10 Easy Ways To Organize Your Business Finances

Whether you are a new entrepreneur or a more experienced business owner, taking control of your finances can feel like a part-time job. Some simple tips can help you streamline your time, organize your finances and reduce the stress of business money matters.

1. Keep Your Bills in One Place

When the mail comes, make sure it goes in one place. Misplaced bills can be the cause of unwanted late fees and can damage your credit rating. Whether it’s a drawer, a box, or a file, be consistent. Size is also important. If you get a lot of mail, use an area that won’t get filled up too quickly.

2. Pay Your Bills on Schedule

Bill paying can be simplified if it’s done at scheduled times during the month. Depending on how many bills you receive, you can establish set times each month when none of your bills will be late. If you’re paying bills as you receive them, chances are you’re spending too much time in front of the checkbook. Although bills may state “Payable Upon Receipt”, there’s always a grace period. Call the creditor to find out when they need to receive payment before the bill is considered late.

3. Read Your Credit Card Statements

Most people take advantage of low interest credit card offers but never read their statements when paying the bill. Credit cards are notorious for using low interest as bait for new customers then switching to higher rates after a few months. Make a habit of looking at your statement carefully to see what interest rate you are paying each month and if any transaction fees have been applied. If the rate increases or a transaction fee appears on your statement, a simple call to the credit card company can oftentimes be beneficial in resolving the matter. If not, try to switch your money to a more favorable rate.

4. Take Advantage of Automatic Payments

Most banks offer a way to automatically deduct money from your account to pay creditors. In addition, the creditors usually offer a lower interest rate when you sign up for this payment option because they get their money faster and on-time. Consider it as one fewer check to write, envelope to lick and stamp to buy. Just make sure you record the deduction when the automatic payment is scheduled or you run the risk of bouncing other checks.

5. Computerize Your Checkbook

Using a software program is a handy way to organize your finances. Whether it’s Quicken(r), Microsoft Money(r) or another package, these easy-to-use programs make bill paying and bank reconciliation a cinch. Computer checks can be ordered almost anywhere and fit right into most printers. Once the checks are printed, all of the information is automatically recorded in your electronic checkbook. Furthermore, many banks have direct downloads into these software packages so when money is deposited or withdrawn, the transaction is entered immediately onto your computer. And, when it comes time to do taxes, it couldn’t be easier.

6. Get Overdraft Protection

Most banks have a service where, if you run the risk of bouncing a check, the money will come from another source. For a nominal fee, the bank will link your checking account to either a savings, money market, or credit card so the embarrassment of bouncing a check will be avoided. Call or visit your bank to learn about this convenient feature.

7. Cancel Unused Accounts

Whether it’s a credit card or bank account, write a letter requesting that the account is formally closed. Not only will this improve your credit score, it is a useful way to avoid money from being scattered all over the place. Don’t let department stores and credit card companies lure you into opening new accounts by offering favorable interest rates and purchase discounts. It’s easy for credit to get out of hand by taking advantage of every credit offer that comes your way.

8. Consolidate Your Accounts

If you have several credit card accounts with outstanding balances, try to consolidate them into one. Be careful and check the balance transfer interest rates and one-time fees. Also, make a list of all your open Money Markets, Savings, CDs, IRAs, Mutual Funds, and other accounts to see if any consolidation can be done. Keeping your money in fewer places eliminates all of the guesswork involved and reduces errors.

9. Establish Automatic Savings

Create a link from your checking account into a savings account that will not be touched. This can usually be done through the banks and automatic amounts will be transferred over each month. Most people will not put money into a savings account on a regular basis. They may wait until a large tax refund check arrives or some other event to actually deposit money into savings, retirement or other accounts. If you establish an automatic savings deposit every month, your accounts will begin accumulating money faster than you think.

10. Clean up Your Files

Make sure your paid bills are organized in a filing cabinet. Keep individual files for paid bills. Go through your files at the end of each year and throw out bills and receipts no longer needed for auditing purposes. Contact your local IRS office to see how long records need to be kept for audits. Usually federal tax return audits can be done three years back but cancelled checks may need to be kept for seven. Consult the Internet for auditing and records-keeping procedures for your state or region.

(c) 2005 DebtGuru.com(r). This article may be freely distributed as long as the signature file and active link are included.

International Business Finance

Many firms are interested in investing and seeking finance from foreign sources and exporting goods and services to foreign countries. Overseas involvement of firms is increasing, and this trend is expected to continue. This has been stimulated by a variety of forces. First is the change in the international monetary system from a fairly predictable system of exchange to a flexible and volatile system of exchange. Second is, emergence of new institutions and markets, particularly the Eurocurrency markets, and a greater need for international financial intermediation.

In 1971, the US dollar was unlinked from gold or allowed to “float”. This brought about a dramatic change in the international monetary system. The system of fixed exchange rates where devaluations and revaluations occurred only very rarely, gave way to a system of floating exchange rates.

The distinguishing characteristics of international business finance are multiple currencies, differential taxation and barriers to financial flows. Of these, the multiple currency factor and the attendant issue of exchange rates has received considerable attention, particularly in recent years. An exchange rate represents the relationship between two currencies.

The procedure for evaluating a foreign investment in international business finance consists of identification of cash flows, choice of an appropriate discount rate and determination of net present value. Foreign investments generally involve higher risk, which arises from factor like changes in currency value, discriminatory treatment of a foreign company and threat of expropriation. Risk stemming from fluctuations in exchange rate looms constantly on the horizon of foreign investment. In addition, a foreign investment is subject to discriminatory treatment and selective control in various forms motivated mainly by political considerations. Finally, the threat of expropriation without adequate compensation may exist, particularly in countries where radical nationalistic sentiments are strong. In view of the higher risk associated with foreign investment, a firm contemplating foreign investment would naturally expect a higher rate of return.

Introduction To Types Of Small Business Finance

The best to place to start looking for small business finance is with the SBA. They have all kinds of financial assistance and grant programs for small business owners. Assuming there’s a need for financing from the commercial market outside of the SBA’s purview, outlined herein are a few basics about the options available to small business owners.

The most basic question that the business owner needs to ponder over is whether to opt for debt financing or equity financing. Each has its pros and cons and further sub-divisions in terms of types of financing. Which one is more suitable depends on factors such as the type of business, its age, cash flow and the credit rating and history of the owner.

Debt finance can be a loan, bond or line of credit from a bank or other lenders, or even a simple IOU. It is usually the best option when the business project is very specific and has a well defined timeline. The borrower needs to put up something as collateral as a form of security.

The owner’s credit rating and history will have a big impact on the ability to secure small business financing. The business also has to have a good enough cash flow (or projected cash flow) in order to meet the repayment schedule. It is important for the owner to do some business planning to figure out a feasible repayment period based on cash flow.

With equity financing, the owner offers the investor part ownership in return for cash. It has certain disadvantages such as loss of control, since the investor would like to a part of the decision making process. But unlike small business loans, equity investments don’t need to be paid back with interest, so it makes it easier to run the business.

The equity option is feasible for broad and long-term financing needs which have no specific and immediate timelines for an ROI. To be noted that equity investors seek higher returns, even if it is after a relatively longer delay. The owner is not likely to regain full control in the short-term and probably not even in the long term.

Equity investment can in the form of individual investments made on a personal basis by the owner, friends, family, colleagues or angel investors. It could be funding provided by a venture capital firm. Equity financing is more focused on the success potential of the project and does not require the kind of guarantees or collateral required for debt financing.

As mentioned above, the decision on debt vs. Equity will depend on the type of business, its current situation and the owner’s credibility. Too much debt is not good for the business, and neither is losing control entirely to equity investors. The right balance needs to be found, and this debt-equity ratio is different for different kinds of industries.

On a related note, it helps to have more options on how to use it to maximize the impact of the financing on the business. For instance, instead of purchasing equipment outright, it might be beneficial to consider equipment leasing finance. There are many more such things that need to be considered, and it is best to consult a lawyer or trusted banker for more information regarding suitable options for small business finance.

Small Business Finance – Realize Your Dreams Smoothly

Dreams die hard. Whatever out wishes are, we strive hard to fulfill them and this goes true for our business ideas as well. We certainly want to give them a shot but if the money required is creating the obstacle, money can be easily borrowed through small business finance. You can now give shape to your aspirations easily.

Our ideas have a great impact on our personality and our lives and so will their fulfillment. If our ideas are put into practice, they may fetch great results. Money for such small business can be easily borrowed through these loans so that the people can try to give their best to their aspirations.

Businessmen can borrow money for any requirements that arise in their business whether they are setting up a new business or reinstating an older running small business. Payment of labor, marketing, purchasing raw material, packaging, buying new machines, renting a new site etc all require money which is provided through these loans easily.

The borrowers are not required to pledge any assets for the money borrowers since they do not require big amounts of money. Smaller amounts for the business can be easily taken up via the unsecured form itself so the borrowers are not required to risk their assets. Term of repayment of these loans is 6months to 10 years.

The borrowers may be having a bad credit history due to some earlier business issues. Still they can borrow money through these loans easily. However the borrowers are required to prepare a report on the business which will help them in convincing the lenders about the viability of the business. This in turn will get a lower rate of interest on the money for the borrower. The purpose of research can be solved through the online mode as all reputed companies have gone online to facilitate borrowing of money.

With small business finance, the borrowers turned businessmen can achieve a high in their lives. They can become successful without putting to risk any assets or carrying any burden.

Small Business Finance

Every organization regardless of its size and mission may be viewed as a financial entity. Management of an organization, particularly a business firm, is confronted with issues and decisions that have important financial implications. Questions must be answered like:

o What kind of plant and machinery should the firm buy?

o How should the firm raise finances?

o How much should the firm invest in inventories?

o What should the firm’s credit policy be?

o How should the firm gauge and monitor its financial performance?

Business finance is broadly concerned with the acquisition and use of funds by a business firm. Its scope may be defined in terms of the following questions: How large should the firm be and how fast should it grow? What should be the composition of the firm’s assets? What should be the mix of the firm’s financing? How should the firm analyze, plan and control its financial affairs?

In general, business finance rests on the premise that the objective of the firm should be to maximize the value of firm to its equity shareholders. What is the justification for this objective? It appears to provide a rational guide for business decision-making and promote efficient allocation of resources in the economic system. Savings are allocated primarily on the basis of expected return and risk and the market value of a firm’s equity stock reflects the risk-return trade-off of investors in the market place.

Hence when a firm maximizes the market value of its equity stock, it ensures that its decisions are consistent with the risk-return preferences of investors. This suggests that it allocates resources optimally. If a firm does not pursue the goal of shareholder wealth maximization, it implies that its actions result in sub-optimal allocation of resources. This in turn leads to inadequate capital formation and lower rate of economic growth.

The State of Alternative Business Financing Going Into 2014

The year 2013 was a very good year in the alternative business financing industry. After going through some growing pains in 2008-09 with the bank meltdown and start of the recession, alternative lenders such as Accounts Receivable Factoring and Merchant Cash Advances have become very important for small business startups as well as businesses which are looking to expand.

Alternative business financing has almost become main stream today, as banks continue to turn down applications for business loans. Today traditional banks with their stringent requirements have been only approving businesses with “A credit.” This has left a huge void in the small business lending industry which is now being filled by alternative business financing lenders. Small businesses are always looking for fast access to working capital which they can use for many different reasons such as payroll, marketing, inventory, and cash flow. The great thing about alternative financing, is that business owners are now able to get access to this working capital even with poor personal credit and without the need to put up any collateral.

Small business owners usually do not mind paying a little more money to alternative lenders, because they know that trying to obtain a bank business loan will involve going through a very lengthy application process, tons of paperwork, headaches and a lot of red tape, only to later find out they were denied for the loan. With various alternative lenders, such as Accounts Receivable Factoring and Merchant Cash Advances, it is now possible to be approved for financing in as little as 24 hours while having access to this capital in less than 1 week.

According to the November 2013 biz2credit small business lending index, the large banks (with 10 billion or more in assets) only approved 17.4% of loan applications. This number is way below the numbers that existed back in 2005-07, when the big banks approved more loans than they denied. Compare those numbers to alternative business lenders who today approve more than two thirds of their loan applications.

The approval process and paperwork of an alternative lender is simple and it is much faster and easier than the application process you have to go through with a traditional bank. The entire process is being stream lined today by alternative lenders, who are utilizing new types of technology to make the process easier. These lenders can now approve applications in a matter of days rather than months unlike the application process of banks.

No longer does a business owner need to put up their house or personal assets as collateral for the loan and their personal credit score has very little impact on the decision making process of an alternative business lender. Today even credit unions are falling behind because of their rigid application process.

As we head into 2013 it is still not clear what implications Obama Care is going to have on the small business owner. However the housing market has stabilized, and unemployment is dropping from 8.5% in January 2012 to about 7% in December of 2013. I believe with the availability now of these alternative lending sources, more and more small businesses are going to be able to grow and succeed. Make no mistake, alternative business financing clearly plays a vital role and fills a real need for small business lending in the U.S. today.

In conclusion, 2014 is shaping up to be very promising for small businesses as well as the overall U.S. economy. One of the main reasons why businesses fail is due to lack of capital. The fact that these new type of lending sources now exist, means that much less small businesses will fail. The availability of fast access to working capital is now a reality and is readily available to small businesses at every stage of their development.

7 Critical Business Financing Mistakes

Avoiding the top 7 business financing mistakes is a key component in business survival.

If you start committing these business financing mistakes too often, you will greatly reduce any chance you have for longer term business success.

The key is to understand the causes and significance of each so that you’re in a position to make better decisions.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (1) – No Monthly Bookkeeping.

Regardless of the size of your business, inaccurate record keeping creates all sorts of issues relating to cash flow, planning, and business decision making.

While everything has a cost, bookkeeping services are dirt cheap compared to most other costs a business will incur.

And once a bookkeeping process gets established, the cost usually goes down or becomes more cost effective as there is no wasted effort in recording all the business activity.

By itself, this one mistake tends to lead to all the others in one way or another and should be avoided at all costs.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (2) – No Projected Cash Flow.

No meaningful bookkeeping creates a lack of knowing where you’ve been. No projected cash flow creates a lack of knowing where you’re going.

Without keeping score, businesses tend to stray further and further away from their targets and wait for a crisis that forces a change in monthly spending habits.

Even if you have a projected cash flow, it needs to be realistic.

A certain level of conservatism needs to be present, or it will become meaningless in very short order.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (3) – Inadequate Working Capital

No amount of record keeping will help you if you don’t have enough working capital to properly operate the business.

That’s why its important to accurately create a cash flow forecast before you even start up, acquire, or expand a business.

Too often the working capital component is completely ignored with the primary focus going towards capital asset investments.

When this happens, the cash flow crunch is usually felt quickly as there is insufficient funds to properly manage through the normal sales cycle.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (4) – Poor Payment Management.

Unless you have meaningful working capital, forecasting, and bookkeeping in place, you’re likely going to have cash management problems.

The result is the need to stretch out and defer payments that have come due.

This can be the very edge of the slippery slope.

I mean, if you don’t find out what’s causing the cash flow problem in the first place, stretching out payments may only help you dig a deeper hole.

The primary targets are government remittances, trade payables, and credit card payments.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (5) – Poor Credit Management

There can be severe credit consequences to deferring payments for both short periods of time and indefinite periods of time.

First, late payments of credit cards are probably the most common ways in which both businesses and individuals destroy their credit.

Second, NSF checks are also recorded through business credit reports and are another form of black mark.

Third, if you put off a payment too long, a creditor could file a judgement against you further damaging your credit.

Fourth, when you apply for future credit, being behind with government payments can result in an automatic turndown by many lenders.

It gets worse.

Each time you apply for credit, credit inquiries are listed on your credit report.

This can cause two additional problems.

First, multiple inquiries can reduce you overall credit rating or score.

Second, lenders tend to be less willing to grant credit to a business that has a multitude of inquiries on its credit report.

If you do get into situations where you’re short cash for a finite period of time, make sure you proactively discuss the situation with your creditors and negotiate repayment arrangements that you can both live with and that won’t jeopardize your credit.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (6) – No Recorded Profitability

For startups, the most important thing you can do from a financing point of view is get profitable as fast as possible.

Most lenders must see at least one year of profitable financial statements before they will consider lending funds based on the strength of the business.

Before short term profitability is demonstrated, business financing is based primary on personal credit and net worth.

For existing businesses, historical results need to show profitability to acquire additional capital.

The measurement of this ability to repay is based on the net income recorded for the business by a third party accredited accountant.

In many cases, businesses work with their accountants to reduce business tax as much as possible but also destroy or restrict their ability to borrow in the process when the business net income is insufficient to service any additional debt.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (7) – No Financing Strategy

A proper financing strategy creates 1) the financing required to support the present and future cash flows of the business, 2) the debt repayment schedule that the cash flow can service, and 3) the contingency funding necessary to address unplanned or unique business needs.

This sounds good in principle, but does not tend to be well practiced.

Why?

Because financing is largely an unplanned and after the fact event.

It seems once everything else is figured out, then a business will try to locate financing.

There are many reasons for this including: entrepreneurs are more marketing oriented, people believe financing is easy to secure when they need it, the short term impact of putting off financial issues are not as immediate as other things, and so on.

Regardless of the reason, the lack of a workable financing strategy is indeed a mistake.

However, a meaningful financing strategy is not likely to exist if one or more of the other 6 mistakes are present.

This reinforces the point that all mistakes listed are intertwined and when more than one is made, the effect of the negative result can become compounded.

Find the Best Small Business Financing Company

Starting a small business is not a simple task as it sounds to be. There are many factors which are to be taken care of before getting started with any kind of business. If you are not self financed, then you have to look out for an ideal small business financing company which would help you establish you business successfully. Establishing the company is not the only thing which is to be taken care off. In fact this would be the beginning. You may have to take loan in order to cater some requirements such as buying raw, equipment and even paying salaries etc. There are several organizations which provide business start up loans. You need to research the market and find the best one in the lot with the best offer.

Once you are clear with all the requirements to set up the business, you need to plan on how many employees you would require. These employees have to be trained so that they can bring growth to your business. They have to be trained with new skills in order to prevent being stagnant. By any chance if your employees run out of ideas then it would affect you business drastically. Small business training programs would be advisable for every sales team. Training programs would help the employees in enhancing their communication skills and at the same time it would sharpen their marketing skills. The modules should be designed as per requirements of your business set up. Sales leadership training would be one of the appropriate training programs for small business training.

Certain points should be discussed mandatorily during the training session. To begin with, the business name should convey what exactly are you are going to give to the consumers. There should be a determined vision where in you will have an ideal about what you will be five years down the line. Sales fitness training should be focused on this vision in order to aim and achieve it. The business should stand out among its competitors by maintaining its unique value propositions. Perfect timelines should be set in advance in order to achieve the goals. This would help you a lot in establishing and getting popular because of the performance. It is very important to recognize the strength, weakness, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis, no matter you are starting a small business or already running it. You need to plan each and every step towards success. Without planning it would be very difficult to achieve the targets. Financial planning is one of the important aspects of planning. Last but not the least you need to keep examining constantly on what you are expecting to achieve.

Start Up Business Finance

For executing a project, implementing a scheme, or for undertaking an operation, there is a general need for finances to start and endeavor and to further develop it. Finances are the roots of every business activity. Every business decision, whether it relates to production, personnel or marketing, will have a financial implication. The final criterion for the selection of any alternative course is its financial viability.

The study of all the monetary operations of a business is generally termed business finance. Every business requires financing to carry out its activities. The business needs funds for acquiring assets, purchasing raw materials or merchandise, paying the workers, the suppliers and for meeting various other obligations. This requires planning, raising, controlling and administering of funds. All these activities can be termed start up business finance.

In simple terms, business finance refers to the management of money and monetary claims within an individual business firm. Corporations, the commonly used word for joint stock companies, are the major form of business organizations. The financial operations are more complex and require more attention.

A business concern makes use of many resources like men, money, machine, materials, methods, markets, etc. Exercising proper management of resources used is necessary to attain the objective of getting maximum benefit. So management of money or finance is imperative. Besides, the resources, money or finance is the most important, since it influences all other resources. So management of finances assumes as much significance as does an enterprise.

All information related to economic, commercial and industrial activities are termed financial information. It includes information at both micro and macro levels like population, employment, inflation, money supply, foreign trade, stock market details and performance of individual business units.

Beat the Credit Squeeze With Flexible Business Finance

The credit squeeze is a fact of business life and is not just about money but confidence in the market too. There are always winners and losers in every business situation and confidence and business finance can beat the credit crunch.

1. Ensure the bookkeeping and financial accounts of the business are up to date.

Keeping the accounting records up to date is an essential first step to ensuring the business owner knows exactly where the business stands. Reviewing recent financial performance and taking positive action to increase sales and margins where possible and control costs by eliminating waste protects the business from surprises and downturns.

By having available the recent costs, views and action can be taken to reduce those costs and in some circumstances to increase business costs where the profit potential is highest. For example a detailed examination of advertising and promotion costs may indicate some campaigns should be reduced while the money saved invested in better performing areas.

Not all sales produce the same profit for the business. By concentrating efforts on the highest profit margin products and services the effect on working capital can be reduced which can take the pressure off working capital funding.

2. Preparing a realistic business plan can help the business plan ahead.

Many small businesses prepare a business plan when starting up especially if government grants or business finance is to be applied for. Failing to prepare an updated business plan during a credit squeeze can be a plan to fail.

During a credit squeeze a business can find itself operating in an unstable market where the rules and actions of the past might not be evident in the future. Banks increase the cost of borrowing, customers save money by leaving the market and sometimes failing to pay or at least taking longer. Suppliers tighten their grip by increasing prices and demanding tighter payment periods.

Business takes steps to protect income, cash flow, liquidity and in extreme cases survival. That is why failing to meet these new challenges is a plan to fail.

Prepare a business plan on the basis of the recent history and extend the financial results forward following the recent trends. Input into the financial forecast the opportunities that can be exploited to increase business and take a realistic view of the potential negative factors that may be suffered.

The business plan should include both a written view of the next twelve months ahead and include a profit and loss account reflecting the optimistic view and the most negative view with contingency plans should the worse scenario become a fact. A cash flow statement calculated from the business plan to show the effects on liquidity is a vital tool.

3. Improve financial flexibility to increase the business finance options.

Arrange the business finances with more than one bank and increase the number of financing options. A single bank may not offer the size of overdraft or loan facilities or the competitive rates the business requires. View the financial market as a competition between suppliers for your business finance and utilise several to spread the finance between them.

By maximising financial flexibility options for bank accounts, loans and overdrafts and financing asset purchases the effect on business progress can be minimised. Consider leasing agreements, invoice factoring and other specialist financial institutions in addition to the main bank account provider. Cash flow and working capital requirements are crucial.

4. Go out and get more sales.

When sales go down it is easy to become depressed. Fight it and remember how the business obtained new sales channels and customers in the past and exploit the opportunities in the future. Focus on the unique selling points of the business and its products and revitalise campaigns to increase sales.

Consider sales and product diversification into both related and other areas. There are always new opportunities including new products and markets, selling existing products to a wider audience including increased geographical presence. It may help to list all sales activities in sales channels and look for more sales channels in which they company can operate.

5. Ask for professional advice and assistance.

Increase the level of communication with each professional advisor including accountants, financial advisors, solicitors, bank managers and business advisors and any managers of financial institutions. The more the merrier and by keeping in touch more opportunities and more favourable responses will be possible.

There is no such thing as a silly question when the future of the business and its employees are at risk. Discussing options with a variety of professional advisors increases those options and if increased business finance is required for growth or survival in the future, the higher level of personal dialogue will ease that route forward.