Alternative Financing Vs. Venture Capital: Which Option Is Best for Boosting Working Capital?

There are several potential financing options available to cash-strapped businesses that need a healthy dose of working capital. A bank loan or line of credit is often the first option that owners think of – and for businesses that qualify, this may be the best option.

In today’s uncertain business, economic and regulatory environment, qualifying for a bank loan can be difficult – especially for start-up companies and those that have experienced any type of financial difficulty. Sometimes, owners of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan decide that seeking venture capital or bringing on equity investors are other viable options.

But are they really? While there are some potential benefits to bringing venture capital and so-called “angel” investors into your business, there are drawbacks as well. Unfortunately, owners sometimes don’t think about these drawbacks until the ink has dried on a contract with a venture capitalist or angel investor – and it’s too late to back out of the deal.

Different Types of Financing

One problem with bringing in equity investors to help provide a working capital boost is that working capital and equity are really two different types of financing.

Working capital – or the money that is used to pay business expenses incurred during the time lag until cash from sales (or accounts receivable) is collected – is short-term in nature, so it should be financed via a short-term financing tool. Equity, however, should generally be used to finance rapid growth, business expansion, acquisitions or the purchase of long-term assets, which are defined as assets that are repaid over more than one 12-month business cycle.

But the biggest drawback to bringing equity investors into your business is a potential loss of control. When you sell equity (or shares) in your business to venture capitalists or angels, you are giving up a percentage of ownership in your business, and you may be doing so at an inopportune time. With this dilution of ownership most often comes a loss of control over some or all of the most important business decisions that must be made.

Sometimes, owners are enticed to sell equity by the fact that there is little (if any) out-of-pocket expense. Unlike debt financing, you don’t usually pay interest with equity financing. The equity investor gains its return via the ownership stake gained in your business. But the long-term “cost” of selling equity is always much higher than the short-term cost of debt, in terms of both actual cash cost as well as soft costs like the loss of control and stewardship of your company and the potential future value of the ownership shares that are sold.

Alternative Financing Solutions

But what if your business needs working capital and you don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit? Alternative financing solutions are often appropriate for injecting working capital into businesses in this situation. Three of the most common types of alternative financing used by such businesses are:

1. Full-Service Factoring – Businesses sell outstanding accounts receivable on an ongoing basis to a commercial finance (or factoring) company at a discount. The factoring company then manages the receivable until it is paid. Factoring is a well-established and accepted method of temporary alternative finance that is especially well-suited for rapidly growing companies and those with customer concentrations.

2. Accounts Receivable (A/R) Financing – A/R financing is an ideal solution for companies that are not yet bankable but have a stable financial condition and a more diverse customer base. Here, the business provides details on all accounts receivable and pledges those assets as collateral. The proceeds of those receivables are sent to a lockbox while the finance company calculates a borrowing base to determine the amount the company can borrow. When the borrower needs money, it makes an advance request and the finance company advances money using a percentage of the accounts receivable.

3. Asset-Based Lending (ABL) – This is a credit facility secured by all of a company’s assets, which may include A/R, equipment and inventory. Unlike with factoring, the business continues to manage and collect its own receivables and submits collateral reports on an ongoing basis to the finance company, which will review and periodically audit the reports.

In addition to providing working capital and enabling owners to maintain business control, alternative financing may provide other benefits as well:

It’s easy to determine the exact cost of financing and obtain an increase.
Professional collateral management can be included depending on the facility type and the lender.
Real-time, online interactive reporting is often available.
It may provide the business with access to more capital.
It’s flexible – financing ebbs and flows with the business’ needs.
It’s important to note that there are some circumstances in which equity is a viable and attractive financing solution. This is especially true in cases of business expansion and acquisition and new product launches – these are capital needs that are not generally well suited to debt financing. However, equity is not usually the appropriate financing solution to solve a working capital problem or help plug a cash-flow gap.

A Precious Commodity

Remember that business equity is a precious commodity that should only be considered under the right circumstances and at the right time. When equity financing is sought, ideally this should be done at a time when the company has good growth prospects and a significant cash need for this growth. Ideally, majority ownership (and thus, absolute control) should remain with the company founder(s).

Alternative financing solutions like factoring, A/R financing and ABL can provide the working capital boost many cash-strapped businesses that don’t qualify for bank financing need – without diluting ownership and possibly giving up business control at an inopportune time for the owner. If and when these companies become bankable later, it’s often an easy transition to a traditional bank line of credit. Your banker may be able to refer you to a commercial finance company that can offer the right type of alternative financing solution for your particular situation.

Taking the time to understand all the different financing options available to your business, and the pros and cons of each, is the best way to make sure you choose the best option for your business. The use of alternative financing can help your company grow without diluting your ownership. After all, it’s your business – shouldn’t you keep as much of it as possible?

Ideas to Help Your Business Display Sunglasses at the Point of Purchase

Imagine yourself in line at your favorite grocery store. When you look around, you see a variety of products being offered to you: gum, candy, magazines, etc. These low-price items are always placed near the cashier because the grocery store knows you will have free time to consider buying them while waiting. The longer you wait and the cheaper the product, the higher chance there is of you deciding to add it to the rest of your groceries. This is a retail strategy known as Point-of-Purchase (POP) displays, and is an effective way to display sunglasses.There are many different ways to display sunglasses, but POP promotion requires different models than you would usually imagine. One of the most common methods is counter top eyewear holders. These models allow a customer to view products more quickly than most because of their size and location. Placing them on the counter top near the register puts them in the direct eye-line of those waiting, which makes sure that the customer is aware of them and will at least consider the products being offered. If you want to effectively display sunglasses in a POP case, simplicity and ease of use will help your chances of making an additional sale.Display sunglasses in a case, rack or holder that allows a customer to quickly view all of their options. Time is of the essence, so you may choose a model that holds all of the sunglasses on one side, directly facing the customer. These displays are even more effective when given a unique design, including the shape, material, and colors. Another option would be to offer a selection of merchandise on a rotating display, allowing someone to browse through even more sunglasses in a short time frame. However, it is important to not over-stock these cases since the customer could become overwhelmed by the selection. Also, a mirror should always be placed on the case or near it when you display sunglasses. This lets them see how they look without searching for another mirror.An effective way to display sunglasses in your store is the use Point-of-Purchase (POP) models, which allow you to promote your eyewear to customers quickly and effectively. Anyone who approaches the POP will be aware and curious of the selection you have conveniently provided for them. Choosing the right style of display for your business can make a POP display really stand out, so make sure you check out all of your options.

Ethical Skin Care – A Great Choice For Teens

You’re never too young to be concerned about the environment and other ecological issues. At a time when most young women are beginning to use skin care products and cosmetics, many companies are competing for their purchases. Many teenagers simply follow the mainstream and begin using products that are readily available and widely advertised. But others have chosen a different road: ethical skin care products.What is Ethical Skin Care?In general, companies who produce products using ingredients from only natural and sustainable sources can be thought of as producing ethical products. Another facet of ethical products involves not testing on animals. Packaging is important, too. Glass is a preferred packaging material as is recycled and recyclable plastic. The ingredients used in ethical products are generally certified organic, meaning that they are free from pollutants like pesticides and chemical fertilizers. In an era when irradiated and genetically modified ingredients are common, ethical products eschew these in favor of choices that are more natural. With no animal products, alcohol or chemicals or synthetics, ethical cosmetics and skin creams are less likely irritate the even the most sensitive skin.Ethical Skin Products for TeensTeenagers have special skin problems. Their skin is changeable and many suffer from oily skin and skin conditions like skin acne. Skin care lines like Face Boutique have completely rethought skin care and designed effective products that address acne and other skin problems. For example, some products contain prebiotics. Prebiotics help promote the growth of “good” bacteria and are thought to have a beneficial effect on some skin conditions. This makes them good candidates for use in natural skin care products for teenagers whose skin is often clogged and distressed.What’s Not in Ethical Skin ProductsEthical skin products generally do not contain petroleum products, parabens, sulfates or phthalates. Petroleum products like mineral oil clog the skin. Parabens are artificial preservatives. Sulfates are salts of sulphuric acid that can dry the skin. Phthalates are petroleum products that are used to make plastics like PVC. Finally, ethical skin treatment products do not contain GMOs. GMO stands for “genetically modified organism,” a substance who’s very DNA has be altered by scientific means.Using ethical skin care products is a great way for teens in the UK to support companies who choose to manufacture products in an environmentally responsible way.