Celtic Bank Blog

JUL
02

SBA - Cash Flow Counseling vs. Financing

SBA - Cash Flow Counseling vs. Financing
The Small Business Administration (SBA) recently received a new head, Maria Contreras-Sweet.  Contreras-Sweet was once a small business owner herself, having owned a lending institution in Los Angeles, and she is well aware that what small business owners often need isn’t necessarily financing.  Though the recent upturn in small business lending has helped many small businesses, funding isn’t always the right solution.  In fact, Contreras-Sweet recommends that small business owners take advantage of all of the resources the SBA has to offer beyond loan guarantees.  The SBA has a slew of resources available to help small business owners with marketing, taxes, growth, partnerships, and most importantly, counseling opportunities. Before looking into any financing options, Contreras-Sweet recommends that small business owners review all aspects of their business to understand why they need financing in the first place. She relates to when she was working at the bank in Los Angeles and business owners would come in asking for a loan. In many cases, she could quickly see that a loan was not what they needed, that their business would grow and thrive without financing if they just learned how to manage their cash-flow more effectively. As the head of the Small...
JUN
26

How To Sell More and Market Less

How To Sell More and Market Less
Marketing is important, and good marketing tactics contribute to the overall success of your business, but there is no substitution for being a good salesperson.  Everyone is in sales; whether selling a product, an idea, or even themselves. Below are simple tips to help you increase sales with minimal marketing expense. Focus Your Lead Search Focus your time and attention on a few leads, rather than hundreds. Refining your lead searches can also help you identify prospects that are more likely to buy whatever it is you are selling. Seek Referrals Build relationships with customers by staying in frequent contact with them.   Seek their feedback to make sure they are happy with your products or solutions. Building relationships like this with your customers will make them feel valued. Once you have established a relationship with your customers, ask them for referrals. If they value your business, they will be happy to refer friends, family, and colleagues to you. Gain Influence Gain influence and credibility by reaching out to bloggers and social media influencers in your industry. If you can show them the value of the service or product you offer, they will be more inclined to share that information with...
JUN
17

Content Marketing

Content Marketing
Does your small business have a content marketing strategy? Content marketing is an inexpensive and simple way to engage with your customers and gain their trust while also branding your business. Content marketing involves blogging and search engine optimization to grow your businesses online presence organically. The best content is enriching and informing for your target demographic while also being creative and eye-catching. Your content should drive connection, action and most importantly to you, conversion and revenue. To create content that achieves your goals you must combine creativity with data so that your content actually matters. One of the most important things to remember about content is that it is KING! Unique content that only your business provides will instantly crank up your website traffic. Below are a few tips for effectively creating content for your website and blog: Combine Creative and Analytical The best content informs readers and keeps them captivated. Put a creative spin on a newsworthy story, or turn a story about your business into a data point for small businesses everywhere. Communicate Clearly Whatever story you decide to tell, make sure you know the whole story and you communicate it in an effective and clear manner....
JUN
10

Loan Scams

Loan Scams
By now most people have seen or heard about the film American Hustle that depicted the beginning of loan scams that target entrepreneurs. Are you aware however that this American hustle is still going and now they are targeting small business owners? The hustle is this: the scammer promises to secure a loan for a small business owner or entrepreneur for an upfront fee, and then the loan never arrives. For small business owners something like this can be detrimental to their business, so avoid phishing emails, calls and contacts at all cost! If a broker is every trying to charge you an upfront fee or trying to tell you they are giving you access to an exclusive line of credit that isn’t readily available to the rest of the country – that is a huge warning sign. Last year alone over 53,000 complaints were filed about advance-fee loans and brokers to the Federal Trade Commission (up 25 percent from 2012). Of these complaints, a vast majority of them center on loans that were never received after fees were paid upfront. Here are three warning signs you are about to be scammed (so watch out for these!): Beware of Merchant...
JUN
03

How Micro Managing Hurts Your Business

How Micro Managing Hurts Your Business
Micro managing is mismanaging. If you feel the constant need to watch over every project and employee your business has, something is wrong.  Micromanagement can have long-term and short-term negative effects on your management style and your relationships with employees and partners.  By identifying it and taking steps to correct mismanagement, you can drastically improve your workplace conditions, bottom line and overall employee satisfaction. There are many ways bosses and small business owners overstep their boundaries when it comes to work.  Are you constantly: Directing your employees instead of leading them? Overseeing every aspect of every project? Telling your employees exactly what to do and when to do it? Spending too much time focusing on day-to-day tasks rather than focusing on the growth and expansion of your business? Hovering Hovering or monitoring your employees too closely is annoying and makes them feel as if you do not trust them especially if you are constantly looking over their shoulder to check on their work effort or quality. Instead: Let your employees come to you with questions or to seek help on a project. Employees will be more likely to correct a problem if they initiate the interaction.  Let go, know when you...
MAY
30

How Instagram Can Help Boost Sales

How Instagram Can Help Boost Sales
Social media is quickly becoming the easiest and most effective way to market a business. In fact, images drive interest like no other online medium besides video. Platforms like Tumblr and Pinterest have successfully integrated business accounts, which have really helped various companies, increase conversion and boost sales. Putting your business on Instagram , an online image and video sharing social media site, will allow you to reach a whole new demographic of potential clients. Instagram allows your business to post pictures and video clips for your customers to enhance their customer experience. Instagram can be linked to your business’s Twitter and Facebook pages, creating a strong social media presence and a culture around your business or brand in an easy, and inexpensive way. Keeping an open communication is made even easier when you sign your business up for Instagram because it allows you to follow your customers and comment on their pictures. It even allows your customers to engage with you through comments and likes on your profile, too. By using Instagram, you are able to connect with over 150 million active users monthly. And there are many effective ways to leverage Instagram for your small business. So here...
MAY
27

The 5 "P's" of Marketing

The 5 "P's" of Marketing
Small business owners wear many hats: owner, salesperson, accountant, manager, and marketer. It isn’t possible to be an expert at running every aspect of your business, and outsourcing isn’t always an option. You are likely a good salesperson or your company wouldn’t be a success, but do you know how to market your business effectively? If not, learning the 5 P’s of marketing can help you take your business to the next level! Product:   What product or service does your business provide?  Does it fill a market need within your target demographic?  If not, it may be time to change your product mix.  If it does fill a market need, make sure it is well-packaged and easy to use.  People do not want to buy confusing products or services.  The best packaging always comes out on top! Price:   How you price your products is very important to your marketing efforts. Competitive pricing gives you a great advantage and makes your products easily marketable.  High prices will force customers to look elsewhere for similar products or services. Place:  The location of your business is extremely important. In fact, being in the wrong location is why many small businesses fail. ...
MAY
20

Creating An Open Company Culture

Creating An Open Company Culture
As a small business owner, defining your company’s culture is one of the most important choices you will ever make!  “Open” cultures are becoming more popular as businesses strive to thrive, not just survive.  With an “open” company culture, transparency and information sharing between employees is highly encouraged.  As employees begin to share their collective creativity, they feel more invested in the business and tend to work harder. An “open” company culture cannot be sculpted overnight and it will take time to create the vibe that defines your business.  If you are interested in adopting an “open” company culture, here are a few ideas to help you get started: Dress Codes: Corporate America is made up of suits and ties, which screams stuffy and uncomfortable. One way to break down creative barriers at your business is to offer a lenient dress code.  The more comfortable employees feel, the more productive they will be at work. Remove Walls: Cubicles were built to enhance productivity, yet they can make work a real drag. Employees may feel as if they work in the twilight zone, or they may get distracted by the privacy that cubicles allot them.  As you take down walls, you...
MAY
13

5 Tips For Delivering Exemplary Customer Service

5 Tips For Delivering Exemplary Customer Service
An important criterion patrons use to evaluate a business is customer service.  Customer service can mean the difference between success and failure for any business. Regardless of the business you are in, when it comes to taking care of your patrons, there are things you can do to ensure you are delivering exemplary customer service. Remember Your Customer’s Name It sounds easy, but you would be surprised how many business owners forget their customer’s name!  By remembering their name, you are building a relationship with the customer and working to gain their trust so the customer will continue to come back. Take Notes Taking notes shows a customer how important they are to you and that their needs are your priority.  Keeping notes will also help you provide better customer service down the road. Keep Your Work Area Clutter Free A cluttered work area conveys disorganization and lack of time management skills. Customers want to know that you are able to address their needs in an efficient, organized, and timely manner. Listen Listening is one of the most important ways to deliver exceptional customer service!  Getting to the root of a problem or need may require your complete concentration.  Listen...