How Antivirus Software Can Be Turned Into a Tool for Spying

It has been a secret, long known to intelligence agencies but rarely to consumers, that security software can be a powerful spy tool.

Security software runs closest to the bare metal of a computer, with privileged access to nearly every program, application, web browser, email and file. There’s good reason for this: Security products are intended to evaluate everything that touches your machine in search of anything malicious, or even vaguely suspicious.

By downloading security software, consumers also run the risk that an untrustworthy antivirus maker — or hacker or spy with a foothold in its systems — could abuse that deep access to track customers’ every digital movement.

“In the battle against malicious code, antivirus products are a staple,” said Patrick Wardle, chief research officer at Digita Security, a security company. “Ironically, though, these products share many characteristics with the advanced cyberespionage collection implants they seek to detect.”




Online Certifications That Are Actually Worth Getting

13 Online Certifications That Are Actually Worth Getting

 

1) Google Apps Certification

Cost: $100

Link To Course

Description: An extremely valuable certification in the eye’s of many employers. The test consists of the user working with a real live domain and utilizing the Google Apps suite to accomplish common business tasks: this includes administering users, organizational units, groups, and access to services. Having this certification will send your resume to the top of the stack when interviewing for marketing jobs.

Other Google Certifications To Consider: 

2) Web Developer Bootcamp

Cost: $10

Link To Course

Description: This course is the sh*t! I took it several years ago and I here I am writing on the blog I designed and launched myself without the help of any developers. It covers HTML, CSS, JS, Node, and all the technology stacks required to build a website. They even give you working examples of websites where you get to build and tweak certain elements using the skills you learn along the way.

Related: 25 Subreddits That Make You Smarter

3) Beer Judge Certification

Cost: $10

Link To Course

Description: The first step in becoming a beer judge involves getting this $10 certification from the BJCP. The course consists of 200 questions and will test your knowledge of IPAs, Lagers, Stouts, Porters, and many more. Adding this certification certainly won’t get you your dream job on LinkedIn but will make you the most informed beer enthusiast when day drinking at your local brewery.

4) Psychological First Aid

Cost: Free

Link To Course

Description: Hosted by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network and promoted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

You learn how to help disaster survivors get referenced to the professionals they need and how to triage those with more damaging psychological distress before it gets worse. Learn the signs, symptoms, and know where to forward the survivors to the proper agencies. Additionally there are some things on how to secure relief sites in consideration for physical and mental health.

5) HTML Certification

Cost: Free

Link To Course

Description: HTML is an extremely underrated skill that puts you head and shoulders above the competition, especially if you’re interview for a marketing position. It shows that you have a general working knowledge of how websites work and lets your future employer know that you have the required knowledge to update and tinker with their company site. Having an in-house employee who can make website changes instead of having to hire a contractor will certainly make you a more attractive candidate.

6) Project Management Certification (PMP)

Cost: $555

Link To Course

Description: Even if you’re not interested in strictly being a project manager this certification gives users the knowledge of how projects are started, managed, and maintained. A PMP certification gives you the ability to work in any industry and is often required for any upper-tier project management position.

7) Fema Certification

Cost: $350

Link To Course

Description: A long and somewhat repetitive test, a FEMA certification looks good to employers so they understand that you have knowledge of a basic command structure and how to handle adverse situations. Often times we think of FEMA as being the people who are first responders to natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina but it’s so much more than disaster relief. The course covers the psychology and organizational factors that go into handling extraordinary circumstances.

8) SaleForce Trailheads

Cost: Free

Link To Course

Description: The TrailHeads program will teach you how to use and operate any part of SalesForce and is completely free. Lots of companies don’t understand how to operate their own salesforce so this could get you a high paying job free. There is robust and ever-expanding cottage industry based solely around administering SalesForce.

9) HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certification

Cost: Free

Link To Course

Description: HubSpot is the global leader in inbound marketing education. They also offer a suite of tools that help marketers understand the value of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), content marketing, lead generation, and much more. Getting an inbound marketing certification is especially useful for recent college graduates who plan on entering the digital marketing space.

10) Database Administrator (DBA)

Cost: $370

Link To Course

Description: The average Database Administrator makes $106k per year. Let that sink in. If one were so inclined, one could completely forego college and study for this course and come out making six figures when they’ve completed it. DBAs are in high demand. Many top tech firms like FaceBook, Google, and Amazon require even the marketing positions to have this certification.

11) SCRUM Certification

Cost: Free

Link To Course

Description: SCRUM is an agile software development process that many startups are using to manage the development process. It prioritizes tasks based on what the company’s most important goals and needs are. Similar to the PMP certification, this course is shorter and will give users a general overview of how agile development works.

12) Social Media Analytics Certification

Cost: $84 (includes membership and access to other courses)

Link To Course

Description: Just because you spend a lot of time on FaceBook and Instagram doesn’t mean you have the in-depth knowledge required to secure a social media marketing position. This course does a deep dive into the world of social media analytics where users learn how to analyze what kind of content performs the best when sharing to social media sites.

13) SAP Cloud Platform Essentials

Cost: Free

Link To Course

Description: If you’ve ever wanted to get an in-depth knowledge of how cloud computing and SAS platforms work this course is a great place to start. It offers a practical approachto understand the execution and tools required to become a cloud computing professional.

Read more @ http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1nZYZW/:Pq+8bj-C:npGdmk-0/whiteamigo.com/usable-online-certifications

 




Why Is the USDA Killing Hundreds of Kittens?

Kittens USDA InvestigationThe internet erupted yesterday following claims that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is killing 100 kittens every year in a research program that dates back more than three decades. Now, a spokesperson for the department has come forward in defense of the program.

The calls for an investigation were sparked after Rep. Mike Bishop of Michigan sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on May 7 expressing concerns about the USDA Agriculture Research Service facility located in Beltsville, Maryland. According to Bishop’s letter, each year kittens are bred, fed parasite-infected raw meat for two weeks and then killed by incineration.

“I’m shocked and disturbed that for decades the USDA — the very organization charged with enforcing animal welfare laws — has been unnecessarily killing hundreds of kittens in expensive and inefficient lab experiments,” Bishop said in a statement.

The experiments were brought to Bishop’s attention by White Coat Waste Project, a watchdog group that originally obtained the documents outlining the USDA’s research. The protocol for the experiment — which was approved most recently in 2015 but dates back to 1982 — calls for the kittens to be fed Toxoplasma-infected raw meat so that their feces can be collected to harvest the parasites. At the end of the experiment, the kittens are killed.

One of the main questions Bishop posed in his letter is why the cats have to be killed rather than adopted. He wrote that the USDA protocol indicates that cats fed the infected meat do not typically become sick. And given that toxoplasmosis is treatable in cats, “why then, are the kittens being killed after two weeks rather than treated and adopted?” He also asked Perdue if the USDA has a policy or procedure to allow for the adoption of animals no longer being used for its research purposes.

For its part, the USDA said that the use of cats is “essential to the success of this critical research,” and claimed the estimate of 100 cats used in the research each year was a serious overestimation. Spokesperson Kim Kaplan claimed the cats cannot be adopted at the end of the research period because of the risks they could pose to adoptive families. “Women newly infected with Toxoplasma during pregnancy and anyone with a compromised immune system should be aware that toxoplasmosis can have severe consequences,” she wrote.

The USDA’s statement does not address all the points Bishop raised in his two-page letter, including whether the USDA is looking into alternative research methods that are more humane. The letter read: “USDA states that Toxoplasma oocysts cannot be produced in cell culture or any other animal species. Elsewhere, scientists have reported on work to develop technology to replace cat use. What efforts, if any, has the USDA engaged in to create more efficient and humane alternatives to the use of cats and other live animals for producing Toxoplasma oocysts?”

Bishop also questioned whether the current project will be renewed when it expires at the end of the month. “It appears this project uses kittens as test tubes,” the letter concluded. “Put simply, it creates life to destroy life. While I support the objective of making food safer and protecting people and animals from infectious disease, we must ensure taxpayer dollars are used effectively, efficiently, and humanely.”




Restarting your computer periodically

Restarting your computer periodically is a good idea, especially if it’s a computer that is left on much of the time.  In Windows 7, you can easily schedule an after hours reboot by following these steps:

  1. Press Start, and in the search box type “Task Scheduler.” Atop your list of choices will be the Task Scheduler. Click it.
  2. Click the Action menu and then select Create Basic task.
  3. Choose a name for the task (like AutoReboot), type it in the Name box and click Next.
  4. Select Daily (if you want a daily reboot) and click Next
  5. Type the time you want to restart the computer, set recurrence to your liking, and click Next.
  6. Select Start a program and click Next.
  7. Click Browse and navigate to %SystemRoot%\System32 (that’s going to be C:\Windows\System32 for most people).  Find the file named Shutdown (.exe) and click Open. Type /F /R in the Add arguments (optional) box and click Next.
  8. Click Finish.

Now your computer will automatically restart at the date, time, and frequency you specified.

If you’re going to have a scheduled task like this in place, make sure to develop the habit of closing documents and programs when you’re done using them, so the reboot won’t close them for you and cause you to lose unsaved work.

 




Cable Types and Speeds Cat 5-7

Cable Types and Speeds

Selecting the appropriate category

When selecting the appropriate category of cable to support your network, note that there are different grades within each category. A higher grade cable with the proper installation will allow for a higher margin of error, ensuring top performance today and an extra buffer to support future technology.

 

 

Properly selecting Cat5, Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6A, Cat7 or Cat7A solutions will optimally support current and future network speed requirements.

Cat5

Cat5 supports speeds up to 100Mb/s (100 MHz)

Cat5e

Cat5e supports speeds up to a Gigabit Ethernet (1,000Mb/s) (100 MHz)

Cat6

Cat6 supports speeds up to 10 Gigabit Ethernet and can be achieved with distance of 37-55 meters or less depending on the grade of the cable and quality of installation. (1,000Mb/s) (250 MHz)

Cat6A

Cat6A supports speeds up to 10 Gigabit Ethernet with distance up to 100 meters (10,000 Mb/s)(500 MHz)

Cat7 & Cat7A

Cat7 & Cat7A support speeds up to 10 Gigabit Ethernet with distance up to 100 meters (10,000 Mb/s)(1000 Mhz)

 
Examples of when you might use each type of network cable.

Cat5 – Cat5 cable is out dated. Do not install this.

Cat5e – Cat5e cable is suitable for Gigabit speeds and networks that change frequently. If the network changes frequently or is temporary in nature, Cat5e may be the optimal selection.

Cat6 – Cat6 cable is optimal for extra margin and higher performance. Cat6 cable will support gigabit ethernet, but will only support 10 Gigabit Ethernet if the total length and loss is low enough. If a project requires a 10 Gigabit Ethernet connection, Cat6A or higher is recommended.

Cat6A – Cat6A cable will support speeds up to 10 Gigabit. If a project requires a single installation solution to support the facility and is inteded to stand the test of time, Cat6A will protect the investment and serve as a reliable backbone for the company going into the future.

Cat7 & Cat7A – Cat7 cable will support 10 Gigabit Ethernet with plenty of margin to spare. Cat7 has pair-sharing capability, making it possible to use one cable to power several different devices at the same time utilizing each pair as needed. For the best and most versatile infrastructure Cat7 provides the solution.




How to Install and Run Android O.S. on Your PC the Easy Way

 

 

Google’s open source Android operating system has become one of the big hits in mobile technology. Many different types of handsets are appearing based on it, and it’s headed for non-phone platforms too. Android application development has also matured. Over the last few months, we have witnessed a tremendous growth of Android OS to the extent that it now commands over 43% market share in the mobile OS space.

While many of us are attached to our gadgets, we still rely heavily on our computers. What if you could just use the Android operating system on your computer? Fortunately, it is possible to do this. You can do this by creating a Live CD or VirtualBox.

The original plan of the Android-x86 project was to create patches for x86 support for the open source community. They later discovered that they can do more than just create patches for x86 support; they can allow Android to run on personal computers. Therefore, one of the primary goals of the Android-x86 project is to allow Android to run on your PC.

You can do this by booting from a Live CD or by using VirtualBox. In the case of a Live CD, the Android OS will run from the disk independent of Windows. If you want to run Android on your PC while your Windows OS is running in the background, we’d advise you to install it on VirtualBox. We have detailed both the processes below.

We have previously seen how to run Android apps on your PC with Bluestacks App Player, but if you want to work with the complete Android OS, this is a better approach.

Running Android on your PC using a Live CD

 

The first thing you need to do is download the CD image (ISO) file from the Androidx86 website (link below). This file contains the entire Android operating system. The Androidx86 website has several different versions of Android available.

Some of the downloads are available for specific tablets and laptops. If you want to run on your Android on your desktop computer, download the “generic” version. In this tutorial, we are going to use Android 2.2.

 

Burn Android CD

 

After downloading the file, you need to burn it to a blank CD or DVD. Programs such as ISO Recorder, Image Burn, and Free ISO Burner allow you to burn an ISO file to a CD. By default, Windows 7 comes with its own disc image burner. Before burning the file, you need to insert a blank CD or DVD into the disc drive. If you are using Windows 7, right-click the ISO file and select “Burn disc image.”

Now you can boot from this CD and run Android on your PC. If you cannot boot from the CD, you need to change the boot order from the BIOS settings.

Running Android on VirtualBox

It is also possible to run Android from VirtuaBox—a well-known virtualization package. All you need is the ISO file (download link below).

Run Virtual Box and click “New” to create a virtual machine. This is the virtual machine you will be creating for Android. Give the virtual machine a name (We decided to call our virtual machine Windroid).

Create a New Virtual Machine

Select “Other” from the “Operating System” and “Version” drop-down menus.

Name the OS

 

Select the amount of memory you want to allocate to the virtual machine. It is best to use at least 1 gigabyte of memory. Remember this was originally a smartphone operating system, so it doesn’t need a lot of memory.

Adjust Memory

 

Create a fixed-sized storage disk for the virtual machine. It is recommended for the virtual hard disk to be at least 2 gigabytes.

 

Adjust Disk Space

 

Now you just need to set up the virtual machine. Right-click the virtual machine you have just created and select “Start.”

Start the Virtual Machine

This will automatically run the setup wizard. In the “Select Installation Media” window, click on the “Next” button to proceed.

Virtual Machine Setup Wizard

Click on the small folder icon and a new window will open and lets you choose the Android OS ISO file.

Select Installation Media

 

Next, select the Android CD Image or ISO file as the media source. Now your virtual machine should be ready to go.

Select the ISO File

 

Screenshots of Android OS Running on VirtualBox

Android Boot Screen

Here’s the familiar Android 2.2 Home screen.

Android UI

The application icons would show when you click on the menu and select the Apps option.

Android Apps

Final Thoughts:

If you like Android, but don’t have a handset yet – you’ll surely want to try this out. The Android-x86 project is still growing, and we might see more support and compatibility for it in the future. New versions of Android are also released regularly from the Android-x86 project.

DOWNLOAD THE ANDROID ISO FILE

DOWNLOAD VIRTUALBOX

 

READ MORE AT




DOMAINS FOR LEASE COMING SOON

NEW! – DOMAINS FOR LEASE FAQ


TYPICAL TERMS OF A DOMAIN LEASE OR RENT-TO-BUY AGREEMENTS

 All of our domains are also available for lease or Rent-To-Buy.  It’s simple: Name Servers and Contact Information stay in our possession until the domain is paid in full. 
 
 The following are common terms of domain leasing:
Lease term:
Domain leases are usually between 2 years – 10 years in length. Monthly or quarterly payments are standard.

Down payment:
Some Lessors demand that the lessee pay a non-refundable down payment at the start of the lease.

Lease Payment Amount: 
The periodic payment amount for leasing the domain.

Purchase Option:
Most domain name leases have some sort of purchase option (lease option) allowing the lessee to buy the domain name by paying the lessor a predetermined sum. Domain Leasing can include the option to purchase the domain within the lease period, at the end of the lease period, or both.

Transaction Example

Sarah wants to buy the premium domain name Example.com to start a new business. Historically Example.com earned an average of $250 a month from parking. Sarah and George (the owner of Example.com) agree on a sale price of $60,000 but Sarah doesn’t have the cash to buy the domain. Sarah and George then agree to a domain lease containing the following terms:
Domain Lease Period: 3 years (36 months)
Down Payment: $0.00
Lease Payment Amount: $500
Purchase Option:$75,000

Let’s examine the benefits of domain leasing to buyers and sellers using the above example:

BUYER’S BENEFITS

Domain Use:

John is able to fully use the domain to start his business. John develops the domain with a great website filled with original content. He also invests in marketing and promotion for the site. 
 

Easier than financing:
Because the terms of the domain name lease are created directly by the seller and buyer, John avoids the hassles and high costs of domain financing. If John had to take out a traditional domain loan he would have had to put down $24,000. It would also cost him 15%-25% annual interest. Once John has paid the total amount of the domain sale price the name servers and control account are transferred to him.  If payment is not made by the 5th of each month there is a $25 a day late fee. After 10 days the domain name servers are locked as unresolvable until payment is made, domain is paid off or a new payment plan is agreed upon. After 30 days we retake possession of the domain and put it back up on the market.

If you would like to add DNS managed by us there is a additional cost of $5.00 per month added to the lease or rent-to-buy agreement.

 

Option to buy is Rent-to-Buy:
John has the opportunity to buy the name at anytime for $75,000. He can exercise this option anytime within the lease period.

 


SELLER BENEFITS

Easier sales:

George greatly increases his chances of a successful sale, something he has been trying to do for several years. He will potentially be able to get way above his asking price ($75,000 instead of his $60,000 asking price).

Earn high lease payments: 
While George waits for Sarah to buy the domain he collects a monthly lease payment of $500. That is 200% higher than the historical monthly earnings from parking ($250).

Increased domain value: 
During the lease period the domain’s value increases as Sarah builds a great site that gets traffic, search engine rankings, links, and PageRank. If Sarah defaults or decides not to buy the domain, George will get it back and retain all previous payments.

  

DOMAIN LEASING ISSUES

There are, however, security concerns from both parties regarding the domain name leasing:

Buyers are concerned about the seller disrupting the transaction (canceling it or changing the DNS settings) during the lease term.

Sellers are generally concerned with how the buyer uses the domain while they make monthly payments. The buyer can do a number of things to devalue the domain including unauthorized use of trademark or copyright material, using the domain for any illegal purpose, using the domain for SPAM, or conducting “Black-hat” SEO techniques.


Were still researching the best way to continue forward with this option, if you have any suggestions or can help then feel free to speak up here in the comments section below..  More to come soon…




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INCREASE YOUR INTERNET SAFETY

Internet access today is very easy, and is becoming more popular with each passing day. As Cris Dias would say : “the internet is here to stay” . 
Exactly because of this, it becomes increasingly necessary to be very careful with the use of the internet. As in “real life”, on the internet there are a lot of malicious people who take advantage of this popularization to steal important and sensitive information and data. Here are some simple tips to help you increase your Internet safety.

 

USE AN ANTIVIRUS

It seems obvious, but it never hurts to warn. There are several free solutions available on the internet. But currently, I recommend Avast antivirus. I use this antivirus on my desktop, in my notebook and even in my smarphone.

USE A SPYWARE DETECTION PROGRAM

Free antivirus typically has a very limited spyware detection function. It is a tactic that developers use to convince the user to migrate to the paid solutions they make. So I recommend using with your antivirus, the SpyBot search and Destroy program , to scan your PC for spy programs and password stealers.

INSTALL AND CONFIGURE A FIREWALL

“Firewall” according to Wikipedia , “is a device of a computer network that aims to apply a security policy to a certain point in the network. The firewall can be of the type packet filters, proxy of applications, etc. Firewalls are usually associated with TCP / IP networks. This security device exists in the form of software and hardware. “If you do not want to download, install, and configure a complete Firewall, (such as ZoneAlarm , for example), at least let the standard Windows firewall be enabled. It can help you avoid too much headache.

KEEP YOUR PROGRAMS UP TO DATE

You may have the best antivirus at all, but if it is out of date, it will not do any good. Enable automatic updates for your antivirus, as well as Windows updates. Security packages are always released, which close newly discovered breaches.

BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT “SUSPICIOUS” LINKS

Links and attachments in emails or instant messages – BEWARE of them! Particularly if the message was not requested or asks for personal information or the verification of a password.

LIVE EYE ON YOUR ONLINE SHOPPING AND INTERNET BANKING

When sending sensitive information, such as credit card details, use encrypted connections. When you finish the operation, log off, particularly if you are not using your own computer.

CHOOSE PASSWORDS THAT ARE DIFFICULT TO DISCOVER AND PROTECT THEM

Do not come up with 123456, your birthday, or any other obvious passwords too. Truly secure passwords combine uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, do not write down your password in a post-it pasted on your monitor (I know someone who did this with the bank account password – seriously!). It is preferable NOT to write down your password anywhere other than your brain.

DO NOT COPY OR USE PROGRAMS FROM UNKNOWN SOURCES

Always try to download your programs directly from the developers website. If you do not know what the developer site is, use superdownlods, bajaki, or sourceforge.net

BACK UP YOUR DATA REGULARLY AND KEEP THE COPIES IN A SAFE PLACE.

In May of that year, the cartoonist Laerte lost 12 years of work when he had the computer stolen . It is therefore advisable to save your data on several different media. Pendrive, external HD, in cloud services (like Dropbox , SkyDrive or Google Drive ), DVD’s or BluRays – All is valid to ensure that you will not lose your life if your computer is stolen or damaged.

If you take these and other basic precautions now and in the future, at a minimum, you will increase your security and the secrecy of your information.




SPECIAL KEYBOARD SYMBOLS WITH THE ALT KEY

The ALT key allows you to create special symbols in the texts you type. Who does not know the famous combination ALT + 167 to create the famous “º” of ordinal numbers?

But with this key, you can create the most diverse symbols. Some that I did not even know existed until I see the table below. In it are all possible symbols to be created using this key on your Desktop. For notebooks, the process is a bit different, since most models available on the market do not have a numeric keypad. So how to make the symbols in the notebook? Just hold the “Fn” key and then the “Alt” key to make the middle of the keyboard one corresponding to the Num Lock. 
After this, the correspondence follows the following rule: M = 0, J = 1, K = 2, L = 3, U = 4, I = 5, O = 6,7 = 7,8 = 8, and 9 = 9 . Then, to make the “?” (Alt + 15) symbol on a notebook, you need to hold “Fn” and “Alt”, type “J” and “I” and then release all keys.




GRANTS FOR YOUNGER ENTREPRENEURS

GRANTS FOR YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS

 

One of the most difficult steps in founding a new business for young entrepreneurs is the ‘capital raising’ stage, or simply raising money for the company’s growth and operations. Most new business owners have a great idea and a lot of passion, both essential for getting a business started. However, these factors can only go so far, and many founders need to look for outside funding after their reserves blood, sweat, and tears starting running dry. Bootstrapping a company like this sets the groundwork, and allows for future growth spurred on by additional capital. Today, let’s talk about an often overlooked source of funds for young entrepreneurs: grants.

 

When many founders first think of raising capital, they often think of venture capital or private investors. And while both are potential sources of funds for their business, both require the founders giving up some of their ownership and direction in their company. Grants, on the other hand, are gifts of money to a company’s operation, usually as a prize the company wins, or as an act of faith that the company will go on to create something in a specific field.

 

One of the best sources of grants for young entrepreneurs is the business plan competition hosted by many colleges across the world. A college’s business school often throws these competitions once a year, with many different student founded companies competing to receive the top prize: a straight infusion of capital for the company. The competition is usually structured so that each team creates a fully fleshed out business plan and presents it on a final competition day, with each team being judged and the best team coming out on top. The benefits of this grant source exceed just the chance to win money; even losing teams still have been forced to work for months on a bulletproof business plan, allowing them to work out the kinks in areas they may not have identified beforehand. This proves invaluable, especially to first time founders.

 

Another source of grants, naturally, is grants.gov. This government run website has many different grants to search for and apply for. These grants usually don’t have any type of competition associated with being awarded, and are instead chosen by the grant giving foundation after assessing which applicant most closely associates with their specific goal. To note, most of the grants associated through grants.gov are highly specific, usually involving companies that work within public policy or public direction. If your company works within the domains of public utilities, law, energy, development, or other public works issues, you will be hard pressed notto find a grant that you may be suited for.

 

And while grants.gov is nationwide, another source of government grants for young businesses are the local chambers of commerce found in any given area. Many large metros have active chambers of commerce that similarly offer grants in different fields of interest to the government and society as a whole. Further, the chambers have many great resources for young entrepreneurs outside of just funding, due to their nature of being targeted and knowing many important local players in different industries. Chambers of commerce often have many programs intended to link up young founders with mentors, suppliers, marketing experts, and more.

 

If you’re looking for a one stop shop for all things grants, there is no better document than the Grants Register. As the name implies, the Grants Register is a fully registry of over 4,000 grants each year across every different industry or area. The grants are reviewed individually each year, and all the information is accurate and up to date. Unfortunately, the Grants Register costs a few hundred dollars to purchase, making it a more premium option for your grant search. You know what they say, you have to spend money to make money!

 

Last but not least, if you are a business founded by traditionally underrepresented minority groups, you are eligible (on top of everything previously listed) for grants offered by the United States Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency. This agency was designed specifically to encourage minority groups to found more and more successful businesses. There are over forty centers across the US for minority business development, and most offer grant competitions and other resources to help with business operations and growth.

 

As you can see, there are countless options for grants throughout the country, and no lack of additional resources being offered, often free of charge. Grants are a fantastic source of funds to consider before outside investment, as they allow further business growth without sacrificing ownership of the business. Make sure to do your research ahead of time after picking the grant you want to apply for; every grant has very specific qualifications and requirements needing to be met before a company can even be considered for its valuable funds. Once you’ve done your full due diligence, do your best to win it!




WHEN THE BANK SAYS NO

WHEN THE BANK SAYS NO – ALTERNATE PATHS TO FUNDING A SMALL BUSINESS

 

Many ideas for great products and services have floundered or have never seen the light of day due to inadequate funding or in many cases no funding at all.  Often the originator of the idea may lack the resources to develop it into an actionable business plan to pitch to investors or to apply for a loan.  Others may have a great plan but don’t have the capital resources or credit capabilities required to bring their idea to life.

For those looking to create the next great service or produce the next big selling gadget there are several alternative paths to funding a small business.

ONLINE LENDING OPTIONS

 

Since the early 2000s, online lending companies have advanced into a realistic option for small businesses seeking loans not otherwise obtainable through traditional banking.  Online lending has matured as a path for borrowing and has attracted many larger companies looking to diversify investment options for shareholders.  As this market matures and scales, the need to stabilize risk and improve transparency will bring even more opportunity for online lending and allow continued growth as an industry for those seeking capital.  With the willingness to take some additional risks, as well as friendlier lending terms compared to traditional banking, the arrangement has worked to the benefit of both lending investor and borrower and has improved options for those seeking funding online.  Small businesses may benefit from looser credit requirements and fewer restrictions on the use of the funds while paying higher interest overall.  However, for those facing the possibility of no funding, these companies can provide the available capital to get a business off the ground, on to the next level or provide relief for short term cash flow shortages.

There are two types of online lenders to consider – direct lenders and lending marketplaces.

  • Direct Lenders: Deal directly with the applicant business and lend money or extend lines of credits based on business health.
  • Lending Marketplaces: Utilize an investor pool and risk and credit assessment to determine eligibility for a loan. The funding of the loan itself comes from a single source or a combination of investors within the investor pool who have determined that the risk is worth the return.

CROWDFUNDING

 

Another potential online source for securing business funds that has gained a lot of press in the last few years is crowdfunding.  This path is one of the most flexible and represents the ultimate democratization of a product or service.  The funding is provided by “the people” and as much as it can help a new business get off the ground it can also be an early indicator of the popularity of a specific new product.  Unlike online lending, crowdfunding can help raise funds and working capital without the requirement of repayment of a loan or the burden of a credit assessment.

However, this method is best for accomplishment of a single product or service launch.  It is not generally used to raise general business capital or fund a startup at the enterprise level.  Of the many crowdfunding sites on the internet today the two best known are Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

HOW CROWDFUNDING WORKS:

 
  • Entrepreneurs, or those wishing to start their business with the launch of a single or specific product or service idea start a “campaign” on a crowdfunding site.
  • Funding is encouraged by offering “rewards”. In the case of a physical product the reward can be a unit of the newly produced gadget. For services or creative products, the reward can be a subscription, performance or some form of recognition to funders.
  • Funds are generated at different levels toward a goal required to make the product or service viable or some milestone of production of the good or service achievable.
  • Options vary among crowdfunding platforms. Funds can be “all or nothing”, with the funds returned to the funders if the product doesn’t reach the goal, or acceptance of partial funding if the campaign falls short.

VENTURE CAPITAL

 

Venture Capital is a path to funding for new products and ideas where a high rate of return is sought by the investor.  While there are venture capital firms specializing in different types of industries there has been a surge in recent years for venture capital funding in high profile industries such as 3D printing, virtual reality and in tech based companies leveraging the power of the internet and the use of the “On Demand” or “Gig Economy”.

Venture capitalists are drawn to industries poised for growth and with a high rate of return possible on their investment.  They are often accessible once a company has a firm business plan, a clear strategy for scaling and a viable business performance in terms of sales.  The upside to the startup or high growth business can be a substantial increase in working capital for new products, research or scaling.  The downside for a company pursuing a venture capital investment is that venture capitalists often expect a significant amount of say in the direction and decision making in a company as well as a rapid return on their initial investment.

The decision to pursue or accept an offer from a venture capitalist should be considered not just in terms of the dollars it will bring, but also in terms of the control the founder or founders may have to cede to see their vision fulfilled and their company move to a higher level.

ANGEL INVESTORS

 

Closely related to venture capitalists are angel investors.  These are often high net worth individuals (HWNI) willing to come in at earlier stages of development for startups with a direct investment in the company.   They can provide much needed capital and allow the principal to focus on core business aspects such as product design, sales, marketing, management and cash flow.

While the arrival of an angel investor can resolve the headaches of “bootstrapping” it does have some drawbacks.  An angel’s participation is predicated on a high rate of return usually within three to five years or a strong equity position of as high as 25% or higher, or both.  It may also include ceding some decision-making authority or at the very least requiring consultation before making critical decisions at the enterprise level.

MICROLOANS

 

One funding trend in recent years has been the arrival of companies that provide microloans.  While a large portion of funding focuses on lending at the macro level, many small businesses and sole proprietorships don’t need tens of thousands of dollars in funding and can launch and grow their business organically for considerably less money.  In many cases, the launch of a new business can hinge on securing just a few contracts or in a single small equipment purchase.

Microlenders are generally non-profit organizations that deal with loan amounts for businesses too small for consideration through traditional commercial business lending entities.  Microlenders offer smaller loan sizes, usually require less documentation than banks, and often apply more flexible underwriting criteria, making them a more “right sized” funding option for many smaller businesses.

FACTORING AND RECEIVABLE SALES

 

For small businesses and startups facing a long stretch on cash flow due invoice terms agreed to with retailers, selling receivables up front can provide necessary funding.  The easement of the financial burden of invoice terms for a retailer purchasing the finished product, and the payment by the producer on supplies and raw materials at terms significantly less than the retailer invoice payment terms can create a disastrous gap in cash flow.  Selling receivables, or “factoring” can help close or eliminate this gap.

While this path does cede some net margin to the factoring entity it can solve a lot of headaches, especially if negotiated terms with retailers are long.  However, despite the expense, competition for factor rates are improving with the emergence of companies such as The Receivables Exchange where companies within the exchange can bid on receivables and offer better rates for this method of borrowing than in the past.

LOANS FROM THE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION (SBA)

 

Of course, no discussion of funding paths for small businesses would be complete without mentioning the Small Business Administration.  This government backed loan program is still a viable option for many entrepreneurs and small businesses.  Criteria for approval is specific and includes being turned down for funding by a traditional bank or other lending entity.  You will also have to meet the government definition of a small business as well as other criteria to be approved.  But the SBA is still an option to consider for many businesses seeking to secure funding.

 

The competition and environment for starting and growing a small business over time has traditionally been difficult and remains so today.  Over 50% of small businesses do not survive past their fifth year.  And of those that fail, 82% of all failed businesses fail due to lack of cash flow.  With stakes this high it would be prudent for any small business owner, startup or potential entrepreneur to be aware and consider all funding options both traditional and alternative.

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