Answer: O, it’s just Wing delivering the prescription from the pharmacy. WIng???????  Wing is a new drone owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet which just got the first approval from the FAA to deliver commercial packages.  Insane?  Maybe.  But Jeff Bezos has been looking at drone delivery since 2013.  That big brown 800-pound gorilla in the room, UPS, is looking at it too.  UPS delivers more than 4 billion packages a year.  They have more than 95,000 vehicles and 500 aircraft now.  I wonder if their drones will be brown.  But now let’s bring it back to earth.  Those 95,000 vehicles have drivers and those 500 airplanes have crews.  What if UPS begins to move certain small deliveries to drones?  Some people would lose jobs, and that could be just the tip of the iceberg.  It would be easy to envision a dystopian future where drones may eliminate more and more jobs in more and more industries.  But then you could also envision a future with as yet untold opportunities.

There will be plenty of FAA restrictions such as not being able to fly above 400 feet for example, flying only in the daytime in clear weather when the operators can see them and others.  Right now the early tests are being done only in southwest Virginia as part of a pilot program of Virginia Tech.  But tests have been ongoing in Canberra, Australia where drones have made more than 3,000 deliveries successfully.  Then think again about the FAA.  They have to keep track of and guide the thousands of airliners flying around every day now.  So keeping track of hundreds of drones, one of which might stray into the landing path of a commercial airliner, would add a level of complexity to the air traffic control system which may be too much to handle no matter how many restrictions are put into place.

Joseph Schumpeter who is credited with the conceiving the concept of disruption is smiling from his grave.  This could be one really a big disruption.  It could also create new opportunities for startups to take advantage of being able to use drones commercially.  Such as??????????

 

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Tens of thousands of keystrokes have been expended for years writing about SBA loans.  They’re good, they’re bad, they’re complicated, they take too long, and on and on and on.  But what I almost never see is what they really are.

SBA loans are commercial bank loans that are guaranteed by the SBA.  SBA does not make loans except for disaster loans.  Because they are commercial bank loans, banks use their own credit guidelines, but they have to meet the SBA credit guidelines which are very similar to the banks.  Real estate gets a 25-year amortization, equipment 10, and working capital 7.  SBA’s primary purpose is to offer borrowers lower monthly payments in order to save their cash flow because of the longer amortizations.  The important thing to remember though is that the bank is going to underwrite it generally to their own credit guidelines first even if SBA would allow broader discretion and approve it for a guarantee.  SBA requires that a bank approve a loan first before it requests the SBA guarantee.

When people say that they don’t want to bother because of too much paperwork, it is frequently the bank asking for normal paperwork that would be required for any loan.  Nothing is different.  To receive the SBA guarantee, there are certain extra forms required by SBA that are not already required by the banks during the loan approval process.  More often it is in the closing process where much of the paperwork lies, and if a bank does not do much SBA lending and does not have a dedicated SBA department or personnel, closings can be difficult and time consuming.  But is more cash flow because of the longer amortizations not worth the extra effort?  Hundreds of millions of dollars in SBA loans are made every year.  Don’t overlook the possibility.

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Are you are looking ahead to expand or buy new equipment or thinking about getting a loan for your company at some point in the future?  Do you spend much time on social media?  Use social media to grow your brand?  Use social media to take a picture of what you had for breakfast?  You may never think that your social media activity could one day have an effect on your ability to get a loan, but it might.  Lenders and credit bureaus are looking more and more at potential borrowers’ social media activity as part of their credit decisions.

I’m talking here about business loans, not personal.  There are still questions about the legality of using personal social media posts in making credit decisions, but one major credit reporting agency has already dipped its toe into the water.  If at some point in the future looking at peoples’ personal social media posts becomes legal for companies such as banks, it is going to open a dramatic new look into your personality online, and may be opening a very large can of worms depending on what you do when you’re online.

Getting back to your business, your presence online could be a problem, or it could an asset. Think how many people turn to social media and other sources for things like reviews.  If your company is receiving a lot of positive reviews it potentially be an unintended bonus.  Your behavior online can be a tremendous benefit to your company and your brand.  The more positive attention you attract to your company and your products or services on social media the stronger your chances could be of a favorable opinion of your company by a lender at some point in the future.  Like it or not, your social media profile is going to become a more widespread data point in your business activities.  It is already being widely used in things like hiring decisions and now insurance companies are getting in the game tracking data on you from things like your Fitbit.  Where do you fit in?

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More and more businesses are coming up for sale creating excellent opportunities for people who want to be their own boss.  There are several reasons to buy an already operating business rather than starting from scratch.  You have historical financial statements and business tax returns to analyze the past performance of the business in order to determine its future prospects.  Something else very important is that there is already a salary for the owner in place.  If there isn’t it raises a big red flag.  If the business can’t or doesn’t pay the owner, what would it be for you?  Another plus for an existing business is that the day-to-day infrastructure is already in place.  In a startup obviously you have to build it from scratch with the attendant costs, and usually the owner is the last to get paid.

There are as many ways to finance a business purchase as there are businesses for sale.  Every deal is a snowflake.  But often the best way to finance is a bank loan, and at the top of the list would be SBA loans (which are bank loans underwritten just like commercial bank loans but with an SBA guarantee).  And the biggest benefit of an SBA loan is the long amortization allowed, as much as 10 years which can be a significant benefit to the monthly cash flow of the business by keeping payments lower.

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AI is seeping into more and more things, including your Big Mac.  McDonald’s just paid over $300 million for Dynamic Yield, an Israeli company that provides retailers with algorithmically-driven “decision logic” technology.  Bite down on that one.  McDonald’s has a lot of data on their customers and their buying habits.  Every day McDonald’s serves around 68 million customers.  That’s over 2 billion customer touches a year.  The majority of those customers stay in their cars.

Over the last several years displays at McDonald’s – both inside and outside have gone digital and are continuing to do so.  Just suppose someone drives up to the menu and orders two Happy Meals at 5 o’clock.  That’s probably a parent ordering for their kids.  The menu might then highlight a coffee or snack for the parent who might decide to treat themselves to a pick-me-up.  You can see the possibilities generated by AI using customer buying history.

Some other things that AI can do are improve your customer service, or gain customer insight and product behavior.  You could also get better results from your marketing.  Way too much to go into here, but be sure that you will be seeing more.

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