Saturday, January 23rd, 2021
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If you’re like most business owners, you’ve invested resources in creating a Facebook business page that engages your customers. You may have spent years growing your following and building trust.
What if something leaves your business page vulnerable to a Facebook hack?
Here is what you need to know to protect yourself—and your business—from a Facebook hack.
How Often Do Facebook Hacks Occur?
Unfortunately, Facebook hacks are quite common. According to the New York Post, as many as 160,000 Facebook accounts are compromised each day. Users tend to be more relaxed about security when using social sites like Facebook, leaving them vulnerable to hackers.
How does this affect your business page? Facebook allows users to access business accounts through their personal profiles. Every person with admin control over your Page is vulnerable to a Facebook hack that could leave your page open to hacking.
Hackers typically gain access to Facebook pages through phishing scams, email attachments with malware, data breaches that reveal passwords, or users’ carelessness (such as not logging out of Facebook or using easy to guess passwords.)
Large-scale data breaches may happen less frequently, but the scale can be staggering. For example, in a widely reported Facebook hack and data breach, hackers gained access to nearly 50 million exposed accounts.
What Do Hackers Do With Your Facebook Business Page?
Hackers who gain access to your page can post their own links, attracting your fans to click on spam links—leaving them vulnerable to Facebook hacking as well.
They might create and approve ads via your Ads Manager to promote malicious content, with high spending that could cost you thousands before you can take action.
They could also use the information stored in your Facebook account for identity theft or to access other online accounts, including hosting, banking, or other social accounts.
All of this can cost you time, money, and the trust of your audience. While you may stop malicious activity relatively quickly and even recoup some costs, you could lose access to your page for a time. The opportunity cost of not being able to market via this platform can have a significant impact on your business.
9 Strategies to Protect Yourself From a Facebook Hack
Many strategies to protect yourself from a Facebook hack are standard online security steps you should use on every online platform. If you haven’t paid much attention to online security, start with the basics, then explore security features in each platform or app.
Hint: If you’ve been using the same password for years across multiple platforms, you’re long overdue for an update.
1. Make the Most of Facebook’s Security Settings
A look at your Facebook settings will lead you to a detailed section called Security and Login. Review each section for tips and information on best practices to keep your account secure.
Make sure to scan your computer for malware and viruses regularly. Antivirus software helps spot problems that might leave you open to Facebook hacks, such as keyloggers or redirect viruses.
Keep your software up to date; this ensures you are using the most secure versions of your browser and other apps, including any recent security updates or improvements.
Remember that your business page is only as secure as the people who have access to it. Protect your personal profile, and share security updates and best practices with your team.
2. Create a Strong Password
Passwords are the first line of defense in online security.
Your password should follow the guidelines on each site you use. This is likely a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Choose something unique to you, with a tricky combination of these characters to create a password others would find hard to guess.
Do not use the same password on every site. Instead, use different passwords for every online account. For example, you might use one for your secure financial accounts but a completely different password for your social accounts and other platforms that might be easily hacked.
In the case of a Facebook hack, you’ll at least be protected from the hackers using your Facebook password to access more secure accounts, like banking or retirement accounts.
Consider a password manager like LastPass or 1password so you don’t have to remember dozens of passwords. These platforms store all your passwords in one place so you only have to remember one password. They can also generate random passwords that are more secure.
Make sure you never enter your password anywhere except the Facebook app or at Facebook in your web browser.
If you’re using your internet browser, be careful entering the domain into your search bar. Hackers sometimes spoof domains close to the real Facebook domain to capture login information from users who aren’t paying attention.
3. Use Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication simply means if you ever log into your Facebook account from a new device, the platform will automatically ask you for your password and require an additional security check. This step usually includes entering a security code sent via text or email to a pre-approved address or number.
To set up two-factor authentication in Facebook, visit your Settings page, select Security and Login, and then edit the section labeled Two-Factor Authentication.
Facebook will prompt you to provide contact information to verify your identity when logging in. You’ll also get alerts if someone tries to access your account from an unfamiliar device.
4. Read Emails Facebook Sends Out
Facebook often sends out emails to verify suspicious or unusual activity. Make sure the email address on file is one you check regularly and read the emails you receive in case Facebook is trying to flag suspicious activity.
Staying on top of the risks, being familiar with common phishing attempts, and understanding the latest security recommendations from Facebook can go a long way toward keeping you safe online.
You can see a list of recent email messages sent by Facebook in your account settings under Security and Login, in the Advanced Section.
5. Have Multiple Admins for the Account
How else can you protect yourself from a Facebook hack? Give careful thought to the people you give admin access to for your business page.
It’s a good idea to have more than one admin for your page in case you ever lose access or are unable to log in. If your profile is hacked, another admin you trust can keep the page running and help you gain back your access.
However, that doesn’t mean more is better. Periodically checking to remove people who no longer need access to your page. If someone needs temporary access, grant it at the appropriate level, then remove it when their task or project is complete.
6. Use Proper Page Admin Levels
Facebook provides several page admin levels, which enables you to grant different access to different people. Be careful who you add, and only grant them access they need to complete assigned tasks.
Perhaps you need an employee to post to the page to carry out your Facebook marketing. Review the different levels and their permissions and only provide admins the level of access they need to do the job.
Giving every person you add as an admin the ability to remove and add other admins means they could potentially remove you—with little recourse to regain access. They could also add admins you don’t know and take over your page.
Only people you trust absolutely should have the ability to remove and add admins. This chart breaks down the permissions for each level:
7. Report Any Unusual Activity to Facebook
Report any unusual activity to Facebook to keep your account secure. You can report messages, profiles, or posts right on Facebook to let them know you have concerns about something you see on the platform.
Reporting can allow you to use Facebook more safely and flag any suspicious behavior to Facebook.
If you are uncomfortable with behavior or messages from another user, simply block them to ensure they are removed from your friend’s list or page. This action will also prevent them from messaging you on the platform.
8. Log Out of Facebook After Using Shared Computers
Have you ever used a computer at work, the library, or a coworking space? You’ll need to exercise extra caution to log out when you’re done. This step is critical to remember when using accounts that contain personal information.
If you’re using Facebook from a computer you don’t own, always log out immediately afterward. You have no idea who may use the device after you, and staying logged in leaves your account wide open.
If you ever can’t remember if you logged out after using Facebook on a device you don’t own, change your password immediately so your security is never in question. You can also log out remotely from all devices in Security and Login Settings. Protecting access to your accounts can stop a Facebook hack from happening at all.
9. Don’t Accept Friend Requests From People You Don’t Know
Hackers often gain information they need to guess your password by adding you as a friend on Facebook. They may even add mutual friends, making them look like a safe person who is already in your network. Or they may directly impersonate someone you know.
If you don’t know someone, don’t accept their friend request. If the request seems suspicious or duplicated, reach out to your friend by text or email to let them know someone is using their likeness or identity online.
Allowing access to your personal profile can provide access to information like your birthday or high school. This information makes it easier to hack into your business account or impersonate you to gain access to other social accounts, your friends, or even your audience.
Preventing Facebook hacks on your business page requires more than posting engaging content and creating Facebook ads. There are real security risks you need to be aware of to protect your investment—and your customers. Luckily, a few simple steps can help protect you.
Stay up to date on the security features of each platform you use, and protect your personal Facebook profile as well as your business page. Take advantage of alerts, emails, and other notifications to help you act quickly should a Facebook hack occur.
These steps will reduce your risk so you can enjoy growing your audience and connecting with your customers without expensive and stressful setbacks. If this seems overwhelming, connect with us for help so you can focus on running your business.
What steps can you take today to prevent a Facebook hack on your Business Page?
Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.
Are you planning to launch an online store? Your timing couldn’t be better.
The ongoing pandemic has caused online shopping to soar, with most people staying home.
But that doesn’t take away the challenges involved in launching an online store, especially if you don’t have any ecommerce experience.
Where do I begin? What can I sell? Where do I source your products from? How do I create an online store? Wait, I’ll need a web host, too?
So many questions!
Don’t worry, though—I have you covered.
In this article, I’ll give you a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you launch your first online store, making sure you avoid making common and not-so-common mistakes and get your site up and running ASAP.
Are you ready? Let’s begin!
Your 2-Minute Cheat Sheet
Want to skip the details and get a quick cheat sheet? Here you go.
You have to decide what you want to sell and how you’re going to get the products. And while you’re at it, you must also consider the product’s prices, your target audience, and whether or not there is an audience for your product.
After all, why would you want to sell a product nobody wants to buy?
You can choose a product that metaphorically “scratches your own itch.” Or you can also consider buying a product that already exists, improving it, and then doing a better job of marketing it. This is sometimes known as drop-shipping.
I would personally recommend the second option for first-time entrepreneurs as it considerably lowers the risk out of selling.
If you agree, head over to Alibaba.com to find suppliers for your chosen product. While Alibaba is one of the more popular marketplaces, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t frauds on the platform.
To make sure you deal with genuine suppliers only, look for the Gold Supplier icon. This indicates that a particular supplier has signed up for a paid membership. Therefore, it’s unlikely for any fraud to have the Gold Supplier icon on their profile.
If you decide to go forward with the supplier, make sure you order sample products to determine the quality you should expect. Don’t forget to discuss payment terms and other details so that you and the supplier are on the same page.
With the products in place, you’ll have to figure out a good name for your brand and check whether a domain name is available. While this sounds incredibly fun, it can quickly turn annoying.
Keep patient, though.
Consider your domain name as a long-term investment, and try to come up with the best you can.
Next up, you have to set up your online store platform. Consider selling your products on either Shopify or Amazon—both are equally good.
Finally, work on optimizing your site by including targeted keywords in your product descriptions. This is an excellent way to drive more organic traffic to your website rather than partaking in more cumbersome marketing strategies.
If I’m honest, though, you’ll still need to look for other ways to promote your shop, such as on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Step 1: Figure Out Your Niche
Since you’re going to set up an online store, you’ll need a product. The very first thing you should do is decide what you’re going to sell and who you’re selling it to.
Many first-time entrepreneurs make the mistake of not putting enough thought into deciding their niche, which includes the product’s price, the audience to whom the product is aimed, and the market opportunity.
Don’t make this mistake.
Always remember your product matters the most—both in terms of quality and relevance. You have two options here: you can either create something you need or source something from elsewhere, make it better, and then market it.
I’ll recommend choosing a niche that isn’t already dominated by a few brands.
Let me explain this with the help of two scenarios.
- Scenario 1: Your headphones stop working. You want to replace it, so what do you do?
You‘ll either place an order online from sites like Sony, Bose, or Beats. Or maybe visit the physical stores of these brands.
- Scenario 2: You’ve moved into a new house when you realize that you want decorative lights for your bedroom.
You’ll likely Google “decorative lights for bedrooms“ or “buy decorative lights with free shipping.”
Do you see the difference in your behavior?
Niches dominated by a few brands aren’t really profitable for first-timers. Trust me, customers don’t even think about alternatives as their brand loyalty kicks in almost immediately.
Instead, it’s much better to stick with niches and products that don’t have a couple of specific brand names associated with them.
You can also use Amazon to check out the competitors in your niche. Try to identify common features that could help you improve your product. For instance, you can have thick paper notebooks or reinforced steel for bottles. Basically, stuff that will help improve the quality of effectiveness of your products.
Next, you’ll need to work on sourcing the products.
Step 2: Source Products From Alibaba
Alibaba.com is one of the most popular marketplaces when it comes to sourcing products. Many people in the ecommerce industry already use this site, so it makes perfect sense for you to source your products on this platform, too.
But how do you go about this? Let’s assume you want to sell steel bottles.
Search for “steel bottles.” You’ll now see a list of suppliers selling all kinds of steel bottles at different prices.
Next, you’ll have to contact a few of them to see whether they would be a good match for you. You first need to figure out your requirements before you get in touch with them. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting everyone’s time.
The way to distinguish genuine sellers from frauds is to look for the Gold Supplier mark. Gold Supplier is a paid membership for suppliers on Alibaba.com, which indicates that the business is serious about trading with other international companies.
Take a look at this screenshot:
It shows that this particular supplier has been a Gold Supplier for three years. Since they have to pay for this recognition, you can be sure that they will be serious when negotiating with you.
You must discuss payment terms and minimums and other things so that every detail is explicitly clear to avoid misunderstandings in the future. I’d also recommend ordering sample products before you place a big order to get a better idea of what you’re going to get and the shipping times.
Step 3: Pick a Name for Your Brand and Get a Domain
Now comes the exciting—and at times frustrating—part of starting an online store: Choosing an appropriate name.
Once you start looking for options, you’ll realize how the best names have already been trademarked and website domains already registered.
It’s like hitting one dead end after another!
But don’t give in just yet, as finding a good name is an effort well worth the pain (and tears).
Here’s a quick checklist you should follow:
- It should be easy to spell and concise – three words or shorter.
- It should have a .com domain
- It must reflect your chosen niche
- It cannot be already trademarked by other people—the legal hassle is costly and very troubling.
Take my domain as an example. NeilPatel.com is short, concise, and reflects my brand. You do not have to use your name. That was just a choice that was right for me.
The good news is there’s an option for you to get a domain without having to pay the registration fee. Most web hosting services offer users a free domain—provided you choose a company that provides this feature like Bluehost or Wix.
I highly recommend this method, as you get free .com domains with full ownership that’ll make you look more professional and credible to your visitors. Plus, if you’re already going to purchase a web hosting plan, why not select an option that offers you a free domain?
Purchasing a web hosting plan, typically as a one, two, or three-year contract, is necessary. Think of the free domain as a bonus to your investment.
The next crucial step is setting up your ecommerce store on a platform that’s easy to use and offers good customer support.
Step 4: Set up Your Online Store Platform
Shopify and Amazon are two of the most popular and user-friendly e-commerce sites.
You can also use WordPress + WooCommerce if you want. But that’s best for times when you already have a blog with a large audience. This way, you won’t have to put in an extra effort to drive traffic to your ecommerce store.
Option #1 Setting Up Your Shopify Account
Shopify has over 218 million buyers from 175 countries. So you can imagine the number of people who trust this ecommerce site.
You can start the 14-day free trial to get a feel of Shopify’s features. If you decide to move forward with it, you’ll upgrade to the paid plan.
The first step is to enter a store name, which will also become the default URL to start your trial. For example, if you want your Shopify’s store name to be JoshBeans, your URL will be joshbeans.myshopify.com.
If you buy a custom domain (joshbeans.com), you’ll be able to get rid of the ‘myshopify’ part.
Complete further instructions as asked. Then you have your own Shopify account.
To customize your store further, visit https://themes.shopify.com/ to select a theme to make your store more on-brand with what you sell and to fit your brand.
What’s more, you can talk to a Shopify Expert if you need help with the technical aspects of setting up your store or find yourself stuck at a specific place.
Option #2 Setting Up an Amazon Account
You also have the option to display your products on Amazon.
Go to Amazon and scroll down to the bottom of the homepage. Select Sell on Amazon.
Sign up to become an Amazon seller. You can sign up as an individual seller or a professional seller. In my opinion, it would be better to become a professional seller if you’re in for the long haul.
After setting up and verifying your identity, you can start with listing your products. Before this, make sure you go through the details of the selling process on Amazon.
Then click on Inventory followed by Add a Product. This will open up Amazon‘s catalog, where you’ll have to search for the product you want to sell.
You can also create a new product listing if you can’t find a suitable option.
And that’s it! You can now start selling your product on Amazon.
Before you can start listing your products, make sure you have high-quality photos of them, preferably on a white background. Similar to this:
Step 5: Optimize Your Site
If you think customers will come to you just after you launch the website, we have news for you: Not going to happen.
Instead, you need to optimize your website to attract traffic through search engines by targeting SEO keywords in your product descriptions.
Write good copy for every listed product, taking care to mention their USPs and describing them explicitly.
This will involve you focusing on two primary areas:
- You have to target your product pages to specific terms that are typically searching for within the platform
- Work on getting as many five-star reviews you can on your products as possible
The above two tips are instrumental in improving your search terms and reviews, enabling more people to see your products on the platform. This will translate into more sales and revenue for you, which is exactly what we want.
Congratulations! You now have your online store up and running.
From figuring out what you want to sell and sourcing it to choosing a reliable ecommerce site to display your products, you are now an expert when it comes to launching an online store.
But don’t celebrate too hard—you have to next work on spreading the word about your store to get customers to purchase your product or service. When the money starts rolling in, I’ll be expecting a party.
Here’s wishing you all the luck!
PayPal is a pioneer in the pay online industry. It allows customers to make and receive payments online. Better yet, none of the parties have any knowledge of the other’s banking accounts. It’s a secure way to pay and get paid online. If you are a business, a PayPal business account can help you run and grow your business like never before.
How Can a PayPal Business Account Help You Run Your Business?
With PayPal business, the ability to accept payments is huge. This is a well-known and trusted payment platform. Customers are often more likely to pay if they can do so quickly and easily using PayPal. It eliminates the need to get up and fetch a card, and they know their information is safe.
Check out our best webinar with its trustworthy list of seven vendors to help you build business credit, even in a recession.
What all Does a PayPal Business Account Offer?
There are many benefits to having a PayPal business account. First, you have quick access to the money you collect. It’s available to you within minutes, and you can transfer it to your bank or spend directly from PayPal.
Also, your customers do not pay a fee to use PayPal for purchases. They do not even have to have a PayPal account. You can make payments on all types of devices, including mobile. Not only that, but your costs are low as well. PayPal charges a fee for each sale like credit card processors, but there are not extra setup fees. There are also no fees for withdrawals, statements, or cancelations.
You can make payments yourself using PayPal as well. If your vendors accept PayPal, you can make payments quickly and easily. This is a secure way to pay online without revealing sensitive information.
PayPal Business Account: PayPal Working Capital Review
A huge benefit of a PayPal business account is access to PayPal loans. They offer flexible payments with a fixed fee and no credit check. The no credit check is possible because they use your PayPal business transactions as the basis for approval. The amount of your loan and fees are all dependent on the amount you collect each year through PayPal. Furthermore, your loan is repaid as an automatic deduction of collections through PayPal. That means, as long as you are collecting money through PayPal, they will get their money.
The maximum loan amount is 30% of annual PayPal sales. Also, it can be no more than $97,000 for a first loan. The third loan can be up to $125,000. Your business can get funding in minutes and there is no early payment penalty.
You must have a PayPal Business or Premier account for 3 months or longer to qualify. You also have to process more than $20,000 in annual PayPal sales if you have a Premier PayPal account. A regular business PayPal account only requires $15,000 annually to be eligible.
PayPal Business Account: PayPal Working Capital Rates, Terms, Fees and Repayment Options
Repayment happens automatically as a percentage of each PayPal sale. The amount depends on your business’s PayPal sales history, your loan amount, and the repayment percentage chosen. A higher payment percentage will lower the fee.
You can use their calculator tool to get an idea of what fees might look like with different repayment percentages. It can also help you get a feel for how everything works. You do have to pay a minimum amount over a 90-day period, which PayPal claims is easily met by most out of the daily sales. However, if there were a 90-day period where you were not able to hit the minimum out of sales, you can log on and make a payment.
You get to choose what percentage of sales is taken as repayment, which is great. The calculator will show you several options, but the decision is yours. Just remember, the larger the percentage the lower the fees.
Other Working Capital Options
Here are some other options for working capital if you do not qualify for PayPal, or you need more than what they can offer.
There are 4 CAPline programs that differ mostly in the expenses they can fund. Each of them carries a maximum amount of $5 million and an interest rate that ranges from 7% to 10%. Funding can take 45 to 90 days.
The four different programs include:
- Seasonal CAPLines -Financing for businesses preparing for a seasonal increase in sales.
- Contract CAPLines -Financing for businesses that need funding to fill a contract.
- Builder’s CAPLines -Financing for businesses taking on a real estate or construction project.
- Working capital CAPLines -Financing for businesses that are struggling with a short-term slump in sales.
Credit score must be at least 680 to qualify, and there is no minimum time in business requirement unless you are getting a seasonal CAPLine. That one has a one year in business requirement.
Other SBA Programs that Work Well for Working Capital
The Small Business Administration offers many loan programs that can be accessed to help with working capital needs. Remember that these programs are run through traditional lenders. However, you will likely go through a much lengthier application process and approval wait times due to the government guarantee requirements.
This program offers term loans up to $5 million. The funds can be used for expansion, purchasing equipment, working capital and more. Banks, credit unions, and other agencies in partnership with the SBA process these loans and give out the funds.
The minimum credit score to qualify is 680. There is also a required down payment of at least 10% for the purchase of a business, commercial real estate, or equipment. The minimum time in business is 2 years. In the case of startups, business experience equivalent to two years will work.
This is by far the most popular of the SBA loan programs, and the funds are available for a wide range of projects, from working capital to refinancing debt, and even buying a new business or real estate.
Check out our best webinar with its trustworthy list of seven vendors to help you build business credit, even in a recession.
Microloans are available in amounts up to $50,000. They work for starting a business, purchasing equipment, buying inventory, or for working capital. Community based non-profits administer microloan programs as intermediaries, with financing coming directly from the Small Business Administration.
Another Option for Working Capital: Credit Line Hybrid
A credit line hybrid is unsecured business credit. It allows you to fund your business without putting up collateral. You only pay back what you use.
It’s not as hard to qualify as you may think. You need personal credit of at least 680. In addition, you can’t have any liens, judgments, bankruptcies or late payments. Also, in the past 6 months you should have less than 4 credit inquiries, and you should have less than a 45% balance on all business and personal credit cards. It’s also better if you have strong business credit as well as personal credit.
However, if you do not meet these requirements you can still benefit! You can take on a credit partner that meets each of these requirements. Many business owners work with a friend or relative to fund their business. If a relative or a friend meets all of these requirements, they can partner with you to allow you to tap into their credit to access funding.
Why Choose a Credit Line Hybrid?
There are many benefits to using a credit line hybrid. First, you do not have to have any collateral to put up. Next, the funding is “no-doc.” This means you do not have to provide any bank statements or financials.
Not only that, but typically approval is up to 5x that of the highest credit limit on the personal credit report. Most times you can even get interest rates as low as 0% for the first few months, allowing you to put that savings back into your business.
Even better, with the approval for multiple credit cards comes competition. This makes it easier, and likely even if you handle the credit responsibly, that you can get interest rates lowered and limits raised every few months. The process is pretty fast, especially with a qualified expert to walk you through it.
Credit Card Options for Working Capital
In addition to a PayPal business account with access to PayPal working credit, loans, and the credit line hybrid, business credit cards can be an option. Funds are easy to access and, in the right situation, rewards can add up nicely. You definitely want to be sure you are getting business credit cards on your business credit, not your personal credit, however.
Why? Because according to the Small Business Administration, business credit card limits are 10 to 100 times that of personal credit cards. This means that you have access to more money when you have strong business credit. Here are a few options to get you started.
This card has no yearly fee. You will not need to provide your Social Security number to apply, nor will you need to provide a personal guarantee. They will take your EIN. Yet, they do not work with all industries, so you will have to check to see if yours is eligible.
They look at the cash balance of your business, spending patterns, and investors to determine credit worthiness. They also offer some rewards. The best part? You can qualify with a FICO as low as 300!
Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business
This one also has no annual fee. However, there is no introductory APR offer either. The regular APR is a variable 24.49%. You can earn unlimited 1% cash back on every purchase for your business, without any minimum to redeem.
While this card is within reach if you have average credit, beware of the APR. Still, if you can pay promptly, and in full, then it’s a good option.
Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card
This is another card with no annual fee, but this one does have an introductory 0% APR for the first twelve months. After that, the APR is a variable 14.74 – 20.74%.
You can get unlimited 1.5% Cash Back rewards on every purchase made for your company. You will need superb credit to get approval for this card.
Of course, there are many more business credit card options out there. Do your own research to determine which ones will work best for your business. Also, remember that details such as approval requirements and interest rates can change often, so check out individual credit card websites for the most up to date information.
Also remember, credit cards are only good for your business if you handle them responsibly. If you do not pay your bills on time, your fundability and your credit will be affected. Do not spend more than you can afford to pay back.
PayPal Business Account: Is it All It’s Cracked Up to Be?
For the most part, those who have a PayPal business account are happy with. The main complaint that pops up sometimes is that, though they say they have a quick turnaround, it can take up to three days for funds to show up. That is understandably frustrating, but many seem to feel once they know it and can plan for it, the benefits outweigh this inconvenience. Of course, the only way to know for sure if it will work for your business is to try it out yourself. It tends to be a better fit for those who do a fair amount of online business.
Check out our best webinar with its trustworthy list of seven vendors to help you build business credit, even in a recession.
Take Advantage of Every Opportunity to Fund Your Business
The fact is, whether you have a PayPal Business Account or not, you need to take every opportunity. If that’s PayPal working capital, great! If it’s one of these other options listed here, that’s great too. You have to make the best decision for your business. A PayPal business account appears to be just that for many. It’s a trusted company that offers low cost business services that benefit both businesses and their customers. This is priceless in itself. Customer trust is vital to success. However, having the funds you need to grow is vital to success as well.
To ensure you give your business the best chance possible, it is a good idea to consult with a business credit expert. This is someone who can walk you through the process of building fundability and applying for the right kind of business credit for your needs.
You how they say everything in life is connected? It’s true. One thing affects another and another and another and before you know it, all the dominos have fallen. The same is true of the connection between getting a business loan, credit score, and fundability.
When it Comes to a Business Loan, Credit Score and Fundability Both Count
Most people only think about credit score when it comes to their ability to get a business loan. The truth, however, is much bigger than that. Credit score is important, but only in so much as it is a part of the bigger picture of fundability.
Business Loan Credit Score and Fundability: Understanding Fundability
What is fundability? In short, it is the overall ability of a business to repay debt, as viewed by lenders. If a lender sees your business as one that is fundable, they believe that you will be able to handle and repay the debt that they extend in a timely manner. Your business is seen as one that will profitable for them to lender to.
The thing that few business owners understand is, there is so much more to fundability than credit score. Lenders look at a number of things to determine whether or not they will approve a loan application. It’s true, when it comes to a business loan, credit score counts a lot. It’s not everything though.
How Business Credit Affects Fundability
To really understand the business loan credit score and fundability connection, it helps to think of fundability like a puzzle. Business credit is just one piece. It’s a little more complicated than that however. It is a very, very large piece, right in the middle, and it is made of little pieces all its own. It’s like a puzzle within a puzzle.
So yes, though many other things affect fundability, when it comes to a business loan, credit score is hugely important. This means it is vital to understand how to build business credit.
Establish Business Credit
Before you can build business credit, you have to first establish your business as a separate entity from you as the owner. This is a vital step in getting your business loan credit score where it needs to be. It is all in how your business is set up.
Separate Contact Information
Your business needs it own phone number and address. This doesn’t mean you need a separate building. You do not even need a different phone. You can get a phone number that works over the internet and will forward to the phone you are already using. For an address, you can use a virtual office. Some of these will even offer meeting spaces to hold face-to-face meetings.
The next thing you need to do is get an EIN for your business. This is an identifying number for your business that works in a way similar to how your SSN works for you personally. Some business owners used their SSN for their business. This is what a lot of sole proprietorships and partnerships do. However, it really doesn’t look professional to lenders, and it can cause your personal and business credit to get all mixed up. When you are looking to increase fundability, you need to apply for and use an EIN. You can get one for free from the IRS.
This is the most important step in fundability thus far. Incorporating your business as an LLC, S-corp, or corporation is necessary to fundability. It lends credence to your business as one that is legitimate. It also offers some protection from liability.
Which option you choose does not matter as much for fundability as it does for your budget and needs for liability protection. The best thing to do is talk to your attorney or a tax professional. What is going to happen is that you are going to lose the time in business that you have. When you incorporate, you become a new entity. You basically have to start over. You’ll also lose any positive payment history you may have accumulated as well.
This is why you have to incorporate as soon as possible. Not only is it necessary for fundability and for building business credit, but so is time in business. The longer you have been in business the more fundable you appear to be. That starts on the date of incorporation, regardless of when you actually started doing business.
Business Bank Account
You have to open a separate, dedicated business bank account. There are a few reasons for this. First, it will help you keep track of business finances. It will also help you keep them separate from personal finances for tax purposes.
There’s more to it however. There are several types of funding you cannot get without a business bank account. Many lenders and credit cards want to see one with a minimum average balance. In addition, you cannot get a merchant account without a business account at a bank. That means, you cannot take credit card payments. Studies show consumers tend to spend more when they can pay by credit card.
Building Business Credit
To build business credit, you have to get accounts reporting. This is how you get a business loan credit score that is strong. As you may imagine, getting someone to extend credit without first having strong credit can be quite difficult. There are a few options however. For example, you can talk to any vendors you may already be working with and ask if they will extend credit. Since you already have a relationship with them, they may be willing. Ask also if they will report your payments to the business credit reporting agencies. Then, your score will start to grow.
You can also talk to those service providers you already pay monthly like landlords, utilities, and phone and internet providers. They do not have to, but if you ask they may report your monthly payment to the business credit agencies. This can only help you build credit faster.
Credit Line Hybrid
This is a type of unsecured business credit financing. That means there is no need for collateral. Now, they will check your personal credit score, and it is best if you have established business credit. However, you can still use this to build business credit, even if you do not have good personal credit or business credit.
If you do not qualify, you can take on a credit partner who does qualify. Because the credit line hybrid will be in the business name, the payments will be reported to the business credit reporting agencies, and your business credit score will start to grow.
This is probably the easiest and fastest way to begin building business credit. However, do not be fooled into thing that just because it is easier and faster than the other options that it is either easy, or fast. All good things take time and effort and building business credit is no different.
Vendor credit comes from certain starter vendors that will offer net terms on invoices without a credit check. Of course, they will require other information to ensure they reduce their risk as much as possible. They may want to see a certain average balance in a business bank account, or they might want to see you have been in business for a minimum amount of time.
However, once approved for net invoicing, they will report your invoice payments to the business credit reporting agency and you will be off to the races. As your score grows, you will be able to qualify for more and more accounts with various creditors. As long as you handle the credit responsibly, your score will continue to grow strong.
Remember, business credit is only one piece of fundability, albeit a relatively large piece. What else affects fundability?
For a business to be legitimate it has to have all of the necessary licenses it needs to run. If it doesn’t, red flags are going to fly up all over the place.
These days, you do not exist if you do not have a website. However, having a poorly put together website can be even worse. It is the first impression you make on many, and if it appears to be unprofessional it will not bode well for you with consumers or potential lenders.
Other Business Data Agencies
In addition to the business credit reporting agencies that directly calculate and issue credit reports, there are other business data agencies that affect those reports indirectly. Two examples of this are LexisNexis and The Small Business Finance Exchange. While you may not be able to access or change the data the agencies have on your business, you can ensure that any new information they receive is positive. Enough positive information can help counteract any negative information from the past.
In addition to the EIN, there are identifying numbers that go along with your business credit reports. Some of them are simply assigned by the agency, like the Experian BIN. One, however, you have to apply to get. It is absolutely necessary that you do this.
Dun & Bradstreet is the largest and most commonly used business credit reporting agency. Every credit file in their database has a D-U-N-S number. To get a D-U-N-S number, you have to apply for one through the D&B website.
It may seem like a no brainer that all of your business information should be the same everywhere you use it. However, when you start changing things by adding a business phone number and address or incorporating, you may find that things slip through the cracks.
This is a problem. Tons of loan applications are turned down each year because of fraud concerns. When things don’t match up, lenders get nervous. Maybe your business licenses have your personal address but now you have a business address. Perhaps some of your credit accounts have a slightly different name or a different phone number listed than what is on your loan application. Do your insurances all have the correct information? If you use an ampersand in one place, you can’t change it to the word “and” in another. Everything has to be exactly the same everywhere.
Both your personal and business tax returns need to be in order. Not only that, but you need to be paying your taxes, both business and personal.
It is best to have an accounting professional prepare regular financial statements for your business. Having an accountant’s name on financial statements lends credence to the legitimacy of your business. If you cannot afford this monthly or quarterly, at least have professional statements prepared annually. Then, they are at the ready whenever you need to apply for a loan.
Often tax returns for the previous three years will be enough. Get a tax professional to prepare them. This is the bare minimum you will need. Other information lenders may ask for include check stubs and bank statements, among other things.
In addition to FICO reporting personal credit, you have ChexSystems. In the simplest terms, this keeps up with bad check activity and makes a difference when it comes to your bank score. If you have too many bad checks, you will not be able to open a bank account. That will cause serious fundability issues.
Personal Credit History
Your personal credit score from Experian, Equifax, and Transunion all make a difference. You have to have your personal credit in order because it will definitely affect the fundability of your business. The best way to get a strong personal credit score or improve a weak one is to make payments consistently on time.
You probably never considered this point. Many don’t. For example, think about the timing of your application. Is your business currently fundable? If not, do some work first to change that. Next, make sure that your business name, business address, and ownership status are all verifiable. Lenders will check into it. Then, make sure you choose the right lending product for your business and your needs. Do you need a traditional loan or a line of credit? Would a working capital loan or expansion loan work best for your needs? Choosing the right product to apply for can make all the difference.
Business Loan Credit Score and Fundability: It’s Not Too Late, Start Now
Wherever you stand with business loan, credit score, and fundability, its never to late to make a change. Taking all of this into account, get started now so you can ensure the best chance for your business to get the funding it needs.
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