Six Rules for Making Money in Your Business

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One of the most important lessons I learned is that business is a math problem. Yes, you need customer service, wonderful products, great employees and all the other things that come along with having and running your own business, but in the end, to make money in your business, you need to understand that business is a math problem.

Let’s talk about making money. Your sales dollars and margins will vary, but the formulas are the same regardless of the business type. I was lucky enough to attend Texas A & M and Don Rice taught some of the classes. He is a brilliant man and excellent teacher, and I learned more from him about how to make money in business than from anyone else. The information I am sharing with you here is mostly from him, but I have modified it somewhat, so it isn’t so industry specific.


1. Buy Lower 

  • Keep quality in mind, but also look at where the quantity breaks are when you purchase.
  •  Partner and negotiate with your suppliers; if you know you are going to use a certain amount of a product during the year and can make a commitment to that quantity with scheduled releases from your supplier, you both win.  They can plan their production and you get a better price based on a larger quantity.  Keep in mind there will be charge backs if you don’t take the quantity you contracted for.
  • When you negotiate a blanket purchase with releases, you are lowering your costs by creating fewer Purchase Orders (PO’s).

2. Sell Higher

Raise your prices!

“A” products are those items that move the fastest. In the grocery store, they would be the eggs, milk, and bread. You NEVER want to run out of “A” products. Your “B” products are the things customers buy regularly, and you don’t want to run out of “B’s” but you don’t buy them every time you go shopping. “B” products would be things like mustard, canned soup, and salad dressing. If the store is out of chicken noodle soup, you might buy vegetable beef or another brand instead. You wouldn’t stop shopping there just because they didn’t have exactly the soup you wanted unless it happened repeatedly. “C” products are those things that you want but would not stop shopping at a store if they didn’t have them. You are willing to special order and wait for these items. These would be things like sardines, artichoke hearts, and other specialty items.


    • A – products get raised 1/2 of 1% (except items on contract) = .50 per $100
    • B – products get raised  2% = $2.00 per $100
    • C – products get raised  5% = $5.00 per $100
    • Whenever you get a price increase from the manufacturer, raise it 1/2% more (inside  sales can tell you which products you can raise it on)


    • Raise the price as much as you can on anything you can to make up for the items you have to sell below a reasonable margin. Most of your “A” items go too cheap, so you may have to make 400% on others to make up for it. You are not taking advantage of the customer; you are staying in business. The customer is worried about what he pays for items he buys in quantity all the time, the odd items he usually does not check on. Keep in mind these are the items that sit on you shelf, and you have holding costs because you have money tied up in them. They may even expire and have to be thrown out. You have to make up for this somewhere. You should look at your inventory and see stacks of dollars on the shelf.


    • Write fewer credit memos – Try to get it right the first time.  Errors cost you money to fix.





    • Add freight charges; you can’t afford to pay all of this yourself
    • Sell value
    • Sell service after the sale
    • Provide training (especially for new products or new product releases)
    • Reduce the discounts you give
    • Charge extra for putting customer’s part # on their products
    • EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer), it’s less expensive than paper
    • Pay salesmen for selling more and selling higher



3. Collect Sooner


    • Shorten invoice processing time
    • Mail Invoices sooner; better yet, email them and save yourself the postage and stationery costs
    • Apply better credit collection techniques
    • Shorten (lower) number of days receivables
    • Do not offer cash discounts!
    • Threat of lien or suit if they don’t pay
    • Bill right the first time
    • Lower comfort zone, collect sooner, don’t let it go past 36 days if you allowed Net 30 terms

4. Negotiate Extended Dating

    • When taking on new product lines, negotiate extended dating for as long as possible, but keep in mind you must be a significant customer for a supplier to consider this and you must also pay your bills on time. Manufacturers want to grow distribution, so if you can get their products in stores such as Whole Foods or New Seasons, you may have a relationship they do not have. There is value here for both of you.
    • Goal is to reduce asset base & sell it several times before you pay for it


5. Turn Your Inventory More Often

    • Think about inventory as money on the shelf and if it sits and does not turn it is no good to you.
    • GMROII – Gross Margin Return on Inventory Investment


Keep in mind this example is from the industrial distribution industry and that tends to be a low margin business.


Managing the Balance Sheet 


Each $1.00 in inventory must make $1.50 to $2.00 

There are only two variables in managing the gross margin dollars earned on inventory.  They are the turns and the percent gross margin.

Rule of Thumb:
Every $1.00 invested in inventory must earn a minimum of $1.50 to $2.00 per year in gross margin (GM) dollars as calculated by the Gross Margin Return on Inventory.

Competition always sets the price.  If you can’t raise the price, turn it more often.


Sales – $5,475,000    GM – 25%    COGS – 75%

COGS      $4,106,250   ¸   5 Turns    =     $821,250  Average Inventory
Using the GMROI formula, this inventory should yield:

$821,250  X   1.67   =   $1,371,488  in gross margin each year.

Cost to own:   $821,250  X  .10          =  $225.00  daily value of money
                               365                        invested in inventory

GMROI  =  Gross Margin Return on Inventory
             =   Inv. Turn X Percent GM
                         1 – Percent GM

             =  5 X .25   =   $1.67  =   Every dollar invested in inventory earned
                   .75                              $1.67 in gross margin this year


Inventory Adjustments


The goal is to identify and reduce the “C” (slow moving, inexpensive) items and reinvest in “A” (fast moving, more expensive) items in order to gain more sales with a higher service level from the same amount of dollars invested in inventory.


Before  Adjustments




After  Adjustments




Results of reducing “C’s” and reinvesting in “A’s”:

A)   Improved customer service
B)   Increased sales
C)   Increased sales from same inventory dollars
D)   Increased inventory turn rate
E)   Reduced order processing costs.  When the service level from stock goes up, you have less back orders.
F)   When the inventory is reduced the inventory carrying cost will go down.
G)   When you sell more (at the same percent gross margin) and keep the fixed expenses constant, the profit goes up.


6.    Improve Operating Efficiency

A.  Implement the Quality Process

  • Change the system
  • Remove the waste
  • Improve the quality
  • Lower the cost
  • Capture the market
  • Make more money
  • Stay in business
  • Provide employees with job security

B.  Manage the Balance Sheet

    1. Inventory
    1. Receivables
    1. Cash

C.  Improve Employee Productivity


PPR  =  Personnel Productivity Ratio

         =  Total Compensation
                   Gross Margin


Gross Margin must maintain a relationship to expenses to provide the planned net profit.

Order Cost

(1 – order, 1 – fill, 1 – ship, 1 – bill) = Order Cost

(1 – order, 2 – fill, 2 – ship, 2 – bill) = Order Cost x 2

Back order on a back order = x 3

Ship complete orders – customer doesn’t want a stack of paper.

Develop a unique selling strategy


Most really successful businesses have developed a method of differentiating themselves from their competitors.

Zero Errors in:

    • Selling
    • Order Entry
    • Shipping
    • Billing
    • Transportation
    • Material Handling


If you had zero errors in these, you would be unique.  What is your process?  Where does it go bad?  85% of errors are caused by bad system processes.Service level should be measured on # of orders you get that you can fill form inventory.


Allowable Expenses


Example:  ABC Company

Owners Invested Capital – $431,603  (Net Worth)

Return (Desired) 30% on Net Worth

Projected Net Sales – $1,500,000

Projected Gross Margin  25%

Remember, you can’t spend Sales, you can only spend Margin $


Net Profit        = Net Worth (Owner’s Investment) x Rate
= $431,603 x .30

= $129,480

Gross Margin = Projected Sales x Rate

= $1,500,000 x .25

= $375,000

COGS           = Sales – Gross Margin

= $1,500,000 – $375,000

= $1,125,000

Expenses      = Net Sales – Net Profits – Cost of Goods

=          $1,500,000 – $129,480 – $1,125,000

            =          $245,000 Allowable Expenses

If sales are up more than margin (% wise) you are working harder to make less!

We now have $245,520 to spend to generate $1.5 million in sales.
Allowable Expenses – Actual Expenses = Expense Shortage or (Overage)

$245,520 – $304,050 = ($58,530) This comes out of Owners pocket

Owners Expected Return – Expense Over Run = NPBT (Owners actual return)

$129,480 – $58,530 = $70,950

Where did the $58,530 come from?  From the owner’s pocket:

You were only able to pay $70,950 to the owner instead of the $129,480, they expected $129,480 – $58,530 = $70,950

Example of non-allowable expense & how it adds up!

Delivery driver decides to drive home (lives 10 miles out), for lunch through town everyday for a week.  The truck costs $1.05 per mile to drive.

20 mile round trip X 5 days X 50 weeks X $1.05 per mile = $5,250 per year.

So there you have it in six easy pieces. I know, it isn’t easy, and it takes some study. You have to apply the formulas and rules to your business. Regardless of the type of business you are in, if you have inventory, you have cost and how you manage that cost determines how much money you make on the money you have invested. I know this is a lot of information but if there is interest in this I may talk about the parts and pieces of this overview in greater detail in future newsletters. Let me know what you think. We are all in business for a variety of reasons but one of them has to be to make money or you won’t be in business long.

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Katherine Trest
5 years ago

This seems to be a concise method for determining income and expenses and choosing when and how much sales prices should change. I will have to practice it for a while to realize the value in my business. Thank you for this information.

Jeanie wilson
5 years ago

This is one of the best Mathematical problems solutions for business growth .Please, I would love to introduce this to someone I know. How can you be of help with you ideas if you are contacted I know these ideas will be of a great help Reading these “Six Rules” I think I can see why you should be contacted.

2 years ago

Yes, I believe that it is really important to collect cash from the client in order to make more profit and products or services. Thanks for sharing this article.

Yes, I totally agree with what you said. I think that it is very important to collect sooner to have a good cashflow. This article is very informative. Thanks for sharing this article. This is a good article for business owners.

2 years ago

Yes, I totally agree with what you said. I think that it is very important to always see to it that we collect the payment on time. I think that by doing this we can definitely be able to have a good cashflow. Thanks for sharing this article.