Pirok Financial Group, Limited
Financial consulting for entrepreneurs • Business planning Startup • Financial statements • Credit analysis • Training
Pirok Financial Group, Limited

Check out my other websites and blogs...

You will find a great deal of useful information about financial statements and credit analysis on these sites...

Financial Statement School
Commercial Loan Analysis
Business Plan School

Ken Pirok Expert in Residence at UIC

Here is another UIC Experts in Residence event with Ken Pirok.  Register for a half-hour time slot of free consulting with Ken Pirok.


New and Improved Business Model and Business Plan Outline

I have created a new business model as a way to look at your business.  This business model may also be used as a business plan outline.  I have integrated facets of business models and frameworks from many business experts and academics with my own outlines.  This unique framework adds a level of organization, and it also lists all of the important elements that may be crucial to the success of your business.

Introduction and Executive Summary (including financing requests)
Internal Aspects
Strengths and Weaknesses
Business Ownership
Board of Directors
Key Employees and Managers
Management Structure/Organizational Chart
Management Succession Plans
Research and Development
Systems and Technology
Location and Local Market Analysis

Competitive Advantage:
Mission and Vision Statements (What do you do differently or better?)
Value Proposition

Product/Service Descriptions
Product/Service Life Cycle
Target Market
Market Size
Market Share
Revenues and Sales Goals (built from the bottom up)
Customers/Clients and Payment Terms
Bargaining Power of Customers
Consumer or End-User (may differ from customer)
Concentrations of Sales
Cyclical Nature of Business

Labor Unions
Strategic Partners
Financiers and Specific Requests for Financing and Proposed Use of Funds
Bargaining Power of Suppliers
Board of Advisors

Cash Flow:
Financial Statements (See also Financial Statement School)
Breakeven Analysis


External Aspects
Threats and Opportunities
Industry Analysis
Barriers to Entry
List of Major Competitors (including their competitive advantages, strengths, and weaknesses)
Intensity of Rivalry and Price Competition

Ken Pirok Expert in Residence at UIC

If you are in Chicago, check out this calendar for upcoming dates when you can meet with Ken Pirok for free at UIC.  You must register for a half-hour time slot.



Congratulations to Kelly Lamb of Piato Catering for making the 2010 Forty under 40!

And, congrats to all of my other friends and C-U area people who have made the list.

Is Entrepreneurship Growing?

Click here to find out.

Article about How Banks View Commercial Mortgages

I wrote an article for Alex Ruggieri's newsletter.  It describes the criteria that banks use to decide whether to make commercial mortgage loans as well as a few ideas for increasing your chances of being approved.

Here is the URL: http://blog.ruggieriteam.com/2009/06/banks-are-still-making-loans.html

Tax Deduction: Mileage

Are you receiving all of your tax deductions?  Don’t forget that you are allowed to take a deduction for the miles that you drive your personal vehicle for business purposes.

For 2009, the standard mileage rate for the cost of operating your car for business use is 55 cents per mile.

The rate for January 1, 2008 through June 30, 2008 was 50.5 cents per mile, and the rate for July 1, 2008 through December 31, 2008 was 58.5 cents per mile.

If your business operates as a separate legal entity, such as a corporation, partnership, or LLC, then the easiest way to take the deduction is to simply write yourself a check for the dollar amount of the deductible mileage.

If you are a sole proprietor, then deduct the mileage on your Schedule C and Form 4562.

Should you require up-front deposits from clients?

Tim Berry has an interesting blog for entrepreneurs. Lately, he's been commenting on how to start a consulting business. In one post, he said, "For the record, I never did that advance payment or deposit stuff with clients. Businesses don’t expect to have to pay upfront, and mine never did. The good news is that I never had an invoice that wasn’t paid. Take risks on the client paying. Don’t ask them to take risks on you." To which I commented,<< MORE >>


To learn about financial statements and analysis, visit:
www.financialstatementschool.com if you are a beginner, or
www.commercialloananalysis.com if you are an expert.


When Damon Hackleman first started a carpet cleaning business called KleenRite in 1998, he and his partner concentrated on operations instead of whom they associated with. That all changed when one of their customers, a property manager, suggested that Hackleman join the local association of apartment owners.

"Based upon the relationships I have developed, I can honestly say that the Central Illinois Apartment Association can take credit for increasing our gross sales by at least twenty-percent over the eight years we have been in business."

If there was an association of apartment owners, then there must be an association of carpet cleaners too. Hackleman then found Ethical Services, a directory of 30,000 carpet cleaning businesses with a serious code of ethics guiding their work. Members can face expulsion for knowingly violating the code.

KleenRite is now a member of no less than five professional and trade associations. Hackleman says, "All of these organizations have their place within our company." Some memberships involve networking, while others provide trade information that is invaluable to his business.

These days, there is an association for just about any profession or trade that you can name. Carpet cleaners and dog groomers have associations, as do computational biologists and those in the field of "textile technology." There is even a National Chicken Council.

And, of course, an association exists for associations, themselves. The American Society of Association Executives or "ASAE" is the membership organization for associations. Their membership represents nearly 11,000 organizations, and their website states that there were a total of 86,054 trade and professional associations in the United States as of the year 2004.

Associations typically provide education, information, and networking opportunities. Many also provide certifications or codes of ethics to provide credibility. Some even perform lobbying on behalf of their members.

Many associations, like the apartment association Hackleman joined, allow special memberships for businesses providing products or services to their members. Some even host trade shows allowing vendors to meet and greet the members.

Where do you find about associations? The ASAE website, www.asaecenter.org, has a searchable database of associations. If you subscribe to trade magazines, look for associations there, or contact your local Chamber of Commerce. You may also simply ask your customers whether they belong to associations that you might join or visit.

Accounting for Apartments & Commercial Real Estate Seminar

Alex Ruggieri of Sperry Van Ness/Ramshaw Real Estate and I are hosting a professional seminar on Commercial Real Estate Accounting. If you would like to hold an in-house seminar for your company or organization, then please contact us at 217.398.4258.<< MORE >>

Getting Yourself and Your Business Listed and "LInked In"

If you're trying to expand your customer base, there are a couple of websites that you should know about.  The Buy Illinois Network was established to promote business to business sales and training within Illinois.  I checked it out and was able to get my own business listed pretty easily.

I also joined LinkedIn recently.  It's a social networking site for professionals.  I signed up, and the system was able to upload my contacts and automatically send a message to each of them who was already signed up on the site.  I instantly had a network of twenty or thirty people.  You can then use their networks to make new contacts.  You can also post a pretty extensive description of yourself, your career, and your business on the site.  Some of the people in my network have some really good connections to people with whom I hope to work in the future.

The SBIR and STTR Programs

If you have a technology business, idea, or invention, or if you do any type of research, then you should know about the federal government’s SBIR and STTR Programs. The SBIR or "Small Business Innovation Research" Program has been around since 1982; its focus is on small business. The "Small Business Technology Transfer" Program or STTR was started ten years later in 1992. << MORE >>

How Much is Your Business Worth?

This month’s issue of Inc. Magazine contains an interesting article on business valuation. Their website also features an interactive version that allows you to calculate an estimated value of your business. Their data consists of actual company sales. They present multiples based upon various financial measurements (sales, gross profit, cashflow, EBIT, etc.) This is the most comprehensive presentation of such data that I’ve found without paying for a subscription. But, I do have some words of caution. << MORE >>

Year-End Accounting

The holidays are here, and the new year is just around the corner. Read on for year-end accounting tips…<< MORE >>

Questions to answer before you start planning your business

Are you thinking about starting a business? What does it take to get a business off the ground? Have you started writing a business plan? Do you have what it takes? Before you go any further, here are some questions you should ask yourself:<< MORE >>

Business Plan Outline

  • Executive Summary (Entice them to read on!  Include all financing and investments being requested.  Write this part last.)
  • Business ownership (List all partners who will own 20% or more.  What form of ownership is used? (corporation, partnership, etc.))
  • Mission, vision, and values statements (Your mission may be considered the “thesis statement” of the plan.  Communicate what do you do differently or better.  Can readers easily communicate it back to you in their own words?)
  • Product or service description
  • Product or service life cycle location (innovation, growth, maturity, decline)
  • Pricing
  • Market definition (Do you sell to individuals or businesses?  Do you sell to end users, resellers, or manufacturers?)
  • Market size (total potential customers in target geographic area)
  • Market share (current and anticipated percentage share of market)
  • Marketing
  • Advertising (List media and costs.)
  • Sales and sales goals (Surveys, contracts, and orders as quantifiable evidence)
  • Customers or Clients (List them.)
  • Concentrations (Identify customers comprising significant shares of sales.)
  • Seasonality
  • Cyclicality
  • Industry and industry analysis
  • Suppliers (List them, and include payment terms.)
  • Competition (Has your idea been tried here or elsewhere?  Did it work?  Why?  Can you visit a similar business?  Are their demographics the same?  Include indirect competition or substitute products or services.)
  • SWOT Analysis (Strengths & weaknesses-internal; 0pportunities & threats-external)
  • Research and development
  • Location
  • Local market analysis (Use local Chamber of Commerce, Board of Realtors.)
  • Operations and Management
  • Operational goals (Specific, measurable, tied to incentives)
  • Cost‑cutting goals/Cost Containment
  • Labor and local labor market
  • Key employees and managers
  • Management structure (Include resumes, organizational chart.)
  • Management succession (plans for death, disability, retirement)
  • Board of directors
  • Board of advisers
  • Financing requests
  • Financial statements (Income statements and balance sheets for three to five prior years; income statements and balance sheets for this year-to-date; personal financial statement not less than three months old)
  • Projections (Income statement and cash flow statement by month for first year; income statement and balance sheet for first three years)

Your Business Plan Audience

Write the business plan with you and your employees and your potential employees as the intended audience. All too often, business owners cater their plans specifically to potential lenders and investors. These types of plans typically include only background information on the business followed by a sales pitch.<< MORE >>

Business Planning: Predicting Your Sales

Your business plan must show that your numbers can be made a reality. The bank will be repaid, investors will receive their expected rates of return, and you will make a good living too. So, your sales projections and the evidence that there is, indeed, a market for your product or service is crucial.<< MORE >>