For the past year I have been offering tips and insights into the process of commercial finance for government contractors. Even as the economy remained in a stall at the beginning of 2011, many agencies continued to rely on the deliberate capabilities of their contractors to keep the wheels of progress moving. To be sure, the howls of the few who decry the bold work being done day in and day out by dedicated public servants would become earth shattering were they to stop providing critical care to this struggling economy.
Without casting blame, the beginning of the year saw a retrenching of most financing companies, including banks, who might have felt their lending practices lacked proper attention and accountability. In the previous year, banks which are regulated, were trying to hold onto a steady balance sheet in order to avoid being swallowed up by a healthier institution. This meant a bank was less likely to do loans that had any risk at all figuring they would be better off getting a gift from the FDIC of an entire portfolio from another bank in decline.
This brought terrible repercussions to the borrowing community as their “new bank” could change the rules and ultimately toss you out if your loan did not conform to sometimes seemingly arbitrary decision making. This caused borrowers to seek ongoing financing from lower tier resources, and often created high stress situations which are the worst situation to be in when courting a new lender.
Much of this chaotic business settled down by the end of the summer and banks soon realized they had to get back to their mandate and start lending money – for if they are not lending they are not going to be profitable. So by now, commercial lenders are once again hungry for deals and eager to help tailor the needs of their client with the requirements of the institution.
Unfortunately the business community was changing in parallel to what was happening to the lenders. Companies were for too long relying on easy to obtain credit and had overextended their balance sheet while experiencing a downturn in the economy. The results were less receipts and over extended credit with no one around to bail them out. Unfair yes, but this is still a reality that some astute business owners dealt with better than others.
Going into the New Year everyone has to get back to basics. Increase sales and cut costs by working more efficiently is the mantra that companies need to learn in order to find success. Additionally companies need to adopt the discipline to work within the confines of their profit loss statements. Become smarter at getting the word out about your capabilities; invest in your own personal growth as well as the growth of the company. In any game, the person who makes the most mistakes loses, but the one who stays focused on the task at hand wins. Good luck to you in 2012.