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Nikola Jokic’s unique evolution as a do-it-all playmaker has the Nuggets center in consideration for MVP.
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Your Credit Record Can Have Errors
Either a personal or a business credit record can have errors in it. There are all sorts of reasons why you or your business would not be able to get funding. Correcting mistakes is one way to make it easier for your business to get money.
Let’s look at errors in public records.
Correcting a Credit Record Means Enhancing Fundability
But what’s fundability? Fundability is the ability of a business to get funding. This is everything from getting credit to business loans. Because every business needs money, it quite literally pays to enhance your fundability whenever and wherever you can.
Public Records Matter to Your Credit Record
In addition to how well your business pays its bills, and your personal credit score, and whether your industry is felt to be a risky one, there’s the matter of public records.
Public records include bankruptcy (both personal and business), liens, judgments, and UCC filings. Errors in any of these kinds of public records will affect fundability, so correcting such mistakes will enhance your ability to get cash for your business.
Bankruptcy on a Credit Record
Bankruptcy is a process a business goes through in federal court. The idea is to help a business eliminate or repay its debt under the guidance and protection of the bankruptcy court. Business bankruptcies are often liquidations or reorganizations. This depends on the type of bankruptcy an entrepreneur takes.
3 Types of Business Bankruptcy
There are three kinds of business bankruptcy. They are Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13. These types depend on organizational structure. See thebalancesmb.com/what-is-business-bankruptcy-393017.
Chapter 7 and Chapter 11
Corporations are legal business entities separate from their owners. They are more truly separate than partnerships. But in the event of a bankruptcy, either type of structure commonly will file of Chapter 7 (bankruptcy protection), or Chapter 11 (reorganization). The chapters refer to the US Bankruptcy Code.
Chapter 7: Liquidation
This one may be the best choice when the business has no viable future. It is often used when the debts of the business are so overwhelming that restructuring them is not feasible. Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be used for sole proprietorships, partnerships, or corporations. It is also appropriate when the business does not have any substantial assets. To read the full text of Chapter 7, go here: law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/11/chapter-7.
Chapter 7 Details
Before a Chapter 7 bankruptcy gets approval, the applicant is subject to a “means” test. If their income is over a certain level, their application does not get approval. But if a Chapter 7 bankruptcy gets approval, the business is dissolved.
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a trustee is appointed by the bankruptcy court. The trustee’s job is to take possession of the assets of the business and distribute them among all of the creditors.
The order in which creditors are paid can depend on the type of debt (secured vs. unsecured). Collateral is what you use to secure a debt. With no collateral, a debt is unsecured. As a result, those types of debts are further down the line when it comes to decided who will be paid in a bankruptcy.
After the distribution of the assets and paying the trustee, a sole proprietor gets a “discharge” at the end of the case. It means that the owner of the business is released from any obligation for the debts. But partnerships and corporations do not receive a discharge.
Chapter 11: Business Reorganization
Chapter 11 may be a better choice for businesses with a realistic chance to turn it all around. It is often used for partnerships and corporations. It can also be used by sole proprietorships if their income level is too high to qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. For the full text of Chapter 11 go to: cornell.edu/uscode/text/11/chapter-11.
Chapter 11 Details
Chapter 11 is a plan where a company reorganizes and continues in business under a court-appointed trustee. The company files a detailed plan of reorganization. Such a plan explains how it will deal with its creditors. The company can terminate contracts and leases, recover assets, and repay some of its debts, while discharging others to return to profitability.
The business presents the plan to its creditors who will vote on the plan. If the court finds the plan is fair and equitable, it will approve it. Reorganization plans provide for payments to creditors over some time. Chapter 11 bankruptcies are rather complex and not all of them succeed. It usually takes over a year to confirm a plan.
Chapter 11 and the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019
The Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 enacted a new subchapter V of Chapter 11. This subchapter of Chapter 11 seems to favor the side of the applicant for business bankruptcy. But it only applies if the applicant wants it to apply. See cornell.edu/uscode/text/11/chapter-11/subchapter-V.
For example, subchapter V does not require that a committee of creditors be appointed, or that creditors have to approve a court plan.
Per the U.S. Department of Justice, the act: “imposes shorter deadlines for completing the bankruptcy process, allows for greater flexibility in negotiating restructuring plans with creditors, and provides for a private trustee who will work with the small business debtor and its creditors to facilitate the development of a consensual plan of reorganization.” See justice.gov/opa/pr/us-trustee-program-ready-implement-small-business-reorganization-act-2019.
Chapter 13: Adjustment of Debts for Individuals with Regular Income
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a form of bankruptcy for individuals. Since a sole proprietorship is an extension of its one owner, the owner is responsible for all assets and liabilities of the firm. It is most common for a sole proprietorship to take bankruptcy via Chapter 13. This is a reorganization bankruptcy. For the full text of Chapter 13, go to: law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/11/chapter-13.
Chapter 13 Details
Use Chapter 13 small businesses when a reorganization is the goal instead of liquidation. The entrepreneur files a repayment plan with the bankruptcy court. This details how they will repay their debts. Note: Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcies are very different for businesses.
Chapter 13 is vital for individuals whose personal assets are tied up with their business assets, because they can avoid problems like losing a home if they file Chapter 13 versus Chapter 7. Chapter 13 lets a business stay in business and pay its debts. But Chapter 7 does not.
Chapters 12 and 15
There are two other forms of individual bankruptcy. These are less common. Chapter 12 is bankruptcy protection for family farmers and family fisherman. See uscourts.gov/services-forms/bankruptcy/bankruptcy-basics/chapter-12-bankruptcy-basics.
Chapter 15 is bankruptcy protection when a bankruptcy matter involves people from another country. See uscourts.gov/services-forms/bankruptcy/bankruptcy-basics/chapter-15-bankruptcy-basics.
Correcting Bankruptcy Errors
In general, to correct bankruptcy issues, all you or your lawyer will need to do is file an amendment to your bankruptcy petition. These can be errors like forgetting to list an item of property. Or it can be disclosing an incorrect property value or forgetting a creditor or income from a side business. See alllaw.com/articles/nolo/bankruptcy/bankruptcy-petition-mistake.html.
Liens in a Credit Record
What’s a lien?
Per Investopedia: “A lien is a claim or legal right against assets that are typically used as collateral to satisfy a debt. A lien could be established by a creditor or a legal judgement. A lien serves to guarantee an underlying obligation, such as the repayment of a loan. If the underlying obligation is not satisfied, the creditor may be able to seize the asset that is the subject of the lien. There are many types of liens that are used to secure assets.”
Errors in Liens
Some of the worst errors when it comes to liens can involve real estate if using land to secure a debt. Minor or typographical errors are called Scrivener’s errors. You can often correct them by rerecording the deed of trust or by recording an instrument explaining and correcting the error. But you cannot cure more substantial errors except by a Reformation lawsuit. This type of lawsuit asks a court to correct the deed of trust to reflect the parties’ intent.
Legal Judgments in a Credit Record
Businesses of all sizes can be on the defense end of a lawsuit. Lawsuits can be for everything from a customer slipping on ice in your parking lot to a supplier suing to get you to pay them.
The main ways you can lose in court are if you default at the start and never answer a summons and complaint. Or you could lose a motion for summary judgment brought by the other side. Another way to lose is to lose a bench or jury trial. Or you could exhaust all appeals and end up on the losing end.
If you or your business lose in court, then a judgment may be entered against you. Judgments generally take the form of paying damages, which is money. Or the judgment could be for specific performance where you’re required to do (or not do) something. Another option is an injunction is entered and you may be prevented from doing something. A civil judgment can’t send you to jail. That’s criminal, which is rather different.
Errors in Legal Judgments
Errors often take the form of a judgment entered against the wrong person and/or company, or a typo in the amount of money damages listed in the court’s records. Or the judgment is entered but it’s already been satisfied (paid). Another kind of error is fraud or other misrepresentation on the part of one of the parties. Plus there could be excusable neglect. For example, a city recovering from a major hurricane might not make the proper clerical entry of judgments a priority.
Correcting these errors can take several forms. Different states have differing rules. But every state wants their records to be correct. They just have different ways you need to go about correcting the record.
Correcting Errors in Legal Judgments
You or your lawyer will need to look up how to correct mistakes in a legal judgment in your state (or the District of Columbia or a US territory, like Puerto Rico).
For example, in Massachusetts, you or your lawyer will need to make a motion before the court under Rule 60(a). See mass.gov/rules-of-civil-procedure/civil-procedure-rule-60-relief-from-judgment-or-order. But in Texas, you or your lawyer would need to file a motion for judgment nunc pro tunc. This is a motion to correct the judgment. See texaslawhelp.org/article/correcting-clerical-error-court-order-answers-common-questions#toc-9.
In Georgia, correcting a judgment comes under the general umbrella of relief from judgments. See law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-9/chapter-11/article-7/9-11-60. In Louisiana, it falls under an Amendment of Judgment, and you can fix calculation or language errors ia motion. See law.justia.com/codes/louisiana/2015/code-codeofcivilprocedure/ccp-1951/.
Like with most things, the faster you work to correct a legal judgment, the less it will cost you. In particular if the wrong person (you) is the defendant, acting as quickly as possible will save you in legal fees. Ignoring these problems will not make them go away.
UCC Filings in a Credit Record
When you secure a loan with property, creditors can tell other creditors about any of your assets in use as collateral for the secured transaction. UCC liens filed with Secretary of State offices act as a creditor’s public notice of their interest in the property.
It’s in a creditor’s best interests to check for UCC filings. This is so they can make sure they’re the only creditor with a claim on that collateral.
Errors in UCC Filings
Like anything else, there can be typographical errors in UCC filings. But the law says that, unless the errors “make the financing statement seriously misleading”, the UCC filing is still in effect. Are you depending on a typo to get out of a UCC filing? You might want to rethink that strategy. See law.cornell.edu/ucc/9/9-506.
Correcting Errors in UCC Filings
For the most part, unless the errors are seriously misleading, the UCC says you don’t have to fix them. This is because of the policy behind the law governing secured transactions under the UCC. Essentially, financing statements exist to provide notice of a transaction. And they are also meant to give enough information to later potential creditors that the debtor’s property may be covered by an earlier creditor’s security interest.
Hence, a financing statement exists as a starting point in a later creditor’s due diligence process, not the conclusion. See jdsupra.com/legalnews/it-may-be-foul-but-there-is-no-harm-not-11403/.
Correcting the Public Document Errors in Your Credit Record: Takeaways
Your personal credit record can directly impact your business credit record. Both need to be right. And correct records are more likely to get your business money.
It’s possible to fix errors in public documents like judgments and UCC filings. But the mechanism for doing so will differ. This depends on the error, the type of record, and the jurisdiction. The more quickly you act, the better and cheaper it will be for you. Ignoring these mistakes will not make them go away. Correcting mistakes can make your business more fundable.
For more information on fundability and getting business credit, contact us today.
The world of business loan companies is full of predatory lenders. If you are desperate for business funding, it can be easy to take the bait and fall into their trap. You need to know how to tell predators from legit creditors, especially if you need to veer away from traditional financing. You may think you know what to look for, but there are some predatory secrets that a lot of business owners are not privy to.
How to Avoid Predatory Lenders When Looking for Business Loan Companies
It can be helpful to work with a business credit expert. Not only can they steer you toward responsible lenders, but they can also help you choose the type of funding that will work best for your needs. A good one will help you build business credit at the same time.
Still, you need to know the signs of a predatory lender for yourself. If you do not, you will not even be able to tell if you are working with a good business credit expert, or not.
Signs of a Predatory Lender
Can you tell the difference between legit creditors and predatory lenders?
According to Investopedia:
“Predatory lending benefits the lender and ignores or hinders the borrower’s ability to repay a debt. These lending tactics often try to take advantage of a borrower’s lack of understanding concerning loans, terms, or financial literacy.”
Predatory lending when it comes to business loans is becoming an increasingly prevalent problem
How do you keep yourself from wading off into shark infested waters?
Find out why so many companies use our proven methods to get business loans.
Avoid Business Loan Companies That Focus on Monthly Payment Rather Than Actual Loan Amount
They may insist on one large payment at the end of the term with only interest payments being made each month until that point. This is known as a balloon payment. In business lending, this can be useful if you are waiting on large sums of money at the end of the contract to repay the loan, so it isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. However, you do need to know that your payments are only paying interest and not reducing principal.
Recognize if this is really the type of loan that you need. Lenders should always be willing to disclose your total loan amount and terms. You should not have to beg for this or search for it. Lenders that focus only on the payment may be sketchy.
There are many things they can do to make a monthly payment lower, like extending the loan period, adding a large payment at the end (a balloon payment), or making adjustments to loan terms. All of these things can make your monthly payments look low, while in reality you are getting stuck with a bad loan.
Note that while a balloon payment should be an automatic deal breaker, insistence on a balloon payment is an extra red flag.
Good Business Loan Companies Will Not Add Unnecessary Extras Without Your Knowledge
Another common practice of predatory lenders is adding extras onto the loan. These are usually things the borrower does not need. Furthermore, the borrower will not even know they are there. The most common “extra” seems to be insurance products that do not offer any benefit.
Business Loan Companies and Confessions of Judgement
New York plays a unique role in the world of predatory lending. Understanding this can help you understand if you are about to become the prey. It all comes down to a confession of judgement. If a borrower signs a confession of judgement, they are basically agreeing to lose in a court battle if there is a dispute about repayment. Many cash-advance companies, which make up a large faction of predatory lenders, have their borrowers sign one of these.
New York state law is friendly to this type of contract. Regardless of where a loan takes place, it may include a “New York confession of judgement.”
This could also mean you are agreeing that any lawsuits will be handled in New York state. That could greatly increase expenses if you do not live near there. If you see one of these in your loan documents, do not sign it. It is of no benefit to you. It only benefits the lender.
Find out why so many companies use our proven methods to get business loans.
Don’t Accept Punishment for Early Payment
Prepayment penalties should definitely be a red flag. Early payment is good, period. Even though the lender may lose some interest, they should not be too opposed to early repayment. By itself, it should not be the reason you do not take a loan. But it should make you continue with caution and look for other red flags.
Good Business Loan Companies Do Not Have to Seek the Weak
Business loan companies that specifically seek out underserved populations, such as minorities and immigrants, and those with bad credit should be considered carefully. This may include contacting business owners that fit into these types of categories directly, or targeting them with marketing campaigns designed for them specifically. If the focus is meant to make them think they are getting a great deal because they are in an underserved market, it could be sketchy. While there are programs designed to help serve underserved populations, if something seems too good to be true, it likely is.
In fact, those that fall into these categories are more likely than others to fall prey, according to a 2015 Center for Responsible Lending Report.
A Good Business Loan Company Will Not Start With a Bad Deal
Some predatory lenders will try to earn trust by admitting they are offering a bad deal, then promising to fix it in the future. They claim they will allow for a refinance that will be a better option. Don’t fall for it. A bad deal is a bad deal. Just walk away.
Loan Flipping is a Classic Move for Predatory Business Loan Companies
This is not the same as house flipping. Flipping a house can be very profitable. Loan flipping is actually a classic predatory lending tactic. When a predatory lender sees that you are struggling, they will offer a refinance. However, you end up paying points and fees again. As a result, before it is over, you end up owing more than your original loan. Sometimes you may end up owing even more than your collateral is worth. It is a vicious cycle, and it can bury you quickly.
Find out why so many companies use our proven methods to get business loans.
The Responsible Business Lending Coalition
This is a network of nonprofit and for-profit lenders, investors, and small business advocates. They have a common commitment to innovation in the small business lending industry. They also have serious concerns about the increase of irresponsible small business lending.
In 2015 they drafted the Small Business Owners Bill of Rights. When searching for a small business lender, look for those that have signed this. There are many members of the Small Business Lending Coalition.
Here are a few examples:
What is the Easiest Way to Avoid Predatory Business Loan Companies?
Look for help when you can find it. Working with a company that specializes in helping small businesses find the funds they need can help you avoid predatory lenders. For example, Credit Suite works only with reputable lenders. With our Credit Line Hybrid and many other products, we connect businesses with lenders that we know to be safe to work with. Not only that, but we help you assess your fundablity at the same time, and work with you to figure out how to best fill in your business’s fundability weaknesses. If business credit is an issue, we can help you build that too! The time to take action is now, before you look for business loan companies. Don’t take the chance of falling prey.
The post How to Recognize Predatory Practices in Business Loan Companies, and How to Get Help appeared first on Credit Suite.
Are you a seller on Amazon?
If so, you need to understand the importance of your Amazon sales rank and how it can help (or harm) your business.
What is Amazon Sales Rank?
Amazon sales rank (also known as best sellers rank or BSR) is a numerical score representing an item’s popularity in both its overall category and respective subcategories.
What does that mean? Let’s look at Jenga’s performance. While Jenga scored position three in the overall category of Toys & Games, it earned the number one rank in Stacking Games.
With this level of visibility into performance, sellers can view performance on multiple levels.
Amazon sales rank can range from one to over a million, with lower scores indicating superior rank. The metric is calculated hourly using the number of recent sales, as well as historical sales in relation to other products in the same category.
Wondering how you can find your product’s Amazon sales rank?
It’s easier than you think. Simply scroll to the bottom of your product page until you encounter the Product Details section. Then, look for the Amazon Best Sellers Rank.
Now that you’ve found your Amazon sales rank, you’re probably wondering, ‘is this a good score?’ When it comes to sales rank, all things are relative.
If you’re in a saturated category, a “good” score could still be an astronomically high figure. Conversely, if you’re in a small, niche community, a score that may present as low may not actually mean that much. As a general rule, you’ll want to aim for a score under 2,000.
Why Is Your Amazon Sales Rank Important
You might think your Amazon sales rank doesn’t have much bearing on your present performance, as is based on past performance. However, there are four distinct reasons why you should care about your ranking.
Amazon Sales Rank Shows Trust
For Amazon sellers, having a low Amazon sales rank is vital to success on the e-commerce site. Since rankings are used to define product popularity within a specific genre, and comparatively with its competitors, consider your sales rank as a vote of confidence in popularity of your product.
Provides a Competitive Edge
In addition to serving as a testimonial to the popularity of your product, Amazon sales rank provides insight into your competitors by providing visibility of the most high-performing products in your category. By assessing products that hold top Amazon sales ranks, you can then reassess your own campaign through their lens, optimizing your listing and marketing strategies accordingly.
It Increases Sales
In addition to credibility, consumers are more likely to purchase a product that others have also bought. What’s the likelihood that you would buy a product online without any reviews? None, most likely.
The same premise is at work here—more sales means more reviews, leading to even more sales.
It improves Brand Awareness
If your products are routinely ranking in top positions in your category or subcategories, buyers will notice. By increasing your products’ positive visibility, you can increase the visibility and awareness of your brand.
6 Ways to Increase Your Amazon Sales Rank
While it may feel like your sales rank is completely out of your control and dependent solely upon your consumers, there are actions you can take to drive sales and increase your Amazon sales rank.
Let’s look at six strategies to increase your sales rank.
1. Incentivize Reviews to Increase Amazon Sales Rank
Eighty-eight percent of consumers trust online reviews just as much as they trust word-of-mouth recommendations from their friends and family. Positive reviews can be the tipping point that causes a consumer to choose your product over a competitor’s.
While Amazon has banned true financial incentivization of reviews (such as offering a discount or payments) there are still options to encourage shoppers to leave glowing reviews. Here’s a few ways to increase your online reviews.
After a purchase is made, send a follow-up email. In this email, you can include a valuable piece of informational content that will grow goodwill between buyer and seller, perhaps leading to future purchases and future reviews.
You can also opt for Amazon to automatically send an email to the purchaser to review the product. This is a quick, easy way to score some valuable reviews.
Inserts in Packaging
Including a valuable piece of content in your packaging can also encourage customers to leave a review. Consider including a hand-written note that encourages the consumer to leave a review, which will also further foster that sentiment of connection. Even a printed thank you note with a reminder to review can help.
Amazon Vine is an internal program that offers products for free to trusted Amazon customers in return for feedback. The goal is to encourage honest reviews from real customers and is invitation-only for participants.
The only catch here is that you must be an Amazon vendor to participate in this program.
2. Do Keyword Research to Improve Amazon Sales Rank
We believe that keyword research should be the foundation of any online campaign, and selling on Amazon is no different. Identifying the right keywords for your product can be the differentiator between success and failure.
As you craft your Amazon listings, include your keywords in your title and bullets. By including these terms, you ensure more searchers see your listing, which, in turn, increases the likelihood that your product will be purchased.
3. Use Quality Photos to Increase Amazon Sales Rank
Photos matter. In fact, 63 percent of consumers report that photos are more important to them when shopping on Amazon than verbal descriptions. It pays to invest in quality photos.
As you select photos to include in your listing, think about what you would want to see as a consumer. Would an image that incorporates an infographic be effective? Would an image of an individual using your product convey value? If you take your own photos, look for tips that will help you take professional-level photos.
Regardless of which approach works best for your product, quality photos can attract and convert attention, drive sales, and increase your Amazon sale rank.
4. Write Good Sales Copy
A lot of Amazon product listings showcase some pretty lackluster writing. Common offenses include un-optimized pages, titles stuffed with keywords, and sentences that don’t even make sense (which won’t inspire trust in your company.)
To help your product stand out from the crowd and drive more purchases, write thoughtful sales copy for each of your product listings. Focus on the benefits your product offers and what makes it stand out.
Amazon visitors come with commercial intent. If you can attract them with strong sales copy, they’re that much more likely to convert.
5. Optimize Product Description and Title
Here’s a fun fact—90 percent of Amazon product listings don’t adhere to Amazon’s description requirements. Just like Google, Amazon makes frequent algorithm updates. Staying current on recommended listing details, including character counts and word limits, can help your products perform better and increase visibility.
When crafting product descriptions and titles, remember that Amazon users are shopping on the platform because it is quick and easy. If your would-be consumer struggles to understand your products, they’re likely not returning for a second look.
To make your titles stand out among the multitudes, try these three things:
- be creative
- adhere to Amazon’s 200-character limit
- use descriptive titles that communicates what your product is
- first letter of primary words must be capitalized
- on’t use an ampersand
- share exact size detail
- use numerals when conveying numbers
6. Promote Your Products to Increase Amazon Sales Rank
The conversion rate in the Amazon Marketplace averages around 15 percent, considerably higher than other e-commerce platforms. The key to ensuring your products see that level of conversion is to ensure and increase visibility. If no one sees your product, no one can buy it.
While there are a number of ways to promote your products on Amazon, we’ve gathered our top three to share with you.
Invest in Sponsored Product Ads
To increase your product’s visibility, consider investing in sponsored product ads. As a seller, you only are charged when a buyer clicks on your ad, so this is a reasonably priced way to get your product in front of fresh eyes.
In the above ad, the sponsored product appears on the first page of search results.
Use Your Social Channels
Harnessing the power of your business’ social channels is a great way to get your products seen by more buyers. While you don’t want to inundate your followers with ad after ad, there are a few strategies you can employ to get your Amazon listings noticed.
- Host a giveaway or contest: By creating a contest that encourages people to interact with your Amazon product listing, you increase visibility. For example, you could give away a product to a lucky winner who shares your Amazon listing in their bio or in their stories.
- Share content with a link to your Amazon listing: When you post a helpful blog specific to your industry, people will come to that content to learn. Not only will this establish you as a thought leader in your industry, it also is an opportunity to link to your Amazon listings and increase visibility.
- Offer a social media promo code: If you have a Professional Selling account on Amazon, you can create a promotion link to share through social highlighting a discount offered on the listing. Here’s a guide for navigating setting up a promotion link.
Offer a Lightning Deal
Increase interest in your product by offering shoppers a Lightning Deal. These sales are time-sensitive and buyers can locate them in Amazon’s Today’s Deals section. These are extremely popular with shoppers as they urge action given their time-sensitive nature.
When you include your product in Amazon’s Today’s Deals sections, you not only will increase your sales, but you’ll inevitably boost your Amazon Sale Rank.
Now that you understand the components that make up your Amazon sales rank, it’s time to start optimizing your store for more purchases.
Whether you start by researching keywords for your e-commerce store or shining up your existing copy, you’ll be on your way to improving product visibility. As that visibility increases, so will your sales, driving your sales rank up simultaneously.
What’s your most successful strategy for increasing Amazon sales rank?