How to Finance a Franchise – Your Options and Risk

Entrepreneurs who wish to purchase a new or existing franchise are always asking us ‘What are my Financing Options?”. The ability to choose the right financing option (in reality it is the right mix of financing options) is one of the most important aspects of your entry into the purchase and running of a successful franchise in Canada.

It is of course very rare that a franchise can be purchased for all cash, as the amounts involved can be very significant. And in fact, as we will demonstrate, in many cases that would actually be the wrong thing to do. Even the largest and most successful corporations in the world take on debt, there is good debt and bad debt of course (as consumers we now that also. By utilizing the right mix of debt and your own equity you can properly ‘leverage’ the business for greater rewards and returns.

We will use a quick and somewhat blatant and unrealistic example just to illustrate our point. Let’s say that you wish to purchase a franchise for 250,000.00, which is certainly not an uncommon amount. You have the option of paying cash for it (lets pretend!), or you can put 10,000.00$ down and borrow the rest. At the end of one year your franchise nets 20,000.00 in net income, let’s assume. If you had only put in 10,000.00$ of your own money you have generated a 200% return on equity. Even Warren Buffet would be jealous of you. However, had you put in 250,000.00$ of our own money you can clearly see you have many years to go before you get a positive return on your significant initial investment.

So whats our bottom line – it’s simply that debt and the right amount of leverage can be a good thing, and it’s an excellent way to measure the potential returns in any business, including your investment into a Canadian franchise.

Let’s return to our core topic, financing your franchise. The reality is that are several options in Canada to finance your purchase. Those options can relate to either a new or existing franchise – both are quite financeable. One of the main reasons you might wish to consider purchasing an existing franchise is that in some cases the track record and the assets in the business might present an easier case for financeability.

Franchise financing in Canada is absolutely a specialized type of financing. When we sit down with clients to evaluate their options d and focus on the quickest and best way to achieve franchise financing success we can summarize your financing options in the following manner –

-Government Small Business Loan – (By far the most common and popular)

-Your own personal equity or down payment (typically from 10-50%)

– Equipment and asset financing

– Working Capital Term Loan

– Operating facility for ongoing requirements

– VTB – (Vendor take back) – in some cases the franchisor or the seller of the current franchise will waive full payment and agree on a final pre agreed upon payment to be made at some point in the future

Whether you consider yourself financially astute, or if you are concerned and worried that you don’t know enough about financing in general, it is strong recommended you align yourself with a trusted, credible and experienced advisor in franchise financing. Understanding your options, picking your options, and executing on those options within your timelines is the key to franchise financing success.

ERP, MRP & CRM: Making Sense for Small Business Owners

Confused by all the business acronyms out there about ERP, MRP and CRM software packages? Wondering how these systems can help small businesses, but unsure what they do? Well, for many small business owners, with so many options to choose from, and with so many conflicting testimonials, making sense of it all can often be an exercise in futility. Don’t despair, in their simplest form, all these systems do is improve the access to information from both inside, and outside the company. In fact, it’s the amalgamation of this information that both reduces costs, and improves efficiency.

Companies know that to win business and grow, means to provide real time information, shorten product lead times, and excel at customer service. Customers will always gravitate to those companies that can provide products and information quickly. That includes providing customers with immediate information on delivery delays, new programs and discounts on deals, and up to date information on their account. Delays cost business, but lack of information on those delays, costs more. At the heart of all these systems, is to allow companies to become proactive in the eyes of their customers.

What Does MRP Stand For?

MRP stands for Manufacturing Resource Planning, and is a software package designed around managing production in all its forms. Typically these systems track work orders through production. They dictate the amount of material and parts to use, the number of finished products to make, and track the individual cycle times of each operation during the product’s manufacturing life. More importantly, it allows all internal departments, including customer service and sales, a window into the current status of work, and an estimated completion date for customers.

 What Does CRM Stand For?

CRM is an acronym for Customer Relationship Management. Its approach is to improve the ease of information transfer about customer purchasing patterns, credit information and payment history, contact information, sales leads, and customer service history. The importance of a CRM software is that it allows its users to locate and close on business opportunities, and use existing information to improve customer loyalty, incentivize them to continue purchasing, and improve a company’s ability to reduce sales cycle times. It bridges together a company’s sales, technical support, marketing and customer service functions into on all encompassing information source.

What Does ERP Stand For?

Perhaps no other software package brings together a company’s entire access to information, as does Enterprise Resource Planning. Consider an ERP system as an extension of MRP, in that it takes the benefits of tracking manufacturing activities, to tracking all of a company’s internal activities between its departments. ERP systems bring together a company’s entire internal process into one system, with real time information, that can be accessed by all. In the process, the company reduces operational costs, improves service and eliminates timely work delays.

Companies that use ERP programs might include companies that design, engineer, and manufacture products. The ERP system bridges a company’s entire internal information so as to improve operational effectiveness. Redundant work processes, and lack of information, is one of the largest costs to companies. Regardless of size, if a company has a hard time moving work from one internal department to the next, or lacks real time critical information that all its employees can see, it will simply result in delays, and delays to customers mean lost business.

As for which system is best, it really depends upon the business itself. Small businesses don’t necessarily have concern themselves with programs designed for much larger organizations. Customers must come to see their vendors as on the ball, and ready to help. Lacking the ability to service customers, or unable to provide essential information, is a recipe for an upset and frustrated customer. These programs improve efficiency and reduce costs, while improving a company’s ability to be proactive, instead of reactive.

Grants for Small Businesses Women

Nowadays even though more and more women are getting into different types of businesses, they still find difficulty in arranging for finances for their businesses. Grants for small businesses women are really helpful for all businesswomen. The economic recession that hit the world in the later part of 2008 has left almost every person in financial crunch. The government is concerned with overall development of people and especially concerned with the development of women. The administration is trying to help women come forward and face the situation and for that they are providing moral and financial boost up through grants.

Any woman, who wants to start a new business or expand the existing one or simply wants to run her business smoothly, she can apply for the relevant grants. There are different grants for different purposes and so the first and the most important thing is to find out the most suitable grants from the list available. The best place to look for grants is the government website and here you will get complete information regarding any grant you want to apply. This is a time taking job but it is worth all the efforts when you will receive the money and you will be able to accomplish your business needs with this free financial aid.

The most remarkable and attractive feature of grants for small businesses women is that it is free money and you do not have to repay it. Starting a business is a stressful time and so you should apply for the grants. This grant money will help you fulfill any of your business requirements. You have to keep in mind few points so that you have maximum chances of getting approved for the grant money.

Prepare a solid business plan when you are trying to apply for government grant money. Make sure your business plan includes the details about the money you have requested from the government and also about how your business will be beneficial for the community. Your business plan should be impressive and persuasive when you apply for grants for small businesses women.

Going Green in Small Businesses to Save Money: Economic Conditions and Competition Make Greening a Good Practice

Businesses that followed the green path in the past did it for two reasons; principles and community responsibility. This approach was considered an expense to a business and written off in marketing and public relations. However, going green is a necessity today and just plain good business practice.

Today going green is approached as a means of reducing costs (not an expense) and making an impact on the environment. Small businesses must be lean and mean if they are to survive in highly competitive world, regardless of economic conditions. Going green is a business practice that improves the bottom line through cutting expenses on and reducing the need to lay off productive employees.

Going Paperless – Really!

This was a common theme after the integration of computer technology in the 1980’s and 90’s. However, in many cases businesses had increased the use of paper instead of going paperless. Today the idea of going paperless is gaining ground because of the increased costs of office consumables. As businesses cut back on their use of paper, they are going green and saving the environment at the same time. Cutting back on using a large amount paper, allows for greater use recycled paper to replace regular paper.

Advances in computer software packages for office and business management, the need to use paper has actually decreased. These programs have file sharing and built in cooperative functions that make creating and editing documents by multiple users easier. Incorporating these document handling procedures in a small business reduces paper use, along with speeding up processing and handling of documents for greater worker productivity.

The actual reduction in paper use has impacted the U.S. Post Office, because more businesses communicate through e-mail for sharing documents and conducting business. Scanned copies of important documents and the editing capability of PDF files; allow businesses more productivity without sending important documents through the mail.

Reducing Printing and Copier Expenses

Printers, ink, and toner are expensive. Printers also consume a lot of energy. By reducing the amount of paper used, a business can reduce the cost of all three. This supports green initiatives by keeping fewer and more efficient printer/copier combinations in one central location in a business. Money is also saved through recycling ink and toner cartridges.

Another cost saving green approach is to use double sided printing and copying for anything that does not specifically require a single sided printing. This approach can significantly reduce paper usage and most new copiers have automated single to double sided conversion settings.

Reduced Filing Needs

Filing systems take up a sizeable percent of the floor space in an office. With less paper being used and stored, a business is able to move to a smaller office. Filing fewer papers also reduces cost of long term storage of documents.

Reduced Housekeeping

Anything that reduces paper waste also reduces the potential cost of shredding documents, along with office cleaning costs. Checking trash cans in a business will quickly result in the observation that most trash is paper. Reducing the use of paper reduces the amount of trash. Less trash leads to less money being spent on cleaning and trash removal services. Paper that winds up in the trash can be recycled.

Energy Efficient Lighting

Low energy light bulbs are not new; however their use in businesses is new. Low energy bulbs are not just for the home. Using low energy bulbs reduces energy bills and the cost of replacing bulbs so often, because low energy bulbs last longer than incandescent bulbs.

Making Connections

Reducing and replacing consumables is a direct money saver, capable of both improving the bottom line and increasing employee productivity. Going green is no longer a need to meet an ideology or for supporting the community. Going green is a necessity that every business must embrace, because of cost savings and saving the environment.

Timeline: Your Personal Success Tracker

You might hear the word success and think of: Fame, Glory, Power, and Control. These are great attributes, however they drape quietly over what we really long for, which is success. Fame, Glory, and Power etc. are all individual characteristics that one may desire while another may not. Success is a Universal desire, it has no boundaries, no requirements, and no limitations, though sometimes it can feel like there are lifelong membership fees. This feeling alone may cause many people to give up on their dreams, and their finances.

Well don’t give up just yet, controlling your living is a lot easier than you think. Two important ways to stay on top of your situation are to 1. Recognize and Repair early and 2. Break down your financial structure, and focus on one section at a time. The reason for doing this is so you’re in control, after all the only one who knows your success rate is you. My acronym for success is Something Under Certain Circumstances Enticing Self Satisfaction. That’s all it is, self satisfaction, i also refer to this as financial freedom. One way to show yourself where you stand on financial freedom is by using the Timeline.

Imagine your whole life as if it were dots on a line graph, lets say 10 years back. One line is for your checking account, one for savings, one for expenses, one for your IRA/401K, and then one for anything else you do such as a diet. You will come up with many new lines as time goes on and remember that these are just the fundamentals. Review the following section and try to vision your lines and see where you stand on self satisfaction.

Identify, Assess, Resolve

As you read these, try to apply them to your situation.

Line 1- Checking: From 10 years ago to now this line should be constantly changing, yet always above the expenses on the graph. Line 2- Expenses: This will also be a rapid wave yet the object is to keep it under the checking and savings. Line 3- Savings: Should always be increasing, yet you get to choose the rate Line 4- IRA/401K: Steady consistent increase, towards the bottom of your Timeline in the early years yet working its way to the top. Once you start using this tool monthly, or even weekly, you can identify problems fast while fixing them is easy.

These are just the fundamentals, there are truly so many ways you can use this tool to help you through life. A great way is to demonstrate this to your child. Being financially secure in a way they understand can open up unlimited doors later on in life.

I hope this helps you and your family and any friends that would benefit from the reading.

Starting A New Business

The best business ideas often come out of that moment of rebellion when the budding entrepreneur comes to the conclusion that “I could do that better myself”. All those ideas presented to the boss that were never acted upon; colleagues seen to be not pulling their weight but earning the same; watching the profits that are being made from ones efforts heading off in another direction. All these very common scenarios often act as the catalyst to starting a new business.

The great danger is to fall in love with the idea and rush in without thinking it through. This doesn’t mean writing a business plan immediately; important though it is that comes later. The first step is checking on prospective customers, are there enough buyers out there who want the product or service, enough times and at a high enough price to make the idea viable when the bills have been paid.

Five Forces

In short the business idea needs to be seriously challenged. How easy would it be for others to follow and become serious competition? How much competition is there now and how good are they? Is the world changing and the product may no longer be required? Who will be in charge the buyer or the seller? Too much dependence on a small number of big buyers can be very dangerous. Will the business be under the thumb of its suppliers who may be able to impose too many conditions?

 Market Research

If the first hurdle is cleared without mishap it’s time for the research to begin. To look at customers and their needs – who are they, how many are there, where are they?

  • Customer behavior – how much they buy, how often and for how much?
  • Competitors – who are they, where are they, what are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Costs – what are the direct costs that will occur if a sale takes place and the indirect costs that will be there whether a sales takes place or not?

Armed with this information it’s time to come up with some sales assumptions taking into account businesses tend to start off slowly and build up momentum with increasing sales but often experience peaks and troughs in demand that need to be built into the sales assumptions on a month by month basis.

The Business Plan

The business plan comes next, the narrative that explains the who, where, why, what, when and how of the first year in business. This is accompanied by the financial forecasts in the form of cash flow and projected profit and loss statements.

There are many styles that can be found on the internet but it is important to choose something fit for purpose. The 100 page plan is well over the top for simple one man or woman business but may be absolutely right for the new manufacturing business with plans to create 30 new jobs. There are three good reasons for preparing a detailed business plan:

Beinecke Scholarship

The students, who want to pursue education in the field of arts, social sciences and humanities and find it difficult to arrange finances for their college education, can apply for Beinecke scholarship. This scholarship program is open for all college junior students. The award money that is provided to the student is $2,000 before matriculating in graduate school and when they are attending the graduate school they receive $30,000. This fund has to be used within the five years of undergraduate course. There is nomination needed for the student and every year there are 100 nominations and 18 new scholarships are awarded each year.

To apply for this scholarship, the student must be accepted at any accredited university. This scholarship is open for all college junior students and there are some qualifying factors as well as requirements that the applicant has to fulfill.

Requirements for Beinecke scholarship

The students should be

Ø A U. S citizen

Ø Having high academic record, preferably with GPA 3.9 and above

Ø Having evidence for financial need

The student must be having financial need and that he or she has to prove. If you have been receiving any kind of financial aid that was need based before this or during your undergraduate course, you can produce the evidence. If you have been receiving any merit based scholarship before this, you can produce a letter from your financial aid officer about how much need based financial aid you would require in the absence of the amount you are receiving right now.

If you are a student and meet all the requirements, you can fill the application form.Along with a duly filled application form you will have to submit a financial data statement that the financial aid officer of your institute should complete certifying that you qualify for a need based financial aid. You will need three letters of recommendation, your official transcript, and current resume of at least 2 pages and personal statement of at least 1000 words. When producing the personal statement forBeinecke scholarship, you should describe your background, interests, your plans after graduation and your career objectives as well.

Luxury Brands Form Strategic Alliances to Increase New Business

Sales in the global luxury industry are creeping up. Slowly. However, luxury brands haven’t broken out the champagne to cheer the economy’s cautious upturn; they’re looking for ways to make inroads into the buying choices of the rich and famous. And one consideration is partnering with other luxury brands who, while they don’t compete, share the same wealthy audience.

Is it Strategic Alliances or Fusion Marketing?

Call it what you will, fusing the marketing efforts of two, non-competitive companies it is the most inexpensive, yet effective form of marketing, that while totally underused, generates the most rewards: mutual profits. Best-in-class companies, working together, sharing expenses and manpower build brand equity, increase their customer base and deliver on their promise of quality service. While their customer database is a valuable asset for any company and would never be shared outright, partnering on a project by linking both their names on a marketing piece for promotion is smart business. It’s also a great way to infiltrate a different marketplace to generate new business..

Partnering to Control Secondary Markets

Luxury companies often, and unhappily, see their high-end merchandise being auctioned off on sites like e-Bay, and they can’t stop it. Gucci is one luxury retailer who has taken matters into their own hands by partnering with Christie’s (an auction house specializing in fine art) to provide a service that gives owners of vintage Gucci handbags and luggage the opportunity to have their items appraised. After the collector has her piece appraised, she’ll be notified if the piece is suitable for an upcoming Christie’s vintage sale. The beauty of this partnership for Gucci is that they are controlling their secondary market, while Christie is gaining vintage pieces directly from the owner.

Other examples of successful collaborative marketing partners that have boosted the bottom lines of each of the companies, and provided customers with a unique experience.:

  • American Express partnered with Hilton Hotels and generated a specialized credit card for travel rewards.
  • Fairmont Hotels teamed up with Lexus to provide hybrid Lexus cars to their best customers.
  • Frequent Flyer Clubs fused with hotels, car rental companies and cruise lines.

Strategic alliances can be formed with the unlikeliest of bedfellows; there just has to be a common denominator and that is usually the customer. Luxury companies willing to recenter their brand positioning and partner with other like-minded, prestige brands will continue to create passion, desire and a new customer experience for their jet-setting clientele. Not to mention that profits will start to tick upward.

Is There a Future in Finance as a Career?

There was a time when career counsellors made it to a point telling to all young people that a career in finance was the best for them. The markets were booming, and positions in finance companies were easily available. Business schools had student vying with each other to take up the courses which would enable them to make a career in finance. It was not only the finance market that captivated some students. The economy was so strong, that those who are graduated in finance course were unsuccessful when they opted for financial market or investment bank jobs; they went for alternative careers in industry and commerce jobs that involve accounting. The government also offered middle level jobs in finance, and the overall scenario was very bright.

The economy went into a tail spin.

With the economy in a state of recession, the scope in the financial markets had decreased, and those who are graduates in finance, who thought they had secure jobs in investment banks, were facing the possibility of a pink slip. These banks took the worst hit in the financial market turmoil. It followed almost naturally, that accounting jobs in commerce and industry started shrinking as companies cut costs to keep afloat. At this stage only those who opted for public sector jobs seems reasonably secure, but you’ll never know for how long such a situation would last. The severe downturn in the economy could also affect some jobs.

So just what is the future for such financial sector employment?

It is flying in the face of logic, but in spite of the economic recession, finance jobs still have a reasonably a bright future. Most economists agree that the recession in its present form will not last for a long time. They predict it will last for just a short or medium term. This means that if you are in the finance sector of the economy, have a heart, the outlook will become brighter. So if you have lost your job, this may be only a temporary phase, as better times are coming.

The governments all over the world were coming up with various packages to stimulate the economy. So this means that the huge money going into the various sectors chose for stimuli, will need finance graduates to manage the money. It goes without a saying that the only people with a real brilliant and proven record would land these jobs.

All companies which have been affected by the current economic crisis will give their best to survive as best as they can. They would strategize their survival tactics by hiring financial experts to guide their ship through the less troubled waters. The present gloomy state of affairs is mainly due to financial problems, so they will look for financial experts to tackle the financial woes. They may not state their intentions in such clear terms, but will definitely engage people who are well acquainted with commerce and accounting jobs and ask them to concentrate completely on the cost and revenue aspects of financial operations. This could help the companies get through all the turbulence and crises successfully.

Throughout the recent history, any downturns in the economy have always been followed by a boom. Just wait patiently for the good times to show up once again.

Small Business Ideas for Book Lovers: Start Ups for People Who Love to Read

For people who enjoy reading and didn’t want to work for someone else, becoming a book store owner was a dream come true. Then, the super bookstores came along and independent bookseller after independent bookseller went out of business. Luckily, there are still some small businesses that are a perfect fit for book lovers.

Become a Magazine Publisher

Creating a magazine can be very rewarding for people who love to read. Choosing to focus on parenting or kid related topics gives them a chance to encourage a love of books in future generations. While the magazine industry as a whole is struggling, there are some markets that still do well. Free regional magazines that are completely funded by local business advertising or online magazines that take advantage of the flexibility of online publishing can thrive under the ownership of a determined and creative entrepreneur.

Extroverted Book Lovers Can Become Storytellers

People who love an audience and enjoy reading stories to their children in the voices of different characters may want to look into starting a storyteller or puppeteering business. Storytellers are popular with schools, libraries and after school or summer camp programs. They also may find customers who are throwing parties for their children. It can be a hard field to break into, but those storytellers who are successful enjoy their work.

Online Used Book Sellers Keep Costs Down

While traditional used book stores have almost become a thing of the past, online book stores do well by keeping costs down and doing a high volume of business. Many online booksellers choose to list their books on sites like eBay.com, amazon.com, alibris.com, or half.com to take advantage of the tremendous traffic that these sites bring in.

Personalized Book Small Business Idea

Children love to imagine themselves adventuring with favorite storybook characters. Personalized book sellers can find a company that specializes in printing several different stories personalized with children’s names to sell at craft fairs, school functions, etc. If they enjoy writing, they may want to cut out the middle man and create their own stories. Today’s print on demand options make it simple to create quality books one at a time after customers make the purchase.

Start a Book Related Home Party Business

Usborne is a popular educational book publishing company with a unique business model. Instead of having books stocked on traditional bookstore shelves for a few weeks and having the rest of the print run quickly remaindered, the company chose to use consultants to sell books through home parties, booths at events and directly to educational institutions. Barefoot Books is another children’s book publisher with a similar model.

With a bit of creativity and a willingness to think outside the traditional bookstore box, a book lover can still successfully start and run a small business that appeals to readers. There are several very successful business models available, from selling books online to introducing children to the world of books through a home party business model.