Blocking and Tackling: A Sound Business Strategy for 2016

What is your business plan for 2016? The economic landscape is ever-shifting, and 2016 has its share of challenges and opportunities. Employment numbers are up! Oil prices are down! Auto sales went on a tear in 2015! Your business, no matter the size, can adjust to the conditions. But it’s essential to be aware of them. In a late 2015 article in The Commercial Factor’s “The Year Ahead Issue,” Dave Tull, founder and CEO of Crestmark Bank, shares insights on the 2016 economy, and how it may affect asset-based lending. His wisdom, and practical approach to business, can be applied to any industry. Take a look here!

Crestmark to complete TIP Capital transition to Crestmark Equipment Finance

With the New Year quickly approaching, Crestmark Bank will finalize the transition of TIP Capital to Crestmark Equipment Finance by aligning the leasing company’s operations, website and social media networks into the corporate brand by year end. TIP Capital was acquired by Crestmark in October 2014.

As the equipment leasing division of Crestmark, CEF’s commercial and municipal customers can leverage a whole new portfolio of financial solutions for working capital such as asset-based lending, accounts receivable financing, business lines of credit, discounted and traditional factoring, SBA loans, and competitive rate, FDIC-insured Certificates of Deposit.

The alignment under the Crestmark footprint also opens up additional equipment leasing services for current commercial banking customers in industries such as transportation, manufacturing, apparel, furniture, oil and gas, hospitality and staffing.

Crestmark Equipment Finance offers vendor-neutral equipment leases that allow business customers to acquire equipment through fixed payment financing without a large amount of upfront capital required. CEF helps customers determine if a standard leasing buyout option (Fair Market Value, $1 Buyout) or a specialized financing program (leaseline) best services their IT and technology needs – and provides protection against equipment obsolescence.

We also focus on developing long-term business relationships with customers. CEF provides assistance throughout the lease term with online asset management tracking and reporting through our proprietary assetCONNECT® portal, and complete end of lease servicing expertise when equipment approaches the end of the lease term.

As TIP Capital completes its transition to Crestmark Equipment Finance on December 14, we encourage current customers and prospective equipment leasing customers to learn more about Crestmark by visiting www.crestmark.com or following Crestmark on Facebook and LinkedIn social media sites.

9 Resources to Help Small Business Owners

Resources-for-Business-Rect

Running a business, large or small, can be daunting, At times, it may feel like you’re constantly putting out fires. Achieving business goals without stress may seem impossible, but it is possible, with practice, to develop an orderly, productive pace to your work. Effective work practices may even contribute to the success of your business.

Examine the way you handle tasks and projects, and look for ways to be more efficient. Standardizing processes for key activities will provide structure and increase productivity. To help, look for information online related to increasing productivity, and look for resources and applications created for this purpose.

Here are some valuable tools:

Google Analytics

This tool, developed by the internet giant, tracks traffic to your website. Google analytics provides detailed information on where visitors come from; indicates the pages reviewed and for how long, and many other interesting and helpful statistics. Use this information to inform decision making related to the website, and align it with your overall business strategy.

Dropbox

Never lose another file or photo! According to Dropbox, the service has more than 400 million users, and more than 1.2 billion files are saved to Dropbox every 24 hours. Dropbox allows you to save and store photos, documents, and videos. Then, using your computer, laptop, phone or tablet, it is possible to access them from wherever you are. In addition, you can share files with others. For example, want your boss to see the results of a photo shoot while she’s on vacation? Just email her the file from your Dropbox. Once she has the Dropbox app installed, she can access the contents of the file.

Wix

Do you need to create a website but don’t have the time or money to pay a professional graphic designer? Then Wix is the tool for you. This easy-to-use resource uses a drag-and-drop template to help beginners create a professional-looking website. It’s also easy to edit your page. If you decide to, say, change your company’s logo, Wix allows you to seamlessly swap in the new design.

OmniFocus

OmniFocus provides a system to corral, and effectively organize, all the stuff that is in your head, along with new projects, messages from your boss, and the notes and “to do” lists on little pieces of paper all over your desk. Use OmniFocus to categorize all the incoming “bits” into actionable items; for delegation; and to back burner. OmniFocus is available wherever you are through your phone, tablet or computer. Best yet, OmniFocus syncs your data to its cloud server to prevent losses.

By having one central place to keep all of the things you’ve been thinking about, or have been told to do, you can stop worrying about what you’re forgetting.

Slideshare

Do you have clients or co-workers offsite, either in another part of the country or even the world? Slideshare, which has more than 50 million monthly users, allows you to easily share presentations with them. You can share videos, slideshows, or music files with anyone who has the service.

JIRA

JIRA is a tool for planning, managing, and tracking projects. First created to help software development teams, the tool is now used by many companies to manage all types of projects. On JIRA, projects are entered with associated tasks and deadlines. Team members are assigned work, which is distributed through JIRA. JIRA is a great tool to manage projects internally, and also those that have contributors outside the company, like graphic designers, copywriters, and IT consultants.

Quora

Quora serves as a virtual polling place where you can submit questions and receive feedback from thousands of users. This is a valuable resource for young companies and those who want to get more in touch with their customers’ needs.

Inc.

Inc. is both a magazine and a website that offers information to help small business owners improve their operations.

The Small Business Administration

The SBA uses taxpayer dollars to provide loans to small business owners. But more than that, you can visit local SBA offices or Small Business Development Centers, or take SBA classes to learn business practices that can improve your operations.

Financing Mistakes That Entrepreneurs Make (And How to Fix Them)

Financing-Mistakes-Rect

Launching a new business is an exciting time for an entrepreneur. For success it is essential to understand and monitor your financial position. Take the time to learn good operating practices, and use financial reports to ensure you are focused on activities that build steady, reliable revenue.

Here are some mistakes you can avoid:

1. Not knowing, or miscalculating monthly cash flow/burn rate

One reason businesses fail is they are undercapitalized. This means they don’t have a cushion to cover their expenses while they develop a reliable stream of revenue. To get a handle on this, understand your business’s burn rate. This is the monthly cost to operate the business. Even if the business starts with low overhead, there are basic expenses that must be covered. What are your business’s monthly expenses? Are you paying rent? Do you have a staff? How much are your utilities? Do you have an assistant? Don’t forget vendors that must be paid monthly. Add up all the monthly costs, including supplies. For example, if you open the door to your new business, and your monthly expenses for rent, an assistant, phone, internet, utilities, and supplies is $10,000; then your burn rate is $10,000.

If you plan to seek financing or funding for the start-up, lenders will want to know the business’s burn rate.

Action: Go through your financial statements, and determine the monthly cost of operating your business.

2. Not Knowing the Cash-Zero Date

Another important measure is the cash-zero date. This refers to the date when the business will run out of cash. For example, if it is January 1, and the business has $100,000 cash-on-hand; the burn rate is $10,000, without revenue, you will be out of cash in 10 months.

Action: Determine your burn rate, and create a plan to get additional funds to support the business.

3. Seeking financing too late

Business owners may try getting by without financing. When a crisis hits, they have limited resources available, and may not qualify for a loan.

Action: Line up reliable funding options before you need them so that there are funds available to manage a crisis or other operational issues, including new opportunities.

4. Unfamiliarity with loan options; costly loans

Shop for a loan the way you would shop for other important items. Learn about the products and seek out reputable lenders. Examine the advantages and disadvantages of different loan types. Compare lenders’ rates, terms, and services. Familiarize yourself with lenders and financing products. Talk to other business owners. Ask for recommendations and referrals.

Action: Seek the best-possible funding option.

5. Failure to understand the financing process and timeline

Discuss the loan process and timing with lenders. The application process may take several weeks to months. It’s best to know the timeline up front. If you are facing a firm due date on a transaction, the funding may come too late. In this scenario, you will need to explore other sources of funding until your financing is approved.

In addition, some lenders – like Crestmark – are sometimes able to fund more quickly than traditional banks.

Action: Ask lenders to provide a timeline for the loan process, and for an estimated date the loan will be funded if the application is approved.

6) Relying on Credit Cards

Some entrepreneurs and small business owners use credit cards to cover expenses. This often occurs if they are undercapitalized, and haven’t planned for unexpected costs. While credit cards may help you through a jam, they are not a comprehensive solution for sound operations.

This option has limited advantages because of high interest charges, annual fees, and credit limits. In addition, it’s easy for small businesses to fall into a credit card trap.

Action: If it is necessary to use credit cards, seek introductory offers of zero percent interest; identify a card for business-only use; and track purchases.

Your business will have the best opportunity for success when you have sufficient capital to run it. Crestmark Bank provides funding solutions to small- and medium-sized businesses. Learn about our financial products here.

What is a Lender Thinking When I Apply for a Loan?

So you’re ready, and excited, to purchase an insurance agency. You eagerly call a lender to inquire about perpetuation or acquisition financing. The phone call goes well (you think), but a few days pass silently. Is the lender interested? Will I be approved for a loan? I wish I knew what the lender is thinking…

Crestmark’s own Christopher Soupal recently shed light on this topic, explaining the factors that influence the lender’s decision. The article was first featured by the Michigan Association of Insurance Agents, and it is also available on Crestmark’s Resource Section. In this piece, Christopher explains the factors the lender considers during the review, including the character of the borrower, the growth of the business, collateral growth, and more.

At Crestmark, we take the guesswork out of applying for a loan. Our lending experts work closely with you to determine the types of financing that will work best for your situation, and will walk you through the loan application process. To get started, contact us at 888-999-8050.

Crestmark to exhibit at Summer NAPE

Crestmark Bank will be exhibiting at the NAPE Business Conference held August 19-20 in Houston, Texas. Join Crestmark’s Steve Hansen and TIP Capital’s Landon Kent at Booth #2216 to find out about asset-based lending and equipment lease financing programs for the oil and gas industry.

Of note: the Keynote Speaker at the Business Conference Luncheon is Dr. Ray Perryman, often referred to as ‘the most quoted man in Texas’ for his expertise in economic and financial analysis. He is Founder and President of the Perryman Group, and will discuss “Dollars the Oil & Gas Industry Brings to the Economic Table.”

For more information about the Summer NAPE, please visit the NAPE website at www.napeexpo.com. Crestmark and TIP Capital look forward to seeing everyone at Booth #2216.

Crestmark: Champions of Business Featured in Bloomberg Businessweek

Crestmark was recently recognized in Bloomberg for providing capital and financing solutions to businesses across the country as a non-traditional lender. The featured article outlines Crestmark’s unique efforts in adding value to small-and medium-sized businesses through innovative financial solutions to niche markets.

The article discusses how Crestmark’s diverse team has helped to expand and reach new locations and new industries. The combined experienced of our team, as well the leadership of CEO David Tull and President Mick Goik, allows us to continue to work every day to help clients meet their goals. Currently at Crestmark, we work to provide financing solutions to a number of industries including manufacturing, transportation, staffing, retail supply chain, insurance agencies, equipment finance/leasing hospitality, oil and gas. We have full-service offices including our headquarters in Troy, Michigan, leasing division in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee, California, and New York – as well as sales representation throughout the country.

Crestmark’s vision is to help businesses not be limited by funding. They want businesses who have good sales, strong capabilities and potential to succeed who may struggle with funding to be able to achieve success. We want to encourage entrepreneurs, small and medium businesses to have the funding necessary to grow their business.

See the full article here: http://www.crestmark.com/resources/champions-of-business-financing-across-the-country/

Our team works with an outside network of business professionals such as lawyers, accountants, business consultants, and bankers to provide the working capital assistance those businesses need. We are proud of our history and the collective strength that we’ve brought together – and we are ready to help. When you are looking for alternative financing for your business, and have questions, contact one of the Crestmark lending experts at 888-999-8050.

TIP Capital, a Crestmark Bank Company, achieves Monitor 100 ranking for nationwide equipment leasing companies

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MICH., (July 23, 2015) – TIP Capital, a Crestmark Bank Company, recently achieved the #85 ranking in the 2015 Monitor 100 and #79 in new business volume for nationwide commercial equipment leasing companies.

TIP Capital’s rise in the 2015 Monitor 100 rankings originates from an 11.1% increase in net assets ($250 million) and 9% increase in new business volume ($160 million) year-over-year. Multiple factors contributed to the company’s 2014 success: its acquisition by Crestmark Bank; growth of third party vendor financing programs; and technology upgrades designed to increase efficiency throughout the leasing process.

“Being a part of the Monitor 100 is the goal of every commercial equipment leasing company in the United States – and we are proud of the growth and accomplishments within a very competitive industry,” President Scott Grady said. “We believe in building and maintaining long-term relationships with our customers by leveraging technology and our professional staff to provide competitive, efficient financing solutions.”

“As Crestmark’s leasing division, we plan to leverage the bank’s programs to diversify our portfolio of competitive financial products and grow our business as Crestmark Equipment Finance this year and beyond.

In its 24th year of publication, the Monitor 100 report ranks the largest equipment finance and leasing companies in the United States. Last year, TIP Capital debuted in the Monitor 100 as the 12th ranked independent commercial equipment leasing company in the United States with $147 million in equipment lease financing (42% new business volume increase year-over year). TIP Capital also ranked as the largest Michigan-based independent equipment company in terms of new volume in 2013.

Using Stock Options to Build Your Team

As the economy continues to strengthen in 2015, demand for skilled employees continues to grow as well. Companies who are looking to hire top talent have to find creative ways to land (and retain) workers. This is especially true for young companies who are competing against larger, more established businesses who have deeper pockets to attract new hires.

Offering stock options can be a great way to build your employee base. Bill Harris, the founder of Personal Capital, said at a South by Southwest Interactive session in 2013 that stock options are the most powerful way to help build a successful business.

“The people you want to attract to your business are the people who want equity,” he says, according to Forbes. “You need people who are willing to take risks. And then you need to reward them.” For that, Harris says stock options are the “best little storehouse in Texas.”

“It’s great for the company since it’s got no cash outlay,” he explains. “For the employee, it’s even better. They benefit from the stock price rising and are protected from its dips.”

Harris says first-timers often struggle with equity because they don’t understand how to get the maximum value out of it. He suggests a one-year waiting period for new employees after which the stock options can vest monthly or annually. There are no hard and fast rules on who gets how many options, but he suggests executives or early hires can receive as much as 1-2% of the total shares of the company.

Harris also notes stock options can provide a benefit that no future investor could ever receive. “In startups, employees are often able to purchase exercisable shares by as big a discount of as much as 10 to 1,” he says. “In other words, if the preferred stock is a dollar, the common share and employee could be 10 cents.” When those shares start to gain value, the profits could be huge.

When done correctly, equity offerings can help spur employees to bet on an unproven or new company, reward long-term value creation, spur creative thinking by employees, and encourage employees to think about the company’s success beyond their own positions.

Andy Rachleff designed the Wealthfront Equity Plan to help companies figure out how to offer equity. Each year, he says, the company creates a pool that addresses four needs: New Hires (used to hire new employees at market levels), Promotion (used to reward employees that have been promoted), Outstanding Performance (used to reward the top 10% to 20% of employees who were exemplary in the past year), and Evergreen (used for all employees, starts at an employees 2½-year anniversary and continues every year thereafter).

The key, he says, is consistent, early evergreen grants. These grants, he says, are the most common area where tech startups fail to invest until it is far too late in their development.

“The average tenure for most technology employees is two to three years, and waiting until your first employees hit year four is just too late,” he says.

A transparent and consistent system of evergreen grants allows employees to build that system into their long-term expectations and links long-term tenure and contribution to their ownership stake.

Ultimately, finding a compensation package that allows you to attract and retain top talent is key in growing your business. Next time you are planning to hire, consider stock options as a part of your offer!

Crestmark Funding Solution Featured in ABF Journal

Steve Tomasello, Executive Vice President and East Division President at Crestmark, has written an article recently featured on ABF Journal. Steve has over 25 years of commercial finance experience and has been working at Crestmark since 2009. As an alternative lender Crestmark is often asked by traditional lenders, turnaround professionals and consultants to develop specialized funding solutions for businesses. We are always eager to share our insights and experience with other industry professionals and businesses.

In the article Steve shares Crestmark’s unique experience in finding a new financing solution for a busy thermoforming company. The challenging opportunity to develop a customized loan structure required innovative solutions and carefully timed, coordinated efforts by an experienced lending team. Twelve loans had to be refinanced, consisting of personal loans, mortgages, a line of credit and machinery and equipment term loans.

In the end the multi-tiered solution was made possible by strong leadership within the company, the resourceful and motivated sales, underwriting and management team at Crestmark, as well as a solid relationship with the incumbent lender. A new lending relationship was formed and innovations including improved management of controls, consistent processes, and higher-quality financial reporting to enhance the company’s overall productivity and potential were also achieved in the process.

For full details, read the article here: http://www.abfjournal.com/articles/unique-funding-solution-a-multi-tiered-approach-for-a-growing-company/

At Crestmark we have a broad experience in providing diverse financial solutions to growing businesses. Give us a call today to speak with a lending expert and explore options for your business.