The Delicate Balance of Inventory Management

October 9, 2017 ENT650 – Adv. Entrepreneurial Finance, M.E. Program Coursework Comments (2) 605

ENT650 - Week 8

Any business that holds and manages inventory does so with the goal of selling that inventory to produce revenue for the company. The key is to maintain just enough to meet demand, but not so much as to have money tied up in inventory for a period longer than necessary. No business holding inventory desires to have more, or less, inventory than is needed to meet customer demand at any given time because failure to meet customer demand will negatively influence sales and profitability. These factors make inventory management one of the most significant challenges any business, but particularly a small business, can encounter.

Depending on the kind of business, there can be many different types of inventory. For example, manufacturers will likely have an inventory of raw materials, work-in-progress inventory, and finished goods inventory at a minimum. A retailer might have merchandise inventory, a service business might have an inventory of hours available to resell, and a magazine or online publication might have an inventory of space that could be filled with advertisements. How each business type manages its inventory may be a little different, but each has the same purpose in mind: To maximize cash flow.

Demand forecasts are an integral part of inventory management. If the business demand forecasts are incorrect, it can be a significant blow to cash flow. For example, if the business assumes the demand will be high, and the assumption is erroneous, it may have too much cash tied up in inventory assets, which in turn would restrict cash flow because the product on hand is not selling as predicted. Conversely, if the business predicts the demand will be low, and the assumption is incorrect, it may not have enough inventory to meet customer expectations, resulting in lost sales and therefore tighter cash flow.

One of the simplest ways to manage physical inventory is to measure productivity and turnover (Traster, 2007). The idea here is to determine how often during the year the business can convert its inventory assets into cash (learn more about inventory turnover and other financial ratios here). Assessing the most appropriate turnover...

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How to use Financial Ratios

October 5, 2017 ENT650 – Adv. Entrepreneurial Finance, M.E. Program Coursework Comments (4) 659

ENT650 - WEEK 7

In an earlier post, Financial Ratio Analysis and the Entrepreneur, I shared some insights on Financial Ratio Analysis and how investors and lenders may consider and use financial ratios to determine whether to invest or lend to an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs should also understand how to use financial ratios in the regular course of business operations.  Each financial ratio has a purpose, and when compared to industry benchmarks, a ratio can provide insights as to a venture’s performance as well as help set stretch goals for business improvements and growth.

The most common financial ratios used by investors and lenders include:

Leverage Ratios

These ratios indicate the long-term solvency and highlight the extent long-term debt is used to support the venture. Leverage Ratios include:

  • Debt-to-Equity Ratio which measures how much debt is used to run the business.
  • Debt-to-Asset Ratio which measures the percentage of the company’s assets that are financed by creditors.

Learn more about Leverage Ratios and how to calculate them here.

Liquidity Ratios

These ratios measure the businesses ability to cover its debt and provide a high-level overview of financial health. Liquidity Ratios include:

  • Current Ratio which estimates the company’s ability to generate cash to meet its short-term commitments.
  • Quick Ratio which measures the ability to access cash quickly for immediate demands.

Learn more about Liquidity Ratios and how to calculate them here.

Efficiency Ratios

These ratios offer insights into operations and help to spot problem areas related to inventory management, cash flow, and collections. Efficiency Ratios include:

  • Inventory Turn-over which examines how long it takes inventory to be sold and replaced within a year.
  • Average Collection Period which looks at the average number of days it takes customers to pay for goods or services.

Learn more about Efficiency Ratios and how to calculate them here.

Profitability Ratios

These ratios evaluate the financial viability of a venture and provide a measure of comparison and performance to the venture’s industry. Profitability Ratios include:

  • Net Profit Margin which measures how much a company earns after taxes relative to sales.
  • Operating Profit Margin which measures earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT).
  • Return on Assets which provides insights on how well management is using the company’s resources.
  • Return on Equity which measures how...

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Calculating Profitability Ratios

October 5, 2017 Finance, Resources Comments (0) 422

Profitability Ratios evaluate the financial viability of a business and provide a measure of comparison and performance to the industry in which the business falls.

These ratios include:

NET MARGIN RATIO

The Net Margin Ratio measures how much a company earns after taxes relative to its sales. The formula is as follows:

Net Profit Margin = Net Profit/Revenue

A higher net profit margin tells the investor the business is more efficient and flexible and capable of taking on new opportunities.

 

OPERATING PROFIT MARGIN RATIO

The Operating Profit Margin Ratio measures earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT). The formula is as follows:

Operating Profit Margin = Operating Income/Net Sales

This gives the investor an idea of whether they want to invest in a company and bankers an idea of whether they should consider providing additional debt financing.

 

RETURN ON ASSETS RATIO

The Return on Assets Ratio measures how well management is using the company’s resources. The formula is as follows:

Return on Assets = Net Income/Total Assets

This will vary widely by industry but it gives investors an idea of how well the company is leveraging its assets to benefit the investment return.

 

RETURN ON EQUITY RATIO

The Return on Equity Ratio measures how well the business as an investment is doing relative to the investment by its shareholders. The formula is as follows:

Return on Equity = Net Income/Shareholder’s Equity

This helps investors understand how much money the company is earning for each invested dollar and may be a good predictor of return for their investment.

While these formulas are straightforward, I have created a spreadsheet calculator for readers to use an explore. If you’re interested, you can download the Efficiency Ratio Calculator using the button below. If you would like to learn more about Financial Ratios and how they may be used, read the post, Financial Ratio Analysis and the Entrepreneur.

 

 

 

A few notes on this calculator:

  • This calculator is an example and...

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Calculating Efficiency Ratios

October 5, 2017 Finance, Resources Comments (0) 525

Efficiency Ratios provide additional insights into business operations. These are useful in helping an investor or lender spot key problem areas related to inventory management, cash flow, and collections.

These ratios include:

INVENTORY TURN-OVER RATIO 

The Inventory Turn-Over Ratio measures how long it takes for inventory to be sold and replaced during a period (typically a year.) The formula is as follows:

Inventory Turnover = Cost of Goods Sold/Average Inventory*

The longer inventory sits on the shelf, the more it costs the company because gross profit is not realized from the sale. Sales and inventory management are key measures for investors.

*Average Inventory = (Beginning Inventory+Ending Inventory)/2

 

AVERAGE COLLECTION PERIOD RATIO

The Average Collection Period Ratio measures the average number of days customers take to pay for products or services. The formula is as follows:

Average Collection = Account Balances for the Year/Net Sales for the Year

A short average collection period compared to industry standards is preferred by investors.

While these formulas are straightforward, I have created a spreadsheet calculator for readers to use an explore. If you’re interested, you can download the Efficiency Ratio Calculator using the button below. If you would like to learn more about Financial Ratios and how they may be used, read the post, Financial Ratio Analysis and the Entrepreneur.

 

 

 

A few notes on this calculator:

  • This calculator is an example and is for use as is. It is not supported in any way. It is not intended to be a tool to use without customization based on the specifics of an entrepreneurial venture and its unique financial statements.
  • This calculator is only an example to give the reader an idea of how such a tool can be developed. The numbers within are not based on a real business. I compiled this as an offshoot of work in a graduate class, but I have created developed similar models for entrepreneurial ventures. Each business venture is different, and so is the ratios used and considered for that enterprise.
  • Financial Ratio calculations are done...

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Calculating Liquidity Ratios

October 5, 2017 Finance, Resources Comments (0) 594

Liquidity Ratios measure the amount of liquidity the business has to cover its debt and provides a high-level overview of financial health.

These ratios include:

CURRENT RATIO (Also known as the Working Capital Ratio)

The Current Ratio measures the company’s ability to generate cash to meet short-term financial commitments. The formula is as follows:

Current Ratio =Current/Current Liabilities

The current ratio serves as an early warning sign of the business possible cash flow issues for investors and lenders.

 

QUICK RATIO (Also known as the “Acid Test”)

The Quick Ratio measures the businesses ability to access cash quickly for immediate demands. The formula is as follows:

Quick Ratio = Current Assets – Inventories/Current Liabilities

A ratio of 1.0 or greater is acceptable, but it is industry dependent. Generally speaking, investors prefer a higher quick ratio.

While these formulas are straightforward, I have created a spreadsheet calculator for readers to use an explore. If you’re interested, you can download the Liquidity Ratio Calculator using the button below. If you would like to learn more about Financial Ratios and how they may be used, read the post, Financial Ratio Analysis and the Entrepreneur.

 

 

 

A few notes on this calculator:

  • This calculator is an example and is for use as is. It is not supported in any way. It is not intended to be a tool to use without customization based on the specifics of an entrepreneurial venture and its unique financial statements.
  • This calculator is only an example to give the reader an idea of how such a tool can be developed. The numbers within are not based on a real business. I compiled this as an offshoot of work in a graduate class, but I have created developed similar models for entrepreneurial ventures. Each business venture is different, and so is the ratios used and considered for that enterprise.
  • Financial Ratio calculations are done annually using actual numbers. This model can be used in that way. It can also be used to calculate and review ratios monthly. Monthly numbers would allow the...

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Calculating Leverage Ratios

October 5, 2017 Finance, Resources Comments (0) 453

Leverage Ratios indicate long-term solvency of a business and highlight the extent to which long-term debt is used to support the business.

These ratios include:

DEBT-TO-EQUITY RATIO

The Debt-to-Equity Ratio measures how much debt is used to run a business and further highlights how much debt the business has for every dollar of equity. The formula is as follows:

Debt-to-Equity Ratio = Total Liabilities/Shareholders Equity

In most cases, investors would want to this ratio to hover around 1.0 or slightly less.  Higher ratios suggest the company may be in financial distress, while lower number suggests the company is relying on equity financing which may be too costly and inefficient for the business.

 

DEBT-TO-ASSET RATIO

The Debt-to-Asset Ratio measures the percentage of a business’s assets that are financed by creditors. The formula is as follows:

Debt-to-Asset Ratio = Short-Term Debt + Long-Term Debt/Total Assets

Most investors and lenders see a lower ratio as a good indicator to repay debt and take on new debt for new opportunities; a higher ratio might suggest financial weakness.

While these formulas are straightforward, I have created a spreadsheet calculator for readers to use an explore. If you’re interested, you can download the Leverage Ratio Calculator using the button below. If you would like to learn more about Financial Ratios and how they may be used, read the post, Financial Ratio Analysis and the Entrepreneur.

 

 

 

A few notes on this calculator:

  • This calculator is an example and is for use as is. It is not supported in any way. It is not intended to be a tool to use without customization based on the specifics of an entrepreneurial venture and its unique financial statements.
  • This calculator is only an example to give the reader an idea of how such a tool can be developed. The numbers within are not based on a real business. I compiled this as an offshoot of work in a graduate class, but I have created developed similar models for entrepreneurial ventures. Each business venture is different, and so is...

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Financial Ratio Analysis and the Entrepreneur

October 5, 2017 ENT650 – Adv. Entrepreneurial Finance, M.E. Program Coursework Comments (4) 871

ENT650 - WEEK 6

Lenders, and often investors, will calculate one or more financial ratios when reviewing an entrepreneur’s financial statements to gain a quick understanding of the health of the business before determining whether to lend or invest. Within an industry, there will be “good” and “bad” benchmarks against which the venture will be measured (Rogers, 2014). Investors and lenders will consider the particulars of a business and likely weight the importance of the ratios differently when comparing to the industry benchmarks.

Many financial ratios could be applied, but the following appears to be most common types (BDC Staff, n.d.):

Leverage Ratios. Leverage Ratios provide an indication of the long-term solvency and highlight the extent long-term debt is used to support the venture.

Liquidity Ratios. Liquidity Ratios measure the businesses ability to cover its debt and provide a high-level overview of financial health.

Efficiency Ratios. Efficiency Ratios provide insights into operations and help to spot problem areas related to inventory management, cash flow, and collections.

Profitability Ratios. Profitability Ratios evaluate the financial viability of a venture and provide a measure of comparison and performance to the venture’s industry.

There are other ratios, of course, and as mentioned before investors particularly have ratios they rely on more based on their experience and industry knowledge. For example, a recent interview with an investor uncovered a preference for knowing the Customer Acquisition Costs. Customer Acquisition Costs are not often viewed as part of a Financial Ratio Analysis, but such factors are often important measures for both investors and entrepreneurs alike.

The entrepreneur, investor, and lender can gain useful information and financial trends on a business venture when using Financial Ratio Analysis. However, it is important to note that financial ratios have little meaning without comparison (Peavler, 2017). For example, a company can compare its ratios to those average ratios of their industries, but the best and most accurate comparisons come from using benchmark companies—high performing companies within their industry. Comparisons against these companies can create and encourage stretch goals for a business.

While Financial Ratio Analysis does provide numbers for performance...

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Startup Funding Option: Strategic Alliances

September 29, 2017 ENT650 – Adv. Entrepreneurial Finance, M.E. Program Coursework Comments (2) 715

ENT650 - WEEK 5

Entrepreneurs often look to friends, family, their bank account, and even credit cards when funding a startup, but many perhaps overlook this startup funding option: The strategic alliance.

A strategic alliance is a cooperative arrangement between two or more businesses for the mutual benefit all involved businesses. The idea is that each involved entrepreneur or business entity brings something to the alliance which enables a greater opportunity for near-term successes for all parties than the parties might achieve individually. While it is possible one company might invest in another to gain access to products and services more quickly that it might develop the same for itself, the more likely scenario is one in which two companies with complementary services align to improve long-term revenue generation opportunities.

For example, one entrepreneur with design experience might align with another entrepreneur with software coding experience to form a structured partnership to pitch new software projects to a prospective client or develop a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application to offer to a broader customer base.

Another example might be a larger company that needs support products or the services provided by a startup and agrees to partner to gain access to that startup’s offering. More specifically, a mapping software company may find it has difficulty selling its software for certain business applications. It could partner with a business consultant who understands how to apply business thinking to the software tools to help a prospective customer better understand the software’s value. When a sale occurs, the consultant helps implement the software and train the client.

There are challenges to strategic alliances, of course, particularly among startup ventures. The biggest obstacles appear to be a difficulty in finding suitable cooperating partners, an inability to assess the upside and downside of the alliance accurately, the challenge of properly structuring the arrangement, and the fear that cooperation might result in an expropriation of business (Hsu, 2007). Moreover, some alliances can pose a challenge to future investment funding if investors have a conflict with one or more of the alliance partners, or if cash flow rights to alliance partners dilute the opportunity for investors...

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Interview: Gregg Smith on Entrepreneurial Investment

September 25, 2017 ENT650 – Adv. Entrepreneurial Finance, Interviews, M.E. Program Coursework Comments (0) 696

The following is an interview with Gregg Smith, Founder, Evolution Corporate Advisors, for my Advanced Entrepreneurial Finance graduate course. Gregg and I have known each other since about 2010. We discuss entrepreneurial investment from an investor’s perspective

Q. Tell me little about yourself and Evolution Corporate Advisors as it may relate to or support the financing of entrepreneurial ventures and small businesses.

A. I spent ~20 years on Wall Street as an investment banker, with most of my career spent helping growth stage companies execute private placements. I have completed over 120 private placement transactions for clients in the healthcare, technology, consumer & retail, energy and other sectors. I have also (conservatively) reviewed more than 1,000 business plans and met with 100s of management teams and entrepreneurs. I have seen many success stories of small companies I financed that were sold for >$10 billion, and many I financed that failed.

Q. When considering an investment, which is more valuable to an investor, experience in an industry vs. experience as an entrepreneur? Why?

A. Many outsiders have come to existing, “old world” antiquated industries and completely disrupted the norm—all with no prior in-depth industry experience. I would rather back a highly successful entrepreneur who has succeed elsewhere in a new industry, than back an industry insider who does not have any meaningful record of success. Also, many outsiders have a fresh perspective on things that don’t live with every day and may innovate and/or solve a problem that is not obvious to the industry insider.

Q. In your experience, which is more important in early state financing, the fit with the entrepreneur, the apparent accuracy of the pro forma assumptions, or the expected potential of the business? Why?

A. In the more than 120 transactions I completed, I have only had one client meet their first quarter projections after closing a deal. Things are very difficult to predict, and everything in life ends up costing more and taking more time than one anticipates. The same holds true with even the most sophisticated management teams using their best judgment to project where their business will be in one-quarter...

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Investor Tip: Customer Acquisition Cost is Key

September 24, 2017 ENT650 – Adv. Entrepreneurial Finance, M.E. Program Coursework Comments (4) 736

ENT 650 - WEEK 4

A conversation with an investor this week brought out that Customer Acquisition Cost is a key to his investment decision-making process. It occurred to me that many new entrepreneurs may not consider how important such a metric is for their venture, whether or not they are seeking investment. Customer Acquisition Cost is not just a measure to determine the average cost to acquire a customer; it is also used to determine the overall health of the business, the marketing budget, and the effectiveness of marketing and sales programs. For an investor, it will demonstrate the short- and long-term viability of the venture.

Let’s examine Customer Acquisition Cost in a little more detail.

CUSTOMER ACQUISITION COST

Calculating the customer acquisition cost (CAC) is not difficult. Start by totaling all of the marketing and sales costs for a period, and then divide those costs by the number of new customers acquired for the same period. Easy enough, right? Except that many entrepreneur’s—myself included—may miss costs in the calculation and do not get an accurate number against which to measure the customer acquired.

For a more detailed analysis of CAC, I think about spend and acquisition by channel. For example, in the chart below, I list the number of channels and further categorize them in measurable and non-measurable buckets. Measurable channels are those from which a customer’s purchase is trackable to the marketing or sales campaign, either through a link, a promo code, a special call-in number, or a sales order tied directly to a salesperson.

 

Non-measurable channels are channels which do not provide for an easily trackable source for a specific sale but are likely to contribute in some way to sales in general and should be calculated as part of the overall CAC. Brand campaigns might fall into this category, as would most promotional activities such as an entrepreneur’s speaking engagements, and networking events, to name a few. By adding the costs together and then dividing by the number of customers acquired for the period we arrive at an Average Customer Acquisition Cost.

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