We’ve all heard the saying turnover is vanity, profit is sanity but cash is reality. If you want to improve cash flow, unlock growth within your business and build an asset of value, you need cash — whether that’s through organically grown cash reserves or financing solutions that suit your specific needs and growth goals.
Survey after survey shows cash flow problems as one of the biggest challenges facing South African (and global) entrepreneurs.
Most aspiring entrepreneurs say that they don’t have the capital they need to start their businesses, and blossoming businesses face the same challenge. No capital equals no growth. The good news is that there are so many ways to access capital to help you grow, from unlocking cash flow in your business to finding the right financing solution.
From traditional banks to alternative financing solutions, there are also a range of different products available to suit your needs.
UNLOCKING CASH FLOW TO FUND YOURSELF
Bootstrap: This means to grow the business slowly, with lean business operations. The money comes from the work the business does, for example, when you bootstrap you may take preorders for your product, thereby using the funds generated from the orders to actually build and deliver the product itself.
Customer Deposits: If you are in need of easy-to-access short-term working capital, one of the easiest options to raise funds is by asking your customers to pay a deposit. The deposit also provides you with a safety net when customers don’t pay.
Supplier Finance: Supplier finance, simply put, means you get the stock you need now and only pay later, usually 30 days. This is a useful form of short term finance.
Mortgage Loans: Some entrepreneurs use their home loans to finance their businesses. In doing this there are some risks and tax considerations, so make sure you do your research.
FINANCING YOUR GROWTH
If this isn’t possible, there is still hope. Globally, more and more financial institutions are offering alternative financing products for businesses. This is often easier to access than a traditional overdraft, term loan or credit card facility, because it uses other forms of security.
Asset Finance: Using the assets within your business to borrow money or get a loan. The assets act as security for the lender. Asset financing is most often used when a borrower needs a short-term cash loan or working capital.
Contract Finance: If you have a signed contract to deliver goods/ services you can use that contract to obtain a loan to complete the work. The money must be used to complete said contract.
Trade Finance: Also referred to as Inventory Finance, Import Finance or Stock Finance. In simple terms this means raising finance against the stock you are buying. The stock serves as security.
Debtor Finance: A lender will ‘buy’ your unpaid invoices from you, effectively using the unpaid invoices as security for the borrowing. It is usually used to improve cash flow or working capital. In order for a lender to ‘buy’ the invoice, the work has to have been completed and the lender will charge a small percentage.
Property Finance: When financing a property for your business, the function of the building will determine what type of lender you approach. If you intend to use the building for rental income, it would be considered a bigger risk than using it for your office space. In general property finance works like a term loan, only its duration is for a maximum of ten years.
Point-of-sale Financing: If you are a retailer and use a credit card machine, then there are institutions who will provide you with a loan against the future inflow of credit card transactions. This is often an easy way to get capital and the repayments are a percentage of future sales — making it easier to repay.
If you own a good business, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get financing. Perhaps traditional banks aren’t your solution, but know that there are other options out there. Some easier than others.
DID YOU KNOW that SMEs with access to credit can grow faster and achieve optimal size sooner, while those with limited access to finance potentially remain stagnant and smaller in size? This is according to the Finmark Trust study, released in 2016. “There are a number of research studies that confirm the link between access to finance and business growth, showing that increased access to funding increases revenue and job growth in SMEs,” says Darlene Menzies, founder of finfind.co.za, a platform that helps SMEs access finance in South Africa.
“Access to finance improves cash flow, which enables business owners to invest in business growth,” continues Darlene. “According to FinFind’s SA SMME Access to Finance Report, business expansion is the number one reason for businesses requesting funding.”
“Working capital is essential for the day-to-day operations of a business,” agrees Shayne Burnstein, director of Swypefin, which offers alternative funding solutions. “More often than not, business owners lack sufficient working capital to meet their daily cash flow requirements or expand their operations. This can ultimately lead to the failure of the business. It’s common for a business to borrow capital and by using the basic principles of leverage, they can invest in assets that generate higher returns.”
“The reality is that growing a business requires money,” says Darlene. “Capital is needed to fund the increased expenses incurred to prepare for and facilitate increased revenue growth. Businesses that secure funding can invest in hiring more staff, secure bigger premises, expand into new markets or new products and services, purchase additional equipment, vehicles and machinery, as well as fund larger marketing budgets, amongst other things.
“Without access to finance the speed of business growth is reduced and, in many cases, the ability to achieve the potential of increased revenues, profits and job creation is jeopardised.”
According to Darlene, businesses that can secure funding and have the guarantee of working capital and cash flow availability are better positioned to employ and retain more skilled and experienced staff, to negotiate more favourable payment terms with suppliers, and to build better trading track records and improve their credit scores, all of which increase their ability to raise more finance and continue to bolster increased business growth and create more employment opportunities.
Karl Westvig, CEO of Retail Capital, says that more than 80% of business owners have identified seasonal cash flow as the greatest challenge facing the SME sector today. “Restrictions in cashflow inhibit plans for renovation and expansion, but mostly for stock purchasing, which has a direct knock on effect on the profits and employment rates of the retail sector,” he says. “Giving business owners easy access to working capital allows them to get back to servicing the market while they partner with a financial provider for growth.”
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