Alternatives to traditional lenders
Online lenders like Kabbage and OnDeck have been grabbing the headlines these days, but nonprofit lenders are another option for small businesses—and they have more than just money to offer, according to a report from NerdWallet, which has compiled a list of 13 nonprofit lending sources. These microlenders, often offering amounts of $50,000 or less, have been a welcome option for small businesses that need money for working capital, inventory, supplies, furniture, fixtures or equipment. Because many of the microlenders are mission-oriented, they address economically disadvantaged communities or regions that may be passed over by more traditional lenders, NerdWallet points out. And they often offer pro bono counseling and training in addition to funds.
Each lender in NerdWallet’s listing, which draws from the Aspen Institute’s census of microlenders and the U.S. Small Business Administration’s network of nonprofits, has its own lending and credit requirements. Some may be limited to certain states or types of businesses. For SBA microloans, a business owner usually has to put up some type of collateral and give a personal guarantee, and the proceeds can’t be used to pay existing debts or purchase real estate. To see the list of lenders, with more details on their lending practices and jurisdictions, go to: nerdwallet.com/blog/small-business/top-nonprofit-microfinance-organizations-that-lend-in-us.
Health Reimbursement Account Update
Expanded healthcare option for small-business employers
HRAs, or health reimbursement arrangements, are once more an option for small-business employers who want to help their employees pay for medical expenses without setting up a costly group insurance plan. The 21st Century Cures Act, passed in December 2016, removed restrictions imposed by coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The fix now allows businesses with fewer than 50 employees to set up stand-alone reimbursement accounts (called “small-business HRAs”). Through these, they can use tax-free dollars to reimburse employees up to a set monthly amount for out-of-pocket medical expenses (copays, for instance) or for premiums for health insurance purchased on the individual market, including through the Exchanges. A company’s annual contributions are capped at $4,950 for an individual, or $10,000 for a family. At press time, repeal of the ACA was up in the air; if it goes through, further changes may result.
To track the status of HRAs for small businesses and learn more about setting one up, see zanebenefits.com/small-business-hra.
Best Times to Post?
Timing isn’t everything, but it helps.
Sprout Social, which helps thousands of companies manage their social media, has measured the best times to post on various social-media platforms. Taking various industry reports, Sprout Social created a heat map of data points to arrive at best and worst time ranges for posting. Here’s what it found for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
• Thursday is the most recommended
day to post.
• Wednesday through Sunday are strong days.
• 1 pm on Thursday is the most active time.
• It’s relatively safe to post any day between
9 am and 3 pm.
• Early morning and late nights are least optimal.
• Strongest days are Monday through Thursday.
• Thursday is the most recommended day to post.
• Noon on Thursday is the most active time in the week.
• It’s safe to post any weekday between noon
and 3 pm.
• Early mornings and late nights again are the
• Monday through Friday are the
• Monday tends to drive the most engagement.
• Least recommended time: 3 pm each day
• Most recommended posting times include
2 am (!), 8 am and 5 pm.
• Saturday is the most highly recommended day to post.
• Friday through Sunday are the strongest days.
• Late nights until 3 am (except midnight to 1 am) are safe times to post.
Squarespace Adds Another Payment Option
Squarespace, a platform on which brick-and-mortar retailers can build commerce-enabled websites, has announced the beta launch of PayPal for its online stores. This adds another popular payment method for merchants to offer their customers and is especially helpful if any of your orders are international. Templates for the Squarespace websites have shoppable galleries, Web analytics and the ability to license Getty images directly through the site.