Gen Y in the Workplace

What Employers Can Do To Attract Gen Y Talent in the Workplace

Written by Anthony Portuesi, Driven Leaders

Edited by Ethan Lyon, Sparxoo

generation y in the workplace
Courtesy of Manuel Lino

76 million. That’s the estimated size of Gen-Y, according to Fast Company, with many yet to reach the workforce. The subject of how Gen-Y is changing the future of business continues to be a growing discussion around the country. Gen X employers are already beginning to feel this shift in the workforce, many understanding that to stay competitive in this new environment they must adapt their philosophies or risk being left behind in the change.

Staying competitive in today’s marketplace means attracting Gen-Y’s top candidates, something that can be challenging to many organizations. The first step requires an employer to gain a greater understanding of Gen-Y’s expectations and a willingness to stray from the norms that have become commonplace in their organization. Though there are many areas to consider when looking to attract Gen-Y’s best and brightest, below are 3 suggestions that are worth some time and consideration.

Flexibility

Gone are the days where the steady 9 to 5 job with two weeks vacation will entice the prospective employees. Gen-Y demands flexibility in their careers. Work / life balance is more than just a pipe dream, and for most it’s a reality worth fighting tooth and nail to obtain. The separation between work and life is blurred as Gen Y seeks flexibility and variation in the workplace. In the past two years, the number of U.S. employees working remotely at least one day per month increased 39 percent, from 12.4 million in 2006 to 17.2 million in 2008, according to WorldatWork. “They want the freedom and flexibility of a virtual office, but they want rules and responsibilities to be spelled out explicitly,” says Ron Alsop, author of The Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation Is Shaking Up the Workplace.

If an employer leaves no room for compromise, Gen-Y has no problem packing up and searching for a position that will fill this desire. Regardless, don’t be fooled. They are obsessed with productivity and have no problem working longer hours as long as it fits into their schedule.

Recommendation: When looking to hire strong candidates, consider flexible hours or provide choice in the role. Though the end goal will be the same, how, when, and where they go about completing a task, it is more important and more motivating to the Gen-Y employee. In most cases they will look to shape their jobs to fit their lives rather than adapt their lives to fit the workplace.

More Feedback

This generation also demands additional attention and guidance from employers. Growing up and an environment of constant feedback and praise, Gen-Y thrives when working in an environment where there is an open flow of communication. “Millennials have been given very high doses of feedback since age 4, and they need that feedback to know they’re on the right track,” says Bea Fields of Fast Company. As technology has integrated itself into nearly every facet of their lives, it has created a need for immediacy that is absent in Gen X and even moreso in Boomers. When it comes to an evaluation, an annual or even semiannual evaluation isn’t enough. They want to know how they’re doing weekly, even daily if it’s possible.

Recommendation: Consider creating a mentoring program if you don’t have one, or at the very least, introduce them to people early on that they can turn to when they feel the need for advice or someone to bounce ideas off of. When it comes to feedback and recognition stick to the rule that each employee should be individually recognized or told how they are doing at least once every seven days. Even a simple, “You’re doing a great job.” will improve moral and encourage increased productivity.

Creating Value

To truly get the most out their Gen-Y employees, employers need to look beyond just the traditional paycheck. Though salary and benefits continue to be number 1 and 2 respectively on the list of importance, the opportunity for growth and advancement rank a close 3rd. Gen-Y needs to be shown how their work makes a difference and why it’s of value to the company. They have much to offer in the workplace combining strengths such as teamwork, technology skills, social networking and multitasking skills.

Recommendation: If you can provide and communicate a strong plan for development AND advancement, you will be well on your way to retaining your top Gen-Y employees. Competitive wages are important and retention will be influenced by the level of “opportunity” your company provides. If you make any promises in this area, be sure you’re willing and able to live up to them. It’s a key driver of the Gen-Y work ethic.

Top 5 Baseball Picks: Winning Strategies

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Photo Courtesy of Terry from Shortstories.net

In 2008, the Yankees led the baseball world with a payroll of $209 million and 11 teams had a payroll of $100 million or more. The World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies were #13 of 30 teams on the list and they defeated the Tampa Bay Rays who were next to last in payroll at $44 million. While you can certainly try to spend your way to success, that doesn’t always work. It is more important than ever to get maximum impact from every dollar you spend. Sports teams are trying to do more with less, and make their money go further. So should you.

As the baseball season gets underway, here are the top 5 small market baseball teams and some tricks you can learn from them.

1.  Tampa Bay Rays ($60 million in 2009, vs. $44 million in 2008): The runner-up in 2008, they return with another strong ball club that was built on scouting great talent and making shrewd decisions. The front office is led by former Wall Streeters who can spot great value. Plus, since they were the worst team in baseball for so long, they stockpiled lots of top draft choices that landed them talents such as BJ Upton and David Price. While the Yankees are spending over $200 million, and the Red Sox are closing in on $150 million, the Rays will be competing down to the wire on $60 million.

2. Arizona Diamondbacks ($74 million in 2009 vs. $66 million in 2008): The Diamondbacks have gone young and stuck with it. They have retained their home grown stars and avoided paying for high priced talent. Sometimes growing from within is the best policy, and the Diamondbacks, like the Rays, have a great nucleus. They benefit from playing in a less competitive division which had the weakest division winner (LA Dodgers) in 2008.

3.  Milwaukee Brewers ($81 million in 2009 vs. $81 million in 2008): A year after winning the National League Wild Card, the Brewers are back and hoping to go deeper into October. Like the Rays, the Brewers have focused on building an outstanding young core of talent. Each year their respected front office adds another piece to the puzzle. They combine a long-term approach with a willingness to make transformational moves such as last year’s Sabathia acquisition.

4. Cleveland Indians ($83 million in 2009 vs. $79 million in 2008): While others are spending major dollars on the big names, the Indians are making small risks with big upside that pay off. Last year they got Cliff Lee out of the junkyard, and this year they are trying the same magic with Carl Pavano. They have great discipline in avoiding the flash and going for substance. With a strong system, sometimes you get bigger than expected impact out of minor adjustments.

5.  Oakland Athletics ($60 million in 2009 vs. $48 million in 2008): The Athletics are led by Billy Beane, the man who ushered in a new era of front office analytics as detailed in Moneyball. They have been a perennial contender despite consistently low payrolls as a result of management’s ability to stay a step ahead of the competition. After finishing in 3rd place in 2008, management decided to reinvest profits in the acquisition sweet swinging Matt Holliday. They should be able to squeeze just enough out of their young talent to compete in a weaker division, but beyond that, they need to accelerate their rebuilding.

While the Yankees and Red Sox have outstanding teams built on huge payrolls, we believe that a handful of well-managed, forward thinking teams will compete with substantially less money. Likewise, see if you can get more out of your money…you might be surprised at what you can accomplish even if your pockets aren’t deep.

Related Post:

Top 5 Picks: March Madness Bracket

The Future of America: As You See It

A new presidential administration, a slipping economy, rescue packages are three central issues shaping future America. Suffice it to say, the American dream has changed. Whether it was the white picket fence or a weekend in Vegas, the bubble has burst and a new vision of the American dream is emerging. That’s why we’d like your thoughts on where America is heading. Whether it’s up or down, we are uncertain. To give us your thoughts, please click here.

Thank you,

The Sparxoo Team

Emerging Trends: Houdini

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Get me the hell outta here

By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer

Definition
In a world where we feel bound by a straight jacket, we need to find a way out. Just like the Great Houdini, illusions are a much needed escape from everyday life. Whether you’re an avatar living our your virtual fantasy, or dining in a four-star restaurant in Paris, we need to find that escape—to unwind and rejuvenate. To forget about life for a while, to perhaps even turn the Blackberry off if even just for a few moments, helps us stay focused and maintain balance so we can do it again tomorrow.

Spin
Disconnect—More often than not, we’re plugged in. Cell phones, computers, meetings etc, dominate our lives. That’s why once in a while we need to unplug ourselves from the technology and office… to just take a break. Nothing says unplugged like leaving the cell phone and computer at home and exploring another country.
Virtual Vacation—A more immediate, get-me-outta-here escape is a vacation into the virtual world. After a stressful day at work, why not plug-in to a world where you are in control; where you can connect with friends that have your back, even when there’s a 2,000-pound monster ready to eat you.

Examples
Cultural Perspective—College is a time to expand your intellectual horizons. However, expanding horizons doesn’t just happen reading Faulkner or hunched over an exam. It can mean quite the contrary. Dropping the books and pencils to venture a new land is an alternative to thick textbooks and hours of studying. Understanding cultural diversity is an important element that’s on the rise. Because college study abroad programs tend to be much less expensive than a vacation, more college students are going to take that semester or two off to learn about Italian architecture, not from a book, but standing inside the Vatican.
WOW, Second Life—World Of Warcraft is an example of our need to leave this world and live vicariously in another. It is a form of self-expression that puts the user in the drivers seat. Whether that expression is embodied in death or creation is completely up to the individual. There are the Second Lifers who value growth, connection and innovation, whilst the Grand Theft Autos vent frustration with the pursuit of chaos. WOW is somewhere in between. There will be growth in the avatar world, as consumers spend more time inside and value the time vs money spent ratio.

Key Words
Escape, Vacation, Reality, Disconnect, Surreal, Virtual

Download the Emerging Trend Report in PDF format

Marketing to Gen Y

Tips on How to Market to Gen Y

Co-Authored By:

Andi Enns, PR & Marketing Blog

Edited by Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer, Sparxoo

To understand the market influence of Gen Y, let’s begin with some simple math: 150+50=200. Put a dollar sign in front of the 200 and billion behind it and you have the total buying muscle that is Gen Y.

Gen Y spends nearly $150 billion out-of-pocket with nearly $50 billion in buying influence, tallying the buying power of teens and young professionals to $200 billion. These teens and young professionals (many not having left the nest) influence 81% of their families’ apparel purchases and 52% of their car choices, according to online marketing expert, Kelly Mooney.

Generation Y can be difficult to market to, because they are acutely aware of the fact that they are constantly bombarded with thousands of messages every day. Whether it is in print, on their phones, tv, web or outdoor, Gen Y has emerged as a generation that has learned to ignore.

And what are they buying? Think impact. Of teens 12-17, 91% are investing in products that invest in social causes and 89% would abandon brands for those creating positive social, economic and eco impact, according to Cone/Roper. Remember (RED)? (PRODUCT) Red was cause-related-marketing at its most shining, sparkling, computing, t-shirt wearing best. Apple Inc., American Express, Starbucks, Converse, Gap, Hallmark, Dell… and the company all star list goes on. Apply some of the basic trends of Gen Y to your medium and voilla you’ve gotten a glimpse of a possible future.

Impact is just one of the many strategies we’re going to discuss. When we consider the state of the media, we shouldn’t just jump on the bandwagon and say “told ya so” or “too bad so sad” to newspapers or tv. Despite conventional thought, every media has a future. Just as tv didn’t kill the radio star, or the Hulu squash prime time, there is a future for all media. Though it might be difficult to envision a tween picking up a newspaper, what if that newspaper were the Daily Kos? Think out-side-of-the-box. Don’t let innovation be trapped above the fold. Consider the future of media as Gen Y updating tradition.

So how can your organization capture the attention of GenY? How can you build a brand that will have Gen Y coming back for more?

Print

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Courtesy of David Niddrie

Paper boy, on-your-doorstep print, is Gen X’s media. In its struggle to engage a younger generation, there are new and exciting ways of giving a face-lift to a sagging, droopy media. Gen Y is a me me me generation that likes to see me me me everywhere–think Facebook, or Flickr, or the-camera-shot-in-the-bathroom-with-your-shirt-off Myspace. Their information and “me” pictures are everywhere.

Take that concept and shift the focus to print. To capture the attention of Gen Y in print media, name drop, have them contribute (a quote or author an entire article) or have their mug in your pub. This will stick out in their minds… barring that, you should offer some sort of guidance, or encourage change (remember (RED)).

With a generation that grew up with shlock and awe, make sure you’re not gimmicky. Honesty equals interesting and engagement. List tips just like you would in a blog post, but embelish a bit more.

Choose your advertisement target publication carefully. Niche publications are everywhere. Dog magazines, cat magazines, nature, nurture, body-building, body art. Find a niche and stick to it. There are even services that can help you be your own editor-in-chief. The Printed Blog allows the empowered user to print their own breakfast-table read (for Gen Yers, minus the breakfast table). In years previous, you could advertise in a newspaper or magazine and be seen by many demographics. Now your best bet is the local alternative weekly.

Mobile

If you have seen a tween or young professional absent a cell phone, you might be “seeing things.” It might be because 94% of Gen Yers own a cell phone, and comprise a shocking 46% of total iPhone users, according to the 2008 demographics released by Apple. This makes mobile marketing a prime outlet for reaching these consumers. Create an application that ties into your business (eBay, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter) have all done this successfully.

If your aim is Gen Y, create a version of your site (limited or full-featured) for easy viewing on a phone. Name it mobile.yoursite.com. Another great tactic is making your blog, magazine or other publication ready to be read by iPhone users. Set up a SMS system to send users a certain article when they text you a certain code.

Web

Do you know someone who doesn’t own a computer? You might be hard pressed to even imagine your grandma without one. In a survey by Junco and Mastrodicasa, 97% of students owned a computer (for the 3%, there’s the library). For Gen Y, the web represents a personal connection with the virtual world around them. Authenticity is highly valued, so maybe shedding that avatar and showing some humanity might help you connect with Gen Yers. Additionally, some flesh and bone might make your company smaller and more mom-and-pop-like.

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Mixx, delicious and the social networking list goes on and on. Pick a few and be the best at them. And make sure you’re a part of the community. Web spam is just as appealing as can spam. Make sure you’re an active contributor of not only promotional material, but also support those around you. Remember, honesty is sticky.

Outdoor

Like in print outlets, GenY has trained themselves to ignore billboards and other outdoor advertising. Companies have tried to overcome this with flashing lights and other gimmicks, but the truth is that GenY is not listening. Flash is trash.

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Courtesy of Victor Puig

The exception is innovative, impactful or cultured advertising. Take example from this “Friends of the Earth” billboard from JWT Hong Kong. The billboard is meaningful, clever and interesting–all a combination to open the eyes of Generation Y.

Also, take a page out of performance artists’ books and create a campaign that stands out. One bus station in New Zealand took all the rubbish left around in one week and put it in a clear box with a message about littering. This type of campaign tends to get more attention than the standard car dealership fan-man.

Looking Forward

Make sure that your campaign stands out from the rest of the media messages. GenY has noticed Pepsi’s new campaign because it looks different from everything else. Be different, be transparent, or at least appear so, and give a taste of excitement in your campaign.

Gen Y Profile

By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer genyprofile_headline.jpg

The Hillz, working in pajamas, wall posts, Obama, avatars, and an aversion to vowels are just a few of Gen Y’s favorite things. At the beginning of the new millennium, there was a lot of hubbub about this new generation: the up and comers with tremendous amount of spending influence, a completely new world-view and what Gen X might call, the new kids on the block.

With Boomers retiring at the rate of one every ten minutes (nearly 64 million by the end of the decade) and Gen X moving onward and upwards, Gen Y were the young, fresh faces. They dressed differently (customizable kicks) , didn’t like the 9-5 way of thinking and couldn’t give you eye-contact because they were busy texting about you to their friend in Bangladesh, which they will then post on their virtual wall. Gen Y is quickly transforming the workplace and marketplace in a very big, customizable way.

They’ve been called Echo Boomers,  Millennials, the Net Generation, Generation Y, but because brevity is of great importance, let’s go with Gen Y. (Though a Wikipedia search for Millennials will re-direct to the Generation Y page, there is a difference–albeit subtle. A Millennial is between the ages of 8 and 27, making their birth years between 1982 and 2001.)

To understand the mindset of Gen Y, you have to understand the environment into which they were born. Gen Y came of age during a time that saw unprecedented economic growth (late 1990s)–shaping their expectations of themselves and the world around them. Though the birth years vary, the accepted range is from 1980-1999. The math makes them between 10 and 29 and nearly 25% of the U.S. population.

They are more tech-savvy, family-centric, flexible, non-conforming and attention-getting than their parents and are greatly changing the way we do business. In the upcoming days, we are going to post a series of articles that discuss the many facets (marketing, workplace, mentality, trends) that make Gen Y powerful buyers, thinkers and movers and shakers.

This Gen Yer’s Perspective

The rule of thumb for writing articles, is to not be in the story–be an objective observer. Considering I’m in Gen Y, for this post, I am going to scrap the rules to give you some perspective. Right now, writing this, illustrates the defining characteristics of Gen Y. I am in bed, in my pajamas, sipping on tea, checking the clock (10:49pm), and listening to Girls Next Door in the background. I have 17 tabs open in my browser: research for this post, new sites I’m checking out, Google’s RSS reader with all of my favorite feeds, writing this in Google Docs, a YouTube video of a song I’m in love with right now and random sites I’ll look at later.

In my research, I was hoping to debunk some of the myths and assumptions about Gen Y. But what I’ve found is strikingly on point. Though not all traits of Gen Y define my lifestyle, I know at least someone that measures up to the diverse characteristics of Gen Y.

More Posts:

Gen Y Mindsets
Marketing to Gen Y
Gen Y in the Workplace

Top 5: Gen Y Mindsets

By David Capece, Managing Partner

From green activism to anime, from Gawker to Tony Hawk video games, Generation Y is a complex generation with diverse interests.  Immersed in the digital world from an early age, Gen Y is at the forefront of mashing up how we communicate, entertain, and innovate.  Let’s start with some generalizations about Gen Y:  they seek diverse communities online and offline, are idealistic and socially conscious, and they crave authenticity. Underneath those generalizations are mindsets that drive their behaviors and choices.  In this week’s Top 5, we explore the leading mindsets of Generation Y.

1. Connectors

With the rapid rise of Facebook and Myspace, the Connector is an obvious place to start.  The Connector thrives on crowds and loves to participate in the hubbub.  To live up to their billing, they stay current on Hollywood, sports, and their friends.  The iPhone is among their favorite products.  On TV, they are watching Sports Center, the Hills, Gossip Girl, and the Office.

2. Forerunners

While the Connectors are on Facebook, the Forerunners are 2 steps ahead, checking out Twitter, Tumblr, and Ning.  These are intellectually curious individuals who enthusiastically discover the latest trends, news, music, and urban scene, while also finding time for social causes and green issues.  They aren’t shy.  In fact, they live to actively share their opinion, gaining satisfaction from being in-the-know and making a difference.  If you are reading blogs, you’re probably getting a lot of your information from these Gen Y thought leaders.

3. Escapists

While the Connectors and Forerunners engage at a frenzied pace, the Escapist dis-engages from the hectic world around.  They enjoy their escape from everyday life; immersing themselves in their own virtual reality.  They appreciate the pleasure of low key hangout on YouTube, playing video games, and catching up on the X-Files.  They like cartoons: from anime to Simpsons to Adult Swim, you’ve got the Escapist hooked.

4. Free Thinkers

The Free Thinker is central to the rise of the artisan class.  The Free Thinker is a highly imaginative individual that likes to express the diversity of their life in out-of-the-box ways. While the Escapist is on YouTube, the Free Thinker has their own designs in mind as they seek the fulfillment of discovering new, more off-beat communities.  The Free Thinker makes their home at local coffee shops, and joins the Forerunners in social and altruistic causes.  While they like Bravo, they are just as comfortable watching Austin City Limits or hanging out online at undiscovered sites such as Pitchfork.

5. Thrill-Seekers

One part adventurer, one part crazy, the Thrill-Seeker is an adrenaline junky that is constantly craving new and challenging adventures that build their badge of pride.  The Thrill-Seeker watched JackAss in high school, and now they’ve graduated to freestyle street sports, and the UFC.  They love to be outdoors and testing the limits, whether through extreme sports, racing, or new adventures.  The Thrill-Seeker has graduated from YouTube and is onto more cutting edge sites such as Break.com.

If your business focuses on Gen Y, you need to get into their heads to truly appreciate the diversity of this generation.  Gen Y likes authentic stories, so get to know them at a deeper emotional level and have a conversation that connects to their passions.

 

Alternative to Debt: Equity Financing Pros

By David Capece, Managing Partner

If you are smooth-sailing company, with the wind behind your cashflows, you have control over where you’re going. But, if you don’t have the wind on your side, you’re going to need the help of someone else.

Debt can be a reliable source of financing if your business is headed in the right direction (steady cashflows and no waver in sight) and you can easily pay-off any accrued debt. But if you’re in a less predictable business with higher growth curves, you might want to consider the alternative, equity financing:

Here are some questions you should ask yourself before you decide to pursue equity financing:

Are you a rising star or a cash cow?

Though you might want to keep going in the same direction as you always have, if you want to make a leap, you might need expansion capital.  Can you bring your business to the next level by making some minor adjustments? Be realistic. If you’re not a cash cow, it might take a significant cash infusion.

What stage in the business cycle are you?

1. Early Stage
If you’re just gaining market traction with your business and you have a plan to take the next step, then you can pursue angel investors. They invest in early leaders and could be the financial backing to help you attain a higher calling.

2. Established Stage
You’ve been in business for quite a while, but you don’t have the cash flows to leap ahead of the big boys. If your business still shows promise and has success potential, try a venture capital firm. They invest in early and later-stage companies. They have the deep pockets your business needs to take on established leaders.

Are you willing to lose complete control?

Before going to an angel investor or venture capital firm, consider how much you value control in your enterprise. Are you the entrepreneur that will not allow any part of your pie eaten or can you see the power of giving away a slice of a bigger pie? Determine how much company control you are willing to give up. Be careful not to sell yourself out trying to advance your business.

If you decide you control your company and no one else can share the helm, you might find yourself without a paddle: stuck in the middle of nowhere with not a grain of sand in sight. This strategy might be a bit short-sighted. Equity financing can be a very beneficial strategy to help your business achieve more. By involving venture capitalists and angel investors into your endeavor, though you are giving up some control, you are sharing the risk–thus sharing the passion to succeed.  With deeper pockets, you can grow into a more formidable market player.

 

Debt Financing: A Lesson From the High Dive

Preparing for the Perfect Score

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Courtesy of Brent and MariLynn

By Christopher Yuskiw, Guest Contributor

Before your business takes the dive into debt financing, make sure you have prepared for the associated risks with borrowing, so when you do take the leap, you don’t belly flop. Preparation is vital. How can you get a perfect 10 so you can finance your business? Let’s take a step back and look at how banks evaluate risk and how they view businesses.

Depending on what stage your business is in will have a huge impact on the way a bank looks at your business:

  • Stage 1: Are you a start up (have you been in business two years or less)?
  • Stage 2: Are you an established growing business (have you been in business for more than two years and still growing; i.e. are your sales still expanding, not yet stabilized)?
  • Stage 3: Or, are you a mature business with a stable sales cycle (have your sales reached a plateau and are no longer growing rapidly)?

Knowing where your business is in its growth cycle will better help you prepare for the bank lending process.

Debt Financing for a Start-up (Stage 1)

A start-up business is going to have the most difficult time obtaining bank funding.  Think about it; ideas are worthless without execution.  If we could all capitalize on our ideas, then everyone would be in business for themselves.

Evaluating Risk
Banks approach each deal based on the amount of risk they are undertaking and start-ups are as risky as they come.  This is why it is vital for a business to be completely prepared for the bank underwriting process. You need to be prepared to answer any and every question that a bank might ask, be your best advocate, and able to sell your business as a good risk.

So, what can you expect?  While every deal that a bank looks at is unique and presents its own risks and challenges, there are some common things that most banks will look for.

Be prepared to provide:

  • A business plan that gives a thorough explanation of your business and its strategy
  • A project cost worksheet (what are you going to use the money for?)
  • Management resumes (how much experience do you have in this field?)
  • Two years of personal tax returns and all schedules for every owner of the business (typically defined as a person who owns 20% or more of the business)
  • Personal financial statements for each owner
  • Two or three years of projections showing the business’s expected cash flow (broken down monthly)
  • A business debt schedule (does the business have any other debt? I.E. personal notes, other start up financing, etc)
  • Collateral (what do you have in terms of assets that the bank can take as collateral?)
  • It should also be pointed out that most banks have minimum credit score requirements for all parties guaranteeing debt (a 700 or greater credit score for start ups and 650 or greater for established businesses)

Though useful upfront information will get you into the front door, don’t be surprised if a bank requests additional information. Start at a bank where you have an existing relationship and have a candid conversation with a loan officer.  Ask them what their credit, collateral, and equity requirements are for their business loans; be sure to explain your business in detail, as this can have a bearing on the requirements.

Banks look at things from many different angles to evaluate your risk.  You may be working with one bank employee, but there are probably several parties involved in underwriting your deal; each person will approach your deal from a different perspective.

Start-up Resource Guide

Though debt financing is challenging, we hope you haven’t abandoned your business. While approaching a bank for start-up financing might seem like an impossible, daunting process, it doesn’t have to be.  There is free help out there. Two great resources available to everyone are the SBDC and SCORE.  Both are government sponsored programs funded by tax payer dollars.

The SBDC (Small Business Development Center) is a government-funded program that seeks to provide assistance to current and prospective small business owners.

Some Useful Services for Startups:

  • Viewing and interpreting your credit
  • Writing a business plan
  • Making projections
  • Developing a management plan
  • And many other useful, free services

If they can’t help you, more likely than not, they will know someone who can.

SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) is a nonprofit association that exists for the purpose of educating small businesses owners and promoting the growth of US based small businesses.  SCORE offers services similar to the SBDC.

While it can be difficult for some to obtain bank financing, it is not impossible; you also do not have to go at it alone.  Whether you decide to approach the task alone, utilize a free service, or pay a consultant or a broker to help you, you need to understand that preparation is vital.

Looking Forward

If financing your business were like high diving, learn from your 4 and 5 scores. Find out why you didn’t meet the bank’s expectations and learn from it, so the next time you take that dive you can get that perfect 10.

Bottom line: don’t give up… you’ve decided that this is what you want, you’ve trained to get that 10, so be prepared to work for it.

If you are an established business seeking bank financing, please see the second installment of this article.

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Supporters:
If you are looking for business loans, consider your options as well as business cash advances can be more flexible.

Top 5 Picks: March Madness Bracket

in collaboration with Eriq Gardner of FantasyBallJunkie

Welcome to March Madness. For the next few days, in businesses around the nation, people will be filling out brackets in hopes of winning the office pool on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

We’re not going to pretend this is rocket science. (Like it or not, many of these pools will be won by those who have not watched a single college basketball game this season.)

Nevertheless, as in the many things in life that require investment on upside potential, there are a few tricks of the trade that may offer some bracketology advantages. We like winners. We like Cindarellas. Most of all, we like taking home the money — so read on.

1. Start off with the end-game: The most basic principle is that winners tend to win. The odds that a Cindarella  takes home the championship are quite long.  Since 2000, only three of the 36 teams to make it to the Final Four were ranked higher than a five seed. In fact, here’s a bar chart that shows what seeds have made it to the Final Four this decade:

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Obviously, the top seeds stand a pretty good chance of getting to the Final Four. Most people who will win their pools will be conservative on the end-game, having a healthy share of top seeds advancing all the way through to the end.

2. Structure in some risk threshold: Obviously, those who are filling out their brackets with a lot of top seeds advancing all the way to the end will be going with the large majority. If you pick no upsets, you will largely need to get everything correct to win the big prize.  Getting everything right is itself against the odds. That’s not a good plan for success.

Instead, we encourage risk-taking, particularly at the beginning of a tournament and especially in cases where an office poll incentivizes upset picks.

Consider the following scenario: Ten matchups, each where the underdog has a 40% chance of winning.  If you pick the underdog in each of these matchups, odds say you should win 2 of 5 games.  If your competitor picks the favorite in each of these matchups, odds say he or she should win 3 of the 5 games.  But what if you get 1 point for a win and an extra point for an upset?  The result would be that your 2 upset wins merit 4 points while your competitor’s 3 wins merit just 3 points.

Now, how can you achieve the end-game goal as described in Step 1 with adding some short-term upside risk described here in Step 2? Consider the following theoretical bracket:

brackets.png

From above, you will see that we picked a lot of upsets, including an 13 seed beating a 4 seed, a 12 seed beating a 5 seed, a 9 seed beating an 8 seed, an 13 seed beating a 12 seed. Yet, in the end, the top seed triumphs. We’re not suggesting you do it exactly this way. But depending on point incentives of your bracket pool, it may pay to be both risky and have insurance.

3. It’s Cindarella Time: OK, so how do you recognize a good upset in the making? Based on a regression analysis, some factors correlate to big, big upsets on the balancing scale:

• High adjusted offensive and defensive efficiencies.

• Low turnover percentages.

• High offensive rebound percentages.

Five teams that factor high in these things are #11 VCU (facing UCLA in Round1),  #13 Akron (facing Gonzaga), #11 Temple (facing Arizona State), #12 Western Kentucky (facing Illinois) and shockingly, #15 Morgan State (facing Oklahoma)

4. The Strongest Survive: We’re back to the beginning. After picking the upsets, and keeping the top seeds, we’re down to the giants in the Final Four. Most bracket winners will have at least two of these teams and will pick the ultimate winner.

One strong factor correlating to ultimate success is the ability to score, and score often. Twenty of the past twenty-three titles have been won by teams who score 77+ PPG and have a scoring margin of 10+ PPG in the regular season.

Want to know the buzz? We’ve analyzed Google News, the blogosphere, and Twitter since the tournament brackets were announced and here’s a word cloud that visualizes 2009 champion hype: teamcloud.png

5.  Making the Challenge: If you are looking for a place to challenge your friends and co-workers, CBS Sportsline is the home of March Madness.  Good luck on the games!