Building business credit. Sure, the Obama administration just announced plans to boost credit to small businesses, but getting financed can be a chore without a solid credit history. The Wall Street Journal offers advice on the best ways to build business credit, which include organizing and updating your financial records to present to banks and credit issuers, and doing business exclusively with vendors and suppliers who can report positive payment history to commercial agencies, such as Dun & Bradstreet and Experian. For example, Yves Darbouze, a chief executive at New York-based Plot Multimedia, was able to secure a $100,000 equipment loan because of a Dun & Bradstreet rating of 87 out of 100, which he built by securing credit cards and loans from local companies and gas stations, the article reports.
Business's top movers and shakers. The Huffington Post wants your input on the business world's "Ultimate Game Changer." Choose from 10 hotshots, including Tony Hsieh of Zappos, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, and the founders of Zipcar. Cast your votes here.
When to shut down your company and what are your alternatives. The online private equity forum peHUB links to a post from Ask the VC on the agonizing decision over when to close up shop. It's only the right time to pull the plug if you have no other options. But there are alternatives: additional financing, a sale or merger, bankruptcy, or crash and burn. A sale might be the best option, says wind down columnist Roger Glovsky, because the sale price is often undisclosed. "The big company may get strategic assets (often technology or intellectual property) at a discount and the small company preserves its reputation. Win-win. The public may not ever know that the business failed." In the mid 90s, Glovsky ran a software development company that sold Mac software to other businesses at a time when major corporations were phasing Macs out of the office. They were competing against other vendors and free software from Apple itself. On the advice of their board, they tried to develop new products and follow new opportunities, but eventually wound down the business and distributed the leftover assets to stockholders. "Whatever you do," says Glovsky, "don't wait too long to start the process; it gets messy." If you're still wondering whether it's time to throw in the towel, check out this classic post from serial entrepreneur Jason Calacanis.
Social media advice from the experts. This past week marked the annual BlogWorld Expo, an industry conference and trade show dedicated to all things blogging and social media. American Express OPEN Forum took the opportunity to buttonhole some of the conference's presenters and ask them for their advice for small- and medium-sized businesses looking to make the most of their social media efforts. Three industry experts weighed in and offered their thoughts on such topics as turning online chatter into real-world sales and ways small businesses can improve their search results.
Women-owned small businesses not confident about 'green' funding. In 2008, only 3.4 percent of the $514 billion spent on federal contracts went to women-owned companies. Although the stimulus package contained $80 billion earmarked for green energy and investments run by women-owned businesses, that allotment does not seem likely to come to fruition based on the percentage of funds received by women-led companies in years past, according to reports by MSNBC. At present, the green business industry is one dominated by men, and many believe a bias exists against women-owned businesses. "Discrimination is real, but I also think women need to be educated and trained on how to sign up," says Margaret Barton, executive director of the National Women's Business Council, as reported by Eve Tahmincioglu of MSNBC.
Choosing to disconnect. We'll leave you this week with a story for all you business owners who fantasize about what life would be like if you weren't attached to your cellphone. Enjoy.