Understanding The Basic Finance Options

When it comes to getting your finances in order, it is a good idea to understand a little about all the tools that you have at your disposal. Here are a few reminders of the several different ways you can gather support and information to help you manage your finances.

No matter what our goals happen to be, most of us find ourselves in need of good sound finance advice from time to time. We can find all sorts of qualified finance advisers around us. Our local bank is usually willing to help us understand the workings of saving and investing, and without charging anything for going over the basics. Many communities have non-profit organizations that help with preparing budgets and providing counseling when persons are in need of a few tips on breaking bad financial habits.

Counseling is also available to help you meet long term financial goals as well. As an example, if one of your goals is to finance college tuition for your children, a qualified counselor can help you set up a savings program that will allow you to set aside an equitable amount on a regular basis in some sort of interest bearing account. By using a finance calculator to layout your monthly budget, and make sure your budget is realistic, you can begin to make headway toward building that college fund.

Of course, it may be that you need some guidance in seeking a finance loans to purchase a home or start a business. You will want to speak with more than one finance lender, so that you can do some comparison shopping on finance rates, monthly repayment terms, and how much of your monthly payment will be applied to your principle. You also want to know if there are any penalties for paying off the loan early, or if there are any incentives that would make it worth your while to retire the debt earlier than planned.

Finance equity can also be a topic where you would want to seek some expert advice before making a move. Understanding just exactly how much equity you current have in your property can make all the difference in evaluating your overall financial health. This is especially true if you are considering the sale of a portion of your properties. Without a reasonable amount of equity accrued, you may find it advantageous to hold on to the properties for a little while longer.

If you want to learn to handle more of your finances on your own, there are probably several avenues in your community where you can take a finance course or two. Your local community college may have courses that can be taken in the evenings or on weekends. Credit associations often have short term courses that are geared toward particular areas of financial management. Check in the phone book and with your local chamber of commerce to find out what opportunities are coming up.

Record keeping is also important to your fiscal health. If you have a home computer, you can avail yourself of finance software. Some computers come with basic finance tracking packages already loaded into the hard drive. If you need something a little more robust, there are a number of different software programs on the market today. Often, you can download a trial version of any finance software you are interested in and see if the package will do everything you need it to do.

With so many tools at your command, you can arrange your finances and begin to set goals that will make life much easier for you in the years to come.

Six Options For Financing Acquisitions

When it is time to arrange the financing for an acquisition, it is important to be creative. When seeking money to buy a company, you will notice that a number of community banks, typically big funders of certain acquisitions, are encountering difficulty due to their degraded residential (builders) loan portfolio. Creativity can make the difference between accessing capital or canceling the acquisition, especially now when credit markets are tighter.

Here are some options for financing acquisitions:

1. Owner financing / seller financing – Go to the seller first. Who is better prepared to finance the business than the person or company who owned it? They know the business better than anyone and are most familiar with its risks. In the current environment, you should be able to get 40-70% of the business financing via owner financing. You must convince the seller you are a good risk, just as you would have to convince a bank.

2. Supplier or vendor financing – The target company’s suppliers and vendors are a good source of financing. Their business is likely to increase under your new ownership. (i.e., If you do not intend to grow the business, why would you buy it?) Leverage that growth in their business to negotiate for financing from them. If the target company has been a good customer, the supplier is knowledgeable about the business and will understand the inherent risks better than a typical bank. Note that if you are an existing business acquiring another business, you can pursue financing from your suppliers and vendors. The same reasons apply.

3. Mezzanine financing or private equity funding – Mezzanine and private equity funds that serve the small and medium markets raised large sums of money before the market meltdown. They therefore have money to spend and are looking for great opportunities. With fewer people and companies making acquisitions right now even though multiples are very low, now is a great time to obtain mezzanine financing. The target company typically will need revenue of $10 – $20 million and higher and EBITDA of $2 – 3 million and more to be interesting to a mezzanine or private equity fund. Why? These funds have to spend large amounts in a relatively short period of time (5-7 years) so they need larger deals.

4. Bank debt – If the target company has a lot of medium to long-term assets in addition to good cash flow and a strong profit margin, you should have relatively few problems finding bank financing. However, if you want to buy a service company which has a lot of receivables and other short term assets, you may encounter difficulty. Find a bank that has a history of financing the type of company you are buying. Also, talk to the seller’s banker. If the seller has a strong banking relationship, the banker will know the business well, increasing the likelihood that that bank will provide financing in order to retain the relationship and the itinerant deposit accounts.

5. Receivables financing – If you find it difficult to obtain bank financing, pursue account receivables financing firms. They can provide term loans and lines of credits against the receivables. Although the interest rate will be higher, these firms are more familiar with receivables financing and thus often more comfortable with lending against receivables.

6. Pre-paid sales – Approach the target’s customers and ask them to make a bulk purchase or pre-pay for several months’ or a year’s worth of products or services in exchange for a strong discount.

These are some acquisition funding options to stimulate your own creative thinking and approach. There are other alternatives, some of which may be unique to your particular business.

Why Businesses Should Invest In Soft Skills Training

Historically, many businesses have been focused on hard skills and technical expertise.

Although these are certainly necessary, having an excessive focus on hard skills (like coding, engineering, or persuasive writing, for example) while undervaluing soft skills, can lead to competitiveness and friction in the workplace, and may cause difficulties with defusing conflicts between staff and customers.

Focusing solely on hard skills can also fail to acknowledge the strengths of certain members of staff. For example, women have traditionally been under-recognised in sectors that prize hard skills above all else, but are typically more advanced in their use of soft skills, thereby making them an invaluable asset to teams working in public-facing areas such as customer service or social care.

Training your staff in soft skills has a wide range of advantages for businesses and can help to ensure more productive conversations around customer service and quality controls, as well as build healthier, more co-operative teams that can solve problems quicker and more efficiently.

What Are Soft Skills?

Soft skills are non-technical skills that enable your employees to communicate, problem-solve, and self-manage effectively.

This includes interpersonal, communication, listening, time-management, and empathy skills, among others. These abilities allow your employees to navigate the intricacies of customer relations and team dynamics, all the while managing their own work and emotions.

Soft skills are of particular importance in customer-facing roles, particularly when acting in a service capacity, but are also beneficial to team dynamics in business-facing environments – such as by helping to prevent and manage conflict and find resolutions successfully.

Soft skills are a valuable and transferrable quality that are valuable in a range of roles and responsibilities. As such, they can still be used if your employee applies for another position within your organisation, or receives a promotion.

They also lay the groundwork for building essential management skills and leadership abilities.

Types Of Soft Skills

The term ‘Soft Skills’ covers a wide range of interpersonal and communication skills that are essential for successful interactions with customers and other members of staff.

Some members of staff will naturally be more skilled than others in these areas, while others may require support to build these qualities.

Some of the soft skills used in business settings may include:

• Communication

• Adaptability

• Creativity

• Problem-solving

• Teamwork

• Time-management

• Critical thinking

Learning these skills encourages your employees to work together and effectively collaborate with customers, thereby building a healthy work environment and fostering an atmosphere that is receptive to growth and customer feedback.

The Benefits Of Soft Skills Training

While ‘hard skills’ have been traditionally valued in the workplace, according to statistics released by Harvard University and the Carnegie Foundation, as much as 85% of job success comes from using soft skills effectively.

Furthermore, in the long run, soft skills are essential for job security, with Microsoft finding that 30-40% of future jobs will depend on the use of social and emotional skills.

In addition, including soft skills training in your routine training programme could have a wide variety of benefits for your business including:

• Effective Communication – Effective communication is essential for many, if not most, business activities.

On a practical level, effective communication can help to reduce the number of mistakes made in the workplace, thereby preventing wasting time and resources, and helping to keep down stress levels within the team.

Effective communication also reduces the likelihood of friction between staff members and customers, maintaining a healthy environment with established professional boundaries and preventing harassment or abuse.

This skill is particularly important for employees in customer service or high-stress roles.

• Problem-Solving Skills – Soft skills training allows your employees to develop their problem-solving skills, both through the training programme itself, and by learning to communicate and negotiate more effectively with other team members.

Your team will learn how to anticipate potential problems with new business operations and find solutions proactively.

• Leadership Skills – Learning leadership skills and ways to work co-operatively under assigned managers enables your team to delegate responsibilities and give and receive feedback more effectively.

This promotes a sense of personal responsibility, which drives employees to be more motivated to get better results from their work and their colleagues.

• Creativity – Soft skills training helps your employees to think more creatively, allowing them to problem-solve more effectively and come up with new and original ideas. This is especially useful in a marketing capacity, where promotional materials need to be memorable and inspiring.

• Teamwork And Efficiency – Soft skills enable your team to brainstorm more collaboratively, thereby allowing them to bounce ideas off each other and draw on one another’s experience and training.