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Small Business Loans at Institutional Lenders, Small Banks on the Uptick

Biz2Credit Lending Index March 2017

The latestBiz2Credt Small Business Lending Index shows a positive outlook for small business loans based on their approval rates. Specific upticks were measured at institutional lenders and small banks.

Biz2Credit Lending Index March 2017

Institutional Lenders Leading the Pack

Institutional investors and their lending counterparts reached a new high on the Biz2Credit index  in March 2017. Current approval rates for small business loans came in at 63.6 percent — the third increase within the last four months.

Small Banks Believe in Small Businesses

Small banks are showing they have faith in small businesses. Loan approval rates are creeping up to the elusive 50 percent mark, inching up to 48.9 percent. This one-tenth of a percent increase is a bump in the right direction compared to our previous highlight of Biz2Credit’s report.

Biz2Credit CEO Rohit Aroa, commented on the increase, saying, “We are seeing more small businesses taking advantage of SBA loan programs, … SBA-backed loans are popular with small business owners and lenders because of the mitigated risk involved for those financing the loan products. As a result, this has become a popular vehicle for entrepreneurs to leverage in order to get access to funding.”

Big Bank Approvals Stall but Optimism Intact

Small business loan approvals remained unchanged at the nations biggest banks. The 24.1 percent approval rate for March 2017 brings to a halt the increases seen for the past seven months.

It’s important to note this is not an indication on the overall outlook of the economy and the small business landscape. Big banks are optimistic about the economy as a whole, made evident by the Fed’s desire to “unwind the $4.5 trillion in bonds on its balance sheets,” as well as the possible rate hikes.

“It signals that the economy is strong and will likely result in yet another interest rate hike. Since a majority of small business loans are linked to U.S. prime interest rates, this will improve spreads at banks while providing more incentives to approve funding requests,” said Arora.

All in all the market is a positive one for small businesses with the remainder of 2017 progressing on an up note.

Biz2Credit’s March 2017 edition of its report analyzes the results of more than 1,000 small business loan applications.

Image: Biz2Credit.com

This article, "Small Business Loans at Institutional Lenders, Small Banks on the Uptick" was first published on Small Business Trends

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What’s left to get excited about with wearable technology? Find out in issue 35 of Factor magazine. Out now!

http://factor-tech.com

We think it’s fair to say wearable technology is not what it once was. Over the past year, multiple players have gone out of business, with Pebble, darlings of the smartwatch world, collapsing and being broken down for parts by Fitbit.

Even the fitness tracker giant itself hasn’t fared well, with a year that saw its stock steadily tumble as the public decided that they didn’t need another fitness tracker, thank you very much.

So in April’s issue of Factor, we scrape through the debris of the wearable technology industry to try and determine if there is anything left to be excited about, and what really does lie ahead on the horizon.

You have to read Factor to find that out, but right now we can tell you one thing about the future of the wearable tech industry: it’s not going to be saved by another smart payment ring or fitness tracking watch.

But we understand the smartwatch is the standard bearer for wearable tech, so we’re taking a look at the sorry state of the tech and ask where the likes of Apple and co can go to make their smartwatch offerings appealing, as well as charting the rise and fall of some of the industry’s major wearable tech players.

To write this month’s mag we took a trip to the 2017 Wearable Technology Show and found the fashion industry picking through wearable tech’s creaking remains, which suggests there is hope for things yet, even if it’s in a form that is totally unrecognisable from what’s available today. We look at how the fashion industry is making wearables wearable, and look at some of the avant-garde projects that are injecting creativity into proceedings.

It’s fair to say there’s a fair bit of pessimism around wearable tech at the moment, but don’t be deceived, the whole industry isn’t desperately trying to cling to former glories.

One area where promise still remains is hearables, and with tech such as Amazon’s Echo proving a hit, there is promise for audio-based wearable technology yet. We consider the likelihood of hearables following in the footsteps of smartphones to become “the fourth platform”, and look at how concerns around listening tech are adding fuel to the burning inferno that is the privacy debate.

Despite the industry’s failures, there are products that could truly be a hit if their manufacturers manage to get them right. We look at promise behind the emerging category of pollution-targeted wearables , consider the sleep-helping wearable that has actually been backed up by clinical trials and detail our wearables wish list of devices we’d like to see developed.

Plus, if you’d like a break from all things wearable technology, we also look at how the Trump administration is taking a political axe to the open and fair internet playing field, and consider the peculiar and largely forgotten history of Penny Arcade Adventures:  On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness.

As well as this there’s all the latest news and we take a look at Bang & Olufsen’s BeoSound 2 in issue 35 of Factor magazine – out now on iPad and online.

The post What’s left to get excited about with wearable technology? Find out in issue 35 of Factor magazine. Out now! appeared first on Factor.

Source: http://factor-tech.com



VR vs. 365 (Sort Of)

Welcome to VR vs, your weekly column from ‘the other one’ at VRFocus which is celebrating it’s first anniversary under my stewardship tomorrow. Has it really been that long? I’d like to say I can scarcely believe it but those in virtual reality (VR) – especially those on the news sites – will tell you working in VR means working. It’s been a long year of long hours. If it isn’t a year quite yet for the column it feels likes a good half dozen.

We’ve discussed quite a few topics during that time together so I thought it’d be good to revisit a few of them and see how the situation has changed during the last year.

Before we get to that though some housekeeping to do:

Re: Palmer Luckey – no I’m not going to write another column about him just because he’s back from the beyond. Good grief I’ve done so enough this last year. I did have a good chuckle though when I saw his Twitter avatar change to Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars right when he says “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” Clever. And horrendously nerdy. I love it. Moreover the fact that he is working to bring VR games to reality is exactly what I’d hoped he’d do. I look forward to seeing what Palmer does next. (I hereby bagsy “What Palmer Did Next” as an article title for some time later.)

Also from last week, as I predicted the VR ‘0 Days’ image I edited went everywhere. The article didn’t buy small victories I guess? Thanks to the groups who subsequently added the article as the source. As for the rest, well…

VR vs. Sport’s Virtual Future

Well things have certainly come along here at a pace haven’t they? Within the last year the likes of Jaunt and Next VR as well as other companies have brought us everything from the Superbowl, to NCAA’s March Madness and the Grand National. Yes, we’re still operating under a more highlights-centric programme slate but the amount of sports already being shown in VR or thinking about how it could be used to get fans closer to the action is so much bigger than a year ago.

Cameras are becoming better and cheaper, more services and audiences are being targeted. Within the next year I suspect we’ll have maybe not a dedicated channel but perhaps a dedicated highlight programme announced by a mainstream (that word again) tv network or sports channel. Like a VR version of Grandstand, SportsCenter, or Trans World Sport

In the meantime there’s so much sport news we’ve seen fit to introduce our own regular feature covering it every Saturday. So be sure to check that out.

VR vs. E3 2016 In Absentia

So E3 last year was much more like it for VR as opposed to 2015’s effort which was more akin to a repressed fart in the middle of the night.  Since my own little ‘awards from afar’ we’ve seen a number of things happen to those mentioned. Kitchen became Resident Evil VII: biohazard and seems to have convinced a lot of people about VR. Honestly, that was something I didn’t see happening. But having a well known gaming brand come to VR and be a success – a big one, by all accounts – is huge for the medium.

We’ve now got Fallout 4 VR on the way once more for this year’s E3 and I can only wonder how they have improved things from a year ago. People got really excited by the news, but they really need to have done a lot of work on it from 2016. Time might make you nostalgic but let’s not forget Fallout 4 VR was kind of disappointing in it’s first showing.

As for Batman Arkham VR, whilst I doubt we’ll see anything new it would be nice with a PC version on the way. I’d be up for a twisted Scarecrow case in VR, you can imagine what’d happen if the team really cut loose with that.

BATMANAVR_1080_(1).jpgVR vs. Everybody?

It’s sad to see that, regretfully, the situation between console and PC has not improved much. Which is not to say it has not gotten any better at all. It feels like it is at least moving towards a ‘live and let live’ situation. Which is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp wireless controller.

When it comes to the inter-PC fan war that wages whenever anything comes out on on head-mounted display (HMD) however, boy has that gotten worse. Heaven help you if you come out on the Oculus Rift but not the HTC Vive or the Vive but not the Rift. Prepare for a world of pain, as the reactions range between only two states: disappointment and utter blind fury.

The lack of perspective to some responses continues to do VR no favors and it remains somewhat ironic that for every person annoyed about the two big headsets on PC and how VR should not be heading in a console wars like direction there are five other people being derogatory to ‘the other side’.

So what does the rest of 2017 hold? Well a number of my predicitions from the new year are looking pretty good right now. I’m not entirely sure that’s a good thing though. It some cases it certainly isn’t.  For now it is time to take stock before the madness of E3, Gamescom et al begins. Next week we’ll be returning to the subject of people not getting along. But this time from the other side of the fence. You’ll see what I mean next week.

Thanks for putting up with me on this for a year. Here’s to the next one.

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LifeProof reveals the AQUAPHONICS Bluetooth Speakers

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aquaphonicsMusic is the rhythm of life, and for some of us, we are unable to live without any kind of music at all. In fact, we make use of music in order to soothe our souls, making sure that a particularly difficult day at work will be all the more merrier at the end when your favorite tunes begin to play in the background. While bringing a portable speaker around with you is not the most efficient way of getting things done, how about making sure that the portable speaker is rugged and tough to be able to handle just about anything that you throw in its direction? LifeProof knows this, which is why they have come up with the Aquaphonics Bluetooth speakers.

The company that pioneered Four-Proof technology protection into its award-winning smartphone and tablet cases is now ready to rock and roll all the more, delivering a revolutionized waterproof, drop proof, dirt proof and snow proof technology which arrives in the form of the Aquaphonics Bluetooth speakers.

Aquaphonics will arrive in a trio of lifestyle-inspired sizes for go-anywhere, do-anything premium performance, where the Aquaphonics AQ9 and AQ10 being available already, while work is being done to make sure that the Aquaphonics AQ11 is well on its way. The AQ9 will feature an asking price of $99.99 a pop, while the AQ10 will be $199.99 with the AQ11 going for $299.99, making it the most expensive of the lot. Those who are interested will be able to pick up these speakers exclusively at Best Buy retail locations as well as online.

These portable speakers are waterproof to 3.3 feet (one meter) for up to 30 minutes, and is also tough enough to be able to handle drops of up to four feet (1.2 meters). To sweeten the deal, these are sealed from dirt and snow, and has the ability to pair with up to eight Bluetooth devices. Regardless of which particular model that you choose from, all of them will come with an integrated microphone in order to double up as a speakerphone, while offering hi-fi audio in spaces — whether big and small.

Press Release
[ LifeProof reveals the AQUAPHONICS Bluetooth Speakers copyright by Coolest Gadgets ]

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Richard Branson: From a student beating the pros to an amazing showing of humanity, my @virginmoney @londonmarathon highlights… https://t.co/nw6qnfZDr3



Buckminster Fuller Creates an Animated Visualization of Human Population Growth from 1000 B.C.E. to 1965

Sit back, relax, put on some music (I’ve found Chopin’s Nocturne in B major well-suited), and watch the video above, a silent data visualization by visionary architect and systems theorist…

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Artist builds incredible stained-glass in the middle of the woods

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Those who live in glass houses… probably wish they had held out for this gorgeous, hand-crafted stained glass sanctuary. Built by artist and jeweler Neile Cooper, the dreamy Glass Cabin is located in the middle of a lush green forest. The tiny retreat is made almost entirely from repurposed window frames and lumber, and its handcrafted stained glass panels depict flowers, birds, butterflies, and other nature-inspired scenes.

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Cooper built the glass sanctuary behind her home in Mohawk, New Jersey to use as a reading space and art studio. Using repurposed window frames and lumber for the frame, she clad the tiny structure with her own colorful designs. The idyllic setting gave her the ideal place to showcase her nature-inspired artwork.

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Related: Wim Delvoye’s Creepy Stained Glass Windows Are Made From Recycled X-Rays

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Cooper’s work includes beautiful hand-crafted jewelry made from real butterfly wings. She drew upon these pieces as inspiration for the dreamy glass structure. The large panel over the door has a large amber butterfly, and the rest of the panels feature detailed, colorful renderings of nature and wildlife.

+ Neile Cooper

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Images via Neile Cooper Instagram

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Ivanka Trump wants to help female entrepreneurs. They say her dad is making their work harder

Ivanka Trump address the Republican National Convention on Thursday, July 21, 2016. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

Ivanka Trump is taking her first crack at diplomacy abroad in her new role, speaking Tuesday at an economic conference in Berlin about boosting female entrepreneurs.

The First Daughter, who moved into her own West Wing office last month, advocated for gender equality during the campaign and is now working to reform the nation’s child-care system. Her Germany appearance comes a week before the release of her advice book, “Women Who Work.”

“From a global standpoint, female entrepreneurs are further disadvantaged by legislation impeding women’s economic opportunities,” Ivanka Trump co-wrote in a column Monday for the Financial Times, “restricting them from certain professions, preventing them from travelling, and constraining their ability to inherit or own land.”

But female entrepreneurs in the United States say the White House is making their jobs even harder.

Women-owned businesses tend to face a disadvantage when it comes to expanding into foreign markets — and experts say Trump’s talk on trade and immigration has made it harder for them to pursue international opportunities.

The president has threatened, for example, to slap steep tariffs on goods from China and Mexico. He has asked for a review of the high-skilled worker visa, which tech companies rely on for talent. His travel ban on people from predominantly Muslim nations risked straining relations with Middle Eastern countries and America’s democratic allies.

All of this can impede an entrepreneur’s step into internationalization, or the act of growing beyond the American border, said Nathalie Molina Niño, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Brava, a holding company that bankrolls women-benefiting startups.

“Women are at a particular disadvantage,” Molina Niño said, “because unlike large, well-funded companies, women-owned businesses are less equipped to throw money at issues like this.”
 
Advancing into foreign markets is expensive, she said. Entrepreneurs need cash for shipping, research, travel and hiring more employees. Consulting experts to keep up with today’s unpredictable business climate adds to the cost. And female entrepreneurs, Molina Niño noted, generally have less spending power.
 
Venture capitalists poured $58.2 billion into companies with male founders last year, while women received a comparatively measly $1.46 billion, according to data from the venture capital database PitchBook. (Less than ten percent of VC-funded startups are run by women, according to the Harvard Business Review, and women-owned firms comprise thirty-eight percent of the business population.)
Still, female entrepreneurs in the United States are better off than those in most other countries, studies find.
This year, Mastercard’s Index of Women Entrepreneurs put the United States in  third place for female entrepreneurs, behind New Zealand and Canada.
The authors, however, highlighted a persistent challenge: “In the United States where the underlying entrepreneurial conditions and women’s advancement outcomes are among the best in the world,” they wrote, “women’s entrepreneurial advancement is held back by the lack of internationalization opportunities.”
Fiona Murray, the associate dean of innovation at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, said the uncertainty clouding international relations, driven by Trump’s “America first” rhetoric, could exacerbate the problem. She pointed to Trump’s executive order last week calling for a review of the   H1-B visas for highly skilled workers. 

“That makes it difficult for any entrepreneur to think about an appropriate internationalization strategies,” Murray said. “Can you hire the people you need to hire? They need highly specialized talent, and that talent comes from all over the world.”

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He died, He was buried, He rose and He appeared. Jesus is alive! This is the heart of the Christian message.



What is an Integrated Marketing Campaign?

What is an Integrated Marketing Campaign?

The first part of this series discussed the basics of integrated marketing and how the method blends traditional techniques with digital parts. The previous article looked at how this modern tool combined the elements of more conventional outbound marketing with inbound marketing.

This second installment looks at how to take a step back and watch how these moving parts interact by looking at a few hypothetical campaigns that bridge the gap between cyberspace, print, radio and television.

Integrated Marketing Campaign Example

Some of the best integrated marketing campaigns encourage customers to support local small businesses. For example, an event promoting small retailers in a place like Pennsylvania could start with a hashtag like #ShopPenn as the fulcrum of the campaign.

YouTube Videos

That twitter hashtag might point to some YouTube videos about specific local businesses in the Pennsylvania area and perhaps even a live event to be held in a public location where shop owners can distribute pamphlets and flyers, all through one centrally organized campaign.

The Sagefrog Marketing Group has long been leaders in the integrated marketing space. Their 2017 B2B Marketing Mix Report highlights the need to use this integrated technique to engage both younger and older demographics.

The survey notes:

  • 55 percent of businesses don’t have a formal marketing plan.
  • The top lead sources have email marketing, social media marketing, public relations and trade show events all sharing space as big drivers for success.
  • Online marketing and trade shows and events have excellent ROI.

Mark Schmukler, CEO and Co-founder of Sagefrog Marketing Group, sees the parts of these campaigns as interrelated and the focus continually shifting.

Pendulum

“I think the whole thing is a pendulum really,” he tells Small Business Trends. “When digital first came along it was so innovative and powerful people thought all the old channels were dead.” He goes on to say that while digital routes are great for measuring ROI, people are looking to drive revenue too and that’s where these more traditional tools come in.

There are more than a few examples that prove Schmukler’s point. Narrowing the focus helps to get the message out across different channels to your target market. Not everyone needs to be on Facebook or Pinterest. Deciding what’s right for your business and target market is critical.

Therefore, it stands to reason a good marketing communications mix might have several elements like:

  • A press release.
  • Product giveaways on social media that tie in with a series of limited coupons.
  • A website that’s updated with new offers.
  • Demos and events where your product or service gets demonstrated.

Here’s another example of a campaign that would have your goods and services flying off the shelves.

Selling Refurbished Computers?

Let’s say you’ve got a small business selling refurbished computers — a nice example that combines digital uses with a physical product. A website would need to be a part of any integrated marketing campaign and it’s a good idea to offer some kind of break on shipping so you can compete with the bigger players in the online space.

A good old-fashioned press release might highlight the fact that you’re going to give a free seminar on the best practices to use in the cloud. Having your logo strategically placed on charging booths at the local computer show makes sure you’re covering all the bases.

Advertising box

The last word here goes to the experts. Schmukler is clear you shouldn’t assume  your small business will get to where it needs to go without thinking outside the traditional advertising box.

“I think there are opportunities for even traditional brick and mortar businesses to look at online revenue streams,” he adds. “What’s hot now is paid social media where I can sponsor a post on your timeline.”

Business Team Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "What is an Integrated Marketing Campaign?" was first published on Small Business Trends

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