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Financing Your Own Business

Starting Up

Your business ideas are turning into a reality. You’ve done the research, estimated your start-up costs, written your business plan, and now you’re ready to tackle your financing.

There are multiple ways to fund a new business and we recommend researching each of them carefully. The decision you make could have a dramatic effect on the financial future of your company.

Funding Options

Debt Financing – Funding with loans (SBA, real estate, business loans, and more), credit cards, and lines of credit. You must pay all the money back whether your business succeeds or not, but the profits and control are all yours.

Equity Financing – Money secured by selling ownership in the company. It is a way to obtain money without incurring a lot of debt, but you must also share profits and ownership.

Grants – There is a wide range of programs available at the federal, state and local level. The Small Business Administration (SBA) website is a good place to start,

Venture Capital – Generally used when traditional financing isn’t an option, it is usually an investment of cash in exchange for shares and a role in the company. The cash typically comes from high net-worth individuals or venture capital companies.

Peer-to-Peer Lending – This method finds funding in Internet-based companies that connect borrowers with investors.

Staying Afloat

A big part of keeping a business afloat is successfully balancing the management of money with the need to modernize equipment and build new product – all of which you need to stay relevant over time. To help, there are short-term funding products to assist in evening out cash flow and keeping your business in forward motion.

Funding Options

Short-term Loans – Often used for working capital, to get you through slow periods.

Credit Cards – Help you better manage your daily cash flow and keep expenses organized.

Operating Line of Credit ­– This option provides instant access to a line that is available to pay down and use again as needed.

Growth and Expansion

The resources you need to fund Growth and Expansion are essentially the same as those available to you as a start-up. And there is almost as much planning involved. Making sure you have a detailed and accurate cash flow plan is very important at this point, as costs are going to rise quickly. Often faster than revenues.

As Wisconsin’s #1 SBA lender, Bank Five Nine takes great pride in helping the businesses in our communities flourish. No matter what phase your business is in, we are here to help! Visit our Business Lending Solutions page to learn more!

The House Hunt

House hunting can be the most exciting part of the home-buying process. But you must never let those pretty white fences, or beautiful countertops cloud your judgment. It is an investment, after all…and one of the largest you may make in your lifetime.

While viewing a property, write down and keep a look out for the following:

  • Level floors and sound piling
  • Dry rot or borer in weatherboards or underfloor
  • Damage to walls, floors, or carpets
  • Electrical issues like old or worn wiring
  • Dampness – musty smells or mildew
  • Insulation, above the ceiling and underfloor
  • Water tightness – look for stains on walls or ceilings, check in the space above the ceiling and look for light coming through holes in the roof
  • Noise from traffic, planes, nearby businesses
  • Will the neighbors cause any problems?
  • Drainage and potential for flooding or slips
  • Why the current owner is selling?
  • Planned redevelopments that could change the neighborhood
  • What the current owner will leave or take away
  • Any restrictions on how you can use the property

How to Improve Your Credit Score

Credit scores play an important role in creating your financial profile, and in securing your ability to get loans at favorable rates. Here are some tips to help you understand and manage your score:

  1. Get a copy of your credit report, and make sure the information in it is correct. Under federal law, you can get a free credit report every 12 months. You can do this 3 ways: by going to, by calling 877-322-8228, or by completing the Annual Credit Report Request Form (PDF) and mailing it to Annual Credit Report Services, P.O Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.
    • Tip: If you chose to call-in for your report, be prepared to wait 2-3 weeks to receive it. The other option may be faster.
  2. Work to achieve a credit rating of 700 or higher. Most credit scores, according to Experian, fall between 600-750. Aspiring to 700 or higher will motivate you to do the things that impact your financial health and help you enjoy lower loan rate opportunities.
  3. What are those “things”? First and foremost, pay your bills on or before their due date. Setting up auto pay can help, but keep an eye on your balance so you don’t overdraw your account.

Also, take stock of how leveraged you are. If your debt is close to your credit limit, that will impact your credit score.

Be prudent about applying for new cards. Applying for too many cards in a short timeframe could trigger a negative action on your score.

And finally, look at the type of debt you have; a little on each mortgage, credit card and installment loans is preferable to having all your debt concentrated in one area or through one source.

Three Steps Prior to Looking for Your First Home

Are you excited to buy your first home?
Here are 3 very helpful steps to take, prior to going down this exciting path:

1. Gather income & asset documents you will need to get preapproved.

  • Your most recent 30 days of pay stubs
  • Most recent 2 months of bank/credit union statements
  • Most recent 2 years, W2s, 1099s, K-1s
  • If self-employed, you will also need your most recent 2 years of federal tax returns, both personal and business

2. Contact at least 2 mortgage lenders to get preapproved and learn about the loan options they have available that you qualify for.

This is the biggest purchase you will make in your life; make sure you are getting the best loan for your needs.

3. Contact a realtor to provide you with listings that fit your desired home specifications in your approved price range and learn about the current housing market and surrounding communities.

If you do these 3 steps before you start looking for a home, it will help make your home-buying process much more smooth and timely. Be prepared so you can make informed decisions regarding this wonderful life event.

Blog Post Written By: Julie Rajek
Julie Rajek is a Bank Five Nine Senior Mortgage Lender with nearly 20 years of experience and has helped thousands of homebuyers realize their dream of homeownership.
To learn more about Julie, apply for a loan or to receive a free consultation click here

The Importance of Early Financial Education

A good financial education is an incredible gift, and one that begins in the home. Schools will only scratch the surface when it comes to teaching kids the difference between wants and needs, the value of something free, such as playing with a friend, or that late bills can hurt their credit history and their chance of getting a job.

For all of these financial lessons, it’s up to us – the parents, grandparents, guardians and loved ones – to provide our children the opportunity to learn. And the earlier we get started, the better.  

Here are a few financial education tips for kids of all ages:

3 – 5 Year Olds

Should Know:

  • You need money to live.
  • You earn money by working.
  • There’s a difference between “wants” and “needs”.
  • Sometimes you have to wait before you can buy.  

To Do:

  • Identify coins and their value.
  • Discuss which is more important; buying milk or candy.
  • Label three containers: Saving, Spending and Sharing, and use them accordingly. (At Bank Five Nine we give your child a Save, Spending and Share Bank at a Kids Account opening – learn more about this account here).

6 ­– 10 Years Old

Should Know:

  • You have to make choices about how to spend your money.
  • It can be dangerous to share information.
  • A savings account is safe and earns interest.

To Do:

  • Give your child two dollars, and let them choose an item and pay the cashier.
  •  Set rules about giving out personal information.
  • Know the websites your child visits and block inappropriate sites.
  • Make trips to the bank with your child and open a savings account.

11 – 18 Years old

Should Know:

  • How much of every dollar should be saved (i.e. 10% of every dollar).
  • The reality of ID theft and fraud.
  • The sooner you save, the faster your money can grow.
  • Credit card risks.
  • Money is taken out of paychecks for taxes, and why.      

To Do:

  • Have your child set a goal to buy something, and save for it.
  • Consider putting in $.25 for every dollar your child saves.
  • Discuss examples of text, email and mail fraud.
  • Make it a rule that your child never answers an email or text from a stranger.
  • Show a simple example of compound interest.


Should Know:

  • Only use a credit card if you can pay it off.
  • You need health, renters and auto insurance.
  • Have an Emergency Fund (3 to 6 months of living expenses).
  • The ins and outs of investing.

To Do:

  • List out income and expenses to get a clear picture of what you spend and can save.
  • Define two financial goals (i.e. college, new car) and make a plan to achieve them.
  • Explain the importance of participating in their office retirement plan.
  • Discuss why good credit matters and how to get it.
  • Get one free credit report a year.
  • Comparison shop for insurance.

There are many resources available to help provide your children effective financial education. Take advantage of them.  We’re here to help! If you need assistance with early financial education, call or stop in today.

Making Sense of Small Business Trends and Forecasts

As a small business owner, you know that forecasting is an integral part of successful business planning. Past performance, customer trends and supplier relationships are inputs that you can access and help you manage resources. In addition to this information, here are three areas to track that will provide insight and planning perspective for you on a macro basis:

The Small Business Optimism Index

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) regularly reports on the optimism levels of small business owners. Looking at this data, and data like it, can give business owners a good read on the emotional state of small business in specific areas­­. For example, the personal services sector recently showed the greatest optimism, where 100 percent of auto repair, salon, dry cleaning and related business owners said they feel good about the future of their business. On the flip-side, business owners recently showed significant concern with the employment pool, with 47% reporting few or no qualified applicants for positions they were trying to fill. Such industry specific information can help you gauge the confidence levels of those in your industry and see the level at which your challenges and concerns are shared.

Consumer Spending

Overall consumer spending is arguably one of the most important small business economic indicators for many reasons, one of those being the effect it has on other economic indicators. For example, if consumer spending is on the rise, the demand in certain areas of the economy, such as manufacturing, will often improve. Consumer spending is also tied to corporate profits, which in turn affect the stock market. You get the idea. Understanding consumer spending can have big implications on the accuracy of your small business forecasting. One easy way to keep up with consumer spending trends is to go to the Department of Commerce website and sign up to receive emails linking to the Bureau of Economic Analysis blogs.

Year-Over-Year Reports

Many experts recommend small business owners pay more attention to the year-over-year reports rather than those released monthly and quarterly. This is due largely to the fact that the more frequent reports for many small businesses can become a tedious way to keep up with the economy and can change quickly, making it difficult to know what information will directly impact your business and industry and when to react. A report or chart that reports years of trends can be a much quicker and more efficient way to keep your finger on the pulse of small business trends. Consider watching and comparing year-over-year unemployment trends, real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, wage growth, and the shifts in small business optimism. You can find a lot of this information on the Bureau of Economic Analysis website.

With all of the data available to us today, it can be difficult to decipher what’s accurate, important and the effect it will have on your business. However, by paying attention to patterns and changes in the year-to-year data, knowing the level of optimism in your industry, and understanding consumer spending, you will be able to make more effective business decisions, with minimal encroachment on your already busy work schedule. 

1 NFIB Small Business Economic Trends Report, February 2015.

Financial Plans: 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Without One

Everyone has dreams, and some of you may even have long-term goals mapped out. Whether your dreams involve a new house, an early retirement, or just living debt-free, having sufficient financial resources plays a key role in achieving these goals. 

So, why is it that so many of us don’t have a financial plan? Maybe it’s because we don’t feel like we have enough money to even justify one. Or, maybe we put it off because we don’t know how or where to begin the process. Whatever the reasons, before completely dismissing the idea of developing one, consider the following three things a solid financial plan can do for you.

 1. Financial Strategy

If for no other reason, give yourself a good night’s sleep. A solid financial plan will help provide you the confidence you need to sleep well and worry less. It puts you in control of your finances and helps to ease your mind when short-term financial issues arise, such as a dip in the stock market. Because a solid plan is long-term, those hiccups will seem less like a tornado, and more like a rainstorm.

 2. Better Decision-Making

Writing down your goals, and the steps you’re going to take to get there, will help you make better financial decisions simply because you’ll be more aware of the things you do on a daily basis that affect your finances. For example, let’s say part of your plan is to pay an extra $200 per month for one year to achieve the goal of eliminating a high-interest credit card debt. Because you have a plan, you also know you’re currently spending $400 per month eating take-out. It isn’t hard to deduce that by eating at home a few extra nights per month, you can accomplish one of your goals with little effect on your day-to-day life. No matter how big or small your goals, it’s always easier to make better decisions when you have all the information.

 3. Staying on Track

We all get off track now and then, but getting back on track and staying there is much easier if you can simply make a small adjustment on your road map and keep on going. In addition, the times you encounter bumps in the road may very well be the best time to reevaluate your plan, and reconfirm that you’re still headed in the right direction.

 The best financial plans are written out and specific. If you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself, consider turning to an expert to help you develop a plan that covers every aspect of your financial life. We turn to experts for our body’s health, why not turn to them for our financial health if we can. Not only can they provide expert advice on everything from insurance and daily spending, to retirement and estate planning, they take an objective and unemotional look at your situation and apply solutions that fit your own unique circumstances.

So, if you don’t have a financial plan, consider getting started today. There is so much to gain, and so little to lose by doing so. 

Click here to learn more!

Ready to Buy or Sell a Home? Start Here.

Buying a home is a big step and can be as stressful as it is fun. Before you step foot in your first open house, there are a few things you can do to make the home-buying process more enjoyable and far less stressful.

1. Buyers: Get pre-approved with a lender

Applying for a mortgage before you begin house hunting may be the best thing you could do for yourself and your pocketbook. 

What is Pre-Approval?

To be pre-approved for a mortgage loan means that a bank or lender has reviewed your creditworthiness, income and loan application and determined that you are qualified to purchase a home within a certain price range. They will then issue an approval letter, which you can use to prove you are a qualified buyer.

Yes, it takes valuable time and effort up front, but it’s effort you’ll have to put in eventually. Getting pre-approved assures you’re not shopping for more than you can afford, shows the real estate agent you’re a qualified buyer, and may lend more weight to any offer to purchase you make. Hopefully it will make the process less stressful and more enjoyable as well.

2. Sellers: Prep your home

before placing the sign in the yard. First impressions are a very real thing, and extremely important when selling a home. 

Curb Appeal

is the first thing potential buyers see and says a lot about how well you keep your house as a whole. Keep the grass and bushes well manicured, make sure the yard and garage are free of toys and clutter, and repair any broken items on the outside of the house or garage.

Stage the house

to appeal to buyers by removing extra furniture, de-cluttering countertops and shelves, cleaning the inside, and washing the windows.

Make it smell fresh

with potpourri, fresh candles, or flowers. Consider baking cookies before your next open house to make it smell even more welcoming. Remember to clean the cat litter and, if possible, remove pets from the home when it’s being shown to potential buyers.

3. Prepare for the extra costs of buying and selling a home.

There is more to buying than the mortgage payment and more to selling than the sale price.

When Buying a home, make a list of all possible expenses. If you’re new to home buying or haven’t done it in awhile, study up and prepare in order to eliminate any last minute surprises. Some additional expenses might include property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, utility hook-ups, origination fees, appraisal fees, and the cost of moving your belongings. Also, ask up front whether you will owe money at closing.

When Selling it’s most important to remember you’ll be paying a commission to the real estate agent. It’s often a percentage of the total sale price – generally around 6% to 7%. Keep in mind that in addition to the commission, you may have to pay the balance of your property taxes, if you haven’t done so already.

Getting your home and your finances in order isn’t always the ideal way to start the home buying and selling process, but will help assure a smooth process going forward, with fewer delays and less stress once you’re ready to make an offer on the home of your dreams.

As always, we’re here to help! If you need mortgage assistance, call or stop in today.