80% of Rural Entrepreneurs Say They Are Better Off Than Urban Counterparts

smallbiztrends | August 11, 2019

Ask any entrepreneur why they went into business, and improving their quality of life will almost always rank in the top three answers. And more often than not, the location of the business and where they live will also play an important role. According to research from SCORE, rural entrepreneurs are reporting a better quality of life compared to their urban counterparts. This is despite the fact they face more challenges when it comes to the workforce, access to digital technology, and funding. But overall, they seem to be more content. For small business owners, rural or urban, the challenges are an accepted part of being an entrepreneur. And even with these challenges, their entrepreneurial spirit is exemplified by the more than 30+ million small businesses in the U.S. When it comes to quality of life and cost of living, 80% of rural small business owners believe they are better off than business owners in urban or suburban areas.

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FINANCE, SMALL BUSINESS ADVICE

Valley Bank Launches Community Lending Platform

Valley Bank | September 09, 2022

Valley National Bank today announced the launch of a Community Lending platform to streamline processing as it ramps up its efforts to provide more financial products, resources and connections to women and minority-owned businesses. In 2021, Valley made more than 6,181 small business loans in low-to-moderate-income census tracts and to businesses with a gross annual revenue of $1 million or less. Valley’s Community Lending Team, which focuses specifically on providing financing solutions to women and minority-owned small businesses within this space, quickly realized the need for a separate platform to organize the program across the Bank’s four states. This new platform makes the application and lending process much easier and faster by reducing a great deal of paperwork that would normally take weeks to process. The new platform offers women and minority-owned businesses easier access to traditional products such as payroll, commercial mortgages and merchant services, while also looking at qualifications for loans with a different lens. Instead of just considering traditional requirements related to cash flow and having three years of business history, the bank is also considering personal and business credit scores. Under the leadership of National Director of Community Lending Thais R. Sullivan, the department now consists of 15 dedicated professionals and reaches across Valley Bank’s U.S. footprint from New York south through Florida, into underserved communities where businesses often don’t qualify for traditional lending. “The Community Lending team is committed to looking at financing for these small businesses differently,” said Sullivan. “We examine their growth potential rather than their current size to determine how we can help drive long-term growth. The launch of this platform will help us as we help small businesses along the path to growth and future success.” Sullivan and her team of experienced professionals worked to create the products, resources and relationships to ensure the Community Lending team could provide timely access to the crucial elements to help businesses in need. The regional leaders for Community Lending are: Luis De La Hoz, Regional Director of Community Lending New Jersey Martine Pierre-Paul, Regional Director of Community Lending Florida/Alabama Michael Warrington, Regional Director of Community Lending New York “During the pandemic we became painfully aware how many businesses weren’t in a position to qualify for emergency funding programs like the Paycheck Protection Program,” said Sullivan. “Minority-owned businesses in particular were less likely to apply, not because they didn’t need the funding, but because they weren’t set up to qualify.” With a lack of professional relationships or experienced mentors that could help find paths to financing, many small business owners lacked the vital documentation needed to obtain a traditional loan. In addition to providing access to its own banking products and services, Valley Bank’s Community Lending solutions include leveraging strong partnerships with national and regional organizations that can provide additional education, mentorship and financing resources. These organizations include such groups as the Small Business Administration (SBA), Palm Beach County Black Business Investment Corporation (BBIC), and National Entrepreneurship Association (NEC). Valley Bank’s Community Lending team members have been working with underserved small businesses for more than two years to create custom financial solutions that make a difference. As two examples: Juan Garay, a disabled veteran and president of Facility Services Solutions Group in Edison, New Jersey, first turned to Valley Bank in 2020. “Valley helped to connect us with loans and grant opportunities,” Garay said, “and guided us in certifying our organization as a Disabled Veteran Owned Business, Minority Business Enterprise and Small Business Enterprise.” Dr. Angie Mason, DPT, OTR/L and Dr. Tyre Patterson, DPT were struggling to get financing for their startup business Dynamic Duo PT+ in West Palm Beach, Florida, despite having over a decade of experience in their field. “Valley Bank provided us real financial guidance and connected us to other professionals we needed to help our business thrive,” said Dr. Angie Mason. “We opened the doors to our office in May of this year.” About Valley As the principal subsidiary of Valley National Bancorp, Valley National Bank is a regional bank with approximately $54 billion in assets. Valley is committed to giving people and businesses the power to succeed. Valley operates many convenient branch locations across New Jersey, New York, Florida and Alabama, and is committed to providing the most convenient service, the latest innovations and an experienced and knowledgeable team dedicated to meeting customer needs. Helping communities grow and prosper is the heart of Valley’s corporate citizenship philosophy. To learn more about Valley, go to www.valley.com or call our Customer Service Center at 800-522-4100.

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TECHNOLOGY,FINANCE

Finli Raises $6M to Bring Mobile-First Payment Management to Service-Based Businesses

Finli | July 11, 2022

Finli, a payment management platform built for service-based small businesses in the US, has announced the close of its $6 million Seed fundraising round, led by the Urban Innovation Fund. Motley Fool Ventures, M13, Alumni Ventures, and all existing investors also participated in the round. The new injection of funds will be used to expand Finli's team and business banking capabilities, moving towards becoming a holistic financial services solution. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, 99.9% of US businesses are small businesses. Existing banking and administrative platforms have not built their solutions with the small business of today in mind, many of whom are utilizing five or more services to manage client billing and payments. "'Our mission is to provide underserved businesses with the financial tools that they need to manage and grow their businesses without taking on hefty fees or complicated workflows. By meeting them where they are, we are giving them back time and money, We intentionally built Finli to solve cumbersome business challenges so that owners and operators can focus on growing their business and not chasing payments." -Lori Shao, CEO of Finli Finli's platform is thoughtfully designed for businesses to manage all aspects of invoicing and payments communication, allowing them to use familiar tools and customers to easily pay outstanding invoices through their mobile devices. "Customers love Finli because it is so easy to use. The Finli team is totally dedicated to lifting up small businesses and owner-operators – and it shows, Many service providers are fearful of big tech taking advantage of them with hidden costs and complex integrations. Finli allows small businesses to regain control – delighting their customers and making more money in the process." -Clara Brenner, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Urban Innovation Fund Finli's platform allows small businesses to invoice on the go: sending invoices, looking up customer information, creating recurring invoices and checking on payment status from a phone. New users are able to set up an account and issue an invoice in under one minute through their mobile device, desktop or any other device. There are zero merchant transaction fees for business bank-to-bank transfers. Cash and check payments can be reconciled through Finli's platform and businesses can manage collections through automated emails & text messages. Finli's seed round brings total funding to $9.5 million. Existing investors include Mac Venture Capital, Slauson and Co, Core Innovation Capital, Techstars and Muse Capital. For more SMB Resources, visit Finli's Finsider blog. About Finli Finli is on a mission to financially lift local communities. An all-in-one payment management platform built for service-based small businesses in the US, Finli allows businesses to manage invoices, payments and customer communication in a single platform. Join the thousands of businesses who have saved hours this week with Finli, visit www.finli.com. And for more business resources, visit Finli's Finsider blog

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FINANCE

Promenade Launches Point of Sale Management Solution for Florists Across America

Promenade Group | July 07, 2022

Promenade Group announced a streamlined, integrated business management platform for florists with the availability of BloomNation powered by Promenade POS. Complementing the acclaimed capabilities of the BloomNation e-commerce storefront solution, Promenade POS eliminates the complication of running online and in-store sales separately. Operating as a single platform, BloomNation powered by Promenade POS allows florists to run their flower shop with a complete set of management solutions for ordering, delivery, invoicing, proposals, and more. Originally called BloomNation, Promenade Group has spent 12 years working with local florists and understanding what shop owners need to successfully run a business. Promenade POS was built from the ground up specifically for florists – the complete platform provides the tools to manage online and in-store orders, build relationships with customers, run the back-office business, and generate repeat business. "Florists are creative artists, focused on designing beautiful arrangements that touch people's hearts and celebrate every day and special occasions, Promenade is committed to providing solutions that simplify and streamline business management tasks with a tightly integrated POS and e-commerce storefront allowing florists to focus on what they do best." -Farbod Shoraka, co-founder and CEO of Promenade. The Promenade POS solution allows florists to better manage inventory, response time, and fulfillment process with one place to store, organize, find, and process both e-commerce and in-store orders. The POS system is designed to improve efficiency and simplify back-office operations for florists. Additionally, it provides a solution to quickly respond to changing market dynamics with a cloud-based solution managed and continually updated by Promenade. Promenade's tightly integrated POS solution and online storefront put the power and time back in the hands of florists and allows them to do what they do best – impress and delight customers with creativity and service. Promenade POS and the e-commerce storefront enables florists to: Take orders anywhere, anytime, and on any device — in-store, online, or in the back office Accept any debit/credit card (Visa, MC, Amex, Discover), or accept contactless/NFC, magstripe or chip cards with the Promenade POS in-store card reader Easily manage house accounts and bill monthly or on-demand Organize and send detailed invoices to clients—with online payment options Build branded, customized proposals for large events and weddings, and follow up with an invoice Manage customer data within a sophisticated, built-in CRM system Provide data security and privacy with Stripe integration and private cloud deployment BloomNation powered by Promenade POS is now available. For more information, visit www.getpromenade.com. About Promenade Group Promenade started as BloomNation in 2010 with a clear vision of empowering local businesses with the technology, knowledge, and support to attract and retain customers with a best-in-class experience. The Promenade e-commerce platform offers an intuitive online sales and shopping experience for thousands of neighborhood businesses across the country. From flowers to food to liquor, Promenade empowers small business owners with the tools they need to reach new customers, grow online sales, and easily manage both online and in-store orders. For more information, visit www.getpromenade.com.

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FINANCE, SMALL BUSINESS ADVICE

TriNet Announces Enrich Learn™, Tax Optimized Education Assistance Program for Small and Medium-Size Businesses

TriNet | September 15, 2022

TriNet, a leading provider of comprehensive human resources for small and medium-size businesses (SMBs), today announced at TriNet PeopleForce the launch of Enrich Learn™, the newest benefit product offering from its recently launched Enrich product line. Enrich Learn will offer tax-optimized reimbursements for expenses by SMB employees to advance their education. Like the other Enrich products, Enrich Learn is a turn-key solution for benefits sponsored by the SMB. Enrich Learn will be available to all of TriNet's 23,000 SMB customers starting next month. The previously announced product releases include Enrich Access, which allows for TriNet customers to offer tax-optimized travel reimbursements for medical care, and Enrich Adopt, which offers reimbursements for expenses incurred during the adoption process."Our Enrich product line is designed to allow SMBs to make choices in benefit offerings that are right for their company. SMB leaders recognize that the benefits they offer speak to the culture that they are building," said Burton M. Goldfield, President and CEO of TriNet. "It's just one more way TriNet seeks to fulfill its mission to power the success of SMBs by supporting their growth and enabling their people." "TriNet believes that the benefits offered by the Enrich product line are essential to attract and retain the talent that many of our customers need to innovate and grow, Education is a key factor in job advancement and satisfaction, so we expect Enrich Learn to be a particularly effective way for our clients to expand their benefit offerings." Samantha Wellington, TriNet's Executive Vice President, Business Affairs, Chief Legal Officer, and Secretary For all of the Enrich product offerings, TriNet will administer the benefit for the customer and manage all reimbursements and compliance requirements. For more information on this groundbreaking new product line from TriNet, please visit: Employee Benefit Plans | Comprehensive Benefits Packages | TriNet About TriNet       TriNet provides small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) with full-service HR solutions tailored by industry. To free SMBs from HR complexities, TriNet offers access to human capital expertise, benefits, risk mitigation and compliance, payroll, all enabled by industry leading technology capabilities. TriNet's suite of products also includes services and software-based solutions to help streamline workflows by connecting HR, Benefits, Employee Engagement, Payroll and Time & Attendance. From Main Street to Wall Street, TriNet empowers SMBs to focus on what matters most—growing their business and enabling their people.

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