9. Finance for Recruitment Entrepreneurs

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(This is part of a series of articles on becoming a Recruitment Entrepreneur. These articles are meant for first-time recruitment entrepreneurs and the more experienced recruiters may find some parts elementary.  I shall start dwelling deeper into each aspect once we get done with the basics. If you wish to contribute to this topic please write to ajay@recruitcrm.io I will be happy to incorporate your ideas as well. You may also mail me if you wish me to write on any specific topic.)

Many new entrepreneurs who are not basically finance professionals, struggle with the jargons used in finance and accounts. The objective of this piece is to acquaint recruitment entrepreneurs with the basic structure of finance and accounts required for a small business to start with.

Legal Structure of Business

As already explained in my previous article (The Recruitment Prerequisites | Getting Started), I recommend establishing a Limited Liability company (a C Corporation) rather than a ‘proprietorship’. Well, you can also start as a proprietary firm and then convert to Limited Liability Company (LLC) later. For the purpose of finance, your company will be treated as a separate legal entity, i.e. separate than the promoter (or shareholders).

Two main Constructs in Finance

Balance Sheet: This is a statement of the assets and liabilities of a company on any given date. Assets are all that the company owns and liabilities are all that it owes. As the name goes the assets and liabilities are always in balance (same). Let us understand this better. When an entrepreneur starts a company she can give the company money in two ways, as equity (money for shares- ownership) and as a loan ( also called debt). Now, this is money that the company owes to the entrepreneur and therefore are classified as ‘Liabilities’. The company shall keep this money received as cash in its bank account and thus is classified as an ‘Asset’. (Refer to Table 1)

Table 1- Balance Sheet as on 01 May 2019

AssetsAmountLiabilitiesAmount
Cash in Bank  13000Equity5000
Cash in Hand2000Debt(Unsecured)10000
Total1500015000

It the company now buys a laptop for say 1000 dollars using cash in the bank, the above table will simply reduce cash in the bank to $12000 and add another row to the asset side, laptop (or computer or machinery) $1000. However, if the payment for the laptop has not been made which means $1000 is payable to the laptop vendor then the balance sheet shall look like this- (Refer to table 2)

Table 2- Balance Sheet as on 05 May 2019

AssetsAmountLiabilitiesAmount
Cash in Bank13000Equity5000
Cash in hand2000Debt(Unsecured)10000
Laptop1000Payables (to Vendor)1000
Total1600016000

So I repeat what I wrote earlier, anything the company owns is an asset and anything it owes is a liability. With this let us move to the other construct.

There is also the concept of Current assets/liability and long term asset/liability.  Current assets are assets that are liquid (like cash or cash deposits) which can be easily used. Assets that cannot be liquidated like machinery or a long term investment etc are classified as long term assets.

Similarly, liabilities which have to be paid within one year are termed as current liabilities and others like a long term debt are classified as long term liabilities.

Profit & Loss Statement: Unlike the balance sheet with is a record of assets and liabilities on a given date, the profit and loss statement is computed for a specific period (Monthly, quarterly, yearly) and is a statement of revenues earned by the company and the expenses made(to earn that revenue). So if you have billed a total of $40000 for five placements in a particular month and have one employee and some regular expenses then your profit and loss statement will look like this-

Profit and loss statement for the month of May 2019

Item Revenue (Expense) in $
Sales Revenue 40000
Interest Earned (On bank deposit) 50
Employee Salaries (15000)
Employee Commission (3000)
Travel Expenses (1000)
Office Rent (3000)
Marketing Expense (4000)
Software & Internet Expense (1000)
Depreciation (Furniture & Computers) (200)
   
Total Profit (Loss) 12850

Well, the above is only an indicative statement and will be volatile depending on your revenues earned (expense other than commissions are more or less stable).  The Profit and loss statement is of course linked to the balance sheet.  So for example, if you have billed your client $40000 and they have paid you one invoice lets say of $15000. Then this cash collected $15000 will add to cash in the bank on the Asset side of the balance sheet and the remaining $25000 will also reflect in another row as receivables (asset).

Similarly, if you were to pay a rent of $3000 for May 2019 but have not yet paid this then the liability side of the balance sheet will reflect a row ‘Rent Payable’ $3000.

For making a profit and loss statement there are two methods-

1. Cash Basis: So, in the above example, you fill the revenue column with $40000 only if the cash has been received in your bank. Else the revenue will be zero. Same goes with expenditure. So, if an employee has earned a commission but it is not paid yet then it is not counted as expenditure till such time it is not paid.

2. Accrual Basis: Accrual basis accounting is what is normally adopted and any revenue earned (though not received) or an expense accrued ( though not yet paid) is accounted for in the profit and loss statement.

Accounting Software

It would also be a good idea for the business to subscribe to some basic accounting software. There would be many in each country and can be easily found online. Most of them sell on a per-user basis and cost between $10 – $30 per month per user. You can always seek any accountants help for initial set-up.  Most software has in-built integrations and can be connected with your business bank accounts and credit cards. It helps you to keep a track of all receipts and expenses once set-up, all you need to learn is to-

  • Create & edit an invoice
  • Enter receipt of payment
  • Enter expense in the system (and learn to categorize the expense)

That much is good enough and then you can again seek any accountants help to file your business tax returns at the end of the year.

Some Important Finance Terms/concepts

  • Depreciation  Whenever you purchase an asset (any equipment, bet it a computer, furniture,  mobile, etc), the entry is made in the asset side of the balance sheet and with a corresponding reduction in cash on the same side. You basically convert your cash(asset) into a computer(asset).
  • Now we all know that a computer will be used for let’s say five years. So if you have purchased a computer for $1000 then, you are basically using up $200 per year. So at the end of the year, you will depreciate the computer to $800 and add the $200 as depreciation expense in your profit and loss account for the year.
  • Of course, there are the various formula and rules for depreciation by the tax authorities for different items of machinery and you can leave that for your accounting consultant to figure out. It is important that you understand the concept.
  • Amortization  A concept similar to depreciation though used for items like a software (which actually does not depreciate) so that the upfront cost of the software can be apportioned to multiple years as you would use the software for many years. Though nowadays with the SAAS (software as a service) model and monthly and a yearly subscription, it is becoming less relevant.
  • PBT This is just a calculation of profit before tax and is self-explanatory
  • PAT This profit after tax and is also known as Net Income.
  • EBIDTA This is revenue less all expenses other than Interest Expense, Depreciation, tax and amortization (Therefore Earnings Before Interest Depreciation Tax and Amortization).
  • Working Capital  Every company will always require some ready capital for its regular payments/functioning. This requirement is typically a simple formula of current assets minus the current liability.

Understanding Business Financing

As mentioned earlier a company may be financed using equity (value of shares – Ownership) or using debt (Loan either from the owner or bank or anyone else).

The cost of debt is very simple. It is the interest cost of the capital. It may range from 5% to 15 % or more depending on the economy in which you are operating. It will also depend on whether the debt is secured(where some asset like house or property is pledged against it) or unsecured. Obviously secured debts are cheaper. One this to understand is that because of the interest paid on a company debt is categorized as a business expense the net interest paid is lesser than what you actually pay a bank.

For example, if the company has taken a loan(debt) of say $200000 and pays an annual interest of 10 % ( ie $20000). Now if the company was making a profit of $60000 for the year and let us say the corporate tax rate is 20%, then the company would have paid $ 12000 as tax. However, now that there is an interest expense of $20000 incurred, the profit only shows as $ 40000 and therefore actual tax paid is $8000. The company has saved $ 4000 on taxes.

Another way of looking at it is that the interest paid is only $16000 (ie $20000 to be paid as interest minus the $4000 saved in taxes). Therefore an interest rate of 8% and not 10 %.

Now let us look at the cost of equity. It is important to understand that of the two equity is more expensive by a large margin. Now imagine your company is making a profit of $60000 per year and instead of taking debt you have given equity worth $200000. Now the good thing about giving equity (ownership shares) is that this money need not be returned. So the person buying the equity is assuming the risk that the company goes bust.  Let us assume the company is valued at 20 times profit so your company is worth 1.2 million dollars. Now if you raise equity worth two hundred thousand dollars you will need to part with 14.28 % of equity ( ie 200000 / (1200000 + 200000)). At such a small size of an organization, it is not very difficult to grow around 50 % in a year. So now if in the next year your company makes $90000 profit it would be valued at  1.8 million dollars (20 times annual profit). Now the value of the 14.28 % of equity is  $257040. So the $200000 has grown by 28.5 %. So the cost of equity is 28.5 %.

Much as I have made simplistic assumptions I hope the concept is understood. Therefore an entrepreneur must be very careful while giving away equity especially so at the early stage of the start-up. It could turn out to be very expensive (imagine if the company had grown by 100% or more)

Though I have written this for recruitment entrepreneurs the article is relevant to any small business/start-up. The few topics and jargon covered are enough for a non-finance background entrepreneur to get started.

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