Working Capital: How To Raise Money For an Existing Business

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money1In the last article in our series on how to fund a business we, talked about how to raise money for a new business.  In today’s article we are going to continue our business financing discussion, with a look at working capital and how to raise money for an existing business.

If you are looking to raise working capital for your business we recommend OnDeck as the best short term loan providers.  Find out why in our short term financing buyer’s guide.

Raising Working Capital For A Small Business

Most small business owners think of working capital as the money they have in their bank account. However, if you’re asked about working capital by a banker or investor, the technical answer is current assets (which includes cash, accounts receivable, and inventory) minus current liabilities (which includes debts and expenses due to be paid in the next 12 months).  For the purposes of this article, we are sticking with the common sense definition of money in your bank account.

If you came to this article hoping to find a list of places where you might receive a short-term working capital loan, here are 3 popular choices that can generally give you an answer in one or two business days:

On Deck Capital

Lending Club

Kabbage (for Ebay, Etsy, and Amazon sellers)

There are several reasons why a healthy, profitable business may need more working capital:

Seasonal Fluctuations

Many businesses from income tax preparers to gift stores have a particular season in which they make a disproportional amount of their income.  During the off-season, they may operate at a loss and deplete their working capital. These companies may need to find temporary sources of more working capital.

Growing Companies

You may have demand for your product and services that you are unable to meet. To meet the demand, you might have to stock-up on inventory or hire more employees. Unfortunately, this requires spending money in advance of benefiting from the additional revenue. The money needed to cover these expenses may surpass a firm’s available resources, creating a need for more working capital.

Sources Of Working Capital For Small Businesses

The good news is that there are many places where one can get additional working capital in the scenarios just mentioned. Some providers of working capital can put cash in your hand within a few days. Additionally, many of these providers don’t even require that the owner of the business provide a personal guarantee (agree to pay the loan from their pocket if the company cannot). On the downside, these sources tend to be very, very expensive with an effective interest rate of 30 to 70%.

Below, I highlight different sources of working capital.  (Hat tip to Ian Mount and his NY Times article “When Banks Don’t Lend, There Are Alternatives, Though Often Expensive”.)

Merchant Cash Advances

If you have lots of credit card receipts, you can borrow against future revenue from those credit card receipts using a form of financing called merchant cash advances. Merchant cash advance specialists like AdvanceMe will give you a lump sum payment.

When you borrow money, you agree to pay back a fixed sum.  The amount will vary based on your circumstances, as well as the company loaning the money. As an example, for a $40,000 advance, the borrower / merchant might be required to pay $52,000.

Merchant Cash Advances vs. Bank Loans

Unlike a bank loan, with a merchant cash advance there is no fixed monthly payment. Rather, a set percentage of your company’s credit card receipts will go to paying back the loan every month, until the agreed amount is paid.

The more reputable merchant cash advance companies will not allow the percentage of revenues they take for the loan repayment, to exceed 9% of a business’ average monthly revenue (including credit cards and cash).

While the repayment process could take 3 months or 12 months, generally speaking merchant cash advances are designed to be paid off in full in 6 to 9 months. In the example just provided, if the loan was paid back in 6 months, the effective interest rate would be 60%!!!

Benefits Of Merchant Cash Advances

  • You can get a merchant cash advance even if you have a poor credit history.
  • You don’t have put up personal assets, like your house or car, to collateralize it.
  • You can get funds in a few days to a week.
  • You can usually borrow between $5,000 and $100,000 per retail store, depending on revenues.
  • If the business does poorly, your required payments go down.

Cons Of Merchant Cash Advances

  • The effective interest rate is typically between 60 and 100%. As a result of the high cost of the loans, many like John Tozzi from businessweek have compared merchant cash advances to usury.

Learn more in our full guide to merchant cash advances.

New Cheaper Alternatives To Merchant Cash Advances

There is a new breed of company that is providing short-term funding to small businesses. Two leading companies in this category are Kabbage and On Deck Capital.  Kabbage specializes in providing cash advances against online sales to online sellers on sites like eBay, Amazon and Etsy. On Deck Capital provides loans of $5,000 to $250,000 to small businesses of all types.

Similarities with Traditional Merchant Cash Advance Companies

  1. They provide short-term financing. The amount owed is paid off over time; there is no lump sum to be paid at the end.
  2. They look closely at a firm’s revenues and cash flow to determine how much can be borrowed.

However, there are also very significant differences:

  1. Payments are fixed and do not vary with revenue.
  2. The average interest rate is much lower, in the 20 to 30% range. That’s around half the amount charged by traditional merchant cash advance companies.

On Deck Capital and Kabbage are much better alternatives to traditional merchant cash advances. However, I suspect that it may be harder to get approved for financing by these companies, or that they may only be willing to loan smaller amounts than what’s available via a traditional merchant cash advance companies.

You can learn more about these options in our comparison of the top providers or short term capital.

Factoring: The Primary Source of Working Capital for B2B Companies.

If you’re business is a business to business (B2B) business, factoring is the traditional source of working capital.  With factoring, you are either selling your invoices, or getting a cash advance against your invoices.

For example, lets say you’re a small manufacturer of clothing and get an order from a large department store. The department store will not pay you until 30 days after you receive the clothing, however, producing the goods requires upfront expenses. In this case, you might want to factor your invoice.

The Three Types of Factoring

  1. Invoice Factoring – You receive a large lump sum payment in exchange for the invoices, generally around 70 -75% of the invoices’ value. The factoring company is responsible for collections. After collections are completed, you receive the remainder of the money minus any uncollectable payments and the fees for factoring.

  2. Non-Recourse Factoring – You receive a large lump sum payment in exchange for invoices, which is higher than you would receive for normal invoice factoring. However, there are no further payments even if all invoices are collected in full.

  3. Confidential Factoring – Normally, collections of the invoices are conducted using the factor’s name. In confidential factoring, collections are done in your company’s name.

Factoring companies are generally interested in relatively sizable invoices. The smallest minimum that I have seen advertised is for $10,000 but, a more realistic number would be $50,000 to $100,000 in invoices.

Figuring out the cost of  invoice factoring can be tricky, There generally is a fee for providing the service (which can run anywhere from 0.5 to 3% of the value of the lump-sum being provided) and an “interest” payment based on how long collections take. For a smaller company, factoring can cost 3-5% for essentially a 30 to 60 day loan. On an annualized basis, this would equate to an interest rate from 18% to 70%.

A good resource to learn more about factoring is our guide to how factoring works for small businesses.   We have also researched the top invoice factoring companies and chosen FundBox as the best provider.

That’s our article for today.  If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments section below.  Also be sure to read the next article in this series, where we discuss bank loans.

Find Out If You Qualify For A Small Business Loan Today!

Would you like to speak with Fit Small Business about your financing options?

Comments (7)

  1. Kabbage said on

    Great article providing very useful information to growing small businesses. It’s important to know you’re not alone when you need some cash for inventory, hiring, etc! We’re glad you think Kabbage is a better alternative to traditional merchant cash advances; we were founded because we knew current options just weren’t good enough. Now you can get cash with us in 7 minutes or fewer!

    Thanks again.

  2. Guest said on

    Great article providing very useful information to growing small businesses. It’s important to know you’re not alone when you need some cash for inventory, hiring, etc! We’re glad you think Kabbage is a better alternative to traditional merchant cash advances; we were founded because we knew current options just weren’t good enough. Now you can get cash with us in 7 minutes or fewer! -CE, Kabbage

  3. Steve Freeman said on

    Glad to see you included factoring, most small business owners are not aware of it!

    When it comes to funding a small business many owners use a credit card, they may even pay it off every month. One thing to watch out for is to ensure you use no more than 50% of your available credit line. Banks hate to see someone always using just upto their limit. As far as they are concerned it means if you have one poor month you would go out of business. This does have an impact on a credit rating score.

  4. Matt Klein said on

    Thanks for the comprehensive article with links. Many of these are helpful by providing useful intel and painting the full picture. I think of particular value are the video testimonials in Factoring University as it’s actual business owners stating cash flow problems and solutions. Very valuable indeed.

    • said on

      Thanks for the comment and compliment Matt much appreciated. One of our goals here is to try and include as much about what you need to know to get each step of the process done as possible. There is a lot of good information out there already so instead of recreating it from scratch we try to add what is not there and link to what already is there.

      Hope to see you around the site again in the future!

      Best Regards,

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