What Is Your Burn Rate?

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Burn Notice - Capital Burn Rate Computation - Business Life Expectancy Calculation - Douglas E. Castle

KNOW YOUR COMPANY’S CAPITAL BURN RATE

“It is imperative that your business be operated in accordance with a realistic budget that provides for coverage, in full, of your monthly capital ‘burn rate’.”Douglas E. Castle

The basic definition of Burn Rate (from the ever-notable and perpetually-edited Wikipedia) is as set forth below:

Burn rate is a synonymous term for negative cash flow. It is a measure for how fast a company will use up its shareholder capital. If the shareholder capital is exhausted, the company will either have to start making a profit, find additional funding, or close down.

The term came into common use during the dot-com era when many start-up companies went through several stages of funding before emerging into profitability and positive cash flows and thus becoming self-sustainable (or, as for the majority, failing to find additional funding and sustainable business models and thus going bankrupt). In between funding events, burn rate becomes an important management measure, since together with the available funds, it provides a time measure to when the next funding event needs to take place.

Some entrepreneurs and investors say that part of the reasons behind the dot-com bust was the unsound management and financial investor practices to keep the burn rate up, taking it as a proxy for how fast the start-up company was acquiring a customer base.

The term burn rate can also refer to how quickly individuals spend their money, particularly their discretionary income. For example, Mackenzie Investments commissioned a test to gauge the spending and saving behavior of Canadians to determine if they are “Overspenders.”

Aside from financing, the term burn rate is also used in project management to determine the rate at which hours (allocated to a project) are being used, to identify when work is going out of scope, or when efficiencies are being lost. Simply put, the burn rate of any project is the rate at which the project budget is being burned (spent).

In earned value management, burn rate is calculated via the formula, 1/CPI, where CPI stands for Cost Performance Index, which is equal to Earned Value / Actual Cost.

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Perhaps a better working business definition of “Burn Rate” can be found in the august annals of Investopedia, an excellent resource for business definitions:

DEFINITION of ‘Burn Rate’

The rate at which a new company uses up its venture capital to finance overhead before generating positive cash flow from operations. In other words, it’s a measure of negative cash flow.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS ‘Burn Rate’

Burn rate is usually quoted in terms of cash spent per month. For example, a burn rate of 1 million would mean the company is spending 1 million per month. When the burn rate begins to exceed forecasts, or revenue fails to meet expectations, the usual recourse is to reduce the burn rate (which, in most companies, means reducing staff).

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Sadly, neither of these protracted and elaborate definitions show us the true utility for knowing your company’s burn rate. According to the Douglas E. Castle explanation, “Burn Rate” means at least two different things and has several highly useful computations attached to it.

Firstly, your company’s Maximum Capital Burn Rate is the amount of money which you have available to spend per month over a given time frame in order to accomplish financial self-sufficiency or some other objective.

The perfect example would be in the case of a newly capitalized enterprise that had acquired $1,000,000.00 [this number was chosen arbitrarily] and had establish an 18-month time frame in order to be actively engaged in commerce at a profit with its new product. In this case, the Capital Burn Rate would be equal to the capital infused, divided by 18 months, or a Capital Burn Rate (actually “Maximum Capital Burn Rate”) of $55,555.56 per month.

Looking at this same situation in reverse, suppose the company’s management knew that it required $30,000.00 per month in order to sustain itself. It could then calculate its Capital Life Expectancy by dividing $1,000,000.00 by $30,000.00, or 33.33 months, after which the capital would have run out.

Secondly, your company’s Operating Burn Rate is simply the monthly fixed costs (in the aggregate) required in order to keep the company operating without incurring a loss. If your Operating Burn Rate ( based upon experience) were $20,000.00 per month and your company’s liquidity were a declining $1,000,000.00, your company’s Operating Life Expectancy would be $1,000,000.00 divided by $20,000.00, or 50 months.

The only way to reduce Burn Rate is to reduce or eliminate unproductive fixed costs.

Douglas E. Castle

Tags, Labels, Keywords, Categories And Search Terms For This Article:
Maximum Capital Burn Rate, Operating Burn Rate, Operating Life Expectancy, Business, Finance, Capitalization, Fixed Costs, Breakeven Analysis, Douglas E. Castle

NOTE: THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED BY THE READER AS BEING LEGAL, FINANCIAL, TAX, ACCOUNTING, ECONOMIC OR INVESTMENT ADVICE. NO OFFERING OF SECURITIES OR OTHER INVESTMENT INTERESTS OF ANY TYPE IN ANY ENTITY IS MADE HEREBY, NOR IS A SOLICITATION FOR THE PURCHASE OF SECURITIES OR OTHER INVESTMENT INTERESTS OF ANY TYPE IN ANY ENTITY MADE HEREBY. THIS ARTICLE IS INTENDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND REPRESENTS THE VIEW OF THE AUTHOR ONLY.

THIS ARTICLE IS COPYRIGHT 2014 BY DOUGLAS E. CASTLE, WITH ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY REPRODUCTION, TRANSMITTAL OR DISTRIBUTION OF THIS ARTICLE, EITHER IN WHOLE OR PART, IS UNAUTHORIZED AND MAY BE UNLAWFUL, UNLESS FULL ATTRIBUTION IS GIVEN TO THE AUTHOR AND ALL IMAGES AND LINKS IN THE ARTICLE REMAIN INCLUDED AND “LIVE.”


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This site is the Management Consultants' and Chief Reconstruction Officers' best all-industry guide to analyzing, diagnosing, devising a strategy, creating either an Action Plan or an Emergence Plan and overseeing and monitoring the successful implementation of either in order to ensure the client organization's optimal, sustainable profitability. These plans are always made scalable to accommodate the size and needs of the client, whether it is fast-growing young company with an aggressive and ambitious agenda, or whether it is an older, larger, well-established business which is experiencing problems or which is at a crucial decision making point in its evolution as an entity, and which requires sound advice (and often implementation oversight and assertive "hands-on" assistance in the form of a powerful third-party representative agent or a an expert in the art of negotiation as its appointed "point person") regarding its next steps. In the alternative, Douglas E. Castle is expert at helping fast-track, rapidly emerging companies to growth through acquisitions, mergers, licensing, branding and both domestic and international strategic joint ventures to access better, more efficient supply chain sourcing and to open up wider global markets to dramatically increase the scope of possible new revenue opportunities.


Financial Guarantees, Sureties And Collateral

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The Three Parties To A Surety Bond Arrangement - Douglas E. Castle

 

FINANCIAL GUARANTEES, SURETIES AND COLLATERAL By: Douglas E. Castle

Obligees in a business relationship (such as contractors, subcontractors and sometimes mere payers) are frequently called upon by obligors (the parties for whom they are rendering a service, even if that service is merely making payment) to enhance or further bolster the likelihood that they will perform by bringing in either a third-party guarantee or by assigning the rights to some supplemental collateral (assets which can be liquidated in the unfortunate event that the contractor, payer or other obligor is unable to either perform or pay in full on a timely basis.

In a difficult economy, small- to medium-sized businesses are being called upon to provide these assurances by those parties hiring them or financing them. The tools or arrangements that are utilized to fulfill that need for additional “comfort” are financial guarantees (issued by financially strong third parties), surety bonds and supplemental collateral, which latter may be in the form of a lien on real estate, a hypothecation of marketable securities or any other assets which are not related to or involved in the subject transaction. These are, candidly, easier to obtain for smaller transactions (and newer or smaller companies) than are surety bonds or financial guarantees.

A very select and limited group of companies provide any of these hedges against an obligor’s failure, but any one of these “enhancements” could be the difference between obtaining business or being left out.

Following is a brief treatise on financial guarantees and surety bonds:

Definition: A non-cancellable indemnity bond, backed by an insurance company, which guarantees that principal and interest will be paid in compliance with the underlying contractual agreement or promissory note. Financial guarantee bonds are used by debt issuers as a way of attracting investors. The guarantee provides said investors with an additional level of security that the investment will be repaid/obligation will be fulfilled in the event that the securities issuer is unable to do so. The bond may benefit the principal by enhancing the principal’s creditworthiness thereby lowering the cost of financing. The guarantee “wraps” the security/promissory note with the insurer’s indemnity. Because the bond represents an UNCONDITIONAL GUARANTEE of compliance/repayment, a preferred interest rate is often offered.

There are three types of ‘financial guarantee bonds’. The first category is small “finite” financial guarantee. These are essentially performance bonds with a payment guarantee

element. They may look like license/permit bonds on their face. The bonds often have a small penalty (denomination) and are underwritten like standard surety bonds, with extra emphasis on the principal’s (applicant’s) liquidity and the insurer’s ability to recover any loss paid. Examples are lease bonds and energy broker obligations. The second category is bonding of structured finance, and the third public finance.

Bond denominations within these latter two categories can be enormous. As a result of severe losses in the financial guarantee sphere New York State passed the ‘ Appleton Law’ and quickly other insurance regulators’ policies regarding financial guarantee followed suit with administrative regulations restricting financial guarantee to only MONOLINE insurers. In the U.S. market, there are very few participants. AMBAC, Assured Guarantee, CIFG, Financial Guarantee Insurance Company, Radian, RAM Reinsurance, and Syncora Guarantee carry the majority of this market. These companies specialize in the selection of financial guarantee risks and the ongoing surveillance of their principals.

With some exceptions, financial guarantee insurers DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN PRIVATE, COMMERCIAL TRANSACTIONS. If you are engaging in a person-to- person or business-to-business contract and you seek to enhance your position with a financial guarantee, you WILL NOT OBTAIN A FINANCIAL GUARANTEE INSTRUMENT THROUGH STANDARD FINANCIAL GUARANTEE MARKETS.

Your only alternative is to approach a captive or specialty insurer based outside of the regulatory jurisdiction of the United States where carriers are not hampered by mono- line restrictions. Additionally, the few markets that will entertain private financial guarantee severely limit their exposure on each risk selected.

Financial guarantees for non-government issued securities, or asset-backed securities with very little worth DO NOT EXIST! If you are seeking a guarantee in the hundreds of millions of dollars, I recommend that you do not waste your time. You will not find one. Further, private financial guarantees are written with FULL COLLATERAL SECURITY. Financial guarantee insurers are not interested in promises of indemnity based on the speculation that your transaction, that your proposed project, will be successful, or on the ongoing profitability of your operation.

Financial guarantee bonds are considered to be a much higher risk than standard surety and fidelity products, therefore my due diligence must include a review of the proposed contract, the solvency and identity of the indemnitors, and the collateral that you wish to deposit to support the bond. Premiums are generally fifteen percent (15%) on face value per annum for those bonds up to one million, and ten percent (10%) on face value for those bonds in excess of one million dollars. Collateral security in the form of cash, letters of credit, or highly rated debt instruments (i.e., U.S. Treasury issues, notes, bills, warrants, and highly stable, publicly traded stock or bond issues) will be credited at one hundred percent (100%) of current market value. Unacceptable forms of collateral are REAL PROPERTY (although real estate might be considered by the obligee or lender to supplement or supplant a bond or other guaratnee in certain transactions) and ‘BLOCKED FUNDS LETTERS’.

And now a brief word about surety or financial guarantee bond “Ratings.”

When I receive requests for information about, or regarding the procurement of financial guarantee bonds, I am invariably asked about the carrier’s “rating.” To my knowledge, there are only three financial guarantee insurers with an A.M. Best rating which operate in the United States. Two of those entities are absolutely unwilling to write bonds for private contracts, one will consider them. The former two will only issue financial guarantee bonds to municipalities that collateralize the obligation with bonds or other instruments issued by that municipality, leaving only the third as a “rated” carrier from whom I receive authority.

Given the severe restrictions of financial guarantee to mono-line insurers, carriers that wish to engage in financial guarantee business in addition to other insurance lines are often forced to move to a domicile without those restrictions. Bermuda, Seychelles, the British Virgin Islands, and the Dominican Republic are currently the choice destinations for offshore captives.

There is no ‘automatic’ rating system for non-U.S. admitted carriers. In order to obtain an A.M. Best rating an insurer must ordinarily have certain ‘seasoning’ minimums during which time they are under market surveillance. The carrier’s financial statements and books must be open to the rating agency. These requirements cause problems for offshore captives.

First, by entry (admission) into the U.S. market, a carrier subjects itself to U.S. taxes, precisely one of the reasons for which insurers DO NOT enter. Second, not all insurers wish to share their financial statements with a market surveillance group. So, although I may be able to pair a principal with an A.M. Best rated carrier, you will have a great deal of difficulty identifying any other “rated” entity that will write these undertakings. Unrated carriers WILL provide audited financial statements demonstrating their solvency, and their current certificate(s) of authority.

I hope that my information is helpful in understanding this type of instrument. Please keep in mind that this market has few participants. They do not and will not deviate from the full collateral rule.

Call To Action: Understanding that neither I nor my management consulting companies provide or are licensed brokers for these types of guarantees or bonds (although we do frequently engage in arranging to provide for supplemental or substitute collateral [i.e., in the form of bank deposits, treasury securities, publicly-traded stock and real estate] with which to bring transactions into indirect or derivative compliance with the “full collateral” or “full coverage” rule, or to eliminate the need for surety or financial guarantee bonds entirely), please contact us at http://bit.ly/CASTLEDIRECT, and we’d be delighted to discuss your needs and your best choices for solutions. We pride ourselves on being creative – as we must when working hand-in-hand with small- to medium-sized client companies in this difficult economic climate.

Douglas E. Castle

NOTE: THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS ARTICLE SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED BY THE READER AS BEING LEGAL, FINANCIAL, TAX, ACCOUNTING, ECONOMIC OR INVESTMENT ADVICE. NO OFFERING OF SECURITIES OR OTHER INVESTMENT INTERESTS OF ANY TYPE IN ANY ENTITY IS MADE HEREBY, NOR IS A SOLICITATION FOR THE PURCHASE OF SECURITIES OR OTHER INVESTMENT INTERESTS OF ANY TYPE IN ANY ENTITY MADE HEREBY. THIS ARTICLE IS INTENDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND REPRESENTS THE VIEW OF THE AUTHOR ONLY.

THIS ARTICLE IS COPYRIGHT 2014 BY DOUGLAS E. CASTLE, WITH ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY REPRODUCTION, TRANSMITTAL OR DISTRIBUTION OF THIS ARTICLE, EITHER IN WHOLE OR PART, IS UNAUTHORIZED AND MAY BE UNLAWFUL, UNLESS FULL ATTRIBUTION IS GIVEN TO THE AUTHOR AND ALL IMAGES AND LINKS IN THE ARTICLE REMAIN INCLUDED AND “LIVE.”

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Contact Douglas E. Castle Follow Me on Pinterest
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This site is proudly affiliated with Global Edge International Consulting Associates, Inc. ["GEI”]
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Respond To Douglas E Castle
http://bit.ly/CASTLEDIRECT

Perspective Is Wisdom - Large
D.E.Castle's Daily Business Advisory Wrap-Up.
Skim It. But DON'T MISS It.
This site is the Management Consultants' and Chief Reconstruction Officers' best all-industry guide to analyzing, diagnosing, devising a strategy, creating either an Action Plan or an Emergence Plan and overseeing and monitoring the successful implementation of either in order to ensure the client organization's optimal, sustainable profitability. These plans are always made scalable to accommodate the size and needs of the client, whether it is fast-growing young company with an aggressive and ambitious agenda, or whether it is an older, larger, well-established business which is experiencing problems or which is at a crucial decision making point in its evolution as an entity, and which requires sound advice (and often implementation oversight and assertive "hands-on" assistance in the form of a powerful third-party representative agent or a an expert in the art of negotiation as its appointed "point person") regarding its next steps. In the alternative, Douglas E. Castle is expert at helping fast-track, rapidly emerging companies to growth through acquisitions, mergers, licensing, branding and both domestic and international strategic joint ventures to access better, more efficient supply chain sourcing and to open up wider global markets to dramatically increase the scope of possible new revenue opportunities.