Definitions And Locations In A September 9 Small Biz Roundup

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Once a week, PointBlank will deliver a roundup of small business news and advice from around the nation.

Define “Small Business Loan”

I’ve long suspected that part of the reason that data on small business loans is so variable is that the definitions used by banks, lenders and polling institutions. Suspicions confirmed.

Robb Mandelbaum of the absurdly invaluable Who’s The Boss Blog breaks it down after speaking with New York-based Sterling National Bank:

But the key phrase here may be Mr. Millman’s qualification, what we call small and mid-size companies. For Sterling, those are companies with revenues that start at $4 or $5 million and reach as high as $100 million and who borrow as much as $20 million. In the category of what the F.D.I.C. calls small-business loans — financing of $1 million or less — Sterling’s portfolio actually dropped 3 percent, a steeper decline than in the banking industry as a whole.

It would be irresponsible to point the finger at any institution and say their standards are different, but it’s a good reminder that when anyone cites figures, you have to understand what their definition is. I include us in that, when we’re offering up numbers and not advice on getting financing.

Google Places And False Closures

There’s a little bit of an issue with the popular Google Places service that could be a huge headache for your small business.

As the New York Times reports, if enough browsers report a business closed, it will be listed as such on Google Places. That would be fine…if the businesses were actually closed. Unfortunately for a handful of shops, malicious users have managed to get some of these places listed as closed while they’re still very much open for business.

To wit:

“For weeks, our bookings for September have been far lower than normal and we were wondering why,” said Charlene Cowan, who owns and operates Macadamia Meadows Farm, a bed-and-breakfast in Naalehu, Hawaii, which has been tagged as “permanently closed” for weeks.  “I can’t imagine a customer is behind this — if someone doesn’t like their visit here, they’d complain on TripAdvisor. I can’t prove it, but this seems like something a competitor did.”

That is just staggering, and it’s something Google must fix. When competitors or disgruntled customers can cost you potentially thousands of dollars on a whim, it’s bad news.

Individualizing Your Small Biz Interactions

You gotta do it, according to PointBlank.

Other Useful Links

Make decisions early

Beat at your own name

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