Working Capital Business Financing Sources

Working Capital business financing is never a question of why – it’s just simply a matter of when! Working capital and cash flow are of course the heart of every business. The challenges of obtaining that financing become a question of time.

Perhaps you need cash for for your regular ongoing business cycle – that’s the simple one – you buy inventory, your produce things, you sell, bill and collect. In a perfect world your suppliers give you unlimited time to pay, and unlimited credit limits. And of course your customers pay you in exactly 30 days. Guess what? It’s not a perfect world!

If you are a traditionally financed firm you have access to bank capital for revolving credit lines based on your business needs. But for a growing number of Canadian firms that access to traditional bank capital is not available. Those scenarios require a special expertise in identifying sources of business financing that work for you. The solutions actually are quite numerous – its becomes a questions of which solution works for your firm, what are the costs involved, and does the solution fit within your business model.

The business financing we are talking about can take many different forms – it might include an asset based line of credit, inventory financing or purchase order financing, a sale leaseback on unencumbered assets,, working capital term loans, or accounts receivable financing, otherwise known as factoring.

One of the most important things you can do for business financing is to ensure that the type of financing you source matches your needs. What we mean by that is that you should match short term needs with short term financing. Factoring might be a good example. If your receivables aren’t financed, and you need cash to meet inventory and supplier commitments that type of financing is immediate and addresses your needs. Why would you enter into a five year term loan at fixed payments for a short term capital need or requirement?

The best way to think of short term financing is to focus on the current assets part of your balance sheet – those items include inventory and accounts receivable typically. Those assets can quickly be monetized into a working capital facility that comes in a variety methods. The reality is that your inventory and accounts receivable grow lock step to your sales and your ability to finance them on an ongoing basis will give you access to, in essence, unlimited working capital.

There are some solid technical rules of them around how you can generate positive pricing for operating facilities. By calculating and analyzing some basic financial ratios (we call them relationships) in your financial statements you can get a strong sense of whats available in working capital business financing and what pricing might be involved. Those ratios are your current ratio, your inventory turns, your receivables turns or days sales outstanding, a, and your overall debt to worth ratio. Depending on where those final ratio calculations come in will ultimately allow your working capital financier to put your firm in a low risk, medium risk, or high risk band of pricing?

In Canada working capital rates range from 8-9% per annum to 1-2% per month, depending on what assets are financed and how they are financed.

So whats our bottom line in working capital business financing? It is simply there are alternatives available and you as a business owner of financial manager can assess those alternatives in terms of short term needs or long term needs. Pricing and solutions vary, and your ability to convey the positive aspects of your business to the working capital lender will ultimately lead to a final pricing and solution. Speak to a credible, experienced and trusted working capital business financing advisor to determine what solutions are the best for your firm.

Solutions For the Business Financing Puzzle

The comparison of small business financing to a puzzle is not meant to diminish the critical importance of success by business owners when they encounter difficulties with commercial lenders. The most practical goal for using a puzzle analogy in this article is to help describe an otherwise complex working capital and commercial finance situation in a more understandable way. The current commercial loan stakes for commercial borrowers are high because their business survival might be hanging in the balance.

In using a puzzle comparison, this analogy provides an opportunity to evaluate the commercial loans puzzle (a challenging commercial lending climate) as something that tests the ingenuity of small businesses to solve. When reviewing the current small business finance environment, an increasing number of commercial borrowers are comparing what they are finding to a puzzle with pieces scattered everywhere. The ongoing descriptions of commercial financing in terms of solving a puzzle should provide a reasonable reflection of the underlying problems that cannot be ignored by a prudent business borrower. The growing confusion represented in small business owner interactions with their current bank concerning available business financing options is no doubt also reflected by such an analogy.

Recent experiences by many commercial borrowers with their business banker probably resemble a constantly changing level of difficulty for an already confusing small business finance puzzle. It has become a common experience for banks to take over two months for a working capital financing process that should realistically be completed in three weeks or less, and in many cases even then the lender does not complete the process for providing the requested working capital to the business which has been waiting without any awareness that funding might not be finalized. Suggestions that commercial lenders have misrepresented what is required to finalize commercial loans are emerging in too many reports for borrowers to ignore.

For a number of years most business financing has been more complicated than borrowers realize. Recent events have made these complexities more obvious primarily because the eventual results have changed so drastically. It is situations like those noted above that cause business borrowers to feel like some of the required puzzle pieces have been removed from the board. In effect that is exactly what has happened in many cases because fewer banks are now providing small business financing. When this happens with the bank that a business has previously relied upon for their small business finance needs, a business owner is indeed likely to feel as if the commercial finance puzzle pieces have disappeared.

By continuing the puzzle analogy, there are two practical options for commercial borrowers to analyze and consider. First, in an approach which can lead to a small business finance puzzle which will involve “fewer pieces” if executed successfully, business owners should assess the potential for a reduction in their commercial debt requirements. Second, by looking for alternative commercial lending sources, small businesses should attempt to find the “missing pieces”. As with any complex business financing situation, both of these (as well as any other realistic commercial loan choices) should be thoroughly reviewed with the help of an experienced expert.

Commercial Lender Changes Hurt Small Business Financing Options

Most small business owners are likely to be severely impacted by recent commercial lender changes. In almost all cases, the business lending changes are permanent and cannot be avoided if a commercial borrower wants to continue their present banking relationship. One noteworthy exception is illustrated by a few new and more flexible commercial lending sources.

One of the biggest commercial lending changes involves new guidelines for working capital financing. Most banks appear to be quietly eliminating business lines of credit or severely reducing the amount they are willing to finance to a level which is not helpful to an average business. Very few businesses can survive without a reliable source of working capital, so this change promises to receive the highest priority from most small businesses. To replace the disappearing commercial lines of credit, the most practical options for business borrowers include working capital loans and merchant financing from one of the alternative commercial finance sources still active in small business financing programs.

Another business lender change is illustrated by the difficulty of locating investment property financing. An increasing number of banks will make commercial mortgage loans only when the commercial property is considered to be owner-occupied (which means that the commercial borrower occupies a substantial portion of the building). Commercial properties like apartment buildings and shopping centers are often owned by investors that do not occupy the property. For many banks, it appears that they are currently restricting their commercial lending activities to those which qualify for SBA loans (Small Business Administration) which generally exclude investor-owned situations.

A third significant business lending change is demonstrated by revised guidelines for refinancing commercial real estate loans. In almost all cases, commercial lenders have dramatically reduced the loan-to-value percentages that they will lend. In some areas and for specific types of businesses, many banks will no longer lend over half of the appraised value. The difficulty for a commercial borrower refinancing an existing commercial loan reach a crisis level very quickly when this happens. In many cases the original business loan was based on a much higher percentage of business value than the bank is currently willing to provide. When a current appraisal reports a decrease in value since the original loan was made, the lending problem is further compounded. This outcome is especially common in the midst of a distressed economy which leads to decreased business income that in turn often produces a lower commercial property value.

For a fourth commercial lending change example, many small business owners have already discovered an inflated fee structure from most banks for virtually all small business finance programs. Perhaps the bank perspective for some of the commercial financing fee increases is that they need to find a revenue source to replace the diminishing income from small business loans which has resulted from bank decisions to decrease commercial loan activity. Except for unusual and unavoidable circumstances, business borrowers should seek different commercial funding sources when they encounter suddenly increased business financing fees levied by their current bank.

Banks changing their overall guidelines for small business financing produce a final and widespread example of commercial lender changes. Many banks have effectively stopped making any new commercial loans to small businesses regardless of business income or creditworthiness. Unfortunately these banks are not announcing publicly that they have discontinued small business finance activities. This means that while they might accept business loan applications, they do not intend to actually finalize commercial financing in most cases. Whenever it becomes obvious that the bank has no real intentions of making a requested working capital loan or commercial mortgage, this approach has clearly frustrated and enraged business borrowers.

The five commercial lending changes described above are unfortunately the proverbial tip of the iceberg. As they approach business lenders to obtain commercial real estate financing, working capital loans and small business financing, business owners will need to be especially skeptical and diligent.

A Bumpy Ride For Business Financing

Based on how chaotic the commercial banking climate is currently, the situation described in this article is expected to prevail for a long (but unpredictable) period of time. In spite of the confusing and frustrating commercial loans environment, a prudent business financing strategy is likely to produce the most effective results that can be hoped for by small business owners. With working capital financing and business loans, commercial borrowers need to be prepared for a long and bumpy ride.

Misinformation and insufficient information will play a somewhat unpredictable role in achieving the desired outcome of business borrowers finding appropriate commercial finance solutions. The eventual success of commercial financing efforts will depend on an individualized and detailed assessment of the unique financial circumstances for a specific business, although it is appropriate to note that there are new and effective business loan options that will satisfactorily fill the commercial funding gap for many small business owners impacted by their current ineffective commercial bankers.

Anticipating the long and bumpy ride that lies ahead for even the most ordinary business financing request will be prudent and wise for small businesses. It has not been unusual for commercial borrowers to wait for one to two months before their bank finally declines to make a commercial loan that had appeared to be a mere formality when the lending process began, either because banks do not want to publicly admit that they are not presently making business loans or perhaps due to their somewhat secretive and changing guidelines for making such loans. Regardless of their prior description of “normal” for working capital management and commercial financing options, many business owners have already discovered how much and how quickly this has changed.

A prevailing banking climate that is characterized by misinformation as well as insufficient information about current commercial finance options for small businesses provides sufficient rationale for describing the journey to business financing success as being both long and bumpy. After they have finally been informed by their current bank that needed business finance help is not forthcoming, because they simply do not have enough information to successfully complete their task, a small business owner might be unsuccessful in their attempt to find a new source of commercial funding in one typical scenario involving insufficient information. When a commercial banker misleads a prospective business borrower by advising the business owner that the bank will be able to help in providing an unsecured working capital loan when the banker has already been told by senior bank officials that such financing will not be provided except for specific established business clients, this is an increasingly frequent misinformation scenario. Most banks are in fact eliminating or reducing working capital financing to small businesses as indicated by one public report after another.

More successful results should be produced by realistic expectations of what lies ahead in business financing efforts. This article represents a sincere attempt to accurately portray the recent confusing and unpredictable state of commercial banking for small business owners, and this fulfills a primary purpose in describing current attempts to obtain small business loans as potentially being a long and bumpy ride.

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.