The New Normal For Small Business Financing and Working Capital Management

With business financing options changing significantly during the past two years, it is appropriate to review what the “new normal” looks like so that small business owners will be prepared to cope with the challenges they now face with commercial lenders. Business borrowers are more likely to find commercial financing success by quickly accepting the fact that a “new normal” way of doing things has emerged.

The dramatic reduction in the number of commercial lenders that are actively making small business loans is one of the most significant changes in the business finance lending environment. Banks continuing to insist that they are still providing small business financing when in reality they have reduced or eliminated their commercial lending programs is an equally important part of the “new normal”.

A recent report showed that commercial lending activity fell by the biggest amount since records have been kept. This trend seems likely to get worse before it gets better because based on Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation accounting, almost one out of every ten banks is close to failing. The shaky current financial condition of many banks is further documented by reports from the Federal Reserve and United States Treasury Department that over 50 banks did not have sufficient cash flow to make their November 2009 payments for loans made by the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The payments in question are due quarterly, and over ten banks have missed three consecutive installments. Unlike banks which have tripled and quadrupled interest rates for individual consumers missing a credit card payment, presumably the government regulators are simply hoping to get their money back from the delinquent banks.

Banks have far too often conducted business as if they have a monopoly on their small business financing services. The “new normal” for small business owners should increasingly reflect the growing realization that banks can be replaced when they stop providing an adequate level of service to their business customers.

As a direct result of the continuing shortcomings of banks in providing an adequate amount of small business financing help as noted above, for most business borrowers the “new normal” will involve a new bank or at least a new commercial lender (which might not be a bank at all). Even though banks would like their small business owner customers to keep believing that only a bank like them can help business borrowers, this is truly a myth created by the bankers themselves.

For many essential commercial finance services such as commercial mortgage loans, numerous banks have indicated that they will no longer provide such financing anymore. For specialized business finance services such as working capital management, business consulting and business cash advances, banks only rarely provide a cost-effective and realistic option for commercial borrowers. For business owners which have commercial loans or working capital financing due to be refinanced within the next three years, planning ahead will be increasingly important to the success of their small business financing. With the “new normal”, if commercial borrowers wait until their bank decides to pull the plug on future small business finance programs, the timing is not likely to be as conducive to business refinancing.

Functions of Business Finance

Strength and soundness of business depends on the availability of finance and competency with which it is used. The abundance of finance can do wonders and its scarcity can ruin even a well established business. Finance increases the strength and viability of business. It increases the resistance capacity of a business to face losses and economic depression. It is just like a lubricant, the more it is applied to the business, the quickly the business will move. Following headings explain the importance of finance to business:

(1) Initiating Business: Finance is the first and fore most requirement of every business. It is the starting point of every business, industrial project etc. Whether you start a sole proprietary concern, a partnership firm, a company or a charity institution, you need ample amount of finance. It is equally important for profit seeking and non-profit activities. It is equally important for a multinational organization and for a free dispensary.

(2) Purchase of Assets: Finance is needed to purchase all sorts of assets. Even if credit is available some down payment is to be made. Mostly finance is needed at the start of business for the purchase of fixed assets. These fixed assets consume a large amount of initial investment of the entrepreneur, so he may face liquidity difficulty in running day to day affairs of the business.

(3) Initial Losses: No business attains high profit on the first day of commencement. Some losses are normal before the business reaches its full capacity and generate enough revenue to match cost. Finance is necessary so that these initial losses can be sustained and business can be allowed to progress gradually.

(4) Professional Services: Certain business need services of specialized personnel. Such personnel have rich experience in specialized fields and they can provide useful guidance to make business profitable. Nevertheless these services are costly. Finance is always needed so that services of such professional consultants can be hired.

(5) Development: Business is always exposed to change. New innovations and emergence of new technologies replaces old techniques out of market. So in order to remain in the market, it is needed to keep the business well equipped with all emerging tools and techniques. This required finance. New technology is always expensive as it is better than others. So finance is needed to purchase new equipment and keep the business running.

(6) Information Technology: Information technology has now changed the geography of the business battle field. The home markets have now extended virtually to other comers of the world. The whole world can be your customer or competitor. To face such a fierce competition, IT is needed. Skills and competency in IT can perform miracles. But finance is again the decisive factor. It is very much needed to incorporate expensive IT products in the business.

(7) Media War: The advertisement and promotion have now become a vital elements for the success of business. The way a businessman approaches a customer and convinces him to purchase his product has become more important than the quality of product. With advertisement on International media, a businessman can reach the minds of millions of people around the globe. However, advertisement is a luxury which every business can’t afford. Huge finance is required to meet advertisement expenses.

(8) Resource Management: Finance is very essential for efficient resource management. Resources here include capital and human resources. Maintenance of plant and equipment and training of employees all need finance. Establishment of new industrial units, expansion of plant capacity, hiring of well learned skilful laborers – all
these factors can lead to huge revenue but at the first place they need finance to start with.

(9) Stock Investments: These investments are those which are made to hold ample stock of raw materials in hand. Bulk purchase of raw materials is profitable in a sense that purchase discount can be attained and there is no danger of production halts. So companies most often hold huge amount of stocks and raw materials. But such an investment can be made only if a company has sufficient capital or finance to carry out its daily operation easily besides holding huge stock.

(10) Combating Risks: Everything is exposed to one or more risks. A business is also exposed to variety of risks. These risks include natural hazards, burden of any huge liability, loss of market or brand name etc. Finance is needed to make business powerful, so that it can sustain occasional losses and liabilities.

Accounting Business Finance Outsourcing – Ensure a Professional Approach

Outsourcing is emerging as one of the core strategies by ventures worldwide, with an eye on carving a niche in the competitive markets. It is basically working on a mutual terms according to the contracts signed between companies or individuals to increase the profit base while minimizing the costs. When it comes to accounting business finance outsourcing process, it encompasses accounting functions like payroll, billing and data entry. While some organizations outsource only major services, others prefer to outsource complete operations, including all important information technology and business process outsourcing. The crucial accounting projects involve hiring the service providers which might be both internal and external to complete them within the given deadlines. Here, the contracts signed can involve hundreds or millions of dollars yet there are certain disadvantages as well.

Accounting processes are basically utilized in the financial management. Financial information is processed in these functions and monetary allocations raised are used over a period of time. Organizations nowadays, hire the accounting business finance outsourcing personnel for the same and also in procuring cash amounts owned to it by the customers. Widely termed as factoring, it has gained immense popularity over the years and in this process a company is able to eliminate the waiting period ranging between a month to a quarter. The procedure is further accentuated by sending invoices or bills directly to the clients but comes with a warning though. Accounting business finance outsourcing with the help of factoring procedure can prove to be a useful tool allowing a company to focus its attention to core functions of business development.

The concept of factoring is further explained by a manufacturing company if it is selling cell phones to a large retailer. After the delivery of said stuff, an invoice is sent to the retailer through the factoring firm for payment of the amount. The contract terms and the face value of an invoice require a discount fee which is paid to the manufacturer by the factoring firm. An organization has the advantage of procuring immediate cash through accounting business finance outsourcing process which further helps in meeting the demand supply chain on time. In this case, a retailer pays the factor when the bill is about to be paid to manufacturer. India in this case, is the best outsourcing option for business establishments as far as the beneficial aspects of accounting are concerned. Accounting business finance outsourcing services hired from here fit in perfectly with the demands of any business organization. The standards of work are benchmarks in themselves and the charges are quite compatible with the requirements of a client.

A word of caution should be heeded in this case because of the existence of fraudulent practices in this field. But, this can be avoided with the help of internet which helps in a proper research and checking of the backgrounds before entirely relying on the services of the outsourcing firm. One of the main objectives of accounting business finance outsourcing process is the value creation and organizations worldwide, outsource their finance and accounting functions. India being on the radar of outsourcing services comes top on their factoring list. One of the most popular functions of these services is payroll followed by tax compliance and planning whereby the CEO’s and CFO’s come forward as chief decision makers.

7 Critical Business Financing Mistakes

Avoiding the top 7 business financing mistakes is a key component in business survival.

If you start committing these business financing mistakes too often, you will greatly reduce any chance you have for longer term business success.

The key is to understand the causes and significance of each so that you’re in a position to make better decisions.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (1) – No Monthly Bookkeeping.

Regardless of the size of your business, inaccurate record keeping creates all sorts of issues relating to cash flow, planning, and business decision making.

While everything has a cost, bookkeeping services are dirt cheap compared to most other costs a business will incur.

And once a bookkeeping process gets established, the cost usually goes down or becomes more cost effective as there is no wasted effort in recording all the business activity.

By itself, this one mistake tends to lead to all the others in one way or another and should be avoided at all costs.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (2) – No Projected Cash Flow.

No meaningful bookkeeping creates a lack of knowing where you’ve been. No projected cash flow creates a lack of knowing where you’re going.

Without keeping score, businesses tend to stray further and further away from their targets and wait for a crisis that forces a change in monthly spending habits.

Even if you have a projected cash flow, it needs to be realistic.

A certain level of conservatism needs to be present, or it will become meaningless in very short order.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (3) – Inadequate Working Capital

No amount of record keeping will help you if you don’t have enough working capital to properly operate the business.

That’s why its important to accurately create a cash flow forecast before you even start up, acquire, or expand a business.

Too often the working capital component is completely ignored with the primary focus going towards capital asset investments.

When this happens, the cash flow crunch is usually felt quickly as there is insufficient funds to properly manage through the normal sales cycle.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (4) – Poor Payment Management.

Unless you have meaningful working capital, forecasting, and bookkeeping in place, you’re likely going to have cash management problems.

The result is the need to stretch out and defer payments that have come due.

This can be the very edge of the slippery slope.

I mean, if you don’t find out what’s causing the cash flow problem in the first place, stretching out payments may only help you dig a deeper hole.

The primary targets are government remittances, trade payables, and credit card payments.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (5) – Poor Credit Management

There can be severe credit consequences to deferring payments for both short periods of time and indefinite periods of time.

First, late payments of credit cards are probably the most common ways in which both businesses and individuals destroy their credit.

Second, NSF checks are also recorded through business credit reports and are another form of black mark.

Third, if you put off a payment too long, a creditor could file a judgement against you further damaging your credit.

Fourth, when you apply for future credit, being behind with government payments can result in an automatic turndown by many lenders.

It gets worse.

Each time you apply for credit, credit inquiries are listed on your credit report.

This can cause two additional problems.

First, multiple inquiries can reduce you overall credit rating or score.

Second, lenders tend to be less willing to grant credit to a business that has a multitude of inquiries on its credit report.

If you do get into situations where you’re short cash for a finite period of time, make sure you proactively discuss the situation with your creditors and negotiate repayment arrangements that you can both live with and that won’t jeopardize your credit.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (6) – No Recorded Profitability

For startups, the most important thing you can do from a financing point of view is get profitable as fast as possible.

Most lenders must see at least one year of profitable financial statements before they will consider lending funds based on the strength of the business.

Before short term profitability is demonstrated, business financing is based primary on personal credit and net worth.

For existing businesses, historical results need to show profitability to acquire additional capital.

The measurement of this ability to repay is based on the net income recorded for the business by a third party accredited accountant.

In many cases, businesses work with their accountants to reduce business tax as much as possible but also destroy or restrict their ability to borrow in the process when the business net income is insufficient to service any additional debt.

>>> Business Financing Mistakes (7) – No Financing Strategy

A proper financing strategy creates 1) the financing required to support the present and future cash flows of the business, 2) the debt repayment schedule that the cash flow can service, and 3) the contingency funding necessary to address unplanned or unique business needs.

This sounds good in principle, but does not tend to be well practiced.

Why?

Because financing is largely an unplanned and after the fact event.

It seems once everything else is figured out, then a business will try to locate financing.

There are many reasons for this including: entrepreneurs are more marketing oriented, people believe financing is easy to secure when they need it, the short term impact of putting off financial issues are not as immediate as other things, and so on.

Regardless of the reason, the lack of a workable financing strategy is indeed a mistake.

However, a meaningful financing strategy is not likely to exist if one or more of the other 6 mistakes are present.

This reinforces the point that all mistakes listed are intertwined and when more than one is made, the effect of the negative result can become compounded.

Business Finance Brokers: Knowing How They Can Help You

Planning to purchase a business unfortunately do not know where to start looking for finance? Are you currently a bit too busy to be undertaking some researching plus negotiating with business finance brokers? Have you been beginning to lose hope because you are always rejected by lending companies or banking institutions?

When your reply is a definite ‘yes’ to these questions then it could be the very best time and also a smart idea to obtain the aid of a business finance broker who is able to accomplish all the finance arrangements in your part.

It truly is significant that you get a very good business finance broker as a good broker provides a dedicated one-to-one service and keeps you fully up to date of the available alternatives, what every single option entails along with its benefits and downside. A good broker is knowledgeable in finding a wide range of suitable finance options without delay. In addition, he offers the expertise to negotiate a better deal than you can do by yourself.

A business finance broker is aware of which type of financing you need. The kind of financing that you will need will depend on your financial means, your expected profit margin, the sector you want to enter plus some other factors. A broker makes the whole process simple and easy; in most cases he gathers some basic information from you via phone and provides a decision in principle within 24 or 48 hours.

When you have determined which financial providers to approach, the brokers can help you tailor and present your proposals in the right way. In order to help tailor your proposals and also to avoid rejections they keep up to date with any policy changes at banks.

The method that you present your proposal can often be the cause of being rejected for finance.

The moment you ponder on raising funds to obtain a business, what comes first to your mind is to get finance from banks. Yet you ought to be knowledgeable that there are a myriad of lenders these days and some of which specialize in particular products or industries. For instance if perhaps you wish to purchase a garage business, it would make sense to request finance from a lender which specializes in funding garages.

A finance broker is knowledgeable with the diverse market for finance provision. Odds are that you’ll find the process complicated and time intensive and find yourself land up picking the wrong business finance provider. You need the aid of a broker to get the best deal.

In regards to raising finance, a one-dimensional approach can be a bad idea. Quite often, banks lend on inflexible terms and more frequently they turn down individuals who are with greatest need.

Business finance brokers aid you have a whole lot more options besides banks. He will likewise tailor a financial package that suits your needs as well as resources from a wide selection of finance companies and kinds of finance.

Because brokers are up to par and extensively knowledgeable of the financial provision market they are fully aware precisely how much leverage they have in negotiations. Thus the moment you have selected a number of providers, the broker can use his expertise in negotiating to obtain a deal with the terms and rates that best accommodates your needs.

Bear in mind that the choice is always yours. A broker is there to offer you options and also assist you have an understanding of them to produce a well-informed choice.

A business finance broker can help beyond purchasing a business – he can assist you obtain working capital as your business grows and expands. Brokers also offer assistance on business planning, consulting, management buyouts, business restructuring, and also buy-ins and turnaround finance.

By simply using the services of a reliable finance broker like Enable Finance you’ll save yourself money and time plus obtain a financial deal that accommodates you best.