Thursday, May 04, 2006

Is VoIP Ready For Prime Time?

Much has been written about Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (or VoIP). Many of these phones are now in use, but the question remains is VoIP practical for your business?
According to TIA’s TechTrends, VoIP usage is growing dramatically. The number of VoIP access lines grew from 3.8 million in 2003 to nearly 10 million in 2005. By 2008, TIA estimates some 26 million VoIP lines will be in use.
According to Scott Lewis, co-owner of St. Louis-based Winning Technologies, a national IT consulting firm, portability is a great benefit of VoIP. You don’t necessarily need to be in the office to receive your phone call since calls can be forwarded anywhere you have access to a computer. A VoIP system keeps you and your employees connected anywhere you may be—at home, on the road, or even stationed at the beach with a laptop.
In all, Lewis said VoIP offers a great group of benefits:
* The ability to return calls with a single click from web-based call logs.
* A single number to receive calls or faxes anywhere.
* Unified messaging for voice mail, electronic faxes and email.
* Easy assignment of various service classes to different users.
* Web-based call monitoring applications.
* Point-and-click conference setup.
* Categorization of contacts by group to prioritize and control calls.
* Convergence of voice and web collaboration reducing maintenance costs.

Monday, May 01, 2006

SBA's Most Popular Loan Programs

Basic 7(a) Loan Guaranty: SBA’s primary loan program to help obtain guarantees up to $1.5 million for expansion or renovation, construction of new facilities, purchase of lands, buildings, machinery, inventory, furniture, working capital. Offers a term of 7 years for working capital, 10 years for equipment and 25 for real estate/construction. Interest rates are negotiated between borrower and lender, and typically can’t exceed prime rate plus 2.75%.
504 Loan Program, (CDC): Referred to as “brick and mortar” financing, 504 offers long-term, fixed-rate financing to businesses to purchase real estate or equipment for expansion or modernization. Generally includes a loan from a private lender with a senior lien, a loan secured from a certified development company with a junior lien covering up to 40% of the total cost, and at least 10% equity contribution from the borrower.
SBA Community Express Loan Program: Fast turn-around time and easy application process. Designed to increase working capital and provide smaller business loans—$5,000 to $25,000—that most banks wouldn’t touch. No collateral is required—only a $350 processing fee. Program offers a 7-year term. Borrowers must receive a Community Express Certificate of Technical Assistance from an SBA-approved Technical Assistance Provider.
Misconceptions abound when it comes to the SBA guaranteed loans. To learn the ins and outs of the process, check out Matt Berkley's informative article. Click here to read more.