people are talking about is the Medicare contribution tax, which will affect individuals making over $200,000 a year and married couples making over $250,000.  This tax is 3.8% on all passive income above the amounts previously mentioned.

Because of the size of the Medicare contribution tax, we also talked about how business owners may want to relook at how their business is structured.  A business owner may find that using an entity such as an S Corporation is not to their advantage still.  We both agreed though that this decision to switch an entity should never be made without consulting first with a tax professional to make sure there are no other issues you have failed to consider

We both agreed there is no general tax planning now.  When doing tax planning everything needs to be individual for you and your business.  One small change in your business over what your competitor is doing, can make a significant change in how your business should be structured.  The tax code is becoming more and more complicated and you need to make sure you understand the areas of the code that affect your business.

One of the big issues Ben warned us about is the marriage penalty.  He said that based upon the current tax laws going into 2013, you may find it is to your advantage to file separate from your spouse.  This is also something you should talk to your tax professional about and have them calculate your taxes as married filing joint and married filing separate to see which is most advantageous.

We went on to talked about Alternative Minimum Tax, which is a tax that was put in place to increase the tax burden on wealthy Americans.  The original law did not call for an inflation adjustment, which is where much of the problem has arisen.  The government has been putting patches in place to make it inflation adjusted, to help reduce the number of individuals who are subject to AMT, but as of right now there is no patch for 2012, which means millions of more Americans will be subject to AMT, unless something changes.  This means many non-wealthy Americans are going to be paying a higher tax than they had expected.

I also asked about the forgiveness of debt rules and how they will be changing under the current rules.  Currently people are able to exempt forgiven debt on their primary residence, but as of right now in 2013 there is no provision to allow this to continue.  If this is not changed, this will become very damaging to individuals who are already in a bad financial situation.

Ben and I both realize there is so much we can’t cover in a short interview, so we concluded the interview by talking about what we are doing at Dave Hall SBA to help people with the current uncertainties.   We know many people are hesitant to call an accountant, because they are afraid of the bill, so we are currently offering a monthly subscription service which will allow you to get your personal and business tax returns prepared and get unlimited consulting for only $99 a month, with a 12 month contract.  All you need to do is go to our website at www.davehallsba.com and sign up.

Listen to the full interview with Ben Smith on iTunes

or visit my website www.davehallsba.com/podcasts

Economic Warfare

Ziad AbdelnourThe United States has just spent USD$6bn to reelect Barack Obama. Ziad reckons both Mitt Romney & Barack Obama were wrong in saying the key to reviving the U.S. economy is in creating jobs. Government needs to create an environment conducive for wealth creation. This way you stimulate entrepreneurship, that creates jobs. There are currently 5 million Millionaires in the U.S. and the President should have the goal of doubling or even tripling this number over 4 years. This environment will get entrepreneurs creating wealth, that will bring lots of jobs and more money paid in taxes.

America & Europe are both moving into a very socialistic environment. Ziad has studied both Keynesian & Austrian economics and says that John Maynard Keynes got it all very wrong. Ludwig Von Mises developed the Austrian School of economics; which has a much more liberal philosophy, advocating free enterprise & entrepreneurship. The Mises way is that of the wealth creator and will bring prosperity.

The United States used to be like the sun and now has become just one of the many planets. The schooling system in the west is teaching kids to not rock the boat but conform. We are creating a world of robots. Successful people throughout history have always been rebels with a cause. Ziad suggests to read biographies of these people. The good, the bad & the ugly. Learn the patterns that led them to power, victory, success, money, evil, etc. Ziad prefers to invest in someone that has gone bankrupt 3 times than a Harvard Business School graduate. He says the guy that has messed-up is still hungry, he’ll be humble and tougher. Most Ivy League University graduates expect jobs with high salaries and think they know it all.

There is an economic war going on between the Wealth Takers & the Wealth Creators.Unfortunately both in Europe & U.S. the Wealth Takers are winning. What we need to do is educate ourselves and understand the geopolitical scenarios. Ziad doesn’t believe in the financial strategy of putting your eggs in different baskets and diversifying. Forget Financial Advisors, they are only after your money. We need to focus on 2-3 companies and remember companies are made up of people. Find out about those that run these companies and also study  politics, technology, business and see how all this will influence  the companies you have invested in.

To listen to the full interview with Ziad, please listen to my podcast HERE

Listen to the full interview with Ziad Abdelnour on iTunes HERE

-Fabrizio Poli
Living Outside the Cube

Understand the SBA 7A and 504 Lending Programs


mike rogersIn today’s podcast Dave Hall talks with Mike Rogers, who is an SBA lender with Meadow’s Bank in Las Vegas, Nevada.  He shares with us some of the key details any business owner needs to know if they are looking to get financing through the Small Business Administrations 7A or 504 programs.

For More information visit: www.meadowsbank.com


Understand the SBA 7A and 504 Lending Programs

Mike Rogers is an SBA lender with Meadows Bank in Las Vegas, Nevada.  He has been working with the SBA and their various lending programs for over 12 years now.  What he likes about working with the Small Business Administration is he believes they are a great option for people who are looking for funding during the good times and maybe the only option for people who are looking for funding during the bad times.

Mike cleared up a confusion many people have, which is that the SBA lends money directly to small business owners.  He says this is not the case at all, in fact, he says the SBA very seldom lends money to business owners by themselves.  They use banks to help them fulfill the lending process, which allows them to make sure they are getting more quality loans, without all of the additional costs.

We talked about why it is so much easier to get an SBA loan than a convention bank loan, is because of the risk involved to the bank.  When the bank partners with the SBA, the bank only has about 25% of their loan amount at risk, where if they provide a conventional loan their risk is 100%.

Mike talked about the two main loan programs the SBA offers, their 7A program and their 504 program.  He says the 7A program is by far the most popular, because it can be used to fund most business needs, whereas the 504 is limited to funding real estate projects and equipment purchases that have a useful life of 10 years or more.

He did mention someone who is looking at buying real estate can use the 7A program, but does not advise it unless the borrower knows they are going to only need the loan for a short period of time.  With the 504 program, the interest rate is fixed for longer periods of time, which can save the borrower thousands of dollars when looking for a long-term loan.

Mike says that most SBA loans will have some type of prepayment penalty on them to help make sure the bank and the SBA get the money back they need to cover the cost of creating the loan.  He also says that with an SBA loan you are looking at a minimum of 10% down, and it can go as high as 20% down, depending on the size of your business and what you are using the money for.

Mike suggests if you are looking to get an SBA loan the best place to start is a bank that is a “preferred” lender with the SBA.  This means they have done enough loans with the SBA that the SBA deems them qualified to give you the best advice available regarding the SBA lending program.

I brought up operating loans, and whether or not you could use the SBA 7A program to fund these.  Mike says it is possible, but probably not likely, because operating loans usually don’t make a lot of sense long-term to either the SBA or the business owner.  In order to pay back most loans, a business needs cash flow and if the only way they are getting this cash flow is through a loan, it makes it very difficult to maintain long-term.

I asked Mike what some of the things are business owners can do to better prepare themselves to get an SBA loan?  Mike said the best thing is to make sure you run your business as a tight ship, keep your expenses low.  Then work with your accountant to make sure your taxes and financial statements show a true picture of what is going on in the business.  The bank wants cash flow and your financial statements need to show it is there.

I asked Mike if there was anything besides cash flow the bank was looking for and he said they are also looking for collateral.  He said that the SBA doesn’t actually require collateral, but if there is collateral available they must use it.  The bank is the one who usually sets the collateral requirement, because they want to make sure the portion of the loan the SBA isn’t going to guarantee is secured.

I asked Mike who is the best candidate for an SBA loan?  Mike says with his bank, the best candidate is someone who is looking to borrow at least $100,000 or more.  Part of this is because of the fees associated with this type of loan.

I asked about what type of documentation is going to be required for an SBA loan?  Mike said three years of personal and business tax returns, a personal financial statement, interim financials and a debt schedule.  He said this information is then used to answer one main question, “Can a business afford the loan they are looking for?”  He said if the answer is no, than the next question is will this current loan help them build their cash flow so they can afford the loan.

Mike reminds us that a lot of people coming to look for loans are great at what they do as a small business owner, but know very little about how their financials work.  Therefore, Mikes says a lot of what he does is to help educate them on what is going on with the financials of their business.

I went on to ask about where person credit fell into the options of getting an SBA loan?  Mike said although it is important, it is not unusual to give someone a loan where their credit has been dinged because of a short sale.  He says when it gets impossible to fund is when someone has been irresponsible with their credit and not paid multiple debts they signed up for.

I concluded the podcast by asking Mike how important the business owner’s relationship with the banker is to getting a loan?  He admits it is nice, but by no means necessary.  Where it helps is if you are on the border of getting the loan, the relationship can help, because the bank better knows you and your business.

Listen to the full interview with Mike Rogers on iTunes

or visit my website www.davehallsba.com/podcasts

Doing Business on a Global Scale in the 21st Century

Naike HechemFor one Naike Hechem is a global mix herself having a Spanish-Mexican mother & a Lebanese father. From her office in NYC she told us about her experience working in 15 different countries and the challenges dealing with so many cultures. Tolerance is key, together with getting to know each other and celebrating people’s differences, instead of criticizing them.

Naike offers us insight into the unique business model she created for her publishing company in a world faced with the challenge of digitization and more people going down the route of self-publishing. Naike takes a very holistic view of the authors LID publishing takes on and looks at them as consultants, speakers and even gets them engaged with charities. All this activates a whole lot more revenue streams for the author and LID publishing, as they work in partnership.

Naike then told us about how the call center market has changed with more and more companies taking their centers overseas to reduce overheads. One of the challenges has been the poor quality of service these centers sometimes offer and a great deal of planning & training needs to go into this to make it successful.

Naike then offers young people in business some sound advice and gives us her take on the European Union and its future…

To tune in and find out more go to:

To listen to the full interview with Naike, please listen to my podcast HERE

Listen to the full interview with Naike Hechem on iTunes HERE

 -Fabrizio Poli
Living Outside the Cube

Can You Benefit Your Business by taking it to the Crowd?

Carl espostiIn today’s podcast you will have the opportunity of learning more about the hot topics of crowd sourcing and crowd funding.  Today’s guest is Carl Esposti who is the founder and CEO of crowdsourcing.org.  He shares with us many unknown secrets of how to use crowd sourcing and crowd funding to benefit each of our businesses.

For More information visit: www.crowdsourcing.org.


Can You Benefit Your Business by taking it to the Crowd?

Carl Esposti spent most of his career helping large enterprises get more done by using outside resources.  A couple of years ago he got introduced to Crowd Sourcing and realized there was a niche he could fill.  This niche was to help small organizations have access to many of the resources only the larger businesses he had been dealing with had access to before.

As a result of realizing this niche existed in the market, Carl started his company crowdsourcing.org.  The goal of this new company was to create an environment where both those who wanted to purchase and those who wanted to sell products and services in a crowd environment could get access to each other.

He has been very successful in putting his platform together and is now one of the leading resources for crowd sourcing.

We talked about what crowd sourcing actually is.  Carl said it must be internet based.  Then you use that online market to help solve problems your business has or obtain products or services that will help increase production for your business.  Crowd sourcing also includes crowd funding, which Carl spoke in much more detail about later in the podcast.

Carl says one of the best things about crowd sourcing is it has removed many of the barriers to entry that used to exist with using normal outsourcing.  It has created a model where there are hundreds of thousands of people out there who are willing to provide services to small and midsized companies.

What makes crowd sourcing so great is it works for both those looking for products and services and those offering the products and services.  The way the platforms are created it truly allows small business owners to access the global market.  So if you have a small to midsize business and are looking for products or services you can’t get filled in your local market, or if you have products or services you would like to offer to a global market, crowd sourcing may be the key you have been waiting for.

We concluded the podcast by talking about crowd funding, because it is such a hot topic right now with small to mid-sized business owners.  Carl defined crowd funding as a method to use the crowd to obtain funding for small business owners to help their business get started or to grow.  There are four different types of crowd funding.

First is a donation based platform.  This is where someone is usually emotionally tied to a product or service so they are willing to give small amounts of money to support their cause and they expect nothing in return.

The second is a rewards based platform.  This is very similar to the donation based platform, but instead of getting nothing in return, the funder gets various types of perks.  Depending on the level of the contribution, the perks will vary.

The third is a loan based platform.  This is where a lot of people (the crowd) pay small amounts of money, with an expectation of a return of their investment plus interest.

The fourth is an equity based platform.  This is where people invest and actually get a piece of the company.  There is a lot of concern here by the government because they want to make sure the investors are protected.  They are currently working on guidelines governing the way this platform will work in the U.S.  They are hoping to have some guidelines as early as January 2013.

Carl says one of the great things about Crowd Funding is many times other people can see something in your business that banks and traditional financing institutions can’t.  As a result, it gives many more start-up companies an opportunity to get off the ground, if they can put together a good presentation to the crowd of investors who are out there looking for something to invest in.

Carl gave us some key information to help anyone who is looking to obtain funding from this type of model.  First, he says you will get charged somewhere between 6 and 10% to use most crowd funding platforms.  Second, you don’t necessarily have to offer big rewards if you are using a reward based platform.  It can be something with as small as a $1 value.  Third, there are currently about 500 crowd funding portals, with around 250 waiting to go public.  Fourth, if you elect to use this method of fund raising look for a platform that fits into your business model.  Each platform is run differently and so there are some platforms that don’t work for certain business models.

The biggest thing a crowd funding platform offers is access to their people.  They are not there to give you advice on whether what you are doing is right or wrong; you are going to need to use your own professionals to determine how you will structure your offering.

Carl says that to get a project funding by using crowd funding it still takes work, because even though the platforms have access to people they are not always just sitting around waiting to dump money on your project.  In fact, he says for most crowd funding to work, you usually have to have over 50% of your money raised first by people you know.  Once this is done, the crowd doesn’t feel like they are taking such a big risk, so they are more willing to invest.

The final thing Carl reminded us to do is to do our homework.  He says it is like anything else, the more you know about crowd funding or crowd sourcing the better chance you are going to have of making it work for your business.

Listen to the full interview with Carl Esposti on iTunes

or visit my website www.davehallsba.com/podcasts