A Dozen Great Resources to Learn More About Business Finance

Eighty-two percent of business owners seeking financing are turned down by their bank, and 64 percent fail to secure any financial assistance, according to a 2013 survey of 700 industries conducted by OnDeck, a business financing provider. OnDeck’s findings identified access to capital as the top challenge facing small businesses, following by sales and taxes. The average enterprise needs $44,000 to finance expenses such as expanding and upgrading, purchasing inventory and equipment, and covering working capital costs.

Then there’s this: An Intuit survey designed to identify the causes of such challenges found that more than 40 percent of small business owners considered themselves financially illiterate. Ouch.

If you’re looking to improve your odds of finding working capital and succeeding in business, we have several reputable resources to get you started.

1-3: Business Planning

Only a third of small business owners have a formal small business plan, according to Wells Fargo, but those who do score 12 points higher on their “future outlook” score than those who don’t. This translates into more jobs at businesses with plans, more revenue, more capital spending, and better credit approval rates. Wells Fargo Works provides an online Business Plan Center to assist entrepreneurs with creating plans.

Another excellent resource is Score, which provides online business plan templates as well as business counseling and mentoring opportunities. Participating in an apprenticeship program such as the Department of Labor’s ApprenticeshipUSA system is another way to pick up financial know-how.

4-5: Financing

A key component of preparing a winning business plan is developing a financing strategy. Successfully securing a business loan requires preparing key financial documents, including an income statement, a cash flow statement, a balance sheet, and a breakeven analysis. For a big-picture look at the process, read this guide from Forbes. Then visit the Small Business Administration for assistance with preparing these documents and help exploring sources of loans, grants, and venture capital.

6-7: Business Credit

Putting a business financing strategy into action normally involves securing a business line of credit. As Experian explains, creditors often use business credit reports to make credit extension as well as lending decisions. Experian features a step-by-step guide to establishing business credit. For more in-depth understanding, Moody’s Analytics offers public seminars that provide professional training on corporate credit and other business finance topics.

8-9: Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping forms the backbone of small business finance. To ensure more complete records, most businesses use a double-entry bookkeeping method where each transaction gets recorded twice in order to track the effects on both credits and debits. Intuit outlines a number of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual bookkeeping tasks essential for any business. Cloud accounting provider Xero suggests some guidelines as to when and how to hire a bookkeeper instead of going it alone.

10-12: Market Analysis

Ultimately, succeeding in business finance depends on your performance in your market, which in today’s economy requires keeping ahead of your competitors with more accurate analysis of market trends. One of the best places to start researching your market is by studying government resources. The SBA website provides a gateway to Bureau of Labor Statistics data and other relevant resources. Among non-government resources, Forrester excels at providing research and data about trends in specific industries. Analytics tools such as Lattice let you go a step farther and analyze buying signals to make predictions about who in your market is ready to buy.

One of our readers has made an additional suggestion.  Suzanne Sandersen responded to this post with some additional insight that we will add, crediting her for her comment:

“I came to the realization over the past few years that searching for any sort of county government office is a complete nightmare. I’ve tried using Google – but find that I end up searching maybe 20 or so different sites, before I either find the wrong information, or give up entirely. Sometimes, however, I do get lucky. What I realized is that most local offices, or state offices near me are on tons of different websites, or don’t even have their own site with updated contact information. For instance: local IRS offices, county assessor/treasurer, or local law enforcement.

I wanted to make a suggestion that could help others, as I’ve found www.CountyOffice.org – a site with all different local county offices listed, pretty accurate for my own purposes and thought others might think so as well. It has a great number of local county and state offices with phone numbers, addresses and directions nationwide – I’ve found it very accurate. At the very least, it has helped to eliminate my own headaches trying to dig up contact details when I’m trying to make a phone call.
Thanks to Suzanne for that comment!


This guest post contains links to resources mentioned which may require payment for services or goods associated to those links.  Any revenues do not accrue to The Guinn Consultancy Group, Inc. The links are posted here only for your ease and convenience in finding them.

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