The Importance of English in International Business

The major factor involved in the importance of English in international business is the acceptance of English as the international language of the business community for the purpose of uniformity in communication. Accepting English eliminates the need to explore an alternative language. If not English, then what language works better for the international business community?

English as an International Language

Perspective of English as Global Communication

If English as a global language “means that English has the widest distribution on the most continents, it is true. If it means that English is the language most utilized for international communication between and among language communities, it is true. But if it implies that English is the language of all the peoples of the globe, it is manifestly false” (Harris, 2001, 685). What may be good for the functionality of business may not be accepted as being good for the non-business community. With any new project or venture, research and development of the product or service should be done so that words used to communicate with the new market are not received with offense. Be sensitive and respectful concerning the decisions made in regard to the ways communication is used and worded.

Perspective of English as Learned Communication

“It is crucial that students are equipped with-and be aware of-both the linguistic and strategic repertoire that they can draw from in situations where they use English to communicate with those who do not share their first language and culture. In addition to the development of strategic competence, students also need to be reminded that communication is a two-way road. That is, making one’s own message clear and trying to understand others is not the sole responsibility of non-native speakers or speakers of ‘less standard’ English varieties (however that is defined). Everyone is responsible for overall successful communication, whether it is international or not” (Matsuda and Friedrich, 2011, 340). Be mindful that words can have different meanings in different parts of the same country. Therefore, having words that have different meaning in different parts of the world is a reasonable possibility. There can also be different versions of English in different locations. Business English could also be different from the native English of an English-speaking country. Do not assume; technology has been made available to know for sure what is involved in any given business project or transaction.

English in International Business Communication

“In thinking about the impact of English on international business, there will be two effects: the intra-language effect and the inter-language effect. The intra-language effect would relate to the impact that English has in stimulating international business activity between English-speaking countries” (Hejazi and Ma, 2011, 153). If the native English of each of the two countries is slightly different, it still could have the feel of dealing with a non-English speaking country if time is not spent coming to an agreement defining business English. Business professionals new to a market will benefit by finding out how things work and use the same language the other market stakeholders are using.

“The inter-language, commonly referred to as “lingua franca”, effect refers to the impact English would have on stimulating FDI activities between countries which have different official languages. The inter-language effect would have two dimensions: the first involves the use of English by a non-English-speaking country when carrying out international business with English-speaking countries; the second involves the situation in which English is used as a vehicle language between two non-English-speaking countries that use different official languages” (Hejazi and Ma, 2011, 153). Even though cooperation in using English in both cases may result in positive benefits for the countries involved, sensitivity in communication should be exercised to avoid miscommunication that may offend members of the markets involved. Good judgment with word choice is very important.

Conclusion

The importance of English in international business will depend on the purpose of the communication for which English is involved. Since the importance of English will vary depending on whether its use helps to complete business transactions, the deciding factor will depend of the opinion of the users concerning that fact. The success of communication in business will involve other factors. The more English works in communication for international business, the more it will be used. It will then be used because it is used by the people for whom businesses want to communicate.

Four Steps to Accelerate International Business Growth

U.S. exports continue to grow, but many American companies lack the international business know-how to capitalize on this potential source of increased sales and profits. Proliferating trade agreements and a weakened U.S. dollar have resulted in one of the most favorable export markets in decades. Foreign importers of U.S. goods report an increasing demand for U.S. products–from popcorn to pet food. The U.S. has enjoyed 11 straight quarters of increasing exports–yet with 95 percent of the world’s population residing outside of U.S. borders and an increasingly promising international sales outlook, experts are questioning why only 5 percent of U.S. companies are currently exporting. But how do we initiate and sustain growth in unfamiliar markets?

1. DEFINE STRATEGIC NEEDS

Tapping into new markets provides the opportunity for increased revenue and profits. However, this initiative needs to be consistent with the company’s overall strategy. Inconsistent, sporadic, or unfocused deployment of resources directed toward international growth can result in an underperforming initiative that soaks up limited resources with little return. Barriers to entry (duties, regulatory, and trademark restrictions) need to be identified and addressed. A SWOT analysis detailing the company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats will identify and help maximize the company’s strengths, minimize its weaknesses, and give focus to the international opportunity.

An international growth plan consistent with the corporate strategy will enhance the odds of success. Tactical aspects of international development such as sales, distribution, and marketing need to be addressed. International growth factors can be sufficiently different from the U.S. models that a lack of familiarity can dramatically reduce the chances of success. Above all, there must be clear direction, full management support, and dedicated resources.

2. SECURE APPROPRIATE ASSISTANCE

Small or medium firms initiating or expanding into international business will find the U.S. Government’s Department of Commerce (DOC) an enthusiastic partner in helping American companies succeed globally. This organization coordinates resources from across 19 Federal agencies to help American businesses plan their international strategies in an increasingly globalized environment. In an unfamiliar foreign market with confusing regulations, uncertainty, and risk, the DOC can help U.S. businesses navigate the overseas sales process and avoid hazards such as payment defaults and misappropriation of trademark and intellectual property.
The DOC’s commercial service provides a surprisingly actionable array of quality services including in-country market research, trade events and missions, trade leads, and introductions to prospective business partners. The Export-Import Bank and the Small Business Administration unite to help in the financing of U.S. goods and services exports to the international market, enabling companies to turn international leads into solid sales.

Firms specializing in international business development can help jump-start foreign expansion. These firms are groups of highly skilled, experienced professionals offering practical, cost-effective assistance to companies committed to maximizing revenue and profit potential through accelerated international growth. The range of services offered varies by firm, but overall they help companies conceptualize, implement, and manage large or small international business development projects. These services can range from determining the overseas market potential for a product to managing a firm’s export sales to identifying and qualifying foreign strategic alliances.
A company wanting to penetrate the international market needs to assign a fully dedicated resource to this initiative. This individual should be the linchpin connecting the organization’s resources, know-how, and culture to the international initiative. As the business develops, additional resources should be assigned to maximize the opportunity. These should be considered investments rather than costs.

3. DETERMINE MARKET ENTRY STRATEGY

A firm’s appropriate market entry strategy will largely depend on its level of international development. For a company just commencing its international development, market penetration via in-country distributor sales may be the fastest and most cost-effective way to enter a foreign market. Selling through in-country distributors is relatively low-risk and will provide valuable learning opportunities. Once the target country or region has been identified, a process that will naturally derive from the SWOT analysis, the selection process can begin. Various U.S. government agencies and trade associations can provide a wealth of data to begin narrowing the selection.

Trade publications and events are also an excellent source. Factors to consider when selecting a market may include such criteria as regulatory environment, market size and potential, cost of entry, and competitive environment. To further narrow the possibilities, an in-country visit is required. Once there, the use of trade leads, competitive evaluations, local government assistance, and potential candidate interviews will provide additional information and insights. Major considerations in selecting a distributor are: willingness to assign a dedicated resource, market leadership or track record, marketing savvy, complementary and not competitive products or services, site inspection, and financial stability.

Penetrating a new international market is often perceived as an extension of the existing domestic business. Consequently, many American companies bypass standard business guidelines requiring rigorous market analysis. Only after performing thorough due diligence can one elaborate a service or product offering and accompanying marketing programs.

A company’s preferred mode of entry–in-country distribution, joint venture, merger, or acquisition–will depend on that firm’s primary objectives from opportunistic sales to positioning for long-term market-driven growth.

Economic globalization will increasingly lead to the creation of strategic alliances. U.S. firms must make sure that potential partners share short- and long-term objectives in order to reduce the divergence of ideas and efforts. Common values and shared business/ethical standards will enhance communications, transparency, and effectiveness. The partners should have complementary strengths and weaknesses to build a stronger and more effective alliance. Principles and processes for conflict resolution and the relationship must be drafted and agreed to by all parties concerned for the partnership to run smoothly.

4. DESIGN EFFECTIVE MARKETING

All markets have commonalities. However, effective international marketing begins with the awareness that markets are also different in ways that are not immediately apparent. The key is understanding consumers and identifying their needs through culturally specific market research. Focus groups can be especially effective in identifying the international consumer’s wants and needs. The advertising agency used in developing the offering should be local or have local representation. Employees with a thorough knowledge of market characteristics and idiosyncrasies will be particularly effective in communicating the desired message and creating and enhancing the brand image. Language skills and an affinity for different cultures are critical assets when marketing internationally.

Flawless execution is key. As a firm executes the international strategy guided by a solid business plan, it is important to celebrate milestones and benchmark against industry leaders.

Focusing on International Business

If you have always been fascinated by world cultures, exotic languages, international travel and foreign customs, you may want to pursue an Associate’s Degree in International Studies. Unlike a Bachelor’s Degree, an Associate’s Degree only requires two years of schooling.

What does an Associate’s Degree in International Business entail? Students who choose to enroll in a college training degree program in International Business will participate in intensive courses, focused classes and career preparation training that will prepare them for successful careers.

International business generally encompasses any subject or topic that deals with the function and operation of any businesses that are involved with or located in several different countries. These companies are often called multinational corporations.

Today, there are hundreds of multinational companies. Some well-known examples of them are Gillette, ALCOA, Procter & Gamble, Polo Ralph Lauren, Shiseido, DuPont, Citibank, DHL, Federal Express, Silicon Graphics, Sylvania Lighting, Hewlett Packard, Unilever, AT & T, Bacardi, Bank of America and Lockheed Martin International. These businesses typically have an interest or subsidiary over another company in the country of venture. International business is often substantially influenced by the factors outside of business, such as social, political, cultural, global and legal environmental standards of specific countries. Globalization has also powerfully contributed to the growing profit of international firms.

Everyday standards of living, legal regulations and government laws can vary from continent to continent. A person who wishes to professionally interact with international or foreign clients must face issues such as cultural differences, climate changes, language barriers, business practice variations and other possible conflicts.

Earning an Associate’s Degree in international business give students a comprehensive education. Students will take business studies courses, general studies classes and cultural awareness program training. Associate Degree school degree programs provide students with skills in information technology, business management and international studies. Students will acquire skills that incorporate business strategies and smart tactics that will lead to the development of a culturally-educated, knowledgeable
business leader.

An Associate’s Degree in international business can lead a college graduate into many different types of careers. A graduate can go on to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management or International Business or can go and work directly in the corporate world. By learning a second language, a person can become an even more valued asset to a company. Many companies seek out college graduates who are fluent in Spanish or Chinese and also possess a background in international business.

There are many different routes that a student can take with an Associate’s Degree in international business. A graduate can explore the areas of exporting and importing foreign banking, tangible goods and world-servicing nonprofit organizations and international business empires. By pursuing an education in international business, a student can:

Study business ideals, practices, laws and standards in a multicultural or international environment
Familiarize oneself with the legal practices and procedures of various cultures and countries
Gain experience in the spheres of international business that are continuously evolving
Learn about cultural differences that may potentially impact an cross-cultural relationship among clients

International Business Organization Development Factors For Consideration

International Business Organization

Export/International business can take on many challenges as it unfolds. Goal should be to construct the company’s strategic building blocks, using it’s assets to support international opportunities. The outline is formatted from a more basic approach, increasing through stages of complexity. There will be points below that overlap and dovetail. Some corporations may have already touched on many of these points. The examples below are geared toward the food/protein industries. Nevertheless, the concepts are transferable to many others. Below are organizational ideas for consideration:

I. International Business Unit Establishment- Create P&L.
A. Budget to encompass 3-5 key trade shows and conferences that support the geographic strategy.

- Restaurant Chain Shows (Subway, McDonalds, etc.)- Important shows that demonstrate a company’s willingness to globally expand with the chains.

- Distributor Shows.

- Trade organization conferences. Provide key insights to new emerging markets and trends i.e., USMEF, USDEC, etc.

B. Forecasting- By product category and market to determine business profitability.

C. Expenses- Identify expenses against the business. Be fiscally prudent.

II. Geography- Are the most immediate markets being efficiently addressed by export? Begin with the immediate opportunities i.e., target nearest or import friendly international geographic markets.

A. Canada-

B. Mexico-

C. Caribbean-

D. Domestic Exporters-

III. Export Product Portfolio- Product’s export potential? What are the popular US items sold? Using meat products as an example:

A. Pork- More than likely highest export potential.

B. Poultry- Certain drawbacks (Avian viruses), but often has the necessary price points for market entry.

C. Beef- Still questionable into many overseas markets (BSE). Slowly improving.

D. Other- Veal and lamb offer the specialty items often sought in many of the smaller boutique markets i.e., Caribbean. Should be a high margin opportunity?

IV. Utilize and maximize current customer base. Grow internationally with domestic customers.

A. Chains- What chains are currently being serviced (i.e., McDonalds)? What are the int’l springboard applications of those chains?

B. Distributors- GFS,US :: GFS, Canada; Sysco, US :: Sysco, Canada…Sysco, Export
C. Schools- Offer products supplied to the US to Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Guam have same requirements.

D. Retail.

V. Expand Geography- Be first in emerging markets. Chains, trade organizations and trade shows will assist in breaking into new venues.

A. Australia, open to US pork imports. US plants must be Australian approved.

B. Brazil and Argentina- as economies improve, so should pork imports.

C. Middle East- Israel.

D. Asia- SE Asia, Latin America.

VI. Product adaptation-

A. A commitment to international product customization. Overcome import non-tariff barriers through product modification.

B. As point “A” is evaluated, determine volumes and pricing with the customer completing the value proposition.

C. New protein introduction- Growing US Hispanic community looking to satisfy traditional diets i.e., goat. US ranchers begin to emerge from their traditional ranching habits to fill a consumer need. Shift creates new export opportunities.

D. Profit Margin/Revenue Growth- Theoretically, there is no competition for custom production and margins should reflect business value.

VII. Resource utilization-

A. R&D efforts to meet a qualified opportunity. Example, a 51% breaded product can be exported to Canada vs. a product with less than 50% breading.

B. Account Managers- Joint calls on corporate to further support the chains international expansions.

Distributor Managers- Joint calls in evaluating immediate opportunities extending across borders.
C. School Managers- Joint calls in US territories to expand and maximize product presence.

VIII. International Partnership Arrangements. Partnering/Joint Ventures with like businesses overseas. Some ideal targets are Japan, Australia, Mexico, China. Key defining terms…product novelty, business profitability, uniqueness, pricing, product demand, market distribution, language understanding, product understanding. If there is a commitment from an overseas manufacturer who understands the product/species, but lacks certain manufacturing capabilities, a partnership should be suggested.

A. Responsibility considerations :

o Raw Material Hedge

o Currency Hedge

o Brokerage Agreement

o Time lines

o Production Capacity

o Legal contract/Export Insurance

B. Partner’s Responsibilities:

o Volume Projections

o Co-Pack Agreement

o QA Plant Approval

o End User Presentations

o Stand-by Letter of Credit/Purchasing Contract

o Exclusivity

o Currency Hedge

o Other product opportunities

Notice currency hedge may fall under both and is open for negotiation. It depends on relationship’s strength. Many times it should be for the account of the partner. An exception may be made to consummate the deal, or as a long term service insuring a yearly contract renewal.

IX. Licensing- Often used as a barometer in evaluating potential opportunities and minimizing immediate risks.

A. Brand Licensing- What is the true value of a certain brand in an international market? Would be determined by the partner company in that country.

Example. What was the value of the Parkay brand in Canada? Became the second best Canadian margarine brand. Produced by Parmalat in Canada. Brand was licensed by ConAgra US.

B. Technology- Minimizes capital overseas investment, while transferring US production technology.

X. Mergers and Acquisitions- Up to this point a corporation may be supplying and evaluating their export potential. Simultaneously, it should be considering the business worthiness of certain key markets. Ultimately, it may consider investment in those markets.

A. Partnership/JV company may be ripe for buy-out.

B. Margin potential internationally warrants an acquisition for corporate diversification purposes.
C. Many similarities i.e., language, business culture, profitability, increased product demand from growing middle class, business supporting political environment.

D. Overcome stringent food import barriers i.e., EEC. Example- Companies have improved international exposure, opening manufacturing plants within the EEC. An example has been the recent purchase of Sara Lee European brands by Smithfield.

XI. Summary- These idea compilations are based on 20 years of international business experiences with four major corporations and an MA in International Business. No one size fits all. The outline can be used to build new profitable opportunities that may not otherwise have been realized or fully exploited.

RICHARD J. PORWIT has been an International Sales and Business Director with extensive food and CPG experience, including new product development, market growth, profit and loss accountability in retail, food service and business to business markets. Consistently known for exceeding set goals, division turn arounds, with cross-functional team leadership in customized product development. Recognized for ability to establish and expand international markets in Asia, Latin America/Caribbean, and the Middle East.

International Business Degree Schools Online

Online schooling options are available to students looking to obtain a degree in international business. There are numerous schools and colleges that offer online degree training in the field of business. Students can prepare for the career of their dreams by enrolling in a number of programs. Online schools and colleges allow students to train for careers working in international finance, management, marketing, sales, importing and exporting, and more. Student may study coursework such as foreign culture, economics, imports and exports, tax, and much more depending on the chosen level of degree and specialization. Online degrees in international business can include an associate’s, bachelors, masters, and doctorate degree.

Associates degree programs are available from numerous online schools and colleges. Students can obtain an associates degree in international business in as little as two years depending on the specific area of concentration they choose. Coursework may consist of studying international trade, macroeconomics, global markets, international marketing, and other related courses. Students who wish to enroll in an accredited online program can train for careers with banks, multinational manufacturers, import/export corporations, consulting firms, and other international organizations. With an accredited associates degree students will have the skills and knowledge to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the field.

There are a number of accredited online educational programs that allow students to train for numerous careers in international business. An online bachelor’s degree program will take students approximately four years to complete. Course curriculum will vary depending on the specialization chosen by the students but may include the study of economics, principals of marketing, foreign language, international business finance, cross cultural studies, and much more. Students who wish to pursue international careers such as management analyst, sales representative, auditor, and accountant, should consider a bachelors degree. Those who wish to further their education can consider online degree training for a master’s degree in international business.

Online schools and colleges allow students to enroll in masters degree programs in the area of international business. Online degrees at this level typically take students two additional years to obtain. Students can choose to specialize in a specific area including international trade, tax, management, and much more. Areas of study may include international business policy, trade controls, international finance, foreign operations, and more depending on the chosen specialty. With an accredited masters degree students can pursue careers as international marketing directors, multinational managers, international trade managers, financial controllers, and international foreign policy advisors. A degree at this level of education will allow student to enter the workforce or enroll in a doctorate program.

A doctorate degree in international business will allow students to earn their degree with an additional two years of study. Online educational programs train students in a number of subjects to ensure they receive the knowledge and skills to pursue the career they desire. Coursework may include theory of international business, research design, marketing, communications, multi-national enterprise, and much more. With an accredited online education students will obtain the necessary training to find employment as economic researchers, university professors, business development managers, chief executive officers, and other professionals. A doctorate degree is the highest level of degree obtainable in the field of international business.

Students looking to train for the career of their dreams with an accredited online school or college can obtain the degree they desire from just about anywhere. Online international business educational programs allow students to train in a number of specialty areas to ensure they receive the career they desire. By researching programs and requesting information students can be on their way to an exciting new career.

Business Finance Training and Effective Business Solutions

Business finance training refers to programs that teach individuals how to handle various financial duties. Finance training is similar to finance tips in that both help business owners make better monetary decisions, but training programs offer a more detailed explanation of finance strategies. Training programs vary in price and can be used by the owners and employees of a business.

The most basic business finance training provide information on budgeting, preparing financial statements, managing cash flow, strategizing, forecasting, improving performance, and applying basic procedures and concepts to more effectively manage a business. These programs are recommended for new business owners to help them understand standard business practices. Once these basic methods are mastered, more specific financial training may be looked into.

Advanced business finance training delves more deeply into a certain financial procedure or concept, usually at a higher cost than basic programs. Advanced programs may teach business owners how to set up effective business models, make decisions based on quantitative analysis, manage and control accounts, practice due diligence, measure productivity, and strategize concerning mergers and acquisitions.

Taking part in any kind of business finance training gives a business owner the resources to make more intelligent business decisions that result in increased productivity and profits. Many different types of courses are available either online or at a specified location. Some programs may even offer the option to train at the business. Taking into consideration the needs and abilities of a business is the key to finding the best business finance training.

A business finance solution generally refers to methods of funding and maintaining the finances of a business. Most solutions involve ways of obtaining working capital, but others also offer ways of protecting and increasing that capital.

To obtain working capital, business owners look to finance solutions that offer funding by several different means. The most common means are loans and financing. Asset-based loans use a business’s assets, such as inventory and equipment, as collateral. A business may also opt for a property loan in order to acquire commercial space. Invoice financing, such as factoring, involves liquidating or selling a business’s accounts receivables in exchange for quick funding. Some businesses look to trade financing to supply their inventory. The business will tell its financer the amount and cost of goods needed, and the financer will pay for the goods. The business then repays the amount financed over a specified period of time.

Most companies that provide business finance solutions also offer ways to protect and increase a business’s capital. Credit protection safeguards a business from daily risks, such as customers not paying on time, so that the business does not suffer incredible losses. This makes it much easier for the business to borrow money in the future, and it protects the balance sheet. A finance solution may also offer business insurance plans that increase the stability of a business. The most common types of business insurance are employee and public liability, car, property, and health insurance. These business finance solutions are designed to protect businesses against potential losses.

Functions of Business Finance

Strength and soundness of business depends on the availability of finance and competency with which it is used. The abundance of finance can do wonders and its scarcity can ruin even a well established business. Finance increases the strength and viability of business. It increases the resistance capacity of a business to face losses and economic depression. It is just like a lubricant, the more it is applied to the business, the quickly the business will move. Following headings explain the importance of finance to business:

(1) Initiating Business: Finance is the first and fore most requirement of every business. It is the starting point of every business, industrial project etc. Whether you start a sole proprietary concern, a partnership firm, a company or a charity institution, you need ample amount of finance. It is equally important for profit seeking and non-profit activities. It is equally important for a multinational organization and for a free dispensary.

(2) Purchase of Assets: Finance is needed to purchase all sorts of assets. Even if credit is available some down payment is to be made. Mostly finance is needed at the start of business for the purchase of fixed assets. These fixed assets consume a large amount of initial investment of the entrepreneur, so he may face liquidity difficulty in running day to day affairs of the business.

(3) Initial Losses: No business attains high profit on the first day of commencement. Some losses are normal before the business reaches its full capacity and generate enough revenue to match cost. Finance is necessary so that these initial losses can be sustained and business can be allowed to progress gradually.

(4) Professional Services: Certain business need services of specialized personnel. Such personnel have rich experience in specialized fields and they can provide useful guidance to make business profitable. Nevertheless these services are costly. Finance is always needed so that services of such professional consultants can be hired.

(5) Development: Business is always exposed to change. New innovations and emergence of new technologies replaces old techniques out of market. So in order to remain in the market, it is needed to keep the business well equipped with all emerging tools and techniques. This required finance. New technology is always expensive as it is better than others. So finance is needed to purchase new equipment and keep the business running.

(6) Information Technology: Information technology has now changed the geography of the business battle field. The home markets have now extended virtually to other comers of the world. The whole world can be your customer or competitor. To face such a fierce competition, IT is needed. Skills and competency in IT can perform miracles. But finance is again the decisive factor. It is very much needed to incorporate expensive IT products in the business.

(7) Media War: The advertisement and promotion have now become a vital elements for the success of business. The way a businessman approaches a customer and convinces him to purchase his product has become more important than the quality of product. With advertisement on International media, a businessman can reach the minds of millions of people around the globe. However, advertisement is a luxury which every business can’t afford. Huge finance is required to meet advertisement expenses.

(8) Resource Management: Finance is very essential for efficient resource management. Resources here include capital and human resources. Maintenance of plant and equipment and training of employees all need finance. Establishment of new industrial units, expansion of plant capacity, hiring of well learned skilful laborers – all
these factors can lead to huge revenue but at the first place they need finance to start with.

(9) Stock Investments: These investments are those which are made to hold ample stock of raw materials in hand. Bulk purchase of raw materials is profitable in a sense that purchase discount can be attained and there is no danger of production halts. So companies most often hold huge amount of stocks and raw materials. But such an investment can be made only if a company has sufficient capital or finance to carry out its daily operation easily besides holding huge stock.

(10) Combating Risks: Everything is exposed to one or more risks. A business is also exposed to variety of risks. These risks include natural hazards, burden of any huge liability, loss of market or brand name etc. Finance is needed to make business powerful, so that it can sustain occasional losses and liabilities.

The Primary Cause Of Business Financing Frustration

Finding proper business financing is not easy at the best of times for most small and medium sized business owners and managers.

There are a number of reasons that collectively explain why the business financing market can be so difficult to understand and navigate.

But probably the single biggest reason is the lack of useful information about how the business financing market actually works.

Business financing information and education sources predominantly come in two forms: 1) Text books; 2) Major bank advertising.

If you’ve ever read through a educational finance text book or taken a business financing course, you already know how difficult it can be to apply the theories, principles, and strategies to a small or medium sized business.

Our formal education system provides limited information as to how the market place works, how to plan for financing requirements, how to manage periods of growth, decline, transition, start up, etc.

Sure academic books and courses can go through all these areas in great detail, but is the information practical, real world, something you can relate to and apply yourself as a manager or owner of a small or medium sized business?

In most cases, the answer is a resounding NO.

Most finance text books speak to big business financing dynamics that are not easily transferable to small and medium sized business scenarios.

Outside of the formal education system, the next great source of business financing information is the information provided by the major banks, which they tend to make available to you by the boat load through their broad based marketing campaigns.

Unfortunately, the information by itself seldom helps you determine if a particular institution would be able to provide you with financing, or what would be required to qualify for a loan.

The good news is that business financing sources continue to grow in numbers as more and more lenders carve out a particular piece of the market to service.

In order to take advantage of these alternatives, you need to have a solid approach in place when seeking business financing.

Here’s a short list of things to consider

>>> Develop a solid, ongoing, understanding of both your personal and business assets, income, and cash flow.

Regardless of the business financing model, these elements will always come into play to some degree.

Being able to demonstrate a solid understanding of your business financials is also an indication of your ability to manage the underlying business.

>>> Monitor and manage your personal and business credit.

Small and medium sized business financing is focused on both personal and business credit histories.

Regular reviews of both personal and business credit reports from the major credit reporting agencies are important to avoid errors and credit practices that can severely damage your borrowing power.

>>> Develop your marketing position.

Yes, seeking business financing is a marketing exercise.

When applying for business financing, you’re marketing your business to lending sources and they in turn are marketing their business financing programs to you.

Think of the lender as a customer to better understand what they’re looking for. Then, develop a business proposal that addresses all their potential needs and concerns.

>>> Research Lending Sources

There are lots of business financing sources. But there is also lots of variation in the types of business applications each one is prepared to consider.

Broad based lenders rely on credit history and net worth. As you get more specific in terms of financing application and industry, lender programs become more narrow and can be harder to locate.

You need to consider things like industry, sector, and geography when looking for business financing sources.

Financing consultants and business loan brokers can be an excellent source of information to aid you in this process.

>>> Qualify The Lender

Before you make a formal application, find out if the lender has the programs and lending track record to meet your specific needs.

Too often, the lender is doing all the qualifying.

>>> Compare your options

Depending on the scenario, there can be several financing strategies that could work for your business.

Make sure you take the time to compare before making a decision. The extra time spent could save you considerable time and money in the long run.

>>> Start Today

Regardless of what your business financing needs are right now, you should regularly invest time staying on top of your business financials, monitoring your credit, and researching financing sources that fit your industry and potential future requirements.

When the time comes to acquire capital, your proactive efforts can make all the difference in getting the capital you need with terms and timing that are acceptable to your business.