Category: Blog Samples

Keep it in the Family Business

Keep it in the Family Business

January 29, 2013
By Laura Walker for Universal Funding Corporation

Family-owned and operated businesses are a major part of our economy, so keeping them alive and thriving is crucial to the continued prosperity of America.  Whether it’s the mom and pop diner on Main Street; the local plumber and his sons; or Wal‑Mart, the largest family owned business in the country; or Zildjian Cymbal Company, the oldest family owned business operating in the United States (founded in Constantinople in 1623 and moved to the U.S. with the family in 1929); these establishments are the pride of America.  

According to U.S. Small Business Administration 2011 data, family businesses make up 90% of all businesses in North America, and provide 62% of the United States’ jobs.  The average life span of a family-owned business is 24 years.  Approximately 40% of family-owned businesses in the U.S. are successfully passed down to the second-generation, roughly 13% are handed down to a third generation, and 3% will go on to the fourth generation or beyond.

The growth and development of these businesses depends upon a number of factors, the most important of which is cash flow.  Without access to capital the family business is destined for ruin.  One way to ensure a small business owned and/or operated by a family will be around for the next generation is to maximize its resources.  One fast cash resource many companies don’t realize they have is in their own accounts receivable.

Invoices with 30 to 90-day terms can be cashed out to a factor for immediate capital.  Universal Funding Corporation purchases invoices at a discounted rate in order to provide businesses with a debt-free financing solution.  Not only does Universal Funding offer some of the lowest rates for invoice factoring out there, but the personalized service is guaranteed because Universal is a family-owned and operated business.  We know how important it is to keep it in the family.

Train Only If You Want to Win

Train Only If You Want to Win

October 15, 2018
By Laura Walker for Run & Gun Obstacle Course (no longer active)

When was the last time you expressed your badassedness by conquering a 5-K obstacle course that includes target shooting? You’ve never done it before because it didn’t exist until now. We still believe you that you’re badass. But now you have to prove it!

Can you handle the 15 obstacles that will have your heart rate maxed and sweat spewing from your every pore? How fast can you move on your belly in the dark? How fast can you run carrying a 5-gallon bucket of water? Do you even know how much 5 gallons of water weighs?

If you plan to complete the Run & Gun Obstacle Challenge, you don’t have to train to be ready unless you’re one of those people who has to finish first like life is a race or something. Or if you’re one of those people who has to be prepared for everything, then there are a few things you can do.

  • Start training at least six weeks before Run & Gun if you’re not in very good shape. That way you can start slow and work your way up, giving your body time to recover between workouts.
  • If the only exercise your body gets is under fluorescent lights at 24-Hour Fitness, then try to train outdoors as much as possible to avoid shocking your system with fresh air and sunshine when you get to Run & Gun.
  • Start by running or jogging for a few minutes, then stop and do push-ups or burpees for a minute or so, resume running/jogging for a few more minutes, then stop and crawl as fast as you can (hopefully you find a grassy area) for a few minutes, run/jog some more and then scale a wall (not one with a Rottweiler on the other side), and continue alternating in this manner doing various pushing/pulling/leaping/crawling exercises.
  • Practice running high-fives and fist-bumps because you’ll be doing a lot of that on race day and you don’t want to mess up and look dumb in front of all the other Run & Gunners who think they’re badass.
Can You Shoot Under Pressure?

Can You Shoot Under Pressure?

September 13, 2015
By Laura Walker for Run & Gun Obstacle Course (no longer active)

Like any race—that is, if you want to win it—the Run & Gun Challenge comes with a certain amount of stress because of the pressure to finish in the fastest time. You’re climbing slippery walls, crawling on your belly, dodging live electrical wires, and your heart rate is going to be high (up to 90% of your maximum). You’ll be breathing hard and sweating with adrenaline pumping through your veins.

While this is happening, you encounter an obstacle in which you have to shoot a target with accuracy. If you’ve ever shot a gun before, you know that one of the key elements to hitting the target is the ability to relax and hold steady. Not an easy thing to do when you’ve just been hurdling steel barrels and lugging sand bags.

Although biathlons require cross-country skiing and target shooting while the Run & Gun Challenge involves dirt, rubber, and a lot of high-fiving, similar skills are called upon in both events. The Run & Gun Challenge includes two obstacles that require hitting targets with a gun, the first of which is a Glock 9-mm pistol.

Shooting the target can be quite difficult because your hands will have to be very steady even though you’ve just been running, leaping, rolling, and climbing; your heart rate is likely near its max, you’re panting like a dog in the hot sun, and you have sweat dripping into your eyes.

The final shooting challenge of the race is done with a rifle, which can be a little easier than shooting a handgun because you have more points of contact between the gun and your body (back-grip, fore-grip, butt, and cheek rest). This and the long barrel help with aim, but if your chest is still heaving, you might as well shoot blind because if you can’t be still while shooting, you’re probably not going to hit the target.

So, what should you do to keep your cool for the Run & Gun Challenge? Here are a few strategies biathletes use for race day.

  1. Train: Practice running and jumping for several minutes until your heart rate is about 80% of max, then abruptly stop and consciously try to slow your breathing and heart rate quickly.
  2. Breathe deeply: Inhaling and exhaling deeply can slow your heart rate. Another technique long-distance athletes use to breathe more slowly is to relax the stomach on the inhale and force the exhale by pulling the abdomen in. This creates a larger volume of air going out, which results in a larger volume of air coming in, thus not having to take as many breaths.
  3. Control pace and focus: Try to maintain an even pace throughout the race rather than use all your energy in the beginning to get a head start. However, keep your focus on the moment at hand rather than thinking ahead to the next obstacle.
  4. Enjoy! Not all races are about winning. Run & Gun is supposed to be fun.
No Worries for the Virgin Shooter

No Worries for the Virgin Shooter

September 27, 2015
By Laura Walker for Run & Gun Obstacle Course (no longer active)

So, you’re going to do Run & Gun, are you? Do you have the grit to tackle 5 kilometers of badassedness littered with tricky obstacles and target shooting? Uh. What? Shooting? At targets? Uh oh.

Having never fired a gun before shouldn’t hold you back from having a blast racing through the 15 unique obstacles that make up Run & Gun. It’s not unusual that some Run & Gunners have never shot a gun before, so don’t worry.

Here are some of the basics you’ll want to know before you shoot.

  1. Safety first — Always treat a gun as if it is loaded, but still check to make sure it’s unloaded when first handling it. Always point the business end of the gun in a safe direction. Make sure you have the proper eye and ear protection in place.
  2. Grip — Never put your finger on the trigger until ready to fire. Hold the gun tightly in both hands, making sure all fingers are clear of moving parts.
  3. Stance — Stand with feet hip-width apart or stand with one foot (usually the one on the same side as your strong hand) about 12-18 inches behind the other foot. Balance your weight more on the balls of your feet rather than the heels, and bend slightly forward at the waist to counteract the gun’s recoil once fired. Relax your shoulders.
  4. Sighting — Make very small movements to align the front sight with the center of the target, evenly spaced and level at the top of the rear sight. You will see the front sight clearly and the target will be blurry; this is your sight picture.
  5. Breathing — Don’t hold your breath. Long, deep breaths will ensure enough oxygen is flowing throughout your body. This reduces the chances of shaking or flinching, therefore increasing your chances of hitting the target.
  6. Trigger — Place the center of your fingerprint on the trigger and without moving anything else (stance, other fingers, sight picture), slowly and smoothly apply pressure until the trigger moves.
  7. Follow-through — Maintain your stance, grip, and breathing so that you’re ready for the next shot.

If you forget all this by race time, just remember the most important thing is safety. You can also watch the training videos on the Run & Gun website.

OMG, Brittany! What Should I Wear to Run & Gun?

OMG, Brittany! What Should I Wear to Run & Gun?

October 24, 2015
By Laura Walker for Run & Gun Obstacle Course (no longer active)

I know you’re excited to wear your new Cabela’s ghillie suit, but it might be a bit of overkill for an obstacle race that doesn’t include big game hunting. Plus, you might snag your new leafy wear on the live electric wires you’ll be carefully stepping through during the event.

It’s best to wear clothing you’ll be comfortable getting a bit dirty and sweaty in that will allow you free range of motion, yet not get in your way as you conquer each obstacle in a single bound. Superman’s outfit would be perfect, minus the cape, of course. But if you’re not into wearing tights, then maybe you ought to call it compression gear.

Under Armour® is not just for keeping you warm while exercising in the cold, but it also improves blood flow, thus oxygenation of the muscles. Research has shown that athletes wearing compression clothing have easier recoveries and reduced soreness after intense exercise because heart rate and lactic acid are reduced when wearing the garments. Plus, you’ll look like a superhero!

Another Run & Gun fashion tip is to leave the knee pads at home unless they are medically necessary. They’ll just get in your way while you’re kicking ass and taking names. But do bring your CrossFit gloves, or much less spendy all-purpose flex grip gloves, to make your life easier while Run & Gunning. Not only do they enhance your grip as you scale the Glass Walls obstacle, but they’ll prevent bloody knuckles and maintain your manicure.

As for footwear, there are two words that say it all: performance and mud. Okay, that was three, but who’s counting. If you need a good excuse to buy a new pair of Nikes, then by all means, wear your best running shoes. If not, your second-best pair is perfect. And bring your third-best pair to change into after the event, so you don’t have to ride in the back of the pickup on the way home.

As long as you’re the only one reading this blog post, you’ll be the best dressed contestant at Run & Gun. See you there!

P.S. Don’t forget socks!

P.P.S. And underwear!

Register now for a Run & Gun event near you!

Dear Accountant/Tax Professional,

Dear Accountant/Tax Professional,

February 13, 2013
By Laura Walker for Universal Funding Corporation

While preparing your clients’ tax returns this year, you are likely to notice a few businesses that are in need of capital funding, but are not in a position to acquire bank financing.  As their accountant, we’re sure you have developed relationships with your clients and want them to succeed.  Even in these tough economic times, there is still a solution.

Universal Funding Corporation offers custom designed funding programs that generate immediate cash flow.  Our Lines of Capital are not like traditional Lines of Credit; they are not based upon a company’s balance sheet or ratios.  Invoice factoring is based upon an asset—accounts receivable.

Also known as invoice financing, we purchase a company’s receivables at a slightly discounted rate.  Advancing up to 90% of the invoice face-value, we pay them right away for the products and services they provide to their customers.  Our factoring fees are the lowest out there, starting at 1%.

Universal Funding has over 60 years of combined experience in the business finance industry.  Active members of the International Factoring Association, the Better Business Bureau, and featured in Dun & Bradstreet’s Power Profiles, we are a family-owned and family-operated company in Spokane, Washington. 

A referral to Universal Funding can show your client that you actually care about their business, not just their payment, although a cash infusion would likely help with that, too.  Factoring invoices is a debt-free solution to the cash-flow crunch.

We would appreciate the opportunity to offer funding solutions to your clients and hope to return the favor with many happy and successful customers.

Please visit our website at www.UniversalFunding.com or call our office at 1-800-405-6035.

The Glass is Half Full for Doing Business in 2013

The Glass is Half Full for Doing Business in 2013

January 15, 2013
By Laura Walker for Universal Funding Corporation

Even though income taxes will go up for most Americans in 2013, many of the expired tax breaks for small businesses have been renewed by the last-minute legislation signed last week.  This may be seen by some as just a “spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down,” but it’s definitely good news when considering those expirations could have hit small business owners with a double whammy this year. 

These tax breaks are not the only good news for small businesses right now.  The good news is that in 2013 these businesses can operate and grow even if budgets must be tightened.   We all know it costs money to run and grow a business, but where will the cash come from when spending is tight?

A savvy way to acquire capital funding that companies the world over have been using since taxes were conceived is factoring receivables, also known as accounts receivable financing or invoice factoring.  This debt-free alternative to traditional financing is good news when unforeseen expenses come up or if funds are tight and companies need cash to meet payroll, pay taxes, pay vendors and fund growth. 

Even more good news is that Universal Funding Corporation, a factoring company with over 65 years of experience, purchases accounts receivable invoices at a discounted rate.  Advancing up to 95% of the invoice face-value, they pay right away for the products and services small businesses provide to their customers, eliminating the 30-, 60-, 90-day or longer wait for payment.

Because it could take months to get a bank loan, when cash is needed right now Universal Funding can approve new clients in as little as 2 business days and fund within 2 hours of approval.  Improving a company’s financial position by maximizing its purchasing power with invoice factoring is definitely good news for 2013.   

For a free quote fill out our 1-minute application by clicking here.

“I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

“I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”

September 9, 2009
By Laura Walker for Universal Funding Corporation

So says Wimpy on the Popeye cartoon.  Is it a big surprise that he never paid for his hamburgers?  Wimpy’s reputation is well known, but not everybody who asks for credit is as transparent, thus the value of doing your due diligence.

As a business-to-business company, it is likely that you will extend credit terms to customers in order to be competitive in your market.  Depending upon the nature of the business, you may have to agree to accept payment 30-90 days after invoicing.  Before you decide to extend any type of credit, it’s critical that you make sure your customers are worthy of the risk.

If Roughhouse’s Diner had done its homework before fronting Wimpy his first hamburger, we’d have no conflict for the cartoon.  Performing due diligence on a customer who asks for credit reduces the risk of a potential conflict in which you don’t get your money.  Pete Pettinger, the Operations Manager and underwriter for Universal Funding Corporation, shares this basic formula for checking up on a customer before agreeing to credit terms.

  1. Free Search:  
    1. Google them first.  If available, look at their website, blog, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter profiles. 
    1. Read articles in which the company is cited or reviewed, blog posts and comments written by others, and any other resources listed.  Be sure to consider the credibility of the information source.
    1. Reputable organizations such as Manta and the BBB provide free information about businesses on their websites. 
    1. Date of establishment, UCC filings, and other business licensing information can typically be found with ease through your Secretary of State’s website.
  2. Complete Credit Application:  This document must include details about the business, including the personal information of the company’s principal(s), trade references (vendors the customer already has credit with), and banking information.  Click here for a sample application.
  3. Run a Credit Report:  Experian is a well-known resource for inexpensive credit checks.  Run these reports on the principals’ personal credit and on the company’s.  This will tell you how much outstanding debt and the payment history of the prospective customer.  A more thorough search can be done by signing up with LexisNexis, which for a fee, you can access a large database of proprietary and public information, including legal judgments, delinquencies, and other historical details.
  4. Check References:  Not only should you check on the creditworthiness of your customer, but you should also check out the reference.  See what you can find out about the reference online before you call, to make sure it’s legitimate.  When calling, be sure to ask these questions:
    1. of a vendor or trade reference:
      1. “Does the company in question pay its bills on time?”
      1. “About how much do they spend monthly and is there a regular pattern to their spending?”
    1. of a bank reference:
      1. “What can you tell me about this company?”
      1. “What is the normal amount of monthly activity in and out of the account?”
  5. Financial Reports:  Depending upon the amount of credit you are extending to your customer, you may want to have a closer look at the health of the business to assess your risk.  You may want to look at a current and prior year Profit and Loss Statement and a Balance Sheet for red flags, such as: 
    1. The balance of the payables far exceeds the balance of the receivables.
    1. The Accounts Receivable aging shows more than a few unpaid invoices over 90 days.
    1. Drastic, unexplained differences in profits or losses year over year.
  6. Big Picture:  Once you have gathered and studied the information you need, consider the overall story of this company.  Is there anything fishy or anything that stands out as too good to be true?  Don’t be afraid to ask the customer specific questions about your findings.  If your confidence in this customer is still not solid, then it’s probably a good idea to make them a cash-only customer.
  7. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket:  If the bulk of your accounts receivable is concentrated with one customer, what happens if that customer is unable to pay their balance?  It’s important to have diversity in your receivables, so as not to jeopardize your entire business if just one customer should fail to pay.

It’s vital that you are organized and methodical about your due diligence.  Create a system that works for your business and perform the same process with each customer requesting credit.  Don’t rely merely upon intuition or your “gut feeling” about a customer.  As a business owner, no doubt you’re smart, but crooks make it their business to outsmart the smartest.

But it’s not just crooks you must watch out for.  An honest business may be struggling to stay alive, therefore will request credit due to lack of cash flow.  Although the business may have the best of intentions, it’s not up to you to rescue a sinking ship.  Make the ship pay cash until they get back on their feet and have established a solid credit history, then they are welcome to apply again.

When a customer passes your various checks and you’ve decided to extend credit, be thorough in outlining the terms of their contract and the procedures that you require to fulfill orders and receive payments.  Ensure that each invoice is backed up with the proper documentation (purchase order, signed quote, signed receipt of goods/services, etc.) and that all of this is filed for easy reference.

Not many businesses can function on the honor system of a verbal agreement and a handshake anymore.  The global marketplace demands due diligence, so do your homework on every customer.

Continue reading ““I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.””
Budget Cuts, Pay Cuts, and Hair Cuts

Budget Cuts, Pay Cuts, and Hair Cuts

May 19, 2009
By Laura Walker for Universal Funding Corporation

The recession scramble to maintain vitality is in full sizzle.  Businesses are stressed, consumers are strapped, and governments are strained.  The solution for all has been budget cuts.  Whether they’ve been quick and dirty or fastidiously deliberated, cutting costs trickles down to touch everyone in line.

Small to medium-size businesses as well as large companies are getting creative in cost cutting because, yes, revenues are down.  But there’s only so much cost cutting a business can do without running an operation in the dark with no workers.  If the costs are as slim as they’re going to get, companies that are still cash short can factor accounts receivable to add working capital to the recipe.

It seems as if every business blog and website has tips on how to skinny down expenditures.  Appraisal Today magazine published a great article in 1994, “51 Ways to Cut Costs and Increase Cash Flow,” which is still very relevant today for more than just the appraisal industry.  The article addresses cash management strategies, pricing design, and tactics to reduce spending.

Staff cuts are usually the last thing a company wants to do, but often they’re the first.  Not saying this is the right thing to do, but employee compensation and benefits tend to be a business’ largest expense.  Whether it’s decreasing hours, pay cuts, or eliminating positions, workers are suffering and these individuals are forced to cut costs in their own personal budgets. 

Luxury expenses or splurge items are usually the first to be forced off of personal budgets.  An April 2009 Ipsos marketing article about consumer sacrifice of new products and usual brands states that “Consumers may dine out less often, visit beauty salons less often, and forego outside entertainment such as movie going.”

I was surprised by how many articles came up in a Google search for “recession haircut” (445,000).  A May 2009 Sacramento Bee news article showed how reducing a $65 haircut to $13 at Great Clips helped a mom slim her family’s budget.  It went on to say, “Overall, spending on beauty products, makeup, hair care and perfume has fallen nationwide, down 2 percent from 2007 to 2008, according to researcher NPD Group Inc.  So-called ‘prestige’ products tumbled 3 percent, while beauty product sales at food and drug stores stayed virtually the same.”

The news headlines all across America (and surely throughout the world) are packed with tales of government budget cuts.  Education, social services, and health care budgets are being subtracted in almost every state because tax revenues are down.  State and federal employee wages are being frozen and many will be cut or eliminated.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities published the article “State Budget Troubles Worsen” by Elizabeth McNichol and Iris J. Lav (updated May 13, 2009).  Regarding the financial situation in state governments, the following sums it up well:

The vast majority of states cannot run a deficit or borrow to cover their operating expenditures [as the federal government can]. As a result, states have three primary actions they can take during a fiscal crisis: they can draw down available reserves, they can cut expenditures, or they can raise taxes . . . remaining reserves are not sufficient to allow states to weather a significant downturn or recession. The other alternatives — spending cuts and tax increases — can further slow a state’s economy during a downturn and contribute to the further slowing of the national economy, as well.

So, what happens if state governments financially fail?  Likely results: prisoners could be released early, public servants such as firefighters and police could be laid off, schools closed, infrastructure could fall into disrepair or collapse entirely, and before you know it, we could be on our way to the Anarchy Inn.

California is teetering on the edge of a desperate budget situation right now.  With the worst bond rating of the 50 states, California citizens vote on six special-election ballot measures on May 19th, which are a shaky attempt to minimize the budget deficit by about $6 billion.  The initiatives propose to create a rainy-day fund, move funds from certain programs (education, child-development and mental health) to the general fund, borrow from future lottery revenues, and freeze legislator pay.  According to a recent article in The Economist, “the state will face a budget gap of $15.4 billion if the ballot measures pass, $21.3 billion if they fail.”

Any entity with a budget has already either hacked away the fat, and possibly some muscle, or is now sharpening the cleaver.  Headlines, blogs, and cross-cubical discussions are more often dark and nervous than hopeful these days.  Sorry to end on such a bleak note.