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.

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Six Words to Describe Business Financing

This report was produced in a direct effort to provide more understandable insights about some of the most critical business finance issues effecting commercial borrowers. Our approach in this report is to describe current commercial loan circumstances in six words. We have adopted a similar model in other commercial finance reports such as “seven words to describe commercial property loans”. The “simpler is better” perspective reflects the belief that after hearing an almost endless number of reports about commercial lending difficulties, what small business owners might really need is a more concise explanation about these problems and the resulting impact on their business financing options.

Before proceeding, it is important to emphasize that small business finance options are often more complicated than anticipated by many business borrowers. We are definitely not attempting to characterize business loans and working capital financing as either straightforward or simple. In fact, quite the opposite is the case. The unfortunate reality that most business financing processes have always been excessively complicated and that meaningful improvements are not on the way is one of our ongoing observations. We nevertheless feel that it is critical for each small business owner to have an absolute and total understanding of the entire commercial finance process in the face of the prevailing commercial lending complexity. To help in providing more understandable insights about commercial loans and business banking problems, this particular report is one of several thorough efforts on our part.

Our first example of six words describing business financing options is “banks are saying no more often”. For any small business owner still unaware of this harsh reality and who might doubt this observation, a series of candid conversations with other business borrowers will probably remove all doubts. The failure of banks to provide an adequate level of business loans on a widespread basis is the primary point to remember. It is important for small businesses to realize that they are not alone when they hear their bank say no to routine requests for commercial financing.

“Commercial property values have decreased dramatically” is a second observation. There are very few exceptions. The biggest business financing impact is likely to occur with commercial refinancing situations. Many banks are aggressively recalling existing commercial real estate loans and this literally forces a borrower to seek business refinancing even if a business owner has no interest in refinancing their commercial mortgage. With decreasing commercial real estate values, business refinancing will be a challenge for most small businesses.

“Lines of credit are disappearing fast” is another six-word description of commercial financing. Even the most successful businesses need a reliable source of working capital financing, so this situation is especially serious if a business cannot replace bank financing when it suddenly disappears. Even if a business still has an adequate line of credit, it is important to realize that on a widespread basis banks are reducing and eliminating business credit lines with almost no advance notice.

As our final observation in this report, “business financing is in intensive care”. Extreme measures such as firing their banker and finding alternative commercial funding sources will need to be anticipated by small business owners in many cases. Bankers have not been sufficiently candid about commercial lending problems in the past, and nobody should expect that they will publicly announce that they are in any kind of financial trouble. On the contrary, a prevailing outlook from most banks is they are lending normally to small businesses. When dealing with any commercial lender, commercial borrowers will need a healthy amount of skepticism.

As we noted, this article is one of several efforts to help small business owners survive an extremely challenging commercial lending environment. This report was intentionally designed to produce a concise overview of several complex small business finance issues by describing commercial loan difficulties in six words. A better understanding of practical business financing options for commercial borrowers should also be realized by reviewing related reports such as “six words describing working capital management” and “seven words to describe merchant cash advances”.

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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.

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Your Bank and Business Financing – Reality Check

Business owners and managers want to compare equipment finance companies to their bank and for a good reason; a bank is a company’s first point of reference when borrowing money or financing equipment or an expansion project. A bank is the most obvious place to start and a secure place to store your money and use their multiple services. But what a bank does not do well, both historically because of their structure and the recent tightening of the credit market, is offer business financing for capital assets (equipment). Yet many people get confused when looking for an equipment loan because they are not seeing the whole picture; this is a case where you definitely want to compare apples to apples to get the best results.

Here are a few points to compare; these are not set in stone but based on years of experience, these trends apply a majority of the time.

1) Total Dollars Financed – banks normally require that you keep a balance of 20% or 30% of the equipment loan amount on deposit. This means they are only financing 70% or 80% of your equipment costs because you have to keep a certain amount of YOUR money in a fixed account for the duration of the loan. In contrast, an equipment finance company will cover 100% of the equipment including all “soft” costs and will only request a one or two month prepayment. No fixed deposits required.

2) Soft Costs – banks also will normally not cover “soft” costs like labor, warrantees, consulting and installation which means these costs come out of your pocket. An equipment finance company will cover 100% of the equipment price including “soft” costs and some projects can be financed with 100% “soft” costs which no bank would ever consider.

3) Interest Rates – this is the most popular question in the finance world; what’s my rate? If the bank requires 30% deposit in a fixed account then that automatically raises a 5% interest rate to a 20% rate. Now people will argue that you get that deposited money back at the end of the term but that is money which you do not have access to and has an opportunity cost associated with it. Equipment finance companies target their financing rates between 3-5% for cities and 7-9% for commercial financing which is a real fixed rate and not under-stated as the bank rates can be thus independent finance company rates are very competitive with “true” bank rates.

4) Process Speed – banks often take weeks to review and approve a finance request while independent finance companies normally only take a few days and can work much more quickly. Finance underwriters only review business financing while a bank has other types of requests clogging their channel.

Banks also have many more levels of approval and review to pass while independent finance companies normally only have two, underwriting and credit committee. Even with complicated deals, the finance company’s process is always faster.

5) Guarantee – banks require, as a standard part of their documentation, a blanket lien on all assets, both personal and business assets are used as guarantee against default on the loan. Your business assets, your home, your car, and your boat can all be on the line when entering into a bank transaction. This may also be the case with an equipment financing company but if your business operation is solvent then only your business will be listed as collateral and not your personal assets; this is known as a “corp only” approval.

6) Monitoring – banks require yearly “re-qualifying” of all their business accounts which means on the anniversary date of your loan each year, you must submit requested financial documents to assure the bank that everything is going well and nothing has affected your business in a negative way. Finance companies do not require anything during the term of the loan or finance as long as the monthly payments are made on time. Nobody will be checking into your business or policing what you do.

When comparing your bank financing to an independent equipment finance company, you have to make sure you are evaluating all the key parameters, not just one. Clearly, the fine print and terms of the transaction are more important than the big numbers. Banks work well within their space but have proven time and again not to be as flexible or solution-oriented as an independent finance company which solely focuses on business lending can be.

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Sources of Business Finance

Sources of business finance can be studied under the following heads:

(1) Short Term Finance:

Short-term finance is needed to fulfill the current needs of business. The current needs may include payment of taxes, salaries or wages, repair expenses, payment to creditor etc. The need for short term finance arises because sales revenues and purchase payments are not perfectly same at all the time. Sometimes sales can be low as compared to purchases. Further sales may be on credit while purchases are on cash. So short term finance is needed to match these disequilibrium.

Sources of short term finance are as follows:

(i) Bank Overdraft: Bank overdraft is very widely used source of business finance. Under this client can draw certain sum of money over and above his original account balance. Thus it is easier for the businessman to meet short term unexpected expenses.

(ii) Bill Discounting: Bills of exchange can be discounted at the banks. This provides cash to the holder of the bill which can be used to finance immediate needs.

(iii) Advances from Customers: Advances are primarily demanded and received for the confirmation of orders However, these are also used as source of financing the operations necessary to execute the job order.

(iv) Installment Purchases: Purchasing on installment gives more time to make payments. The deferred payments are used as a source of financing small expenses which are to be paid immediately.

(v) Bill of Lading: Bill of lading and other export and import documents are used as a guarantee to take loan from banks and that loan amount can be used as finance for a short time period.

(vi) Financial Institutions: Different financial institutions also help businessmen to get out of financial difficulties by providing short-term loans. Certain co-operative societies can arrange short term financial assistance for businessmen.

(vii) Trade Credit: It is the usual practice of the businessmen to buy raw material, store and spares on credit. Such transactions result in increasing accounts payable of the business which are to be paid after a certain time period. Goods are sold on cash and payment is made after 30, 60, or 90 days. This allows some freedom to businessmen in meeting financial difficulties.

(2) Medium Term Finance:

This finance is required to meet the medium term (1-5 years) requirements of the business. Such finances are basically required for the balancing, modernization and replacement of machinery and plant. These are also needed for re-engineering of the organization. They aid the management in completing medium term capital projects within planned time. Following are the sources of medium term finance:

(i) Commercial Banks: Commercial banks are the major source of medium term finance. They provide loans for different time-period against appropriate securities. At the termination of terms the loan can be re-negotiated, if required.

(ii) Hire Purchase: Hire purchase means buying on installments. It allows the business house to have the required goods with payments to be made in future in agreed installment. Needless to say that some interest is always charged on outstanding amount.

(iii) Financial Institutions: Several financial institutions such as SME Bank, Industrial Development Bank, etc., also provide medium and long-term finances. Besides providing finance they also provide technical and managerial assistance on different matters.

(iv) Debentures and TFCs: Debentures and TFCs (Terms Finance Certificates) are also used as a source of medium term finances. Debentures is an acknowledgement of loan from the company. It can be of any duration as agreed among the parties. The debenture holder enjoys return at a fixed rate of interest. Under Islamic mode of financing debentures has been replaced by TFCs.

(v) Insurance Companies: Insurance companies have a large pool of funds contributed by their policy holders. Insurance companies grant loans and make investments out of this pool. Such loans are the source of medium term financing for various businesses.

(3) Long Term Finance:

Long term finances are those that are required on permanent basis or for more than five years tenure. They are basically desired to meet structural changes in business or for heavy modernization expenses. These are also needed to initiate a new business plan or for a long term developmental projects. Following are its sources:

(i) Equity Shares: This method is most widely used all over the world to raise long term finance. Equity shares are subscribed by public to generate the capital base of a large scale business. The equity share holders shares the profit and loss of the business. This method is safe and secured, in a sense that amount once received is only paid back at the time of wounding up of the company.

(ii) Retained Earnings: Retained earnings are the reserves which are generated from the excess profits. In times of need they can be used to finance the business project. This is also called ploughing back of profits.

(iii) Leasing: Leasing is also a source of long term finance. With the help of leasing, new equipment can be acquired without any heavy outflow of cash.

(iv) Financial Institutions: Different financial institutions such as former PICIC also provide long term loans to business houses.

(v) Debentures: Debentures and Participation Term Certificates are also used as a source of long term financing.


These are various sources of finance. In fact there is no hard and fast rule to differentiate among short and medium term sources or medium and long term sources. A source for example commercial bank can provide both a short term or a long term loan according to the needs of client. However, all these sources are frequently used in the modern business world for raising finances.

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