Small Business Financing Goes Into Intensive Care

An earlier article noted that business financing is effectively on life support based on recent reports of reduced business loans made by banks throughout the country. There are several reasons why intensive care comparisons might help to explain what is wrong with working capital financing and at the same time provide a healthy prognosis for impacted businesses. Because commercial financing is proving to be a serious challenge for most small business owners, this analysis should be reviewed by any borrower about to obtain or refinance commercial loans.

During the past two years, banks have lost much credibility and good will. Until the federal government provided massive bailouts for many of them, most of these lenders were on life support themselves. While some of the banks have recovered, others are effectively still in the intensive care process. But whether we are reviewing the healthy banks or ones still recovering, working capital financing for most small businesses is predominantly in what appears to be long-term intensive care. Banks are generally reducing or eliminating a large portion of their business financing activities, as indicated from most ongoing public and private reports. For example, with little or no advance notice, most banks appear to be closing commercial line of credit programs for small businesses regardless of profitability or length of the lending relationship. This is apparently not a temporary move to the sidelines but rather a permanent reallocation of resources to more profitable activities based on the manner in which this is being accomplished.

Lending activity has also decreased significantly for other forms of business financing such as commercial mortgage loans. Commercial loans have essentially been downsized or laid off just as many workers have. The realization that banks are rarely announcing publicly that these cutbacks have occurred is what makes this situation different. Perhaps bankers like to think that when they stop making small business loans nobody will notice. When it becomes public knowledge that their small business lending window is effectively closed, the bankers who placed commercial financing into intensive care are astute enough to realize that their public image will suffer even further damage.

Before they realize that the business financing world has changed before their eyes, it is possible that small business owners might need to connect several dots. As this article and other reviews indicate, banks are simply no longer providing the commercial loan services that they once did. Commercial borrowers should primarily rely on extensive candid discussions with other small business customers of the bank to confirm whether their bank is one of the few exceptions to this new reality. Even in the rare instances in which banks are truly lending “normally” to small businesses, the prevailing trend of less working capital financing coming from traditional banks should not be ignored.

While business financing patients (commercial borrowers) might be in serious condition when they find that their bank will not provide needed commercial loans, experienced small business finance specialists can frequently help in restoring financial health that will facilitate a business getting out of an intensive care situation. In some cases, this involves finding a healthy bank that is willing (and able) to provide “normal” commercial loans and working capital financing. For successful commercial funding it will be necessary to explore non-bank solutions in many other instances.

Guess What Your Business Needs? Working Capital and Small Business Finance Loan/Loans Options

Just picture your firm having access to all the working capital you need. Seem impossible? Not really… if you have a solid understanding of your options and your firms capability of qualifying or executing on those options.

Whether you’re the largest corporation in Canada or a small new start up (and everything in between) your business needs working capital. In Canada small business financing loans and financing arraignments for working capital are limited to a handful of possibilities – but being aware of what they are and qualifying for them could be the solution to your constant focus on cash flow via some sort of working capital loan.

It is probably easier than you think to ensure you are addressing the cash flow challenge correctly – where it gets somewhat ‘ thorny ‘ is matching a solution to the problem or locating an expert that can provide you with the business financing assistance you need.

Two key elements of your first step working capital assessment are your gross margins and your turnover. That’s the big problem we have with text book / academic solutions to working capital – they point you to the text book calculation – give you a formula which essentially has you subtracting current liabilities form current assets, and voila! the inference is you have working capital. However, our clients have never paid a supplier or completed a company payroll with a ratio!

To properly assess your working capital needs focus on understanding your turnover – how much inventory do you carry, what are the days outstanding in inventory, and as importantly, or more importantly, are your receivables turning over. Have you realized that for many firms 80% or so of the total of all the business assets you have are tied up in A/R, inventory, and, on the other size of the balance sheet let’s not forget payables.

So can you have financial success based on your new found knowledge and analysis of your cash flow and asset turnover. We think you can.

Canadian business financing solutions to small business finance loans really revolve around a couple viable solutions. Typically, in our experience Canadian chartered banks cant satisfy your business working capital needs – if only for the reason that they rarely finance inventory and require significant merit in your overall financials, profitability, external collateral, personal credit worthiness, etc.

So, where do you go from there? The other solutions are very viable and can take you to a potential 100% turn around in cash flow – they include working capital financing as a bundled line of credit on a/r and inventory via an independent finance company. For firms that are larger we believe the ultimate tool is an asset based line o f credit that provides high leverage margining on all you business assets. Other more esoteric solutions, but still very viable although somewhat misunderstood are securitization, and purchase order financing of new contracts and orders. (Your suppliers are paid directly for the orders you have in hand – what could be better than that?)

Finally, coming up the road at lightening speed is factoring and invoice discounting. We mention them lastly but they are probably the most popular method, gaining traction everyday. Our favorite is confidential invoice financing, allowing you to control your financing.

So there you have it. You have identified new ways to determine the need; we have outlined 4 or 5 solutions that will take the guess work out of working capital. These loan and financing options are available with a bit of research, and, if you choose, speak to a Canadian business financing advisor who can provide you with timely and valuable assistance in your cash flow needs.

How To Deal With Your Small Business Finance Needs

One of the most challenging and time-consuming tasks for any business owner is to finance even a small business. While it is considered an essential part of running and expanding a business, it should be done properly and carefully so that it won’t hinder the establishment of the business as a whole. Small business finance is basically the connection between cash, value, and risk. Maintaining the balance of these three factors will ensure the good financial health of your business.

The first step that a business owner needs to take is to come up with a business plan as well as a loan system which comes with a well structured strategic plan. Doing this will certainly result to concrete and sound finances. It is of necessity that prior to your financing a business, you figure out what exactly your needs are in terms of small business finance.

In trying to determine your business’ financing requirements, keep in mind that you have to have a positive mindset. As the owner of the business, you should be confident enough in your own business that you will be willing to invest as much as 10% of your small business finance needs from your own pocket. The other 30% of the financing can be from venture capital or other private investors.

In terms of the private equity aspect of your business, you would want it to be around 30 to 40 percent equity share in your company for a period of at least three years and a maximum of five years. But of course, this will still be dependent on the value of your small business along with the risk involved. Maintaining this equity component in your company will assure you majority ownership of the business. As a result, you will be able to leverage the other 60 percent of your small business finance needs.

It will also be easier to satisfy the remaining financing needs of your growing business. You may opt to get the rest from a long-term debt, inventory finance, short-term working capital, and equipment finance. Remember also that as long as you have a steady cash position in the business, many financial institutions will be more than willing to lend you money. In this respect also, it is recommended that you get an expert commercial loan broker who will do the selection of your financing options. This is also a crucial stage as you would want to find the most appropriate financing offer to meet all your small business finance requirements.

These are just some of the important considerations that need to be taken when financing a small business. There are, however, so many business owners who do not pay enough attention to these things unless their business is in crisis. As a business owner, what you should keep in mind always is how you can grow and expand. Therefore, have a small business finance plan as early as possible so that you can make sure that every financial aspect of your business is in good condition.