In this video, Marketlend’s Founder and CEO, Leo Tyndall, explores why it is so important that Marketlend act as a “fierce advocate” on behalf of its investors, especially when it comes to protecting their investments. Watch the video or read the full transcript below.
We see a very significant need for a number of things. One is, obviously, we always want our investor support, but we also see that we need to be very diligent in enforcing debt and very diligent in making claims on insurers and ensuring that they understand the true risk so that the investor gets his funds back to the extent that’s possible. Obviously, if we find that if we were negligent or we were lazy about that point in our business, well then essentially you could say the wheels will stop.
You know, we we essentially look after our investors in that we see them as an integral part of our business, and we do see that they are leaving it – not leaving it to us – but they are a lot of he ongoing servicing role and the like is left to us. And they don’t want a situation where they put the money in and then they think that we’re sitting there, you know, having coffees in the background and not doing much and really not diligently ensuring that people pay on time, when I’m diligently actually collecting on debt or we’re not going to the insurer and advocating the case as to why they should pay.
And one of the things I think is very important there, it you look at the Royal Commission and you look at with banks now or you look at say, for example, the AMP scenario, you know shareholders is a bit of a similar example. Shareholders would like to think that AMP was doing the right thing for them. Not just protecting them, but also protecting the business. And then to discover that they weren’t and they were actually doing things that were contrary to the business. That’s something that we don’t want to ever be seen doing and we’re very cognisant of the need to do so.
And that’s why we do things like have a due diligence done by Deloitte every year. And that’s why we also have people like Clifford Chance review our legal documents. And that’s why we always invite investors, you know the larger investors do their own due diligence, and other investors while we have regular catch-ups or webinars or other items like that to really show them that we’re doing. And that’s why we have a newsletter to keep them updated as to what we’re doing.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Turn Your Hobby into a Business
- Is your great idea a hobby or a business?
When avid Australian gardener Matt Harris became frustrated with traditional plant watering methods, and the pests eating at his produce, he invented a self-watering, enclosed system called Vegepod. In 2016, Harris scored both publicity and an investment on the Australian version of Shark Tank. Since then sales have increased by more than 500 percent.
When Harris first come up with his idea, how could he have been sure it had the potential to become a business? Not every entrepreneur necessarily needs a huge investment to make a business work, but most beginning entrepreneurs will often find themselves wondering when their idea or hobby is ready to become a business. Whether you’re just at the idea stage, or have started selling already, answer these questions to help you decide whether you’re ready to hang a professional shingle.
- Can it make a profit?
If you want to make a career out of your hobby, first figure out if your idea can generate revenue. After all, a hobby is personal, but a business is commercial. There is also a difference between just making money, and making a profit. Write a business plan and crunch the numbers. Anticipate your revenue and expenses. Will you be in the black? Will you be enough in the black to make a living at this enterprise?
- Is there a customer base?
If you haven’t begun selling yet, don’t assume that just because you love your own idea that others will too. Conduct some market research to identify who would be willing to spend money on what you’re offering. Take advantage of social media and online survey tools to find your target audience. If you’ve identified a clear interested audience, then it may be time to test the waters by selling your product directly to that audience.
- Is there demand?
Identifying your audience goes hand in hand with demand. Signs of high demand include more sales than you are able to fulfill right away, overwhelming requests or positive comments online or on social media, or if you’re having to turn away customers because you’ve got more orders than you can fulfill. If you’re so busy trying to fulfill orders that it’s taking over your life, and you still feel like you’re falling behind, that’s a clear sign that people really want your business. This is the time to invest in your business and help it grow.
- Are you cut out for running a business?
Even if you’re sure that your business can make money, and you’ve identified both an audience and demand, your business will never take off if you don’t have the time to devote to it. Running a true business will require a full time commitment, and sometimes even more than that. Ask yourself first if this is something you’re willing or able to do. Not everyone is cut out for running a business. Signs that entrepreneurship is right up your ally include a desire to have a personal stake in what you’re working on, a dislike of rules, comfort with working hard, a tendency for seeking out problems and solutions, and a preference for independent thinking and a strong desire to be your own boss.
- Are you comfortable with risk?
Starting a business is by nature risky. Even if you truly believe in idea will make millions, there is always the possibility that your business will fail. But risk isn’t necessarily bad. The best businesses are often founded after multiple failures, so to get to a successful business probably means failing several times along the way. Be prepared for this. But make sure that this is a risk you’re willing to take, both from a financial and personal standpoint. Also be smart about taking the risk. Taking calculated risks means that you’ve planned every single detail, conducted all the research, and collected all the possible evidence that your business truly has potential. As long as you’ve done that then give it a go. Remember, you can’t learn to walk without falling.
Watch Marketlend’s Founder and CEO, Leo Tyndall, talk about Marketlend’s loss reserve, a important feature that protects investors. The text of his comments appears below if you prefer to read.
So a loss reserve for us in Marketlend is actually built on the basis of protecting against the possibility that we have someone who falls in default and therefore there is a differential or shortfall between say, in an insured position, the amount of insurance that’s paid and the amount that’s actually, essentially owed or in the case of an uninsured it’ll be that the assets themselves don’t sufficiently cover the shortfall to the amount that’s been advanced to the borrower himself, or the account holder. What we do with the loss reserve is, is that we essentially collect that loss reserve and if the actual borrower has paid on time at all times, they’ll get their loss reserve deducted off their balance when they owe the money.However, what we do do is, we actually hold that in a separate trust account and we enable that loss reserve to be assisting investors to actually protect against that additional risk they have that the insurance may have a shortfall. Not significant but, or that the actual underlying assets and the guarantor guarantee situation isn’t sufficient to cover that. As well as, possibly the fact that it takes a lot longer to actually collect the debt so therefore there is a need to cover that cost during that time.
Watch Marketlend’s Chief Investment Officer, Jane Lehmann, talk about what Marketlend looks for in its investors. The text of her comments appears below if you prefer to read.
Marketlend has a very specific requirement in regards to its investors. Under the Corporations Act, we are required to only engage experienced, sophisticated, wholesale, official investors. So for an experienced investor, that really is someone who can demonstrate that they have, as the name suggests, experience in lending in these types of financial instruments, and truly understand the risks that they’re undertaking when they engage in the platform. Sophisticated is actually a means test related defining feature that you need assets of a 2.5 million. I think the inference there is they also are a more sophisticated and experienced investor.
The institutional investors have a different profile that they tend to be funds. Many of them are offshore. And for them they often have a specific risk profile that they’re interested in and we can customise that for them. We have a pool of loans that we have onboarded and we can work with them to understand what their risk tolerance is where there are risk sectors they’re not comfortable with, where they have an appetite and craft a portfolio for them.
The experienced and sophisticated investors have the opportunity to go on to the platform and make their own assessments. They can look at each loan that is presented and make their own assessment and take a view on whether that is something that appeals to them as an investment opportunity. And that is obviously why you need experienced investors, because they are making a financial decision.
After ongoing investor testing and community engagement, we’ve created a new user experience built for your needs, the Marketlend Loan Exchange (Beta).
Making the most of Loan Exchange:
When you access the new Loan Exchange you will notice a number of key differences to the existing Exchange.
1.We’ve added some Filters to allow you to more easily select loan parts for sale that meet your criteria (depending on the device you are using and the size of your screen the filters will either appear at the side or in a drop down at top of exchange list).
2.We’ve added some graphs to show the make-up of available loan parts on the exchange. The graphs are responsive to changes in the Filters.
3.You can now choose to Buy All parts or a specific number of available parts without needing to view individual parts.
4.Loan Parts for sale are group by Loan/Interest Rate/Premium-Discount value.
5.You can still view all individual loan parts for sale by clicking on the Loan Part Detail Link.
6.Whichever option you choose – Loan Parts are bought by clicking the BUY LOAN PARTS button at the top or bottom of the list.
7.You can view Original loan details and updated Commentary by clicking on the Loan ID link.
8.We’ve added a column to indicate the Status of the loan – showing whether the loan is Current or is in Arrears.
Cancelling Loan Part sales
If you need to cancel a Loan Part that has been put on the Loan Exchange for sale you can still do this from the Loan Exchange page.
If you own any of the Loan Parts for sale for a particular Loan you will see that the option to select Loan Parts to buy is not available.
To cancel any Loan Parts you just need to click on the Link to the loan part details. You can then choose which loan parts sales to cancel or select to Cancel All.
Is social media marketing like using Facebook and Twitter still worth it? That’s a question many small businesses might be asking these days, considering these trends:
Globally, Twitter is reported to have lost 1 million monthly active users in the second quarter of 2018, while Facebook is expected to lose as many as 2.2 million users by 2022. In Australia as many as 1.8 million Facebook users have reportedly deleted their accounts. All this comes in the wake of the Facebook data privacy furor, which left users wary of social media.
How should this affect your use of social media in marketing your business? It’s more challenging, but still valuable, if you are mindful of these guidelines:
Have a strategic plan
Posting on any social network without a plan or understanding of what you want to achieve will get you nowhere. Decide on your goals and think about how social media can help you achieve them. Define your audience. Otherwise you’ll never break through all the noise, or reach the users that are likely to engage with your brand. Do your research, and keep in mind that the way you need to approach social media marketing may different for each social network.
Post engaging content
Yes, it’s harder to get noticed. But you won’t be noticed at all if you don’t take the time to plan great content that stands out. The same tricks of the trade still stand. You can always pay to advertise branded posts, but this doesn’t replace looking for ways to engage directly with users while promoting your brand, or posting something that helps you make an emotional connection with your intended audience. Offer information or advice that they can’t get anywhere else. You can also run contests, promotions and other fun games that attract engagement. Using social media management systems like Hootsuite can also help with planning.
Don’t over post
Don’t add to the clutter by tweeting randomly 24 hours a day. Your audience will just tune it out. It’s more important to make fewer, more strategic posts, and to engage in a conversation. Do your research by looking at what people are discussing, find something relevant to your brand, and try to target a few smart tweets or posts into the discussion. Make sure to take the time to respond to your audience.
Evidence shows that the content that performs best on Twitter and Facebook includes visuals. In 2017, Cisco estimated that video in particular will represent 82 percent of all website traffic in 2021. That’s why it’s crucial that you look for any opportunities to include photos, videos or gifs in your posts. These are the kinds of posts that are likely to get more views, and more clicks.
Branch out but choose wisely
Considering the negative trends impacting the two juggernaut networks, it may be a good idea to branch out. If you’re not already utilizing Instagram, consider developing a marketing strategy that includes it. Instagram is growing in popularity because of its reliance on the visual. In general, it’s a good idea to go where your intended audience goes. But make sure to limit your marketing to no more than 3 networks, because trying to do everything at once can make it harder for you plan and execute the right strategy for each.
The bottom line
Don’t swear off Twitter and Facebook just yet. But understand that you may have a tougher time being noticed, so it’s doubly important to make sure that you understand your target audience, posting engaging content that appeals to this audience properly and reflects your brand. Don’t make the mistake of just posting content into a vacuum and hoping it will get noticed. Amid all the noise, give those quality users that are still there a good reason to engage with you and your brand.
This past week, Marketlend ran an investor townhall. Transparency is integral to how Marketlend operates. Our investors expect it and we are committed to delivering on this promise. The investor townhall offered a chance to roll up our sleeves and explore issues that matter to the investor community.
We dug down into the mechanics of how we return principal in the event of a problem loan and the integrity of the Marketlend platform generally. There was ample room for Marketlend’s Founder and CEO to field questions and the result was a really engaging and hopefully enlightening look inside the how and why of this aspect of the Marketlend platform. Click above to have a listen.
So your launch was a success, and your new business is now at cruising altitude. Celebrate, by all means. But keep an eye out for tendrils of smoke in the vents.
That’s because some problems in a growing business are like a smouldering fire: you’re often unaware until it’s too late. If you know their early warning signs, though, and have plans in place to counteract them, you shouldn’t be taken by surprise. Here are some of those signs and the best countermeasures:
1. You’re starting to pay your bills late
If you’re starting to having trouble paying creditors and employees on time, you might be developing major cash-flow woes. Cash is everything to your small business, and you need to figure out where the problem lies right away.
Ask yourself: Are you billing your clients quickly enough, with timely invoices? Are you checking the credit histories of your big customers instead of just giving them the benefit of the doubt? What about collections procedures for the deadbeats? Do you have those in place?
Cut costs wherever you can. The little expenses add up. Barter with other businesses for services; buy your equipment gently used; install a ‘smart’ thermostat; get a solar water heater; make staff turn off computers at night; employ freelancers for suitable tasks. You can even borrow items from a tool library so you don’t have to buy them.
Check your financial statements religiously. Identify any possible opportunities to boost your income, but don’t even think about trying to grow right now. If you’re having cash flow problems, now’s not the time.
You should be able to pay your bills, your employees, and even yourself–on time.
2. You’re always reacting to emergencies
If you’re starting to respond to business emergencies day in, day out, something’s not right.Things should be running smoothly enough to let you plan and think strategically much of the time, and focus on building your business.
Perhaps you’re trying to have the business do too many things at once; or maybe you’re bad at setting priorities and managing time.
The Eisenhower Matrix
Have you heard of the Eisenhower Matrix? It’s a formula developed by Dwight Eisenhower, the American World War II general, more than 60 years ago that has stood the test of time. Basically, Eisenhower split his workload into urgent tasks (returning a phone call from Winston Churchill, say) ) and important tasks (such as planning for D-Day)). He made sure to schedule time for his important tasks and to delegate the unimportant ones. What he accomplished with this approach is none too shabby: he vanquished Hitler, became president of the U.S. and developed its highway system, among other things. And his formula is still alive today.
Eisenhower didn’t even have the benefit of project management apps, but you do. These can help you and your staff work together efficiently. Eisenhower also knew that having too many meetings in one’s schedule is a bad idea — they suck up lots of time.
Be realistic about your own weaknesses, and consider hiring someone to help set priorities and establish your office systems.
3. The staff you just hired is leaving
Once you’ve invested in training good people, you want them to stick around. If
they’re leaving sooner than you’d like, schedule exit interviews with them to ask why. Then ask yourself what you can do to improve staff retention.
And take a look in the mirror. A good boss fosters enthusiasm, sets clear expectations, gives timely feedback and conveys a sense of mission. Then he or she gives the employees room to get the job done. If they do their jobs well, don’t micromanage.
Let your employees know you value their efforts (or at least, let the good ones know); pay them a decent wage; express an interest in them. They’ll reward you with loyalty.
If these strengths aren’t yours, consider hiring someone else to manage your staff. Outside consultants can also help identify why employees keep heading for the door.
Turnover rates vary by industry, so you might want to call your industry’s trade association, if there is one, to see how your rate compares.
4. You experience a sudden drop in sales
A sudden drop in sales could be just a hiccup, but it could also be a sign of bigger problems, so investigate immediately. Have your competitors beat you to the punch in some way? Is your product or your way of selling it outdated? Do you need to adjust your pricing or your marketing? If you have sales staff, are they hitting their quotas?
Are you targeting the right customers? Is technology revolutionising your industry in some way and changing your customers’ buying habits or methods?
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and try searching for your product and business online. If you sell online, make sure everything on your website functions smoothly, from landing to checkout.
Check in with your industry’s trade association, if you have one, to find out if the drop you’re experiencing is part of a bigger trend, or perhaps customary at this time of year for reasons you might not have thought of.
Now you have it — four situations, each of which could be a wisp of smoke telling you your engine’s on fire. Ignore them at your peril.
Branding, where does it fit? Determining which job functions to prioritise in an SME is one of the most critical resource decisions you’ll make as a founder. The need to focus foremost on services and product development is obvious, but business experts often debate the merits of investing in strong branding.
It’s not necessarily a key factor in whether an investor may choose to fund your business, but it’s important to make a good impression. So how much money should you actually spend and who should you work with to build a reasonable branding plan? Consider some of the following factors to help you decide what’s best for your business.
What is your branding IQ?
If your idea of branding means paying a random designer $10 on Fiverr to create your logo, you might be underestimating some things. (That’s not to say this approach doesn’t magically work out well sometimes! Best of luck to you.) Get real with yourself about how much of a priority branding needs to be in your business. Plan to invest some time. In fact, let’s pause for a moment. Complete outsourcing is not really possible when it comes to branding. This business is your passion and even the best consultant will need you to set aside a few hours a week to collaborate and extract authentic representations of your work from you. The absolute worst thing you could do is throw money at someone and expect a brand to materialize without nurturing on your end.
How much can you expect out of your branding consultant?
At a bare minimum, a decent branding plan should involve 10-15 hours of work with a trusted professional who will create a roadmap for success. Advanced branding should be an integrated component of your overall marketing strategy. In the social media era, this usually includes a supplemental content strategy for which you would create assets like written blog content, graphics, photos, podcasts or videos. You’d also want to create a system for deploying this branded content to firmly-defined key audiences. A top-notch branding consultant should be able to help you conceptualize your aesthetic, your content and deployment strategy, and connect these efforts back to your sales funnel.
Where can you find them?
As you begin your search, consider the merits of working with an agency versus a freelance individual. Intangibles, such as personal compatibility and working styles, are also important. Agencies offer more brain power and hands on deck; the access to a broader infrastructure can lead to increased operational smoothness and responsiveness.They are also more expensive than individuals, who often leave agencies to enjoy the benefits of self-employment. Be open-minded. Branding consultants are usually creatives who embrace flexibility. Just be wary of anyone who presents themselves as a one-stop shop of expertise. Ask an individual who else they plan to work with on design and production, and find out if there are hidden or unanticipated costs for ancillary things like social media advertising budget on top of their fees.
The best bet is to ask colleagues for recommendations. You can also try LinkedIn searches. Sites like CloudPeeps, Dribbble, Carbonmade, and Thumbtack can also be a good bet. You may also want to research private Facebook groups for freelance creative professionals and see if you can post your job description.
How much should you invest?
Your budget will be a major factor in how things go with your branding consultant.
There are awesome, enterprising young people who are building up their portfolios willing to work for as low as $25-50/hour. A mid-career professional can run about $75/hour. Heavy-hitters will ask for $150+ hourly rates. Any of these folks might be willing to negotiate a flat rate deal with you as well. Agencies typically charge a monthly retainer from $2,500 to $10,000. Be willing to suggest a startup discount, services trade, or payment installment plan if it would allow you to work with someone you’re excited about. They might say yes!
How long should you work together?
The duration of your agreement is heavily dependent on your initial goals. A top-level evaluation from a major strategist could take a week. A first iteration and basic roadmap could be completed in 4-6 weeks. A more advanced engagement could last 3-6 months. Whatever you decide in coordination with your branding consultant, be sure to build a mid-point check in to ensure you’re on track to hit your agreed upon deliverables.