Social Networking and Joining the Online Health Community

Building health related social networking sites require much-needed features like online health communities.Many illness sufferers are now participating in online illness specific communities, discussing their experiences. We all have sick friends and family members, and now thanks to e-mail, live health chat, health forums, medical blogs, video sharing and other online resources, we have become much more intimate and the supportive environments are helping those with serious illnesses and diseases.Social networking sites may have such supportive environments, however without an online health community, health related social networking sites simply become another social networking site.There are many challenges faced by most social networking sites and the most common is getting people back onto the site. How do we engage people in health care services and have them coming back to the social networking site on a regular basis that is not for a recreational means? One answer is ensuring the online health communities are active and relevant to the users of the site.The second most common challenge is how to create synergies among the different services offered by the social networking sites and what are the differentiations between these sites to better compete in this niche market. One answer is ensuring the online health communities are offering meaningful information related to the illness sufferers and ensuring that the “big brothers” or advocates of the social networking sites are keeping the health content up to date and relevant for all users of the site, be it illness sufferers or family and friends of illness sufferers.These online global health communities are emerging as a new medical domain and require illness sufferers to join to help keep the online global health communities afloat. These online health communities are open to all: illness sufferers, family, friends, professionals, and researchers. People seen within these communities are a valuable health resource to others suffering from the same illness or disease.People within these health communities are strong advocates, making others aware of what it is they are suffering from and detailing their experiences. These people can be seen as “big brothers or big sisters” to others within their community. They frequently post content designed to help others, and to respond to the questions posted by others.Quality of life improves when the illness sufferers are in control of their illness or disease, and the communities provide illness sufferers this support. The greater the community, the greater the support. All communities require growth, growth by visitors and growth by registered members participating in discussions.

Alternative Financing Vs. Venture Capital: Which Option Is Best for Boosting Working Capital?

There are several potential financing options available to cash-strapped businesses that need a healthy dose of working capital. A bank loan or line of credit is often the first option that owners think of – and for businesses that qualify, this may be the best option.

In today’s uncertain business, economic and regulatory environment, qualifying for a bank loan can be difficult – especially for start-up companies and those that have experienced any type of financial difficulty. Sometimes, owners of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan decide that seeking venture capital or bringing on equity investors are other viable options.

But are they really? While there are some potential benefits to bringing venture capital and so-called “angel” investors into your business, there are drawbacks as well. Unfortunately, owners sometimes don’t think about these drawbacks until the ink has dried on a contract with a venture capitalist or angel investor – and it’s too late to back out of the deal.

Different Types of Financing

One problem with bringing in equity investors to help provide a working capital boost is that working capital and equity are really two different types of financing.

Working capital – or the money that is used to pay business expenses incurred during the time lag until cash from sales (or accounts receivable) is collected – is short-term in nature, so it should be financed via a short-term financing tool. Equity, however, should generally be used to finance rapid growth, business expansion, acquisitions or the purchase of long-term assets, which are defined as assets that are repaid over more than one 12-month business cycle.

But the biggest drawback to bringing equity investors into your business is a potential loss of control. When you sell equity (or shares) in your business to venture capitalists or angels, you are giving up a percentage of ownership in your business, and you may be doing so at an inopportune time. With this dilution of ownership most often comes a loss of control over some or all of the most important business decisions that must be made.

Sometimes, owners are enticed to sell equity by the fact that there is little (if any) out-of-pocket expense. Unlike debt financing, you don’t usually pay interest with equity financing. The equity investor gains its return via the ownership stake gained in your business. But the long-term “cost” of selling equity is always much higher than the short-term cost of debt, in terms of both actual cash cost as well as soft costs like the loss of control and stewardship of your company and the potential future value of the ownership shares that are sold.

Alternative Financing Solutions

But what if your business needs working capital and you don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit? Alternative financing solutions are often appropriate for injecting working capital into businesses in this situation. Three of the most common types of alternative financing used by such businesses are:

1. Full-Service Factoring – Businesses sell outstanding accounts receivable on an ongoing basis to a commercial finance (or factoring) company at a discount. The factoring company then manages the receivable until it is paid. Factoring is a well-established and accepted method of temporary alternative finance that is especially well-suited for rapidly growing companies and those with customer concentrations.

2. Accounts Receivable (A/R) Financing – A/R financing is an ideal solution for companies that are not yet bankable but have a stable financial condition and a more diverse customer base. Here, the business provides details on all accounts receivable and pledges those assets as collateral. The proceeds of those receivables are sent to a lockbox while the finance company calculates a borrowing base to determine the amount the company can borrow. When the borrower needs money, it makes an advance request and the finance company advances money using a percentage of the accounts receivable.

3. Asset-Based Lending (ABL) – This is a credit facility secured by all of a company’s assets, which may include A/R, equipment and inventory. Unlike with factoring, the business continues to manage and collect its own receivables and submits collateral reports on an ongoing basis to the finance company, which will review and periodically audit the reports.

In addition to providing working capital and enabling owners to maintain business control, alternative financing may provide other benefits as well:

It’s easy to determine the exact cost of financing and obtain an increase.
Professional collateral management can be included depending on the facility type and the lender.
Real-time, online interactive reporting is often available.
It may provide the business with access to more capital.
It’s flexible – financing ebbs and flows with the business’ needs.
It’s important to note that there are some circumstances in which equity is a viable and attractive financing solution. This is especially true in cases of business expansion and acquisition and new product launches – these are capital needs that are not generally well suited to debt financing. However, equity is not usually the appropriate financing solution to solve a working capital problem or help plug a cash-flow gap.

A Precious Commodity

Remember that business equity is a precious commodity that should only be considered under the right circumstances and at the right time. When equity financing is sought, ideally this should be done at a time when the company has good growth prospects and a significant cash need for this growth. Ideally, majority ownership (and thus, absolute control) should remain with the company founder(s).

Alternative financing solutions like factoring, A/R financing and ABL can provide the working capital boost many cash-strapped businesses that don’t qualify for bank financing need – without diluting ownership and possibly giving up business control at an inopportune time for the owner. If and when these companies become bankable later, it’s often an easy transition to a traditional bank line of credit. Your banker may be able to refer you to a commercial finance company that can offer the right type of alternative financing solution for your particular situation.

Taking the time to understand all the different financing options available to your business, and the pros and cons of each, is the best way to make sure you choose the best option for your business. The use of alternative financing can help your company grow without diluting your ownership. After all, it’s your business – shouldn’t you keep as much of it as possible?

Online Business Ideas – The 7 Fundamental Ideas For Online Business

If you spend even a small amount of time surfing the Internet then you are going to find many different online business ideas and before long it can become quite overwhelming. Just like anything new, there is going to be so much information available but the problem is always knowing which information to listen to and which to ignore; this article covers the 7 fundamental online business ideas which you will come across online.The thing to keep in mind is that each of these ideas will manifest itself in many different forms but no matter what type of online business you are looking to set up you will find that it fits into one or more of these online business ideas. They are the fundamental building blocks of any online business and a good understanding of them will give you the start that most people never have.The 7 Fundamental Online Business IdeasEach of the following online business ideas are based around the 7 different ways of actually making money online. Whatever business you decide to start online it will fit into one of more of the following categories:AdvertisingThe first of the online business ideas is advertising and with this idea you will look to setup a website in some kind of niche. You can then put advertisements on this site that are related to the niche content you have based it around. The key to this idea is making sure you get your targeting right otherwise you are simply going to annoy people who come to your site by trying to advertise them something totally unrelated to their needs; this is a fundamental error and something you should be very cautious of before you even start.ServicesWith this idea you will setup a website that offers some kind of service to people who visit. Now this can be varied from an online gambling site that offers the gambling service to people right through to an online presence for your offline business.The main difference with the latter is that you can either simply use it as an online marketing tool for your offline business or you can totally automate it so that you use your offline brand name to create an entirely separate online business.SubscriptionsThis is my favourite of the online business ideas because it is extremely scalable and in essence fairly easy to setup. There are however a few things to consider before starting this type of model. You need to make sure that whatever you are offering a subscription to has very good content otherwise you can get yourself a bad reputation before you’ve even started. Secondly you need to monitor the subscriptions in detail and offer technical support for anyone that may have problems getting access.ProductsThis idea is fairly self explanatory, you setup a website where you sell products online. These products can be your own products or ones you buy in from a supplier, the only real difference will be the margin you make on each one. Also, it will take longer to get traction with your own products whereas others will probably already have brand awareness.CommissionsThe commissions model is similar to the products model but in this case you simply promote other peoples products and direct them to their website. You have your own affiliate code so that when anyone buys their product you get paid a commission. Effectively you are acting in the same way as a normal offline salesman on commission.LicensingOut of all the online business ideas, this one is probably the most confusing and I have certainly seen it explained in a variety of different ways and unfortunately most of them are incorrect. This idea can come in two different forms, you can either be a licensee or a licensor. In the former case you will take someone else’s brand and use it to promote your own products which you will then sell for a premium online. In the latter case you are the one with the brand that other people license off you and you get paid a fee based on this.This is quite an in depth concept and we have really just touched the surface with this article.Being a BankWhen you look at the different online business ideas you will probably struggle to come up with this one. What I mean by being a bank is that you effectively offer people lines of credit through various mediums online. Once again, this idea can be hard to understand at the beginning but becomes clear when you research in depth.You will have most likely seen companies offering checkout facilities online where you can pay for goods and services through some kind of online transaction. When you look into what actually goes on in this process then you will start to see how this model works but essentially you are being paid interest on money you allow people to borrow for varying periods of time.