| Question of the Week: Can My Business Pass a Financial Stress Test

Posted in Cash Management, Finance at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

In the banking industry, U.S. banks must pass the Federal Reserve’s annual stress tests to make sure they can use their cash for reinvestment in their own stock, to pay out dividends or even acquire other banks.  If they don’t pass the Federal Reserve’s test they do not get to do any of those things and must work on getting their financial house in order.

A financial stress test is a tool you can use in your own business.  A financial stress test is way to gauge if a business can remain viable if certain negative situations occur that cause it to run into trouble. These tests are usually modeled through ‘what if’ scenarios such as low risk, moderate risk and high risk situations.  For example, if interest rates doubled (a high risk scenario) what would be the impact on your business and would it be able to survive in a high interest rate environment. Would your business have enough capital readily available to weather the storm?

Here are five things you need to do on an annual basis to see if your business can pass a financial stress test:

  1. Calculate financial stability – How risky is the business’ revenue stream and related expenses
  1. Determine debt-to-income ratio – How much of business earnings will go to pay off debt which provides insight into the business’ debt burden
  1. Determine free cash flow – After paying bills how much cash is truly available to reinvest in the business
  1. Determine liquidity – Measures the level of assets available to payoff existing short-term obligations
  1. Determine risk mitigation factors – What does the business have in its arsenal to lower its business risks

 

Keep in mind, the fact that your company is making money today does not mean it can remain profitable if there is some shift in your product or service offering as well as the general economic environment.

If you need assistance with developing your own stress test, give Loftis Consulting a call at (312) 772-6105 or visit our website at LoftisConsulting.com to learn more.

| Why You’re Not Getting As Much Profit From Your Business As You Would Like

Posted in Cash Management, Finance at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

We’re going to assume that you put as much effort as you can into making a business that is appealing, has a strong customer base, and real value in the market. You might see good business, but you’re not seeing the kind of returns that you were expecting and hoping for. So, what gives? We’ll boil down the reasons that you’re disappointed with the returns you’re seeing and how you’re going to change that.

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You’re Lazy With Your Accounting

You might immediately be able to start freeing up more cash in the business if you simply take a closer look at how you might be able to save a bit more money. A lot of business owners will go the less cost-effective route simply because they haven’t considered how much of a return on investment it’s going to offer them. For instance, instead of hiring more employees and spreading your finances too thin, you could consider outsourcing to get the exact same job done. Then you could be looking at easily reduced bills, like making the business more energy efficient or taking the time to contact your service providers and suppliers and negotiating a better deal with them. If you want a better profit, you need to look at how exactly you’re using your money.

 

You’re Letting the Tax Man Take Too Much

Every business is going to have to pay taxes, there’s no mistake to be made there. However, if you don’t ask any questions about how much exactly you’re paying, you could find that you’re letting the tax man take more than they rightfully should. Just as you should monitor all your expenses, you should make sure you take the time to research which of them are taxable and which aren’t. You should also look at which benefits you offer that could reduce your tax payments, as well as those that you could start providing to do just that. Many business owners aren’t even aware that their charity contributions could earn them a tax break as well. Be eagle eyed in spotting tax breaks.

 

You’re Relying Solely On the Business

Simply put, if it’s personal wealth and assets you’re looking to build, then looking at the business to provide all the growth you need isn’t the best answer. Instead, you should be looking at additional ways to invest your money and start diversifying your income. Looking at sites like the Investor Services About Us page can help you start seeing how finding new ways to grow your money that might be more profitable than running the business alone. The really rich, like Warren Buffett, got that way because they invested, not just because they knew how to run a business. Take a leaf out of their book.

If you want to make more money, then you need to get serious about how you do it. This means being a lot more thorough on finding cost-effectiveness and return on investment. It even means knowing that your business alone might not be enough to build the kind of riches that you’re aiming toward.

Call Loftis Consulting today at (312) 772-6105 to learn how we can help you better track profits and expenses to improve profits. Also, visit us at loftisconsulting.com for a list of our services.

| Financial Planning: Your Company Needs It

Posted in Cash Management, Finance at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

There are a lot of areas of your business that are important and play a major role. And you need to think about the role finances play, and why they matter so much. When you’re trying to run a startup effectively, you need to make sure you have the right amount of money to help the company. And you have to ensure that you spend and budget in the best way you possibly can.

That’s why it’s imperative that you make use of financial planning as much as you can. There are a lot of things you can do that will play a big role in the process. The most important is to ensure that you are using the finances in the best possible way and that the company is thriving as a result.

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Get More Financing

One of the key things you should look at is how to attain more financing. As a business owner, you will most likely find yourself needing more money at some point. The best thing to do is to look at what you need and assess how to go about trying to get it. The way to do this is to make sure you apply for more. You might already have taken out a bank loan as a business. But, you may also decide that you need some more funding. In this scenario, you could bring investors on board. This is something that has become very popular in recent years, and it gives you a great way of ensuring that you make the company financially sound. It will help you to ensure that your company’s future is protected, and might even take you on to bigger and better things.

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Work Out What You Spend

Another thing you need to work out is what you’re spending your money on. This will very much depend on the sort of business you run, and what your specialties may be. For instance, if you work in manufacturing or industry you might decide that an industrial curtain wall is a necessity. You can visit http://www.amcraftindustrialcurtainwall.com/ to get a better idea of what these are and if you need one. Making sure you spend on the essentials in business is very important, and something you have to make sure you focus on as much as possible. There are a lot of things you can do to help you with this, and so that you can understand what you need to help the company grow.

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Try to Save

Look at where you might be able to save money as a business as well. The whole process of running a startup is a lot of costs, and this can be pretty intimidating. So, you need to look for areas where you can save money as much as possible. The more you can do to save the better your business will be as a result. Think about going green and implementing lean manufacturing. Cutting costs as a business is one of the best things you can do to help make the process more tolerable. And there are a lot of things involved in this that might help you to save.

 

Finances play a huge role in the world of business, and you need to make this a priority. It’s no good trying to boost and promote a brand if you don’t have the finances to do so. It’s up to you to make sure you do as much as possible to boost and promote the company, and ensure you are financially comfortable.

| Just Why You Need To Know When To Spend To Make It In Business

Posted in Cash Management, Finance at 5:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

There’s a lot of talk about saving money in business and holding on to as much as you have. But there’s a common misconception that ends up keeping businesses small and getting in the way of growth. Sometimes, it’s a lot smarter to spend more on long-term success than spend less on short-term solutions. Here, we’ll look at how that truth can make your business a lot stronger.

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Keeping Things In-house

Outsourcing can be very useful. If you don’t have the resources to take on new processes entirely or you only need short-term help, then outsource away. However, if you have the people and the money available to handle business yourself, then why don’t you? For instance, in manufacturing, many businesses will handle duties like finishing and plastic-work to outsiders. However, doing that for too long will cost a lot more than simply getting the equipment and the injection molding classes for your own team. It might be a big cost upfront, but you’ll be saving a lot the more once you use those resources.

 

Free Up That Labor

Just as you can train your team to give them more responsibility, sometimes it is smarter to free them from responsibility. For instance, in manufacturing, certain processes might require a lot of their time that keeps them from using that training they just got; whereas, in the office, busywork might be keeping them from more engaging and important work. Process automation, whether it’s in equipment or in software, is a cost up front. But the amount of saved labor and extra work they facilitate can be a huge boost to the business.

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Don’t Leave Yourself Vulnerable

If you want to talk about not seeing the wood for the trees, then you only have to look as far as security, safety, and compliance. Too many business owners leave themselves vulnerable. It might be through leaving their digital resources unprotected, refusing to invest in risk assessments or failing to spend time developing a HR code of conduct. But failing in any one of these regards is going to result in a huge cost down the line most usually through extensive legal costs.

 

Learn the Value of Your Money

All these problems stem from one core. Business owners believe they know the best ways to use their money when, sometimes, they simply don’t. A lot of these same business owners don’t see how an accountant is more than a penny-pusher. Accountants are long-term investments, but they’re long-term advisors that can help and stop you from making decisions that will cost you even more down the line. Even better, they help many a business spot how their next investments might see an even faster rate of return. Knowing when to spend and when to not is important. It’s a good idea to hire someone who can help you see that.

Of course, the points above all depend on the situation. As well as the long-term benefits, you have to make sure your business can handle the long-term needs of any of these decisions. If it can, that’s when you make those spending decisions.

 

| Make Your Products Faster And Cheaper, China-Style

Posted in Cash Management, Finance at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

A quick trip to China leaves you in no doubt that it is the global center for manufacturing in the world. Mile after mile of factories belch out thick smoke that periodically bathes cities like Shenzhen and Shanghai in thick smog but when it comes to making products quickly and cheaply, nobody does it better than China. So can we learn anything from what they do?

 

Rapid Prototyping

One of the first stages many businesses go through is prototyping. Here, they build products to showcase to investors and potential customers, gathering interest before committing to mass production. It’s become an industry in itself, with dozens of outfits now offering prototyping services.

With all of the factories in China, the Chinese prototyping industry has gone global. It’s now offering foreign businesses the opportunity to build and test prototypes at record-breaking speed, all thanks to new technologies like metal sintering and 3D printing. Rapid prototyping reduces the amount of time your product is sitting idle, not making money, and helps to alleviate investor jitters that sometimes arise when they have to wait months to see a working model.

 

Factory Outsourcing

Israeli Entrepreneur Yekutiel Sherman decided back in 2014 that he wanted to solve the perennial selfie stick problem. Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a phone case that extended into a selfie stick and then packed away neatly again? Unfortunately, he found out the hard way that IP protections in China aren’t exactly what they are in the West. Within weeks of the case going live on Asian selling site Alibaba, Chinese factories were pumping out his design at a fraction of the cost.

This cautionary tale tells us something: manufacturing in China is cheap and can be repurposed rapidly. It’s all made possible by the integration of conveyor systems, the robot internet and technicians who can alter the layout of factories on the fly. For western businesses, it’s a model to emulate, even if it isn’t one to use.

 

Open Source Manufacturing

The modern economy is producing dramatic changes in the way that manufacturers operate. In the past, individual firms tried to keep their methods a secret from their competitors. But in China, this isn’t how things developed. Instead, manufacturers catering to a broad range of industries developed a culture of sharing knowledge broadly across industry in a way that benefited each individual more than it cost. Just like the open-source software movement which has its roots in the US, China saw the development of open-source factory design and layout.

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In China the emphasis is on reiterating existing designs, not trying to reinvent the wheel. Of course, this sort of practice has been excoriated in the media, and for a good reason. But there’s no doubting that it works.

Companies in western markets have grown their businesses, using similar tactics. Computer case manufacturer Thermaltake made a case that was practically identical to the market leading design by the Scandinavian company, Fractal Design. The result was an instant boost in the company’s revenue and a bunch of grateful customers who could finally get a cheaper version of the product that they wanted. It’s worth noting that Thermaltake did not break any IP laws.

 

| The Startup Guide To Reducing Spending And Increasing Profits

Posted in Cash Management, Finance at 1:00 PM by Loftis Consulting

Every new entrepreneur needs to be careful when it comes to spending money. Like it or not, you’ll need to keep expenses to a minimum when you start a new company. The last thing you want is to run before you can walk. With that in mind, some suggestions and ideas on this page could help. Regardless of the nature of your business, these concepts should assist you in keeping more cash in the bank. At the end of the day, it could take a few months before you start to make a profit. That is why you need to think outside of the box and take some of our advice.

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Use a Virtual Office Service

Virtual offices aren’t a new concept, and so you’ve probably heard of them before. However, most people don’t understand their benefits. Specialists from firms like Premier Global Office Solutions could help you to save a fortune during the early stages. You can use dedicated servers for storage; hire meeting rooms by the hour and more. It’s like having a real office without having to worry too much about the expense. Considering that, you should research the idea of using a virtual office as soon as possible. It could help you to present a professional image at a time when you’re running your firm from home.

 

Make Use of the Latest Software

For the first few months of any new venture, you will have to work very hard. You simply won’t have enough time in your day to perform every task manually. So, it’s sensible to make use of the latest software and technology. That is especially the case when it comes to accounting and similar issues. Believe it or not, there are many tools out there that could remove all the hassle from the process. Experts from Banana Accounting say it’s critical that all entrepreneurs start using it as soon as possible. In some instances, you can even automate everything by linking your order system to your accounts package. The software will record all your transactions, and so you don’t have to stress about keeping the tax man happy.

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Outsource as Much as Possible

Outsourcing is an excellent way to reduce workloads and run a smoother operation. There is no need to handle issues like customer service in-house these days. A quick internet search will highlight many professionals willing to undertake that job on your behalf. You just need to write a script for them to follow. Of course, you will have to pay for the privilege, but it usually works out cheaper than employing people directly. That is because you only pay for their time when you need it, and you don’t have to worry about hefty salaries. Outsourcing could assist you in maintaining a steady cash flow too. We thoroughly recommend that you should consider it as a viable solution in 2017.

 

Now you know about some fantastic methods for reducing spending, we hope you are in a better position to get things right. When all is said and done, you are the only person who knows the best route forward. Even so, there is sure to be lots of information you may have overlooked. So, make sure you educate yourself and leave no stone unturned this year.

| First Step for the Non-Tech Business to Raising Capital – Understand Your Cash Flow

Posted in Cash Management, Finance at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

Most often when you hear about raising capital for small businesses it focuses on large amounts of cash needed to fund the next start-up for a few years until it has proven its business model. We hear less and less about business funding for the companies that have been around for a few years and are growing.  Not all businesses should put their hope and faith in raising millions of capital and instead should focus on their bare bone needs.  For those businesses that need less capital there are a myriad of options through bank financing; however, to be successful in obtaining financing you must understand your future cash flows.

Accurate cash flow forecasting is one of the most important factors for successfully securing business financing outside of a healthy credit history. To determine your businesses cash flow, follow these steps:

  1. List on a monthly basis projected sales revenue after accounting for your marketing efforts and market research for at least three years with five being optimal. In addition, break out sales revenue between cash sales and credit sales. Credit card sales should be included in cash sales whereas credit given to your customers should be considered credit sales.
  2. If your company provides credit sales to clients, determine when the cash will come in from credit sales by month.
  3. List on a monthly basis projected expenses such as rent, salaries and so on over the same time period as revenue
  4. List on a monthly basis investments back into the business such as equipment purchases, inventory, loan payments and so on
  5. Calculate the difference between your cash inflows (cash sales and credit sale payments) and cash outflows (monthly expenses and investments back into the business). This is your net monthly cash flow.
  6. Determine your cash operating needs over the next three to five years by calculating the amount of cash needed to get your business to cash positive on an annual basis.

The final outcome, the cash operating needs is the amount of financing you should be looking for to fund your business over the next three to five years based on your market research and projections.

Need additional help? Building a business plan or want to gain an understanding of your business cash flow, Loftis Consulting can help. Give us a call today at (312) 772-6105.

| Prepare Now for Changes to the Overtime Laws to Protect Your Bottom Line

Posted in Cash Management, Payroll at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

In mid-May of this year, the U.S. Department of Labor revised their rules regarding overtime pay that will take effect December 1.  This new rule will impact all types of businesses, small and large and for profit and non-profit alike.  This law change will have a major impact on how employers staff and pay employees.  The new rules are as follows:

  • Increase the minimum salary threshold for full-time employees to be considered exempt from overtime earnings from $23,660 per year or $455 weekly to $47,476 or $913 weekly.
  • Only 10% of non-discretionary bonuses and commissions can make up employee salaries
  • If qualified exempt employee salary is not increased, overtime pay at time and a half must be paid for any hours beyond 40 hours per week regardless of title or duties

As a business owner, you will need to make some decisions on how to best manage the change to the labor costs of the business. Options include:

  • Keep salaries the same but eliminate or reduce overtime through improved efficiency. Take the time now to review processes in order to increase efficiency. Also, this may be the time to invest in a system if the investment costs make sense in light of the law change.
  • Raise salaries to the new minimum. This will exempt the business from paying overtime to qualified employees and thus any overtime hours will be unpaid. Take the time now to get an understanding of the amount of hours worked that could result into overtime pay for exempt employees.
  • Keep salaries the same but pay overtime. This option only works if you can control the amount of overtime hours to a reasonable level for your business or the amount of overtime that is worked is irregular or low.
  • Lower salaries and pay overtime. This option only works if employees do not feel that something is being taken away from them. If they do, then employee turnover may increase.
  • Keep salaries the same but eliminate or reduce overtime by hiring more employees. This option may work by shifting the higher overtime pay to regular salary rates if the amount of overtime is regular and high enough to cover new part-time or full-time employees. If your business is seasonal, it may be easier to hire independent contractors during the busy times.
  • Switch pay structure to an hourly rate instead of a salary

No matter what option is selected, hours worked will have to be closely tracked now for both exempt and non-exempt employees. Do not wait until December 1 to implement a new time tracking system.

If you are a little overwhelmed or just too busy to deal with the new labor law rules, Loftis Consulting can help by reviewing your business processes in order to save labor hours to lessen the impact of the new labor law. In addition, Loftis Consulting can complete an analysis labor costs for each scenario – – as is, increased salaries, lower salaries and current salaries with overtime to help you decide what makes sense for your business from a cost perspective.

Give Loftis Consulting a call today to schedule an appointment today at (312) 772-6105 or email us at info@loftisconsulting.com.

| Your Business Should Have a Financial Dashboard

Posted in Cash Management at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

All businesses should have a financial dashboard that is reviewed at least weekly and some daily.  If you know as a business owner what your average monthly costs are, a weekly dashboard will allow you to know what decisions to make quickly in order to ensure enough revenue or expense cuts occur before the end of the month to keep your business in the black.  American Express Open Forum has an excellent article on financial dashboards and how they have helped other businesses : “Financial Dashboards at Work“.

Keep in mind you do not have to have any fancy systems to create dashboards just have in a place a way to track the key items of your business such as sales by product or service provider and so on.

If you or your business needs help in developing and putting into place a financial dashboard, give Loftis Consulting a call for a simple and customized financial dashboard at (312) 772-6105.

| When Can I Start Paying Myself?

Posted in Cash Management at 9:00 AM by Loftis Consulting

Entrepreneur.com has a great article on “When Should You Start Paying Yourself?”  The article highlights the key reasons why as a business owner you should pay themselves at market rate; however, it does not focus on the key indicators of when you should start paying yourself despite its title.  To get a deeper understanding of the when and not the why of paying yourself check out my blog post “Why Can’t I Pay Myself This Month?


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