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Need a Small Business Loan? Try Office Depot.

Headline after headline decries the challenge of small business owners seeking loans.

Only 56 percent of small businesses that tried to obtain a loan got all or most of what they needed, according to a recent edition of the Office Depot Small Business Index. However, America's small business community still remains intent on obtaining the finances needed to grow their business: 30 percent of small business owners say they are researching more ways to expand their business.

Office Depot is coming to the rescue in a new partnership with the nation’s leading Small Business Administration lender. Office Depot inked a deal with Superior Financial Group to offer qualified small business customers access to capital. Small businesses can apply for SBA loans between $5,000 and $25,000.

"Small businesses are the engine of our economy. We believe this 'express' loan program will be just what these business owners need to help jump-start the economic recovery for America," says Monica Luechtefeld, executive vice president of Global E-Commerce for Office Depot. "We hope the small business community will take advantage of this opportunity to obtain a loan and get access to the funds they need to start, run, and grow their business."

This is the first time Office Depot has offered an official small business loan program. The goal is to help small businesses stretch their budgets so they can make the investments they need to grow their business and hire new employees. Here’s how it works:

Customers can apply for a loan by visiting www.officedepot.com/sba.

  1. A one-page online application can pre-qualify you in seconds.

  2. There is no application fee for this loan.

  3. Customers who are approved for a small business loan will receive 10 percent discount off their loan origination fee.

  4. The terms of the loan repayment will be over a period of eight years to help keep monthly payments low.

  5. There is no penalty for early repayment.

So, if you need a small business loan and haven’t had luck with other options, this might be worth a shot. Of course, Office Depot is hoping you’ll spend some of that money on the supplies they sell, but no purchase is necessary.

How Small Businesses Can Land Major Corporate Clients

Major corporate clients. I’ve got them. From Microsoft to PR Newswire to Ryder to Pitney Bowes, I work with plenty of major corporate clients. And so can your small business.

“Unfortunately, many small business owners and independent consultants shun the idea of attracting corporate clients, whether it’s because they just left the corporate world or because they believe they can’t really reach people through the corporate world,” says Bernadette Doyle, a marketing coach. “But the fact is, landing just one corporate client can pay the bills for months to come and give an entrepreneur the ability to reach a huge number of people all at once.”

The fact is corporate clients are spending money—and lots of it—with small vendors. In fact, a recent study discovered that the largest companies in the world spend a combined $1 trillion with third-party companies. So the question is, how can your small business tap into this revenue stream? You might try taking Doyle’s advice. She’s helped others tap into this profitable flow.

Doyle is offering a free online workshop called “How To Attract Corporate Clients” on Thursday, July 7. This is a 90-minute class that will cover such topics as:

  • How to “get your foot in the door” without cold calling, networking, or waiting for referrals

  • Why “small” doesn’t have to be a disadvantage when approaching large companies (and actually has a number of hidden advantages if entrepreneurs know how to play it the right way)

  • Why cold calling can kill your small business—and the strategies you need to use for maximum growth instead

  • How to play and win the “internal politics” game

  • How to shorten the sales cycle

If you can’t make that online seminar, check out this Wall Street Journal article, with tips that include: (1) Make sure you're reaching out personally, (2) Partner with complementary businesses, and (3) Hire well-connected talent.

An Independent Family Business

Entrepreneur magazine today tells the story of the Gruccis, a family that has built a multimillion-dollar fireworks business while keeping the ownership in the family.  I thought this was an especially appropriate tale to tell in light of the Fourth of July holiday.

"For me, the dream my father and mother had—one of independence without outside investors—is the dream I wish to keep alive today," says executive vice president and chief financial officer Felix Grucci Jr.

Entrepreneur also took the time to spell out the three rules the Gruccis have established—rules that have led them to experience success for 150 years. I’ve outlined them below, but jump over to the Entrepreneur article to get the fuller story. It’s worth a read.

1.    Always look for ways to trim costs.
2.    2. Seize opportunities to diversify the business.
3.    3. Stay resilient and count on each other.

OK, I’ll keep this short and sweet on the holiday, but be sure to ponder these three business rules when you have the time—and share some of your own with us in the comment box below.

And just for fun, check out some of Grucci's fireworks in action:


Clinton, USB Hook Up to Help Small Businesses

What do you get when a former president hooks up with one of the largest wealth management companies in the world? A philanthropic partnership that is working to help small business owners in underserved communities tap into the knowledge and skills they need to support business creation and job growth.

The William J. Clinton Foundation and UBS Wealth Management Americas just announced the launch of the CEO-UBS Small Business Advisory Program. The two groups will conduct a series of financial advisory mentorship programs. Small business owners that participate in the program will receive tailored pro bono advice from a dedicated UBS financial advisor, as well as access to UBS WMA's client network of experienced business leaders and the firm's intellectual capital.

"Small businesses are our nation's most vital source of job creation. They have driven success and innovation since our country's inception and are at the core of our economy," says President Clinton. "Our partnership with UBS Wealth Management Americas will give these businesses essential new opportunities to expand and to make a positive difference in underserved communities."

The CEO-UBS Small Business Advisory Program kicks off as a six-month pilot program this summer in the New York City metropolitan area. During the pilot phase, CEO and UBS WMA will engage entrepreneurs in underserved communities, who are currently running high-growth businesses with significant potential for job creation. Over the course of the pilot, advisors and client business leaders will work together to provide strategic financial and business advice for each entrepreneur, as well as best practices for achieving growth and long-term success. What's more, UBS WMA and CEO will host a series of supplementary group workshops, providing program participants with the opportunity to garner insights from guest speakers and additional UBS professionals.

"When we launched our Revitalizing America initiative earlier this year, I said that a spirit of partnership is essential as we work to rebuild our economy. With that in mind, I am pleased that the Clinton Foundation has partnered with UBS, our advisors and our clients, so that together we can support small businesses as they pursue their growth goals," says Robert McCann, CEO of UBS Wealth Management Americas.

Check out this video that offers Clinton's ideas for fixing the economy.