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The 3 fastest growing small business industries

Across the country, there are a number of industries that are beginning to bustle with activity as more small businesses get in on the action. 

And if you're looking for a tip on what these growing industries may be, then Inc. Magazine has you covered. The news outlet recently specified some of the fastest growing sectors of industry - and we've collected information on a few of them below. Check out this list to see if your industry made the cut, or to gather any ideas on where you could potentially take your business in the future. If you're interested in the full list, click over to Inc.'s website.

Green construction
The best way to be environmentally friendly is to plan to do so within the foundation of your business itself. So it should come as no surprise that Inc. is reporting that green construction - or rather, construction firms that can build environments well suited to low levels of energy consumption - are growing at rapid rates. 

Online baby products
Sales of baby apparel made online are expected to clear $6 billion in revenue, according to the news outlet. Retailers of baby products have been slow to adapt to online commerce, and that has left a big hole in this particular sector of business. As a result, sales of these products are climbing incredibly fast - and entrepreneurs are developing plans to jump into this industry even faster. 

Translation services
Everyone knows that businesses are going global - and that's leading to great demand in the translation sector. So if you, or anyone you have access to, has the ability to translate from one language to another, then you should be looking into small business financing options - you're already in line to dive into one of the world's fastest growing industries.

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You can trust small businesses - and a study has proven it!

When you're a small business owner, one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal is trust. Think about it: consumers have no idea who owns Wal-Mart, in fact, they probably don't know a single person who works at their local branch of the brand. Yet, they do know the individuals who run their local small businesses - they may even live on the same street as them!

That breeds an invaluable quality that business owners - both large and small - often spend decades trying to instill in their customer base: goodwill. When your customers know you, they trust you, and when they trust you, they get a positive charge from doing business with you. Everyone loves going to a restaurant where the server knows their name, and where the owner goes from table-to-table checking in. That's the benefit of consumer trust, and the goodwill that it breeds.

A recent report from Edelman proved this theory. The study found "family owned, small- and medium-sized businesses outperformed big businesses [in regards to consumer trust] in all regions ... private companies are seen as more entrepreneurial and innovative than public companies." 

So next time you’re dealing with a customer, remember to keep this in mind. You can stay in the back running numbers all day - but if you make yourself the face of your business, get to know your consumers, and earn their trust, it'll be paid off in the end. There's nothing that'll make your customers likely to buy your products more often like letting them get to know - and trust - you.


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3 foolproof ways to show lenders you're a low-risk borrower

Whether you’re looking at a traditional bank, or a nonbank lender like OnDeck, applying for a small business loan is all about illustrating your overall risk profile. A lender is looking to determine ways how likely you are to repay your loan – in full and on time. In order to make your application as attractive as possible, it’s best to follow these best tips:

1. Pay your bills on time
This is the most important part of building a strong financial reputation for your business. You have to pay your bills on time. You can even invest in applications, or auto-pay options, that pay your bills automatically to ensure you're never late. 

Look at your "utilization ratio"
How much are you charging on each of your cards, and what is their credit limit? This is something you always have to keep in mind. Many business owners likely aren't aware of the damage that maxing out their credit cards can do to their credit score (and therefore, to their ability to obtain small business loans). As a general rule, never ring up more than 30% of your limit on any given credit card.

Pay down your debt
Finally, you've got to make conscious priorities regarding the debt you're paying down. Your credit cards, for instance, have a massive effect on both your personal and business credit scores. So, always paying down your credit card debt first - even if it means you need to pay less on something like your student loans during a given month. 

For more tips about your business credit, click here

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The friendliest States for small businesses

According to a recent study, some U.S. states are far more friendly and accommodating to small business owners than are others. 

The third annual Small Business Friendliness Survey, conducted by Thumbtack, aimed to determine the states and cities that offer regulatory standards and conditions that best accommodate small business owners. According to the small business owners polled, the "keys to a pro-growth environment are ease of compliance with tax and regulatory systems and helpful training programs," so the importance of what state they're based in - and what its regulations are - cannot possibly be overstated.

The Thumbtack study found that Utah, Idaho, Texas, Virginia and Louisiana are the highest rated states in the eyes of small business owners across the country. As for cities: Colorado Springs, Colorado, Boise, Idaho, and Houston, Texas took the top three spots. The most important regulatory factor, according to the survey, was the friendliness of professional licensing requirements, followed by the ease with which small business owners could file taxes. 

Conversely, California, Rhode Island, and Illinois were ranked the most unfriendly, with Connecticut and New Jersey following closely behind them.

Dane Stangler, vice president of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation, concluded the report by noting that the "economic health of every city and state" is dependent on the performance of small businesses, and thus on the availability of entrepreneur-friendly regulations and standards.

Readers, weigh in below: what’s your experience been with the States listed above? For the full study, click here

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The fastest ways to give your business credit score a boost

As we've previously discussed, few factors are as important when it comes to accessing small business financing as your business credit score. In fact, both your personal and your business credit scores are some of the first things that lenders look at when you apply for a loan on behalf of your business. So what can you do to give those scores a boost - and earn your lending profile some extra muscle as a result? 

Dispute any negative charges
Many find - to their own disbelief - that their credit score is negatively affected by charges they did not incur, or by charges that are more than 7 years old (and thus shouldn't have an effect on their credit score.) For this reason, all business owners should be reviewing their credit reports regularly, and investigating and disputing any charges that don't hold water. One of the most important parts of building a strong credit score is ensuring your score has been verified accurately.

Make your payments - as many as possible
If you want to make positive movements in regards to your credit score, all your past-due payments need to be made. If you're carrying around delinquent charges, then your score will be taking hits regularly as a result. To build a strong credit score, you need strong payment data - and you can earn it by making all of your payments on time. 

Don't max out your cards
If you're making use of all your available credit, then your score will take a hit as a result - so the less that you charge to your cards or business, the better off your score will be. This is yet another way to get your credit score looking as attractive as possible - which, in turn, will make your business look much more attractive to lenders, both at banks and non-bank lenders like OnDeck.


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Small business owners are feeling disenchanted with U.S. policies

Many small business owners have had complaints regarding recent healthcare law revisions, and many other policies enacted in the U.S. across the past few years. Now a recent study has displayed the extent of that discontent, finding that the majority of U.S. small business owners feel that, in one way or another, the deck is being stacked against them. 

A recent study conducted by TriNet found that roughly 67 percent of all small business owners believe "the U.S. Government's policies are unfavorable toward small businesses," with 32 percent of that group feeling that the policies are even "very unfavorable." Additionally, 56 percent of small business owners believe that legislation is hampering their ability to generate revenue, and 53 percent of respondents feel that legislation is hampering the overall economic health of the country itself. 

The study then went into further detail regarding which specific policies small business owners feel are hampering their ability to do business. According to the study, roughly 75 percent of small business owners feel regulations regarding employee benefits are restricting their company's growth, and the same amount of respondents said the same thing about state-level regulations regarding benefits. Additionally, almost 80 percent of all respondents said they were familiar with the Affordable Care Act, and 35 percent of respondents note that the effect of the ACA on their business has been "worse than expected."

Citing data from the Heritage Foundation, the TriNet release noted that the cost of federal regulations to businesses rose by roughly $70 billion between 2009 and 2013, illustrating the extent to which it has become more expensive to run your own business. Then, citing data from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the report noted that the average cost per-employee for businesses with 19 or fewer employees was roughly $3,000 higher than the per-employee costs for businesses that employ 500 or more people, showing that big businesses are facing much lower overhead costs in regards to employees than small business owners are. 

Burton Goldfield, president and CEO of TriNet, concluded the release by noting that "complying with government regulations can be a complex issue." It's clear, from this report, that regulations are causing big headaches for entrepreneurs - and necessitating the need for more funds, and thus, more small business loans. 


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How Busy is Too Busy for Main Street?

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4 Business Credit Blunders to Avoid

The credit score that your small business maintains is possibly the single most important factor determining your access to small business loans and other forms of financing support. So you don't want to make any missteps that could set that score back! A few potential blunders are listed below - do anything possible to ensure that your business doesn't fall into any of them. 

1. Never make a late payment
This one should be obvious: if you make a late payment on anything, be it a credit card debt, a mortgage, a business expense or something else entirely, then your credit score is going to take a significant hit as a result. Payment history makes up roughly 35 percent of a FICO credit score - so keeping that history perfectly clean should be your top priority. 

2. Don't close a credit card unless necessary
It may seem like closing a credit card has no negative connotations, but industry experts suggest that closing a credit card can damage your credit score - because it lowers the overall amount of credit available to you. In fact, one individual suggested to CNN that business owners should even keep cards open and simply charge an item to them once a month - even a sandwich! - rather than actually close the accounts. 

3. Maxing out your credit cards is also to be avoided
When you reach your credit limits on your cards, you're sending a message to potential investors, and it's not a good one. This, in theory (though not always in practice) shows that you can't deal with credit well, and are often bumping up against your limits and capabilities. Perhaps even worse, it can also damage your debt-to-credit ratio, which is a big part of determining your credit score. 

4. Co-signing on loans is also never advised
Here's another trap you want to stay away from: don't co-sign on loans, especially if they're not related to your own business. You never want to leave the state and quality of your credit in the hands of another individual or entrepreneur. So no matter how many times - or how vehemently - you're asked to co-sign on a friend or family member's loan or home, avoid doing so at all costs. Even CNN notes that "co-signing is a disaster waiting to happen," and you don't want it to happen to you. 


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Give back to employees with a summer get-together

Getting your employees motivated can sometimes be a tough task. Sure, milestones will always spur the team forward - obtaining a high-level new customer, for example, or reaching a new sales goal. Yet most of the time, the hard work required by the job can be draining - especially in those sweltering summer months.

That's why it's a business owner's responsibility to give back to the team, and get their spirits back on high. One of the ways of doing so can be fit into the business plan of any size: throwing a summer party out of appreciation for your staff. 

There are innumerable different ways of going about the process. You could hold a party at an outside location after work hours and give everyone a chance to dress up to the nines. Or, you could simply walk the whole team over to the local bar after work hours and buy a couple of rounds on behalf of the company. You could even give everyone a half-day-off one Friday, and hold the party in the office itself, having brought in snacks and a few drinks beforehand. 

In short, there are a lot of variables that you can play around with when holding a party for your employees. It doesn't matter that much where the location is, or what food or drinks you serve, or what activity or accomplishment you center the party around. What matters is that you treat your employees with respect, show them a good time and make it clear just how much you appreciate their abilities and efforts. That'll recharge their batteries as much as anything else could - and will help to get their best work for your company all summer long. 

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Remember, you've got to file up with your Secretary of State

They say that Rome wasn't built in a day - and neither was any small business. Starting your own business requires you to complete a long list of tasks, assignments and preparatory actions. However, of all those things on your to-do list when starting up a small business, filing with your state may be most important of all - just as essential as obtaining small business financing.

If you're starting a business, or already own one, then you've surely decided what kind of entity you would like to form, in a legal sense. But deciding alone isn't enough! You need to file the appropriate documentation with the Secretary of State's office in order to make things official. 

Luckily for Californian small business owners, this entire process can be completed from the comforts of one's own home. The required Statement of Information document, which informs the Secretary of State's office of pertinent details regarding your corporation, can be filed online at the offices' official website.
The documents are typically processed within a single business day, though additional paper copies and other certified documents may still be requested by that office at a later date. There's plenty more valuable information offered on the official site, as well, including "filing tips" for entrepreneurs filling out the documents, and information regarding name availability for their corporations. 

The fee for filing the required statement is only $20, so costs should never dissuade a business from submitting the proper paperwork well in advance of their own deadline. A free PDF copy of the Statement of Information will be forwarded to the business owner immediately after filing, of course, for the sake of the organization's own records. Starting a business requires filling out many documents, but for Californian entrepreneurs, none may be as important as the Statement of Information. 

Be sure to check back next week – we will be detailing helpful tips and tricks for SOS filings nationwide


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