Capitalizing Your Business for Success

Every business needs capital to grow, no matter whether it’s a mom-and-pop storefront or a mature multinational corporation. Startups face particular challenges, however, given that they are generally untested and unproven.

For a new business in today’s economic climate, securing enough funding from a bank may prove a difficult proposition depending on how much it needs to borrow and how much collateral it can offer. For that reason, some entrepreneurs turn to courting investors or financing the business themselves. Both of these methods have own pros and cons.

venture capital
photo credit: Bikerock via photopin cc

Investor Cash Can Be Blessing and Curse

Money from outside investors can be very appealing for the simple reason that a business owner is not risking his or her own nest egg on the new venture. In addition, investor funding can help fuel massive growth in a relatively short term. However, that has the potential to be both a blessing and a curse. Uncontrolled growth can bring challenges – business owners may have little time to consider and refine their product and/or strategy as they become consumed by the demands of daily operations.

Large sums of outside capital can also bring publicity and media attention. On the plus side, that exposure can create word-of-mouth buzz, bringing customers without the expense of traditional advertising. On the flip side, however, a heavy amount of attention can overwhelm a startup, ratcheting up demand beyond supply capacity and threatening to undo any initial positive press with a wave of customer dissatisfaction.

In short, a new business must be ready for all eventualities when it hits the market.

Bootstrapping for Controlled Growth

Unless we’re dealing with the likes of Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, the option of self-financing a business – also known as bootstrapping – probably won’t yield the quick growth and flash of an investor-funded startup. What it can offer, instead, is an enhanced level of control and stability, which may prime a business for long-term success. When owners bootstrap, their business can only grow as fast as their revenues and their ability to pay employees. That makes it less likely that customer demand will outpace the quantity or quality of the goods, or the capabilities of the workforce.

Of course, there are tradeoffs. Bootstrapping means the owner assumes the financial risk if the business fails. It may also be tricky to cover expenses, especially in the early days when sales volume is low. This is where a business owner may need to get creative, at least in the short term, in generating revenue and trimming expenses, which could include reducing or foregoing a salary. Other possible options include working from home to avoid office rent and using social media and other technology for low-cost marketing.

Funding Help Available for Small Businesses

There’s no denying that having a pot of cash at the ready would probably make life easier for startup businesses. Still, there are ways to grow a business with little or no capital. Online affiliate programs, for example, can provide a revenue stream – a business earns a commission each time a visitor to its website clicks a link to another firm’s products. Joint ventures, meanwhile, allow business owners to pool resources and share expertise.

The Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program, which is part of the U.S. Small Business Administration, seeks to help business owners secure private funding and long-term loans, with the overall goal of boosting private-sector job creation.

In FY 2012, the program provided financing totaling $3.1 billion to more than 1,000 small businesses, a 17% increase over the previous fiscal year. Almost one-third of the recipients were owned by minorities, veterans or women, and/or located in low- to moderate-income communities.

According to the Small Business Administration, about 65,000 jobs were sustained or created as a result of SBIC-related financing in 2012.

Whether entrepreneurs and small business owners tap into government programs such as the SBIC, finance themselves or seek backing from outside investors, they have options for securing startup capital.

About the Author: Dean Vella writes about business and leadership on behalf of University Alliance, a facilitator of online certificate programs in business administration, and leadership and management.

Scandalous Investment Schemes: Is Your Business at Risk?

Recent economic conditions have made investment fraud a very prominent problem among small businesses. These businesses, often looking to recoup losses they incurred in their investments or to their company retirement accounts are being swayed by con-artist financial advisers that are more interested in their own bottom-line than the security of the investments they are offering.  Four of the most common fraudulent schemes out there consist of familiar sounding phrases.

1) Exchange Traded Funds   Commonly known as ETF’s, these funds carry a very high risk to any investor. Most ETF’s consist of very volatile and exotic financial products that would not be the first choice of any low-risk investor. Additionally, these brokers or advisers often fail to tell the small business that an ETF is often not able to be liquidated at short notice in the event that the company needs to raise quick cash.c

2) ForEx   ForEx is the slang term for Foreign Exchange trading. This type of trading deals with buying and selling foreign currency against each other for a profit. Most people do not understand how ForEx works, including most brokers. This type of investment is classed as very high-risk.


3) Precious Metals  As many people know, gold and silver prices have skyrocketed since the beginning of the recession. This has spurred many financial advisers to recommend purchasing gold products. However, most investors are unaware that gold is sold in many different ways and at different values. Gold bullion, for instance, is priced differently than gold coins. Likewise, gold stock certificates in a mine are much different from investing in jewelry grade gold. Most advisers encourage gold investments because they are very high-commissioned sales, not because they are beneficial to the buyer. Additionally, many people believe they “own pure gold,” when in fact they only own gold coins.

4)  Energy Schemes   Whether it is oil and gas investments or green technologies, most of these schemes are considered very risky. Many of these schemes are for start-up capital or new ventures that have no proven track record.

5)  Fraudulent Association  Advisement of an investment fraud lawyer is recommended if these situations arise, as they are some of the most common ways fraudulent transactions are committed.  Brokers “associate” themselves with a large company, even though there is no connection between the entities. The business owner assumes the investment proposal is valid because of the association.

6)  Special Deals   Think of a Ponzi scheme and you will understand this ploy. These sellers offer an investment deal that they are only willing to offer to specially selected investors.

7)  Off the Books  These deals are not only risky, they are illegal. The adviser offers you an investment opportunity that they are “aware of” even though it is not coming through their investment firm.

The best way to avoid fraudulent acts by financial advisers is to do diligent research about the investment, the company offering the deal, and the adviser themselves if necessary. If you find that you have been a victim of one of these schemes, or believe that you are a victim of another type of investment scheme, you are encouraged to seek the professional services of a fraudulent investment attorney.

Ann Bailey contributes business articles relating to investment processes.  The preemptive advice of an investment fraud lawyer like Page Perry, an Atlanta based specialist in guiding investors, could help small business owners protect themselves from unscrupulous financiers preying upon sound investment hopes of business owners everywhere.

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Three Tips for Running Your Business on a Budget

Loans can be a great way to help your business get off the ground, but how can you keep things afloat if your budget is already tight? For starters, don’t panic. You’ve probably heard the statistics saying that if you’re a new business, you are more likely to fail than succeed in today’s economy. However, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy states that although business survival rates do go down over time, you have a 70% chance of making it through the first two years.

savings and budget
Image by 401(K) 2012 / Flickr

Know What You’re Spending

One of the most important things to understand is how much you’re spending, versus the amount of income that you’re earning. This sounds simple enough, but it’s not only about making sure that you’re working within your means. When you’re aware of your spending habits, you’ll be better able to see if there might be a way to cut your bills, too. Even if you’re able to reduce your spending by a few dollars each month, that can make a difference over time. For help, consider consulting with an accountant who specializes in the needs of businesses. Beyond helping you manage your money, a financial expert may also be able to reduce your tax obligations. Many businesses tend to dread each spring because that means it’s time to file their tax forms, which can cause a whole new headache. Think of your time with an accountant as a good investment. Although it requires you to spend some funds, that decision could pay off handsomely in the long run.

Don’t Procrastinate

When you’re first getting started, things probably feel like a whirlwind. As you go throughout the day and scramble to finish tasks, things might become disorderly, as well. Keeping everything organized does take a lot of time and effort. However, if you make it a priority, you’ll be able to control things before they get out of hand. There’s nothing worse than trying to find a sales receipt or document when you’re facing a deadline. Keeping things running smoothly while you’re on a tight budget will always be challenging, but you can ease the burden by simply being committed to staying organized.

Make Your Office Mobile

Thanks to advancing technologies, some people are truly able to complete their work from anywhere, whether that means a neighborhood coffee shop, or their bedroom. Statistics released last year by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that over 20% of people in the workforce completed at least part of their duties outside of a traditional workplace. At first, you might run your business entirely from your home, but even when the situation changes, there’s no harm in keeping things mobile as possible. Not only will this reduce your spending when it comes to renting a physical office space, but it could also cut down on the amount of absenteeism related to bad weather or traffic conditions.

Running your business on a tight budget doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to a life of constant challenges. However, you’ll certainly need to operate in a diligent way that lets you spot problems before they turn into large obstacles. This type of proactive attitude is a huge part of helping your business thrive whether you have billions in the bank, or just a few thousand.

About the Author: Shelly White writes for education blogs. If you’re interested in building your own business, consider learning more about getting an executive mba.

Do you Need a Business Credit Card for your Small Business?

The short answer to this question is no, you don’t NEED a business card. But consider the fact that most companies don’t operate without one, and also consider the fact that there are various benefits of having a business credit card for your small business. Some banks even offer credit cards tailored specifically for small businesses! Here are a few reasons you may want to consider getting a business credit card:

1. You’re business will be perceived as more legitimate.

There’s much symbolic power that comes with having an official business credit card. This holds true both for the people you do business with, as well as with your own sense of identity as a business. When you use a business credit card instead of a personal credit card to charge business expenses, your business will have an added sense of legitimacy and professionalism.

2. Business credit cards offer rewards specifically tailored to small business.

Just like with personal credit cards, business credit cards offer certain rewards as you accumulate points. However, business credit cards have rewards that are tailored to specific business needs. For example, business credit cards offer airline miles, discounts for business services, as well as discounts for business equipment.

credit card
Image by Dennis Kim

3. Business credit cards can help you tremendously with business expenses.

As you probably know by now, running a small business entails having various different business expenses each month. If you pay for them as you go, you’ll soon find that your ability to purchase items and services necessary to run your business will be quite limited. With a business credit card, you can charge all your business expenses to the card, and pay off the balance at the end of the month, enabling you to improve your cash flow. Just be sure to stay balanced and ALWAYS pay at the end of the month to keep from incurring fees and paying added interest rates.

4. You can more easily keep business and personal expenditures separate.

For me, this is the best reason to get a business credit card, especially if your business is very small. For those of us who own small, one-person businesses, it can be tempting to put all your business and personal expenses together. However, if you use a business credit card for all business-related expenses, you’ll be able to file taxes for your business and make tax deductions much more easily.

Now that you may be considering a business credit card, you may be wondering which card is best for your business. Be sure to do as much research as possible.

Good luck!

About the Author: Stella Walker is a freelance writer and business owner. She enjoys giving advice about credit cards, personal finance, small business strategies, and debt reduction. Stella welcomes your comments below!

How to Get Your E-commerce Business Idea Funded


As technology has taken over the marketplace with ecommerce many entrepreneurs decide to begin there journey with an online business. It makes sense; online businesses are attractive options due to the gaining popularity of ecommerce among consumers across the globe. And, in most cases, online businesses require less capital investment as compared to traditional models, especially stores selling goods. However, it is not without a justifiable amount of seed money that you can start and online business, it does require its share of capital. This article discusses how to understand you’re the financial requirements of your online business idea and subsequently raise the funds needed.

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The business plan

The entire saga begins on paper with a watertight business plan. A well researched and carefully drafted business plan will help you understand the real requirements of your online business. Once you start penning down the details, you will be surprised at the number of revelations a business plan surfaces. Many new factors will come forward and you will become better prepared to take on the challenge.

You must include every facet of your business in the plan and take the pain to make each sectioned meticulously detailed. Special focus must be given to the financial section for that is where you will determine how much money you plan to invest and what are the revenues you are aiming at. This section will also be the first one your potential investors will scrutinize.

Roping in the Investors

Unless you have existing sources of steady incomes that generate extra cash, you will need to approach funding sources or lenders in the market. Banks are usually more interested in funding traditional businesses over virtual ventures. However, this trend is slowly changing and some banks are considering online businesses for loans. It is a difficult option but also one which shouldn’t be ignored.

Your friends and family can be a great source of funding if they are willing to show confidence in your ecommerce plan and back it up with their money. Don’t for a moment think that a smile and familiarity will get you through to their bank accounts; the only way is to present a solid business pan with exact future projections.

Other more professional lenders include angel investors, venture capitalists, peer and peer lenders. These lenders can we found through the internet and funding is again based on the promise that you business plan brings to the table. These types of investors are usually fully involved in the business they invest in, as a result, their levels of interest in you plan and projections will be much higher than your acquaintances. Some might loan the money to you on interest while most will be looking for a stake in the business.

Whoever you approach you will need to be presentable and show credibility. Any financial source who will bet his money on you and your business plan will need to know that they are going ahead with a trustworthy person and a feasible business plan. It is your job to portray these requisites and get your funds releases.

About the Author: Penny, the author, is an expert associated with, an online financial solution for that provides instant business loan to e-commerce and other online traders for their working capital and operational expansion requirements.

How Loans for Small Businesses Help Owners Cope with Rising Expenses

People especially the small time business owners are extremely afraid with the latest economical condition in the global market. This article shares a few tips which will help them to cope with the rising prices.

Ever since the global market faced the economical slowdown few years back, the market is yet to recover from the shock completely. A number of brands and organizations are still suffering from the effect of the recession and trying to get back to the track by cost cutting, and handing over pink slips to a number of employees. But the worst sufferers are those who run small business. They are facing lots of difficulties to survive. As the price of foods, gasoline, other raw materials which are quite important items for manufacturing many products have increased a lot, the small business owners are compelled to raise the price of their products to cover the cost. But they face strong opposition and rejection from the end of their potential customers as they are just not ready to pay more. But we cannot blame them solely as they are also suffering a lot with the sudden blow of recession as they have financially become weaker than the earlier with a little or no savings.

It has become quite tough for the business owners to get easy finance or cash loan easily. Therefore they have to face the situation all by themselves. A number of solutions and effective tips are there which they can follow as small time business owners who want to deal with the recent rising of costs of the materials.

Observe the exchange rate

If not in your home country, you can improve your business abroad. Thanks to the recession the price of US dollar has become quite weak. This has opened the opportunity for the buyers from different countries across the world to buy products from US. Therefore if you cannot get much opportunity in your homeland you can think of expanding your business across the world. It is not always necessary that you have to open branch in each place which are your target markets. You can also boost up your sell through online marketing and online purchasing facility.

Design most affordable products possible

If the products which are produced by your company are expensive or hi-end you should think twice and reconsider the price of the products to boost up the sell. You can start new set of products and promote them so that both your existing and the potential customers start showing interest towards the products. You may find a number of customers who are eager to use your products but unable to do so because of the high price. Once you reduce the price this section of customers will also show their interests.

Take a small step if increasing prices

As the owner of a small business it may happen that you will decide to increase the price of the products to cover the costs and make profit. But take time before doing this. It is suggested that you should take small steps while revising the prices of the products instead of taking a big step at a time. If you increase price in small doses it will not affect your customers much.

You should not get afraid of this situation instead you need to prepare yourself to face it. Once you take some of these cleaver steps you will be able to run your business successfully.

About the Author: Parker is an experienced finance officer who specializes in the loans sector. She advices everyone to opt for cash bill pay as it is the most convenient way to deal with financial problems.

How to get a loan for small business?

Moneylenders of every ilk are looking for a way to get the most amount of profit out of their investment with the least amount of risk. This works to a scale, which is why if you are deemed as a good risk (i.e. good credit rating, regular long-term income) then you get better rates, where as is you are a bad risk (i.e. bad credit rating, poor money management) then you will be charged higher interest rates.

This is the reason why most Bad Credit Quick Loans are so expensive for such short periods of time. It is also the reason that people with good credit are always getting letters through the post about having a loan or charge account.

A small business is a fairly large risk in the eyes of a lender. Especially if it is so small that the owner is requesting Debit Card Loans. A lender is looking for a business loan that is preferably for an established business that has a good income and good track record. If the business were a start up concern, then a lender would prefer an established and branded franchise, run by a person with a proven track record in the field, in a prime location with a decent marketing and business plan. All of this would make lending the money a little less risky, so the lender would probably consent.

This means that if you are looking to borrow money for a small business and do not want to jump to Bad Credit Quick Loans, then try to make yourself and your business concern less of a lending risk. One of the best ways to sway the lender is to put in a substantial amount of money yourself. For example if you were looking to improve the cookers in your kitchens to ones that use less energy, then apply to a lender. Show them how your purchase will fit into your business plan and show them facts upon how these improvements will benefit your business and its profitability. You will then stand a good chance if you can show that your current disposable/liquid income is three times higher than the monthly repayment needed. You can then improve your case further by putting a lot of money into the project yourself. If for example you were to put 75% of the costs into the project, then you would greatly improve your case. If you put nothing into the kitty, then the lender may assume that you are cash-poor and possibly lying about your income.

Obviously, if you are going to claim that you are going to put a certain amount of money into a purchase and you are asking for the rest of the money via a small business loan, then you will need to prove how much the purchase costs, and prove that you have the money to put down.

If you do get stuck for a loan, then try Debit Card Loans and overdrafts. They are often cheaper than other varieties of loans and could solve your small business problems in one foul swoop.

About the Author: Anna Mathews  has taken many Bad Credit Quick Loans and Debit Card Loans and now knows all there is to know about how they work in the financial world.

Stretching Your Business’ Dollar

When you run your own business, every dime is precious. Cutting costs is crucial, and just because there might not be any obvious ways to do so, doesn’t mean that there aren’t any. In fact, there is almost always some way to run your business more efficiently and with less overhead. Once you have developed an eye for effective cost-cutting measures, you can generate more profit than you ever thought possible.

cost cutting tips
Image by o5com / Flickr

Simple Things

The first thing you should do is look at the cost of your utilities and determine what is actually essential. For instance, many small business owners can do without a landline telephone. Most people use a cell phone as their primary means of communication, and services like Skype and Google Talk are better for teleconferencing than traditional phones. If you must have a landline phone, you could potentially save some money by using a VOIP service like Vonage. Some packages cost as little as $10 per month, and VOIP services generally provide cheaper long distance and international calls than conventional phone services.

Re-Think Your Insurance

If you have more coverage than you need, you can go ahead and drop the extraneous parts of your small business policy without hamstringing yourself in the process. Once you have a decent buffer of cash in your savings account, you may want to opt for a higher deductible in order to lower your monthly premiums.

This kind of thinking extends beyond your home and business space. If you are working out of your house, you can lower your auto insurance costs by reducing the number of miles that your policy covers. This can have a domino effect as less time on the road means that you are much less likely to get into an accident, and your maintenance costs will be drastically lower than someone who has to commute every day. Depending on where you live, it may be possible to reduce your annual auto insurance premiums to a few hundred dollars.

Buy as Much as You Can

You will need lots of supplies to keep your business running smoothly, so make sure to purchase in bulk. Not only is buying in bulk cheaper over the long term, you can deduct the storage space from your taxable income. Even if your business supplies only take up two to five percent of your home storage space, that makes a big difference come tax time.

Use the Cloud

This is one of the biggest things that people overlook. The cloud provides a large number of services ranging from off-site storage to free Web applications that are capable of replacing standard word processing programs. The cloud tends to be cheaper than investing in a number of physical hard drives, and the backups are available from any computer that’s connected to the Internet. The cloud gives small businesses a huge advantage because it allows for greater flexibility and efficiency than the old way of doing things, but many businesses have yet to adapt to the technology.

Barter, Bargain, and When Possible, Get Things for Free

Networking is important for reasons that go beyond drumming up clients or catching wind of new opportunities. Entrepreneurs are more than glad to help each other out, and if you can trade one item you don’t need for something that you want, or you can procure something that you need in exchange for your services, then you may be able to save a lot of money.

There are countless resources devoted to frugal living, and you don’t have to go off-the-grid in order to opt out of the usual consumerist claptrap. If you learn the best ways to save money and cut spending before you hit rough times, you have a much higher chance of keeping yourself and your business afloat until the worst of it passes.

Geoffrey Williams blogs about good deals on car insurance for small business owners. If you are looking for affordable and reliable car insurance, try, where you can compare quotes.

June SBT Balance Transfer Index – Where Are Balance Transfer Fees Headed?

Having difficulty managing a financial portfolio? In this period of economic woes one has to be very prudent—nay, wise, in making investments or any financial move for that matter, so as to maximize the value of every dollar that comes out of one’s pocket. One area that constantly poses a problem for everyone is the use of a credit card. If an individual is not careful and not cautious in choosing what card to use and how to use it, one will find oneself entangled in a web of charges and interests that makes him forever shackled in debt.

But there is one best kept secret that could help untangle that chain of indebtedness and that is the smart way of playing around with current offers on balance transfers which have proved to significantly reduce the charges and interests, giving the cold-shoulder a breather in managing his card balances. Therefore, it is always essential that one is on top of the indices of balance transfer movements and the ramifications of the same. A thorough analysis of the data hereunder is presented could spell the difference in terms of dollar savings.

Smart Balance Transfers Credit Card Index

The index revealed some initial rate variations at the beginning of this year; however, durations remained at approximately 13 months with an average balance transfer fee of 3%. According to reliable baseline data generated from the past several months, the balance transfer market has shown a predominately steady rate of progression which should continue to hold through this month of June.

The general movement of the 0% top balance transfer promotional lengths has remained relatively consistent in the previous months to date. The average term of offers; on the other hand, have been slightly wavering between the figures of about 12.5 to 13 months in duration, shortly after dropping to below 11 months in the fall of 2010. The recorded fluctuation in numbers may have been affected by the rates maintained by Chase Slate, which offered a staggering 15 months of 0% interest on balance transfers; as well as, new purchases using their Freedom rewards card that incurs a 3% balance transfer fee.

The current trend of top balance transfer offer fees that suggest the absence of any major inflections that would merit any significant concern. In fact, this range of balance transfer rates has clearly lingered at 3% and shows no sign of change in the near future. Given that Chase Slate retains its no-fee offers; which had been temporarily matched by Discover in the early part of the quarter, no further fluctuations would be seen in the standard progression of the market.

In the same way as the duration of balance transfer promotions are displaying long term increases, the average balance transfer rates of fees are indicative of a prolonged decline, which was seen to move subtly at almost 4% in middle of 2010. This positive movement is typically symptomatic of a well-balanced state for consumers. The present activity that we are seeing would be ideal for those with long-term plans in transferring high interest balances to a low interest cards. However; should the no-fee offer by Slate is suddenly withdrawn, the average fees will immediately soar to more than 3% and at a rapid rate.

Although the projected amount of profit that a bank earns in credit cards are at a steady pace of growth, the level of debt incurred by consumers are considerably low. In essence similar incentives; by way of these balance transfer promotions and various sign-up bonuses, continue to be priorities due to the fact that they weigh heavily as effective strategies to retain customers and obtain more in the process. If the tendencies of the market persist; as is the case of stable rates indicates, the flow of offers will inevitably remain.

A useful tool that may provide a comparative analysis of different cards which may prove to be suitable for your needs may be attained at:

5 Ways to Get Your Small Business Out of Debt

Businesses typically start under a cloud of debt. Most people starting up small businesses today simply do not have capital just lying around in their personal bank accounts which leads to the need for loans or credit cards in order to get their business going. Once you begin in debt however, it can seem more than difficult to get out. If you feel that your small business is literally drowning in debt, there are a few things that you can do to pull yourself out without having to consider bankruptcy.

  1. Stop Spending – This is the most important thing that small business owners can do to eliminate debt. If you do not have to spend, then don’t. Think about what you need regarding actually running your business and eliminate all unnecessary or unwarranted costs. If you do not need new computer systems then continue to use your old systems until your finances are in a bit better shape. If you have office equipment that you are not using, consider selling it and adding a bit to your cash flow. However you do it, eliminating excess spending is critical in getting your business finances under control.
  2. Consolidate – If you have several loans or credit cards, think about putting them all together into one product. Loan consolidation can help you to lower your payments and enjoy a bit of a breather from that pile of debt. You may find that interest rates are lower if you choose a consolidation loan over credit cards and you can turn many different loan payments into just one convenient payment.
  3. Restructure Your Budget – If you are unable to pay your debts then perhaps your company is not sticking to a strict enough budget. Take some time and go through your budget, cutting out anything that is unnecessary and ensuring that you are allowing enough each month to meet your debt obligations. Ensure that you are actually making enough money to cover your fixed monthly fees such as rent and utilities. Once you have enough allotted for these costs, add an amount in for bringing down your debt a little at a time.
  4. Call Creditors – If you know that you are having difficulties in paying your creditors, call and speak with them. They may actually surprise you and offer you a lower payment plan or many may give you a settlement amount that is lower than what you actually owe. You never know unless you ask so be sure that you call and speak with your creditors to see what you can do.
  5. Get Help – If all else fails or you find that your creditors are a bit less than enthusiastic about helping you, seek the assistance of a professional debt management company. Professionals can help you to better structure your budget and ensure that you have enough set aside each month to actively begin paying down your debt. These companies are experienced and can assist you in getting your business out from under those piles of bills and operating completely debt free.