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.

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.

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.

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!

 

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.

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.

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.

 

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

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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.

Bankers and Artists

background abstract art with gold dollar sign in center

background abstract art with gold dollar sign in center“When bankers get together for dinner, they discuss Art.
When artists get together for dinner, they discuss Money.”
~ Oscar Wilde

Bankers have the money, control the money, determine where the money will go and who will get it.  In the vernacular, those decisions are called “loan approvals.”  Do Banks skew to the conservative when making lending decisions?  Depends on the Bank, but overall, the answer is probably “YES.”  Sure, riskier credit scenarios can find a home, along with commensurate difficult terms including higher interest rate and other factors.

That leaves the Artists, or, you, the Business Owner, out in the cold and wondering about how to obtain the capital you need to grow your business.

At Aurora Consulting, we believe the path to success for your business credit financing request lies in three factors.

The first factor is the choice of Lender.  Different Lenders have different tolerances for risk.  And, different Banks have different perspectives to find a profitable return for their Depositors’ money. Any given Bank may create lending opportunities due to a strategic decision to lend more in certain credit profile areas.  In both these types of Banks/Lenders, though the credit risk may scare away a more conservative Bank, the terms of the loan don’t have to be onerous.

We believe the second, and maybe the most important factor in credit financing success is in presentation.  We recently watched the Will Smith movie “Hitch” where he plays a coach of sorts to lovelorn men seeking to get out of their own way to find success in love.  Much of the advice “Hitch” gives has to do with presentation, the manner in which a man listens to a woman, the way he honors her presence, and more.

We think that the Loan Application and the manner in which it is presented to a Lender is the fundamental key to success, combined with the other two success factors.  That’s why we strive to ask all the same zillion questions an Underwriter may ask, why we collect so much documentation up front from our clients, and why we carefully package our loan requests to present to Lenders.

The final factor for success in credit financing is the positivity of “The Close.”   Obstacles pop up along the way in every financing transaction.  Our aim is to overcome obstacles with positive attitudes and a sharp focus on getting to the closing.  We use positive language, we seek out positive solutions; we refuse to be waylaid by negative emotions, words, challenges.  This is our Closing Attitude at Aurora Consulting.

Bringing these three success factors together is what we do at Aurora Consulting.  It’s no secret to any experienced financial professional, but it certainly feels like it’s our own secret recipe for credit financing success.

Pages from a Salvador Dali notebook including doodles and calculations of income and expenses, the artist thinking about Money.  
Pages from a Salvador Dali notebook including doodles and calculations of income and expenses, the artist thinking about Money.

Whether you are an entrepreneurial “Artist” seeking to bring your vision for success to life with business credit financing, or a Business Owner searching for the best solution for your working capital needs, let us at Aurora Consulting be your concierge to guide your financing needs to the right conclusion, the one where the Bankers embrace your “art” and release the money to fund your continuing business success story.

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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.

The Lender Reviews Everything

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When you apply for financing and your tax returns and/or personal financial statement shows that you have interests in other businesses or property, the lender will want to review the financials on those other businesses.

When it comes down to it, the Lender has the right to ask for this information.

The question from our client is often, “Why is this germane to my financing request for my business?  That other business has nothing to do with the business I’m financing.”

While this may be true, remember that you’re asking the lender to assess the risk of lending money to you and to your business (the one on the application), and if there are negative aspects to your other businesses that affect the financial health of this business, the lender wants to assess that risk.

The good news is that you can control the narrative to an extent. Describe what the other business is via a summary statement and how it interacts with the business you are financing.  Especially with regards to debt.

There’s nothing wrong with full disclosure.  Get it out of the way upfront. Don’t wait for the Lender to ask for it.

Understand why the Lender wants that information instead of fighting the request.

The Lender has the right to ask these questions.  Pushing back is okay, as long as you do so in a gentle fashion.  In the end, it’s about achieving your goal of obtaining the financing you need to grow your business with the least muss and fuss as possible.

Contact with questions about the most important documents to have in order at all times. Solutions@AuroraConsulting.biz.

Your Banker Doesn’t Make the Decision

Ever heard of too many chefs in the kitchen? You know how it goes. There’s a bit of chaos, too many people involved in making decisions.

In a perfect world you’d get your credit decision very quickly. From your Banker.  You have all your relationships there, with your Banker.  You believe they know everything about you and your business there is to know because of those relationships.  And you’ve been a loyal customer for many years.

So when you find yourself growing your business and suddenly needing working capital to fuel that growth, your first instinct is to contact your Banker.  Because of the relationships. And, knowing the value of your relationships you truly believe your Banker can give your financing request prompt consideration and a quick decision, yes, or no, on the application you’ve submitted. In the banking lingo it’s called a “credit decision.”

A decision based on the entire credit profile—income, cash flow, business plans, credit, debt, etc.—to either approve your financing request or to deny your request. After all, your time is very valuable and your business is growing; you don’t have time to waste if a credit decision isn’t going to go your way.

But there’s an entire system at the bank where it’s out of the hands of your Banker to make that quick credit decision.  There are Underwriters and processing staff involved to review your credit profile, to compile notes and compare everything against the Bank’s guidelines for lending.

And still you wonder, “What about my relationship?”  Yes, your Banker is your go-to person who have been so valuable to you as you’ve grown your business to this point, guiding you with the right accounts and products.  So, why can’t your Banker give your loan request the once-over and tell you, honestly, and based on your longstanding relationship and the bank’s guidelines, if the request will result in a “Yes” or a “No?”

The answer is simple.  Your Banker is not permitted to make credit decisions.  Any of them. Your Banker wants to help you, wants to maintain the worthiness of your relationships.  But your Banker’s hands are tied because she is not permitted to make credit-decisions on behalf of the Bank.

Your Loan Application must go through the system.  Later, if the system fails you or doesn’t meet your expectations, even if you are approved for the financing, you may want to blame your Banker and ask, “Why couldn’t they tell me this from the beginning and not waste my time?”  Because they can’t, that’s why. Telling you from the beginning qualifies as a credit decision, and that’s out of their hands.