Every business has ups and downs and while many make it through, others don’t. According to the SBA, approximately half of all new businesses started each year survive five years or more and one-third survive 10 years or more.
Maybe you need money to buy inventory, to grow or even to strengthen your offering. Whatever the reason, the question is still: what are your options when you know you need a bit of extra cash on hand?
Approach your bank
If you’ve been with your bank for a while and have made timely payments on loans, chances are they’ll want to keep your business. If you can, give them advance warning on any additional cash you think you’ll need. They may extend your credit limit. However, if you believe you’re going to be in a tight spot for a while, the bank is far more likely to start worrying about how they’re going to recover the funds they loaned you in the first place. In this case, you’re unlikely to have much luck getting an extension on your credit limit and it’s time to look for other sources.
Consider asset-backed financing
Before you look into obtaining asset-backed financing , if you’ve already signed a loan agreement with your bank, make sure this does not violate their terms. Even if it doesn’t, be sure to keep your bank in the loop regarding where additional capital is coming from. You may even find this works in your favor as your bank may see you as more credible if someone else is willing to lend you money.
You can obtain asset-backed financing by approaching various financial service companies. The Commercial Finance Association includes a list of banks and independent institutions who offer this type of lending.
If you’re trying to get through a financial bump or simply ensure growth does not stagnate, it’s worth considering this type of financing. If, however, you are unsure about making timely repayments then be aware that asset-based lenders often won’t wait for you to miss more than two payments before seizing your assets.
What about a lease-back?
If you own assets or real estate, a lease-back option might be something worth considering. This involves finding a leasing firm that is willing to buy your assets or real estate from you outright and then lease it back to you. During the recession, the demand for corporate sale-leaseback real-estate escalated rapidly. Sometimes lease-backs can even provide tax benefits. That said, if you miss any payments, the lease-back company will rightfully be able to take back the property or the assets as they now own them.
Turn to family and friends
Before turning to friends and family for money, be sure that you understand the risk, and of course, that you explain the risk to them as well. If things do not work out and your business fails, you will likely need your personal relationships to provide you emotional support. Business failure can be devastating in its own right. Add the guilt of disappointing or inconveniencing those you care about to this failure and you’re in for an unpleasant ride. If you are going to ask friends and family for money, be sure to think very carefully about what you need (ask for enough money) and what they need to feel comfortable investing (your business plan, a clear repayment plan and maybe the opportunity to give you advice).
Consider ‘alternative’ funding options
Crowdfunding - Turning to the crowd for startup cash is more popular than ever before and there are a number of websites that will easily allow you to setup a profile and begin raising money. Most of them require you to give back to donors in some small way once the necessary capital has been raised (Kickstarter) or, as you go (Patreon). This type of funding is generally reserved for startups or new projects.
Grants – new websites and alternative funding options have sprung up everywhere. Before you take out a loan, why not try your hand at getting hold of a grant? You can join websites like Indiegogo and RocketHub for free and keep whatever money you earn, even if you don’t meet your fundraising goal.
Alternative loans – sites like Kabbage offer short-term cash advances. Make sure to review repayment options carefully before signing up for a loan.
Lend your employees to others
That’s right, your employees are assets too and you can capitalize on their time and talents. Have you considered turning your employees into consultants for a period of time? Or perhaps lending them out to other businesses? Beyond helping to bring in additional cash for your own business, this may be a chance for you to give them the opportunity to grow. What asking them to run events? Websites like Eventbrite will let you market paid events in exchange for only a small percentage of each ticket purchased.
Sell your byproducts
Often, when creating a product (especially a digital product), a company will inadvertently create byproducts. These byproducts, if packaged correctly can be an excellent source of additional cash. If you’re selling a digital or creative ‘product’, this is especially true. Consider the web design industry as a perfect example here. If a designer creates a theme for a website or email or brand, to do so, they may also be creating textures, taking photos, creating fonts, and so on. Rather than let these new tools go to waste, why not sell them?
Cut back by joining forces with other businesses
Consider a coworking space. These are all the rage today and compared to the prices of renting out your own business premise, may be very affordable. Unlike a typical office, in which most people work for the same company, a coworking environment is one in which people are not employed by the same organization. Many coworking spaces will have meeting rooms that can be rented out if you do need to meet with clients.
Another approach you could take is to team up with another local business. Perhaps share a store, employees and assets.
Alternatively, you could rent your premises out. Maybe on the weekends or in the evenings. A tenant that only requires one small cubicle may help give you the extra cash you need.
If things don’t pan out and you either don’t get the additional cash you need or owe too much, you may want to start planning for the worst…
Settlements – if you’re going to settle with your creditors, be it one or all, it may be worth consulting with an attorney, especially if you’re thinking of settling with all of your creditors. You will generally only do this if you’re a step away from bankruptcy. While it is a better option that bankruptcy it can also limit future financing.
If you’re only looking to settle with one creditor, bear in mind, not everyone will agree to settle. If you decide to go in for an individual settlement, remember that this may affect your future credit lines. If you are being forgiven a lot of money, be sure to get it in writing.
Declaring bankruptcy – before going down this path, consult with a lawyer. Individual or general settlements are almost always a better option. If you do declare bankruptcy you will find it hard to get loans, new credit cards and good financing options in the future.
Cutting costs and laying off employees – before you start laying off employees, consider other options including pay freezes, cutting your own salary, asking current employees to pitch in where you might previously have outsourced or used consultants. There are many things you can do before deciding to let go of employees, including shortening the work week and cutting pay. If you decide to go down either of these avenues, make them a last resort and always be sure to discuss them with your employees. They may prefer to seek well-paid work rather than scale back to a 4 day week. If this is still not an option and layoffs are necessary, don’t do them bit by bit as this will instill fear and make for poor morale. Do it all at once and then reassure remaining employees that their job is secure.
If at all possible, ask for the money you need before you need it. Everyone is more willing to lend to those they don’t yet consider a liability.
Please share any funding options we’ve missed as this will benefit those in a tight spot. You can leave a comment in the comments section below.
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