Is the “American dream” dead?

Is the idea of achieving the “American dream” a dying fantasy that is becoming impossible for more and more people? Yes, unfortunately, it is true. There is no doubt that the economy is suffering, and suffering with it is the American dream.

Entrepreneurs can’t afford to start businesses, families can’t afford to buy homes, and students can’t afford to go to college. Banks don’t seem to care, and the government seems to be paralyzed from the waist down.

But the fact is you don’t need a bank loan in order to build and grow a successful business, just like you don’t need an Ivy League college degree in order to be a successful entrepreneur and businessperson (though, it can help). We have to help ourselves and save our own economy, our own businesses, our American dream.

Raise money. Build dreams. 40Billion.com … Let’s start here!

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5 tips for approaching friends and family about your business

At 40billion.com, we provide online tools to help small-business and startup entrepreneurs increase access to funding and resources by leveraging their social networks, including friends and family. Here are 5 tips that we give to entrepreneurs to help them approach friends and relatives about their business:

1.  ASK FOR ADVICE & REFERRALS, NOT HANDOUTS

When you approach friends and family about your business, just share your idea in a conversational manner, and ask them for their advice, feedback, or referral. People are usually glad to give you their point-of-view if they think their advice or feedback may be helpful. And, if they really believe in you, they will either offer to help or they’ll be willing to refer you to someone who can help.

2.  FORMALIZE A LOAN OR DISCOUNT

Businesses often get started with a loan from the entrepreneur’s friend or relative, but it can be difficult to manage the relationship, especially if the loan is not formalized with a written agreement. Create a formal loan agreement with details of the loan, including what is owed, when payments are due, and any consequences for missing payments. Even if you’ve promised a discount to your friend or relative in exchange for a loan or referral, put it in writing and provide a discount coupon that can be redeemed. This may significantly reduce the risk of ruining your personal relationship over business.

3.  GIVE A PRESENTATION

Are you serious about your business? Then give a business plan presentation to your friends and family, and show them. This is your chance to display your professionalism and passion, while getting free advice and feedback from people you know. The result could get you closer to the funding, resources, and customers you need to get your business up and running.

4.  POST ON SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES

Add a description of your business to social networking websites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn. This easily allows your friends and family to read about what you’re doing and spread the word to other people they know. So, instead of you going to them, they will come to you and ask about your new business.

5.  KEEP IN TOUCH

Be sure to thank your friends and family who supported you or helped you spread the word. Then, be sure to keep the lines of communication open by sending them regular company updates to let them know that their support has been put to good use, and you’re achieving those milestones that you set in your business plan. These communications will go a long way toward maintaining good relationships with your friends-and-family supporters, and they will be more likely to support you again as customers, investors, advisors and advocates.

Want to know which of your friends are most likely to invest in your business (or someone else’s business)?

Ever wondered which of your friends is most likely to invest in your business? Want to know which potential funders you should pursue and invite to participate in your Raise?

Use our amazing new Funding Probability BETA feature to find out the likelihood that each of your contacts will fund your Raise (or even someone else’s Raise).  Just click the “Invite Your Friends” button at the top of any Raise to find out more and make your social network start working for you!

 Add contacts to your network and find out which ones are most likely to fund your business.

Grab a widget! Add a custom widget on your website or blog for easier access to your business fundraising profile.

It’s easier than ever before to share and access Raises (business fundraising profiles) all over the Web. Just add a 40billion widget to your own website or blog. Simply copy the embed code and paste it into your website’s code wherever you want the widget to appear.
 
You can grab a widget for any Raise that you have access to on 40billion.com. Just click “Widgets” at the bottom of the page.
 
Want to try out an example? Visit our sample Raise and then click the Widgets link at the bottom of the page. Copy the code in the box for the widget that you want to use, and paste the code into your website or blog.
It’s just as simple as adding a YouTube video to your website or blog, and it’s FREE.
 

COMING SOON: Short-term working capital loans, a.k.a. “commercial paper”

Short term business loans coming soon to 40billion.com

We’re busy developing an innovative new product to facilitate short-term “commercial paper” loans for operating expenses. This will be available as a new funding type and a great potential solution to the short-term liquidity problems of millions of existing small businesses in America.

What is commercial paper (CP)?  CP is an unsecured Promissory Note with a fixed maturity of 1 to 270 days. Think of CP as an IOU (i.e., “I owe you”), lasting from a day to nine months. It is issued to investors who have temporary idle cash and want to earn a decent return, perhaps even while helping out a friend/family member’s business with short-term liquidity (i.e., cash) needs to cover operating expenses or current assets.

  • By law, CP can be used to fund operating expenses or current assets only (e.g., buying inventory, making payroll, or other short-term cash needs). It is not used for financing fixed assets such as land, buildings or machinery, which are long-term assets.
  • CP is a quick, easy, and cost-effective way of raising working capital and can be a lower-cost alternative to a Line-Of-Credit (LOC) with a bank.
  • CP has been around since the 19th century and is typically used by big corporations to raise quick and low-cost working capital.

But we’re creating a 21st century version, and never before has CP been offered as a solution for small businesses in the way that we’ll unveil in just a few weeks.  Here’s a clue: It’s like Facebook and eBay for microfinance. Got it?  Stay tuned, and check out 40billion.com for more info and the big launch date!

Introducing the Social Business Rating System, a.k.a. SBRS score, for small businesses and startups!

You may have noticed that there is now a unique score given to each Raise (business fundraising profile) on 40billion.com. This is the SBRS score, where SBRS stands for Social Business Rating System™. It is a proprietary system developed exclusively by 40billion.com to rate businesses based on criteria that really matter for success, not traditional credit scores.

SBRS generates a score for each Raise based on 17 or more criteria, including business-related success measures, entrepreneur profile, peer ratings, and reviews. It is a novel approach to rating businesses that does not exist anywhere else.

The SBRS score helps funders and entrepreneurs to compare business ventures and assess their potential likelihood of success. 850 is the highest possible SBRS score, and scores are updated weekly (not monthly like traditional credit scores).

What can entrepreneurs, small businesses, and startups do to increase their SBRS scores? Start by editing and updating your Raise, editing and updating your personal profile, and increasing your fundraising and social networking activity on the site.

Here are just a few things that may influence your business’ SBRS score and which you can control:

  • % of Raise profile completed — when starting a Raise, be sure to fill in the profile completely and honestly.
  • % of personal profile completed — be sure to fill in your personal profile completely and honestly.
  • # of recommendations received
  • Amount of funding raised
  • # of connections in your social network
  • # of invitations sent to people you know
  • # of followers — i.e., people following your Raise
  • # of Raises you’ve started or participated in
  • # of company updates added to your Raise

So, what is your SBRS score? If it’s currently below 550, then we believe you’ve got some work to do in order to increase your likelihood of success! Start with the tips above, and your SBRS score will grow along with your business over time.

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