Practice Financing is FULL of terms with very specific definitions...we're here to help.
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This business finance key term is anything that has value—whether tangible or intangible—and is owned by the business is considered an asset. Typical items listed as business assets are cash on hand, accounts receivable, buildings, equipment, inventory, and anything else that can be turned into cash.
Accounts payable is a business finance 101 term. This represents your small business’s obligations to pay debts owed to lenders, suppliers, and creditors. Sometimes referred to as A/P or AP for short, accounts payable can be short or long term depending upon the type of credit provided to the business by the lender.
Also known as A/R (or AR, good guess), accounts receivables is another business finance 101 term that means the money owed to your small business by others for goods or services rendered. These accounts are labeled as assets because they represent a legal obligation for the customer to pay you cash for their short-term debt.
The accrual basis of accounting is an accounting method of recording income when it’s actually earned and expenses when they actually occur. Accrual basis accounting is the most common approach used by larger businesses to record and maintain financial transactions.
A business finance term and definition that refers to expenses that have been incurred but haven’t yet been recorded in the business books. Wages and payroll taxes are common examples.
Annual Percentage Rate
The business finance term and definition APR represents the yearly real cost of a loan including all interest and fees. The total amount of interest to be paid is based on the original amount loaned, or the principal, and is represented in percentage form. When shopping for the right loan for your small business, you should know the APR for the loan in question. This figure can be very helpful in comparing one financial tool with another since it represents the actual cost of borrowing.
Just like your real estate appraisal when buying a house, an appraisal is a professional opinion of market value. When closing a loan for your small business, you will probably need one or more of the three types of appraisals: real estate, equipment, and business value.
Articles of Incorporation
This is legal documentation of the business’s creation, including name, type of business, and type of business structure or incorporation. This paperwork is one of the first tasks you will complete when you officially start your business. Once submitted, your articles of incorporation are kept on file with the appropriate governmental agencies.
Along with three other reports relating to the financial health of your small business, the balance sheet is essential information that gives a “snapshot” of the company’s net worth at any given time. The report is a summary of the business assets and liabilities.
A loan that is structured so that the small business owner makes regular repayments on a predetermined schedule and one much larger payment, or balloon payment, at the end. These can be attractive to new businesses because the payments are smaller at the outset when the business is more likely to be facing strict financial constraints. However, be sure that your business will be capable of making that last balloon payment since it will be a large one.
This federal law is used as a tool for businesses or individuals who are having severe financial challenges. It provides a plan for reduction and repayment of debts overtime or an opportunity to completely eliminate the majority of the outstanding debts. Turning to bankruptcy should be given careful thought because it will have a negative effect on the business credit score.
A method of accounting that involves the timely recording of all financial transactions for the business.
Using your own money to finance the start-up and growth of your small business. Think of it as being your own investor. Once the business is up and running successfully, the business finance term and definition bootstrapping refers to the use of profits earned to reinvest in the business.
Business Credit Report
Just like you have a personal credit report that lenders look at to determine risk factors for making personal loans, businesses also generate credit reports. These are maintained by credit bureaus that record information about a business’s financial history.
Items like how large the company is, how long has it been in business, the amount and type of credit issued to the business, how credit has been managed, and any legal filings (i.e., bankruptcy) are all questions addressed by the business credit report. Lenders, investors, and insurance companies use these reports to evaluate risk exposure and financial health of a business.
Business Credit Score
A business credit score is calculated based on the information found in the business credit report. Using a specialized algorithm, business credit scoring companies take into account all the information found on your credit report and give your small business a credit score. Also called a commercial credit score, this number is used by various lenders and suppliers to evaluate your creditworthiness.
Here is your tool for demonstrating how you want to establish your small business and how you plan to grow it into good financial health. When writing a business plan, it should include financial, operational, and marketing goals as well as how you plan to get there. The more specific you are with your business plan, the better prepared you will be in the long run.
Refers to the overall wealth of a business as demonstrated by its cash accounts, assets, and investments. Often called “fixed capital,” it refers to the long-term worth of the business. Capital can be tangible, like durable goods, buildings, and equipment, or intangible such as intellectual property.
Not to be confused with fixed capital, working capital is another business finance 101 term. It consists of the financial resources necessary for maintaining the day-to-day operation of the business. Working capital, by definition, is the business’s cash on hand or instruments that you can convert to cash quickly.
Every business needs cash to operate. The business finance term and definition cash flow refers to the amount of operating cash that “flows” through the business and affects the business’s liquidity. Cash flow reports reflect activity for a specified period of time, usually one accounting period or one month. Maintaining tight control of cash flow is especially important if your small business is new, since ready cash can be limited until the business begins to grow and produce more working capital.
Cash Flow Projections
Future business decisions will depend on your educated cash flow projections. To plan ahead for upcoming expenditures and working capital, you need to depend on previous cash flow patterns. These patterns will give you a comprehensive look at how and when you receive and spend your cash. This info is the key to unlock informed, accurate cash flow projections.
Long-term debt, preferred stock and net worth. The loan capital of a community development loan fund; includes that which has been borrowed from and is repayable to third parties as well as that which is earned or owned by the loan fund (i.e. "permanent capital").
Those financial markets, including institutions and individuals, that exchange securities, especially long-term debt instruments.
Cash Flow Financing
Short-term loan providing additional cash to cover cash shortfalls in anticipation of revenue, such as the payment(s) of receivables.
Any asset that you pledge as security for a loan instrument is called collateral. Lenders often require collateral as a way to make sure they won’t lose money if your business defaults on the loan. When you pledge an asset for collateral, it becomes subject to seizure by the lender if you fail to meet the requirements of the loan documents.
When a lender offers a business line of credit it usually comes with a credit limit, or a maximum amount that you can use at any given time. It is said that you reach your credit limit or “max out” your credit when you borrow up to or exceed that number. A business line of credit can be especially useful if your business is seasonal or if the income is extremely unpredictable. It is one of the fastest ways to access cash for emergencies.
An agreement or promise to do or not to do a particular thing; to enter into a formal agreement; a promise incidental to a deed or contract. The following are functional objectives guiding most covenants: full disclosure of information, preservation of net worth, maintenance of asset quality, maintenance of adequate cash flow, control of growth, control of management, assurance of legal existence and concept of going concern, provision for lender profit or program goals.
Assets that will normally be turned into cash within a year.
Liability that will normally be repaid within a year.
Current assets divided by current liabilities -- a measure of liquidity. Generally, the higher the ratio, the greater the "cushion" between current obligations and a firm's ability to meet them.
An amount owed for funds borrowed. The debt may be owed to an organization's own reserves, individuals, banks, or other institutions. Generally, the debt is secured by a note, bond, mortgage, or other instrument that states repayment and interest provisions. The note, in turn, may be secured by a lien against property or other assets.
Amount of payment due regularly to meet a debt agreement; usually a monthly, quarterly or annual obligation.
Debt Service Reserve
Term used to refer to cash reserves set aside by a borrower, either by internal policy or lender covenant, to repay debt in the event that cash generated by operations is insufficient.
If your small business has several loans with various payments, you might want to consider a business debt consolidation loan. It is a process that lets you combine multiple loans into a single loan. The advantages are possibly reducing the interest rates on the borrowed funds as well as lowering the total amount you repay each month. Businesses use this tool to help improve cash flow.
Debt Service Coverage Ratio
The business finance term and definition debt service coverage ratio (DSCR) is the ratio of cash your small business has available for paying or servicing its debt. Debt payments include making principal and interest payments on the loan you are requesting. Generally speaking, if your DSCR is above 1, your business has enough income to meet its debt requirements.
When you borrow money from a lender and agree to repay the principal with interest in regular payments for a specified period of time, you’re using debt financing. Traditionally, it has been the most common form of funding for small businesses.
Debt financing can include borrowing from banks, business credit cards, lines of credit, personal loans, merchant cash advances, and invoice financing. This method creates a debt that must be repaid but lets you maintain sole control of your business.
A failure to discharge a duty. The term is most often used to describe the occurrence of an event that cuts short the rights or remedies of one of the parties to an agreement or legal dispute, for example, the failure of the mortgagor to pay a mortgage installment, or to comply with mortgage covenants.
In a monetary context, something that has been made payable and is overdue and unpaid,
The value of any asset can be said to depreciate when it loses some of that value in increments over time. Depreciation occurs due to wear and tear. Various methods of depreciation are used by businesses to decrease the recorded value of assets.
Refers to the task of carefully confirming all critical assumptions and facts presented by a borrower. This includes verifying sources of income, accuracy of financial statements, value of assets that will serve as collateral, the tax status of the borrower and any other material facts presented by the borrower.
Endowment or Trust
A fund that contains assets whose use is restricted only to the income earned by these assets.
The value of property in an organization greater than total debt held on it. Equity investments typically take the form of an owner's share in the business, and often, a share in the return, or profits. Equity investments carry greater risk than debt, but the potential for greater return should balance the risk.
The act of using investor funds in exchange for a piece or ”share” of your business is another way to raise capital. These funds can come from friends, family, angel investors, or venture capitalists.
Before deciding to use equity financing to raise the cash necessary for your business, decide how much control you are willing to share when it comes to decision-making and philosophy. Some investors will also want voting rights.
An ownership position in an organization or venture taken through an investment. Returns on the investment are dependent on the profitability of the organization or venture.
Employer Identification Number (EIN) Certificate
In order to be more easily identified by the Internal Revenue Service, every business entity is assigned a unique number called an EIN. When you start your small business, an EIN will be assigned and mailed to the business address. This number never changes, and you will be asked to furnish it for many reasons.
A FICO score is another type of credit score used by potential lenders for evaluating the wisdom of entering a contract with you and your business. FICO scores comprise a substantial part of the credit report that lenders use to assess credit risk. It was created by the Fair Isaac Corporation, hence the name FICO.
An integral part of the loan application process is furnishing information that shows your business is a good credit risk. The standard financial statement packet includes four main reports: the income statement, the balance sheet, the statement of cash flow, and the statement of shareholders’ equity, if you have shareholders.
Lenders and investors want to see that your business is well-balanced with assets and liabilities, has positive cash flow, and will have the capital to make expected repayments.
Fixed Interest Rate
The interest rate on a loan that is established in the beginning and does not change for the lifetime of the loan is said to be fixed. Loans with fixed interest rates are appealing to small business owners because the repayment amounts are consistent and easier to budget for in the future.
A tangible, long-term asset used for the business and not expected to be sold or otherwise converted into cash during the current or upcoming fiscal year is called a fixed asset. Fixed assets are items like furniture, computer equipment, equipment, and real estate.
Floating Interest Rate
In contrast to the business finance term and definition fixed rate, the floating interest rate will change with market fluctuations. Also referred to as variable rates or adjustable rates, these amounts may often start out lower than the fixed rate percentages. This makes them more appealing in the short term if the market is trending down.
For a small business entrepreneur, entering into a franchise agreement with a larger company can be a way to enter the marketplace. The agreement made between you and the larger company gives you the right to operate as a satellite of the larger company in a certain territory for a given period of time. This lets you, the business owner, take advantage of a brand name that’s already familiar in the marketplace and a process or operation that has already been tested.
Net worth in a nonprofit organization; total assets minus total liabilities.
Rights to demand payment from the general assets of the debtor, without seniority in access to any specific assets.
This business finance term and definition can be calculated as total sales (income) less the costs (expenses) directly related to those sales. Raw materials, manufacturing expenses, labor costs, marketing, and transportation of goods are all included in expenses.
When starting a new small business, lenders might want you to provide a guarantor. This is an individual who guarantees to cover the balance owed on a debt if you or your business cannot meet the repayment obligation.
A pledge to cover the payment of debt or to perform some obligation if the person liable fails to perform. When a third party guarantees a loan, it promises to pay in the event of a default by the borrower.
Here is one of the four most important reports lenders and investors want to see when evaluating the viability of your small business. It is also called a profit and loss statement, and it addresses the business’s bottom line, reporting how much the business has earned and spent over a given period of time. The result will be either a net gain or a net loss.
A business asset that is non-physical is considered intangible. These assets can be items like patents, goodwill, and intellectual property.
Short-term loan to provide temporary financing until more permanent financing is available.
Non- or for-profit institutions that have specialized lending capacities. They obtain capital in the form of equity and low interest loans from a variety of sources, including foundations and other funders, to form a "lending pool." They then serve as "wholesalers" who process large numbers of small loans or investments. This "economy of scale" often allows intermediaries to be more efficient than a foundation or funder could be if it considered each investment individually. Also, intermediaries often develop expertise in a particular field or region that foundations or funders cannot afford to develop. In the context of this study, non-financial intermediaries include community foundations and financial intermediaries include credit unions, venture capital and loan funds, banks, etc.
All loans and other lending instruments are assigned the business finance key term interest rates. This is a percentage of the principal amount charged by the lender for the use of its money. Interest rates represent the current cost of borrowing.
Invoice Factoring or Financing
If your business has a significant amount of open invoices outstanding, you may contact a factoring company and have them purchase the invoices at a discount. By raising capital this way, there is no debt, and the factoring company assumes the financial responsibility for collecting the invoice debts.
Using long-term debt to secure funds for an organization. In the social investment world, often refers to financial participation by other private, public or individual sources.
This business finance key term is a legal obligation to repay or otherwise settle a debt. Liabilities are considered either current (payable within one year or less) or long-term (payable after one year) and are listed on a business’s balance sheet. A business’s accounts payable, wages, taxes, and accrued expenses are all considered liabilities.
This business finance term and definition is a creditor’s legal claim to the collateral pledged as security for a loan is called a lien.
Limitation of shareholders' losses to the amount invested.
Rights only to specifically stipulated assets to satisfy an unpaid debt.
Line of Credit
A lender may offer you an unsecured amount of funds available for your business to draw on when capital is needed. This line of credit is considered a short-term funding option, with a maximum amount available. This pre-approved pool of money is appealing because it gives you quick access to the cash.
A deposit in an account with a financial institution to induce that institution's support for one or more projects. By accruing no interest or low interest on its deposit, a foundation essentially subsidizes the interest rate of the project borrowers.
Liquidity is an indicator of how quickly an asset can be turned into cash for full market value. The more liquid your assets, the more financial flexibility you have.
A written contract between a lender and a borrower that sets out the rights and obligations of each party regarding a specified loan.
The LTV comparison is a ratio of the fair-market value of an asset compared to the amount of the loan that will fund it. This is another important number for lenders who need to know if the value of the asset will cover the loan repayment if your business defaults and fails to pay.
Any loan product with a total repayment schedule lasting longer than one year is considered a long-term debt.
That portion of a fund's earnings or permanent capital designated by the board of directors as a reserve against possible loan losses and, as such, unavailable for lending purposes. Generally accepted accounting principles governing for-profit and regulated financial institutions require that loan loss expense be deducted as an annual expense on an accrual basis and that the loan loss reserve be shown as a contra asset reducing loan assets. To date, no accounting convention has been established to govern loan loss reserve accounting for unregulated nonprofit institutions. The technical treatment is to establish the reserve through periodic charges against earnings, and actual losses, when and if incurred, and are charged against the reserve. For balance sheet purposes a loan loss reserve (should) be shown as a deduction from the loan portfolio to suggest that its true economic value should be reduced by the estimated loss exposure.
The rate of interest a company must pay to borrow funds currently. Program-related investments generally are offered at below market rates or at no interest rate.
Merchant Cash Advance
A merchant may offer a funding method through a loan based on the business’s monthly sales volume. Repayment is made with a percentage of the daily or weekly sales. These tend to be short-term loans and are one of the costliest ways to fund your small business.
Microloans are loans made through nonprofit, community-based organizations and they are most often for amounts under $50,000.
Statements of actions or events of the borrower must prevent from occurring or existing, for example, additional borrowing without the lender's consent.
Net Working Capital
Current assets minus current liabilities.
This business finance term and definition is an expression of your business’s total value, as determined by your total current assets less the total liabilities currently owed by the business. With your business’s most recent balance sheet in hand, you can calculate the net worth using a simple formula: Assets – Liabilities = Net Worth.
The potential benefit that is foregone from not following the best (financially optimal) alternative course of action.
If you’re seeking financing for a very new business and don’t have a high value asset to offer as collateral, you may be asked by the lender to sign a statement of personal guarantee. In effect, this statement affirms that you as an individual will act as guarantor for the business’s debt, making you personally liable for the balance of the loan even in the event that your business fails.
A combination of assets held for its investment benefits, including financial and non-financial returns. The asset mix is usually varied in kind and size to maintain an acceptable level of risk and return.
Any loan instrument is made of three parts—the principal, the interest, and the fees. The principal is a business finance key term and is the original amount that is borrowed or the outstanding balance to be repaid less interest. It is used to calculate the total interest and fees charged.
Profit & Loss Statement
See “Income Statement” above.
A business or enterprise designed to promote the social purpose goals of an organization as well as generate revenue. Among nonprofits, products and services are usually, but not exclusively, identified with the purpose of the organization. Activities can range from fee-for-service charges to full-scale commercial ventures.
Broad, functional definition: A method of providing support to an organization, consistent with program goals involving the potential return of capital within an established time frame. In the context of this study, program-related investments include loans, loan guarantees, equity investments, asset purchases or the conversion of asset(s) to charitable use, linked deposits, and, in some cases, recoverable grants.
Promise to pay. Written contract between a borrower and a lender that is signed by the borrower and provides evidence of the borrower's indebtedness to the lender.
Accounts receivable; an amount that is owed the business, usually by one of its customers as a result of the ordinary extension of credit.
Refers to the right, in an agreement, to demand payment from the person who is taking on an obligation. A full recourse loan refers to the right of the lender to take any assets of the borrower if repayment is not made. A limited recourse loan only allows the lender to take assets named in the loan agreement. A non-recourse loan limits the lender's rights to the particular asset being financed -- an approach that is common in home mortgages and other real estate loans.
Funds provided by a philanthropist to fulfill a role similar to equity. A recoverable grant may include an agreement to treat the investment as a grant if the enterprise is not successful, but to repay the investor if the enterprise meets with success.
A revision of a financial agreement that alters the conditions or covenants of the original agreement. For example, parties may agree to restructure a loan agreement, easing the payment schedule, when a borrower is delinquent or otherwise faces default on a loan.
Just like it sounds, this term represents any profits earned that are retained in the business. This can also be referred to as bootstrapping.
Revolving Line of Credit
This business finance term and definition is a funding option similar to a standard line of credit. However, the agreement is to lend a specific amount of money, and once that sum is repaid, it can be borrowed again.
Prior to or at the time of the maturity of an investment or loan, the interested parties agree to continue to carry over the investment or loan for another, successive period of time.
A pledge made to secure the performance of a contract or the fulfillment of an obligation. Examples of securities include real estate, equipment stocks or a co-signer. Mortgages are a form of security with strong legal standing, because they are publicly registered following a formal legal procedure. A mortgage gives the lender holding a mortgage security the right to reclaim the asset being financed, if repayment is not made.
Many lenders will require some form of security when loaning money. When this happens, this business finance term and definition is a secured loan. The asset being used as collateral for the loan is said to be “securing” the loan. In the event that your small business defaults on the loan, the lender can then claim the collateral and use its fair-market value to offset the unpaid balance.
Debt that must be repaid before subordinated debt receives any payment in the event of default.
Statement of Cash Flow
One of the important documents required by lenders and investors that shows a summary of the actual collection of revenue and payment of expenses for your business. The statement of cash flow should reflect activity in the areas of operating, investing, and financing and should be an integral part of your financial statement package.
Statement of Shareholders’ Equity
If you have chosen to fund your small business with equity financing and you have established shares and shareholders as part of the controlling interests, you are obligated to provide a financial report that shows changes in the equity section of your balance sheet.
Subordinated Debt (Junior Debt)
Debt over which senior debt takes priority. In the event of bankruptcy, subordinated debt-holders receive payment only after senior debt is paid in full. A subordination of security interest in property allows another creditor to have the rights to the proceeds of the sale of that property before the claim of the subordinated creditor.
If your business fails to pay taxes owed to the designated government entity, namely the IRS, you may find your assets seized by the claim of a tax lien. The government can not only seize your assets for liquidation to resolve the tax debt, but they can also charge you penalties on the amount you owe.
Refers to the maturity or length of time until final repayment on a loan, bond, sale or other contractual obligation.
These are debt financing tools used to raise needed funds for your small business. Term loans provide the business with a lump sum of cash up front in exchange for a promise to repay the principal and interest at specified intervals over a set period of time. These are typically longer term, one-time loans for start-up expenses or costs for established business expansion.
Loans that are not backed by collateral are called unsecured loans. These types of loans represent a higher risk for the lender, so you can expect to pay higher interest rates and have shorter repayment time frames. Credit cards are an excellent example of unsecured loans that are a good option for small business funding when combined with other financing options.
A non- or for-profit entity that receives a program-related investment directly from a funder for use in its programs or ventures.
Statement attesting that certain statements are true. For instance, the borrower may warrant that it is a corporation, that it is entering into the agreement legally and that financial statements supplied to the bank are true.
Technically, means current assets and current liabilities. The term is commonly used synonymously with net working capital. The term often also is used to refer to all short-term funding needs for operations (excluding debt service and fixed assets). A company's investment in current assets that are used to maintain normal business operations. Net working capital, which is the excess of current assets over current liabilities is also interchangeable with working capital. Both reflect the resources in circulation to meet operating needs and obligations as they come due.
When an investment, such as a loan, becomes seriously delinquent or in default and is determined to be uncollectible, the lender may choose to charge the outstanding investment amount as an expense or a loss.