Venture Leasing – How to Get Financing For Custom-Made Equipment

Tiffany Charles, CFO of Medtech Solutions, was facing a difficult challenge. Medtech, a venture-backed startup in business for two years, needed test equipment critical to its operations. While test equipment is widely available for most test applications, the tests to be conducted at Medtech required custom-made equipment offered by only one US manufacturer. Medtech had raised sufficient venture capital to fund most of its research and development projects, but the custom-made equipment’s cost would require an unacceptably large percentage of Medtech’s research budget, limiting investments in other key areas. Tiffany explored manufacturer financing and contacted several leasing firms, but to no avail. How would Tiffany acquire the equipment that Medtech needed without using internal funds critical for other projects?

Why custom-equipment financing is so difficult to obtain

Potential financing sources approach requests for this type financing cautiously. Most financing for venture-backed startups involves a high degree of risk in comparison to financing established companies. Financing sources that extend credit to venture-backed startups are accustomed to accepting startup risks. These risks include financing companies that are relatively new to their markets, that have negative cash flow, and that rely on venture capital sponsorship to stay afloat. Notwithstanding these risks, most financing sources are reluctant to take on the added risk of financing equipment that they may be required to re-market one day, but are unable to move. Many of them know that a small percentage of the transactions they underwrite will not work out, requiring them to repossess and re-marketing the equipment to recover as much of their investment as possible. Custom-equipment presents a huge challenge in that it offers virtually no backstop should all other exit channels fail.

Whether or not a venture-backed startup can obtain financing for custom-equipment might depend on several factors:

The dollar amount and percentage that the equipment represents of the total to be financed
Whether other assets can be offered as collateral to secure the transaction
The startup’s overall credit profile
Whether management can convince the financing company that the equipment is critical to operations and/or profitability
Whether an aftermarket exists and whether there is any prospect of realizing value from the equipment if re-marketing is necessary
Whether the vendor offers equipment buy-back, trade-in, or re-marketing support, if desired.

How do savvy startups overcome this financing challenge?

To improve the odds of obtaining financing, startups should take the following steps:

Stick with financing firms that specialize in financing venture-backed startups. These companies understand venture risks and are in a better position to evaluate transactions involving custom-equipment.

Research the after-market for the equipment by talking to the vendor and looking for used equipment brokers/dealers online. Often, the vendor can provide resale information and used equipment resellers can be spotted online via advertisements and postings. Make sure you provide your re-marketing research to the financing firm.

Explore re-marketing assistance with the vendor, including equipment buy-backs, trade-ins, or other vendor re-marketing arrangements. Depending on the vendor, customers may be able to lobby for special re-marketing arrangements as a purchase incentive.

Consider other assets that the startup might pledge to support the transaction. The main concern of the financing source is being able to exit the transaction should the startup default in making payments. By offering additional collateral to support the transaction, the startup may be able to alleviate or greatly reduce this concern.

Try to schedule custom-equipment purchases along with other equipment that has an established aftermarket, such that the custom-equipment represents a minority of the equipment being acquired. Similar to offering additional equipment as collateral, by bundling custom-equipment with readily re-marketable equipment, the overall collateral value of the bundle might be sufficient to calm the financing provider’s concerns.

Highlight the critical nature of the equipment. If it is critical to the startup’s profitability or operations and loss of the equipment’s use would put the startup in a significantly weaker position, the prospect of obtaining financing is somewhat improved. The rationale is that the financing source will have a relative advantage vis-à-vis other creditors in any company wind-down because the equipment might be needed to restructure the company or to assist other creditors in their recovery. While this is not a primary reason for financing custom-made equipment, it is a factor considered by most financing sources in making a final decision.

5 Ways and Steps to Improve Your E-Commerce Business Through FINANCING

As predicted, E-commerce has boomed (and is still booming). People buy not just through PCs but through phones and tablets as well. Buyers loved the idea! E-commerce’s market and competition is huge, now how do you keep up and advance?

The word is “empathy”-put yourself in your customers’ shoes! Your goods are wonderful, your target market is all credit classes yet your customers are just coming from the mid to upper scales. Say you sell apparel-everyone needs clothing. Come on, you don’t want to be deprived of clothing purchases just because you do not have a credit card or have a low credit limit, do you? NOT EVERYONE HAS/CAN HAVE A CREDIT CARD.

That’s where financing comes in. I know, you’ve heard about it. House, auto, cash, etc.-e-commerce financing is different. How do you benefit from it?

Not everyone can get a credit card. However, not everyone who owns credit cards pay their credit cards. How do you help the minimum waged guy who’s got a job, good payment records and a guarantor?

Easy!

#1 Forget you are JUST helping the guy -Look, the guy helps you and your business in return! If you offer a financing payment method for an eBay or Amazon product (which cannot be purchased easily without credit cards), you get a big chunk of the market-those without credit cards.

# 2 Know the types of e-commerce financing -Financing is making a product affordable for your customers while earning yourself MORE SALES at HIGHER VALUES. There are two ways you can venture in e-commerce financing:

A. Plain Financing – You just find the leads, verify their payment capabilities, and finance no particular product-anything goes.

B. Retail Financing – You have particular stuff/service to sell and you offer financing as a payment method.

#3 Know your clientele -Now, there are three general categories: (1) Those who’ve got 680-850 credit scores with high credit limits (not your financing target); (2) Those with 600-680 scores, typically with $600-limited credit cards or GE capital (the perfect targets!); and, (3) Those with 300-599 scores, NO credit card (great for lay away programs*)

#4 Know your risks as a financier -Financing wouldn’t be around if it isn’t profitable. However, as in any business venture, there are risks you would have to deal with. One of which (but rarely happens) is when a customer screws you upon shipping the product-like, they get it and don’t pay you or get it and opt for a return/exchange. Worry not since you can…

#5 Secure Yourself & Your Business-Issue in #4: What if a customer screws you? That is exactly why you charge double or triple the worth of the product you finance-to fill in such gaps expenses. That is not the only way, however, to secure your financing business (whether plain or retail). As a customer shows his interest in being financed, he fills out a form for your evaluation and signs an electronic (since we’re talking e-commerce here)/ e-signing agreement that states your ‘financing terms & conditions’ such as his paying for the restocking fee, etc.

Now, there you have it: the basic steps to your e-commerce financing success. Also note that you won’t have to use money from your own pocket to start financing. You can have your financing financed by banks and “middle men” a.k.a. financing firms (whom you’d be liable to) depending on your business situation (number of years, operating costs, turnovers, etc.).

The Best Way to Understand Personal Finance

When we are trying to understand Personal Finance, the best thing to do is to understand what Personal Finance is NOT.

Many people think that accounting and personal finance are the same, but Personal Finance is NOT Accounting.

On the surface they may seem the same; they both have something to do with money. However, the definitions will help us better understand the differences.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of accounting is “the system of recording and summarizing business and financial transactions and analyzing, verifying, and reporting the results.”

Based on this definition, we see that accounting is the process of analysing and recording what you have already done with your money.

This is why having an accountant is usually not enough when it comes to your personal finances.

Accountants generally don’t concern themselves with personal finance (there are some exceptions to this rule). Unless your accountant is also a financial advisor or coach, he or she will likely just look at what you have done with your money at the end of the year and provide you with a report of their analysis.

This report is usually your tax return; what you owe the government or what the government owes you.

Very rarely does the accountant provide an individual with a Balance Sheet or Income Statement or a Net worth statement; all very helpful tools that are necessary to effectively manage your personal finances.

Personal Finance is looking at your finances from a more pro-active and goal oriented perspective. This is what provides the accountants with something to record, verify and analyze.

The Merriam-Webster’s (Concise Encyclopedia) definition of “Finance” is the “process of raising funds or capital for any kind of expenditure. Consumers, business firms, and governments often do not have the funds they need to make purchases or conduct their operations, while savers and investors have funds that could earn interest or dividends if put to productive use. Finance is the process of channeling funds from savers to users in the form of credit, loans, or invested capital through agencies including COMMERCIAL BANKS, SAVINGS AND LOAN ASSOCIATIONS, and such nonbank organizations as CREDIT UNIONS and investment companies. Finance can be divided into three broad areas: BUSINESS FINANCE, PERSONAL FINANCE, and public finance. All three involve generating budgets and managing funds for the optimum results”.

Personal Finance Simplified

By understanding the definition of “finance” we can break our “personal finance” down into 3 simple activities:-

1. The process of raising funds or capital for any kind of expenditure = Generating an Income.
A Business gets money through the sale of their products and services. This is labeled “revenue” or “income”. Some businesses will also invest a portion of their revenue to generate more income (interest income).

A Person gets money through a job, or a small business (self employment, sole proprietorship, network marketing or other small business venture). The money coming in can be a salary, hourly wage, or commission, and is also referred to as income.

A Government gets money through taxes that we pay. This is one of the main ways that the government generates an income that is then used to build infrastructure like roads, bridges, schools, hospitals etc for our cities.

2. Using our money to make purchases = Spending Money.
How much we spend relative to how much we make is what makes the difference between having optimum results in our personal finances. Making good spending decisions is critical to achieving financial wealth – regardless of how much you make.

3. Getting optimum results = Keeping as much of our money as possible
It’s not how much you MAKE that matters – its how much you KEEP that really matters when it comes to your personal finances.

This is the part of personal finance that virtually everyone finds the most challenging.

Often people who make large incomes (six figures or more) also tend to spend just as much (or more) which means they put themselves in debt and that debt starts to accrue interest. Before long that debt can start to grow exponentially and can destroy any hope they would have had to achieving wealth.

Personal Finance made simple

Personal Finance doesn’t need to be complicated if you keep this simple formula in mind:

INCOME – SPENDING = WHAT YOU KEEP

For Optimal Results you simply have to make more than what you spend and spend less than what you make so you can keep more for you and your family!

If you are not actively working towards an optimal result you will by default get less than optimal results

It really is that simple!

Now that you understand personal finance and WHAT you need to do, the next step is learning HOW to do this!

The best way to start is by following these 3 simple steps:-

1. Know what you want to achieve – “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there” has become a very popular quote, probably because it is so true. One of the habits that Stephen Covey highlights in his book “7 Habits of Highly Successful People”, is to always start with the end in mind. Knowing where you want to go will be a big help in ensuring you get there.

2. Have a plan – that you can follow that will get you to your goals. Knowing how you will achieve your goals in a step by step plan is invaluable. Sometimes this is easier with the help of an advisor or a financial coach.

3. Use tools and resources – that will help you to stick to your plan and not become distracted by the things in life that could limit our incomes and make us spend more than we should. Don’t try and work it all out in your head! You will end up with a massive headache and your finances will become one gigantic dark fog!

What Home Buyers Should Know About FHA Financing

FHA financing has become a preferred route for many home buyers for several good reasons. It has unique challenges as well, though, and home buyers need to be aware of both the advantages and disadvantages when choosing to use this route for their home financing. Let’s review the pros and cons of FHA financing here so you can better understand your options when selecting this route for your home purchase.

Advantages of FHA Financing

Less Money Needed Upfront – FHA financing currently requires a 3.5% down payment while conventional financing typically requires a minimum of 5% down. FHA financing also does not currently require that a buyer have any additional savings left after purchase while conventional financing typically requires the buyer to have two months of mortgage payments minimum set aside in the bank after closing as a safety precaution. Because of these lighter requirements, the FHA buyer can typically buy a home with less money needed upfront.

More Flexibility on Credit History – FHA financing normally has more flexibility with a credit history that is newer or slightly bruised. Conventional financing will typically require that a person’s credit history be well established with little allowance for credit bruises like late payments or collections. FHA has more liberal guidelines on this which can help the buyer whose credit is newer or has experienced some challenges.

Ability to Purchase A More Expensive Home – assuming you stay under FHAs maximum loan amount, FHA financing will normally allow a higher ratio of bills to income than conventional financing will for the buyer with average to strong credit. This can help a FHA buyer be approved for a larger loan amount than the conventional homebuyer in many situations.

Disadvantages of FHA Financing

More Paperwork – Due to the addition of the Federal Housing Administrations guarantee of FHA loans, there is additional paperwork needed both to approve and close the FHA mortgage. This is typically just a minor inconvenience, but it’s still something that the home buyer should be aware of upfront.

Higher Property Standards – the Federal Housing Administration places a high importance on the safety and soundness of the properties it finances. Because of this, they hold these properties to a higher standard than conventional financing typically requires. Prior to making an offer on a home with FHA financing, the home buyer should talk with their lender about the property to determine if there are any features of the home that might make it ineligible for FHA financing it its current condition.

Higher Mortgage Costs – FHA currently charges a 1.75% upfront mortgage insurance premium to the home buyer. This cost can be financed into the loan or paid at the closing, offering some flexibility to the buyer, but either way it is a cost that will need to be paid at some point. Additionally, FHA financing currently has higher monthly mortgage insurance costs than conventional financing in most situations. Both the upfront and monthly cost change periodically so the homebuyer should check with their lender to see what these charges are when they find their home and how they compared to the mortgage insurance cost for a conventional loan.

While there are other minor nuances of both FHA and conventional financing that differentiate the two, these pieces are the primary ones that the homebuyer should considering when determining what type of financing is best for them. For the buyer with strong credit, savings for the down payment and decent room between their bills and income, conventional financing is typically easier and less expensive. For the buyer with newer or bruised credit, limited savings or tighter bills compared to income, though, FHA is a strong option to consider.

Choices in Finance Education

The finance industry offers a plethora of options to students wanting to join the finance profession.

Today’s finance profession is not limited to just the accounting jobs. With the right kind of finance education, a finance student can find himself suitable for a variety of finance roles. Most finance careers require you to be good with numbers and have knowledge of basic business statistics. Let’s take a look at some of the lucrative financial education options.

Accountancy: This is the most widely popular financial career. Commonly referred to as a public accountant, you learn about to prepare and maintain a businesses financial records. You also learn about taxation and other financial aspects of the business. Education in this area is very comprehensive, and the exam is considered quite difficult. Apart from public accountants, there are also other specialized fields such as cost accountant, management accountant, and tax expert.

MBA Finance: Another popular area in finance education is the MBA in Finance. This program is at the post-graduate level and is offered by most universities as well as business schools. An MBA Finance degree opens up career opportunities in a plenty of areas, which include banking, financial analysis, financial markets, research, etc. In general, the reputation of an MBA Finance is measured based on his skill level and the reputation of the college from where the program was completed.

Financial Planning: This is one of the most sought after professions in the finance field. As a financial planner, you are required to manage the personal finances of individuals. You are expected to invest people’s money in the best assets based on their risk profile and also advice them on various matters such as taxation, real estate, among others.

Finance Certifications: As the finance profession has grown, many new finance certifications have emerged that help students get equipped with very specific financial knowledge. For example, the Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) designation helps you become a financial analyst. There are popular certification programs for becoming risk managers; these are Financial Risk Manager (FRM) offered by GARP, and Professional Risk Manager (PRM) offered by PRMIA. If you are interested in Alternative investments, then you have the option to become a Certified Alternative Investments Analyst (CAIA). There are financial certifications in almost every area of finance.