Tax Refund vs. Eligible Income

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With Tax Time soon approaching, we feel obligated to remind you of our continued advice about the best methods to prepare your tax returns if you plan on applying for Business Financing in the future.

With Trevor’s 30 years as a Mortgage Loan Officer, he saw this time and time again. While the tax professionals and CPAs might do a marvelous job of getting a Self-Employed Business Owner a GIANT REFUND (or simply lowering the tax bill) these folks never seem to have a discussion with their clients about the long term ramifications of such deductions/lowered income.

The “look back” period to qualify for a mortgage is 2 years; for a business loan of any type, it’s 3 years. That means the Lender will take those “Bottom line” numbers and average them for the time period in question (2 or 3 years) and create a qualifying income. When Schedule C shows a loss or minimal income over the time period, well, do the math. It ain’t pretty.

For a Self-Employed Borrower with a Schedule C (including many LLCs), lowering the net income on Line 31 by deducting oodles of expenses lowers the potential loan. IRS does not “require” anyone to deduct expenses; this is an “option” which helps to lower tax liability. BUT it also reduces a Borrower loan qualification by lowering income.

Whenever you complete a tax return you don’t have to deduct expenses! This feature of a tax return allows you to lower your tax liability.

BUT IT ALSO LOWERS YOUR INCOME.

And for any Loan you may request in future (up to three years later) the Lender will use that bottom line income to calculate your qualifications.
Take extreme care and think long term strategically before making a final decision on a tax return.

Be sure to watch our YouTube video about the “LOOK BACK” period!

We are scheduling FREE 15 Minute Phone Consultations to review disaster financing eligibility and qualifications.

5 EIDL Reconsideration Updates 

Check Out Our Video on 4506T

We’re working on quite a few Reconsiderations for our clients. Here’s some advice for you all based on our recent conversations with SBA Agents and documents requests from the Reconsideration Team at SBA:

  • IRS 4506T: The IRS is requiring a “wet” signature on the form. That means you have to physically sign a paper version with a pen, scan it in to your computer and submit. We’ve been using DocuSign for our clients’ forms successfully for the most part, but recently hit a snag with one file where the Reconsideration Team kept requesting a new 4506T. In my conversation with an excellent SBA Agent, she revealed this concept of the “wet” signature. Trevor was a Mortgage Loan Officer prior to our Consulting business and we’ve used DocuSign for years. Oh. Well.
  • Revenue Projection and Business Plan. We’ve noticed from posts in a Facebook Group and now with two of our own clients that SBA is requesting a revenue projection for the next 12 months. Between you and me and the wall, I’m not sure how any Small Business can project revenue during an ongoing pandemic, but SBA is asking for it. We haven’t determined yet how we’re going to respond to this request. The “Business Plan” aspect can, according to SBA, be a simple narrative of how you’re keeping your business running.
  • SBA changing over the online portal the weekend of JAN 15-17. We’ve already noticed glitches in the online portal over the last few days. One SBA Agent opined this is probably the result of the system changeover. To that end, we recommend not submitting a new EIDL Application, or uploading requested documents through the portal, or submitting a new Reconsideration until after JAN 18. That’s our strategy for our clients, anyway.
  • Funding Approved EIDL loans. For most of the past 10 months we’ve seen our clients receive funds within 48 hours of signing Closing Documents. In two instances in the past two weeks, funding took 5 calendar days. Nail-biting continues during the disaster.
  • Continuing confusion of the EIDL Grants. We read an excellent article in an NFIB blog yesterday. The author sought to clear up this ongoing confusion about the $10,000 CARES Act EIDL Grants that many businesses either did not receive or received only partial amounts. Add to this the confusion over the NEW EIDL Grants under the Second Stimulus Legislation.

While we believe the NFIB is a “trusted resource” we defer to our own Chief Financing Rock Star, Trevor Curran who has 30+ years as a Mortgage Loan Officer originating Government loans: wait for the official Governmental guidance.

SBA has not yet released any rules regarding these EIDL Grants. There’s no update on the SBA website, and nothing in the email newsletter we received this morning from our SBA Regional office. While your anxiety over getting this much needed money continues (we feel your pain, we were shorted the Grant too!), our advice is to continue waiting for the official guidance from SBA on this matter.

We hope this information helps! We’re happy to share our professional experiences to provide vital—albeit anecdotal—information that you can use to achieve a successful result with your SBA EIDL and PPP requests!

For a free 15 minute phone consultation, you can schedule your call here.

Apply for Disaster Financing

Here we outline several fundamental concepts you can follow that helped Trevor to successfully submit hundreds of approved mortgage applications. Trevor was a Mortgage Loan Officer for 30+ years; we continue to use these principles now to assist Small Business Owners like YOU to get SBA and other Disaster financing:

📌 ALWAYS Apply. Don’t “disqualify” yourself.

📌 Don’t leave anything blank. When something doesn’t apply to you on the application form write “N/A”. If application requests a numerical value and it’s a ZERO then enter “0”.

📌 Use the last four digits of account numbers for credit accounts. The Loan Officer will see the credit accounts on your credit report. Putting the last four digits helps match your application information with the credit report. In other words, don’t enter “FirstBank VISA”

📌 Enter full and accurate account numbers for each bank account in the assets section of an application. Whenever possible, enter type of account “checking” “savings” etc.

📌 The more complete an application, the better your chances of approval and the more efficient your process. TREVOR’S GOLDEN RULE ABOUT APPLICATIONS: Your Loan Application is the “roadmap” the “instruction manual” that guides the lending decision-makers about your qualifications.

📌 Review and revise your application for accuracy (including adding up the math and correcting spelling mistakes. Use the “Carpenter’s Rule” when you complete an application: “Measure twice, cut once.”.

📌 Match your personal and business information EXACTLY to supporting documents. If your business bank account is under the name “Trevor’s Handsome Dude Pool Service LLC” be sure that’s the same name that appears on your application documents. Same with tax returns and other supporting documents. SPELLING COUNTS.

📌 FRONT LOAD the application. Find out what documents are required and submit them with the initial application whenever possible. Make the Loan Officer’s job easier, you’ll have a more positive experience as a result.

📌 Documents submitted in a quality format. PDFs only: NO PHOTOS! Clear, legible scans. Always try to “label” documents such as “ABCBank JAN 2021 statement” or “Trevor Driver License” Again: when you make the processing staff and Loan Officer job easier, you get a better result.

📌 NEVER TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER. Be tenacious, be politely persistent. If a Loan professional or Lender provides a negative response, ask “Why?” and “What can we do to move this application to a favorable position?” and “What other information can I provide that helps support a positive decision for my application?”

Small Business is the BACKBONE of the American economy. Know that, own that, don’t let them tell you “No.”

The money is there for you to get it; your business deserves it. Feel no shame about asking for assistance to help your Small Business survive this horrible COVID-19 disaster.

Schedule a FREE 15 Minute Phone Consultation to review how you can secure the financing you’re entitled to as a Small Business Owner.

Don’t forget to BOOKMARK this page to stay updated on our SBA Disaster Financing Updates.

Schedule a FREE 15 Minute Phone Consultation to review how you can secure the financing you’re entitled to as a Small Business Owner.

Don’t forget to BOOKMARK this page to stay updated on our SBA Disaster Financing Updates.

It Ain’t a Stimulus until It’s Law

SBA Failed the American Small Business owner during the COVID in the way it implemented the EIDL program guidelines as set forth in the CARES Act.

Under the CARES Act provisions for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), SBA was to provide a totally-forgivable Grant of $10,000 PER BUSINESS paid within 3 days of filing application for EIDL program online. There was never any requirement or provision of anything different from that simple language in the Legislation.

SBA subsequently and arbitrarily changed the Grant to a distribution of $1000 per employee, along with capping EIDL loans at $150k when they’re supposed to go up to $2M as per Congressional Legislation.

The $1000 per employee nonsense was exactly that, complete nonsense and a violation of The CARES Act and a capricious and arbitrary decision by SBA without direction or permission from Congress.

CONGRESS DECIDES HOW U.S. TAX DOLLARS ARE SPENT, NOT FEDERAL AGENCIES.

When taken to task in a Senate hearing, SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin both replied like Ralph Kramden, “Hummina…hummina…hummina…” and meekly stated that they made these arbitrary decisions to change the program (and ignore Congressional mandate) because SBA was worried they would “run out of money”.

Imagine if the US Navy was in danger of running out of money? Would they stop sailing ships and flying fighters? NO. They would ask Congress for more money.

THAT is the most massive #FAIL on the part of SBA Administration (and Treasury, for their part) in not returning to Congress to request additional funding.

In making these decisions, SBA failed in its fiduciary duties to the American Small Business owner. FYI: In the currently proposed Second Stimulus Legislation, Congress made sure to hold SBA accountable by requiring definitive reporting deadlines that SBA must return to Congress to report on progress of the funding of the various programs.

You can watch the Hearing here.

We strongly urge EVERYONE to stop watching all the alleged YouTube experts expounding on the exact rules of the new Stimulus. When this is actually signed into LAW, SBA still has to create the RULES.  Until SBA creates the RULES, NO ONE can say with any certainty what they are.  Not me, not anyone.  We can only interpret what we read. I read the Legislation several times.  To Trevor’s practiced eye (30 years lending with Government programs), some language remains unclear and confusing.

Our interpretation—and that’s all it is—doesn’t mean a hill of beans until SBA MAKES THE RULES.  Instead of watching YouTube “experts” watch kitten videos.
It could prove to be a better use of your time.

EMAIL US with any positive experiences you have had, we would love to hear from you.

Schedule a FREE 15 minute call to review any complications you’re having with your disaster loans.

Submitting documents to SBA

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If you’re submitting documents to the SBA, you’ll  need to do it the RIGHT way to ensure a smooth process! Here’s our advice (based on Trevor processing loans for over 30 years) on the best way to submit documents:

1. PDF ONLY. No photos, no other file types. With the volume of documents and applications they’re working on, SBA Loan Officers simply do not have the time to convert your documents to PDF. They’ll probably set it aside until they have time.

2. Separate PDFs for separate documents. A PDF of a voided check should be separate from a PDF of a photo ID and etc. When SBA has to separate your documents from a single PDF it slows down your entire process.

3. Label the PDF on your end. For example of a labelled PDF: “COMPANY NAME YTD Income Statement JAN 1 to SEP 30 2020” or “COMPANY NAME Voided Check”

4. List the documents you’re submitting in the body of the email. For example, SUBJECT LINE: “Company Name: Documents submitted DATE”. Then, in the body of the email: “Attached to this email: YTD Income Statement JAN 1 to SEP 30 2020, Voided Check, Photo ID”

5. We recommend using the NOTES App on your iPhone to scan documents. Ridiculously easy.

6. BEST Scanning app of all: “ADOBE Scan” which you can download to your smartphone from your respective app store.

7. When scanning with your smartphone, keep the document within the scanning borders. Most often the scanning app will give you a highlighted “border” for the document.

8. Always scan documents on a flat surface and scan straight, not slightly tilted.

Watch our WTF Wednesday video where we discuss why these are important.

Schedule a FREE 15 minute call to review any complications you’re having with your disaster loans.

Frustrated with Calling the SBA

We know how frustrating it is to spend time and energy following up with the SBA on the status of Your EIDL loan or Reconsideration request!

We’re sharing our experiences from having worked on dozens of EIDL loans and our interactions with SBA Agents. We want to you to know you’re not alone in your frustration, but also to help you to understand how the system works.

1. WE LOVE SBA AGENTS! Every call we experience an SBA Agent who is very professional and eager to help business owners obtain the EIDL financing they need to survive this pandemic.

2. SBA Loan Officers are, to quote an SBA Agent, “Working 15 hour days” on loan requests and reconsideration requests.

3. Okay, once you understand the value of the intrepid SBA Agents and how enthusiastic and hard-working they are, let’s discuss the frustrations of follow up.

4. We did a video on “How To Speak With An SBA Agent” we recommend you watch that for tips on how to make your follow up call.

5. Next, know that SBA Agents don’t always have a complete picture on your loan status. Their system has notes about your file’s progress with “Codes.” We don’t know what those codes are, but let’s hypothesize that a typical code could be something like this: “9837: IRS Form received” or “9822: Email sent to Applicant”.

Trevor has seen coding like this in his previous career as a Mortgage Banker. It’s an efficient way for a system to track the progress of a file.We’ve spoken to a couple of Agents who told us they don’t know what some of the Codes mean when a file is in the Reconsideration system.

6. Apparently, the Reconsideration Team works like a “Black-Ops” enterprise. SBA Agents can’t speak with them and their Codes can’t be deciphered by the SBA Agent you call for a status.

7. Beware of general statements made by an SBA Agent such as “Reconsideration processing times are 5-6 weeks.” Another Agent told us that is not true; she’s seen Reconsiderations take substantially longer. She said the other Agent should never have made that statement. Moral of the story: Take anything an SBA Agent says on general matters with a grain of salt.

8. Don’t think you’re going to call and get very clear guidance. The SBA is STILL overwhelmed with the number of new and Reconsideration requests. There’s a lot of moving parts, a lot of confusion, and long waiting times.

9. Remain consistently vigilant, and always polite. Check in regularly on your file. You won’t always get a definitive answer, but once in a while you might discover the SBA sent you an email that you didn’t know they sent! We’ve seen that happen…the email was sitting in the client’s spam folder. Other times, no such email was received. Moving parts. Confusion. Not quite controlled chaos.

10. Patience is a virtue. We know you need this money to help you survive this pandemic. We know the SBA is working diligently. We also know that sometimes some folks in an organization (Bank, SBA, etc.) get a file and it sits there waiting its turn because that person in the organization is overwhelmed, confused, slow, or, maybe, just maybe, even lazy. Think of the real world and how folks work in your business; the SBA is no different.

Contact us with questions or maybe with some good news you’ve experience contrary to our unabashedly vocal disappointment.

Schedule a FREE 15 minute call to review any complications you’re having with your disaster loans.

Small Business Must Roll the Dice

This comment in an online forum about SBA EIDL loans says it all about two key concepts:

“…who knows what this winter is gonna be like here so I’m afraid to give it back yet.”

The business owner has EIDL monies left over and had considered (oh so briefly) prepaying the loan with the remainder of the monies. And then the new surge hit.

Concept #1: Utilization of EIDL monies as a way to replace lost revenue for working capital due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no finish line; no concrete timeline; complete uncertainty.

If you have not used all your EIDL monies, we recommend holding on to the funds through the coming months. You want to have a better understanding of a “diminishment” of the COVID-19 pandemic to such a level that there’s no fear of upcoming possible lockdowns where you have to close your business. Likewise, to know there’s no upcoming lockdowns to gauge if you will have customers coming through the door.

Concept #2: “who knows what this winter is gonna be like…” speaks to the SBA’s continuing failure to recognize the drastic difference of this disaster from all “traditional” natural disasters. The EIDL processing guidelines and the Loan Agreement and the lack of clear, unambiguous guidance on how to use the monies from and EIDL all need to be addressed by the Administrators of SBA.

We’re eight months into this pandemic; that’s more than enough time for this Federal Agency to have created at the very least some better guidance on how to use the monies beyond stating, “Working capital” in the Loan Agreement.

Business owners are terrified to use the funds incorrectly, many of them saying, “I don’t want to go to jail!” This is absurd.

SBA! Please, please, please, we are begging your Administration, recognize the unique features of the COVID-19 pandemic disaster and modify your guidance for EIDL funds so that business owners can use the money without fear of contravening the terms of their Loan Agreements!

We’re all holding on out here for this disaster to end. We’re all holding on out here, trying to survive and keep our business’ doors open. We’re all holding on for more detail from SBA and a resiliency to the fact this disaster is like no other disaster in American history.

Contact us with some good news if you are in a position to know what is going on in the background of this nonsense.

Old News on EIDL LOANS

Linda Rey manages the marketing for our business financing practice. She recently posted relevant information on Reddit about our recent experiences with EIDL loans, both new applications and the Reconsideration process. A troll responded with, “Old news.”

COVID-19 is ongoing with no definitive end point in sight.

Old news” doesn’t describe the continuing inquiries we receive from anxious business owners. A quick scan of any relevant online forum about EIDL programs reveals the simple truth: business owners still struggle with EIDL loans they’ve obtained (utilization) and fighting for monies they need to survive.

The U.S. Congress and the Small Business Administration (The SBA) responded with amazing alacrity in the early days of this crisis to provide vital support to Americans and American businesses. Yes, there’s been tremendous chaos around those initiatives.

In our opinion, that chaos, specifically about EIDL program loans, arises from two sources.

First is the overwhelming number of requests. According to an SBA Press Release on October 28th, 2020, SBA has funded nearly 9 million loans worth $7 billion. Chaos or not, the SBA did an incredible job of helping American businesses with the two COVID-related loan programs, EIDL and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Our second opinion about the chaotic state of SBA EIDL response focuses on the SBA’s internal operations mindset. We mentioned in our introduction the drastic difference between a natural disaster such as a tornado, flood or wildfire, and the COVID-19 disaster. This pandemic is like no other disaster ever experienced in American history. And yet, with all their heroics on the frontlines performed primarily by the amazing SBA agents, loan officers, and processing staff, the upper level SBA Administration applied standards more relevant to the traditional natural disaster phenomenon.

To this day, we are dumbfounded by the SBA’s Administration’s failure to radically adjust the thinking and ultimately guidelines and processes for the EIDL program.

As amazing as our Government’s response has been to the financial uncertainties of this pandemic, there is surely more assistance to come in the future. As of this writing there is no second stimulus package negotiated or finalized in Congress. It is our opinion this will change as the pandemic moves into the second year of human distress. With any future stimulus package there are sure to be improvements and revisions to existing SBA programs.

Presenting this information at this time, in our professional opinion, will help business owners understand the basics of the EIDL program in anticipation of just such changes. When you install a fire extinguisher in your house, you probably took a moment to read the directions, didn’t you? Hopefully, you’ll never need it, but a basic understanding of when and how to use the extinguisher will surely come in handy in the event of catastrophe.

We welcome any questions, comments or concerns you may have if it means some insight or assistance to help sustain your business.

SBA Reconsideration Team URGENT UPDATE

SBA now has a way to upload required documents for your Reconsideration request directly to the SBA website. Previously (as recently as the morning of October 21, 2020!), the SBA Reconsideration Team sent you an email with the list of documents. You would then email the documents and SBA could take up to ten days to upload your documents to your file.

With this new method, YOU upload the documents!

Remember: You can still apply for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) through December 31st.

IF your loan was declined or you did not receive sufficient funds to help you through this crisis you can request a Reconsideration from SBA.

See our video on How To Request a Reconsideration, including How To Write an SBA Reconsideration letter.

Our client received the email and within an hour we had uploaded the requested documents. Notice in the email: the STATUS of your….has been UPDATED.

In this case, the loan had previously been declined by SBA.

We requested a Reconsideration on October 17th; SBA responded with LIGHT SPEED on October 21st.

In the screen shot of the SBA portal website, you can see the new TAB “UPLOAD DOCUMENTS.”

If we haven’t viewed dozens of these SBA portals we wouldn’t realize what this meant as there is no other guidance on the SBA website or by email. Unfortunately, we all have to figure it out on our own. Here at Aurora Consulting, we are committed to providing accurate and timely information about the SBA Disaster Loan programs.

Stay safe! Stay well!

 

What To Do If Your EIDL Loan Was Declined For CREDIT?

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We’ve had many interactions and exchanges with the SBA about clients whose EIDL loan was declined due to a low credit score.

What can you do if that happens?

1. Ask for a Reconsideration. Often EIDL loans are automatically rejected by the computerized underwriting system. What you want is a human being to review your loan request. You get to a human by requesting a Reconsideration.

2. Prepare a Reconsideration letter. At the top of the letter include your name, company name, address, EIN (or SSN if you’re Self-Employed), and EIDL Loan number. REMEMBER: all your information must exactly match the information you inputted on the SBA website when you applied for the EIDL loan. If your name was not included as an owner or Authorized Preparer, then you cannot write the letter; only names that were inputted on the original EIDL application.

3. In the body of the letter, keep it short and concise. Request a reconsideration due to your credit explanation. Write a brief credit explanation in the next paragraph. For example, something like this, “The late payments on my credit report and the resulting lower credit score were directly a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. My income/revenue dropped dramatically and I could not pay my bills on time.”

4. Keep your credit explanation short. If you have any documentation that supports the explanation, be sure to include PDFs of that documentation with your request.

5. Sign and date the letter.

6. Send your request to pdcrecons@sba.gov.

Our advice is this: no matter how bad you think your credit is, do not lose hope. Request a reconsideration no matter what!

Here’s our video on “How To Write a Reconsideration Letter”.

Download our EBOOK on how to rebuild your credit. There are tips in this ebook that have been tested after reviewing thousands of credit reports after 30 years of experience in the mortgage lending business.

Can I Apply For Another EIDL LOAN?

We received this question on Twitter: I already received an EIDL loan. Am I eligible to apply for another?

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) PROGRAM was created for individual disasters. For example, this month it may be a tornado in Ohio county. Two weeks from now it could be a flood in the state of Mississippi.

COVID-19 created its own unique disaster. The Small Business Administration (SBA) responded by offering an EIDL loan for the pandemic. If you haven’t yet applied for an EIDL loan, the deadline for new application is December 31, 2020.

We make this distinction because we want to answer this question accurately. The fact is you can apply for  multiple EIDL loans according to the SBA as long as they are for different disasters that have affected you.

In other words, if you received a COVID-19 EIDL loan in April, but your county was affected by a tornado in September (and it’s declared a disaster area), then you can apply for another EIDL for the tornado disaster. We confirmed this last week with the SBA.

You cannot apply for more than one EIDL LOAN for the same disaster. However, the SBA has a provision for up to two years after the disaster, you can request additional funding above the amount of your original EIDL loan.

Leave a comment below and let us know if this is helpful and what other disaster financing questions you may have.

Summarize your Finance Package

Summarizing your finance package can help to prioritize how your banker reviews your financing request.

We recently submitted a client’s financing request to one of the Lenders on our lending matrix.  Our Lender Rep. said, “Holy cow, you guys are on top of it with your summary. Not many brokers make it this easy to review the package.”

We made it easy because the client provided us with their financials. The financials were comprehensive. It’s a multi-million dollar corporation and we’re at the early stage of presenting to the lender. We want to show something that’s easily digestible. We want to ease  the process for the lender to give us a prompt review and tell us their interest in offering the financing.

Summarizing your financials is easy to do.  When you have a lot of line items that lead up to one type of deduction or one type of income source, simply summarize it. Drop it down to as few lines as possible so the lender can do a quick review and say,  “Okay, I see the picture here.”

The Lender doesn’t need to know the granular line-by-line details at this early stage; you want the Lender to give a fast review to gauge their interest. If the Lender expresses interest and offers a Letter of Intent for the financing, you can present the more detailed financials with your full loan application package.

For each client financing request, we write a summary statement. We present a one or two page statement describing some background on the business, the reason for their financing request, and, in bold, large font, the amount of our financing request.

Our presentation package for the initial Lender review is compact, yet complete.  The “first glimpse” by a Lender is sufficient to tell us if that particular Lender is the right fit for our client’s request, or if we need to locate a different Lender.

If you’d like a copy of our Documents Checklist, click HERE.

If you have questions on the best way to present your financing request to a Lender, email us at Curious@AuroraConsulting.biz and we’ll be happy to provide advice.

Four Metrics to Monitor for Profit

To monitor your bottom line profit you need to put some fundamentals in place.  Once those foundational elements are implemented, you next need to create a monitoring schedule to check in on your profits.

Again, we’re not suggesting anything that is revolutionary in the world of running a business.  But we’re presenting these suggestions based on our real world conversations with business owners as we interview them to begin searching for credit financing solutions for their businesses.

In other words, as obvious as this advice might seem, we’ve encountered many business owners who don’t have these fundamentals in place for their business. If they do have these building blocks established, we discover their systems for implementing and monitoring are only one step removed from “back of the envelope” calculations.

We want you to do incredibly well with your business!  We’re presenting this obvious advice to help you organize these basics in a way that you can almost say to yourself, “Set it and forget it!” This leaves the system in place and removes so much anxiety and impatience from the day to day operations of your business so you can dig in to the two things that count most: loving what you do and building your business to even bigger scale!

The 4 fundamentals to measure profitability.

Timeline.  What is the sales/production cycle for your business?  Create a realistic expectation of when the cash hits your bottom line by reviewing your past three years performance.  Look at your previous cycles.  Calculate the turn times on when you delivered your product/service, and when you realized the cash injection to your bottom line.

Production Costs. While your production timeline might be, for example, three weeks, you must ask yourself if any production costs linger after the production cycle.  Are there delayed payroll expenses?  Are there residual expenses for cost of deliveries (freight costs, internet marketing costs, re-tooling expenses for next production run, Accounts payables to outside vendors necessary for the production cycle)?

Receivables.  Review your Accounts Receivables aging reports for the past three years. What is the true timeline when you receive better than 90% of the cash income from your receivables after you’ve sold your product or service?

Delays.  With each of the above three fundamental criteria, add a percentage variable to account for delays. What happens if there’s a slowdown in your ability to deliver your product/service? Add that into your calculation. Same for cost overruns that could lead to extended time periods of production costs

(What if your current freight delivery provider can’t manage the extra volume of a large order and you need to bring in another provider? What if you needed to add three more freelancers to complete video/content/production or implement design elements?) 

Same with your receivables. Assume the worst for your slower paying receivables and add delayed payments to your calculations.

Time To Check Your Profits.

Once you implement the above four fundamental monitoring elements, now create a schedule to check in on your profits.  Get it in your calendar!  Lock the door!  Give yourself (and your management team) time to focus solely on this aspect of your business.  No interruptions, and answer the question: where do we stand with profit?  If you’re profitable, what’s your bottom line number and does that match your expectations from your Business Plan?

Throw in the additional calculation: margin. Compare profit to expense. On a per product/service delivery price, what is the exact percentage in your profit column?

In the final analysis, literally, you’ll have a clear understanding of your profit.  When you comprehend in clear terms how you derive profit for your business you can then think about how to improve profit.  You may find yourself discovering new opportunities for profit centers and thus new products/services.

You may be pleasantly surprised that you’re more profitable than you thought you were.  Then you can decide what to do with that extra income, to plow it back into the business, to create cash reserves, maybe make bonus payouts to ownership, make charitable contributions, or take a vacation!

Again, what we’ve found is that many business owners lack a clear picture of their profitability in terms of hard numbers, metrics that you can see on your computer screen.

These fundamental systems may seem daunting in terms of the investment of time and money to implement, but, like any other feature of your business, once you’ve put them in place, not only will they help you with clarity of your profitability, but you’ll only need to tweak these existing systems in years to come as you grow your business by leaps and bounds!

Email us with any feedback, especially any solid “fly by the seat of your pants” stories.

3 Metrics to Watch

We find business credit financing solutions for business owners.  We also find that many business owners hold anxious trepidations about the concept of borrowing money.

Yet, the need does arise for working capital to continue to grow your business success story.

Whether the working capital need is unexpected–due to an unusually large order from a customer, a seasonal downturn in revenues, or a sudden opportunity for growth such as purchasing a competitor–or a planned requirement such as equipment purchase or investing in a new marketing plan, your business will need capital to grow.  Unless your profit margins or cashflow planning have created a massive pile of cash for just such a capital expenditure, you’ll need to go outside your company to find that money.

The alternate choice to credit financing is to bring in capital from other equity sources.

Refinance your personal home or leverage your retirement accounts and bring in the required capital.  Sell off valuable equipment, ideas, collectibles.  Bring in an equity partner.   We’ve pontificated at length about the last option…do you really want a partner who may wind up telling you “how to make the pizza?

There are many reasons why choosing equity sources for capital infusions are bad for you personally and professionally.

Yet, too often this is the path chosen: equity sources.   Business owners go down this path for several reasons: time-constraints to obtain the capital; anxiety around the idea of borrowing.

Credit financing to obtain working capital doesn’t have to frighten the heck out of you.  At Aurora Consulting, we understand the worries that come along with borrowing money: “What if there’s a downturn in my business and I cannot repay this loan?”

Especially after the global meltdown and subsequent recession of a dozen years ago, lingering fears and doubts remain laced through our economy and our economic thinking like clogged drainpipes during a sudden torrential downpour.  The water has to move, and move quickly, but the remnants of various and miscellaneous flotsam and jetsam are jamming up the pipes and the rainwater backs up causing all kinds of other problems.

The same is true of these lingering doubts about borrowing money.  Credit can be a good thing and nothing to be fearful of when approached sensibly and when the credit terms are incorporated into your business planning.

Still, these worries hang on.

We’ve come up with the concept of 3 important business metrics you can keep an eye on after you’ve borrowed that needed working capital.

Remaining vigilant on these metrics can help you avoid a sudden negative revenue issue which could lead to default on credit obligations.  While it may seem obvious to you that these are the metrics ANY business should constantly monitor for maintaining profitability and continuing growth, as with all advice and observations we provide from Aurora Consulting, our real-world experiences demonstrate these ideas are not so obvious to every business owner.

What is obvious is worry and anxiety.  Thus, our presentation of these not-so-revolutionary-ideas.

  1. Profit margins: pricing and expenses
  2. ROI: products/marketing plans/infrastructure/product development
  3. Customer Retention/Construction

Monitor these important metrics by maintaining your financial reporting to the most current and efficient methods.   We often see businesses with financial statements such as P&Ls and cashflow statements that are not up to date.

A balance sheet isn’t just for your CPA to use when you’re filing your tax return!

And the ever important marketing and business plans?  Wow, we are constantly shocked when we request these vital documents from our clients to include in a financing request package only to be told they don’t have one!

Creating and maintaining these financial reporting documents is incredibly easy with the sophisticated computer applications available, even for your smartphone!

Making the time to check  in with them is another thing altogether.  We sometimes feel as if our clients present us with financial statements and they haven’t reviewed them, recently, or ever.

That’s why we suggest you at the very least monitor these three important metrics on a constant and vigilant basis. WHY?

First, it’s good for the overall health of your business.
Second, you will find you can anticipate challenges and successes before they arise.
Third, you can plan for those challenges and successes well in advance and avoid nasty surprises and cashflow chokeholds.

Finally, and best of all, you can lower or maybe even eliminate altogether your anxiety and fears of credit financing capital to grow your business.

REACH OUT to us and ask us anything whether you agree or disagree. We would love to hear of the “fly by the seat of your pants” stories too!

The Truth About Credit “Repair”

The most fundamental truth and reality check is this: a consumer cannot “remove” an account that is legitimately your account that is showing on your credit report.

While the account may appear to removed during the dispute process on the report provided by the credit bureau, the reality is that account is most likely to return to a credit report at some time in the future because it’s your account.  This is true whether it’s a positive or negative account.

In other words, if that account was truly yours to begin with, it’s going to reappear at some point on the credit report.  The confusion arises from the dispute process. During the dispute, the credit bureau is required by law to remove the disputed account from the credit report while they investigate the validity of the information with the original creditor.

Often, the bureau provides an updated report showing the removal.  And the investigation process, required to be only 30 days by law, often takes longer. Thus, the credit bureau “extends” the 30 day investigation period, and representing to the consumer that the information has been removed during the investigation.

This is the part where you need to pay attention.

This is one of the major frauds of the entire credit repair concept.  Once the credit bureau receives the accurate information from the original creditor, that account goes back onto the credit report.

A credit report can only be “repaired” to the extent that incorrect information can be amended to accurately reflect:

  • Correct status of an account (such as paid)
  • Removal of a duplicate account (often happens when a minor discrepancy in account balance or account number is reported by the creditor)
  • Removal of an account from a family member with the same name that appears on your credit report (John Jones Sr. mortgage appears on John Jones Jr. report)
  • Correct name misspellings or home addresses, and other personal identifying information of that nature.

Closed accounts aren’t necessarily the problem with improving a credit score.  That’s only one component of the overall scoring algorithm. What most consumers with decent credit misunderstand is their use of their current accounts. Such as, the more legacy accounts you have open and active today, with 50% or less utilization (relative to credit limit) and an on-time payment histories, will generate a better score.

Even with a higher utilization of 50% or more on several revolving accounts, assuming 3-5 active accounts with two years or longer histories and active use, scores can be very good and even excellent.

Please reach out for any further clarification. This is where we see most consumers flail with thinking through the process of “repair” and/or hiring someone to manage the minutia, which will only result in frustration and regret.

When we work with our business financing clients, we include a merged credit report with Classic FICO scores from Experian and Equifax as part of our qualification process from the very beginning.

Most Lenders won’t run a credit report until late stages of the loan application process. Our method helps us to understand and advise the business owner of any challenges on the credit report that may impinge on our ability to secure financing from a Lender.

Trevor, our Chief Financing Rock Star, was a Mortgage Banker for 30 years; credit is one of his areas of special expertise.

Reach out to discuss what you may be experiencing that is contrary to this or perhaps inhibiting you from moving forward in a financing request you’re currently pursuing.

Download our E-Book, “Rebuilding Your Credit After Bankruptcy”. Maybe you haven’t filed for bankruptcy; you will still pick up some tips in this ebook.

Small Business Surviving COVID

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Some Lenders are beginning to open their doors, and their coffers, to businesses in need of working capital. However, the COVID-19 impact on lending guidelines has been brutal.

Lenders’ guidelines for these types of loans are typically tighter than pre-COVID, and every Lender requires a business applicant to provide a COVID Impact Statement.

Underwriters are taking a close look at how businesses plan to survive the continuing pandemic, especially diligent on management experience, cash reserves, equity, and business planning for pandemic-response.

Today, let’s look at some industries and businesses we expect to thrive and survive the COVID-19 crisis.

Logistics.  The pandemic panic in March and April exposed the weaknesses in supply chains, especially for groceries.  But the resiliency of the industry became quickly apparent with the exponential growth in demand for home delivery of goods from online shopping excursions as so many people found themselves locked-down at home.

Warehouses, sorting equipment, storage accessories, forklifts, robots, long haul trucks and delivery vehicles all have multiple sources of financing available to maintain and grow during the pandemic.

Professional Writers. Yes, writing for business, whether it’s email newsletters, website content, or White Papers, writers can thrive during COVID-19, especially with the trend towards remote working.

The downside to being a professional writer during this time is the influx of amateurs hustling for a work-at-home gig overwhelming the ranks of people you’re competing against.  If you’re a professional writer with Accounts Receivable from reputable business clients, there’s financing available to you to help you grow your business.  And, if you haven’t already applied, the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) is still available, even if you’re Self-Employed and you file a Schedule C as a Sole Proprietor.

Manufacturing.  Manufacturers can thrive during COVID-19 with three fundamentals in place:

  • Pivot-Planning
  • COVID safety protocols for employees
  • Supply surety

We know of one manufacturer who promptly converted his business to a COVID pandemic perspective by manufacturing components of PPE for health care frontline workers, notably plastic face shields.  He later enhanced his planning to create the decals for grocery stores that direct customers with one-way arrows and six foot social distancing location markers.

A manufacturing firm that can demonstrate its resiliency during the crisis, its ability to protect workers, and the confidence in obtaining necessary supplies for manufacturing processes is sure to find Lenders willing to provide financing, including for Accounts Receivable, Business Lines Of Credit, and Equipment financing.

Online-Motion.  We created this category at Aurora Consulting to define any kind of business demonstrating incredible pandemic-related-resiliency by either moving its business online where it didn’t exist before, or bolstering an existing online presence.  70% of Small Businesses have NO or minimal online presence.

The COVID-19 pandemic clearly demonstrates the need for your business to move online, to create product/service opportunities for consumers to engage with you remotely, and to integrate product deliveries with successful delivery systems.  The Small Business demonstrating sincere “Online-Motion” will find Lenders willing to provide financing providing a recently revised business plan demonstrates the strategies for success to survive.  Our firm Bridge Street Business Plans assists Small Businesses with this vital aspect.

Key Points of Financing Your “COVID-SURVIVING” Small Business:

  1. Management experience: substantial heft with more than three years’ experience.
  2. Equity: Whether it’s cash liquidity, real estate collateral, or other convertible equity, expect a Lender to want at least 30% equity.
  3. Credit. High credit scores, in excess of 700 for principals of the business.
  4. Cash Flow. Demonstrate how your business is cashflow positive during and through the pandemic.
  5. ROCK SOLID Pandemic Business Plan.  State the case for how your business is surviving now, how you will succeed through the crisis with a focus on strategies, profit centers, and an expanded vista that takes into account the new paradigm of limited customers in-store, remote work, online shopping, employee protections, supply-chain strength, and utilization of delivery options.

At Aurora Consulting we’re doing our part to help your Small Business survive COVID-19 with the following services:

  • Flat Fee Financing Consultation.  $750 gets your business a thorough review of your existing business plan, financial statements, and credit report.  We’ll then advise on the viability of finding Lender financing, whether that’s today, or in the future with our suggested strategies.
  • Bridge Street Business Plans.  We created Bridge Street Business Plans to assist our financing clients with a necessary component of a successful business credit application. We understand how to update your business plan to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic “pivot.”
  • Innovative Financing Products.  We know the Lenders who will lend and we know how they will lend.
  • SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans. These loans are still available and we’ve become experts in this loan process.

Email us anytime to find out more about what financing products can help you become resilient to thrive beyond COVID.

 

We Anticipate Problems to Create Solutions

Our Process Anticipates Problems, Creates Solutions

The good news is that Banks are lending again on a limited basis for non-disaster loan requests.  The bad news is that the loan products are limited and the underwriting guidelines are very, very restrictive.

Many industries/businesses are excluded from loan programs.  Banks simply cannot determine yet the viability of the businesses to survive the pandemic. Risk is too high and thus doors to the lending vault are tightly shut.

Today we spoke to a Bank on four different loan scenarios. Each of these businesses has challenges on their loan applications of different sorts, whether it’s credit, cashflow, type of business, COVID-19 impact on the ability of the business to earn income.

In the hour-long conference call with the Bank, thanks to our qualification process here at Aurora Consulting, we easily addressed the Bank’s concerns and answered their (often) difficult questions as they assessed the risk on each loan scenario. In three out of the four scenarios, we received positive feedback of interest from the Bank. While this interest does not guarantee a loan approval, this, in our experience is a giant hurdle we overcame. 

The rest of it is the loan process.

We also spoke today with a prospective new client in a follow up to our initial call last week.  This client seeks over $4Million in funding for a unique business, a business for which many Banks and Lenders do not provide funding due to their lack of understanding of how this business operates.

We had already identified a Lender for this financing request.

In our follow up call today, the prospective client indicated they would soon make a final decision on moving forward with Aurora Consulting to secure the financing. They also indicated they were working on their credit.

STOP. RIGHT. THERE….BEFORE we go any further. (Meatloaf medley playing).

A client should not “work on their credit” without proper guidance. Luckily, we provide that kind of guidance here at Aurora Consulting. While we don’t believe in credit repair/restoration, we do have decades of expertise with credit and we also know the appetite of commercial lenders when it comes to credit. Note: We have not yet seen this person’s credit.

Our process at Aurora Consulting includes running a credit report as soon as we sign a consulting agreement with a new client. We do this so that we can anticipate any issues that could slow down or prohibit the lending process. We do this upfront so that we can provide advice that leads to a positive result for our clients.

The same holds true for our entire process. We review all financial statements, business plans, marketing plans and any other pertinent items in the early days of working with a new client.  

We do this to anticipate and resolve problems a Bank or Lender may have in the future.

When you apply directly to a Bank/Lender for commercial financing, these items, credit reports, financial statements and the like, are not seriously reviewed until the very late stages of the loan application process. By then the applicant has spent time collecting and submitting documents and spent money on application fees, appraisal fees and other associated costs.

Literally most Banks/Lenders do not run a credit report until the very final stage of the application process, weeks or months after the initial application. At that point, if a credit issue arises on the credit report, all those weeks and months of work are quite literally flushed down the toilet and the loan is declined.

Our role as your financing Broker is to review all relevant documents, including a credit report, in the early stages of your request, before the application, before we’ve even considered conversing, in depth, with a Bank/Lender.

That’s why today, we hit the mark with 3 out 4 of our loan scenarios getting the green light from a Bank to move forward to the application process.  

We were prepared for every question and concern the Bank had because we’d reviewed credit and documents. We anticipated problems in advance and could converse honestly with the Bank on possible workarounds for those problems.

It’s what we do, because we are the business-owner’s advocate. We work for the business-owner. We would be remiss if we didn’t share with you that banks call us when they can’t underwrite the loan. So we understand their process.

Ask us any questions when it comes to business loans. If you want your business to survive, and THRIVE despite the worst crisis we’ve seen in our lifetime, please call us with your questions.

Email Curious@AuroraConsulting.biz

Tough Questions from Lenders

The good news is that Banks and Lenders are opening up their coffers to provide business credit financing. The other news, that’s more anticipated than “bad,” is these Banks want business owners to answer some tough questions about preparedness for further pandemic-related challenges.

If you are applying for business financing—a loan or line of credit—that’s not Disaster Relief-related, here’s a sample from one of our Bankers on what to expect:

  • How has your business been impacted throughout the crisis?
  • How have you and your employees been affected? Your suppliers? Your customers?
  • What are your key priorities over the next 30/60/90 days?
  • How do you anticipate accomplishing these goals? What hurdles do you anticipate?

To achieve a successful response to your application, you should answer these questions with all appropriate gravitas and extreme detail.

  • The Bank wants to know that, should the pandemic-related lockdowns get tighter:
  • How have you planned to get through that?
  • Do you have cash reserves?
  • An employee-furlough action plan?
  • Do you have the ability to provide your services or products with a serious downturn in customer traffic (think early days of lockdown)?

Banks make loan decisions by assessing the risk on the credit profile of the Borrower. As with any aspect of a loan application, the COVID-19 pandemic has created another layer of risk for Banks. Your successful loan application will take that risk assessment into account as you prepare your application for submission by anticipating how to make a Bank/Lender get into a “comfort zone” about your ability to make payments on the loan as other challenges from the pandemic arise.

Reach out to discuss if your answers to these aforementioned questions would suffice. We are your advocate in the process.

Email us at Curious@AuroraConsulting.biz.

How To Shop Financial Services Products While Black

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We have worked in Insurance and Banking for three decades.  We have seen how our White colleagues behave when discussing internally, or when working directly with persons of color.

This video is difficult to present because we don’t dare presume that we know what life is like to be Black in America. We can only empathize and attempt to put ourselves in your shoes.

We share some advice on how you should expect a financial services professional to behave if they are treating you with the equal respect they provide to their white clients.  We created this advice based on how we have behaved with clients, knowing that we have standards that are severely Anti-Racist, and how we have observed other professionals with less savory standards behave.

 

  • Language.  An Anti-Racist uses language that is respectful at all times, not only the words used, but the tone of voice used.
  • Education.  The quality professional, treating all customers equally, seeks to educate clints. They bring to the presentation deep reserves of patience and empathy.  They never behave in a way that disrespects the client’s lack of knowledge about the service or product.
  • On Time. Your Professional should be on time and prepared for the meeting/call.  This demonstrates their ability to take you seriously.
  • Respect. The Anti-Racist professional never speaks down to a client.  The Anti-Racist professional asks questions with a patient demeanor, or explains things in plain English with a respectful tone.  Example, “I’m asking for your Identification because I’m required to do so for every client when we will run their credit report.”  That’s respectful, seeks to demonstrate a patient educational tone.   The opposite is, “I need to see your ID.”
  • Polite.  Language and words truly demonstrate how a person thinks.  When a person is polite to a customer, they use the appropriate words such as “Please” “Excuse me” and “Thank You.”

We recommend that you, as a Black American, or a person of ethnicity or different gender, absorb these key points of behavior and, most importantly, act on the points with the best action you as a consumer of financial service products can take: Walk away.

Too often, we’ve seen an African American customer being treated badly by a white professional but that customer stays in the meeting.  Walk away.

The best way to demonstrate your requirement that you be treated equally is to walk away from, or hang up the phone on, any financial services professional who you feel is not sufficiently Anti-Racist. There are plenty of us out here in the world who know how to treat our fellow human being equally and with respect.

Walk away from the racists and find those of us who are Anti-Racist.

We’re here and we’re waiting for you.