cash sources

3 Sources of Cash Small Businesses Can Tap Right Now

Gene Marks

I’ve been writing a lot about getting cash from the government to help manage through the serious economic downturn we’ve been suffering. But not everyone is going to get a Paycheck Protection Loan, considering how far behind the Small Business Administration is in processing applications. You could turn to the state or corporate grants, but they’re also very competitive.

So where to next? Assuming a traditional banking relationship isn’t in the cards, then here are three sources of cash to strongly consider.

1. Factoring

If you have accounts receivable, you’re probably waiting on payment. Unfortunately, as the economy slows, customers (who are also facing their own hardships) start taking more time to pay their bills. Some of your customers may stop paying altogether. It’s important that you convert as many receivables into cash as soon as possible, which is why a factoring company should be considered. Take a look at BlueVine Capital, LSQ, and Snapcap.

What these companies do is provide financing based on your receivables. Some of them take the receivable off your hands and collect it themselves. They’ll pay you 85-90% of the receivable right up front and then the rest, net of their fees, after they collect. They are not cheap. You will have to pay a fee — sometimes as much as 2% for the first thirty days and another 0.5% for every ten days — for the privilege of getting an invoice paid. In some cases, they may also come in between you and your customer’s relationship, which can have other negative effects. But cash is cash, and these companies can provide what you need. Remember, you don’t have to do this for every invoice, just the big ones or the ones who you think will take longer to pay.

2. Online Lenders

Online lenders can be an excellent source of short-term cash for your business. I say short term because these companies — PayPal, Square (which both offer financing based on prior sales through their systems), Fundbox and OnDeck — offer loans at interest rates that could be as much as 50 percent annually. I know that sounds like a lot, and it is. But no one says you have to keep the balance outstanding all year. Use these funds to help pay your bills through the crisis if you’re confident that things will turn around enough over the next few months so that you can pay back the debt and be on your way.

The benefit of these online lenders is that they have a very quick turnaround — many can get your loan approved within 24 hours. And oftentimes they lend money based on little collateral or guarantees. They will likely ask to connect to your accounting systems too to keep a close eye on your books. It’s okay; these companies have been around for a while, and the industry is mature. I know many small business owners who have successfully used the capital provided by their online lender to plug working capital holes for short term periods.

3. Friends and Family

I know…ugh. But really, the best source of cash around is from people you know. They will be the most flexible. You can offer them a pretty good deal too. Just think about it: banks are paying close to one percent interest rate on savings and money market accounts. If Uncle Phil lends you $10k, you can pay him a 3% rate over three or four years, and he’s making three times what he’d make saving in a bank. Plus, he knows you, and he knows where you live.

Yeah, he knows where you live. We all know the downside of doing business with friends and family. A bad deal can ruin a relationship and cause some very uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinners. But hey — at the rate we’re going, we’ll probably be doing that dinner over Zoom anyway! In all seriousness, just make sure that if you borrow from a friend or family member that you’re confident in your ability to repay that person. If all goes well, then everyone will benefit in the end: you’ll get a much-needed loan at a much lower rate than an online lender, and your creditor will make a good return.

There are other sources of cash to consider, by the way — credit cards, selling off inventory and unneeded equipment, and even doing side gigs. But the three I’ve listed above are good options for these very challenging times. Just please: be informed and be careful.

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