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Franchise Startup Costs – How Do I Finance Them?

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Don’t be surprised if a franchise executive wants to know three things about you when considering you as a franchisee. Franchisors want to know how much cash you are able to put toward the purchase, how much you can or will be willing to borrow, and your net worth (all of your assets minus all of liabilities.)

The cash you are willing or able to put toward the purchase, how much you will need to pay yourself during the critical startup months, your ability to borrow, and potential partners are just a few of the ingredients that will go into the unique funding mixture of your franchise purchase.

Just because you have cash, for example, doesn’t mean that you should deplete it all on the purchase of a franchise. Like it or not, very few franchises are instantly profitable, so many new franchisees need to specifically plan to have adequate operating capital in place so that they can pay themselves a salary for several months or even years. This decision alone might cause you to borrow more and use less cash. Dave Ramsey proponents are likely to want to wait to purchase a franchise until after they can pay 100% cash. In short, how to finance your franchise opportunity has more to do with your personal needs than what franchise you are buying.

One option is to use funds in an existing 401k plan rather than borrowing money. The nuances of this demand a much longer article than this, but here are the basics. Money in an existing 401k plan can be transferred into a special type of 401k that will allow you to purchase stock in your own company. This often requires that your company be organized as a C-Corporation rather than an LLC or other type of business entity. Many companies such as Fran-Fund and Benetrends specialize in helping franchisees make this work. Done correctly this approach can be managed with ease, but it should never be undertaken without the advice of experience professionals and your attorney. It can create some interesting and potentially beneficial financial options, but again should be considered carefully. Some would consider using existing retirement dollars over debt as a conservative approach while others might consider it quiet risky. Consult your business advisers if this is a decision you are considering. One final note, using your funds this way will involve a rather significant one-time fee that often includes the establishment and registering of your corporation. Despite this, it is often a great choice for careful investors, but it is worth noting that if the amount you are going to use is less then $30,000, you could consider just withdrawing your 401k funds, paying the IRS penalty, and possibly end up spending less to obtain the funding. This decision, like any funding question that has tax consequences, should only be considered with the involvement of your CPA, your attorney, or both.

Many franchises can be operated with little or no real estate investment, but for those that require a retail space, part of your financing considerations will have to be related to leasing or purchasing real estate. Purchased real estate can often be self-collateralized, meaning the property will secure the note against it. Unless you are able to build the space from the ground up, and obtain a loan for the construction, you are likely to have to find a way to pay for or finance lease-holder improvements required by the franchise.

Similarly some franchises require significant equipment purchases while others do not. If your chosen franchise requires equipment, you will need to find a way to finance the equipment. Under many conditions lenders can provide equipment loans, or equipment leasing options to lenders who don’t qualify for standard business loans.

Some franchise systems have in-house financing available to qualified buyers others do not. In-house financing is appealing in many cases, but often may include interest rates that are not as attractive as a buyer might obtain from other sources. Franchises that offer in-house financing are much more likely to spend time and energy evaluating your business expertise, motivation, sales skills, etc. as a means to pre-qualify you as a buyer.

The US Small Business Administration can assist new franchisees with loans. This is a topic that warrants a complete article, however, here are some limited basics. SBA loans often come from local banks, and other customary lenders, not actually from the SBA. Instead they are backed by the SBA. There are several types of SBA related loans available, but generally lenders want to loan over $150,000 rather than smaller amounts, and these loans will almost always require collateral similar to any other business loan. In some cases the equity in your existing home might fill this need. SBA loans often require increased documentation, but you might consider locating a Small Business Development Center in your area to help you evaluate your options and complete your paperwork. In some cases your selected franchise will assist you with the writing of the necessary business plans and documentation required for SBA loans.

When starting a new business there is always the option of seeking investment capital. In other words, you can sell a percentage of your new company to investors in exchange for the money to get started. While this is a fairly common approach to funding a new business, it is less common among new franchisees. This may be due to the fact that many new franchisees leave jobs and become franchise owners as a means to have more control over their own destiny, and perceive even minority investors as a potential threat to that goal. Similarly, using investment capital requires careful planning, the involvement of attorneys, and an understanding of C-corporations, LLCs and similar complex business structures. Venture capital substantially complicates a business arrangement, and new franchisees often choose to buy a franchise over starting from scratch as a way to reduce complexity.

As a franchise consultant, I always encourage potential franchisees to ask their selected franchise to help them consider funding options. Top franchises will almost always be willing to provide you information on financial options. Similarly, I advice clients to seek the advice of their CPA and attorney.

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Greyhound Racing: What The Coloured Jackets Mean

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The typical greyhound race in the UK consists of six dogs. Each dog is identified by the coloured jacket it wears for the race. The colour signifies its starting position – in other words the trap number it races from – and helps you to identify the dogs as they are racing. The colours are standard so it helps to become familiar with them for your night at the greyhounds. Let’s take a run through them.

The red jacked is always worn by the dog starting from trap one. This is the starting position closest to the inside rail. Such animals generally have a preference for running along the inside of the track and are known to race goers as “railers.” A railer typically requires a good burst of early speed to hold its position in to the first corner and not get baulked by the opposition.

The blue jacket is always worn by the dog starting from trap two. This trap is also generally favoured by railers with such dogs seeking to get over to the rail in front of the greyhound in trap one.

The white jacket is always worn by the animal starting from trap three and the black jacket is always worn by the greyhound staring from trip four. Such starting positions are generally favoured by greyhounds who have a natural preference for running along the middle of the track as signified by the (M) notation next to their name in the race card.

The orange jacket is always worn by the greyhound starting from trap five and the black and white striped jacket by the greyhound starting from trap six. Such staring positions are generally favoured by greyhounds who have a natural preference for running towards the wide outside of the track as signified by the (W) notation next to their name in the race card. A potential advantage of wide running is that the frequent first turn scrimmaging can be avoided.

Trap position does make a difference and should be taken in to account when looking for betting opportunities. A greyhound running out of position can be harmful to its chances though usually for graded races trap preference is taken in to account by the racing manager and a wide runner will not be placed in to an inside trap and vice-versa.

This is to avoid trouble in running. For example if a greyhound which is normally a wide runner was to be placed in trap one its natural instinct would be to seek the outside rail and move right out of the traps. This could cause interference with other dogs in the race.

It can be a fun night out and need not break the bank as entry is not expensive. Many race goers like to enjoy a meal as they watch the racing from the comfort of the restaurant. A few minutes familiarising yourself with the different coloured jackets, the starting position and if your chosen greyhound has a noted preference for trap position can aid your enjoyment when going for a night at the greyhound racing.

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How Do YOU Measure Success

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It was in January of 1962 when Barnsley P. Wentworth III told his father that he wasn’t going to be a doctor: he was going to be a clown. Without hesitating his father replied, “Then you will never amount to anything. Consider yourself a failure.” That was the moment Barnsley P. Wentworth III fell from his father’s grace, changed his name to Juggles, and became a clown. It was his greatest joy. It was his greatest passion. And he never made more than $50 a job.

It was a hot afternoon in July and Juggles was driving back to his hotel after working all day at a county fair, when he took a wrong turn into a trailer park and saw the mailbox covered in balloons – the calling card of a child’s birthday party. He sat there for a moment, looked at his watch, shook his head, sighed, and grinned from ear to ear as he put his rubber nose back on and jumped out of the car. He saw a little red head peeking through the flowered sheet curtain followed by piercing squeals as the door burst open and children rushed at him like excited puppies finding food. He would never forget that sound or the shocked look on the mother’s face as she whispered thank you and started to believe again. Or the sheer adoration on the birthday boy’s face as Juggles signed his cast and he solemnly vowed to never wash his arm again as he hugged Juggles’ striped leg and that moment was branded into his memory as he whispered thank you and started to believe again.

Juggles never stopped being a clown. Day in and day out. It stayed his dream and remained his passion. Even when his hair fell out and he was too weak to honk his nose – even from his bed, when what little fans that were left had to come to him. It was March of 1998 when Juggles died, wearing a big red nose and a contented smile. He never made more than $50 a job.

How do you measure success?

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When Do Interns Have to Be Paid? Revised FLSA Test May Create New Unpaid Internship Opportunities

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Did you know that the Department of Labor recently changed the test used to determine whether interns are employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)? Though mostly overlooked, this development may significantly affect the manner in which employers provide internship opportunities. It may also encourage other employers to start their own internship programs.

In January 2018, the Department of Labor clarified that going forward, a “primary beneficiary” test will be used to determine whether interns are employees of “for profit” employers under the FLSA. Why is this a big deal? The FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime pay requirements generally apply to employees, not interns.

Educators and employers alike agree that individuals can benefit greatly from properly designed unpaid internship programs. Unfortunately, since interns are not entitled to compensation under the FLSA, they may be exploited by employers who use their free labor without providing with an appreciable benefit in education or experience. The DOL began issuing informal guidance to prevent this kind of abuse in the late 1960s.

In 2010, the DOL published a 6-factor test to distinguish between interns that don’t need to be paid under the FLSA and employees that do. One factor in particular proved to be a nearly insurmountable obstacle. “The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded.”

Since all six factors had to apply, many believed this test was too rigid, including some federal appellate courts. These courts instead opted to apply a “primary beneficiary” test that:

  • focuses on what interns receive in exchange for their work;
  • gives courts the flexibility to examine the economic reality of the intern/employer relationship; and
  • acknowledges the uniqueness of internships in that interns agree to perform work in exchange for educational or vocational benefits.

In January 2018, the DOL essentially adopted this “primary beneficiary” test to eliminate unnecessary confusion and provide increased flexibility to holistically analyze internships on a case-by-case basis. This test includes seven factors to consider when determining whether an intern is actually an employee under the FLSA.

  1. Expectation of Compensation. The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee-and vice versa.
  2. Training. The extent to which the internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions.
  3. Education. The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.
  4. Academics. The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.
  5. Duration. The extent to which the internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning.
  6. Displacement. The extent to which the intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.
  7. Promise of Employment. The extent to which the intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.

Unlike the rigid six-factor test, the primary beneficiary test is intended to be flexible. No single factor is determinative and additional factors may also be considered on a case-by-case basis when appropriate.

The FLSA’s “internship exclusion” was quite narrow under the old six-factor test. Whether this changes under the new primary beneficiary test remains to be seen. Nevertheless, employers should proceed cautiously when evaluating and determining whether someone can be treated as intern under the FLSA, rather than an employee.

The risk of employment-related claims goes up whenever laws and regulations change. Employment Practices Liability Insurance, which may include limited wage and hour coverage, can protect employers in the event of an inadvertent violation.

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