The staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc. reports:
"One of the most convincing things you can show a banker is the existence of a strong, well-documented flow of cash that will be more than adequate to repay a loan’s scheduled principal and interest. You’ll need more than a projection of future cash flow, by the way. Most bankers will want to see cash flow statements as well as balance sheets and income statements for the past three or so years. And don’t forget your tax returns for the same period...If you’re just starting out in business or dealing with a banker you don’t know well, you’re unlikely to be able to borrow from a bank without collateral. Collateral is just something the bank can seize and sell to get back some or all of the money you’ve borrowed in the event that everything goes wrong and you can’t pay it back with profits from operations. It may consist of machinery, equipment, inventory or, all too often, the equity you own in your home...[Co-signers] provide an added layer of protection for lenders. If your own capacity for taking on additional debt is shaky, a co-signer (who's essentially lending you their creditworthiness) may make the difference...More than ever before, bankers are taking a closer look at the marketing plans embedded in business plans. Strong competitors, price wars, me-too products, the fickle habits of the buying public and other market-related risks must be addressed. Your banker (and most other investors) have to know that you recognize these risks and have well-thought-out ways to deal with them. Besides, it’s the cash flow from operations that pays off bank loans...If you can show you’ve run one or more other companies successfully, it will increase your chances of landing a loan to get a startup going. Bank financing is most appropriate for up-and-running enterprises that can show adequate cash flow and collateral to service and secure the loan. Bankers are less likely to provide startup money to turn a concept into a business, and they're even less likely to put up seed money to prove a concept unless you have a track record of launching previous businesses with successful results.
The old saying about bankers lending only to people who don’t need to borrow is almost true. Bankers prefer to lend to companies that are almost, but not quite, financially robust enough to pursue their objective without the loan. Their natural tendency is to be conservative. This is important to understand because it affects how and when you will borrow. You should try to foresee times you’ll need to borrow money and arrange a line of credit or other loan before you need it."
Eight Steps to Analyzing a Website
Kristie Sweet reports:
"Even companies that do not engage in ecommerce benefit from an effective website since customers often find businesses through Internet searching. Companies may perform a website analysis for numerous reasons...An analysis can even help determine the layout of the site before one is created. A good website analysis explains how well the site supports the company's goals...Identify the company goals and how they relate to the Web presence. Including this information early in the report helps the executives or stockholders reading the report understand the purpose for the website. For instance, should the site inform customers about the company's services, persuade them to have a certain attitude about products or ideas or actually allow direct sales? Write these goals in order of importance in the report...Explain your methodology. If you examined competitors' sites, discuss how you determined which businesses to look at...Describe the process you went through at the site or sites. For instance, perhaps you searched for and attempted to buy a toy for a child within a certain age group. Include information about rating criteria in this section...Describe the structure and content of the site or sites. It is important to comment upon how easy it is to find products but also company information such as hours of operation and a contact email. Point out inconsistencies in menus among multiple pages and organizational issues...Write specific recommendations based upon the findings in the previous section. Refer to the company goals as well as effective elements of other websites if applicable...Create an executive summary, which is a brief explanation of your report's purpose, findings and recommendations. An executive summary typically explains the report in more detail than an abstract and is usually one or two pages long. It should explain the information without repeating the report verbatim...Organize the report by placing the executive summary first, then methods, findings, discussion, recommendations and any appendices such as a scoring matrix. Label each section accordingly...Review your language choice. The report should explain ideas succinctly without a lot of technical terms. If you do need to use jargon, define such terms when you first use them...Ask someone to review your report for clarity. The reviewer should not just be an editor looking for comma errors or spelling mistakes but someone willing to express concerns about the way your ideas come across. Revise the report as needed."
Janet B. Cole reports:
"Article writing has become very lucrative today especially since the advent of the [I]nternet. The problem many writers have is the pay. With low payout per article, in order to make a living or at least a supplemental income, writers need to produce multiple articles...Five articles a day is 35 articles per week. Many people quickly run out of ideas for topics. One strategy is to surf the [I]nternet and write down every idea that pops in your head. The ideas need not have any direction, just write them down. You can review them later. Another approach is to brainstorm. Once again, you are merely accumulating a list of potential topics that you find interesting. Each day select the five topics you find most interesting to write about. The average writer can produce an article in 20 - 30 minutes...I advise you to increase your speed. A good article writer can finish an article in 10 - 20 minutes, thus substantially reducing your time. With practice and organization, anyone can write fast articles. After choosing your topics, create a list of [subpoints] you will make in each article. These points are the roadmap of your article. Now that the guns are loaded, your next task is to time how fast it takes to complete one article and then steadily try to reduce it each time. Eventually your concentration will increase to the point where you can rattle off all five articles in 1 to 1 ½ hours, at most. If you develop writer[']s block, simply put the article aside and begin with the next one. If changing articles does not work, then take a break for 30 minutes or even one hour. Most times you will find it more productive to take breaks between articles than to get bogged down in one that drags on. Writing 5 articles a day may seem like a daunting task, but with some discipline and a good plan, it is much easier than you would expect. In fact, you may become so successful that you'll find yourself going on to number 6 or 7 or beyond."
Eric Bank reports (sample letters are included):
"Folks can experience financial problems at any time that [they] muck up their credit reports and hamper their access to new credit. However, a well-written letter of explanation attached to a credit application can make a big difference. Many lenders will go the extra mile to accommodate consumers that can explain past problems and offer assurances that the problems have been remedied. But first, it’ll be a good idea to check and see whether you have bad credit at all. When’s the last time you checked your credit score?...The letter must be true...Simply state the facts, including your understanding at the time, the roles others played and, ultimately, why you were unable to pay your bills on time...To the extent that you were at fault, own up to your mistakes. If you truly were innocent or victimized, describe what steps you took and to whom you reported the incident...Blaming your creditor is a very bad idea, since you are trying to arrange credit from, well, a creditor. They will have little patience for a person who trashes one or more previous creditors...Show receipts, letters, insurance policies, contracts and any other documents that will shed light on the problem and support your claims. Always send copies — keep the originals in a safe place...To the extent you made avoidable mistakes, promise to never repeat them again. Demonstrate to your new creditor the lessons you learned and the concrete steps you’ve taken to prevent problems from occurring again...You can always go the easy route and have someone do it for you, like a credit repair service that will also help to get your finances and credit back on track."
Catherine Lovering reports:
"Talent is an important component to a successful career as a writer. Talent also requires promotion; writers must show publishers that their work is of value. A portfolio is one tool to showcase your composition ability and to demonstrate your understanding of how to write for specific audiences. Time spent organizing your writing into a high-quality portfolio will pay off when it reaches the right person who will open the door to the next step in your career...Identify the audience for your portfolio. Tailoring your portfolio to a specific purpose...is important to ensure its impact is greatest. For your college application, you may wish to demonstrate that your writing is well-rounded and that you can produce work in various genres. If you are applying for a job, narrow your focus to the kind of writing you need for the position...Choose your strongest pieces. Include weaker pieces of writing only if they demonstrate a key skill you wish to demonstrate...If you have a shorter piece in a well-known publication, the name recognition will reflect well on your professional stature as a writer...Compose an introductory essay. No more than one page, an introductory essay will simply introduce your work to the reader of your portfolio. The essay can also reflect your unique voice and tone as well as your approach to writing. If the portfolio is intended for a job application, you should outline your experience and particular skills that match the qualifications for the position...Revise and update your resume. Along with your selections of writing and your introductory essay, a resume that includes your work history and education is an important part of a portfolio. The resume can target particular skills if you are a candidate for a paid position, or provide a comprehensive listing of your background if you are applying for a college program that takes all aspects of your life history into account...Index your portfolio and provide a table of contents. The table of contents should provide a listing of each item in your portfolio and the page number of its location. Organize your portfolio in a logical order...Type a page number on all pages of the portfolio or include page dividers so readers can quickly skip to the pages that interest them...Package your portfolio in a professional and attractive manner. Purchase a professional portfolio case from an office supply store and include matching tabs and sheets of paper that include your work. Produce electronic portfolios using a standard office word processing software or [PDF] file, which will prevent any formatting loss upon transmission to the reader."
My New Book on Amazon Kindle
E.A. Hill reports:
"A writer creates characters and locale and events for the purpose of keeping his readers’ attention as the story unfolds. Of tantalizing them with what ifs and what’s next. Of introducing characters that the reader can’t help but follow through the twists and turns of some complex plot. A writer writes to...stir emotions. He writes to hook readers, to get them so involved in his imaginary world that they turn their backs on their real world...Readers expect to be entertained. They expect action, emotion, a world filled with events that couldn’t possibly happen in their lives. They want characters they can identify with, that they can pretend to be...Readers want to imagine themselves as stronger or braver or more talented than they’ve had occasion to be in the [nonfictional] world...They want life in ultra mode—richer colors and deeper meanings and stronger emotions. They want more than what’s available to them in day-to-day interactions. They want to thumb off the safety and experience emotion to the max. They want you, the writer, to deliver that experience. And they deserve for you to create such an experience for them. While technique and grammar and punctuation are vital for a story, the story itself is essential. As you’re working on craft, remember your audience and their needs. They need characters they can relate to in some way...They need a compelling plot. They need a pull that’s stronger than those that tie them to family and their work lives. At least for the couple of hours it takes to read your story. What a task for a writer—to draw a reader from the compelling 3-D world that surrounds him into a world created only by words and the writer’s imagination. Heady stuff, creating stories so compelling that a reader will put aside his responsibilities to play in your world. Heady and satisfying and quite wonderful for the writer who achieves his goal of snaring a reader’s attention. Many have succeeded. Many more have failed. Yet there’s no reason to doubt that you can create the kinds of stories that capture thousands of readers. Why not? Why ever not? Study craft and mechanics. But don’t forget simple story—a character with a need who’s blocked from fulfilling that need. An imaginary world peopled with memorable characters. Events that arouse a reader’s desire to be different than who he is. Write well, yes. But be sure that your stories entertain. That’s the sign of a successful writer."
Georgina Laidlaw reports:
"The way you describe your style of work may have a strong bearing on how prospects, clients, and colleagues perceive you. It can impact the types of work you get, and how easy you find it to charge your preferred rates. It can also influence your self-perception and confidence. If you haven’t given this issue much thought, you should. While positive and not-so-positive connotations are associated with every descriptor you could apply to your work style, thinking carefully about how you explain what you do can help you refocus on who you want to work with, how you’ll operate, and more...There’s no point trying to make your operation sound like something it’s not. This will only lead to disappointment — and potentially damage your self-esteem and reputation — if you can’t deliver on the description you’ve applied to your work style. If you’re a sole operator, describing yourself as an agency or consultancy may communicate the wrong messages to potential clients...Similarly, if you contract work out to others in busy periods, consider describing your operation in a way that doesn’t imply you’re the only person in the business. If clients believe they’re getting your personal input exclusively on their every project, they may well be shocked to discover the truth. First up, think about the way you work, and narrow down your description to a selection of terms that accurately describe what you do...It’s your clients’ and prospects’ perceptions that you want to shape. Some clients may be scared off by the term 'contractor', thinking you charge like a wounded bull. Others may feel that 'freelancer' sounds like you operate part-time from your garage. The motivations of your clients may affect the way they perceive different descriptions. Think of a large organization that describes its work with third-party organizations in terms of 'partnerships', 'recommendations', and 'relationships'. Its decision-makers may be more comfortable with the robust, ongoing arrangement implied by the terms 'consultancy' or 'advisor' than by words like 'freelance', which may suggest a stop-start arrangement that operates on a needs basis, rather than as an ongoing proposition. Conversely, if you’re targeting small businesses and sole operators, they may be more comfortable with the idea of working with someone who talks about themselves as a freelancer or small business owner. Describing your work as a business may help create an extra degree of rapport, an area of common ground, and a sense of mutual understanding. Take a look at the list of words you made a moment ago, and work out which ones you think appeal most to your target prospects. Perhaps you’ll consider running them past some trusted clients in the same position, field, or industry, to make sure you’re on the money...Finally, think about which of the words you have on your list make you most comfortable...There’s no point choosing a description — even if you think it’ll appeal to your audience — if you won’t be able to say it loud and proud next time you meet a new contact who asks what you do. Also think about where you’re heading with your small business or freelance operation. Your dreams for future world (or at least industry!) domination may steer your choices in a certain direction. You might be working to build long-term, ongoing client relationships from your current hit-and-run freelance jobs. In that case, calling yourself a 'gun for hire' might be accurate right now, but it doesn’t reflect where you want to go, and — we hope — won’t be appropriate for much longer. Think about your current self-perception and your future goals in choosing a description that accurately reflects what you are able to offer clients now and in the medium-term future."
Linda Formichelli reports:
"A key part of a successful query letter is the paragraph or two where you tell the editor who you are and why you’re the perfect person to write the idea you’re pitching...Here’s what to ask yourself to build a credentials paragraph that has an editor drooling to assign you the article: Do I have any clips, even if they’re not relevant?...If you’re pitching an article on holiday health hazards and all you have is three clips on pets, that’s what you use. I’ve had students who were afraid to mention non-relevant clips, so it looked like they had none at all. Don’t do this! Do I have any educational background in the topic? You may not have written about a particular topic, but maybe you’ve studied it. So your credentials paragraph for an article on business marketing might mention you have an MBA. But you don’t have to have an advanced degree...Do I have access to a key source? You may be friends with or have some other personal or business connection to a hard-to-get source such as a celebrity, bestselling author, or high-ranking politician. This makes you the obvious choice to write the story you’re pitching. So don’t be shy — bring it up! Do I have an employment background in the topic? Many writers have second jobs, and this can be a plus if your job (or a past job) relates to the subject you’re pitching...Do I have personal experience in the topic?...If you’re pitching a parenting article, mention that you’re a mom or dad. If you’re writing about a health issue that you happen to have, bring it up. Pitching a piece on self[-]defense? Tell the editor about your experience in the martial arts. You can even let the editor know if you’re related to someone with a lot of experience in the topic; for example, if you’re querying an article on ways to market your pizzeria and your dad runs a successful pizza joint, you’ll want to highlight that connection...Do other editors love me? An editor is taking a risk by hiring a new-to-her writer — who’s to say you won’t skimp on research or flake out at deadline time? One way around this, especially if you don’t have a big handful of clips to show off or any obvious connection to the topic you’re pitching, is to let the editor know what your strong points are as a writer. For example, have you received a compliment from another editor or client on your skill with words or your fast turnaround? Did an article you wrote for a website garner 500 comments? You can use this information to bolster a weak credentials paragraph."
Three Allegory Writing Tips
Sophie Novak reports:
"[Allegory] is a literary genre concerned about principals and ideas represented abstractly. So how do you go about it?...An allegory is a symbol of your idea. What this means in practice is that your story is just a cover-up for the theme you’re representing[,] a surface story for the primary one. This gives you huge freedom in how you decide to represent your topic. It can be fantastical or very down-to-earth, eccentric or with everyday characters – completely your choice. You can set your story in New York, implying the life in any metropolitan city around the world...Each character in an allegory serves to represent an underlying element to your theme[,] an archetype if you will. This means that you need to have a reason for introducing a character or a figure, since the reader is expected to interpret the whole story and find what it means. The same holds for the whole action that happens in the story. It should indicate something, not just push the story forward...[Y]ou’ll be expected to leave clues in your story for easier grasping. Some use irony; others metaphors and various references. They can be subtle clues; no need to explain yourself, just make sure they’re there to be found. The distinctive characteristic about allegories is that they have a universal application; a collective human issue represented through a unique story. Very literary, indeed."
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