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Small Business Finance – Mistakes to Avoid When Factoring Receivables

Running out of cash to run a business is something that no business owner wants to occur. But even if you are the most careful money manager in the world an unexpected series of events can send your company spiralling and cash flowing right out the door. In those times you need solutions to help you through financial distress. One way to meet funding needs is through factoring account receivables. To make this option work for your business here are two factoring mistakes that you should avoid.

Missing the Signs of Financial Trouble

Factoring is the process of selling a customer’s account to a lender in exchange for a percentage of the balance that the customer owes. Business owners typically turn to this option when customer payments are slow, sales decline, or expenses are rising faster than the growth in revenue. Before agreeing to a factoring arrangement you should prepare a cash flow projection. This will help you pinpoint cash needs, see exactly when revenues are expected to come in, and when shortfalls may occur. As you note the shortages, it is important to determine the cause of negative cash balances. Having this information in advance will help you see how your projections will change over time. When possible try to secure funding before you need it because failure to do so can put your company at an unfair borrowing advantage. Have other options available so that you have some leverage when negotiating factoring terms.

Confusing the Sources of Cash

Another word of caution involves being fully aware of where cash comes from in your business. It is easy to be deceived by the deposits that you see in your account when you do not adequately track cash sources. If your plans are to get out there in a big way you will need to manage big money. So stay informed every step of the way with financial reports. This can make the difference between needing factoring and having adequate cash reserves to take on larger projects. Refer to your company’s income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows for the information that you need. It is important to understand what the reports are telling you so that you are not misled by a cash balance that is derived primarily from debt.

Factoring receivables is one of the many options available to help meet the cash requirements of companies. Use this resource wisely by preparing forecasts and negotiating fair terms. Set your sights on building a company that can sustain itself. The ultimate cash flow picture is one where most of the cash comes from revenues and investments. Learn more about receivables factoring and funding a small business at http://www.tbsusa.com

Looking for Small Business Financing? Consider An Account Receivable Financing Strategy

Could account receivable financing help your firm? The dramatic rise of small business financing in accounts receivable ( by the way, Canada’s largest corporations use this tool also!) Is simply a factor of companies such as yours wanting to capitalize on the working capital and cash flow that is, in effect, locked up in receivables

It doesn’t take rocket science for any business owner of financial manager to figure out that if his or her firm has investments in receivables and inventory then those assets, typically called ‘ current assets’ requires financing in some form. Of course you can ‘ self finance ‘ – meaning simply wait for your inventory to turn into receivables, and then wait probably even longer for A/R to turn into cash. But, doing that forces you to give up on sales opportunities and challenges the very core of your financial health, given that we all agree cash flow is king.

If you are fortunate enough to be financing via a Canadian chartered bank you are of course familiar with ‘ collateral ‘- our banks do a great job of explaining that to you! Why don’t you use your own firm’s collateral, its assets, mainly accounts receivable, and monetize that asset into cash.

Clients are often fairly clear on the benefits of account receivable financing, which is also called invoice discounting or factoring. What they don’t seem to have the best handle on is how it works.

One you have such a facility set up it quite frankly is one of the easiest and quickest ways to unlock cash flow and working capital on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. The power to choose your timeframes remains with yourself. And by the way, you only pay for the financing you are using. Let’s get back though, to how it works.

In Canada there are two types of factoring, we’ll focus on the most common one, which, by the way, isn’t exactly our favorite (there is a better one) but let’s keep it simple for now.

After your firm generates an invoice you submit it to your factor firm partner. That could be once invoice, several, or many or all. Funds for those invoices are wired, or sent to you, that same day into your account. Didn’t you just feel your cash flow being totally unlocked and flowing?! Approximately 10% is held back as a buffer, but as soon as your client pays you get those funds back also, less what is known as a discount fee, typically between 1 and 3% – 2% is pretty well the norm.

2% you say! Isn’t that expensive for small business financing. Absolutely, positively maybe, but we actually don’t think it is. That is because all in rates from your bank when you total up all the fees, services, standby fees etc often total in the 11-12% range, not the 6% or 7% you think you are getting. And furthermore, if you take the huge amount of cash you just receive and use it to purchase more efficiently, or takes discounts on supplier invoice payments you make your total cost of capital goes down. And, another point, if you are in a competitive environment, (who isn’t) does your ability to have unlimited cash flow put you steps ahead of your competition? We think it does.

There are a number of ways to finance your business. If your firm has A/R assets and you are challenged by the timing in which money flows through your business then consider the benefits of account receivable financing. Speak to a trusted, credible, and experienced business advisor on this popular financing tool for small business financing in Canada.

Small Business Finance – Finding the Right Mix of Debt and Equity

Financing a small business can be most time consuming activity for a business owner. It can be the most important part of growing a business, but one must be careful not to allow it to consume the business. Finance is the relationship between cash, risk and value. Manage each well and you will have healthy finance mix for your business.

Develop a business plan and loan package that has a well developed strategic plan, which in turn relates to realistic and believable financials. Before you can finance a business, a project, an expansion or an acquisition, you must develop precisely what your finance needs are.

Finance your business from a position of strength. As a business owner you show your confidence in the business by investing up to ten percent of your finance needs from your own coffers. The remaining twenty to thirty percent of your cash needs can come from private investors or venture capital. Remember, sweat equity is expected, but it is not a replacement for cash.

Depending on the valuation of your business and the risk involved, the private equity component will want on average a thirty to forty percent equity stake in your company for three to five years. Giving up this equity position in your company, yet maintaining clear majority ownership, will give you leverage in the remaining sixty percent of your finance needs.

The remaining finance can come in the form of long term debt, short term working capital, equipment finance and inventory finance. By having a strong cash position in your company, a variety of lenders will be available to you. It is advisable to hire an experienced commercial loan broker to do the finance “shopping” for you and present you with a variety of options. It is important at this juncture that you obtain finance that fits your business needs and structures, instead of trying to force your structure into a financial instrument not ideally suited for your operations.

Having a strong cash position in your company, the additional debt financing will not put an undue strain on your cash flow. Sixty percent debt is a healthy. Debt finance can come in the form of unsecured finance, such as short-term debt, line of credit financing and long term debt. Unsecured debt is typically called cash flow finance and requires credit worthiness. Debt finance can also come in the form of secured or asset based finance, which can include accounts receivable, inventory, equipment, real estate, personal assets, letter of credit, and government guaranteed finance. A customized mix of unsecured and secured debt, designed specifically around your company’s financial needs, is the advantage of having a strong cash position.

The cash flow statement is an important financial in tracking the effects of certain types of finance. It is critical to have a firm handle on your monthly cash flow, along with the control and planning structure of a financial budget, to successfully plan and monitor your company’s finance.

Your finance plan is a result and part of your strategic planning process. You need to be careful in matching your cash needs with your cash goals. Using short term capital for long term growth and vice versa is a no-no. Violating the matching rule can bring about high risk levels in the interest rate, re-finance possibilities and operational independence. Some deviation from this age old rule is permissible. For instance, if you have a long term need for working capital, then a permanent capital need may be warranted. Another good finance strategy is having contingency capital on hand for freeing up your working capital needs and providing maximum flexibility. For example, you can use a line of credit to get into an opportunity that quickly arises and then arrange for cheaper, better suited, long term finance subsequently, planning all of this upfront with a lender.

Unfortunately finance is not typically addressed until a company is in crisis. Plan ahead with an effective business plan and loan package. Equity finance does not stress cash flow as debt can and gives lenders confidence to do business with your company. Good financial structuring reduces the costs of capital and the finance risks. Consider using a business consultant, finance professional or loan broker to help you with your finance plan.