How to Handle Late Payments Without Losing Customers

Whether you’re a young, aspiring entrepreneur or a successful leader in academia, you depend on your customers and clients to pay on time, every time, and you need straightforward policies and processes to make that happen. If your customers are late with their payments, your business has to handle the situation with kid gloves because the last thing you want to do is lose a customer. Here are some tips for how to tackle late payments without offending your clients.

By Julie Morris, Guest Contributor and Author

Attempt to Avoid Late Payments in the First Place

In a dream world, your customers will always pay on time and you’ll never have an issue, but that is not reality. However, you can get as close to that as possible by creating a clear and concise payment policy and placing it on your website and your invoices. Yonyx points out that this policy should list all acceptable payment methods and spell out your terms, such as when a payment will be considered late and penalties if a late payment does occur.

Your payment policy should also be clearly stated in all documents that your client or customers receive when they first start working with your company. If the amount of money in question is significant, you may want to work with an attorney to write up a contract. Be sure to work with the business partner during this process so that the document is fair to both parties.

The point is that you want something to point to if a customer is late with the hope that they will understand their obligation and complete the payment ASAP. When customers or clients are late with payments, make sure you’ve sent the invoice to the right person, coordinate your invoicing with the customer’s billing cycles, and/or offer a discount for quick payment. You can also spruce up your invoices to make them more memorable by using a free invoice generator to create a branded invoice that leaves a more professional impression.

It is also a smart idea to invest in payroll software that can properly process and organize payments so you know which clients have paid and which have not. The last thing you want to do is accuse a customer of being late when you actually have received their payment and it slipped through the cracks.

Another way to ensure timely payments is to make it easier for your clients and customers to pay you. When you accept payments through your app, you’ll simplify the payment process, but you need to ensure that your customers’ sensitive financial information is protected. Fortunately, you can use a tool to authenticate bank account information for secure payments.

Polite Follow-Ups

Once you realize that a payment is late, it is time to send a follow-up, but remember you do not want to be overly demanding or threaten litigation at this point. Start by sending an email that reminds the customer of the item you sold or service you completed and the cost for that work, and remind them that they have a past due payment.

If you do not get a response, this may be a good time to call the client’s company and inquire with a different employee about how to be paid. In some cases, the person who requested the service is not the same individual that handles invoices, so ask for the billing department just in case.

If a phone call is required for the follow-up, Practice Ignition suggests keeping it nice and polite. Phrases like “this is a friendly reminder” and “I’d appreciate it if…” are a good way to start. If the customer states that they don’t have the funds to pay the bill in full, you might consider allowing a partial payment or creating an alternative arrangement that fits both of your needs.

Make the Payment Process Easier

Organizations that are finding that they have payments arriving late on a constant basis may want to look at their payment processes and make them simpler to use for the customers. Give your clients multiple avenues to make their payments, be it over the phone, through a web portal, or by mail.

You may also consider sending out automated reminders to your customers. These can be sent out a few days prior to a due date, on that day, and a week after the due date if payment is not made. By receiving automated messages that are sent by a computer, your customers will know that this isn’t a personal attack. Another benefit of setting automated reminders is that you will never forget to ask for a payment, and sometimes, that can be half of the battle.

If you are looking to keep your organization running on full steam, get the payments you’ve earned through the tips above.

About Julie Morris

Julie Morris is a life and career coach. She thrives on helping others live their best lives. It’s easy for her to relate to clients who feel run over by life because she’s been there. After years in a successful (but unfulfilling) career in finance, Julie busted out of the corner office that had become her prison.

Today, she is fulfilled by helping busy professionals like her past self get the clarity they need in order to live inspired lives that fill more than just their bank accounts. When Julie isn’t working with clients, she enjoys writing and is currently working on her first book. She also loves spending time outdoors and getting lost in a good book.

Read her articles here

Improve your company’s performance and decision making with services from BRP Onesta. Find out how our customized solutions can help your business!

7 Things That Lenders Look for When Small Businesses Apply for a Loan

A recent survey demonstrated that nearly 2 in 3 small business owners sought loans for their businesses in 2021. However, small business owners should have advance notice of what lenders are looking for from potential borrowers in 2022. This article gets at some of the characteristics lenders will ask borrowers who wish to secure financing for their businesses.

By Thomas Tramaglini, Managing Director at BRP Onesta
info@BRPOnesta.com
www.backofficedepot.com
www.thomastramaglini.com
About Thomas Tramaglini

1. Business Credit

Business Credit should never be ignored – that is, generating business credit can be a difference maker when accessing secured or unsecured financing. Simply, business credit is how successful a business is in paying its bills which are linked to the business’s Employee Identification Number, not the owners Social Security Number.

If you are not sure if you have business credit, you can use a tool like NAV.com for free to see if you have any current business credit.

Some companies have programs where you can build your business credit. BRP Onesta has an affordable program where business owners can access and build their business credit with hundreds of different tradelines (Click Here to Access).

2. Time in Business

Time is business is very important for small business owners as lenders traditionally want to lend to businesses that have history versus a startup. The longer the time in business, the likelier it is that the business will continue to be in business therefore increasing the changes the loan will be paid back.

Lenders prefer a track record of successfully servicing previous loans and history of running a business. This makes it more difficult for new businesses to get funding as lenders are less likely to take the risk of lending to new businesses, especially those in business less than 2 years.

3. Business Borrowing History

Many lenders will check previous loan or borrowing history, including how the small business owner paid his or her bills in other business transactions. Lenders want to see positive payment histories, as well as few inquiries, late payments, collections, or mass UCC filings. Further, if a small business has had previous poor history with alternative lenders those lenders may have filed a lawsuit or judgement against the business ultimately blacklisting the small business from subsequent borrowing.

This article lays out several ways that your small business may be blacklisted by alternative or internet lenders.

4. Personal Credit Scores

Lenders will almost always do a soft or hard pull on the business owners’ personal credit, as their credit score is an indicator of their credit worthiness. Newer businesses will tend to be evaluated more from the owner’s personal credit than other factors, such as revenue or number of deposits. Further, many times credit score weighs into risk, which drives interest or factor tiers for total payback. Naturally, the better the credit history, the better the loan options will be for the borrower.

So, before applying for financing, it is important for small business owners to grasp their personal credit history and understand how it will impact their borrowing.

5. Cash Flow

Cash flow is a very important part of what the underwriters look at when reviewing a loan request. The lenders want to ensure that the business owner can service the debt that they are accruing. That is, the lenders want to know that the business owner can make the payments, with some form of reasonable cushion.

Some of the components of cash flow include the number of deposits that are made each month, the average daily balance of the business bank account(s), the number of NSFs and negative days, and the amount of revenue versus the expenditures made by the business. Further, it is not uncommon for lenders to review the types of expenditures made. For instance, if a business owner is continually making non-business-related expenditures using the business account, it can be a red flag to lenders that spending routines are not routine.

6. Collateral

Some banks, as well as credit unions will secure some of the loans that they made. Most SBA loans can carry some sort of guarantee with collateral, but banks cannot decline the SBA application just because the small business owners do not have collateral. In many cases, loans that are secured with collateral have longer terms and lower interest rates. However, this is only in retrospect of what other conditions that the lenders have in reviewing their loans.

7. Industry

Some lenders look at some industries different that other industries. For instance, industries like restaurants are less risks than residential construction companies that have only a few deposits a month. The team at BRP Onesta has a list of restricted or risky industries by NAICS code on its website.

Finding loans that suit your needs

As you can see, there are several different aspects of a small business that lenders look at. We highly suggest you have one of our experts review your financing needs before you apply. Doing so can help you protect your company from unnecessary credit pulls or countless unsolicited phone calls. You can contact one of our advisors by clicking here or calling (888) 743-7856

Dr. Thomas Tramaglini is the Managing Director for BRP Onesta, a company that supports small businesses. By offering a host of important and affordable services that small business owners tend to not have time to do themselves, the team at BRP Onesta can help small businesses grow infinitely. Although located in on the famous Jersey shore, BRP Onesta serves clients in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Canada.

Where to Get Free Money for Your Small Businesses: Small Business Grant Portal

Without a doubt, small business owners want access to capital so they can run and grow their businesses. However, many small business owners who we speak with do not know where to start. So, to help small business owners access these free programs we have built a list of small business grants on our portal which we keep current weekly.

In this article, we provide an overview of current grant programs, highlight one current grant program, and list others that are available (scroll down)

By Thomas Tramaglini, Managing Director at BRP Onesta
info@BRPOnesta.com
www.backofficedepot.com
www.thomastramaglini.com
About Thomas Tramaglini

Is my business eligible for grant funding?

This is always a loaded question. However, most small businesses do qualify for some type of grant funding.

There are always different methods for how to find the right grant. We suggest that any small business owner looks based on:

  • Goals of grant (usually grants carry a greater mission to solve problems – for instance, grants that lead to job creation)
  • Industry – search for grants specific to your industry
  • Grants tend to address places of higher poverty

The key of looking for a grant is to not focus on just getting money. Instead, focus on how organizations that provide grants want you to spend the funds. Then, you can organize your application around how to match your business to what the organization is looking for grantees to accomplish.

Certifications – Where Grants Have Prevalence.

Does your business have a certification? Does the small business owner have a certification? Many grants are put aside for businesses that have a certification. Some of the certifications are:

  • Woman-owned small business
  • Minority-owned small business
  • Disadvantaged business enterprise
  • Veteran-owned small business

For more information on the certifications, and how to get your certification and others, click here.

7 Things Every Small Business Owner Should Be Ready for When Applying for A Grant

Grants represent a great way to access capital for a business, however there are several things which small business owners should be aware of before applying. In preparation for writing a grant, we have built an extensive, yet helpful list of important things which will help any small business owner in their pursuit of a small business grant.

This list of what to expect can be found here: Click Here.

Highlighted Grant Database: Grants.gov

For the month of May, we are highlighting the Grants.gov website.

Grants.gov warehouses thousands of different grants provided by the Federal government. Small business owners can search available grants at https://grants.gov/web/grants/search-grants.html. On the database you can look at grants by industry, funding instrument, agency, and opportunity status.

What Small Business Grants are Currently Available?

Small business grants are free money for small businesses which are provided by government, non-public, and for-profit entities. Most small business grants provide business owners an avenue to apply for a bigger goal. For instance, the US Department of Labor has hosted grants to small businesses in places of high poverty for the development of careers and creation of new jobs.

While it takes time and effort to research and apply for grants, the end game can be worth it as small business grants are funds which do not need to be paid back.

To help you get started, we always keep and refresh small business grants which are available to small business owners (https://www.backofficedepot.com/smallbusinessgrants).

Dr. Thomas Tramaglini is the Managing Director for BRP Onesta, a company that supports small businesses. By offering a host of important and affordable services that small business owners tend to not have time to do themselves, the team at BRP Onesta can help small businesses grow infinitely. Although located in on the famous Jersey shore, BRP Onesta serves clients in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Canada.

8 Affordable Small Business Financing Options for The Post Pandemic Era

While the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and the Payroll Protection Programs (PPP) were beneficial for small business owners, as they say, “all good things must come to an end.” What it does not mean is that there are not great options out there for small business owners to take advantage of. We know that traditional bank loans and lines of credit are rarely out there but that does not mean access to financing has to be hard or expensive.

In this article, we will share a list of 8 different financing products which are easy to attain, and in some cases will cost you nothing.

By Thomas W. Tramaglini, Managing Director at BRP Onesta
info@BRPOnesta.com
www.backofficedepot.com
www.thomastramaglini.com
About Thomas Tramaglini

What’s out there for small business owners?

In the post EIDL/PPP era, what is out there for small businesses? We get that question a lot from clients to we put together a list of 8 options for small business owners. Also, you can apply through our platform as we do not charge clients broker fees or add on extra origination charges, ultimately making the product more affordable than going through loan brokers or directly through a website for business funding.

Small Business Grants

Small business grants are free money for small businesses which are provided by government, non-public, and for-profit entities. Most small business grants provide business owners an avenue to apply for a bigger goal. For instance, the US Department of Labor has hosted grants to small businesses in places of high poverty for the development of careers and creation of new jobs.

While it takes time and effort to research and apply for grants, the end game can be worth it as small business grants are funds which do not need to be paid back.

To help you get started, we always keep and refresh small business grants which are available to small business owners (https://www.backofficedepot.com/smallbusinessgrants).

Term loans

Term loans are easy to apply for and usually provide small business owners terms from 1 year out to 5 years. Approvals are based on underwriting guidelines specific to the industry, amount of loan, monthly revenue, credit score, business credit score, and time in business.

Small business term loans usually have set fixed interest rates and payments can be daily,

weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly. For most term loans under $150K the only documentation needed tends to be an application, business bank statements, as well as proof of business. Some lenders ask for taxes if your funding request is for more than $150,000 or on a case-by-case basis.

Average Range for Borrowing: $1,500 to $550,000

Rate(s): 7% – 38% APR

Credit Score Requirement: 600

To apply for pre-qualification (no credit pull) for a Small Business Term Loan Click Here.

Equipment Term Loans with Rebate

Some equipment loans carry rebates which can be advantageous for small business owners. That is, a lender will lease to the small business a piece of equipment and provide a rebate at an amount which is parallel to the costs of the equipment loan. For instance, if it is determined that the equipment loan is for $25,000, the equipment is then amortized with interest over 60 monthly payments, without origination or fees. Then, upon receipt of equipment, a rebate is provided for the business owner for the equipment at the amount the equipment costs.

What is beneficial about the loan is that to an extent, equipment is tax deductible under Chapter 179 of the IRS Tax Code so what you are paying back is tax deductible. Also beneficial is that this loan is not one that counts as an MCA position and having a longer term make the payments more affordable than traditional term loans.

Average Range for Borrowing: $20,000 to $100,000

Rate(s): 15% – 20% APR

Term(s): 5 years

Credit Score Requirement: 680

Business Credit Score: Paydex Score of 80

To apply for pre-qualification (no credit pull) for a 5 Year loan click here.

Line of Credit

Lines of credit have the most flexibility. For instance, the beauty of a line of credit is that you only draw what you need when you need to. Applications for lines of credit are fast and have

flexible terms.

Range for Borrowing: $1,500 to $250,000

Rate(s): 7% – 28% APR

Term(s): Variable

Credit Score Requirement: 680

To apply for pre-qualification (no credit pull) for a line of credit, click here.

Short Term Loan

Short term loans are those which go from 6 months to 5 years. Most short-term loans have

weekly payments and little underwriting requirements. Further, credit is less important and while rates tend to be higher for small business owners, there is minimal paperwork needed and funds can be disbursed in as fast as 1 hour.

Average Range for Borrowing: $2,500 to $500,000

Rate(s): 8.99% – 34% APR

Credit Score Requirement: 450

To apply for pre-qualification (no credit pull) for a line of credit, click here.

Consolidation Loan

Consolidation loans present a host of different options for small business owners who already have debt or would like to combine working capital already taken. There are

different consolidation programs available which small business owners can use to ensure that they have the maximum economic performance they can have.

For originators, loan consolidation is an art. There are virtually dozens of ways to consolidate loans which can be helpful. Once you apply, our team will craft an option which provides you a simple, affordable road map for consolidation and beyond.

Average Range for Borrowing: $25,000 to $500,000

Rate(s): 9.0% – 39% APR

Term(s): Up to 3 years

Credit Score Requirement: 500 and up

To apply for pre-qualification (no credit pull) for a consolidation loan, click here.

Equipment or Vehicle Loans

Perhaps one of the best loans small business owners can take is for equipment or vehicles. With relatively low rates, equipment or vehicle loans can be efficient and lower in cost than working capital loans or merchant cash advances. Plus, the benefits are that the loan does not usually go on the business owner’s personal credit and has a longer term, up to 6 years.

Further, many lenders do not count an equipment loan towards working capital loans or merchant cash advances, so small business owners may be able to acquire more capital. Some equipment and vehicle lenders may also provide additional working capital as well.

Average Range for Borrowing: $25,000 to $150,000

Rate(s): 6.0% – 21% APR

Term(s): Up to 6 Years

Credit Score Requirement: 600

To apply for pre-qualification (no credit pull) for an equipment or vehicle financing, click here.

Asset-Based Loans

Asset-based loans are loans that are collateralized with either equipment or real estate. Loans that have collateral attached to it are usually cheaper than regular term loans and less risks for lenders to provide funds.

Asset-based loans for small business owners can be a great way to access lower-cost working

capital and the terms can be beneficial as well. Also, asset-based loans usually carry simple monthly interest, which means you pay interest by the month, not the term. If the borrower pays the loan back earlier, they can save on the interest as they do not pay the months that they do not have the loan. This is a similar loan product to a line of credit.

Average Range for Borrowing: $10,000 to $500,000

Rate(s): Simple Monthly Interest (starting at 1.5% per month)

Term(s): Up to 5 Years

Credit Score Requirement: None

To apply for pre-qualification (no credit pull) for an asset-based loan, click here.

Dr. Thomas Tramaglini is the Managing Director for BRP Onesta, a company that supports small businesses. By offering a host of important and affordable services that small business owners tend to not have time to do themselves, the team at BRP Onesta can help small businesses grow infinitely. Although located in on the famous Jersey shore, BRP Onesta serves clients in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada.

What Do Small Business Owners Need to Know About Filing Their Taxes for 2021?

Did you receive EIDL or PPP proceeds in 2021 and you do not know how that is handled with regards to your taxes? What are the new requirements for the submission of taxes for small businesses in 2021? Indeed, for Small Business Owners Tax season brings on a layer of anxiety and additional work. While some small business owners use accountants, many small business owners file their taxes on their own. In this article, we provide an overview of some of the changes which small business owners should be aware of when preparing to submit their taxes either through an accountant or on their own.

By Thomas Tramaglini, Managing Director at BRP Onesta
info@BRPOnesta.com
www.backofficedepot.com
www.thomastramaglini.com
About Thomas Tramaglini

Introduction

Tax season is in full swing. In most cases, corporate taxes are due to the Internal Revenue Service on April 15th. If you have an S-Corporation, your corporate taxes were due on March

15th (unless your fiscal year is not operating on a calendar year). There have been some changes that have been made by government changes or additions to legislation (much in COVID Relief legislation), so here is a short recap of some of the changes.

Small Business Tax Changes for FY 2021

American Rescue Plan

Credits for Paid Leave Because of COVID Vaccines

The American Rescue Plan of 2021 provides guidance on allowing small business owners to claim refundable tax credits for their employees. This is to reimburse them for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave to employees due to COVID-19. This includes leave taken by employees to receive or recover from COVID-19 vaccinations. ARP tax credits are available to eligible employers who paid sick and family leave from April 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021.

Employee Retention Credit: The American Rescue Plan extended the ERC until December 31, 2021.

PPP and EIDL

If you received Economic Injury Disaster Loan proceeds in 2021 the funds do not count as taxable business income for 2021. However, it is important to retain detailed records for an audit that can be ordered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) or Department of Justice.

You can use EIDL funds to pay taxes to lower your accrued liabilities.

Did your small business receive a PPP loan in 2021? Like EIDL, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan (forgiven or unforgiven) does not count as business income and you are eligible to write off allowable business expenses, even if the PPP loan was used to pay those expenses. Learn more about allowable uses of EIDL and PPP here.

Digital Payment Services (PayPal, Venmo)

If customers pay for services or goods through a digital pay service such as PayPal or Venmo and the amount is above $600 it should be counted as income. Beginning in 2022 those digital services are required to report those metrics to the IRS, and this can be an easy place for an audit.

Sick and Family Leave Credits

Sick and family leave credits: Eligible employers can claim refundable tax credits that reimburse them for the cost of providing qualified sick and family leave wages for employees on leave between April 1, 2021, and September 30, 2021, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members.

401(k) Contributions to One Participant or Solo 401(k)

Business owners with no employees can contribute up to $58,000 in tax year 2021. In 2022, they can contribute up to $61,000 to a one-participant or solo 401(k), with an additional $6,500 catchup if the owner is over 50.

Meals

Do you claim business meals? Business meals at restaurants are 100% deductible for tax years 2021 and 2022 (up from 50%).

Other Tax Stuff

The standard mileage rate for business use of a vehicle is 56 cents per mile for the 2021 tax year. In the 2022 tax year, the rate increases to 58.5 cents per mile.

Charitable Gift Deductions increased: C Corporations are still allowed to raise the limit for cash donations from 10% to 25% for the 2021 tax year.

Get Help if Needed

If you are unsure about your tax needs, need to file taxes from previous years, or just have

questions, please contact our team of advisors today.

Dr. Thomas Tramaglini is the Managing Director for BRP Onesta, a company that supports small businesses. By offering a host of important and affordable services that small business owners tend to not have time to do themselves, the team at BRP Onesta can help small businesses grow infinitely. Although located in on the famous Jersey shore, BRP Onesta serves clients in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada.

BRP Onesta is not an accountancy and does not give advice on tax decisions which would be better answered by a CPA or tax professional. In other words, if you have a question, as your accountant.

Nearly Every State Requires Annual Corporate Filings: It Is Probably Time for You To File Yours.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs must balance the grind of their work each day with the compliance requirements to run their businesses effectively and legally. One compliance attribute which our clients and others deal with each year is the filing of their annual report. In this article we tackle what an annual report is and provide resources for small business owners and entrepreneurs to complete their reports.

You can also scroll down to see your state’s annual filing requirement(s)

By Thomas Tramaglini, Managing Director at BRP Onesta

info@BRPOnesta.com
www.backofficedepot.com
www.thomastramaglini.com
About Thomas Tramaglini

Corporate Filings are Important

Are you a small business owner? Did you file your annual report for 2021? Failing to file your business or corporation annual compliance documents can lead to a business being suspended or in some cases forfeited without small business owners knowing it.

In 2021, BRP Onesta surveyed over 1,000 (1,292) small business owners. 35.1% of the small business owners who responded said that they had no idea of whether they needed to file corporate filings for the year. We also audited 2,400 of our clients and nearly 20% of our clients had deficiencies in their corporate filings.

What is an Annual Report?

An annual report is a document filed by non-profit and for-profit corporations, limited liability companies, and limited liability partnerships must file with their state which the business is filed in, usually each year. The content of the annual report usually outlines the status of an organization.

Annual Reports Differ from State to State

State governments very in how they require small businesses to file annual reports. Some state Secretary of State offices (or similar agencies) require Annual Reports to be files on different timelines (like biennial or decennial).

Our team is regularly asked about when and what to do from clients regarding these filings, so we decided to put together a chart for our clients and others to review.

Critical Things Associated with Annual Reports

There are some critical things that are associated with annual filings, so we have compiled a list of things to remember when you are considering corporate filings:

  • While nearly every state requires an annual filing of some sort, not every state requires the same information. For instance, Maryland requires different reporting (taxes and operation) and New Jersey requires less information.
  • States that require corporate filings usually require a payment to keep the business in good standing.
  • Those business owners who fail to pay their fees can have penalties added.
  • States process filings at different rates of speed. Some are online only, some mail in only.
  • Small business owners jeopardize their Certificate in Good Standing Status if they fail to file their annual report. This can have a detrimental effect in areas such as funding, grants, or acquiring new licenses.

What Are Your State’s Requirements for Filing?

Considering each state has different requirements, we try to keep a running list on our website. For our list, we break down both LLC and Corporation requirements.

See your state’s filing requirements

Ensure Your Corporate Filings Are Done on Time and Accurately

If you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, we highly suggest using our company to prepare your corporate filings for you. It is inexpensive and will allow you to focus on your typical everyday work.

At BRP Onesta, we have a team of experts who prepare and file small business filings such as annual reports in all 50 States.

Dr. Thomas Tramaglini is the Managing Director for BRP Onesta, a company that supports small businesses. By offering a host of important and affordable services that small business owners tend to not have time to do themselves, the team at BRP Onesta can help small businesses grow infinitely. Although located in on the famous Jersey shore, BRP Onesta serves clients in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada.

Applying for an SBA loan? What brokers and banks cannot do to small business owners.

Hundreds of thousands of small business owners apply for loans from the US Small Business Administration (SBA) each year. However, small business owners should know what SBA agents and banks can and cannot do before applying. This article shares some things that small business owners should watch out for when applying for an SBA loan.

By Thomas Tramaglini, Managing Director at BRP Onesta
info@BRPOnesta.com
www.backofficedepot.com
www.thomastramaglini.com
About Thomas Tramaglini

Small business owners are easy targets.

According to the SBA, over 50% of all small businesses have borrowed money in the past 5 years. And continually one of the most popular loan products we are asked about are the SBA 7a, Express, and 504 loan products.

One thing we regularly see is that many small business owners are taken advantage of by banks or brokers. With so much misbehavior and shenanigans out there, we wrote this article to outline several things that banks, and brokers cannot do to small business owners while they apply for an SBA loan.

Two reasons why banks and brokers take advantage of small business owners

The team at BRP Onesta helps small business owners start, maintain, and grow their businesses. Each year we see hundreds of small business owners who are taken advantage of for two basic reasons:

  1. Small business owners do not know the rules so they will do whatever is asked of them by banks or brokers.
  2. Brokers know that SBA loans do not pay much. That is, unless the SBA loan is for millions, merchant cash advances, equipment loans and term loans pay much better than SBA loans. Therefore, it is not uncommon for brokers to ask for up-front fees or due-diligence costs. In many cases, brokers lie to small business owners by telling them the costs are reimbursed at the closing or refundable if the loan does not fund.

Things that SBA banks and brokers would love to do but are prohibited from doing so.

Small business owners beware – these are things that small business owners we interact with typically are asked to do or participate in.

Due Diligence Costs: Due diligence costs are fees paid up front for legal fees before submitting the loan. Not only is this practice illegal,

Commissions, referral fees, broker fees: These fees are common in different loans, including equipment and real estate loans. Even Merchant Cash Advances and term loans have these structured in different ways. Banks are not allowed to charge any commissions, broker fees or referral fees. In some cases, fees can be assessed if provided using SBA Form 159.

Fees for legal services: Most banks do not charge fees for legal services unless the lender is being billed by an attorney at an hourly rate for set services.

Fees for services: This is a common issue with loan brokers who promise small business owners that they will be working on their SBA loan package for them. Sometimes these services can be approved if provided on SBA 159 (after loan approval) but up-front fees like due diligence are not allowed and illegal. If you are a small business owner and you are asked for an upfront fee, you are probably getting ripped off.

Add-On Interest is charged one time, in advance, and added to the loan balance. The amount of interest in not compounding or decreasing according to loan balance. This is not allowable. And while SBA loans do not allow for some early payback without penalty (usually because of the guarantee from SBA), SBA loan interest is based on balance remaining.

What do small business owners do to protect themselves?

It is imperative that small business owners do things to protect themselves as they apply for SBA funding. Even if small business owners do not get approved for an SBA loan, they should not be taken advantage of.

Small business support companies like BRP Onesta provide realistic, free origination on SBA and other loans. We are honest, care about the business owner, and work with the business owner to provide a pathway for funding, even if he or she is not ready.

If you would like to have free qualification review for an SBA loan, please contact us at any time. We can usually provide a pre-approval in 5 minutes.

Dr. Thomas Tramaglini is the Managing Director for BRP Onesta, a company that supports small businesses. By offering a host of important and affordable services that small business owners tend to not have time to do themselves, the team at BRP Onesta can help small businesses grow infinitely. Although located in on the famous Jersey shore, BRP Onesta serves clients in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada.

Getting Caught: Small Business Owners Committing EIDL and PPP Fraud

Regardless of whether or not small business owners believe they did anything wrong, they should understand what is happening.

From April 2020 to December 2021 over $1.2 Trillion was delivered to small businesses in the form of the Payroll Production Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. While many small business owners saved their businesses because of PPP and EIDL, many small business owners provided information to banks and the SBA which were inaccurate and in many cases, purposely fraudulent. This article reviews current oversight efforts and actions by the Department of Justice for those who submitted inaccurate or fraudulent information to get funded. We highlight several cases where small business owners committed fraud.

We also have updated our previous rankings of the Top 15 Frontline Zeroes of The Pandemic and added some new Dishonorable Mentions.

By Thomas Tramaglini, Managing Director at BRP Onesta
info@BRPOnesta.com
www.backofficedepot.com
www.thomastramaglini.com
About Thomas Tramaglini

Introduction

Many small business owners benefitted from COVID Relief programs in 2020 and 2021. Specifically, over a $1.2 Trillion dollars were provided to small businesses through programs like the Payroll Production Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan. Yet, since the onset of these programs, the government has been going after small business owners who abused these programs. Either by submitting inaccurate and in some cases fraudulent documents or by misusing the funds small business owners, one by one the government is going after small businesses.

Does the government really referee COVID Relief Programs for small businesses?

The answer is yes.

Fraud was apparently so prevalent that President Biden announced in the State of the Union Address on March 1 an increase scrutiny of both how small business owners secured and used both Payroll Production Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan funding.

Government Agencies Cross-Checking Data: Three ways that the government is finding PPP and EIDL fraud

  • There is discrepancy between the business’ taxes and what the business put on their EIDL/PPP application
  • Does the IRS have the 940/941 forms that were submitted with PPP applications?
  • Were funds used appropriately? That is, were funds used for payroll expenses (or allowable expenses) or were the funds used to buy cars, jewelry, or even to pay lifetime alimony?

How bad was the Fraud? BAD

For some time now, news outlets have been describing how some small business owners defrauded the federal government. Some watchdog groups have been suggesting that PPP and EIDL fraud or misuse was terrible. I wrote about this previously in an article and said:

The purpose of this article not to describe how inherent the fraud was but from what some watchdogs are showing, it was bad. However, Yahoo Finance writer Dani Romero’s post on March 4 was pretty telling:

“Data from Accountable.US, a watchdog group, found that individuals with no employees, and making over six-figures annually – but received $20,833 in PPP funding, which was the maximum by the legislation.

Separately, a new paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research reveals that was used accordingly. Of the $510 billion of PPP loans distributed in 2020, $115 billion to $175 billion went toward supporting jobs that would have otherwise have been lost, while about $335 billion to $395 billion ended up with business owners and corporate stakeholders, the paper found.”

New cases still coming every day

The government continues to go after cases where fraud has been found. And they are not

always going after the big fish. Some examples have been made of small business owners who received as little as $10K in funding (click here to read).

A local case was just settled in New Jersey close to where BRP Onesta is located. As reported in CentralJersey.com, Jordan Larkins of Edison, NJ admitted to a host of crimes associated with PPP and EIDL programs. “According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, from May through July 2020, Larkins submitted three fraudulent PPP loan applications to three different lenders and 11 EIDL applications to SBA on behalf of numerous purported businesses. On his 14 fraudulent PPP and EIDL applications, Larkins made false representations to the participating lenders and the SBA, including fake federal tax return documentation for his purported businesses and fake bank statements, according to the statement. He also fabricated the identities of certain individuals listed as applicants and the corresponding driver’s licenses of those purported applicants.

Based on Larkins’ misrepresentations, he obtained approximately $1.6 million in PPP and EIDL funds. Larkins then misused the funds by making a series of cash withdrawals, transferring funds to foreign banks, and for various other personal expenses, according to the statement.” (DOJ Press Release Here)

Will the DOJ come after you? Three things that small business owners can do to ensure they are ready for an audit or investigation.

  • Small business owners should review their loan application and forgiveness application to make sure that the proper loan amounts were applied for, received, and forgiven.
  • Some small business owners used a service or someone to apply on their behalf for their funding. Those who did this should know who did the application, what documents they provided, as well as have contact information for an auditor to contact.
  • Maintain a list with back-up of all expenditures which were made using the Pandemic Relief Funds.

Re-Ranking Our Top 15 Zeroes of the Pandemic

In December 2021, we ranked the Top 15 “Zeroes of the Pandemic” which were who we thought were the most interesting of those either charged or convicted of PPP or EIDL fraud. Since then we have updated our list.

We also have added a list of dishonorable mentions as well.

1) ($14M) Apocalypse Bella (https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/two-texas-men-and-one-oregon-man-charged-fraud-scheme-obtain-over-14-million-covid)

2) ($11.1M) Amanda Christian (https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/twenty-two-charged-connection-more-11-million-paycheck-protection-program-fraud-scheme)

3) Charles Petty ($11.1M) (https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/twenty-two-charged-connection-more-11-million-paycheck-protection-program-fraud-scheme)

4) ($11.1) Charmine Redding (https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/twenty-two-charged-connection-more-11-million-paycheck-protection-program-fraud-scheme)

5) (8.884M) Benjamin Tifekchian (https://www.justice.gov/usao-or/pr/portland-man-pleads-guilty-bank-fraud-after-stealing-covid-relief-funds)

6) ($7.6M) Jacob Carter, Quadri Salahuddin, Anwar Salahuddin, Christal Ransom (https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/four-defendants-charged-76-million-covid-19-fraud-scheme)

7) ($7.2M) Don Cisternino (https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl/pr/seminole-county-man-charged-covid-relief-fraud)

8) ($6M) Christopher Lick (https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndms/pr/starkville-man-charged-more-6-million-covid-relief-fraud-false-statements-and-money)

9) ($5.8M) Julio Enrique Lugo (https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdfl/pr/davenport-couple-charged-58-million-covid-relief-fraud)

10) (4.5M) Christina Burden (https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndca/pr/oakland-woman-charged-million-dollar-scheme-defraud-pandemic-relief-programs-struggling)

11) ($3.899M) Brittany Shearod (https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga/pr/22-people-charged-connection-multi-million-dollar-paycheck-protection-program-fraud)

12) ($3.899M) Darius McCants (https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga/pr/22-people-charged-connection-multi-million-dollar-paycheck-protection-program-fraud)

13) ($3.8M) Gregory Blotnick (https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pr/new-york-and-florida-resident-charged-38-million-paycheck-protection-program-fraud-scheme)

14) ($3M) Anuli Okeke (https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/pr/two-former-employees-new-york-branch-major-bank-and-accountant-charged-cares-act-loan)

15) ($2.2M) Abdreq Aaron Lloyd, Russell Schort (https://www.justice.gov/usao-or/pr/two-oregon-men-face-federal-charges-pocketing-millions-covid-relief-fraud-scheme)

Dis-Honorable Mentions

($1.9M ) John Jhong (https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/pr/sussex-county-man-charged-19-million-paycheck-protection-program-fraud-scheme)

($1.6M) Alicia Ayers, Andrea Ayers, Traci Proctor (https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/three-defendants-charged-16-million-covid-19-fraud-scheme)

($1.6M) James Kyle Bell (https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc/pr/nevada-man-pleads-guilty-election-fundraising-scam-and-cheating-taxpayers-out-paycheck)

($600K) Marc Mason (https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga/pr/22-people-charged-connection-multi-million-dollar-paycheck-protection-program-fraud)

There are other people or groups of people who have been accused or convicted (some for more greedy amounts than below and can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/2d5rm823.

Source: Arnold & Porter, 2021 https://www.arnoldporter.com/en/general/cares-act-fraud-tracker

*Disclaimer to reader – We believe that every person is entitled to due process and until convicted of any crime, anyone accused should be innocent until proven guilty. All contents in this article, including names and claims were confirmed in by research through the United States Department of Justice or the State the person is accused from.

Dr. Thomas Tramaglini is the Managing Director for BRP Onesta, a company that supports small businesses. By offering a host of important and affordable services that small business owners tend to not have time to do themselves, the team at BRP Onesta can help small businesses grow infinitely. Although located in on the famous Jersey shore, BRP Onesta serves clients in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada.

What is a Merchant Cash Advance (MCA)?

Working capital loans are important to small business owners as funds allow small businesses to expand or at a minimum become nimbler than it currently is. However, small business loans, especially SBA and bank loans are not easy to get so many small businesses resort to easier options like merchant cash advances. In this article, we describe in some depth merchant cash advances. We also provide some implications and offer lower cost avenues to borrowing money for small businesses.

By Thomas Tramaglini, Managing Director at BRP Onesta
info@BRPOnesta.com
www.backofficedepot.com
www.thomastramaglini.com
About Thomas Tramaglini

Lack of Lower-Cost Options for Small Businesses

In recent articles I have provided an overview of the lower-cost options available for small businesses. Loans such as SBA loans are rare. For instance, in 2021 there were over 32 million small businesses in the United States and only a little over 12,000 SBA loans funded in the same year. That means, that the funding rate to small business is 0.00038%. That comes down to about 1 in 37,000 chance a small business would get an SBA loan.

These are not good odds for the typical small business owner, unless you are comparing to getting struck by lightning (1/114,195) or dying in an airplane crash (1/205,552).

Barriers in Place Make Sure Small Businesses

Overall, small businesses asking to borrow money present high risk to banks. Most banks do not want to lend to small businesses because about 1 in 6 small business owners (Voigt & Campbell, 2017). So, for banks to get to the place where they feel comfortable, they ask for and analyze every piece of paperwork they can. Banks also use terms such as Global Cash Flow (which most business owners cannot determine) and require full financials (which most small business owners do not have).

In short, it is my perspective that unless a small business has millions in accounts receivable or years of showing profits of 6-figures, the likelihood of getting a small business loan is grim.

The Devil is in the Details

According to the SBA data from the 7a lending report, in 2021 SBA loans totaled around $6.3 Billion. In comparison, the MCA industry alone (Rumore, 2021) totals around $19 Billion per year. Therefore, MCA dollars are about 3 times more prevalent in lending than SBA 7a loans.

Alternative Loans or Online Loans

Because it is so difficult for small business owners to get a small business loan at a bank (see This Blog Post for Data), there are options that present a much easier route. One such option are alternative loans or online loans from lenders who offer much shorter terms (6 months to 5 years). There are many advantages to these loans (time, less paperwork, fast approvals) and you can learn more about or apply with the options listed here. It is important that if you want to apply for a term loan or line of credit with one of these lenders you speak with someone who has knowledge of these products. Although the approval process is relatively fast, these lenders will still ask for financials, taxes, and other documents. Further, you can assume you will receive a hard pull on your credit and in some instances, they will ask to secure your loan. Our team of advisors has the knowledge of the different programs out there, can explain your options, and will prevent your application from getting shopped around the internet which will hit your credit negatively.

The Merchant Cash Advance

A Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) is one of the easiest funding options for small business owners because MCAs are unsecured, do not require strong credit, usually do not require collateral, and also require little documentation (if any). The average MCA file can be funded within a day and usually requires several months of business bank statements.

An MCA is not a loan but an advance of a business’ future receivables. Lenders gauge how much to advance a small business owner in several ways, including previous credit card sales and revenue going into their business bank account. Variables such as industry, number of deposits, daily balances among others are used by the lender to hedge risk. Regardless, MCA lenders offer to advance a portion of a small business’ future sales as well as an agreement with the business owner on the percentage of future sales which are being sold to the lender.

Interest and Terms

MCAs do not carry interest. Advances carry factor rates, which are also called buy rates that are simply an agreement of how much of a small business’ future sales will be paid to the lender. Some advances may also collect repayment terms by taking a portion of business’ credit card receipts each day as well until their agreed sale of future receivables is completed. MCA payback frequency varies depending on the risk and bank account statistics. For instance, if a borrower wants to have a monthly or weekly payment the lender gauges that opportunity off the average daily balance of the business in the business bank account. When daily balances are variable or lower MCA lenders may require a daily payment.

Probably the most negative part of an MCA is cost of money. MCAs can be expensive. That is, MCAs can be as high as +50% in payback. Also, most advances carry origination fees for the work by the lender, which can be as high as 10% of the loan. MCA cost of money is like how credit card cash advances operate and, in some cases, better.

Advantages of MCAs

Merchant cash advances have several advantages for small business owners, and some can include:

  • Fast funding – Some MCA companies can fund small businesses in 90 minutes.
  • Most MCAs do not have UCC liens
  • MCAs are not usually reported on personal credit
  • Funds are unsecured
  • Payment frequency can be flexible at times
  • Most MCAs do not carry a personal guarantee
  • Easily refinance options which can cut costs
  • No early payback penalties
  • Small business owners can build a relationship with the lender ultimately securing better programing
  • Few required documents (including taxes) for funding

IMPORTANT – Speak to Someone with Expertise and Who Cares (without obligation or cost)

It is imperative to speak with someone who is impartial when it comes to your borrowing options. MCA brokers make money off of your MCA (Points added for MCA brokers to the buy rate and in turn the sell rate is 10-20% higher than the buy rate). Many of the rip-off and illegal collection activities of lenders have been exposed and prosecuted in recent years as well (SEC and FTC have become more involved in holding some lenders such as Quarterspot, Yellowstone Capital, and RAM Capital.

That said, you should speak to someone that knows about the different options and importantly, tells you what they believe you can be approved for and WHY! This includes should include SBA and USDA to MCA options.

Up front, I believe that phone sales can be very valuable, if the person calling you is ethical and follows the rules of calling.

However, if you are called and asked the following it is probably an MCA broker and you should think twice before engaging in their questions.

Common MCA Broker Script:

  • What industry are you in?
  • What is your average revenue?
  • How many deposits do you make a month?
  • How many years have you been in business?
  • How many positions do you currently have?
  • What is your credit score?
  • Do you have any bankruptcies or judgments?

Our Team Cares – We Offer Lower Cost Options

Are you curious about what you would qualify for or want a specific product? Call us at (888) 315-2822 or simply request a no-obligation call. One of our team members will go over what we believe you can qualify for. In many cases, you do not compensate us in any way as we participate in volume profit sharing with lenders and never pass those costs on to you. What that means is that if the buy rate is 25% (cost of money from the lender) we will not increase your cost 10-20% to arrive at a 45-50% sell rate. Most of the time we can even cut your current payments without paying interest on interest.

Importantly, we care and will never push you in the wrong direction. So, if you currently have an MCA or MCAs and you want to consolidate those MCAs, give us a call. If you want to save money on a new MCA, we can get you there.

References

(Rumore, 2021) https://businessdebtlawgroup.com/state-of-merchant-cash-advance-during-coronavirus-pandemic/

(Voigt & Campbell, 2017) https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/small-business/study-1-in-6-sba-small-business-administration-loans-fail

Dr. Thomas W. Tramaglini is the Managing Director for BRP Onesta, a company that supports small businesses. By offering a host of important and affordable services that small business owners tend to not have time to do themselves, the team at BRP Onesta can help small businesses grow infinitely. Although located in on the famous Jersey shore, BRP Onesta serves clients in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada.

7 Things Every Small Business Owner Should Be Ready for When Applying for A Grant

Small business grants opportunities are out there! In this post we address some critical things that might serve as a roadblock to a small business owner getting the grant they apply for.

By Thomas W. Tramaglini, Managing Director at BRP Onesta info@BRPOnesta.com www.backofficedepot.com http://www.thomastramaglini.com About Thomas Tramaglini

Grants: They are out there – but are you ready?

Small business owners ask us all the time for grants which they can apply for that will support their new or established business. That is why we always keep an updated list of grants on our website which every small business owner should visit regularly.

Yet, in many cases small business owners are not successful in attaining a grant.

Grants represent a great way to access capital for a business, however there are several things which small business owners should be aware of before applying. Below, we provide a list of some important things which will help any small business owner in their pursuit of a small business grant.

1. Do your research

The people who provide Grants to small businesses are usually from non-profits or the government. In most cases grants have a specific purpose. Many times, small business owners will just “Apply” for a grant without seeing what type of grant is out there. One simple thing to do is to use a grant database to find the right program to apply for.

We have a few grant databases here to conduct your search

Grantors want to give funds to those who help the organization reach its goals. Some of the best examples are grants that support minority small businesses or veterans. If you are neither then don’t apply because you surely will get rejected.

2. Think like a grant reviewer

A great way to think about your grant application when you write it is to think like a grant reviewer. That is, if you are going to be the person or team reviewing the grant you are writing what would they be looking for.

Most grants have a list of what they are looking for in the grantee. Take that list and make your own list of grant requirements and use that to guide your application. Even have someone else review your application with the list you provided as a guide. Most grants are graded on a scale or rubric, so this is a helpful technique when writing your application.

3. Keep accurate records of what you are applying for

One common mistake that many small business owners make is that they do not save information regarding what they applied for. Then, when the grant reviewer(s) asks questions, or for supporting documents, the small business owner shows either insincerity or disregard for the grant which leads to q quick decline.

So – Take notes. Keep a file. Do whatever is necessary so that you are ready when the grant reviewer asks questions or for supporting materials.

4. Grants are usually not like EIDL and PPP

Over the past few years, small business owners have had a taste of PPP and EIDL programs. For the most part, there were few guardrails which small business owners had with the pandemic funds being doled. Regardless, there were a bunch of knuckleheads who did not follow the minor rules (Actual Rules Here) and paid the price for it (Fake 940/941s. More Lamborghinis, Rolexes and Real Estate, Oh My).

Grants have technical components that one must usually follow, and nobody is entitled to grant funds. Grant applications should demonstrate that the business owner is worthy of the funds.

5. Make sure that you are writing like you can write

On many occasions I have seen grant applications declined because they are poorly written. I have sat on grant panels myself and seen some awful demonstrations of the English language. Nobody expects a trucker to write like F. Scott Fitzgerald but run on sentences, misspelling, failing to proofread, and just not being to the point is what I have seen kill an application. Even for the worthiest small business owner. So, if you have been writing using slang or short texting words, a word to the wise – do not use those in grant applications.

If you are unsure if you are writing a good piece, send it to me anytime and one of my team members or I will look at what you wrote (info@brponesta.com).

6. Make sure you have the following:

In many cases, grant organizations will ask for the following things. If you need any assistance with any of these things, which are pretty much what every small business should have regardless, contact our team of advisors now.

  • Articles of Organization or Incorporation
  • Corporate Financials (P&L, Balance Sheets)
  • Business Bank Statements
  • Tax Returns
  • Business Plan
  • Operating Agreements
  • Privacy Policy
  • 2 Year Corporate Financial Outlook
  • Website Address
  • Company Overview

7. Use a grant writer

Most small business owners are not grant writers. In fact, most small business owners do not have the time to write grants or are not experienced in writing grants. Therefore, companies like ours (contact our team of advisors as we write grants) exist to help small business owners.

We are well schooled in the grants that are out there, as well as how to effectively write those grants.

If you are a small business owner and you want us to write one or more grants for you, we have a bunch of different grants and grant writers who will help you at an affordable rate. If you are interested contact our team of advisors now.

Sign Up for Our Secret Sauce Newsletter for Small Businesses and receive the link to 1 Tradeline Who Gives Business Credit for Free Click Here

Dr. Thomas W. Tramaglini is the Managing Director for BRP Onesta, a company that supports small businesses. By offering a host of important and affordable services that small business owners tend to not have time to do themselves, the team at BRP Onesta can help small businesses grow infinitely. Although located in on the famous Jersey shore, BRP Onesta serves clients in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Canada.