You’re running a small or mid-size business and that takes money—lots of it. But coming up with the capital you need, when you need it, can often pose significant challenges—like how to meet payroll, pay vendors, upgrade equipment . . . the list goes on and on.
So how do you manage cash flow effectively? Let’s explore some common business cash flow problems and what you can do to turn those problems into productivity and profit.
4 common small business cash flow problems
1. Meeting payroll demands
As a small business owner, you know that payroll can take a large chunk of your budget each and every month, if not every week. At best, many small business owners lose sleep over payroll; at worst, some lose their business entirely.
Bankruptcies in the U.S. increased to 25,227 companies in the second quarter of 2016, from 24,797 companies in the first quarter of 2016. That’s a staggering number of businesses that closed shop in just this year alone.
Perhaps you can still keep your doors open, but just by a crack. You’re struggling every payday to meet the financial demand. You’re bound by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)—laws that set the minimum wage and establish guidelines regarding overtime—as well as state payday laws outlining when employees must be paid. No matter how much you want to treat your employees fairly, if you can’t meet those requirements, you could be in for it.
An employee who has a payroll grievance, whether about regular pay, overtime, or vacation pay, can submit a complaint against your company to the appropriate state or federal agency.
The result? An investigation by the agency, which may, in turn, lead to financial penalties, the loss of your business license, or a lawsuit against your company. Your business could be liable for back pay, fines, or other financial judgments—not to mention the collateral costs and work disruption associated with such investigations.
2. Maintaining a flawless credit score
Since your credit score plays a key role in the viability of your business, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on this number. At the very least, get a free credit report each year and make sure the information is both correct and current. You can request removal of any negative information after seven years, but don’t forget that you’ll have to wait up to 10 years for a bankruptcy to drop off your report.
If your credit score is less than a perfect, get back on track with these simple steps.
- Pay your bills on time—always. Arrange automatic payments on every debt so you never miss a payment. Timely payments determine up to 35% of your score.
- Keep open all accounts that are in good standing. These older accounts positively influence your length of credit history—about 15% of your score.
- Apply for a credit card—but read the fine print for interest and fee information. Most importantly, only use the card for small charges you can afford to pay back every month.
- Keep a low debt load—carrying more than 25% of your limit will increase your debt-to-income ratio and damage your score. Pay the bill on time and in full each month.
- Don’t apply for more credit accounts than you need. If you must open new lines of credit, don’t try to open them all at once. Prospective lenders will check your credit, which lowers your score, and these pings stay on your record for two years, accounting for 10% of your score.
- If you have a dispute about a debt, be proactive to communicate with the lender. If all else fails, take the issue to small claims court before the debt gets into collections. Avoid lawsuits and judgments, too.
- Review your credit report often, disputing incorrect information. You can get one free report each year, but monitoring its accuracy more often may be worth the cost as you’re rebuilding your credit.
3. Surviving slow-paying customers
You know the drill—you deliver your end of the bargain; you invoice; and then you wait . . . and wait . . . and wait to be paid. All the while, you have overhead costs to cover, vendors clamoring for their money, and employees who need to be paid on time.
Maybe your payment terms are net 15, but your customers insist on their terms—net 30, 60, or even 120. You don’t want to lose their business so you reluctantly agree. Fair? Not at all. And, as you well know, waiting to get paid can have serious financial consequences, like not having enough money to run your day-to-day operations, much less expand your business.
You could, of course, apply for a line of credit or get a loan to help carry you through the month, but will you get approved? And with the piles of paperwork and myriad backup documents required—not to mention the back and forth with the bank—you could be practically out of business before the bank makes a decision, much less actually gives you the funds your business needs. And let’s face it: you simply cannot afford to wait all that time only to be turned down.
4. Avoiding unnecessary debt
“Debt” is a nasty four-letter word to a small or mid-size business. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), roughly 50 percent of small businesses fail within their first five years, mostly because of insufficient capital, poor credit arrangements, and—you guessed it—too much debt.
Unfortunately, debt can be accumulated rather quickly when trying to boost cash flow or finance growth. Perhaps a business loan could help, but loans must be repaid—and with interest, which can add up significantly.
Fact is, unnecessary or additional debt can be the first step on the slippery slope toward Chapter 11 bankruptcy or even “Closed!”
Fortunately, you can utilize financing solutions other than bank loans—options such as invoice factoring—that won’t incur that four-letter “D” word or burden your business with additional cash flow hardship.
How to overcome cash flow gaps
With potential hazards lurking around every financial corner, how can a small or mid-sized business overcome cash flow gaps and boost its bottom line in this economy—or any economy?
You could opt for cash flow solutions like alternative lending, but that can prove costly. If your loan is a payday loan, your payment will be withdrawn from your checking account every single day. If the money isn’t in your checking account, you’ll accrue additional fees, increasing the payoff amount and delaying the payoff date—damaging your bottom line by keeping your business in debt and paying exorbitant interest longer than expected.
Merchant cash advance
You could also consider a Merchant Cash Advance, which charges you based on your projected sales. But this, too, can be costly—and risky. If your future sales don’t meet your projections, you could end up repaying more than you actually sell, and at a high interest rate. While invoice factoring offers a genuine cash flow solution by purchasing your existing invoices, a merchant cash advance can actually add to your stress.
Invoice factoring answers each of these financial challenges. Here’s how it works.
You simply sell your invoices, minus a small discount, to a factoring company like Triumph Business Capital. After checking out the creditworthiness of your invoiced customer, the factor advances 70% to 100% of the invoice amount to you as immediate cash for your business.
In a recourse factoring agreement, you’re likely to see 100% advanced, while a transportation company with a non-recourse factoring agreement would likely see a 90% to 97% advanced, and a small business with a general factoring agreement would likely see 70% to 95% advanced. And when you customer pays the invoice, the factor remits the balance, minus a fee, to your business.
So instead of waiting 30 to 120 days—or even longer—to receive your customer’s payment, you get cash in hand within 24 to 48 hours.
Triumph offers both recourse and non-recourse invoice factoring for approved clients. With non-recourse factoring, you’re not liable if your customer doesn’t pay your invoice for credit reasons. Since the factor assumes all risk with non-recourse invoice factoring, your business reduces bad debt while increasing cash flow, even if your customer never pays the invoice.
Here’s why invoice factoring might be right for your business.
Get more cash for immediate needs
Invoice factoring helps relieve payroll pain, giving you ready cash to meet weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly payroll. Need to stock up on supplies? No more waiting for your customers’ payments so you can purchase supplies or pay vendors. How about the rent or mortgage payment? Invoice factoring can take the stress out of meeting all your first-of-the-month commitments.
Get more cash for growth opportunities
With invoice factoring, you can expand operations, hire more staff, or develop a new product line. Your customers’ unpaid invoices no longer hold your business hostage, stifling your progress. And unlike a conventional loan, there’s no limit to the amount of financing with Triumph. The cash you receive for your invoices is unrestricted—you don’t need Triumph’s approval to use it for whatever your business needs.
Get more cash without more debt
Sure, bank loans or lines of credit could shore up your finances. But would your business be approved? How long would that take? And at what cost? Invoice factoring gives your business the cash you need quickly and easily. It doesn’t show up on your balance sheet as debt and your business won’t have to make onerous interest payments. Invoice factoring doesn’t negatively impact your credit score either.
Let Triumph help you boost your bottom line today
We believe that getting paid shouldn’t be the hardest part about your job. Since 2004, Triumph Business Capital has helped over 7,000 small and mid-size businesses in the U.S. manage their cash flow.
As your partner, we’ll factor your invoices so you can get paid today—and make your financial challenges a thing of the past. And in addition to helping you manage cash flow through invoice factoring, we offer a host of other business services through our parent company Triumph Bancorp to help you do what you do best.
Does your business need $1 million or more? Triumph Commercial Finance Business Capital offers asset-based lending (ABL) solutions for small and mid-size businesses. As your company steps up to this next level, Triumph Commercial Finance may be your best option for continued growth.
Defined as a loan or line of credit secured by balance-sheet assets (“collateral”) such as accounts receivable, inventory, etc., ABL typically costs less than invoice factoring. However, its loan underwriting process also has more requirements, including CPA-reviewed or -audited financial statements that reflect favorable earnings and tangible net worth. Additionally, ABL can be more restrictive than invoice factoring.
Triumph Commercial Finance also specializes in equipment financing for the construction, refuse, and transportation industries—so you can upgrade your operations to grow your business or expand your footprint. Loans for purchasing new or used equipment range from $250,000 to $6 million, and loan terms are typically two to five years.
Back office solutions
Invoice factoring at Triumph Business Capital includes a slew of helpful back office solutions like free credit checks, collection services, data storage, and more. It’s our goal to help you reduce overhead costs and simplify your operations.
Take the guesswork out of taking on new clients. Triumph Business Capital offers free credit checks to help you make informed decisions before signing a new contract. And our online portal gives our trucking clients access to freight broker credits that we monitor daily.
After you’ve provided the contracted goods or services, our Account Resolution team will ensure that you receive timely payment. What’s more, Triumph Business Capital provides account management reports online—conveniently available to review at any time—so you can make smart business decisions based on your actual data (ageing reports, collection reports, etc.).
Need insurance at competitive rates? Triumph Insurance Group Business Capital offers a wide range of insurance options for the transportation industry, as well as damage protection for new and used equipment. Get the property and casualty insurance coverage that’s right for you—and at the best price, with affordable payment options.
Let’s get you paid today
Triumph Business Capital is committed to helping small and mid-size businesses manage cash flow and so much more. End late payment worries and slow cash flow problems. Factor your invoices and get paid today with Triumph Business Capital.
Have questions about invoice factoring or Triumph Business Capital? Please leave us a comment below.