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Defend the Bottom Line!

During a downturn in the economy the overriding goal of the Chief Financial Officer and management team is to defend the bottom line or profitability of the company. At a minimum you should achieve break even. The economy ebbs and flows like the tide. During the good times a company should generate profits and pay down debt. During a slow economy they should do everything they can not to give up the profits they have earned.

So once you find yourself in an economic downturn what should you do? You should first recognize that you can’t save your way to profitability. Cutting costs though a useful tool will not get you to your goal.

The first step you should take is to get a good handle on cash and cash flow. You should prepare a daily cash report and a twelve month cash flow projection. You cannot run out of cash! Most managers fail to shift their focus to cash management until they have run out of it. By then it may be too late.

The next step may seem counter intuitive but is key to prospering in a downturn. You should increase your marketing expenditures and efforts. Most companies do the opposite! They slash advertising expenses and lay off salesmen to cut costs. If anything you should be doubling up on your sales effort! In a downturn there are still sales transactions taking place. There are just fewer of them. To maintain your revenue stream you need to get a larger percentage of the market. That takes more effort, not less!

Finally, to survive a downturn remember rule number one: Don’t lose money! So restructure your costs to achieve break even with the revenue stream you are generating. The goal is to survive to fight another day! Improve your pricing – and your profits– by downloading the free Pricing for Profit Inspection Guide.

bottom line

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bottom line

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If They Will Buy, Then I Will Sell!

If they will buy, then I will sell! Or stated another way, if I can sell it then buyer beware! That seems to have been the motto for the sub prime mortgage industry. Over the past five years a looming crisis has been in the making. Mortgage brokers would originate the loan then immediately pass on the risk to the investors. Few would keep the loans for a month let alone ninety days. Consequently, they were assuming little risk and had no incentive to police the quality of the loan.

If They Will Buy, Then I Will Sell!

Some people are questioning whose responsibility it was to police the market. At some point in the cycle someone needed to say no to the level of risk being assumed. Some say we should have government oversight. I say it is the job of Mr. Market!

The only thing that keeps people from taking stupid risks is the fear of loss. Until recently we haven’t had that in the past five years. During this time period we have experienced low cost of capital, high liquidity and increasing productivity of employees. Now the market forces (i.e. losses) are policing the sub prime markets.

Other Markets in the Economy

The real question is what other markets in the economy are in line to be disciplined? The economy is beginning to look like a slow moving train wreck. This scenario is not unlike the dot com bust where few of us were directly in the business but all of us were effected. Now is the time for entrepreneurs and their CFOs to take action to weather any possible storm. Download the External Analysis to gear up your business for change.

If They Will Buy, Then I Will Sell!

Strategic CFO Lab Member Extra

Access your Strategic Pricing Model Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to set your prices to maximize profits.

Click here to access your Execution Plan. Not a Lab Member?

Click here to learn more about SCFO Labs

If They Will Buy, Then I Will Sell!

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Don’t Let Tax Strategies Drive Financial Performance

With most young companies cash is king. As a company grows managing the cash available to finance that grow is crucial to sustaining the growth rate. Minimizing the cash expenses of the company is an entrepreneurs and CFO’s primary job. One of the main cash expenses is federal income taxes.

Don’t Let Tax Strategies Drive Financial Performance

During this start up and growth phase (which can last 10 years or more) the entrepreneur is focused on minimizing the cash payments for federal income taxes. He will work closely with his tax CPA to aggressively take financial positions that minimize taxes.

Somewhere along the line this strategy begins to lose its effectiveness. It generally happens when outside bank financing is obtained to fuel the growth of the company. As larger and larger amounts of outside debt is obtained the financial reporting needs of the company changes. The financial statements must now be presented to new users (i.e. the bank). The banks are seeking a clearing picture of the financial position of the company on an accrual basis. Often they want to know the true equity available from the company so they can establish the leverage of the company.

But maximizing the equity value of the company often is at odds with minimizing federal income taxes. To minimize taxes you typically end up either taking deductions sooner, deferring the recognition of income or valuing assets more conservatively. Taking these positions is fine until you want to borrow money.

Most entrepreneurs want to borrow as much as they can to fuel growth. However, by presenting there financial statements on a tax basis they minimize the amount that lenders will advance.

Conclusion on Tax Strategies Driving Financial Performance

The answer is that just as no strategy works in every situation, neither does one strategy work forever. The goal of the CFO should be to educate the owner to the needs of the other users of the financial statements. Often the benefits of paying higher income taxes is offset by the increased growth rate of the company.

Tax Strategies

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Forecasting and Your Business

Do you manage your business looking backward or forward? Are you preoccupied with looking at how last month compared with the budget instead of where your business is headed? While examining actual performance against the budget can be a very useful approach to identifying areas of improvement in your organization, it can also take your focus away from planning for your future business needs.

Forecasting and Your Business

It is important to develop and maintain a running forecast model of your business, one that incorporates trends (in sales, COGS, and overhead) as well as other information (addition of a significant new customer, loss of a substantial current customer, anticipated large changes in raw material prices and/or other expenses, or a new building lease, for example). This will help you estimate your upcoming needs for cash and give you the time to adequately prepare.

Connecting Your Financial Statements

You need to have an income statement model. This projects sales based on expected items or services sold and the prices received, as well as expected gross and net margins. Then, tie your income statement to a projected balance sheet and statement of cash flows. You should also consider a running working capital forecast as well as a capital expenditure forecast.

Being able to anticipate future capital needs months in advance can go a long way to improving your company’s performance by allowing you the time to seek out the best terms (in cost of capital as well as other terms). Such a forecast will help you establish credibility with prospective lenders and investors as well as provide an easy means of communication with them.


Click here to forecast and project your business accurately with our Goldilocks Sales Method whitepaper.

Forecasting and Your Business

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Access your Sales Genie Execution Plan in SCFO Lab. The step-by-step plan to produce accurate sales forecasts or projections.

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Forecasting and Your Business

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Crude hits high, Dollar hits low

NYMEX crude oil futures contracts for December delivery closed at an all-time high of $91.86 per barrel today, due to falling domestic supplies, ever growing global demand, political instability in the Middle East, continued weakening of the US dollar, and some speculation. Despite the run-up, OPEC seems unlikely to boost production. Crude hits hight, while the dollar hits low.

Crude Hits High & Dollar Hits Low

The dollar fell to an all-time low against the euro today. As crude oil prices tend to be quoted in dollars, a weaker dollar leads to higher prices.

crude hits high

So what does this mean for the US consumer and US firms? Perhaps not as much as it did 30 years ago, as US consumers spend a lesser portion of their incomes on fuel. Still, this cannot be welcome news.

The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee meets next week. It is anticipated that the Committe will further cut its federal funds rate target, an anticipation which has helped to drive the value of the dollar down relative to the euro.

In these uncertain times, it is best to prepare for the worst. WikiCFO has tips for how you can position your company to brave these choppy economic seas.

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New Home Sales and Prices Take a Dive in August

A significant source of growth in the US economy in recent years has exhibited further weakening per a Commerce Department report released this morning. Let’s look at new home sales and prices.

New Home Sales and Prices Take a Dive in August

New home sales and prices fell to their lowest rate in seven years and new home prices had the steepest one year decline since 1970 along with rising new home inventories. Additionally, homebuilders KB Home and Lennar both reported dismal performances for their 3rd quarters.

On a more upbeat note, the number of new unemployment claims declined to the fewest new claims since May and the US GDP grew in the 2nd quarter at an annualized rate of 3.8%.

Still, the storm clouds seem to be gathering.

New Home Sales and Prices

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