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The Pawn sign is seen outside of Richie's Pawn on August 9, 2011 in Tamarac, Florida. As the economy continues to struggle and banks are not as willing to provide loans many people have turned to pawn shops to help them when they need a loan.

Joe Raedle

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz

Small businesses struggling to make ends meet are increasingly turning to online pawn shops for business loans.

In the U.S., an site like Pawngo.com will evaluate your item and e-mail you an offer about how much they are willing to loan you. There is no credit check, as the loan is secured by the collateral. If you are able to repay the loan, you will get your item back. If not, the pawn shop will keep it. According to its website, Pawngo has loaned about US$1.35 million in about 46 states.

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The pros? It's quick and easy, and doesn't require a credit check. It won't ruin your credit score if you don't make the payment and you can generally negotiate the amount you'd like get.

The cons? Appraisals a usually low - around 30 to 50 per cent of what a broker may expect to receive, and interest rates can be ridiculously high depending on the state. Short-term or 'payday' loans typically carry interest rates of 10 to 20 per cent for a two-week term, according to this feature by Time, which translates into an annual percentage rate exceeding 300 per cent. But industry experts argue the APR is just theoretical since these types of loans are meant to last only until the borrower's next paycheck. Another downside is that

If markets continue their erratic, stomach-churning journey, it may not be surprising to see this trend catching on in Canada.





Can you learn to be a 'disruptive' innovator?

That's the question put forth by Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen in his new book The Innovator's DNA , a research-driven 'self help' book that moves beyond analyzing process of disrupting an industry, examining the origins of creativity.

A long held belief is that truly creative people - like Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Salesforce.com's Marc Benioff or Apple's Steve Jobs - are blessed with an innate gift. "We have a sense that there are some people who are just born with an instinct to do the things that we describe. And a few are never going to get there. And there are a few who are going to get there by learning what they can do," says Mr. Christensen in this Q&A on Inc.com.

But by researching common traits in some of the world's famous innovators, the author seems to imply that "plain ordinary people" can emulate these traits. "What we've tried to do in this book is codify it and make what was intuition explicit, so that the rest of us can copy what they do."

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So you got into a prestigious incubator. Now what?

Getting into a 'ivy-league' incubator like Y Combinator and DreamIt Ventures is no easy task, but making the most of your time there may be the most challenging part of the experience. In this article on Inc.com, the writers com offer a glimpse of what it's like to be accepted into an one of these incubators and proposes four tips on how eager start-ups can make the most of their time there.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

How are you coping?

Given the recent turmoil in global financial markets the Toronto Board of Trade is asking its members how this latest development will impact your business decisions. You should be able to complete the survey in 5 minutes or less.

Start-ups on TV

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Next month, Bloomberg will broadcast TechStars, a documentary television series featuring the successes and struggles of 10 start-ups trying to hit it big in New York City. But according to its producers, the six-part series won't conform to the clichés of cheesy reality TV.

"Bloomberg's audience is global and affluent," says David Cohen, the founder and CEO of TechStars, the funding and mentoring start-up accelerator based in Boulder, Colorado. "You won't be watching a bunch of geeks just sit there and code. It really gets into the stories of these companies. People will be able to identify with the entrepreneurs but also the investors and the mentors."

To apply for a spot in TechStars, click here.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

7 people, 1 question: What's your latest game-changer?

Innovation is key to staying ahead in business, but how innovative are Canadians...really?

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FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

The brands that 'elevated' over time

Our regular contributor Mark Evans looks at how companies like Volvo, Lee Valley Tools, Dickies and TSC Stores have achieved greater stature and value over time.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at yourbusiness@globeandmail.com

Join The Globe's Small Business LinkedIn group to network with other entrepreneurs and to discuss topical issues: http://linkd.in/jWWdzT

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