You are not alone if you are a small business owner having trouble getting financing. Most small businesses find it challenging to get funding when they need it. There are a few reasons for this difficulty.
Most lenders prefer to work with large clients rather than with smaller businesses. Larger clients often have substantial assets that can be used as collateral. They also use multiple products, which generates sizable fees. Lastly, they have finance departments that can create the formal reports that lenders often require.
This situation leaves small companies at a disadvantage. Small businesses often encounter cash flow problems as they grow, but few finance companies are willing to help them. Fortunately, there are a few ways to handle this problem. In this article, we discuss:
- The most common cash flow problem
- How to fix cash flow problems without financing
- A solution designed specifically for small businesses
1. Do you have this common cash flow problem?
Having commercial and government clients has several advantages. They are often a source of steady work and reliable revenues. However, these clients often demand 30- to 60-day payment terms to work with you. This situation puts many small companies in a bind.
The small business must pay all expenses to deliver the products or services. Once they finish, they must wait 30 to 60 days before the clients pay them. In the meantime, they must cover all business expenses from their emergency cash reserve.
Small businesses that don’t have a large cash reserve or that are growing quickly can easily get into financial problems. Their expenses get ahead of their revenues and reserves, and they enter a financial tailspin. They may have to delay supplier payments, or worse, payroll.
2. Improve cash flow without financing
Your first step should be to improve your existing business practices. Many cash flow problems have solutions that don’t require financing. Instead, you can often fix these problems by making some changes to the business. The cost of making these changes is comparatively small, and the results can be substantial.
a) Improve your invoicing and collections
Many small companies have cash flow problems simply because they don’t handle invoicing and collections well. However, invoicing and collections are two essential functions in the business. Companies can address this problem by using the following strategy:
- Check commercial credit on all clients
- Use well-written contracts
- Verify the client is happy with the product or service
- Send invoices promptly
- Follow up regularly
b) Discounts for early payments
Improving collections helps ensure that clients pay their invoices on time. However, sometimes you need clients to pay in a few days rather than 30 to 60 days. One strategy is to offer these clients an early payment discount in exchange for a quick payment.
Most companies offer their clients a 2% discount if they pay in 10 days or less. Otherwise, the client has to pay in their usual 30 to 60 days. Although offering a 2% discount is common, it is not a rule. Some companies negotiate better terms with their clients and offer a lower discount.
c) Work only with clients who pay quickly
Another somewhat extreme strategy is to restrict your client base to companies that pay invoices in a few days. This strategy is challenging to execute if you are in a competitive environment. However, it may work if your product or service is unique enough.
Always check your client’s business credit before pursuing this strategy. Commercial credit checks help ensure that you work only with reliable clients.
3. Small business invoice factoring
Offering early payment discounts and improving collections fixes many cash flow problems. These tactics are good, but they have some limitations. They work well if your cash flow problems are sporadic and not too serious.
If your company needs reliable cash flow, consider using small business factoring. This solution helps small and growing companies that have cash flow problems. It improves their financial position and provides a platform for growth.
a) How does factoring work?
Factoring improves your cash flow by financing your open invoices. The solution bridges the financial gap between delivery of services and payment, providing funds to pay expenses. The process is simple and integrates well with most companies. After signing up with a factoring company, you submit the invoices from pre-approved clients to the factor. The factoring company verifies the invoices and finances them in two installments.
The first installment (the advance) covers 80% to 90% of the invoice. The factor deposits the advance in your bank account after processing your invoices. The remaining 10% to 20%, less a factoring fee, is deposited once your client pays in full. The second installment settles the transaction. To learn more, read “What is Factoring?”
b) Factoring cost
In general, small business factoring lines are more expensive than conventional factoring lines. This expense is due to their smaller size. Factors operate a volume business and provide discounts to larger accounts. The service costs between 2% and 3% per 30 days outstanding. Note that some smaller clients may have a higher cost than that. Learn more about the typical factoring rates.
Factoring lines have a number of advantages and few disadvantages. The most important benefit is that it can quickly improve your company’s cash flow. Additionally, factoring lines:
- Are easy to get
- Let you provide payment terms to clients
- Allow you to take on new clients
- Help you manage your customer’s credit
- Can be increased as needed
However, business owners should also keep in mind that factoring lines:
- Are more expensive than lines of credit
- Can be labor intensive
- Require contact with your end-customer
d) Qualification requirements
Factoring is designed to help small businesses that are unable to obtain conventional financing. Consequently, the solution has relatively simple qualification requirements:
- Your customers must have good commercial credit
- Your accounts receivable cannot be encumbered by liens
- Your profit margin must be above 15%
Get a factoring quote
We are a leading provider of small business factoring and can provide you with competitive terms. For more information, get a factoring quote or call us toll-free at (877) 300 3258.