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Amazon’s Proposed “Uber-for-Trucking” Platform Could Speed Industry’s Growing Momentum

Amazon BuildingAmazon has made a fortune off disrupting and changing the way retailers do business. Now the innovative giant has turned its eyes to another industry, revving up its considerable engines to transform the trucking industry – this time borrowing a model made famous by another disruptive entity.

The company is proposing the creation of an “Uber-for-Trucking” application that would connect truck drivers with shippers. If successful, this app would give small, independent gear-jammers (firms that make up the bulk of the industry) a high-octane boost in finding new business and a way to better compete and market themselves against the big national carriers.

The “Uber-for-Trucking” platform is Amazon’s initial foray into what is commonly called the “sharing economy.” Made famous by companies such as Uber, Lyft and Airbnb, the sharing economy uses websites and online applications to connect vendors (often, but not always, smaller operations or individuals) with potential customers in a new and unique way that is theoretically much cheaper and more efficient than older business models.

Uber, of course, hooks up people who prefer not to use established taxi services with contracted drivers operating their own vehicles for hire. Airbnb provides a way for consumers who want to stay somewhere other than a hotel to connect with homeowners offering their residences for short-term rentals. There is almost no limit to the number of products and services that can (and are) offered via the sharing economy. Without a doubt, the sharing economy has become the marketing craze of the 2010s.

And it’s not only vendors and consumers who have taken note of the sharing economy’s transformative potential. Investors are also casting their eyes, seeing sharing economy companies as a way to reap tremendous profits due to high demand and low overhead costs. In 2014, speculators invested $4.1 billion into sharing economy companies. They nearly equaled that yearly total just in the opening months of 2015. No recent figures are available, but the sharing economy ride doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

Now it’s Amazon’s turn to enter the market. If Amazon has the same effect on the sharing economy as its had on the retail business, small truckers may be poised to put the pedal to the metal as they stand the most to gain from such an app.

For most of the trucking industry’s existence, many small carriers and independent truckers often found new business by an informal “bulletin board” system. Just as it sounds, someone needing service and wanting to employ an independent trucker might have put a note on a board at a truck stop. Obviously such a system left a lot to be desired, for both the customer and the trucker.

An Uber-for-Trucking app could help these smaller outfits find new business and establish networks to obtain a steady stream of shipping contracts. With a handy electronic connection available, an operation with a single truck or just a handful of rigs could determine better ways to schedule deliveries and make the best use of resources, cutting down on waste, especially cost-draining less-than-full or even empty loads. Tracking and payment could also be conducted via the app, enabling the small-time operator to optimize operations as never before, lowering costs and potentially boosting profits.

Such an app could also offer other ancillary services for truckers, such as directions, fuel price information, and even truck stop recommendations for the weary driver.

Some trucking industry watchers believe Amazon’s proposed app could be a way for the giant to control the entire delivery cycle, from a package’s point of departure (the so-called “first mile”) to when it reaches its final destination (the “last mile”). Others think the app could be a way to make the “middle mile” more efficient and cost-effective for shipper and customer by eliminating third-party brokers, whose services add to costs and would no longer be needed if an app is successful.

Will Amazon be able to launch such an app and drive over the competition as it’s done elsewhere? Keep your eyes on the road as this race is getting into high gear.

Could the Trans-Pacific Partnership Be a Key to Renewing America’s Entrepreneurial Spirit?

TPP. Trans Pacific Partnership trading association

TPP. Trans Pacific Partnership trading association

The 2016 presidential election is at long last over and change is coming to Washington. The new Trump administration is promising to bring jobs back to America and untangle the complex web of regulations the president-elect says is strangling U.S. businesses.

One of Donald Trump’s ideas on bringing jobs back from overseas is killing the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), now before Congress for ratification. The TPP is a trade agreement between 12 Pacific Rim countries spanning four continents, including the United States and Canada. The agreement, signed in February 2016, contains measures proponents say will lower barriers to international trade.

The TPP had been supported heavily by the Obama. However, with the election of Trump, an opponent of TPP, President Obama has said he will not pursue ratification in the Congressional lame duck session.

So, if Obama will not pursue ratification in his final days and Trump is against the treaty, it would seem the TPP is in the morgue awaiting burial, right? Maybe, but then again, maybe not.

One notable business leader says, despite Trump’s opposition to the treaty, America needs the TPP and promoted it as being a way to bring back America’s lagging entrepreneurial spirit.

FedEx Freight president and American Trucking Association treasurer Michael Ducker told a recent logistics conference in Memphis that the TPP represents an opportunity to bring businesses and manufacturing back to America. If the treaty were combined with regulatory reform and tax law changes, then entrepreneurs could start new businesses free of the current red tape that hampers their growth.

The TPP would eliminate nearly 20,000 foreign tariffs that make American-made goods more expensive overseas. Ducker’s idea is that with a more favorable tax and regulatory environment in the U.S. and a more competitive foreign market, American companies will expand the U.S. operations and hire more workers here to manufacture instead of shipping jobs overseas.

“Expanding trade opportunities for Americans has been a bipartisan pursuit since this country started,” Ducker told the Memphis Commercial Appeal. “It needs to continue to be so as this new president and Congress are seated. And the time to act is now.”

As mentioned above, prospects for immediate ratification appear slim to none. President Obama will not pursue any action before he leaves office Jan. 20 and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has ruled out any vote during the lame duck session. And, of course, the incoming president has actively campaigned against the TPP.

However, Trump has promised to be a different kind of president, less driven by ideology than his predecessors. Already in the first days after the election, he has altered his position on the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). On the campaign trail, Trump said he wanted to repeal the entire law and start over. Now he has said certain parts of Obamacare may be included in a new healthcare act he wants Congress to craft. Perhaps he may prove as pragmatic on the Trans-Pacific Partnership? If he does, how far will he go in implementing regulatory and tax reform in order to make it easier to start and grow a business in America? The answers will have to wait until after Jan. 20, 2017.

Things Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know

Things Every Entrepreneur Needs To Know

The decision to embark on entrepreneurship is big. It means that you are creating your own future and taking control of your decisions. The road to success isn’t easy, though. To help you overcome the barriers that come with being an entrepreneur, there are a few things that you should know.

  1. Choose where you spend your time wisely. You don’t have the time or the energy to do everything. The places that you spend the most time will obviously flourish more than the areas in which you don’t. So, make the hard choices about what you will give your energy to and what you will have to refuse.
  2. Don’t come up with ideas. The world is full of plenty of inventors and dreamers. The mark of a good entrepreneur is someone who sees a problem and comes up with a solution. If there is no need for your product, service, or idea, it won’t be successful.
  3. Take small steps. Successful business ventures don’t happen overnight. In fact, most entrepreneurs will tell you that they take precise and calculated moves. Start by planning out what needs to happen to make your dream a reality. Then, take small steps to make sure it happens. After each step, pause to evaluate your progress and reassess as needed.
  4. Don’t worry about your weaknesses. Everyone has them. Instead, find out what your strengths are. Focus on them and don’t worry about the naysayers.
  5. Don’t be a doormat. You’ll find that when you’re successful, people expect you to cut them breaks, make exceptions, and let things slide. In some instances, you might be able to. As a rule of thumb though, never do what you’re good at for free. Instead, make sure that you collect on all of your accounts. Not only does this keep your business growing, but it establishes a relationship of respect with those who do business with you.

While you can embark on your business ventures on your own, eventually you will need help. An invoice factoring company can help you send out billing notices and collect on your overdue accounts. Charter Capital is an asset to every small business. Not only does it eliminate the wait for payments, but it allows you to immediately receive the cash that you are owed to expand and grow your business. To find out how Charter Capital can help you further your business endeavors, visit www.chartercapitalusa.com

Driver Shortage Overblown?

Why Right Now May Be Trucking’s Golden Age

Truck driver shortage overblownIf you’re a small business entrepreneur looking for new roads and ventures to explore, today might be the best time to consider entering the trucking industry.

The nation’s transportation and logistics industry (of which trucking is a major component) has shifted into a higher gear. More and more goods are being moved from manufacturing and distribution centers to far-flung and eager customers, creating greater demand for trucking services.

The only possible flat tire in trucking’s bright future has been ongoing concerns about a “driver shortage.” Many news outlets and industry watchers have predicted turnover and too few drivers to go around, which could bring business to a screeching halt. But recent numbers and analysis suggests that even a driver shortage, if it exists at all, might not even be a speed bump on the road to a promising tomorrow.

Encouraging Numbers

According to recent figures from the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the industry has got the hammer down and is gearing up for continued prosperity in the years to come.

The trucking industry set an all-time record in revenues in 2015, bringing home $726.4 billion. That figure represents 81 percent of all freight industry-related revenue. Meaning, that of every dollar spent moving items from place to place across the U.S. last year; more than four out of every five dollars were used to employ trucking firms. The ATA has also previously foretasted that today’s robust revenues will continue to rise, as much as 29 percent by 2026.

In terms of tonnage, trucks carried 10 billion tons of freight in 2015, or 70 percent of all freight shipped, according to the ATA.

About that Driver Shortage

It’s Truck Driver Appreciation Week (Sep. 11-17). So what better time to talk about a crisis many people expect will throw a wrench into the gears of an industry poised for near perpetual prosperity?

The mass media and the trade press seemingly can’t go a day without lamenting about a driver shortage plaguing the industry. Figures thrown about usually mention trucking companies are facing a shortfall of about 50,000 drivers and that the situation will grow steadily worse, reaching up to 174,000 unfilled vacancies by 2025 as older drivers retire. In addition to shortages, media reports also suggest companies are having a hard time keeping the drivers they already have, compounding the problem.

But is that what’s really happening?

Charter Capital does not make trucking industry forecasts, but we can report and pass on what others are saying in an effort to keep our customers informed about industry trends. And industry watcher Kevin O’Marah is wondering if the driver shortage may be little more than a shortage of imagination – and something that could be easily overcome with technology.

More than 1.6 million people are currently employed as truck drivers. If the industry is 50,000 drivers short, while not a small number, that’s only 3 percent of all truck drivers. O’Marah speculates in Forbes that drone technology, similar to that already undergoing testing in Europe, could propel self-guided trucks along our interstates, overcoming any problems from a driver shortage.

But even if self-driving rigs remain a ways off, the driver shortage itself may be slowly abating. The ATA recently reported that turnover at trucking firms has receded to 83 percent, down from nearly 90 percent in recent years. More drivers are staying at their jobs longer, and fewer are leaving the profession, induced to stick around by higher pay and better working conditions, spurred in part by new federal rest regulations.

Where the Rubber Hits the Road

Right in time for Truck Driver Appreciation Week, industry figures show drivers are happier and staying in their jobs longer. Technology is being developed to ease further difficulties from driver shortages. More freight is being moved by truck, and as a result, revenues are at record levels. The forecast for future revenues is as bright as the high beams on a Kenworth. If you’re considering getting into the trucking business either as an entrepreneur or as a driver, now may be the time for you to rev up your engines and move forward.

How to Choose an Invoice Factoring Company

Choosing an Invoice Factoring CompanyInvoice factoring is a great way to free up cash for your business. Often, when you are shipping out product on a regular basis, there can be a significant lag between when you ship your product to when you receive payment for it. Invoice factoring takes out the wait time by having a factoring company pay you for the invoice then they wait for the money to come. There are a wide variety of invoice factoring companies to choose from, so how do you decide which one is best for your needs? Let’s take a look at some points to keep in mind.

  • Quick funding – When your financing and cash flow is on the line, you want a company that has a fast turnaround. A high quality factoring company will provide funding within 24 hours of receiving your invoices. Fast processing will ensure that you have the capital you need to keep your business going.
  • Stability – You want a company that is financially stable. Some factoring companies do not operate with their own source of funds, but rather borrow from a third party which can delay your funding. When you are depending on a factoring company for cash to keep your business moving, finding out that they do not have money available for you could mean the end of your business or missing out on a key business opportunity.
  • Simplicity – When factoring your invoices, the last thing you need is for it to be a complicated process. You need to be able to process them easily and efficiently. Look for a company that has a streamlined process for submitting your invoices and receiving payment. That way you can be sure that you will be able to get cash quickly when you need it the most.
  • Factoring fees – Look for a company that has reasonable factoring fees. You should not be paying more than a few percent on each invoice. The factoring fees will generally be based on factors such as volume, turnaround time for payment, and the total dollar amount. Also, beware of hidden fees. Many unscrupulous factoring companies may charge additional fees that they may not reveal until after the contract is signed. Look for a factor that has an all-inclusive fee structure (no hidden fees).

One of the most important decisions you will make for your business is choosing an excellent invoice factoring company. When you choose the best company, you will be able to make better decisions for your business and also you will not miss out on key business opportunities because of a lack of working capital. If your business is struggling to keep up and has a lot of outstanding invoices, you need to consider taking advantage of the capital available to you in your invoices.

Growing Your Small Business

Successful small business growth

It’s the American Dream to own and grow your own business. Whether you’re already flourishing or just getting started, launching a company requires a lot of work. Having a great idea, product, or service is perfect for establishing the foundation, but how do you take things to the next level? To help you turn a profit and keep your start-up in business, here are a few things to remember.

  • Establish your brand. Your brand is more than just your logo and products. It’s the all-around experience that each of your customers enjoys when dealing with your business. While it may include some of the visual and tangible aspects of your company, it’s just as much an attitude about how things are done. If you don’t have a mission statement thought up, now is a great time to establish one.
  • Focus on something specific. They say that, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” This is especially true when starting a business. While you might have a million great ideas, it’s important to choose one that stands out among competitors and focus on growing it.
  • Put in the hard work. When starting a small business, be there. Your customers need to see the face behind the company. This keeps the staff motivated and provides a structured environment. While it is important for your business to function on its own, find a balance between being present and trusting your employees without you.
  • Collect on your accounts. As the owner of a small business, you should pride yourself on the personal touch that you add to the company. However, that doesn’t mean that people don’t need to pay you for your services. Many business owners fail to collect on overdue accounts because they want their customers to appreciate them. This is a mistake. Money is what keeps you profitable and allows your business to grow. If you aren’t sure how to collect your overdue accounts, hire a professional company to do it for you. There are several invoice factoring companies that are willing to help you grow your revenue without worrying about collecting invoices yourself, or waiting for your customers to pay their invoices to get revenue.

The executives at Charter Capital have provided financial solutions to business owners since the 1980s. By shortening the business cash-flow cycle, they are able to help small businesses turn profits much faster. Invoice factoring is key to growing your company and keeping it profitable. To find out how Charter Capital can keep you in business, visit www.chartercapitalusa.com.

Common Invoice Factoring Mistakes to Avoid

Common Invoice Factoring Mistakes to AvoidInvoice factoring is a valuable tool for small businesses. Let’s say for example, when you sell or distribute products, each of your manufacturers probably has a different day or part of the month when they pay invoices. If you don’t have a large amount of liquid cash to cover the regular costs of running your business, the pending payments from your clients can leave your company high and dry. If there’s a season when it’s slower for your business, each of your unpaid invoices counts and having another company collect on them can be really useful. When you use factoring, a factoring company gives you a cash advance for your unpaid invoices with a small fee. We can help you determine how to avoid choosing the wrong factoring company or dealing with them incorrectly.

Understanding Your Agreements

Each factoring company has its own set of fees and rules. If you choose a company to give you cash for your unpaid invoices without reading the fine print, you could end up paying a lot more than is fair. Most factoring companies offer rates from 1-5%. Your company’s revenue and credit can impact the rate that you are approved for.
Some shady factoring companies add on a lot of additional fees. These fees put a dent in the amount of money that you end up getting for your services to your clients, which is hardly fair, so make sure that you shop around for a reputable invoice factoring company before making a final decision.

Accepting Payments

When you have a factor, you don’t normally accept payments for the unpaid invoices that they’ve already purchased from you. Accepting payments directly bypasses the factors collection process and can put you behind with your factor and cause a lot of confusion. Make sure that you immediately forward to your factor and payments you receive on purchased invoices and also provide your clients with the correct payment information to keep this from happening to your business.

Not Choosing the Right Option for Your Business

Make sure that you choose the right option for your small business. Factoring may require monthly minimums for purchasing invoices. Factoring usually works more effectively if a business has a larger revenue stream. For a small business just starting out, factoring works best for high-growth situations, but might not be the best financial option. If you have a seasonal slowdown for your business, using factoring at this time can keep your cash flowing, which could prevent you from having to close or make cuts.

Fixing the Problems Facing Small Business is Good Business

If you’ve watched television, listened to talk radio or read a newspaper in recent days, you might have noticed it’s election season. And of course, as with every election, candidates from every political party are making lots of promises about the economy, taxes, the middle class and jobs. Some candidates have elaborate 10-point plans. Others offer little more than glittering generalities. But there’s one area most candidates consistently overlook, and it’s one area that can have the greatest impact on the economy, the middle class and job creation: small business.

Where the Jobs AreBusiness cartoon about small business challenges.

When a large company lays off hundreds of workers or implements a hiring freeze, that makes the news. It’s a dramatic scene to see people walking out of a tall office building or huge factory carrying their belongings, headed for the unemployment line. But when small businesses stop hiring, there’s scant mention, even though statistics show it’s small businesses, not large ones, where you find the most jobs.

Many Americans don’t realize that small businesses (companies employing 500 or fewer workers) make up an astounding 99.7 percent of all businesses in America, according to the Small Business Administration. More than half of all U.S. workers are employed by small businesses, and these firms create two out of every three new jobs each year.

So, in order to fix the economy and provide more jobs, shouldn’t politicians focus on small businesses first?

Problems Facing Small Businesses Today

Warren Buffett is one person who definitely understands the important role small businesses play in the American economy. Wait, isn’t Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, one of the biggest big businessmen in the country? Yes, he is. But Buffett has used his unique knowledge of how to build successful businesses to identify several problems keeping smaller firms from growing.

Joined by two other prominent business leaders – Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, and Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and former mayor of New York – and Harvard business professor Michael Porter, Berkshire Hathaway recently opined in USA Today that four areas are currently hampering small business across the country.

Capital: Unlike large public companies that issue stocks to raise capital, small businesses rely on banks for funding and loans to grow. Thanks to increased regulation, banks are becoming more hesitant to issue loans, and when they do, it’s often for less than the small business needs. Buffet and partners contend that more lenient and generous loan practices would lead to more small business hiring, investment and growth, both for the firms involved and the economy as a whole.

Regulation: Small business owners are experts in the products and services they provide. But these entrepreneurs have to spend more time complying with government regulations and less time growing their companies. While regulations serve to protect the consumer and the environment, they also create complexities that stifle small business innovation. Buffet and his partners call for a streamlining of regulations, to make it easier for businesses to understand and comply, as well as to help small business to open faster and expand more quickly.

Skills: Many small businesses, particularly those in the manufacturing sector, report a gap between the skills needed from employees and the skills currently available in the workforce. Buffet and company urge government, higher education and employer cooperation in worker development. Targeted community college curriculums, training programs and internships could close the skills gap.

Technology: While technology is one area where prices traditionally fall as innovation creates more efficient systems, technology still represents a major investment hurdle for small businesses. Technology can lead to greater productivity, but in order to access it, companies need funding to buy it and workers with the skills to use it.

Addressing these issues won’t be an easy undertaking. But coming up with workable solutions to each of these four problems would go a long way to providing a path to growth, jobs and a healthier economy.

Alternative Financing Options Can Help Solve Some of These Problems

Small businesses already have one unique avenue for financing and funding help. Cash flow is always a concern for any company, but more so for smaller businesses, which as mentioned above, have less access to capital than their big business counterparts. Getting every dollar for services rendered is critical.

When an invoice is unpaid or is slow to be paid, it denies the small business owner money to re-employ elsewhere and to grow. Invoice factoring is one means available that can speed payments and improve a company’s cash flow. Basically put, an small business owner can factor an unpaid invoice to a third party and receive immediate funding that can be put to use then and there to grow the business, hire new workers or invest in new technology. Invoice factoring is one painless means available right now that can address the issues Buffet and his partners bring up to fix the problems now facing small businesses across the country.

Calvin Coolidge once said, “The chief business of the American people is business.” And when small businesses prosper, the American people prosper.

How to Grow Your Freight Company

Heavy Freight at the PortThe key to growing a freight company, or any business for that matter, is working smarter—not harder! Of course, that’s easier said than done. Here are a few ways lean and mean freight companies can make cash owed to them work smarter.

Make Your Money Work

Perhaps the most difficult part of running a fleet of fewer than 100 trucks is maintaining positive cash flow. If one truck needs repairs, it can cripple an organization until those wheels can hit the road again. That’s one less account receivable coming in the door at the same time an account payable—mechanic’s services—is outbound.

One way to maintain cash flow without hitting the brakes is by using freight factoring services. A factoring service funds slow-paying freight bills, so fleet operators can keep their feet on the gas pedal. By receiving payments early, operators have money to pay drivers, maintain vehicles, and even expand.

Invoice factoring allows business owners to grow their business without the stress of maintaining cash flow. Fleet operators can’t take their time delivering their goods, so they shouldn’t have to wait for payments once the service is provided.

Here’s how it works:

When a driver delivers freight to a customer, you send the bill to the customer and submit a copy to a factoring service like Charter Capital. The factoring service pays you, and you use the funds to grease the wheels of your successful business. Once the freight customer pays the factoring service, the transaction is finished.

So why choose invoice factoring services over a traditional bank loan?

For starters, getting approved to use invoice factoring is a lot easier than getting approved for a bank loan. For a small or new company that hasn’t had the opportunity to establish credit, a factoring service can fill the void with limited fees and quick access to cash flow. Invoice factoring approval is based on the credit of a business’s customers—not on the credit of the fleet operator or manager.

Invoice factoring avoids debt. A factoring service takes a small percentage from the amount you charge your customers. There’s no debt on your balance sheet and no interest for you to repay. You’ve delivered a service, and by using a factoring service, you’ll be paid almost immediately for services rendered rather than waiting 90 days for the customer to pay up.

Using an invoice factoring service is also a quicker process than getting a bank loan. Some factoring services can issue a direct deposit or wire money the same day. Banks can take weeks or even months to approve a business loan.

The key to growth is working smarter—not harder. That means making your money work smart as well. Don’t let a 90-day wait for customers to pay their bills stunt your business’s ability to grow.

Industries That Can Utilize Invoice Factoring

What is Invoice Factoring?

Invoice factoring is a convenient alternative to a traditional bank loan. Whereas bank loans require a long-term contract, factoring gives you the money you need when you need it without any long-term financial obligations. You can also get cash faster through invoice factoring: You’ll usually receive your money within a day or two. Bank loans can take weeks or months to be approved.

At Charter Capital, we work with business-to-government and business-to-business customers. Our clients are often involved in industries such as trucking and freight, manufacturing, security, oil and gas, and consulting. These types of businesses benefit greatly from reliable cash flow that lets them invest in new equipment, meet payroll, or negotiate for better deals with their suppliers.

Invoice factoring is a great option for startup businesses or those who are trying to rebuild their credit. It’s often difficult for these types of businesses to get approved for a bank loan, which is one of the reason most new businesses fail within the first 5 years. As long as your customers have a good credit history, you’ll be eligible for our factoring services. Factor as much money as you need when you need it, and watch your business grow!

Charter Capital has extensive experience working with large and small commercial businesses in a variety of industries. Whatever your needs, we’re here to help. Our goal is to provide your business with the cash it needs to realize its full potential.

Apply online for invoice factoring for your business, or give us a call to find out if you’re eligible. You can get paid in as little as 1 to 2 days and put that cash directly into your business wherever it’s needed most. There are no long-term contracts or hidden fees, so you can enjoy complete financial freedom as your business continues to flourish.