Free Money News May 2015

May is supposed to bring bright sunny days and lots of beautiful flowers. But many are greeting the month with tears, still mourning the death of Dr. “McDreamy” on Grey’s Anatomy.

Yes, Patrick Dempsey’s character has been brutally killed off after ten years of being a major character. While some threaten never to watch the show again a serious falloff in viewership has been happening for a while. At the show's outset 20 million or so viewers tuned in each week but that number has been sagging since 2008. Fewer than 10 million watched the season premiere in 2014.

Could killing off a key character bring attention and viewers back to the show? IMaybe. Products, and businesses can get stale. Sometimes a big event — even if negative— can turn things around.

Fortunately what’s turning things around in the small business world these days is very positive news! This month we focus on that news and what’s in it for you. If you dream of starting your own business, or need new funds to revive or grow one you already own, there is a lot here for you:

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Free Money Highlights

From SBA improvements to grants available for small business we are full of good business news this month:

Small Business Administration making great strides

We often hear promises from politicians and government agencies about what they will do for small business or for “underserved” groups of people (also known as minorities, women, veterans, etc.). The still relatively new head of the SBA is actually delivering on such promises.

Maria Contreras-Sweet took office a little more than a year ago. She is rightly proud of changes she has helped make. You should be too because they could mean a lot to your business - or your business dream. As a co-founder of a community bank Sweet understands how important fast access to capital is to business. She has updated systems and simplified procedures for both bankers and loan applicants. By doing so she has not only attracted new lenders (which means more money available to you!) but she has also significantly improved the numbers of people in targeted groups actually getting loans.

For example, women and minority entrepreneurs are now 3-5 times more likely to get approved for an SBA-backed loan than for a (more expensive) conventional bank loan. Loans to specific groups have also increased over the past year:

  • to women: up 24%
  • to African-Americans: up 33%
  • to Hispanics : up 20%
  • to Asian Americans: up 10%
  • to veterans: up 7% and
  • to Native Americans: up 14%.

We say hurrah to all that and more! Check out our review of the SBA website to discover more about what that agency could mean to you.

Grants for Small Business — real ones!

Have you seen news about grants for small business only to discover someone selling an expensive loan or charging you a fee for an uncertain promise? Well sometimes they’re real. Recently we reported Federal Express announcing $75,000 in grants for small businesses. They have now announced the winners — and there’s a lot you can learn from them.

The grand winner of $25,000 is a small team in North Carolina making custom leather goods at affordable prices. Other winners include makers of pre-made Paleo desserts, toys for babies, urban bicycles, solutions to the honeybee crisis and more. The point is that these are real people with ideas you don’t have to be a technology guru to come up with. And FedEx has given them a major boost. What’s in it for you? Inspiration for one thing — plus lead time to get ready for next year’s contest. Take a look at our article about Small Business Financing Opportunities to find out more and stay tuned to make your dream a reality. Also learn more about other potential sources of real small business grants!

Small Business Resources: more good news

Business owners, and entrepreneurs in the dreaming or planning stage, will also benefit from news and updates in our reports on these important topics:

Black Business Resources: Where are black-owned business doing the best? The answers might surprise you — and they could also make a difference to the success of your business. A recent study of cities with populations over 100,000 presents some very interesting results. Learn more in our article about Black Business Resources. (One tidbit: although Salt Lake City is not one of the Top Ten cities, black-owned businesses there make five times as much as the national average. Worth investigating…?).

Small Business Loans provides information about getting traditional as well as SBA-backed loans. Perhaps more importantly, it also lists and provides information on non-traditional loan sources. You may not be aware of all of the creative new resources out there now — and they could help you make your dream a reality. This is especially true if you are about ready to give up on finding financing….

Small Business Ideas: Frustrated because you can’t quite formulate that really good idea? Intrigued by the range of business ideas pursued by the FedEx grant winners described above? See Small Business Ideas and learn how to come up with that really good idea that combines your passion with market opportunity (and see how people start businesses with less than $100!).

Enjoy Spring – and make it a great one for your business success!

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