Choose the Alternative When It Comes To Financing

Alternative “anything", plug in a word, connotes a mindset of something not quite as good.  Tell that to the artists who fall into the “Alternative” genre of music.  If you’re lucky they’ll turn that concept on you with a guitar-lick demo or even a full-blown jam session that will have you screaming for more! Alternative music is hardly “not quite as good” as anything else, because it’s like nothing else - It’s just different.

Here at 12five Capital, we try to live our core values by being Happily Different, which means we are comfortable being different than other lenders and competitors. When most people think of "traditional" lenders, they generally think of brick-and-mortar banks.  

When we talk to clients about a graduation from 12five, we talk about it generally in the sense of establishing a traditional bank line, or a line of credit.  We think that’s the ultimate, perceived “best” direction of every business.  Get established, prove you have a sustainable business, and then get a traditional bank line.  In theory that looks and sounds like a winning formula.

Unfortunately, that’s just not how business works in most cases.  What often happens is that businesses will have challenges well beyond what’s drafted in the business plan - if there even was a formal business plan in the beginning.  At the root of many of the challenges that new, growing, or even established businesses face is cash flow.  We’ve discussed cash flow versus profit in another blog.  They are two very different things.  Putting in place the right type of financing for your business - one that addresses cash flow at its very core - could be the sole key to its long-term success.  

Back to being an alternative to the traditional lenders.  How do you know the best type of financing for your business, ultimately?  To answer that question it’s important to consider the key benefits of having an alternative financing/lending facility - all of which the traditional lenders can’t offer.

Flexibility:  Traditional lending is usually structured as either an open line of credit, or a single, amortized loan for a capital purchase.  Need something in the middle?  Alternative financiers can often find ways to get you the cash you need with a lot of different potential payback options.  Ranging from payback within a week, to 3 months, to 3 years, a plan can be put together easily to meet your needs with a payback schedule you are comfortable with.

Besides the payback options, an alternative lender can grow with you as your company grows. Many banks will establish a credit facility for your new business and you will be locked into the credit limit for a certain time period. With a more flexible lender, your credit facility will grow as you grow the business with creditworthy customers.

Speed: Things are going well with the bank when they let you know they need to go through the dreaded Loan Committee and get back with you.  It's no secret closing on a loan with a bank is not a quick process.  And while it is understandable that any lender is being diligent about assessing their credit risk, sometimes a faster solution is available.  Depending on your needs, often an alternative lender can get cash into your account within a couple of days or a week. 

Easier Collections:  Following up on customers who need to pay their invoices can be time consuming.  A bank is expecting payback from you, and does not care whether your customers are paying you or not.  For some products, like factoring, you can give up some of the collections work and focus on finding and bringing in new sales. 

Credit Review of YOUR Customers: Alternative lenders will often run credit on your customers, and as you make new sales, you will know upfront if it is a good or potentially risky company to whom you'll be selling. Nothing is more frustrating than making a sale and not being paid for your efforts. Knowing that your sale is to a creditworthy customer gives you additional peace of mind.

These are just a few of the many advantages of alternative financing over traditional financing.  Being an alternative financing company is easy for 12five.  We know we fit the profile, but we don’t think of ourselves that way.  We consider ourselves to be the lender of first resort.  Contact us through 12five.com today to learn more. 

Ask the Team: Technology Hacks We Love

We often post about our love of technology here at 12five and work hard to incorporate it into our business model.  Technology can help speed up processes, promote organization, and connect people.  It can simplify complex processes and help us stay on track.  In addition to the numerous business uses, we have a lot of our personal lives tied in with different applications as well.  Here is a sampling of favorites, from our team. 


From Liz: On Organization

Google Calendar helps keep my husband and I, and our three kids at the right places at the right times.  We can access the calendar from anywhere and add, delete or change appointments, sports practices and work obligations quickly. If we didn't use an online calendar I am positive we would miss things we'd really like to be at.  No more dragging around a planner!

 


From Cathy: On Communication

Years ago international calling was expensive and difficult. There are a multitude of apps, like WhatsApp, that now allow my husband and me to text and talk to our international family. The simplicity of these apps keep us connected sharing photos and having video chats. Family is most important, it helps so they do not feel so far away. 


From Alison: On Capturing Memories

I take a crazy amount of photos, especially of my baby boy! I use Shutterfly as free storage for all my photos as a backup, and LOVE to scrapbook. It makes the whole process easy and allows me to quickly access all of the memories we are making.

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From Bob: On Entertainment

Word With Friends, Wood Puzzle, and Golf Clash are my can't live without.  With technology it is so easy to access interactive games, especially those that connect you with others.  It adds a little fun and relaxation to the day,

 


From Ryan: On Wellness

Including meditation in my day has been my routine for a few years now and I have seen so many benefits from it.  Headspace helps by tracking my meditations and guiding me through them, encouraging me to keep up the habit.  Now I can start my day with a clear head and a mindful attitude.  


From Max: On Finance

Mint is a personal finance app that allows you to manage your finances in a simple form. I link all my credit cards, bank accounts, and payments. There is a feature to pay bills directly from one place.  Mint is also extremely useful to set up financial goals or follow a budget with its interactive platform that gives you a glance of your finances all in one place.


From Jay: On Navigation

I use Waze instead of other options for navigation. It is basically a social network for navigation, where users supply traffic, construction site and accident information. I always follow Waze even if I know where I am going because it is always right about traffic and alternate routes.


From Jason: On Daily Life

With the Weather Channel app, I can quickly get weather information for anywhere in the country. Plus the short videos are updated frequently and are great. Since it is something that affects everyone, weather is a great initial talking point when on the phone with clients, referral sources and prospects.

So, there you have it - apps and technology that keep the 12five team informed and ready to take on the week.  We know that these aren't just our favorites, but likely yours too.  Take a minute to appreciate how much technology has bettered our lives. Have a great and productive week!

Not So Fast! What You Need to Know About Fast Cash Lenders

With the rise of technology as a means to expedite financial services, there are a variety of fast cash lenders out there today, ranging from Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) lenders to more full service online lenders. These lenders will contact you and promise quick cash with few strings attached, but what is the true cost? Today we will explore what these companies do, the true cost of funds and what your options as a business owner are.

Part One: What and How

Borrowing: A traditional Merchant Cash Advance lender provides unsecured loans which feature little underwriting and fast access to cash. Since the loans do not require collateral, they can process them quickly, but they hold higher credit risk than other types of loans. To account for these risks, the MCA's charge a flat rate (factor). For example, if you borrow $20,000 at a factor rate of 1.4 you will repay $20,000 x 1.4 = $28,000.

Repayment: There are several ways to structure repayment. The MCA can either take a percentage of your future sales (less common) or structure a fixed payment based on projected future sales (more common). These payments are drawn directly from your bank account weekly, or more often, daily. Early payback holds no benefits because there is a fixed fee already built in.

Part Two: The Good and Bad

The Benefits: Honestly, the only benefit is that you get the cash you need quickly. Aside from this, the terms are not particularly friendly to the borrower.

The Drawbacks: The cost. Simply put, this is an expensive option. Using our example from last week, we borrowed $20,000 and needed to repay $28,000. If we paid back $155 each day, it would take us 180 days to pay it off. This means we paid $8,000 in "interest" to have this loan for 6 months. This is an equivalent 80% APR. Depending on the payback period (remember paying back more quickly does not save on your fees), the equivalent "interest rate" can be over 100%. In addition to the main factor rate, there are often many other fees to get the deal done.

Part Three: Your Options

At 12five we specialize in helping growing business have the working capital they need to fuel their growth and cultivate their passions. This often comes in the form of short term financing. As we have covered Merchant Cash Advance and other fast cash online financing above it is important to understand how factoring is different.

Remember our example $20,000 that was borrowed from an MCA previously, and it was repaid at $28,000. In a factoring relationship, that $20,000 check you were waiting on would be submitted as an invoice and we would advance 85% ($17,000). When the debtor pays us, we send the rest of the money, less a small fee (usually 3-5%). This means that instead of the $20,000 costing you $8,000 it could cost you $600.

In the event that your invoices are currently factored but you need additional funds, often we can find creative solutions to bridge those gaps as well. The first step is talking with someone about your cash struggles. The more we know, the more we can help!

It is common to experience a cash crunch and often feels like there are no good options to obtain financing. There are a variety of financial institutions that promise to alleviate your problem but it is important to recognize the true cost of these funds. If the fees are too high, it can start a vicious cycle of taking on more debt to pay off existing debt, and that cycle can take years of profitability to get out of. 

At 12five we want our clients to succeed.  While we know there are other options out there to find financing, we are confident we can help you meet your goals. Check us out on 12five.com for more information.

finance 101: master the basics

Let's try a math problem:  You have a great idea. You go to the store, buy $4 in supplies and build a widget. You sell the widget to Joe for $10 cash. You have $10 in income, $4 in expenses and a $6 profit. 


You have another great idea. You go to the store, buy $86 in supplies and pay $12 in taxes and shipping. You take out a credit card to finance a $700 piece of equipment. You hire a friend for a few hours to help design your widget, and pay him $180. You make 12 widgets. You sell one to Bob for $60, who agrees to pay you in three $20 installments. What is your profit?

Accounting seems easy in the beginning, but as you can see from your second great idea, it's easy to get confused on how to account for your business and all of the complications. There have been many books written on accounting and finance for small businesses, but let's run through just a few essential concepts and terms:

Cash vs. Accrual
There are two main methods for tracking income and expenses, and to a certain extent most businesses need to do both.

The cash method tracks every dollar into and out of your business. It is easiest, in the beginning, to have one checking account for your business and ensure that all money flows through it. This includes actual cash. Borrowings from loans should go to your checking account too, and then checks can be written out of it. This is the easiest, most streamlined way to track cash. It also makes bookkeeping easy, as you only have to look in one place. Once all cash is recorded, both in and out, you can see a cash income statement for a certain period of time. While helpful for planning cash needs, this method can be misleading when looking at profitability, as it doesn't take into account things like accounts payable and receivable, inventories and the timing of financing. In our second great idea above, we would have spent $278 and only brought in $20. 

To better understand profitability, you must use the accrual method. In this method, you account for revenue when earned (even if you haven't been paid yet). You also account for expenses as used (regardless of when you pay for them). This better lines up income and expenses and gives you a more accurate bottom line, although it may take awhile to actually see that cash profit, depending on the timing of your cash receipts and expenditures.  You can also convert a cash income statement to an accrual one through a series of adjustments based on balance sheets.  This is a good method if you are on a cash basis for tax purposes, but are interested in your accrual profitability. 

Balance Sheet Basics
A balance sheet can seem boring (I suppose it is), but it is crucial. It can accurately tell you how your business is growing over time, and how much you have made. A balance sheet is simply a listing of all the things you own - called Assets:

  • cash
  • accounts receivable
  • inventories
  • machinery
  • property

And everyone you owe money to - called Liabilities:

  • lines of credit
  • accounts payable
  • machinery debt
  • long term loans.


The key here is that a balance sheet is a snapshot of time. For each category, just write down exactly what it is worth today. Do not account for something next week, things you think will happen, or the way you wish it was. If you quit today and closed up shop, what could you sell all your things for and who would you need to pay to walk away? Make it a priority to do an ACCURATE balance sheet.

Balance Sheet Metrics
Two main metrics are derived from the balance sheet: working capital and equity.

Working capital is a measure of liquidity and is measured by taking all current assets (cash and other assets easily turned to cash like accounts receivable and inventories) and subtracting current liabilities (all debt owed in the next year like operating lines, accounts payable and a years worth of longer term debt payments). What you are left with is available cash that can be used to run the business, fill holes in usable cash, and grow the business. Too little and you will run into cash flow problems often.

Equity, or net worth, is a measure of what portion of the business you own. Total assets minus total liabilities, this number represents what your business is worth. If you do balance sheets each year, you can see this number move and hopefully grow. Your ownership of a portion of your business is key to attracting investors and obtaining financing and it will grow as the business makes money.

I am sure these ideas are not new to many of you, but it is easy to get confused by what is necessary and important to running an effective business today. Become a master of the basics and they will take you far!

Make it a great day!
Liz

The Breakup - Don't Be That Lender

We’ve all been there.  We’re in a relationship that’s seen better days.   We’ve had ups and downs, but the downs are now the norm. Now it’s nothing but “side-eye” and eye-rolls.  Maybe it’s one-sided, but if you’re really being honest with yourself, it’s most likely mutual.  The end is clearly in sight.  

Why, when the time has come for both parties to “officially” breakup, does one party decide he or she is going to make it difficult for the other?  Is it the nostalgia of the memories when things were good, so you try to resurrect the good ol’ days?  Is it the fear of being alone?  Is it anger, jealousy, disdain, or something less vitriol yet nonetheless painful?  Yes!  

Breakups are not easy.  Letting go is hard.  Catalogs of music chronicle the heartache, the anguish, and the pain associated with a separation.  But as Denis Leary so eloquently said it, “Life sucks, get a helmet!”  I left out a choice word from this quote, but the point still resonates.  At some point you just have to get over it.  It’s OVER!

No one likes to lose a client - well more accurately, no one likes to lose a client who's not stealing our money, not lying to us, not painful to work with, or who’s otherwise doing what we expected when we got engaged.  However, when the client is ready to go and you’ve agreed to part ways, isn’t it best to make it as easy as possible to part?  Don’t we want to be adults and wish them best, find out how we could have been better and “ask them if we can still be friends…”?  After all, the client is ready to go.  Sorry, they don’t love you any more - assuming they ever did.

We are an industry that comes together at regular functions to learn from, participate with, and collaborate amongst one another for the betterment of our individual pursuits.  We share our best practices, and we talk about “playing nice in the sandbox” with each other.  We talk about the value we bring our clients and how we are trying to change the face that commercial finance has taken on over the last 100 years.  However, is it really all platitudes and lip service while we’re face to face, with each of us to itching to get back home and look for ways to undercut each other? Maybe I’m naive, but I honestly don’t think so.

I’ve been in this industry, specifically the factoring sector of the broader asset-based lending industry for quite a while - roughly 17 years to be more specific.  In the vast majority of cases, when I’ve had an opportunity to offer a client a better facility, a better structure, better pricing, better anything - simply a better experience - the process to transition and payoff a peer in our industry has gone smoothly. Conversely when I’ve graduated or lost relationships to peers, I’m confident saying I’ve transitioned them with the client’s best interests in mind.  That’s the way it should be, right?  

We all have too many other challenges in our space than to have to deal with a peer that leads us to conclude they are “the bad actor” we all reference at our industry events.  They make a bad name for our industry, and we don’t need more challenges to close relationships than we already have.  When simple “breakups” start to take days, then weeks, then months to conclude, something is wrong.  Someone isn’t "making a clean break”.  The metaphor still loosely fits though, someone is acting like a child.

We’re on the cusp of closing another new relationship for 12five.  Needless to say we’re having challenges with a peer who’s not handling the breakup well.  Our peer has forgotten about the client, and instead has made the tactful decision to make the breakup difficult.  The client is now streaming on repeat the Taylor Swift breakup song, “We Are Never Getting Back Together”, while our peer is stuck resetting the needle on a scratchy vinyl version of “I Want You Back” by the Jackson Five.  Unfortunately, the client isn’t coming back, no matter how many times Michael Jackson sings that hook.

When you have a breakup and the only thing left at your place is a forgotten toothbrush, don’t expect the doorbell to ring and to see your breakup at the front door.  The time to move on has arrived, and it’s time to put your commitments at our industry events into action.  For the betterment of our industry, let’s all do our part not to be THAT lender when we go through a breakup.  The client will be grateful for your class!

Jason Bush, Lead Prospect Developer

When being small is a big deal

It is unlikely that your business can afford to hoist their name atop a 50-story skyscraper and fill that building with diligent employees, selling and making and accounting for your business. You probably can't produce television commercials with celebrities, sponsor charity golf tournaments or take up a spot on the Fortune 100 list. But there are distinct advantages to being a small business, and leveraging them can keep you competitive.

 

Flexibility in Customer Offerings

In a small company, it is possible to offer a customized solution, even if it hasn't been offered before, almost immediately. A salesperson may recognize a need from a potential client, and the whole team can develop and execute a new service or product, often within a week. I have seen this first hand and know that tailored products fill gaps in the marketplace and can also often be offered at a premium. For a large corporation, rolling out a new product or service is a cumbersome, multi-tiered process. It is for a good reason, as this product will be sold many times over and needs to be properly thought through. But there are also distinct advantages to a company that can be flexible to meet the needs of a diverse and changing customer. Take advantage of being able to meet customers needs when competitors cannot.

Potential Pitfall: Although you may be able to meet a variety of needs, be sure that you understand and stick to your core business. This business is what you are good at, and straying too far can leave you (and the customer!) confused and with subpar results.

 

Agility in the Marketplace

On a larger scale, not only can you offer specific products to clients, a small business is much more nimble in a changing marketplace. Early in my career I worked for a Fortune 500 food manufacturing company, and I witnessed how long it took to get anything done. At the time, the company was looking to get out of a certain sector of food. I worked on the project for over a year, dealing with everything from the tax accounting of a divestiture, to the invoices for remaining inventory on military bases. If this was an unprofitable sector, this company would have had to manage those losses for over a year until it could stop the bleed. For a small business, who can compare it's offerings to the marketplace every week or month, cutting out unprofitable products and services or changing them to be more efficient is a simpler process. Because of that, you can often be first to market if there is a good opportunity, and get out quickly if the market turns.

Potential Pitfall: Jumping in quickly can also backfire if diligent research isn't done before investing in a new opportunity. Take enough time to ensure it is done right the first time.

 

Creative Employee Benefits

A common complaint from small businesses is that they just can't compete with the capital it takes to recruit and keep great employees. While a total salary definitely matters to an employee, there can be other ways to attract people who are a good fit for your culture. Having worked for the large company I mentioned above, as well as a mid-sized company (50-100 employees) and now for a small company, the biggest difference in day to day responsibilities comes down to variety. In a small company, an employee can take on a range of responsibilities, have a lot of variety in their day to day work, be close to the main business of the company, and make a real, tangible difference in the outcome of the business. Use these facts to find people who are attracted to those opportunities, and don't mind the "unknown" that can sometimes come with it. Similarly, ask a recruit what is most important to them - good health insurance? ability to see son's baseball games? flexibility around holidays to travel to see family? access to a gym? Just as you can modify your products to suit customers, you can modify compensation packages to address a variety of goals, lifestyles and priorities - all while keeping qualified and competent people in your business.

Potential Pitfall: Be clear on your expectations from employees, even those areas that may change as the business grows. A little transparency goes a long way!

 

Dollars are More Important

If I gave $20 to two people, would it matter more to one than the other? Possibly. In my example above, my company had to potentially manage losses of a business sector for up to a year. A small business cannot do that. They will run out of capital much more quickly than a large corporation. Because of this, the decision making process is sped up, both on revenue earning and cost cutting decisions. By moving quickly to expand areas that are successful and fix costly problems, a small business can maximize its profit margin as quickly as possible. This key differentiator is often what keeps a small business competitive when they do not have the benefits of volume and scale. It also speaks to the points above regarding flexibility. A small business owner has a passion for what they do and are willing to go the extra step for more revenue, because the dollars are simply more important to them.

Potential Pitfall: Going the extra step is almost always worth it, but know your margins so you don't work hard for nothing.

 

Companies of all sizes fight the same issues: How do I stay relevant in the marketplace? How do I compete against others while maintaining a profit margin? How do I have the best possible product, processes and people? Use the key attributes of a small business to find your niche and create success for your employees, customers and bottom line.

- Liz

Show me the money: Managing cash

New businesses face a slew of challenges, but managing cash almost always presents a problem.  How can a business owner avoid the sinking feeling of not having enough money in their checking account to meet payroll?  People don’t like surprises, and careful planning and negotiations can alleviate some of the stress associated with cash management, profitability and more.

Know the difference between cash flow and profitability

This first tip is not a tip at all.  If your product or service does not have a profit margin, eventually you will run into serious cash problems.  It may seem obvious, but you might be surprised at how many people do not really know what their costs are.  Setting aside time each week to work on financial projections for the coming month, year, and more is the key to avoiding cash crises long term.  I recommend using these exercises:

Budget to Actual: An annual budget, broken down by month, with a comparison of actual expenses that is reviewed monthly.  Find the problems sooner so they can be fixed before they create disruption to your business. This also requires you to stay on top of your bookkeeping, which is a must.

Break-Even Cost: Use the budget to understand exactly what you should be charging. Then, you can relate that to the marketplace – should you charge more or less? Are your expenses in line? What type of volume do you need to sell?

Cash Flow Calendar: Use the budget again to create a cash flow calendar.  Forecast the next 6 to 8 weeks and create a more detailed look at when cash is likely coming in and needs to go out. Find the holes in your plan and address them.

Addressing cash flow gaps

Even with comfortable profit margins, there can still be timing issues that create cash flow crunches for your business.  Find additional days and dollars by tackling each area, one by one.

Revenue: How can you encourage customers to pay sooner? Consider your terms of payment – are there ways to get the cash in more quickly? Consider offering discounts for quick paying customers.  Also, look internally – are you invoicing as quickly as possible? Do you have someone dedicated to following up for payment with customers?  Most customers don’t delay payment purposefully to withhold it, it is simply not top of mind.

Expenses: The opposite goes for accounts payable.  What are the longest terms you can negotiate with vendors and suppliers?  Can you delay starting payments on capital purchases for a few months? Can you rent or demo certain equipment before committing to buy? Again, look internally – who is in charge of checking invoices to be sure they are correct, identifying payment options and paying on time?  Late fees, overdrafts and more will only add to your expenses.

Financing:  Sometimes timing issues cannot be solved by moving up payments a few days or weeks and a more comprehensive financing solution is needed.  A traditional bank can offer a variety of operating lines and collateral based financing for established companies.  Check into accounts receivable financing (factoring) and purchase order financing to see if it is a solution to get you the cash you need sooner.  Personal loans, credit cards and other forms of financing are a last resort.  Be sure you know how and when you will pay these back.

It is often easy for business owners, whose passions are in the goods or services they are selling, to lose focus on “boring” bookkeeping, financial statements and business plans. If these items are kept up with, however, you avoid fire drills, strict lending covenants, fees and other restrictions that actually keep you away from your core business even more. 

Action item for this week:  Review your financial house and be sure it is in order.  What are your profit margins and what are the biggest threats to those? Complete a short term cash calendar. How will you be sure you have the cash you need to operate as you’d like? 

- Liz

Simple Is Beautiful

We get a lot of questions about our Core Values here at 12five.  Since we post them on the front of our website and on our walls, people always want to know how we created them.  I thought it might be a good time to highlight one of these values and what it means to our team and to our clients.  

Simple Is Beautiful - Quite possibly my favorite of our Core Values.  This was the first one I wrote.  When writing these Core Values, I went through an exercise of thinking through my mentors, people I looked up to, companies I admired, etc.  By going through this exercise, I noticed a common thread, simplicity.  

I’m not sure where I heard it first, though I thought it was a Steve Jobs quote.  In looking for the actual quote, I don’t see this exact quote attributed directly to him, but this is certainly where I pulled the theme from. Everything he created was to show the elegance of simplicity. He would always talk about making even the "inside" of a product simple and beautiful.  

"When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through." - Steve Jobs

I loved this commitment to elegance and how it carried through to simplicity.  This is why I made this our first Core Value.

For us, this Core Value starts with the way our company works.  Everything we do is compared against this backdrop.  We are constantly looking for ways to make a process or communication simpler.  For our team, this means using software that is simple to understand and not overwhelming the team with multiple software to utilize.  Wherever we can, we are trying to use what we already have in place to solve a challenge.  It’s easy to sign up for every workflow and software out there, but then you lose the simplicity of your process.  Now your team needs access to a myriad of different software which means different logins, different browser tabs, different versions of projects and so on and so forth.

We also choose to keep how we operate simple.  If anything feels cumbersome, we do our best to reduce or change the item.  Our policies aren’t always the least expensive, but we are always trying to make them the simplest.  We aren’t 100% there yet, but we are working every day to make 12five a place that our team loves to work at because it simplifies their life and their goals.

For our clients, Simple Is Beautiful is crucial. Our industry is one fraught with confusion and misunderstanding.  We do our best to push against this and in some instances do a complete 180 from what others in our industry are doing.

Call us crazy, but we think our clients should understand the program that they are signing up for, so we write our Pre-Approval Letters in layman’s terms.  For too long, companies in our industry have used industry jargon and hidden fees throughout their structures.  We did away with that and created a simple pricing structure that any business owner can understand and then build into their business model.  Educating this isn’t always easy, but we think it’s the right thing for us.  There are even more ways, just like this, that we try and make our company beautiful through simplicity.

We put these Core Values everywhere so that our team can strive every day to live them and in this case, make their lives and the lives of our clients simpler.  

I think this quote sums it all up:

"In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity. - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow"

In what ways has simplifying your business helped you?

- Ryan

12five Opens New Office & New Hire!

I couldn't be more excited to announce that we have opened our second office in Denver, CO.  As we have grown, I've been feeling the pull to expand into new territories.  While we have been a "nationwide" company since inception, there is a different feel to having someone local that understands the needs of our clients around them.  Our mission is to Cultivate Passion Through Finance.  There was always a thought that we could do that better by having someone that understands the culture and the passion of an area of our country.  More than ever, I have seen that our country is different, state by state and city by city.  While we all have desires to be happy and take care of our families, we all manifest them in different ways.  Having someone in those areas helps us to better understand those passions.

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It's with great pride that I announce that we have hired Jason Bush to open this new office as our Lead Prospect Developer.  People that know me, know that I have an aversion to hiring people from our industry.   Too often, people come with preconceived notions of how something should be done.  This doesn't align with our core value of being Happily Different, which is why I tend to look for people who've never heard the word factoring before.  That said, there have always been 2-3 people in our industry that if given the chance, I wouldn't let slip through my fingers.  Jason is one of those people.  He comes with great experience in every aspect of our business. He has a strong desire to do more than just finance companies, but rather provide a vehicle for people's passions to grow.

There are very few people that align culturally with us the way that Jason does.  The fit is incredibly sound and that harmony is what is most important to us and our team. We live and die by our Core Values here, so it's critical that all of our team members live those values or else we don't thrive.

We are happy to welcome Jason and his family to our 12five family.  Give Jason a call and congratulate him.  Welcome to the team!

- Ryan Jaskiewicz

12five's Favorite Things!

Here at 12five Capital, we love helping our clients finance their passions. But what about outside of work? Below are just some of our favorite things we couldn’t live without! Check them out and maybe they will become your favorite things too! Enjoy!


Ryan:

Podcast: The Tim Ferris Show  "While he's not for everybody, I love the way he is trying to maximize his life. He's also deep into the Stoic philosophy, which I also enjoy very much."

App: Headspace  "Meditation is such a crucial part of my life and day. I couldn't do it without the headspace guidance." 

Exercise: "Duh, running. Although I long to be a yogi in my old age when I'm slow!"

Hobby: "Baking bread! I love it. Such a long process, but fun to create beauty out of 3 ingredients."

What I'm Watching: Peaky Blinders  "It's a show on Netflix about an Irish family trying to make it as gangsters in Birmingham, England. Set in the late 1800's, I love the accents and clothing!"

For the Taste Buds: "Kefir Smoothie. I take frozen mango, frozen pineapple, a banana, about a cup of Kefir, about a half cup of coconut milk, couple handfuls of spinach or kale, chia seeds and hemp seeds. Blend that all up for a tasty breakfast."

Alison:

What I'm Watching: "One of my favorite shows to watch right now is The Curse of Oak Island on the History Channel. The show follows the treasure hunting journey of brothers, Marty and Rick Lagina, on an island in Nova Scotia, Canada. Even though they haven't made any huge discoveries (they have made some smaller ones), the history and legends about this island just fascinate me! Every episode I'm on the edge of my seat just waiting to see what they may find!"

Exercise: "The best workout routine I have ever completed is PiYo with Chalene Johnson by Beachbody. This workout combines pilates and yoga. Since it's the new year, it is the perfect time for me to start up this workout routine again!"

For The Kids: "For all of you out there with babies, my 4-month old son is obsessed with Little Tikes Baby Tummy Tunes Giraffe Piano! He seriously can not get enough of it. I love it because it helps make his tummy time sessions last longer, improving his neck strength."

Time-Saving Heaven: "As a busy working mom, I've learned that I need to outsource my life! Seriously, anything that takes time away from my family, I'm trying to find a smarter, faster, easier way to get it done. Right now, I am in love with Peapod grocery delivery service! I just place my order online, and Peapod delivers my groceries to my house, many times the very next day. No more time wasted with trips to the grocery store!"

Jay:

Podcast: Short Story Long by Chris "Drama" Pfaff. "I am new to listening to podcasts and am really enjoying Chris Pfaff's podcast Short Story Long where he interviews entrepreneurs and other successful people as if he is talking to a friend over a cup of coffee or beer. You get a much different view of the person this way and some great insight on how they became successful. Favorite episode so far is #30 - Omar Benson Miller: Actor"

Social Media: Instagram "I enjoy Instagram the most because it's mostly nice pictures of friends, food, cars, travel, etc. and not nearly as many negative post compared to other outlets. Other than my friends, I like to follow @doyoutravel (travel pics), @chicagofoodauthority (new food spots in Chicago), @kblock43 (Ken Block - professional rally driver and always doing something awesome)."

What I'm Watching: Ballers "A friend recommended the show Ballers starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. He plays a financial manager for current football players based in Miami. As you can tell from the name, it's all the things you would expect, flashy cars, crazy parties, and all the challenges the wealthy athletes run into. I binge watched the first season and some of the second during my holiday break."

Exercise: FitnessBlender.com "I stumbled upon this site while working from home during the holidays. It's cold here so I generally work out indoors. I was getting bored on the treadmill so I searched online for a 45 min HIIT workout and found this. They have over 500 free workouts videos and I really liked the video format."

Liz:

Health and Home: "Used every day this week is my new Nutri Ninja Pro Blender. My current favorite breakfast: Blend one ripe banana, one cup almond milk, one scoop vanilla chai protein powder and a few cubes of ice."

Organization: "I am working my way through the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. She prioritizes only keeping things in your life and home that spark joy, which is a great way to view the material items in your life - and get rid of the ones that shouldn't be there."

Instagram: "Far and away my favorite follow is Brandon Stanton behind Humans of New York. He offers short snippets and photographs of everyday people but is amazing at capturing humanity in all its forms."

For The Ladies: "As a busy mom, getting a manicure is not a bi weekly occurrence for me. I recently tried Sally Hansen Miracle Gel nail polish, available at your humble drug store and it's a game changer. Nails done at home that don't chip for five or more days!"

Family Fun: "If you want a game that is guaranteed to bring you to tears from laughing, grab the game Speak Out. Or, for a shortcut, order the mouthpieces off Amazon and download the app. Either way, watching someone try to sound out phrases for you to guess will add some fun to your day."

Bob:

What I'm Watching: Game of Thrones. "I love the numerous subplots but in the end, it all has to do with power. Who has it and who does not. You will find a variety of leadership styles, and strategy all being played out on each show. No one person is sacred. Killing off a main character is expected, and then you get to watch who rises to the next level of leadership. Some other great shows I love are Shameless and Madam Secretary. It’s all about the struggles and survival of a dysfunctional family having to raise themselves without any good adult role models in their life."

Vacation Spots: "St. Martin & Florida. I love to travel and just get away once in awhile. I love the sun, the poolside, reading a good book and relaxing."

Hobby: "Golf! It allows me to interact with other business owners, potential referral sources and have a good time while doing it. I only play with people that enjoy the game of golf and not the ones that take it seriously."

Cathy:

Broadway: "I really enjoy seeing musicals. Recently I went to the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago to see the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and was blown away by their set and casting. Got chills multiple times throughout the performance. Must go and see this performance!"

For the Taste Buds: "There is nothing that compares to the Sea Food Pizza from The Silo in Lake Bluff IL. I have been coming here with my family since before I was born. The ranch here is also homemade and fantastic. If you have some extra time, it is worth the drive to have a nice sit down dinner."

Winter Drink: "My favorite drink in the winter is the Vanilla Chai Latte from Starbucks. It is like Christmas in a cup and I get to enjoy it all season long."

Health and Home: - Perky Garden Arhaus Chair. "Each night I relax in my chair. It is the perfect firmness, height, and comfort. I have a few other couches from them, their product is phenomenal!"

What I'm Watching: "My husband and I always have a fun time watching the Bachelor. We love the drama and trying to predict from the beginning who will be left standing at the end of the show."

Max:

For the Taste Buds: "Green Street Smoked Meats stands on it's own as one of the top choices for BBQ in Chicago. From their Sliced Brisket to their Pork ribs and smoked salmon, you can not go wrong with any order. Equally as impressive are the sides offered like their Baked beans and freshly made coleslaw that give you an unique experience of southern comfort food. The layout of the restaurant with its' dim lighting and wooden dining benches make for a great night out with friends."

Music Album:  4 Your Eyez Only - J Cole. "Currently working my way through J. Coles' 4th album and have yet to find a song I do not like. What seems to be a normality now, J. Cole's 4th studio album does not rely on any special features from other artists. Top tracks in the album like "Neighbors" and "4 Your Eyez Only" reflect today's social climate which many can relate to."

Accessory: Herschel Settlement Backpack. "Constantly carrying a Macbook for work requires a backpack that fits my needs for function & style. Enter The Herschel Settlement Backpack which combines a unique combination for modern use and style. With an internal media pocket made to store tablets and laptops securely and a vintage look, the Herschel Settlement Backpack features a sturdy padding to ease the strain on your back in case you need to carry many things for a project or a small road trip."

For the Guys: Pacino's Hair Grooming Creme. "It’s a great alternative to gel or hair paste that only dry and damages your hair. Pacino's Hair Creme offers a medium hold and simply washes right off with only water. It is perfect if you’re looking for quick results in grooming your hair for a special or casual occasion."

Russell:

Exercise: Muay Thai. "Similar to kickboxing, I like that it strengthens all parts of the body, muscles, ligaments, joints, improves flexibility and makes me feel bad-ass. It also has been great meeting people I would not have otherwise."

Health and Home: My Juicer. "Masticating machination is far superior than centrifugal when it comes to juicers. I use mine all the time for blending veggies and fruit. The juice is very energizing and just tasting it makes me feel healthier."

Music: Jazz Music. "I’ve been making a point of always having background music on and it's been really great. It's way better than coming home and just throwing something on the TV. I like jazz because it usually doesn't have lyrics and gets my brain going without being distracting."

What I’m Watching: Planet Earth 2. I’m a huge documentary fan and this may be the best one ever. All about various parts of the world and was shot over the course of something like 8 years, the shots they get on this show blow me away.


Hope you guys enjoyed hearing about our favorite things.  Let us know if you have any questions about any of them.  Are any of your favorite things on this list?

Until next time,

- Alison Breiner, Client Specialist

 

25 Days Of Kindness Complete

Hello again!

What a holiday season for 12five this year.  We worked hard and built momentum to start the year. We had some great fun celebrating the holidays with our holiday party and with our 25 Random Acts Of Kindness challenge here at 12five.  If you want to read about the initial challenge, click here to see how we started.

We wanted to share with everyone some of our favorite acts and the results, so here are just a few from everyone.

Alison: "I paid for someone's parking spot at the Metra station so that they didn't get a ticket."

Ryan: "With all the snow, I plowed everyone's driveway in my neighborhood and cleared the snow off cars near mine at the train station."

Jay: "I brought an extra jacket that I had laying around at the house and a beanie and some gloves to give to the homeless man in the wheelchair (John) near Union Station entrance that I see every day."

Bob: "I gave a 91 year old World War II veteran, whose birthday is 12/5, a gift card from Starbucks."

Russell: "I left some carrots out for a bunny that lives underneath my balcony."

Liz: "I took my niece out to dinner to catch up with her - it can mean a lot to an 11 year old!"

Max: "At the convenience store, I gave the person in front of me the necessary change he was short to pay for his groceries."

Cathy: "A lady in line at the store was complaining how slow it was because of a new person training. I commented about how fast they worked as a team and that it must be hard to start a job in the middle of the holidays. The new person training heard what I said and smiled." 

We love doing this as a team and looking forward to the challenge again next year.   Large or small, these small acts can mean the world to people. We think that random acts of kindness shouldn't end with the holiday season.  While the challenge for us is over, we hope that everyone takes this positivity into the new year and shows that we are a kind and giving community!

- Ryan

Amazing Acts Of Kindness From Our Friends

Hey everyone!  Here at 12five, we are almost finished with our 25 days of Christmas Random Acts of Kindness.  While we are almost done, we had to share the video of what our friends at Peoria Toyota in Peoria, IL did for people this week.  If this doesn't inspire you to pay it forward, I don't know what will.

Learn more about Peoria Toyota here!

Happy Holidays and great job to Greg Whitten and his team at Peoria Toyota at being Happily Different!

Intentional Living

 

“Our intention creates our reality.” — Wayne Dyer

Intention is what moves us forward. Intention is this difference between being an active participant in your life and just letting life happen to you. But how many of us are being pushed to do something, instead of setting out with an intention to do something. How often do you feel like your business or job is just going through the motions, versus thriving and with purpose.

I just recently read a great book on intentional leadership called, Turn The Ship Around. This is the story of Captain L. David Marquet and how he turned the USS Santa Fe into one of the top submarines in the Navy through his Leader/Leader intentional approach.

“Live less out of habit and more out of intent…”

Early on in my adult life, my mentor said “live with intention”. I learned what a different mindset this meant through watching how this person lived with a focused intention, rather than just letting life occur around him. He seemed to have a great grasp of what was in his control and what wasn’t. The things that were in control, he always did with intention. Everything out of his control, he intended not to spend time on them.

In due time, this became a mantra for my life. I decided that everything I did was going to be done with intention, hopefully always with a good one. This paradigm shift in the mind has freed me from inertia and helped me to keep my life in forward motion.

Intention In Your Business

In business, there is also seems to be a lack of intention. This could be from a lack of planning or goal setting. Is your organization setting intentions for who you want to be and how you want to get there? Are you setting the intentions for your culture and what you want to represent? If you aren’t, something else is. This is unless you decide to set the path.

Are you giving your team the ability to be intentional with their work? Too often, we see a top down approach toward business that lures people into a mode of asking for permission versus setting intention. It may seem subtle, but there is a huge difference between “Can I help this client do x, y or z” and “I intend to help this client do x, y or z”. Both of these give the management a chance to give their “two cents”, however, the latter allows for ownership from the team members perspective. During his turnaround of the USS Santa Fe, L. David Marquet instructed his team to say “Captain, I intend to…”, to which he could respond with questions or say “Very well.” This meant all the difference. It turned his team from passive actors to thoughtful leaders.

Giving your team the chance to be intentional and take leadership frees you up from the day to day activities that are stymying your company’s growth. It allows them to be in control over what they work on and how they work.

Help everyone on your team to set their own goals and you will see intention permeate through every part of your organization. This isn’t easy and takes time on your part, but will pay dividends in their growth, which then in turns grows your organization.

Not in management? No matter. Intention is something we all can choose to do. Intend to be less distracted at work. Intend to go the extra mile for your customer. Intend to spend 20 minutes exercising. Intend to strive for the greater good of your team. Intend to make yourself a little bit better than you were the day before.

In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “A good intention clothes itself in power.”

Best of luck in 2017 and living intentional!

Original post here.

It's That Time Of Year... 25 Random Acts Of Kindness

If you've followed our blog, you've seen that we have done this experiment in the past.  As a team, we choose a certain period  of time where we all do at least one random act of kindness a day. Internally, we discuss them, which gives us a chance to tell our funny stories and the sometimes nervousness about what we perform.

Outside of our team, we just feel that the more good we put out into the world, the better off our community is as a whole.  By our math, we are doing one random act of kindness each day for 25 days.  We have 8 people on our team, so that means over the next 25 days we will have done 200 random acts of kindness! I love that kind of incrementalism.  We also think that there can be a "butterfly effect" to our acts that can ripple to all of those around us, so who knows what that number could grow to!

random-acts-of-kindness-6-590x776.jpg

Of course, we should try to do this year round.  We just find that it is a fun way for us as a team to interact and remind ourselves the gratitude we should feel for everything we have and everyone around us.

We'll report back here with our funniest interactions and favorite acts of kindness.  Until then...

Five Minute Journal User Video

Five Minute Journal Holiday Gifts

Five Minute Journal Holiday Gifts

We love the Five Minute Journal here at 12five, there's no denying that.  It's such a great way to begin journaling and finding gratitude in every day life.  We even gave them away as presents at our holiday party last year!

We thought we would share a video that they posted that they sourced from users of the book.  Check it out here!

Do It Now

Nike has a good thing going with its, ‘Just Do It’ slogan, but I prefer the more action orientated ‘Do It Now’ that I learned from Joe Gitts, CEO and co-founder of Social Market Analytics, a company focused on using information garnered from social networks to make business and investment decisions.

Joe is a serial-entrepreneur who started his first company in 1996, eventually selling it to Thomson Reuters some 10 years later. Joe stuck around at Reuters for around 5 years before leaving to start Social Market Analytics in 2006.

I have my own ambitions to start a company someday, venturing into the unknown is an exciting proposal, but it’s easy to come up with reasons why now isn’t the right time. One thing I took away from my chat with Joe was the importance of getting started as soon as possible.

If I didn’t take the initial risk early in my life when I was in my twenties and had little to lose, I would have had no chance of starting a business when I’m a husband and father.’ - Joe Gitts

Taking the first step early and learning as you go is one constant I’ve heard from the three entrepreneurs that are in my life today, and while they have all gone about things differently, being bold is one of the things that brings them together

I know I was generally on the more cautious, risk-averse side of things before I started down my path with 12five Capital, but luckily I’ve been fortunate enough to surround myself with people who push me outside of my comfort zone in the best way possible.

My girlfriend pushes me to take unplanned trips, be more spontaneous and make more decisions on feel rather than logic. Ryan, CEO of 12five, pushes me to try new things, set aggressive personal goals and generally be more action orientated. Joe Gitts, while a new acquaintance to me, is a constant reminder to get going. Hearing a guy discuss quantitative analytics in one breath then switching to discuss the maze of logistics that comes with having four kids under the age of 18 in the next is inspiring.

I try to take a little bit from each person I meet or learn about to try to cobble together the best of all my experiences. On that note, I’ve combined the efforts of Phil Knight and Joe Gitts to form the perfect slogan for those wishing to set out on their own, “Just do it now!’

 

Congrats Jay!

We have a promotion! Jay Jaskiewicz has been promoted to Lead Client Specialist.

Jay enjoying his promotion.  

Jay enjoying his promotion.  

Jay has worked his tail off learning this business and gaining experience of managing a team of people. 

In his new role, he will lead our Client Team which manages all of our client relationships and manages the rockstar team that cares for our clients.

Congrats Jay. You deserve it. Send Jay congratulations when you get a chance!

- Ryan Jaskiewicz, CEO

On Culture

A Curse is Born

A Curse is Born

After over 105 years without winning the world series, the Cubs were due for a culture change. Years of sub-par performances, compounded by the fact that the Cubs were always among the most profitable teams in baseball, left the management and fans feeling like the losers the rest of the country viewed them as. A deep playoff run in 2003, in which the Cubs were up 3-0 in the National League Championship, had fans giddy for what looked to be a lock for the cubs first World Series game in over 70 years. Fate however had other plans as the Cubs went on to lose 4 straight games following a fan interfering with what could have been a series clinching out in game three. 

Culture is something that is at times both difficult to describe and impossible to ignore. Why does the sign at the rental car office saying “Customer service is our top priority!” make you uneasy, while the smiling 20-something in a blue Apple t-shirt make you feel appreciated and taken care of? The answer is culture, and every business, team and family has it’s own.

Joe Maddon was born in 1954 in Hazelton, PA and grew up in a small apartment above his father's plumbing shop. He played baseball and football on scholarship at nearby Lafayette College before spending 4 unsuccessful years in the California Angels minor league system, never getting above single A. Joe would spend the next 31 years in the Angles organization doing everything from minor league scouting to managing the major league team. Knowing this about Joe and his early life might lead one to believe he’s a no-nonsense guy with a indefatigable work ethic and a permanent chip on his shoulder, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

What, Me Worry?

What, Me Worry?

When Joe took over the Cubs in 2015, you could feel the energy around the team before he arrived. With a reputation for getting the most out of less-than-stellar talent, Cubs fans were salivating when then President Theo Epstein made the hire a few years after noticeably ramping up spending on the organization. Ballpark construction, a bevy of young talented stars and a new manager had the stage set for a serious and focused season, but being serious was the last thing on Mr. Maddon’s mind.

Baseball has always had a reputation for being fond of tradition. People often joke that baseball has more unwritten rules than written ones, and as such, being unique and ‘out-there’ can often be seen as selfish or disrespectful. No one has been able to toe the line better than Joe, and I think you’d be hard pressed to find another MLB manager who doesn’t respect him. The culture that Joe Maddon brought to the cubs has had an immediate and profound effect on the team, starting with a deep and unexpected playoff run the season he was hired.

Joe likes to keep things fun and loose. Whether it’s inviting a magician to the clubhouse, or encouraging players to wear footie-pajamas on the team flight, it can almost seem like baseball is an afterthought to Mr. Maddon, that is, until you look at the results. The team is winning at a rate Chicagoans haven’t seen in decades, and even botched construction projects surrounding the stadium haven’t damped the energy and positivity around the team and it’s fans. As Joe famously quipped during his first press conference, “Don't ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure.”

It’s important to spend time thinking about and working on the culture of whatever organization you happen to be in. There are few things that are more important in determining the long term success of your group than establishing a set culture and sticking to it, and it starts with the leaders. While culture can sometimes be hard to define, it’s something that outsiders to your organization, be that clients, employees or friends, will instantly recognize. Do you treat your employees well? Is your business clean and orderly? Do people look like they want to be there? All these items are part of your culture, and if you don’t take the time to think about and consciously steer where you are going, you could end up cursed for 100 years.  

 

The Importance of Team Communication

The door shut behind us and clock started ticking. The lights went out as we pulled out our flashlights and began quickly and carefully turning over the room. I rummaged through the coats on the rack, Ryan went through every item in the desk, Alison and Jay began scouring every inch of the room from floor to ceiling, while Bob and Liz pondered the meaning the five animal posters on the wall.

No, we were not auditioning for an Ocean’s 11 reboot.

Our team at 12five Capital recently took part in a cool ‘Escape the Room’ scenario at Fox In A Box Chicago.

The escape the room idea is fairly simple. Your team is put in a scenario where you must use your wits, communication, and teamwork to solve a series of puzzles or problems in a given timeframe. We were tasked with breaking into a bank and stealing the priceless diamond inside.

Completing all the puzzles in a given room would unlock the door into the next room, which had it’s own new puzzles, some of which involved using items or information found in the previous room. Some of our puzzles were pretty tough!

In the end we completed the heist with less than two minutes to spare.

One big takeaway I had from our adventure was just how differently people approach and ultimately solve problems. I’ve done the personality tests and heard plenty of talks on the importance of understanding the different ways people work together, but having it demonstrated in way that didn’t apply to our specific jobs really hammered the point home.

One of the best things about having a talented group of people working together is the different strengths each member brings to the table. If there were six versions of this post’s author trying to steal that diamond I’m not so sure we would have made it out of the first room. With a diverse group of people, we were out of the 1st of 3 rooms in 5 minutes. 

However, working with different people can have it’s challenges if you don’t have a good way to communicate with each other. People often assume that others think and make decisions in the same way that they do, and when someone doesn’t do what you expect them to, it can be frustrating and confusing.

This is where communication becomes so important. Just because I think the tongs and the cheese shredder have no business being in the same drawer doesn’t necessarily mean that my girlfriend will read my mind and organize them in the way I like. I must explain the minute but extremely important difference between food handling tools and food manipulation tools. Without well thought out communication like this, my kitchen and relationship would both descend into chaos.

Food handling vs food manipulation

Food handling vs food manipulation

To get back on track, we all had a great time at the event and are looking forward to our next escape. It was a great test to see how our team worked when we were under pressure and needed to depend on each other. Next time we will test our wits against the challenging prison escape!