Like lots of Minnesota manufacturers, Erick Ajax hadn’t given much thought to selling his products in foreign markets.
Exporting sounded too complicated. Too risky. And EJ Ajax, a Fridley-based precision metal-forming company, was too busy taking care of its U.S. customers to go prospecting in unknown and uncertain territory abroad.
You can’t help but notice the special emphasis Sarah Richards uses as she describes her company.
“We are a third-generation, woman-owned metal fabrication manufacturer,” says Richards, the CEO and president of Jones Metal Products in Mankato, Minn.
Since 1992, Crow Wing Cabinets’ owners Dave and Sandy Beyer have worked with builders and homeowners to provide cabinets and counter-tops for new and remodeled homes in the Brainerd Lakes area.
As the company grew, the North Central SBDC at Central Lakes College advised and assisted the Beyers in a variety of management areas.
After Kelly Brinkmeyer decided to sell Kelly’s Koffee to pursue other opportunities, Keith and Rhonda Yochem made a life-changing decision to buy the business.
Although they had no experience in restaurants, the Yochems were confident they could learn and carry on the Kelly’s Koffee tradition.
In the middle of a farming business bankruptcy, Shannon and Jim Malzahn sought the help of the West Central Small Business Development Center to salvage the one part of their business that was working—prepared food.
Never in their wildest dreams did the Malzahns ever consider where this new venture would take them.
And you thought the hard part was over.
It's been a nerve-racking month or so, but you've survived the financial inquisition, the scrutinizing of your character and competence, and you've managed to convince the bank that you're a safe enough bet to merit a business loan.
Hurraaaaay! While you're sending out for champagne and confetti, you may be wondering what happens next.
If you’re getting ready to talk to a banker about a business loan, it helps to understand the major factors lenders consider in deciding whether the vault door opens or stays locked -- and whether you’ll leave the bank happy or disappointed.
But before we cover how a bank evaluates your loan application, it’s worth touching on why they’ll subject your request to such intense scrutiny.
After shaking the guts out of your piggy bank and hitting up friends and family for some extra dough (See Business Finance: A Matter of Life and Debt), you've decided that you want some more financial muscle behind your business.
That means a visit to your friendly (you hope) banker.
But before you even think of approaching a lender about a business loan, there are some pretty important questions you should ask yourself.
So, you've come to terms with the fact that there's no one out there with a briefcase full of bucks just waiting for the chance to finance your new business out of the goodness of their hearts. (See Bigfoot, Small Business Grants, and Other Myths).
Nuts! So much for Plan A.
But how -- and where, exactly -- are you supposed to find the money you need to get your business up, running and turning a profit? That's probably the most common question ever posed by would-be entrepreneurs everywhere.
The world of business and finance has a language all its own, hundreds and hundreds of terms, some of them so arcane that no small business owner would ever need to understand them.
Case in point: "Accreting Principal Swap." Go on, look it up, if you dare. But pop a couple of Advil first. It's a headache in 100 words.
Still, there are some definitions and concepts that every aspiring entrepreneur should understand. Don't know your P&L from your ROI? If it's all alphabet soup to you, here are some basic terms to get you started. In alphabetical order, of course.