DEBT is not just a four-letter word

Close-up of couple doing finances at home

By Alan Langeteig, SVP – Chief Lending Officer

To paraphrase Shakespeare: “To borrow or not to borrow? That is the question.”

Many people believe that debt of any kind is worse than no debt, but there may be very good reasons to incur short-term debt for long-term gain. There are situations when taking on debt can be a positive and strategic move for your business. In other words, the value of debt is determined by the return provided by that debt.

Without a doubt, a well-run business needs to control expenses in order to maximize profits. Interest expense is similar to every other expense in many ways. One major difference, however, is that while most expenses pay for regular overhead that is consumed in the normal course of business (salaries, rent, utilities, supplies, etc.), interest expense can represent an investment in the future.

For example:

  • Debt can be better than losing an opportunity. When your company has the opportunity to take on a large or unusual job from a new or existing client, debt may make sense. If there are upfront costs, such as hiring labor, purchasing inventory, or upgrading equipment in order to complete and deliver on the job, debt can help make that happen. Loan proceeds are used to fund the upfront costs. The debt is then repaid when the payment is received. Do the math, and make sure there is true profit at the end of the process. Don’t forget to include overhead beyond the upfront costs when calculating the profit.
  • Debt is often more desirable than giving up equity. While offering equity may seem like a simple solution to the growing needs of a small business, it means giving up a percentage of your business and, therefore, future profits that are a result of your hard work…forever. Debt can be repaid quickly when compared to equity, which can be permanent.
  • Debt can add stability to seasonal cash flow. A lot of successful companies are seasonal in their business and, as a result, seasonal in their cash flow. Debt can help even out the cash flow cycle, providing cash during the lean months while being repaid during the flush months.
  • Debt forces discipline and frugality. Having to make regular loan payments on debt helps keep you focused on cash flow. Without having those payments, an influx of cash might tempt a business to spend money on things beyond necessities. Lean businesses tend to keep on top of expenditures.
  • Debt may reduce your taxable income. While I’ve never understood the idea of paying the bank $1.00 in interest to save $.25 in taxes, interest is generally tax-deductible. So while I don’t think tax savings is a reason to take on debt, I do believe it is a nice benefit if a loan is already under consideration. The tax deduction is a potential benefit for all of the previously mentioned scenarios beyond the benefits mentioned in each situation.

Remember, when it comes to taking on debt, all loans are not equal. It’s important that you find a lender who understands your business, understands the reasons for the loan, is willing to lend you money at a reasonable rate, and can provide you fast, convenient, and personal service.

If you have questions, we can help. Contact us today.

Member FDIC.

Buy a Business from a Baby Boomer!

Family business

By: Visar Salihu, Business Banker

According to the California Association of Business Brokers, Baby Boomers are on the verge of selling almost 12 million businesses over the next 10 to 15 years. This obviously represents a significant opportunity for Gen X and Millennial’s with entrepreneurial aspirations of their own.

The best opportunities may lie with businesses that are ready to be transferred to 2nd Generation family members due to an impending retirement, but there are also going to be a lot of Baby Boomers who don’t have a family member in line. Find a business that you’re passionate about and make sure that it can adapt to one important thing – technology!

Here are some benefits to consider when purchasing an existing business:

  • Proven Concept – Buying a business with a proven concept is less risky. Buying a business with a proven concept that’s been around for a while is even less risky (although there’s always risk!).
  • Recognition – It’s likely that you’re buying a business with a recognized name already. That’s huge!
  • Equipment – If equipment has been updated recently, the business will have a more seamless transition. You can then focus on improving and growing the business immediately.
  • People – In addition to getting knowledgeable existing employees, you can also have the existing owner stay on for a year or so to show you the ropes (looks great to banks!).
  • Customers – The business has existing, loyal customers! You need to make sure to continue to nurture those relationships.

There is a great deal of initial due diligence, but the most important task is to make sure the business has been (and will continue to be) financially stable for quite some time. I’d advise getting expert help with financials. Then, research if there will be continuing demand for that type of product or service. For instance, if the business is a VHS rental store, then I’d recommend you move on. If you’ve identified ways to make the business better or continue its mission, then you’re on the right track.

There is always risk when you decide to become a business owner, but it’s your job to find ways to minimize it. (Let me repeat: Don’t buy a VHS rental store.)

The Education Center on our website has more information about the pros and cons of buying an existing business, as well as how to get started. If you’d like to talk about buying a business or have a specific opportunity to evaluate, I invite you to contact me with any questions at visar.salihu@crossplainsbank.com.

 Member FDIC.