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.

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.

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!

 

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!

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.

3 Things to Expect From Your Insurance Broker

I’m going to hit you between the eyes, and you may like it.  I’ve worked in the Insurance Industry for 30 years.  My ultimate accomplishment was owning an Independent Insurance Agency.

I’d like to think I know a couple of things about insurance.

Here it comes, the part where I hit you between the eyes:  Your Insurance Broker may not be servicing you properly, and it could be costing you money, probably a lot of money.

I know, I know, insurance isn’t something you think about all that often, maybe once a year, when it’s renewal time. And, that’s when you discover how your Insurance Agent is managing your account.

Maybe your premium went up. A lot. And no one from your Insurance Agent’s office contacted you to let you know that they are aware of the situation. So, you go through the strife and stress of dealing with that situation, whether you go through the motions of switching to another company, or you complain and ultimately paid the higher premium.

You get through the moment. Then, return to your normal life. Until the same thing happens next year when you’re stressed out again.

My Insurance License in Connecticut is still active. I kept it as a matter of convenience for the occasional client. My primary focus since 2018 has been building the Commercial Financing Broker business as a part of Aurora Consulting.

But, here’s the thing. With the COVID-19 crisis and the assistance we’ve been providing business owners to get Disaster Relief financing, I’ve been exposed to other elements of their respective businesses, including their insurance costs, as part of the financing process.

When I see how business owners are being serviced by their Insurance Agents I am, quite frankly, surprised and confused. What I see most often is these businesses have insurance policies where their business is under-insured, over-priced, and minimally serviced.

I didn’t run my Independent Agency that way, and for the clients I’ve assisted over the past 18 months, I don’t service them in that manner either. Your Insurance Agent should be doing these three things.  If they are not doing these to honor your business relationship, then call me and we will review your insurance to see where you can improve.

  1. Annual Review. Your Agent should contact you once a year to review your current policies. The review should include questions about the status of your business and plans for the future. We review your current coverage and premium as well to see what changes have occurred with the policy in the past year.
  2. Updates on Coverage.  Insurance Carriers can change their underwriting standards from time to time. It’s up to your Agent to be aware of those changes and to update you when those changes can affect your insurance, negatively and positively.  Your Agent is the one with their finger on the pulse of the industry while you’re busy running your business.  Your Agent should notify you when a change will affect your business.
  3. Service the Heck Out of You. Practically every business owner I’ve come into contact with in my financing business states that they never hear from their Agent. When I need an insurance document for their financing request, the process of obtaining that document takes longer than necessary because of the lack of communication. The Insurance business is a SERVICE business.

Reach out if you think your insurance needs attention. Email us at Curious@AuroraConsulting.biz.

The Dreadful Disorganized Document Disaster

Our resident Chief Financing Rock Star, Trevor Curran, was a Mortgage Banker for 30 years. His specialty was helping first time homebuyers with low down payments to achieve the American Dream of Home Ownership.

From the early days, with no computers, no internet, no email nor a beeper on his belt—until the day of his retirement in 2018, a mortgage loan application was all about the paper. Documents to support the application needed to be submitted, reviewed, dissected, parsed, and collated.

Trevor’s clients submitted their documents in many and varied ways, including coffee-stained tax returns, crumpled paystubs pulled out of an old wallet, and badly-scanned PDFs.

Considerable time was spent by Trevor and his loan processing team to put these documents into a manner acceptable for review by an Underwriter.

And of course there was the pushback from clients.
“Why do you need that (document)?”
“I can’t find my tax return.”
“The dog ate my homework.” Oh, wait, wrong story.

Trevor’s response, time and time again, including in the early days when he would literally drive to the clients’ home, workplace, a McDonald’s parking lot, or the real estate office, to pickup their required documents, was, “We need these documents because the bank requires it since you’re asking the bank to lend you several hundred thousand dollars.”

This obvious message was delivered in a kind and patient but firm manner.

Still, it always seemed incredible, time and time again, how people could be so cavalier about their loan application requirements. “Don’t they want the house?” he would often ponder in the moments of extreme frustration.

Now, as the primary processor for Aurora Consulting, Trevor’s manages the document flow and the loan applications for our business clients. When we launched this business we remember discussing how this document issue is going to be so much better because we’re dealing with serious business people.

Unfortunately, we were mistaken.

Especially over the past eight weeks as we have assisted over 30 businesses to apply for and receive Government Disaster Relief financing, the poor quality of document management is mind-blowing. Especially at a time like this, when the desperation of keeping a business alive requires this emergency infusion of cash. You’d think business owners and their representatives (CPA’s, mostly) would be sharper than ever to get documents submitted in an organized and prompt fashion.

Again, mistaken.

Moral of the story for anyone thinking they want to ask a Bank or Lender for money—whether you’re buying a house or financing a business—it’s all about the paper. Organize your documents, submit them in a clean, efficient manner, and submit them promptly.

Rant over.

Send us a message with how you’ve successfully managed your team to understand your high level of standard when it comes to managing your documents.

Plan Prepare Prosper with a Business Plan

There are business owners that are still focused on how they can conduct business today based on the old normal. We’re here to say that you might as well flush that notion down the toilet. It’s a sad reality indeed. We’re not saying that a business cannot be prosperous in today’s climate. No! We are merely saying that there are conditions that must be considered on how you can market your business. We need to reconcile in our minds that this is a “new normal” paradigm.

It’s an apocalypse of sorts. The old normal isn’t coming back anytime soon, if at all.

In our experience as financing brokers we discovered that with the more than two dozen businesses we spoke to ranging in revenue from $60,000 a year to $6,000,000 a year, not one of them had a written business plan. And that was during normal times! It’s a bit crazy that people run their business without a written business plan. It is an essential document for your business. It’s a working, living, breathing document of your business.

And here we are now during the pandemic paradigm.

Now more than ever you need a business plan if you plan to go back to business or keep your business alive. A business plan is a written guide book, that not only helps you to survive this crisis, but also prepares you for new, unexpected challenges as they arise. Those challenges are coming! And those challenges are unknown! The consequences of those challenges are uncertain.

Too many business owners have seen how, in this pandemic environment, a sudden challenge can arise in an hour, a day, a week, a month. And they’re not prepared to deal with that challenge. Even if they had a business plan that they created during normal times, that business plan is mostly useless if not completely useless under this new paradigm, under this new normal.

We are promoting the idea that you need to create a written business plan right now that helps you to survive and helps you to face every unknown challenge that could come your way.

Contact us at Curious@AuroraConsulting.biz to discuss how you can plan, prepare and prospect during this pandemic.

5 Mistakes Business Owners Make

5 Mistakes Biz Owners Make with Linda Rey & Trevor standing and looking perplexed

5 Mistakes Biz Owners Make with Linda Rey & Trevor standing and looking perplexedLet’s get it out of the way right now. We say 5 mistakes, but there are more. Don’t shoot the messenger. Part of the reason we post our blogs & vlogs is to raise awareness that financing doesn’t have to be as difficult. Don’t get us wrong, it can be a long process, but you have more control than you think.

These are the top 5 mistakes we’ve experienced with business owners when they are seeking financing.

1. Thinking the Bank knows everything about you.  You have all, or most, of your accounts with your local bank, including your operating account, savings, personal account, maybe even merchant services & payroll. It’s easier to bank in one place.  You think the bank maintains a detailed file on your financials, that they know how much revenue passes through your accounts every month.  This would be an incorrect assumption. The bank will still ask you for your full set of financial statements and much, much more.

2. Old Financials.  A business plan that’s five years old won’t fly. If you’re updating your Accounts Receivable aging report or your Profit and Loss statement on an infrequent basis, you will have some work to do and this most certainly will delay the process. You control the timeline when you apply for credit financing. Having updated documents at the ready lets you submit them with all speed and alacrity to move your financing request along.

3. Incomplete Financials.  No business plan? Many businesses don’t have one whether it’s a new business or an existing business. There are many, MANY financial forms that a lender will require. It will be your responsibility to provide complete, comprehensive information that many businesses, unfortunately, do not have easily accessible. Lender’s will have a debt schedule form and if this is inaccurate, it will slow down the process and delay your approval.

4. Too Busy, Too Rushed, Too Overwhelmed…Too Late. Bad decision-making often arises from lack of time and a local preparation. However, it happens that then you’re faced with a sudden, unexpected need for working capital. This sounds like opportunity, but if you’ve not been minding the store in the meantime, you will be faced with a high probability that you could be without options or very few options if any at all.

Bad decision-making begets more bad decisions by way of choosing financing options that is super expensive and over priced such as Merchant Account Financing (Merchant Cash Advance – MCA), hard money, equity investors, refinancing a personal residence and/or hitting the credit cards. This leaves you vulnerable to a lack of income & profit taking away any joy in running your business. We bet that you didn’t get into business to be broke and stressed out.

5. Failure to Fight.  Your Banker wants to make the loan work for you, because they truly value your relationship with the Bank.  When you get bad news, don’t take it lying down.  Dig in with your Banker—in person whenever possible—and get to the solution-seeking.  What do you need to do to flip this decision from a negative to a positive?

We have seen good people who own good businesses make bad decisions. We are truly fortunate and grateful that we have forged many valuable relationships with Bankers & Lenders. They know that sometimes they can’t do the deal, but they value the relationship with their client. If the Bank doesn’t make a decision favorable to your business, that doesn’t mean you should make a subsequent bad decision.

Call us for a free consultation on what options you may have available to you.

The more proactive and prepared you are, the more options you will have.

The Deal Closes When It Closes

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Trevor worked many years ago with a top producing loan officer at a mortgage Bank. This top-producer brought in a lot of business and Trevor was the new kid on the block climbing the ladder, building his business.

In his travels, Trevor met a local real estate attorney who could potentially refer business. Trevor had been working with that attorney on a home purchase transaction. The attorney said, “Oh, no, that’s where you work? I’ll never do business with your company because so-and-so is a nightmare and your company is a nightmare.”

That other top-producing loan officer had a terrible reputation. This loan officer had a bad habit of not responding to anybody’s phone calls inquiring asking, “What’s going on with the deal? When is it closing?”  He simply did not answer phone calls.

This was in the days before email, the days of beepers and telephones and he simply did not respond to anyone. The attorney told Trevor, “I beep this guy all the time, he never calls me back. I guess your company is just slow to get things done that’s why he doesn’t respond. Why should I expect you’d be any different?”

So when Trevor confronted his fellow loan officer about this complaint, his response was very laid back.  He said, “I have one philosophy. The deal closes when it closes.”

WOW. He made Trevor and the entire company look bad.

On the positive side of the story, he kind of wasn’t wrong because there is a process to getting a loan approved and closed. The fact that he was a terrible communicator is a different issue entirely; he never spent any time communicating to manage expectations.

We did a video on managing expectations, emphasizing follow up. Sometimes the timeline to close can really be a bit much, and especially with how many people are involved in the loan process.

We’re working now on a business acquisition deal, and the sellers were involved. They just could not get their head around what was needed, even after the loan was approved, and they knew the Lender was going to do this deal.

Their responses to requests for documents through the entire process were, “Why this? Why that?”  Week after week, all they did was push back. The Seller’s  attitude was constantly to fight the process.  Then, when they’d actually submit a document at 10 a.m. in the morning, they’d follow up by sending an email at 1:30 in the afternoon, “So when are we closing?”

This is not really understanding the loan process either.

So, to take that “top-producer-bad-communicator’s” phrase and reconfigure it,  “The deal closes when it closes.”

There is a real process to achieving the loan approval and getting to the closing. As  long as all parties are communicating and cooperating, it will close in a reasonable time, but it doesn’t mean it’s closing in 10 minutes.  Communication and cooperation, those are key elements.

For our part, we maintain clear communications. As often as this particular seller was impatient, we still kept a clear head and kept our communications positive, responded accordingly.  Ultimately, we got what we wanted from the seller in the way of documents we needed.

We did another video describing how the lender reviews everything. If you spend so much time asking, “Why?” And spending so

Click on Image to watch Video

much energy fighting the process when you could have gotten what was needed to expedite the process.

With this particular seller it was constantly “When are we closing?” and, “Where’s my money?”

We understand how financial professionals can get jaded. Someone like the former colleague in the industry can say to themselves, “Okay, I’m kind of exhausted with these calls.”  And they shut down because they know the deal will close when it closes.

People can get upset about the process, but when all is said and done, if there’s clear communication, you have to understand the process and you have to be patient.

It’s Not Your Bankers Fault

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If your credit score is low and your financing request isn’t approved,  it’s not the Banker’s fault when she delivers the bad news of a loan denial to you.

Your Banker wants to be your friend, your “go-to” financial resource to help you build your business.  But there are are areas out of the Banker’s control, not the least of which is your credit history and subsequent credit scores.

Certainly you should be aware of your credit score…with the caution that, as a consumer, you cannot access the true credit scores used in financial services-related decisions.  This score is otherwise known as the “FICO CLASSIC” and all the credit monitoring services in the world cannot provide you with access to this score.  Thus there can be wide variances between the scores you find online and the “true” score your Banker will pull when you apply for credit financing.  In our experience at Aurora Consulting, we’ve seen variances in either direction, positive and negative, as much as 100 points in the scores.

But if you have very low scores, chances are very good that you are aware of your credit history circumstances.  That is, scores less than 620, and certainly any scores that are in the 500’s.  Many consumers with scores at 620 and above, where they’re not hitting the high-700’s or even the 800’s, tend to believe they have “bad” credit. This is not always the case, and often that kind of score range, down to 620, will qualify for business credit financing.

But if you are fairly certain, even with the incorrect consumer-access scores, that you have credit circumstances that are pushing your scores down below 620, you need to be aware and to disclose that to your Banker.

And you should be specific with your Banker about those circumstances.  For example, “I’m currently delinquent on the mortgage on my other house,” or, “I have several small collection accounts from three years ago that I have not yet paid off.”  If you’re clear and honest with your Banker about your potential credit history, it helps to manage those expectations, both yours and hers, when presenting a financing request application.

At Aurora Consulting, our process with each client includes a credit report that we run at the very outset of our relationship with the client. Because we’re working on behalf of the client, we have a different perspective on the credit review process.  And we actually have successfully placed loans with credit scores in the 500’s.   The options in that range can be limited. But there are options.  And, like with your Banker, we find it very helpful when the client is clear with us upfront about concerns for their credit history and scores.

Finally, being aware of your credit status is important for you personally and professionally to be aware of how you are managing your money and your bill-paying as you grow your business. When the Banker denies a loan request due to low credit scores, the issue is the lack of awareness of this money-management, not the Bank’s lending protocols.

You can find out more about the “Myths Of Credit Repair” by downloading our free white paper.

WATCH OUR VIDEO HERE.

The Scorsese Way

Martin Scorsese has had a long and storied career in cinema.  The legend he has created is that of the Director using his extensive knowledge of film to enhance his cinematic creations. As a Director, he pushed the boundaries of macabre crime drama.

Along the way, according to this latest biographical feature in the New York Times, Mr. Scorsese developed his own way of working within, or rather, without, the “Hollywood machine.”  In particular, Mr. Scorsese created a separate path for financing his films using independent financiers and eschewing the financial support from the studios.

Frustrated with the unrealistic pressures of working within the confines of the studio system, he came to believe that Hollywood studios had become his “mortal enemies.”

As he says in the NYTimes piece, “It’s like being in a bunker and you’re firing out in all directions…you begin to realize you’re not speaking the same language anymore, so you can’t make pictures anymore.”

The latest development in the “Scorsese Way” of making his movies is his partnership with Netflix, the streaming service that is about as far from the Hollywood studio system as you can get in the early 21st Century.

We think the key element of this aspect of Martin Scorsese’s story is the financing component.  In short, those folks with the money–Hollywood Studios–brought unrealistic expectations, exerted extraordinary pressures, and ultimately hampered one of the greatest cinematic talents of the past 100 years from achieving his true potential.

We see this time and again with Small and Middle Market Businesses too.

If your business marches in the “big leagues” that is, with gross revenues exceeding $3Billion annually, then Bankers are the friendliest bunch of people on the planet. But if your business is in the Middle–$10 Million up to $3 Billion in revenue—or worse, a Small Business (below the $10M mark), you’ll find Bankers are not so friendly.  

To define friendly, let’s refer to our description above of the Hollywood Studio system’s treatment of the incredibly talented and successful Martin Scorsese.  In the NYTimes piece he discusses the unrealistic pressures from studio executives (the folks with the money) to shorten movie running times, and other extraordinary requirements for his films, “The last two weeks of editing…The Aviator’…I said if this is the way you have to make films then I’m not going to do it anymore.”

Imagine that.  Imagine the cultural and entertainment loss sustained when a talent as large and ambitious as Mr. Scorsese decides he’s had enough because the people with the money keep telling him what to do.

We blogged recently about “Don’t Tell Me How To Make My Pizza” about a similar story about an ambitious and creative young business owner.  He’s created a unique new type of sourdough pizza.  As he grows his business, he needs capital.  But he chose to bring in equity investors instead of engaging with us at Aurora Consulting to find quality credit financing.  You can be sure that sometime in the near future his equity “partners” seeking higher returns on their investments, will insist on changes to that unique pizza recipe.  Martin Scorsese all over again.

It’s the New Year and we’re committed here at Aurora Consulting to financing solutions for your business success story.  We believe in access to credit.  We’ll work diligently and enthusiastically to find the best credit financing solutions for your business.  

Take a page out of the Martin Scorsese playbook (except the part where they dump the bodies!), and find your own “Scorsese Way” to finance your working capital needs while preserving your vision of how your business should run and grow.

Download our DOCUMENTS CHECKLIST here.