How Does Your Business Model Work?

What drives your business and what affects it? Entrepreneurs need to fully understand their Business Model.

What creates revenues in your business? What are the key variables that affect your revenues? Understanding your revenue model completely and analyzing the key drivers is an important component in knowing your Business Model . Perform sensitivity analyses on key variables to see how they affect your revenues. What could you do to control the variables and affect the outcomes?

Similarly, what are the key cost and expense components in your business? What is fixed and what is variable? Do you know the broad categories that account for 80% of your costs and expenses? What can you change to increase your bottom line?

What is controllable versus non-controllable in your Business Model? Are external factors a key component?

As an Entrepreneur one needs to fully understand the Business Model not only to improve performance but also to talk intelligently to potential investors.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Published in: on September 27, 2016 at 4:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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When Asking Investors ….

All Entrepreneurs, especially start-ups, are in need of money. What are the key things you need to do first when looking for money?

1.   Ask for a specific amount. Don’t state ranges or be vague. If you do not know the specific amount, it does not speak well of you understanding the financial needs of your business. It is okay to ask for slightly more than you need to provide for contingencies, but still look for a specific amount.

2.   Outline exactly how you are going to use the money. If you do not have a well-defined idea of how you plan to spend the money, it does not provide a high level of confidence to potential investors/lenders. However, resist going overboard and itemizing each and every item. You should have that for your own use, but do not need it when looking for money especially in the initial meeting.

3.   Present a realistic argument of how using this money will build a business that will generate positive cash flows. This will be the main selling point. Investors or lenders are not only interested in knowing how they will be repaid (with upside), but also whether the business can become a self-sustaining cash generator. Again, the idea is not present a thick business plan with fluff, but rather a well-defined and articulated strategy backed by realistic projections.

Spend some time in working on the above three requirements before you start looking for money.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Published in: on September 13, 2016 at 4:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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Before Raising Money …

All Entrepreneurs, especially start-ups, are in need of money. What are the key issues you need to address before approaching potential investors/lenders?

1.   Ask for a specific amount. Don’t speak of ranges or be vague. If you do not know the specific amount, it does not speak well of your understanding of the financial needs of your business. It is reasonable to ask for slightly more than you need to provide for contingencies, but still look for a specific amount.

2.   Outline exactly how you are going to utilize the funds. If you do not have a well-defined idea of how you plan to use the money, it does not provide a high level of confidence to potential investors/lenders. However, resist going overboard and itemizing each and every item. You should have that for your own use, but do not need it when looking for money especially in the initial meeting.

3.   Present a rational argument of how using this money will build a business that will generate positive cash flows. This will be the main selling point. Investors or lenders are not only interested in knowing how they will be repaid (with upside), but also whether the business can become a self-sustaining cash generator. Again, the idea is not present a thick business plan with fluff, but rather a well-defined and articulated strategy backed by realistic projections.

Spend some time in working on the above three requirements before you start looking for money.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Published in: on June 30, 2015 at 3:57 am  Leave a Comment  
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Do You Know Your Business Model?

How well do you know your business model? As an Entrepreneur have you thought about this question?

One has a successful company as the end result of having a consistently well-functioning business model. An Entrepreneur needs to know exactly how his/her business model works.

What are the key Revenue drivers? Is there a competitive advantage? Are there any barriers to entry? Do you have proprietary technology?

What are the key cost components? Are they well controllable? What costs are fixed and which ones are variable? Is your model labor sensitive or capital-intensive?

What are the other variables that have a significant influence on your model? Distribution? Customer service? Rapid response times?

An entrepreneur has to not only to know answers to the above questions and more, but more importantly he/she needs to determine the sensitivity of each of the components to the whole model. What are the few variables, that have a tremendous impact on the model, if tweaked even slightly could make the model better?

Only when you can fully understand your business model, you can make it better! Do the Right Things!

Ravi Patel

http://www.patelCFOservices.com

Published in: on September 3, 2014 at 3:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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Are you Depending on a Few Customers?

When Entrepreneurs start their businesses, they might depend on one or a few clients for most of their revenues. This revenue concentration scenario is understandable for the very early start-up stage of a company.

As revenues grow, the increase hopefully is from having more customers rather than only from additional business with the same clients. Diversification in the source of revenues is a critical factor in the long-term success of the company.

The risks of concentration of revenues from only a few clients or one or two big customers could be huge. If a significant portion of the revenues are derived from, say one customer, it could be devastating for the company if such business was lost, reduced dramatically, or even if there were payment problems with such receivables.

Entrepreneurs, at the appropriate stage in their company’s growth, would be well advised to diversify the sources of revenues such that dependence on a few clients does not end up hurting their business. Businesses sustained by only a few customers might be following the wrong path.

Managing revenue concentration risk is a critical component of Entrepreneurs Doing the Right Things!

Protecting Against Fraud

Almost everyone has heard about fraud affecting business. While you might be lucky not to have experienced fraud first-hand, you can appreciate the devastating effect of malfeasance and broken trust in companies.

Entrepreneurs are sometimes too trusting of their employees, especially ones who started at the beginning. Too much trust without built-in internal controls leads to a potential environment for fraud.

While most Entrepreneurs are aware of the need for internal controls in their companies, the size of their organization often limits proper segregation of duties.

In any event, Entrepreneurs should be vigilant about proper checks and balances as they build their organizations. While trusting your people is a fine virtue, a solid company is built on strong systems and procedures with proper internal controls.

Even in a smaller organization, creative division of responsibilities with reviews and approvals can provide adequate controls.

Protect your company against fraud by doing the right things!

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

 

Published in: on May 21, 2013 at 4:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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Independence for Entrepreneurs

As we are about to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day, a few thoughts on Entrepreneurial Independence.

Entrepreneurs start their own businesses primarily for two reasons. They either believe that they have a better product or service, or they do not want to work for anyone else. The latter is born out of a desire of having their own independence.

As they grow their companies, Entrepreneurs lose their independence because they cannot effectively manage their businesses and/or get into a financial bind. In such cases someone else has to come to lead the company or exercise financial control (through investors or lenders), depriving Entrepreneurs of their independence.

How can Entrepreneurs maintain their independence?

First, understand one’s limitation in managing the business and build an effective management team to adequately complement the Entrepreneur. An enlightened Entrepreneur might even have to hire a CEO or COO to lead the operations of the company while the Entrepreneur focuses on his/her core strengths.

Second, pay attention to the financial strength of the company. Manage the growth and cash flows effectively such that lines of credit and borrowing are sufficient so as not to dilute equity. Even if equity capital needs to be raised, go for it when the value of the company is high enough so that the Entrepreneur can retain the majority stake.

Entrepreneurs can maintain their independence, but they have to work at it.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

 

Looking for Money

All Entrepreneurs, especially start-ups, are in need of money. What are the key things you need to do first when looking for money?

1.   Ask for a specific amount. Don’t state ranges or be vague. If you do not know the specific amount, it does not speak well of you understanding the financial needs of your business. It is okay to ask for slightly more than you need to provide for contingencies, but still look for a specific amount.

2.   Outline exactly how you are going to use the money. If you do not have a well-defined idea of how you plan to spend the money, it does not provide a high level of confidence to potential investors/lenders. However, resist going overboard and itemizing each and every item. You should have that for your own use, but do not need it when looking for money especially in the initial meeting.

3.   Present a realistic argument of how using this money will build a business that will generate positive cash flows. This will be the main selling point. Investors or lenders are not only interested in knowing how they will be repaid (with upside), but also whether the business can become a self-sustaining cash generator. Again, the idea is not present a thick business plan with fluff, but rather a well-defined and articulated strategy backed by realistic projections.

Spend some time in working on the above three requirements before you start looking for money.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

A Financial Vision Statement

Entrepreneurs are aware of the need for realistic Vision and well-defined Mission statements for their businesses. Vision and Mission statements are generally broad in nature and can encompass more than financial objectives.

Entrepreneurs might want to consider developing a specific, long-term Financial Vision statement to have clear objectives on their financial goals. Such a Financial Vision should be time-related and include realistic targets and interim milestones related to areas such as but not limited to:

  • Revenues
  • Gross Margin
  • EBITDA
  • Company Valuation
  • Exit Strategy

Actual progress towards these objectives should be measured periodically and performance strategies could be modified to ensure that the company is moving along the path to achieving these targets.

While your Vision and Mission should be broadly shared with your stakeholders, the Financial Vision could be kept confidential to limited few so as not to detract from the main focus.

Ravi Patel

www.patelCFOservices.com

Which is preferable – Revenue or Profit?

If you ask an Entrepreneur whether he/she would prefer growth in Revenues or Profits, the answer would probably be – both.

However both might not be possible for Entrepreneurs in growing companies. Depending upon the stage of growth of a company, there is a potential for a Catch-22 situation. If I have profits, I can have internally generated cash to invest in growing the top line. Or, if I had more Revenues, I would be able to squeeze out more profits due to certain economies of scale.

Choices have to be made at different stages of growth as to whether Revenue or Profit is more important to focus on. These choices would most probably change over time.

However, have you ever thought about what is better in the long-term – growth in Revenues or Profits? You might be surprised by your quandary!

Ravi Patel