How to Develop Your Business Financing Strategy

You don’t have to be a top-notch CFO or an accountant to come up with a strategy to finance your business. Just know that it will take more than you showing up at your lender’s doorstep with a bunch of financials in hand.

By looking back at your greater business plan, understanding what a lender typically looks for in a client, and knowing how to present your key financials when the time comes, you can successfully increase your chances at obtaining the financing you need to grow your business.

Follow these three steps and you’ll be well on your way towards a strong business financing strategy.

ONE: Be very clear about your objectives.

No, the objective isn’t just to obtain financing. What are the overarching goals of your business? How does obtaining financing help you achieve those goals?

Make sure that you have a good solid idea of the “big picture” strategy of your business. A great way to do this is to look back at your business plan and identify the main objectives of your operation.

If you can create a case on why you need financing and how it aligns with your greater business strategy, you are instantly ahead of many business owners and entrepreneurs who are often not very clear on the subject.

TWO: Educate yourself on what a lender looks for.

When a lender has to take time to make sense of confusing financials, the chances of obtaining financing for that potential borrower drops significantly.

Remember, questions cause fatigue.

Take a moment out of your busy schedule to understand what underwriters and lenders look for when given a business’s financials.

When the lender has fewer questions while looking over your financials, the better the chances of them truly understanding why they should extend a loan to you.

THREE: Presentation matters.

When the time comes to present your case for financing, take all of the knowledge and tactics from steps one and two and turn it into a presentation that is clear and concise.

Other than clarity, be honest about your business’s performance over the years.

While this may sound counter intuitive, fully disclosing your business’s performance and explaining the data that they see can help build an accurate case for your business.

Stay ahead of the game.

A terrible situation that afflicts many business owners is when they finally realize that their business needs financing, but are unprepared to approach the problem.

Invest time into fully understanding your business’s financial status. This means creating some kind of system for tracking key data points, or seeking outside help from a business finance specialist. When the time comes to seek financing, you’ll be fully prepared to find the right lender to help grow your business.

It’s interesting that people are willing to take the time to prepare for harsh elements by weatherproofing their homes, or paying for car insurance in case of an untimely and unfortunate accident.

Is it all that different to spend time and resources into preparing your business for growth?

Matt Burk is the Founder, President and CEO of Fairway America, LLC. He is also the co-host of FinanceCoach(sm) Radio. Matt is a small business finance expert that helps small business owners navigate the dysfunctional process of business financing by providing ongoing guidance and expertise.

How To Improve Import Finance Strategies

Importing and exporting are only some of the duties business owners make to gain better reputation and finances. However, some business owners wish to improve their safety by opting for financial solutions such as import finance strategies. This option offers numerous features, but there are still ways to improve such service. Below are some of the following.

Know import rules and regulations

In order to improve import finance strategies, business owners need to mindful about import rules and regulations of countries. Of course, there are cases when businesses have overseas clients. Therefore, you need to have sufficient knowledge about import rules and regulations. This is important to avoid delays. In addition, having sufficient knowledge about shipping regulations will help make ventures better and more efficient for both buyer and seller.

Opt for the right payment method

The next way business owners need to do in order to improve their import finance strategies is by opting for the right payment method. As of now, business owners can opt for numerous payment options for their import finance solutions such as bills of exchange arrangement, letter of credit and open account. These options can provide the best features that can help make transactions safer and more effective. However, you need to be aware about charges and hidden fees from such options.

Be cautious in choosing the financial institution to work with

Another option that business owners can do to improve their import finance strategies is to be cautious in choosing financial institutions to work with. Of course, there are numerous financial institutions that offer such services. However, not all institutions can provide you the right service that can match your needs. So, it is best for business owners to spend time determining their service to help them assess if they can gain wonderful benefits.

Find alternatives

Finally, it is also best for business owners to find alternatives. Surely, import finance solutions from reliable financial institutions are very effective. Not to mention, this service can secure both buyers and sellers. But, there are still cases when issues can affect such strategy. Therefore, finding alternatives can be a good plan. For instance, you can choose to pay for your orders in advance, but make sure to pay for low value shipments only. Or perhaps, when paying a foreign supplier, you can send payments electronically. And, you can also open an account with suppliers if you are working with them for a long time.

Knowing all these tips can help owners improve their ventures which can help them become better and more profitable.

The Worst Small Business Financing Strategy Ever?

Depending on whose stats you pay attention to, approximately 80% of small businesses fail within their first 5 years of operation.

In many cases, its not that a particular business could not succeed; there just wasn’t sufficient time to figure out how to succeed.

Which brings us to the worst small business financing strategy ever.

Here’s how it work.

The would be entrepreneur develops what they believe to be a sure fire business plan that can’t fail.

Unable to locate any form of start up capital, they start their business with credit cards as the only source of financing, and an expectation of sustainable business results within 3 to 6 months.

If everything goes well, the debt will be retired within a year and funds will start building in the bank account.

Sounds Good, right?

I mean the thinking lines up perfectly with all the get rich quick business opportunities that exist on and off the internet today where some of them even try to convince you to use your credit cards because the opportunity is soooooooo good and can’t miss.

The problem is that every business can miss.

Every single one.

And the vast majority do fail.

Have you ever spoken to someone who runs a successful small business; perhaps one that’s been around for 10 to 20 years?

If you take the time to ask one of these entrepreneurs about their start up period, what you learn may shock you.

Even some of the most successful small and medium sized businesses out there today had some hairy moments making a go of it in the early years.

And some times the difficult early years lasted for several years.

The point here is simply this.

The process of getting a business operating and successful can take many unexpected twists and turns, no matter how diligent you are in creating a thorough business plan and business financing strategy.

Therefore, to increase your probability for success you need to allow for the unknown, the unplanned, and the unfair.

A business financing strategy that cannot accommodate unforeseen events is not much of a strategy.

A business financing strategy that is based on high interest credit cards that can destroy both your cash flow and your personal credit is also not much of a strategy.

To improve your odds of small business success, here are some tips for developing a solid business financing strategy.

Invest Your Own Cash

If you have some of your own cash penciled into your business financing strategy, it will immediately increase your likelihood of getting some sort of start up loan.

The more “skin” you have in the game, the more interested a lender will be in approving your loan request.

There is also something to be said about the psychological incentive of losing your own money and the motivation it creates for you to work harder to keep it.

Create Contingencies in Your Cash Flow

Whatever you estimate your working capital requirement to be, double it. At least increase it by a factor larger than 1.

Things can and will go wrong, so give yourself a fighting chance and develop a business financing strategy that allows for less than perfect results.

Use Credit Cards Wisely

Used properly, credit cards can be the cheapest form of working capital that you have at your disposal.

Some business credit cards provide 40 days of interest free financing. If you pay off the entire balance every month, you have an extremely low cost of working capital financing.

But if you start carrying large balances without paying them down monthly, you will go from the cheapest source of working capital to one of the most expensive, and you will likely also destroy your credit rating in the process.

Make Timely Government Remittances

Small businesses are by default tax collectors. And the taxes collected can sometimes wind up funding the business for longer periods of time than they were ever intended.

Using government remittances as a business financing strategy is basically a bad idea.

Government agencies that are assigned to collect from you have large budgets and enough broad sweeping authority to create plenty of grief for you if you are too slow in paying.

If you apply for a business loan while you have an overdue balance with a government tax agency, your loan request will likely be declined.

Even after the balance is paid up, you may have burned your bridge with the lender as a history of overdue government remittances can brand you as a bad credit risk.

Watch Spending Closely At Startup

One of the things you can control early on is how much you spend and what you spend it on.

This is going to change in time, but if you can spend wisely in the beginning you may be able to avoid a cost cutting exercise further down the line.