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5 Things To Consider Before Using Credit Cards To Finance Your Business

5 Things To Consider Before Using Credit Cards To Finance Your Business

Credit cards are convenient and can be valuable for a business which needs a temporary infusion of cash. The Federal Reserve observes that in 2009, 83% of small businesses used credit cards, with 41% using personal cards. Despite this massive use of credit cards, small business credit cards only account for a small portion of small business debt, as most business owners have the sense to pay back their credit card every month.

However, there is more to using a credit card for your business beyond “pay the credit card back at the end of the month.” Here are 5 tips which any business should know about credit cards before you just decide to use your MasterCard to buy office supplies.

1. Know the difference between personal and business credit cards

There is nothing wrong with using a personal credit card to handle business expenses, but you may want to get a business credit card instead.

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Business credit cards have some key advantages if you are a small but expanding business. You can have copies of the same business credit card, which will let you and your subordinates make purchases on their own. Paying off business credit cards also improves your business credit, which will make it easier to get loans on better terms. On the other hand, business credit cards lack the consumer protections of personal credit cards.

If you want a more detailed list of the differences between a business and personal credit card, NerdWallet has an excellent article on the subject and which one may be right for you. At minimum, do your research on which one your business should go with.

2. Look for the best rewards plan

Don’t just go with the first credit card plan that looks alright. Many business and personal credit cards offer unique rewards which will be well-suited for your particular business. For example, if you or your workers have to travel a lot, then a card which offers airline or hotel perks would be ideal. If you drive a lot, then gas rewards would be great.

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Also compare monthly fees, interest rates, and what the payment plans are. If you are worried about credit card fraud, you should also see what protection plans are offered.

3. Never mix up personal and business expenses

Even if you decide to stick with a personal credit card, you should never use the same credit card to buy office supplies and groceries.

The big reason is for bookkeeping purposes. When it is time to pay back your credit card at the end of the month, it can be tricky to figure out what goes under business expenses and what does not (if you mix them up on the same card). By keeping separate cards, you can know exactly how much your business spent without needing to go over every single item.

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Furthermore, if you go with a business credit card, using the business credit card for personal finance shows a lack of seriousness about your business. Keep business to business, and your personal expenses personal.

4. Be careful with who has your business credit card

As noted above, one of the advantages of a business credit card is that you can make multiple copies and hand them to your employees. If you have an employee who makes large purchases, giving him a company credit card means that he can pay for business expenses without having to front his own money and wait for a reimbursement.

Obviously, you should not just hand those credit cards out. Business credit cards should only go to employees who regularly make big or important purchases for the company, or for those who are away from the office.

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It’s important to trust and verify. If an employee uses his business credit card for personal expenses, your business will be held liable. While you can obviously fire him, abusing a company credit card is not a criminal offense.

5. Use your credit card as little as possible

Credit cards can be useful as an emergency cash resource, and can help track your expenses. However, there are risks to becoming dependent on them.

A small business will always have funding options. Talk to investors, ask your friends and family for funds, and tap into personal accounts. Even a bank loan’s interest rates will normally be lower compared to a business credit card.

Conclusion

Credit cards have value for some of the reasons noted above. Plus, spending a certain amount and paying it back every month can improve your business credit rating. Remember, if you use it too heavily, or if your business suddenly hits a downturn, then you can find yourself facing mounting high-interest debt, which will destroy your business. Try to avoid using it for big purchases unless you have no other option.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

Traditionally, when you have a lot of ideas in your mind, you would create a text document, or take a sheet of paper and start writing in a linear fashion like this:

  • Intro to Visual Facilitation
    • Problem, Consequences, Solution, Benefits, Examples, Call to action
  • Structure
    • Why, What, How to, What If
  • Do It Myself?
    • Audio, Images, time-consuming, less expensive
  • Specialize Offering?
    • Built to Sell (Standard Product Offering), Options (Solving problems, Online calls, Dev projects)

This type of document quickly becomes overwhelming. It obviously lacks in clarity. It also makes it hard for you to get a full picture at a glance and see what is missing.

You always have too much information to look at, and most often you only get a partial view of the information. It’s hard to zoom out, figuratively, and to see the whole hierarchy and how everything is connected.

To see a fuller picture, create a mind map.

What Is a Mind Map?

A mind map is a simple hierarchical radial diagram. In other words, you organize your thoughts around a central idea. This technique is especially useful whenever you need to “dump your brain”, or develop an idea, a project (for example, a new product or service), a problem, a solution, etc. By capturing what you have in your head, you make space for other thoughts.

In this article, we are focusing on the basics: mind mapping using pen and paper.

The objective of a mind map is to clearly visualize all your thoughts and ideas before your eyes. Don’t complicate a mind map with too many colors or distractions. Use different colors only when they serve a purpose. Always keep a mind map simple and easy to follow.

    Image Credit: English Central

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    By following the three next steps below, you will be able to create such mind maps easily and quickly.

    3 Simple Steps to Create a Mind Map

    The three steps are:

    1. Set a central topic
    2. Add branches of related ideas
    3. Add sub-branches for more relevant ideas

    Let’s take a look at an example Verbal To Visual illustrates on the benefits of mind mapping.[1]

    Step 1 : Set a Central Topic

    Take a blank sheet of paper, write down the topic you’ve been thinking about: a problem, a decision to make, an idea to develop, or a project to clarify.

    Word it in a clear and concise manner.

      What is the first idea that comes to mind when you think of the subject for your mind map? Draw a line (straight or curved) from the central topic, and write down that idea.

        Step 3 : Add Sub-Branches for More Relevant Ideas

        Then, what does that idea make you think of? What is related to it? List it out next to it in the same way, using your pen.

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          You can always add more to it later, but that’s good for now.

          In our example, we could detail the sub-branch “Benefits” by listing those benefits in sub-branches of the branch “Benefits”. Unfortunately, we already reached the side of the sheet, so we’re out of space to do so. You could always draw a line to a white space on the page and list them there, but it’s awkward.

          Since we created this mind map on a regular letter-format sheet of paper, the quantity of information that fits in there is very limited. That is one of the main reasons why I recommend that you use software rather than pen and paper for most of the mind mapping that you do.

          Repeat Step 2 and Step 3

          Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you need to flush out all of your ideas around the topic that you chose.

            I added first-level (main) branches around the central topic mostly in a clockwise fashion, from top-right to top-left. That is how, by convention, a mind map is read.

            In the next section, we are covering the three strategies to building your maps.  

            Mind Map Examples to Illustrate Mind Mapping

            You can go about creating a mind map in various ways:

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            • Branch by Branch: Adding whole branches (with all of their sub-branches), one by one.
            • Level by Level: Adding elements to the map, one level at a time. That means that firstly, you add elements around the central topic (main branches). Then, you add sub-branches to those main branches. And so on.
            • Free-Flow: Adding elements to your mind map as they come to you, in no particular order.

            Branch by Branch

            Start with the central topic, add a first branch. Focus on that branch and detail it as much as you can by adding all the sub-branches that you can think of.

              Then develop ideas branch by branch.

                A branch after another, and the mind map is complete.

                  Level by Level

                  In this “Level by Level” strategy, you first add all the elements that you can think of around the central topic, one level deep only. So here you add elements on level 1:

                    Then, go over each branch and add the immediate sub-branches (one level only). This is level 2:

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                      Idem for the next level. This is level 3. You can have as many levels as you want in a mind map. In our example, we only have 3 levels. Now the map is complete:

                        Free-Flow

                        Basically, a free flow strategy of mind mapping is to add main branches and sub-topics freely. No rules to restrict how ideas should flow in the mind map. The only thing to pay attention to is that you need to be careful about the level of the ideas you’re adding to the mind map — is it a main topic, or is it a subtopic?

                          I recommend using a combination of the “Branch by Branch” and the “Free-Flow” strategies.

                          What I normally do is I add one branch at a time, and later on review the mind map and add elements in various places to finish it. I also sometimes build level 1 (the main branches) first, then use a “Branch by Branch” approach, and later finish the map in a “Free-Flow” manner.

                          Try each strategy and combinations of strategies, and see what works best for you.

                          The Bottom Line

                          When you’re feeling stuck or when you’re just starting to think about a particular idea or project, take out a paper and start to brain dump your ideas and create a mind map. Mind mapping has the magic to clear your head and have your thoughts organized.

                          If you can’t always have access to a paper and pen, don’t worry! Creating a mind map with software is very effective and you get none of the drawbacks of pen and paper. You can also apply the above steps and strategies just the same when using a mind mapping tool on the phone and computer.

                          More Tools to Help You Organize Thoughts

                          Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

                          Reference

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