It should be no secret that SME firms that make up the majority of the Canadian economy face the same challenges as some of our larger corporations. Their ability to manage and successfully solve working capital and operating cash flow issues for business probably seems more daunting due to perceived lack of options and the resources to put those solutions in place.
Let’s examine how to address some of those challenges, and where help might lie.
The flow of funds into and out of your business ultimately determines the cash flow needs. That need is driven out of the requirement for you to run your business, pay your bills, produce products and services, and then wait… and hope?! .. to get paid on time.
One of the dangers of cash flow management and use is that it is tempting to use your working capital for fixed asset purchases. That’s not recommended of course, and it’s more viable to look at other methods of asset finance such as equipment finance or term loans for assets required to run your business. In many cases existing assets can also be refinanced for working capital.
The logical solution for additional cash flow needs is of course a bank line of credit, which you can successfully negotiate if your financial statements and personal finances support that type of facility. In higher growth situations more alternative methods of capital rising can be considered – they include purchase order financing, inventory only finance facilities, or the monetization of your tax credits. These are clear options when banks or other lenders require you to put in additional funds into your firm that may not be available from your personal resources. We definitely are always urging clients to try and separate their personal finances from their business assets as that just seems common sense to us… isnt it one of the reasons incorporation exists in the first place?
We encourage business owners and financial mangers to obtain asset financing for their business. As noted, this can come from the alternative sources we mentioned, which also might include receivable financing outside the bank, a true asset based lending facility that monetizes A/R, inventory and equipment into a revolving line of credit, etc. These sort of facilities work perfectly if your firm can’t meet the stringent requirements of traditional cash flow covenants. Banks and institutional cash flow lenders thoroughly investigate your firm’s ability to make payments via ratios and covenants that identify cash flow coverage and debt to equity ratios. If you can meet them… great… if you can’t… consider our alternatives .
Always focus on breaking down short term and long term needs. Short term really focuses solely around your A/R and inventory build up while long term debt is repaid via regular term payments over a long period of time
Our asset based line of credit solution that we referred to above is the optimal solution for asset based working capital and cash flow finance. Receivables are finance dup to 90% of your total A/R, and if your inventory can be fairly easily solid it can also be margined.
If your company is a bit larger towards the high end of the SME sector there are some great hybrid solutions such as mezzanine and subordinated debt solutions. You pay a higher rate for this type of financing, typically in the teens, from a rate point of view, but it is ultimately cheaper than selling permanent equity, particularly if you are bullish on your long term prospects.
Oh, and by the way, the most common sense solution to working capital and cash flow is simply prudent management of those current assts. Keep your profits in your firm, negotiate better tersm with suppliers, and strive on a daily basis to reduce A/R and inventory levels. You’ve just become the savior of your own firm!
Speak to a trusted, credible and experienced Canadian business financing advisor on operating working capital and cash flow solutions for your business – there are more alternative than you might be aware of!