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.

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.

Who’s Not Afraid to Say “I Don’t Know”?

Who else is an avid fan of Warren Buffett? The “Oracle of Utah” presided this weekend over the annual—virtual—Shareholders meeting for Berkshire Hathaway. Mr. Buffett was a stout, granite-like, believer in the recovery of the American economy after the crash of 2008. This time, not so much.

Much of his ideas, though overall optimistic, were tempered with uncertainty for the future of the American economy in particular and the Global economy as a whole. “Nothing can basically stop America” and “You can bet on America” are two optimistic quotes in an article about the Berkshire Hathaway meeting and Mr. Buffett in today’s NYTimes.com. But he tempered much of his positivity with more than a few “I don’t knows” when queried by the audience and journalists on the uncertain future of a continuing COVID-19 world.

Not that he was necessarily espousing “doom and gloom” as much as he was following a traditional line of thinking for himself and his company: Cautious optimism. Warren Buffett would rather lose out on an opportunity for an investment than to have acted to quickly, without the due consideration such a decision deserves. You can clearly see this as a bedrock concept of his success as a stock investor. He’s not sure which way the economy is headed, but he’s hoping for the best.

Warren Buffett is a student of economic history, and he presented his analysis at the meeting of the American economy from 1789, up to and past The Great Depression. He pointed out that the stock market took 22 years to recover to its highs between 1929 and 1951. His realistic assessments are important for us at Aurora Consulting as we determine ways to continue our Brokerage and find working capital for businesses.

We’ve spent the past six weeks working feverishly—including more than a few all-nighters—to help our clients obtain SBA Disaster Relief financing, in particular the EIDL program and PPP loans. We’re happy to report we’ve been quite successful with that project. But now we find ourselves casting about to see what our horizon looks like, and how to continue helping our clients.

To take two of Mr. Buffett’s phrases into our context seems appropriate today. “I don’t know” is the first. We have some good ideas and you will see those concepts unfolding in the coming days and weeks. Already this week we’ve scheduled conferences with different types of Lenders as part of our deep-dive into lending availability for our clients. We’ve also created basic strategies for Aurora Consulting on the best ways to move forward and help Small Business during the ongoing pandemic and its attendant economic challenges.

The second of Mr. Buffett’s quotes, and the inspiration for this blog, seems most appropriate to what we do here at Aurora Consulting, we find working capital from Banks and Lenders for our Small Business clients. Warren Buffett, as quoted in today’s NYTimes.com: “This is a very good time to borrow money, which means it may not be such a great time to lend money.” Realistic words, a realistic assessment from The Oracle of Utah.

Here at Aurora Consulting, we’re going to embed the Oracle’s words into our strategic thinking so as to best serve our Small Business Clients. If you want to know more about how we help business owners, please email Curious@AuroraConsulting.biz.