Archive for the ‘Small Business’ Category

Is Microfinance About To Go Down Or Not?

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Not everyone has a lot of money. Some people earn so little no matter how hard they work while a few lucky ones get to enjoy more money than they can ever spend in their lifetime. Even if the majority of us labor in companies or institutions, it still won’t make you rich. Most successful people in the world are entrepreneurs and it is also the reason why many also want to give business a try today and build their own start-ups. Who knows, it might get bigger someday and they may eventually fulfill all their life’s dreams.

And since not everyone qualifies for bank loans to fund their business projects, the next best thing for aspiring entrepreneurs to do is to secure loans or other related financial services to get started. The concept of microfinancing has been very popular for quite some time since loan applicants no longer have to secure collaterals in order to get the money they need. But because of the very nature of this small industry being highly vulnerable makes microfinancing more fragile these days. Any small changes in the market or the economy, in general, can have a major effect on microfinanciers, unlike banks that have various products to offer to the public.

The tiny size of these institutions makes them vulnerable to even a small adverse development as their finances remain fragile. Unlike banks, which have multi products and an assured deposit base, micro lenders are dependent on markets for funds, which turn hostile at the smallest of events that affect business.

“Today banks are equally in the microfinance space as much as we are,” says MR Rao, managing director with Bharat Financial Inclusion. “So, banks are looking to partner MFIs either as subsidiary or by way of strategic stakes. As MFIs grow, they too need capital badly to remain on the growth path. It will be difficult for pure-play MFIs to grow independently without support of an anchor investor.”


Otherwise known as microcredit, many low-income people benefited from microfinancing and have helped them overcome poverty at the very least but this industry is likewise struggling right now since banks have expanded what they offer when it comes to issuing loans and the global economy hasn’t really fully recovered yet. This is evident in countries like India where we all know has one of the world’s largest population and a big chunk of this is mostly below or on the poverty line.

Together, the MFPs have expanded microfinance coverage to 106 districts in Pakistan as of June end. The microfinance penetration rate is reported by PMN at roughly 25 percent, based on an estimated potential market size of 20.5 million.

The MFPs have doubled the number of active borrowers between 2011 and 2016 – and this year, too, the tally is getting bigger. There are plans to double the coverage by 2020. So there is work to be done. The addressable market is still very large, and apparently growing. A loan-book of over Rs400 billion is needed to serve 10 million micro borrowers. That means equity capital must reach at least Rs40 billion.


There are microfinance industries that are doing well and some that aren’t. It probably has to do with the location and the current status of the economy in that place. That of India may be suffering but not that of Pakistan. The market is growing and because of the technology that we have today, many (especially Millennials) are more interested in starting their own businesses rather than get stuck with a conventional 9-5 job that does not really bring home the bacon.

There is really no winning formula on a lot of things in life. Even established institutions like banks and even lenders go through so many changes as the world becomes increasingly digital and may struggle in the process. In a way, technology helped with efficiency. We’ll just have to wait whether the world of microfinancing will keep on forging forward or get swallowed whole by banks that are coming up with more clever ways to lure in more investors and borrowers.

Black Friday Today: A Shadow Of What It Once Was

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When it comes to shopping, people make a big fuss of Black Friday and highlighting how it happens to be the biggest sale of the year – a perfect excuse to go on an all-out shopping spree where you can find the best deals on great products and possibly even complete your Christmas list ahead of time. Well, it may be true in the past and people really fall in long lines just to get in a store and shop like there’s no tomorrow but it seems like it is no longer the case now. If you check out the following articles, you’d realize that yes, some people have a point in saying this because apparently, the hype over Black Friday makes not that much sense anymore.

So, is it still right to hype up Black Friday when you learn that you only get to enjoy a few buck’s savings or that bigger discounted items like home appliances can also be bought online? It is already the case with big retailers like Walmart and Target and many people head to these places for amazing deals. Why then spend hours in line when you can easily make your purchase through the web from the comfort of your own home and spare yourself from the inconvenience brought about by shopping with big crowds. Even small specialty online only retailers are getting in on the action. Yet if you are someone who is trying to complete her Christmas list, any deal will do especially that this is probably your last chance of buying something at a discount. Read the rest of this entry »

Chipotle: Problems In The Food Industry

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Food is the most basic of human needs. We can’t survive for long without eating and drinking water. It is why investing in a food-related business is one of the most profitable investments you can ever make, as people eat three times daily at the very least. But despite food being a vital necessity in our lives, numerous issues affect it too, so it is not always an assurance your business will prosper. Various food franchises and businesses have since closed down over the years for various reasons.

Aside from economic factors that entrepreneurs have to consider when running their businesses, problems with health and the people’s changing lifestyle influence the type of businesses that succeed in the market. It’s mainly because a lot of the ailments that bother humans these days are because of our lifestyle. People are becoming more health-conscious and some won’t hesitate to spend a lot for an expensive organic salad than eat at their favorite burger joint or avoid indulging in junks and sweets like they used to. Then, there are other random incidents like food poisoning that can damage a fast food or restaurant’s reputation that may eventually lead to their closure.

Chipotle’s food safety woes are not over.

The chain confirmed Tuesday that several customers who ate at a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Sterling, Virginia, reported symptoms of norovirus after eating at the chain.

So far eight cases between July 14 and July 17 were reported to, a website that allows users to report when they get sick after eating at a restaurant. Business Insider was alerted to the issues at the restaurant by the site, and then published a story. Customers reported symptoms such as vomiting, severe stomach pains, diarrhea, dehydration and, in some cases, hospitalization.

Jim Marsden, Chipotle’s executive director of food safety, said that the company has notified local health department officials of the incident.

“Norovirus does not come from our food supply, and it is safe to eat at Chipotle. We plan to reopen the restaurant today,” he said in a statement Tuesday. “We take every report of illness seriously. In accordance with our established protocols, our team is working to ensure the safety of our customers and employees, including voluntarily closing the restaurant yesterday to conduct a complete sanitization.”


The reputation of a food-related business is on the line every time there are negative reports blaming them of customers getting sick from the food they serve. And it’s actually not the first time for Chipotle to get involved in such a controversy because they’ve suffered from a similar problem about two years ago and is actually just starting to make big bucks again. It’s a good thing they haven’t entirely closed down because of this because other smaller shops and restaurants have gone bankrupt because of similar incidents.

Two years after a string of food safety incidents battered sales and scared away diners, Chipotle Mexican Grill still isn’t on solid ground.

While the beleaguered burrito chain has returned to profitability and its same-store sales have begun trending in a positive direction, its successes have been overshadowed by a data breach, overtime pay lawsuits and drug charges being brought against a senior manager.

“While these things do not deter customers as much as a food poisoning outbreak, they do raise questions about how well the company is managed and suggest a lackadaisical approach,” Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, told CNBC via email.

In the hope of luring back lapsed customers, Chipotle continues to invest heavily in marketing and promotions. In an SEC filing last month, the chain said that it would be increasing its spending in these areas, saying expenses would rise as much as 0.3 percent as a result.


The company has been doing damage control ever since but it is not always that easy to pull off especially that social media can quickly escalate things these days. The public is easily scared by issues like this and they tend to avoid that specific shop or store up until they forget about the issue and no similar incident happen soon after, which is the problem of Chipotle because it happened yet again. It’s no wonder they can’t win back many of their loyal customers after these outbreaks happened nor are they able to attract new customers to become their new patrons. It might be true then they weren’t able to fully recover from the E. coli incident back then and only time can tell how their business will fare amidst the tough competition in the food industry.

No More Targeted Ads From Gmail

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We like to think we are safe in the confines of our personal Gmail account but how mistaken are we. Not only is your browsing habit observed and recorded but Google also sneaks a peak at our emails just so they can show us targeted ads, all for the love of (sponsor’s) money. You really can’t remain anonymous on the web anymore because you leave digital footprints that a tech giant like Google can take advantage of. Sadly, though, you have no choice unless you totally give up modern email and switch back to snail mail that may still inadvertently get lost en route to your receiver and can take a lifetime to get there.

Modern technology has indeed made life easier but there are a lot of catch that not all the time we are aware of. And the fact that Google reads your emails in Gmail is not new anymore because it made the headlines years ago. Targeted-advertising generates the biggest cash inflow for Google even though we aren’t thrilled at the news of them spying in on us. Do you even feel comfortable knowing that other people can read the contents of your personal email account? But then, it’s an efficient and comprehensive free web email service, so can we really complain at all?

Google is making a change to its advertising practices that will affect millions of Gmail users around the globe. Starting later this year, the company will stop reading your emails to refine its ads.

If you’re just learning that Gmail scans your messages, this is an issue that dates back for years. Google’s automated systems routinely scanned Gmail users’ incoming and outgoing emails to help refine the company’s massive data-gathering operation, which in turn supported its enormous targeted-advertising business.

Google’s ad business is what keeps the entire company chugging along. Last year, 88 percent of all revenue at Alphabet, Google’s parent company, came from Google advertising, according to its annual report.


But all these things are about to change as Google announced they will cease to read emails anymore as they refine their controversial advertising practices. The new changes will give users more control as to what ads they want to see popping in and out of their browser (not email, please) although the company has not yet specified when these changes will actually take place.

Google said it does not scan the email of paying corporate customers of its G Suite of services, but it made the policy change — announced in a company blog post on Friday — on its free consumer version to eliminate confusion and create one uniform policy toward Gmail.

As it builds its Google Cloud business for selling internet infrastructure and services to corporate customers, Google is trying to ease concerns that it will use data from corporate customers to help its mainstay advertising business.

Google said it plans to carry out the changes to the Gmail ad policy “later this year.” It will continue to scan Gmail to screen for potential spam or phishing attacks as well as offering suggestions for automated replies to email.


Google snooping in on emails coming in and out of Gmail isn’t entirely a bad thing as it helps them filter out dangerous spam and malware that can harm your system but that does not erase the fact that they do so without the user’s consent. Meanwhile, they will now streamline ads depending on data you have set on your settings or on your search history on other Google-related services like Youtube. This move may eventually help Google win some of the lawsuits filed against them regarding wiretapping allegations and even win over corporate clients into using their web services and infrastructures.

Making Money From Pictures

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They say do something that you love and you won’t work a single day in your life. If only life is that simple. Societies are more complex now and finding the niche where you belong to is easier said than done. You can only wish to end up doing a job you’d learn to like as you go along. However, as technology continues to progress, changes are likewise taking place and opportunities are opening up to those who are willing to take the risk. Our love for social media and the visual arts proved to be an edge for aspiring photographers who want to make money out of their hobby of taking pictures.

Most photographers often make the transition of taking photography to the next level if only to cover the basic costs of pursuing their hobby. There are various opportunities when it comes to picture taking and you don’t always have to have the latest professional camera (although it helps) but have an eye for what looks good in photos or not. You can offer your services (at a lower cost) to people within your circle (family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors) to take photos during weddings or other special events for starters. You can also dabble with real estate photography or even sell your own photos as stock photographs or to collectors who don’t mind buying works of amateurs like you.

Starting your own photography business is a great way to add a second income or a main income, if you work hard. While the photography market is competitive, many photography business owners have been able to find their niche and build a sustainable career. Like most creative endeavors, you need to balance your passion for photography with real business skills in order to be successful. To build and grow your business, you need both raw talent and a knack for marketing. One photographer we spoke with said an ability “to market yourself” was one of the most important factors in success. You should continually be working to improve your craft and evolving your product, and work consistently on your own branding, online marketing and people skills. Without the two, the results will likely just be an expensive hobby rather than a viable full-time business.


If you want to turn your hobby into a lucrative career, the first investment you have to make is to buy that fancy looking camera with a long list of features that only pros know how to use. And mind you, they can be quite pricey especially high-end lens. You also have to prepare for additional lenses, flashes, memory cards, computers, external hard drives, and a professional-looking website to boot. If you want to make your business more legit, prepare additional requirements in securing a business permit, insurance, business cards, accounting, and contracts. It is quite a handful for a budding photographer like you but they are important requisites to becoming a pro.

In Instagram’s early days, few photographers realized the photo-sharing platform’s full potential. Often, it was used as an alternative portfolio or a way to keep your followers up to date on your day to day photo musings. But as Instagram has grown – it announced 500 million users last month – it has become, for some, an opportunity to work on commercial shoots where posting on their own Instagram feeds is part of the deal.

TIME LightBox spoke with five photographers who are leveraging their followings.

Pei Ketron for Pfizer

Few photographers have been seamlessly incorporating Instagram into their business as long as Ketron has. When Instagram-based assignments began emerging around three years ago, Ketron says it was i nitially with travel companies in exchange for lodging and airfare but has grown to bigger budgets as its value as an advertising tool has increased. She cautions photographers that “it’s a big ego boost to have companies approach you, but be weary of accepting the handouts in exchange for money to avoid undercutting the market.”


We now live in a day and age where things have evolved to fit our highly digital lifestyle. Social media is a force to reckon with but it can also be your friend. Photographers who mastered social media are able to leverage their income and make money from the photos they post on social media especially that of travel bloggers who travel the world for a living, so others can experience what it’s like from the photos they post online. Basically, they make money from being popular social media influencers with a cult following and do a lot of sponsored posts because that is where the money is at. It can even pave the way for your transition from an amateur to a pro photographer.

While talent helps a lot, it takes a lot of patience, courage, and skills to shift to professional photography where you can turn your hobby into your main source of bread and butter. Learn about building your brand and reaching out to a wider audience using the technology we have today. Just keep in mind that it won’t always be easy, so be ready to build your name and connections because they can help a lot in your future success.

Female Entrepreneurs On The Rise

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Running a business isn’t an easy feat. From starting up to maintaining it and making sure it stays relevant and profitable, entrepreneurs juggle various tasks to keep the business afloat. The economy isn’t always stable and there are various factors that can shake your business up, so you always have to be on your toes. Countless businesses are still opening up despite that gloomy forecast. That’s the beauty of competition and a free and open market. While mostly dominated by men, there are also more female entrepreneurs now than it did before.

Women are now empowered to take bigger business risks because most are educated and hold degrees of their own. From small startups to family businesses and online ventures, you can see more women at the forefront of business ventures and actually succeed in it. It no longer comes as a surprise that many women hold important positions in various big and multinational brands not only because they are educated but more so because most women naturally have a knack for business themselves.

The economic recovery has been a long, slow slog. Without women starting businesses, we’d all be in much tougher shape. Here’s why: Women start businesses at a rate five times faster than men. In fact, women launch 1000 new businesses every day.

Women would do a whole lot more to save America if only America would return the favor and treat women small-business owners equally.

Since the recession, new businesses and jobs have grown slowly. Women-owned businesses have been a beacon of hope: they’ve grown five times faster than the national average, according to the sixth annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express.


Women own about 10 million businesses as of date and most are small businesses that contribute a lot for the betterment of society. Unlike in the past, women are more optimistic now to go out of their comfort zone and take calculated risks when it comes to business. Consequently, their businesses create jobs that help people earn money and provide for their families aside from the lives they touch with the products and services they offer whether it is in retail, food and beverage, spa, salon etc.

This fact forms part of a bigger picture of gender imbalance in the business world. Just a tenth of capital invested globally is in a business led by a woman. Only 18 percent of venture capital investors in the UK are female. In the US, a woman is twice as likely to start a business as a woman in the UK.

Clearly, this all needs to change, especially when you consider recent findings from Barclays Bank and the Entrepreneurs Network, which showed that female-led companies bring in 20 percent more revenue with 50 percent less money invested when compared to companies led by men. The same research found that 34 percent of male entrepreneurs have seen a business go under compared with 23 per cent of female founders.

There is much that can be done. A good place to start is to provide young women with successful business role models – 83 percent of women who have started their own business have known someone else who has done so.


Not only in the US but female entrepreneurs are likewise growing in the UK albeit at a much slower pace. It’s actually a good culture of women entrepreneurs helping other women make a living and even start small businesses of their own. You can’t always predict what will happen to the market, so saying that there are risks involved in business is an understatement.

Women see things differently, which is perhaps the reason why they also do things differently and come up with plans and ideas that are new to many people. They aren’t afraid to compromise too unlike men who have a more structured approach to business. And lastly, women are likewise often better than men when it comes to customer service since ethics and honesty are among the finest traits of women that are crucial to making a business succeed.

The Future Is Here For Small Businesses in Asia

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To get ahead in life, it’s either you get lucky with business or in the lottery. You won’t get rich by just working a regular 9-5 job and we all know that by now. Competition in the workplace is tough and you can work for decades without getting the recognition you deserve. It’s the exact opposite of being an entrepreneur. In the business world, you reap what you sow. There are a lot of variables, though, but the bottom line is that you have the choice to keep moving forward or not.

As an entrepreneur, you will take full responsibility for the decisions you make that pertains to your business. It’s that simple. No more passing on the blame to other people but be prepared to reap the rewards of your hard work too.

With continued globalization and rapid technological advancements, always be on the lookout for opportunities and grab them as soon as you can. Even traditional businesses can’t continue to resist change when the portal used by all now is the Internet. That’s where everybody is – your customers. Countries like America and Europe may be first world nations but many Asian countries continue to enjoy upward growth as well despite the many issues with the global economy and lingering threats of war.

GoDaddy, an internet domain registrar and web hosting company, is casting its eyes outside the U.S. as it targets half a billion small businesses worldwide in its global expansion.

“Our mission is to help individuals take all ideas from inception all the way through to reality,” said GoDaddy’s chief product officer, Steven Aldrich.

Asia will be a key area for its expansion, he told CNBC on the sidelines of the InnovFest Unbound 2017 conference.

In Singapore on Wednesday, the company launched its next generation website builder which allows users to build, publish and edit a website on their mobile devices.

“You can do everything on your mobile phone. There is not a feature that is on the next generation website that you need to go to your desktop for,” he said.

The product is localized for different markets.

Adrich did not say if the website domain name provider was looking to acquire companies in Asia but said the region is important for the company that is committed to working with small businesses.


There is a big market waiting to be discovered in Asia. While there may be some limitations on countries like China, you can always find a way to make things work if you dream just big enough. However, that does not disregard the fact that poverty is a major issue in most Asian countries that should likewise be taken into consideration when putting up a small business of your own.

Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Sri Najib Tun Razak said in his speech that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has “achieved a critical mass” to further spur its growth trajectory, with the combined economy growing 28 times to $2.57 trillion in past four decades to become the sixth-largest economy in the world currently.

But he warned that uneven growth that could cause instability, promote extremism and raise trade barriers that limit the flow of goods across borders.

“Our economies are growing faster than most of the rest of the world, and it is expected that by 2050 that the ASEAN economy will amount to over $9.2 trillion, making it the fourth largest in the world… there are other predictions that are even more optimistic, suggesting ASEAN could reach the number four position by 2030 — a mere 13 years from now,” Mr. Razak told his audience of regional business and political leaders in his keynote address during the forum organised by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council and held in conjunction with the 30thASEAN Summit that culminates on Saturday.

“These are big numbers and impressive positions. But we have yet to achieve them,” he noted.

“The big challenge is to ensure that the integration of our individual economies — that is necessary for ASEAN itself to become a significant world market — is driven through. On that, we still have a long way to go.”


Small businesses drive growth and innovation in a lot of Asian countries and are big contributors when it comes to economic growth. Many Asian governments aspire to grow their economy because only then will they be able to distribute the nation’s wealth and support their citizen’s prosperity. Wealth can only be shared to all people of the land with economic success. And at the rate that businesses are sprouting all over Asia, it is no wonder that major key players in the international business arena are actively considering and pursuing business in Asia as well.

You can explore Asia by flying with Technically a US territory, Guam is just a stone throw away from most Asian nations, so you’d feel at home touring the continent by flying with them.  The world is getting smaller by the minute and whether you are in the US or somewhere in Asia does not matter because everyone will still mind their own business as they pursue their interests in life. What’s important is that you take all the necessary precautions and take calculated risks when dealing with setting up a small business of your own because you don’t want your money to go down the drain just like that because you failed to anticipate problems and solutions for them before it is too late.

The Impact Of Technology To Small Businesses

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Employment is but a means to provide for your needs and hopefully help you secure your retirement fund. After all, having a job is better than being unemployed. At least, you have the spending power to pay for your needs and that of your family. However, it can’t let you fully enjoy the bigger things in life.

Becoming an entrepreneur means you have a chance to make it in the world and increase your wealth ten-fold. Not only do you have control over how much your business grows but you are no longer limited to the usual limitations of traditional employment.

One may indeed become rich and successful by engaging in business but let us not forget that the risks involved are bigger too. Aside from putting in your own capital (or borrowing it), there is no assurance your business would make it or that it will be safe from the issues affecting the country’s economy (regardless of where you are in the world).

The vast majority of small business owners in Australia are navigating tough conditions with little or no support. While they know their business better than anyone, often they fail to tend to certain nagging issues because, well, they’re too busy; instead, they choose to reassure themselves their business model is strong and push on. If you are one of these people stop and think – if you let those issues persist and grow, cracks will become fissures and your business stands to fail.

Australian small businesses are made up of a huge amount of people that bravely take on their chosen market as well as huge personal risk and employ the majority of the adult population. But they are not helping themselves. Most of these brave individuals are missing the basic governance controls, systems and processes that help push their business into hyperdrive, and protect it from failure.


Most business owners micromanage, thinking they can do things all by themselves. And that is usually their first mistake. They get too engrossed in the actual business itself that they forget that they are also there to manage their business, so they can be free to do the manual labor someday and reap the fruits of their hard work.

Also, one thing all business owners can’t avoid or put off for long is automating their operation. Even small family-owned businesses need to establish an online presence or make use of various computing tools to improve their services and the conduct of their business.

Finding the perfect balance between this emerging technology and traditional human elements of customer service is a growing challenge for small businesses. The magic behind this balance stems from digital messaging platforms that merge the abilities of chatbots and humans to create a “hybrid bot”. Whilst the chatbot can process figures and administrative tasks, the human can respond to more complex issues and problems. In effect, the chatbot alleviates the stress on the human and allows them to place their focus on the more important issues at hand. For a small business, this super-agent streamlines both time constraints and problem solving, as the chatbot’s ability to save time and provide assistance to the customer service agent becomes a lifesaver. While it alleviates business pressures, it also creates goodwill amongst customers as it opens more opportunities to communicate on their terms.

While some argue bots are the cost-cutting future of customer engagement, others contend that a human is the most effective way to solve problems. As with so many things, the solution lies somewhere in the middle. The one thing both sides agree on? A business can’t force customers to call it. Those that do send their customers a message loud and clear: They don’t respect consumers’ time, and the consumer will be put on hold.

Consumers have become accustomed to chat and messaging — via apps on their phones and tablets or on their computers. For a small business, it provides an efficient alternative to voice-based communication that limits consumer frustration and opens the door to cost-effective features like AI and bots. Shaping the customer experience is about finding that balance between traditional interaction models and emerging technology to create a seamless experience benefiting both consumer and business.


Indeed, everything has gone digital. And like any other piece of technology, it has its pros and cons. As a business owner, you must always see these things in relation to your business – how it will affect your business and how you can benefit from it.

Small businesses may find it challenging to automate everything that needs to be computerized at first because of limited funds, manpower, and time constraints but only businesses that learned to innovate and keep up with the many technological advancements remained to be at the forefront of the business world.

Small Businesses Get Smart With Creative Financing

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Living in the United States for the past 10 years has seen many affected by one of the harshest boom and bust cycles in a lifetime. Not since the depression has there been a scenario where so much wealth was lost after being gained over such a short period of time. At one point, times for financing were easy, and banks had their doors open to pretty much anyone who required capital.

But now, sadly, that has all changed. Banks themselves are suffering from a serious lack of capital, and the small business owner has suffered as a result. In an attempt to provide credit relief to many small business owners like Glen Markstrom of San Diego’s All Clear Tree Service, equipment leasing companies have begun to work directly with many entrepreneurs.

“I never really considered leasing before,” says Markstrom, whose tree service company has won local awards. “Leasing did end up saving my bacon when the banks let me down. It’s nice to know there are options.” Read the rest of this entry »