Well, the end of the first quarter for the new business happened recently, and I finally got some numbers together to look at the results. In fact, the bank representative emailed me yesterday in order to file a report on the new ownership, so it was easy to just send him the spreadsheet. Hopefully, the bank is pleased. Bills are getting paid and payroll is being met at the same time that debt is being eliminated so it should all be good. February was a bit lean, but weather was terrible in January and February. The business was actually totally shut down for 3 days, and we still managed to come out reasonably unscathed.
Comparison to 2013
I won’t share detailed numbers, but I know the sales from last year and divided by 4 to come up with a quarterly average. When I compare to the net receipts after taking out sales taxes, I find that the current number was up by 7%! And that is without anyone doing full time sales. The business had tried to get lean in order to survive and only had 3 workers down from 5 at one point. We have talked about bringing on a 4th part-time in order to get someone out to do more sales and customer interaction. That will probably happen this quarter.
I think one of the issues with the prior management was lack of attention to detail when it came to finances. Looking over the books, I got the sense that there was lack of awareness as to the actual expenses of the business. I got an initial proforma from the prior owner, but went to look back at the past 3 years’ tax returns in order to come up with my own numbers and make some modifications. There have only been a few surprises when comparing expected vs. actual performance.
First, the amount spent on telephone has been double. It could be because we added another cell phone so my wife could have a dedicated business phone since she has been doing a staggering amount of work during these first 3 months to keep things heading in the right direction.
The other surprise has been the expense for health insurance. The prior insurance company pulled out of the market due to ObamaCare and the new policies with a different company ended up being about 30% more expensive for a similar plan but with slightly less favorable deductibles. That is one reason that the next employee will be part-time. No way I want to pay another 25% increase to the benefit column at this time.
The good news is that at the end of the quarter, we were able to show a slight profit after paying all expenses. Hopefully, as spring and summer arrive we will be able to continue the current pace or even grow a bit more.
My wife and I acquired a business out of an article 9 sale and have been quite busy with many of the management duties. She has been meeting with vendors and signing contracts, while I have been spending evenings paying bills and tracking the finances worrying about having enough money every 2 weeks to make payroll.
All told, we are probably spending about 20 hours per week between the two of us. Now it has slowed down a bit recently. January and February were quite busy setting up many of the new systems, dealing with health insurance etc so we were spending even more time (up to 30 hours in a week some weeks). We are hoping that establishing some patterns will free up some time so that it can trim down to about 10 hours. We should start tracking it more closely in April so that we know for sure.
But I can’t help but think of the prior owner and all the extra non-revenue producing activity that had to be spent just to keep a small business with two other employees going. I have a feeling that might be one of the reasons that the business ended up in some financial difficulty. Now that my wife and I are assuming this burden, more time has been freed up for the site manager to go out and solicit business.
I think that is why January was one of the top 10 months for revenue in the past 15 years. February was what seemed like a lot slower, but it was in reality about an average month. We should still be able to keep the doors open with a month like February. And now March has picked up again and new orders in the first 7 business days are 80% of February’s total.
“If You Stop Tracking, You Start Slacking”
This is a quote from my personal trainer. I starting tracking everything I eat and have been shooting for about 2,000 calories per day. Simply watching it so closely has helped me to lose weight already.
The same can be said for finances (or anything in life). Because I am tracking the finances of the business so closely, I can minimize expenses and allow the manager to maximize revenue and sales. I really think that freeing his mind of all the business worries has allowed him to be more productive and have a better attitude in order to feel motivated to make sales. I really doubt that the economy has been that much stronger this year than last.
Well because I have been focused on this business, my blogging has slowed dramatically. I noticed that I didn’t even post a single article for the month of February. Forgive me for that, but I really think that my efforts are better spent elsewhere. This is actually the first time I have had a small block of uninterrupted or unobligated time since I was stranded in Chicago’s Midway Airport in January trying to get out on a golf trip. Now it is snowing again, so my golf season will have to wait a bit longer.
As always, thanks for reading.
It’s not easy out there for UK start ups right now. Sourcing business funding is, frankly, a blinkin’ pain – especially for those hoping for conventional funding from their bank. Entrepreneurship is no easy road even when the banks are open for business, but in these tough times, aspiring business owners must work doubly hard to find the funding to get their baby off the ground.
There are plenty of options out there, but none of them are a saunter through the park. Business funding is now available online from Everline, through online crowd funding platforms like Kickstarter or can even be sourced from an angel investor. These routes are not suitable for all businesses, B2B start ups typically fare poorly in crowd funding websites, while angel investors are not always ready to take a leap on an ‘out there’, creative project. If you’re out in the financial cold, but are still passionate about your business, there’s really only one thing for it…Bootstrapping.
What is bootstrapping?
Bootstrapping is a general term referring to doing, well almost anything, yourself without assistance from outside sources. You’ve heard of pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, well now it’s time to take a good hard look at your personal resources and make it happen in business.
Within a start up business, bootstrapping really is an all or nothing approach. It involves putting your own assets into your business – so you really have to be sure that you’ll see a return. However, it’s also a very good benchmark – after all, if you’re not prepared to risk your own finance on your start up, why should an investor? If you’re not confident about what you’re doing, maybe you should stick to the day job…
How to bootstrap
Most entrepreneurs ease their way into this solution, taking the time to evaluate the risks and gradually putting more and more into the enterprise as success becomes increasingly likely. This gives you freedom which straightforward investment simply doesn’t. It also gives you complete control over the initial development of your business – without the interference of investors. Many business owners start by simply ‘financing’ with their own time. Moonlighting on evenings and weekends to grow their new business. This is very hard work, but it ensures there is money coming in, and you’re not risking your future on a pipe dream.
The big steps…
Once success looks close and the day job becomes unsustainable, many entrepreneurs quit and start to think about putting their own finance into the business. Some will remortgage houses, sell cars and max out credit cards to get the business ball rolling, others will approach relatives to find finance.
An interesting idea
One interesting way to free up some capital is to employ staff in return for equity or deferred payment. If your offering is exciting enough to attract employees tempted by this set-up, you’re likely onto a winner. It ensures you team work harder for you than any other staff anywhere else, and it keeps costs down too – what’s not to love?
Know your assets
Of course, the resources available to each bootstrapping start up business will vary considerably from entrepreneur to entrepreneur and this finance really is all about doing it yourself. So look at what you have, and don’t just think in terms of capital, take a really close look at your assets – then focus on turning them into a way to boost your business.
Very good luck, start ups!