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Cash Flow

Do This to Improve Your Cash Flow

A shortage of cash is not necessarily related to profitability. In fact, profitable businesses can go bankrupt, while businesses making losses can have substantial cash. So how then do we improve cash flow?

Steven Delport

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Cashflow

Fact: Profitable businesses can go bankrupt, and companies making losses can have substantial cash

Ironically cash flow is not necessarily improved by an increase in sales. As sales increase, a business needs more capital (equity and loans) and ties up more cash in inventory and receivables, and often fixed assets.

The rate at which a business can grow is largely determined by the amount of capital it has to support this growth. When a business grows too quickly it will burn cash and thus have a negative cash flow.

Cash flow can be improved by:

  • Reducing costs and expenses (if costs are reduced you pay less and thus use less cash)
  • Reducing  assets (a source of cash and improves cash flow)
  • Improving processes and efficiencies (reduces costs, assets, re-work, waste, scrap and delays, thereby improving cash flow)
  • Increasing sales.

Related: Paying Attention To This Will Generate You More Profit

1. Reducing costs and expenses

Costs can be divided into fixed and variable costs.

  • Fixed costs remain unchanged, irrespective of the level of production. Examples include depreciation (the cost of fixed assets), leases, rental, insurance, rates and taxes, and certain salaries.
  • Variable costs change in proportion to the level of production. Examples include raw materials, labour and sales commission.

Fixed costs

Fixed costs are often linked to the level of fixed assets. Although the level of fixed costs and assets is often a function of the industry, companies can still choose between more capital equipment (fixed cost and asset) or more labour (variable cost). This choice should be based on which option is more productive and has the lowest cost.

It is difficult to reduce fixed costs and assets in the short term. However, since companies with high levels of fixed costs and assets tend to be more risky than those with lower levels, the objective is to keep fixed costs as low as possible.

Purchases of inventory or raw materials

Purchases are the biggest cost for most businesses. Retailers and wholesalers purchase inventory, while manufacturers purchase raw materials.
To reduce the cost of purchases:

  • Develop relationships with your key suppliers and discuss your specific needs with them
  • To prevent outages and to test prices, ensure that you have more than one supplier for most items, especially your key and expensive items
  • Regularly test prices to ensure you are getting the best possible price
  • If possible, take advantage of discounts on large purchases and early payment.

Related: Drive Up Value and Reduce Costs

Labour

Labour is another substantial cost for companies, especially manufacturing companies.

The objective is to increase productivity by:

  • Improving business processes
  • Establishing performance and productivity standards
  • Comparing actual performance with
    the established standards
  • Using bills of materials and job cards
  • Improving quality in order to reduce
    re-work and scrap
  • Ensuring staff are properly trained and qualified for the position.

The net result is a shorter, more efficient production cycle, which reduces costs, assets, re-work, waste, scrap and delays, thereby improving cash flow.

2. Reducing assets

Assets consist of fixed assets and working capital (current assets less current liabilities). Fixed assets include property, plant, equipment, motor vehicles. Current assets include stock or inventory, and debtors or accounts receivable, while current liabilities include creditors or accounts payable.

Fixed assets

Fixed assets, like fixed costs, are difficult to reduce in the short-term and are typically a function of the industry the business operates in.

With a view to reducing your fixed assets:

  • Assess your level of vertical and horizontal integration in the value chain
  • Determine where the value is in the value chain
  • What assets in the value chain should you own and how do you control the other assets
  • Are there opportunities for outsourcing sales and leasebacks
  • Consider leasing instead of buying.

Working capital management

The management of working capital is critical to a business. The objective of working capital management is to reduce the cash cycle.
Reducing the cash cycle is achieved by:

  • Reducing inventory or stock: Reducing the time (days) between buying and selling inventory
  • Reducing receivables or debtors: Reducing the time (days) between selling inventory and receiving payment for the sale from your customer
  • Extending payables or creditors: Extending the time (days) between purchasing and paying the supplier for the purchased inventory.
  • In a best case scenario, you will be able to sell and be paid for the goods you sold, before you have to pay your supplier.

Inventory management

Here we want to reduce the quantity and costs of inventory.

Inventory costs consist of:

  • Carrying or storage costs: Rent, insurance, material handling, obsolescence
  • Ordering and shortage costs: Time spent ordering, paying and receiving the goods, transport, and loss of goodwill, sales revenue and production time.

There is an inverse relationship between these costs – carrying costs increase with higher inventory levels, while ordering or shortage costs decline and vice versa. The goal of inventory management is to minimise the sum of these two costs.

  • Sell old or obsolete stock: Selling at cost would be great, but the objective is to get rid of the stock, even if that means selling below cost price, and to generate cash while reducing your holding costs
  • Reduce the production cycle: In manufacturing companies, reducing the production cycle will reduce inventory levels since the time between purchasing the raw materials and selling the finished product will be shortened.

The ABC inventory management system

Divide all inventory items into three or more groups in terms of:

  • Inventory value (usage rate x individual value)
  • Order lead time
  • Consequences of shortages.

Here the logic is that a small quantity of inventory might represent a large portion of inventory value.

  • Group A: Consists of all high value inventories. Stock is kept to a minimum and all items are strictly monitored and tightly controlled. Precise ordering is important.
  • Group B: Items are of medium value and require a medium level of monitoring and control.
  • Group C: Inventory comprises basic, inexpensive items. These items are ordered in large quantities to ensure continuity of supply, while monitoring and control is not that important.

Debtor control

Controlling receivables (money owed by our customers) is the key to cash flow management in any business. First establish a policy which, amongst other things, covers:

  • Who you grant credit to
  • How you assess the granting of credit
  • What your collection policy is.

Then,

  • Request down and milestone payments
  • Invoice daily instead of weekly or monthly
  • Offer cash discounts to encourage early settlement
  • Closely monitor accounts, taking swift action on overdue accounts.

Creditor management

Extend payables (money owed to suppliers) by:

  • Paying in terms of your payment terms:
    If terms are 30 days, don’t pay on 15 days
  • Delaying payment without losing supplier goodwill or trade discounts
  • Negotiating better terms with your suppliers
  • Communicating and establishing relationships with your suppliers.

When choosing a supplier, negotiate and base your decision on both the purchase price and the payment terms.

Cash discounts are usually attractive and, if possible, it is worth taking advantage of them.

3. Improving processes and efficiencies

Improving processes and efficiencies reduces costs, assets, re-work, waste, scrap and delays, thereby improving cash flow.

4. Sales

As mentioned earlier in the article, an increase in sales does not necessarily improve cash flow. As sales increase a business needs more capital and ties up more cash, primarily in inventory and receivables, but often also fixed assets.

However, without sales you don’t have a business, and you won’t have a profitable business, since you will not have any revenues to cover your fixed and variable costs.

While each of these elements has been discussed individually, they are all intertwined and woven together, so reducing or increasing one element will often impact on the other elements and have a ripple effect throughout the company.

Five simple steps to get started now:

  1. Prepare a forecast of your expected sales and expenses, taking into account cyclical trends. Remember that sales are a combination of selling price and the number of units sold.
  2. From the forecast, project your actual cash flow requirements and ensure that you have sufficient capital (cash) from shareholders and loans to meet your requirements.
  3. Target sustainable growth levels.
  4. Check your pricing and margins — how do your prices compare with your competitors and have your prices kept pace with your increasing costs?
  5. Implement regular price adjustments — especially if you are an importer and your input costs vary with the exchange rate.

Ensure that you know:

  • The cost of manufacturing or purchasing   a product
  • The gross profit of each product
  • The number of each product being sold
  • How much effort (time) is required to sell a product
  • Your top customers by sales and profits.

Related: How to Give Your Sales Strategy the Winning Edge

Steven Delport is the founder of Integer Consulting Solutions (Pty) Ltd. Integer Consulting Solutions helps: • Improve business performance and strategic direction, • Understand finance and business acumen, and • Develop individual’s knowledge of self. This three pronged approach helps improve profitability and cash flow while integrating strategy, operations and finance. Steven holds both a MBA and a Certificate Programme in Leadership Coaching from Wits Business School. He has extensive business experience having worked in the banking and consulting industries for more than 20 years and works with a number of business schools in the areas of strategy, finance, leadership development and coaching. For more information, please visit www.integerconsultingsolutions.com and find him on Google+.

Cash Flow

Marnus Broodryk Shares Alternative Funding Solutions And How You Can Finance Your Growth

We’ve all heard the saying turnover is vanity, profit is sanity but cash is reality. If you want to improve cash flow, unlock growth within your business and build an asset of value, you need cash — whether that’s through organically grown cash reserves or financing solutions that suit your specific needs and growth goals.

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Survey after survey shows cash flow problems as one of the biggest challenges facing South African (and global) entrepreneurs.

Most aspiring entrepreneurs say that they don’t have the capital they need to start their businesses, and blossoming businesses face the same challenge. No capital equals no growth. The good news is that there are so many ways to access capital to help you grow, from unlocking cash flow in your business to finding the right financing solution.

From traditional banks to alternative financing solutions, there are also a range of different products available to suit your needs.

Unlocking cash flow to fund yourself

  • Bootstrap: This means to grow the business slowly, with lean business operations. The money comes from the work the business does, for example, when you bootstrap you may take pre-orders for your product, thereby using the funds generated from the orders to actually build and deliver the product itself.
  • Customer Deposits: If you are in need of easy-to-access short-term working capital, one of the easiest options to raise funds is by asking your customers to pay a deposit. The deposit also provides you with a safety net when customers don’t pay.
  • Supplier Finance: Supplier finance, simply put, means you get the stock you need now and only pay later, usually 30 days. This is a useful form of short term finance.
  • Mortgage Loans: Some entrepreneurs use their home loans to finance their businesses. In doing this there are some risks and tax considerations, so make sure you do your research.

Related: A Comprehensive List Of Angel Investors That Fund South African Start-Ups

Financing your growth

If this isn’t possible, there is still hope. Globally, more and more financial institutions are offering alternative financing products for businesses. This is often easier to access than a traditional overdraft, term loan or credit card facility, because it uses other forms of security.

  • Asset Finance: Using the assets within your business to borrow money or get a loan. The assets act as security for the lender. Asset financing is most often used when a borrower needs a short-term cash loan or working capital.
  • Contract Finance: If you have a signed contract to deliver goods/services you can use that contract to obtain a loan to complete the work. The money must be used to complete said contract.
  • Trade Finance: Also referred to as Inventory Finance, Import Finance or Stock Finance. In simple terms this means raising finance against the stock you are buying. The stock serves as security.
  • Debtor Finance: A lender will ‘buy’ your unpaid invoices from you, effectively using the unpaid invoices as security for the borrowing. It is usually used to improve cash flow or working capital. In order for a lender to ‘buy’ the invoice, the work has to have been completed and the lender will charge a small percentage.
  • Property Finance: When financing a property for your business, the function of the building will determine what type of lender you approach. If you intend to use the building for rental income, it would be considered a bigger risk than using it for your office space. In general property finance works like a term loan, only its duration is for a maximum of ten years.
  • Point-of-sale Financing: If you are a retailer and use a credit card machine, then there are institutions who will provide you with a loan against the future inflow of credit card transactions. This is often an easy way to get capital and the repayments are a percentage of future sales — making it easier to repay.

If you own a good business, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get financing. Perhaps traditional banks aren’t your solution, but know that there are other options out there. Some easier than others.

Related: Government Funding And Grants For Small Businesses

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Cash Flow

Outsmart Cash Flow Problems With The Right Financing

We’ve all heard the saying turnover is vanity, profit is sanity but cash is reality. If you want to improve cash flow, unlock growth within your business and build an asset of value, you need cash — whether that’s through organically grown cash reserves or financing solutions that suit your specific needs and growth goals.

Nadine Todd

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cash-flow-management

Did you know that SMEs with access to credit can grow faster and achieve optimal size sooner, while those with limited access to finance potentially remain stagnant and smaller in size? This is according to the Finmark Trust study, released in 2016.

“There are a number of research studies that confirm the link between access to finance and business growth, showing that increased access to funding increases revenue and job growth in SMEs,” says Darlene Menzies, founder of finfind.co.za, a platform that helps SMEs access finance in South Africa.

“Access to finance improves cash flow, which enables business owners to invest in business growth,” continues Darlene. “According to FinFind’s SA SMME Access to Finance Report, business expansion is the number one reason for businesses requesting funding.”

“Working capital is essential for the day-to-day operations of a business,” agrees Shayne Burnstein, director of Swypefin, which offers alternative funding solutions. “More often than not, business owners lack sufficient working capital to meet their daily cash flow requirements or expand their operations. This can ultimately lead to the failure of the business. It’s common for a business to borrow capital and by using the basic principles of leverage, they can invest in assets that generate higher returns.”

“The reality is that growing a business requires money,” says Darlene. “Capital is needed to fund the increased expenses incurred to prepare for and facilitate increased revenue growth. Businesses that secure funding can invest in hiring more staff, secure bigger premises, expand into new markets or new products and services, purchase additional equipment, vehicles and machinery, as well as fund larger marketing budgets, amongst other things.

“Without access to finance the speed of business growth is reduced and, in many cases, the ability to achieve the potential of increased revenues, profits and job creation is jeopardised.”

According to Darlene, businesses that can secure funding and have the guarantee of working capital and cash flow availability are better positioned to employ and retain more skilled and experienced staff, to negotiate more favourable payment terms with suppliers, and to build better trading track records and improve their credit scores, all of which increase their ability to raise more finance and continue to bolster increased business growth and create more employment opportunities.

The challenge of cash flow

Karl Westvig, CEO of Retail Capital, says that more than 80% of business owners have identified seasonal cashflow as the greatest challenge facing the SME sector today. “Restrictions in cashflow inhibit plans for renovation and expansion, but mostly for stock purchasing, which has a direct knock-on effect on the profits and employment rates of the retail sector,” he says. “Giving business owners easy access to working capital allows them to get back to servicing the market while they partner with a financial provider for growth.”

Related: Karl Westvig Of Retail Capital Shares His Insights Into A Year-On-Year Double-Digit Growth Business

“The biggest challenge that SMEs face is cash flow. Cash flow is king and that’s where finance products play a role,” agrees Linda Fröhlicht, Head of Business Banking, Sasfin. “They enable growth by giving the business owner cash to grow their business.” Of course, there’s always a balance. “There’s a cost to accessing finance, which means 
it’s essential that you’re accessing it to help you grow your business, rather than to service debt.

“If you borrow money to enable the growth of your business, the finance cost is actually part of the cost of your sales. But if it’s to service debt, or you can’t afford the finance, you’ve got a problem and it will only damage your business.”

According to Linda, it’s important to understand your margins, if you can sustain the cost of finance with your margins and if the product you’re looking at makes sense in terms of your business and your growth plans.

“The upside is that a financier can provide you with growth, because they’re going to give you access to cash, enabling you to grow your business. It’s a working capital solution — it’s not debt. We evaluate businesses and business owners to gain a deep understanding of the entrepreneur’s needs, first to ensure affordability and second to evaluate if the right product is being utilised to drive growth.”

Making finance work for you

SHAYNE BURNSTEIN

Shayne Burnstein, director of Swypefin

According to FinFind’s SA SMME Access to Finance Report, the top six reasons that SME business owners request access to funding are to expand their businesses, for cash flow assistance, buying equipment, working capital, funding a contract and for property development.

There are many ways to use this capital, provided you understand your business needs and have a clear growth strategy. “We advise our clients to use the money on strategic initiatives that will ensure, and have a direct impact on, business growth and profitability, instead of personal expenses and debt management,” says Karl. “We have seen the majority of our clients seeing early profit yields (from four to six months) when funding was used for stock purchasing, renovations and expansions instead of salaries, holidays and debt repayments.”

A strategic deployment of funds can be anything from investing in the right equipment that will help you grow your business to securing early settlement discounts — all of which have the potential to boost growth in your business.

An example of early settlement discounts can be found in the retail industry. “Currently retailers are trading under very challenging conditions. With VAT and the price of petrol increasing, consumers have tightened their belts,” says Shayne. “Under these conditions suppliers are offering retailers trade discounts for COD payments. It often makes sense for them to borrow the capital to take advantage of the trade discounts, enabling the retailer to increase their margins.”

The same is true when it comes to importing goods. “Importing goods takes time,” says Linda. “From the shipment to bill of loading, three weeks on the water, turning raw materials into a finished article, selling the products, and then waiting an additional 60 days for your debtors to pay you — cash flow becomes a real challenge.

“Finance products and terms that fit in with your cash flow cycle are meaningful. In addition, if you make an upfront payment to an exporter, you can also negotiate discounts. You can then offset a portion of the discount you will receive from the supplier to finance fees.”

Growth capital can be used in any industry and any-sized business, from a dentist or doctor’s business to a clothing manufacturer. “Advancements in 3D printing technology enable dentists that historically relied on outsourcing a technician to make dental crowns, for example,” says Shayne. “This process typically takes a few weeks at a considerable cost.

Related: 10 Expert Tips On Managing Cash Flow As A New Business

By borrowing capital to purchase 3D printing equipment, the dentist can bypass the technician and make the crown in an hour, allowing them to see more patients, which would significantly increase their turnover. As a business owner, you need to critically consider what will help you grow your business: Is it new equipment, bigger premises or marketing spend? What can you invest in that will grow your turnover and your profit margins? That’s where financing makes sense.”

Karl agrees. “Any business can benefit from both alternative and traditional funding products when invested in growth initiatives,” he says, adding that businesses in seasonal trade industries in particular should investigate the alternative funding products available to them. “Because of fluctuating cashflow, seasonal businesses usually find it difficult to access traditional business financing channels. The application process can be long and arduous, whereas alternative funding allows quick access to working capital, and repayments are linked to cash flow.”

Karl does have a word of advice for business owners considering their financing options: “Don’t wait too long when thinking of applying for funding.

Once turnover has dropped too much, it affects a business’s affordability, and when funding is obtained it’s then often used as emergency funding and meeting commitments instead of investing in business profit and growth initiatives. It’s also important to deal with credible funding providers that provide consultants and assistance to the business owner with industry advice and economical insights on where the best opportunities for growth exist.”

Alternative financing solutions

karl-westvig

Karl Westvig, CEO, Retail Capital

Studies such as the CB insights study on fintechs, the World Bank Group (2017) on Alternative Data Transforming SMME Finance and the IFC’s (2010) SME Banking Knowledge Guide show that fintechs are able to reduce many of the pain points and barriers to SME funding and importantly facilitate increased scale.

“Funding aggregators are automating funding matches, generating quality leads for funders and reducing search costs for both the providers and seekers, while online lenders are reducing approvals to less than 48 hours and funding disbursements shortly thereafter,” says Darlene.

“Our innovative funding products provide an alternative to traditional business finance loans,” explains Karl, highlighting Retail Capital’s alternative funding solution. “We determine business affordability by assessing expected future sales, linking payments to your business turnover. We offer fixed or flexible repayment options, linking it to your cash flow cycles and business needs, to ensure affordability.”

The rise of fintechs that are able to provide alternative funding solutions is largely thanks to innovative tech advancements and algorithms that can evaluate businesses based purely on multiple data points.

“By automating processes and gaining more insight into available data, fintech companies are able to make more informed decisions regarding the credit profile of clients,” says Shayne. “We have developed an algorithm that looks at your previous 12 months’ turnover in order to determine an amount of your future sales that we can advance to you,” he continues, explaining how Swypefin’s product works.

“Our repayments are based on a percentage of your turnover, which allows you the flexibility to pay less in the months in which your cash flow is constrained and pay more in your busier months. We do not tie up your assets as collateral. Our fee is fixed, transparent and pre-agreed upfront. You will never be liable to pay more than what is agreed upon. If the advance is settled early we offer a pro rata refund on the fixed fee depending on when settlement takes place.”

Positive cash flow and smart financing solutions

linda-frohlich

Linda Frohlich, Head of Business Banking, Sasfin

Ultimately, finance should support your business and help you grow. With that in mind, Linda unpacks when you shouldn’t be accessing finance, and how to ensure you remain on the path to growth rather than bad debt and business failure.

“One of the biggest issues we see are companies that overtrade and get themselves stuck in a debt cycle,” she explains. “In simple terms, a business that is overtrading has orders, but not the infrastructure to meet those orders. If there’s a clear growth strategy in place matched with the right financing vehicles, this growth can be planned, controlled and executed, but many entrepreneurs want to run before they can walk.

“When this happens, the business will invest in expensive fixed assets in order to meet orders, and then the necessary orders don’t come in, or something happens to disrupt the business. Now the business is playing catch-up, and the business owner needs finance to cover debt.”

Related: Understanding Cash Flow

According to Linda, the biggest cause of over-trading is failing to plan cash flow. “This is one of the first questions we ask: Do you have a strategy in place and a cash flow projection? Not just for this year, but this month, week, and even on a day-by-day basis.

Another key error many business owners make is using the deposit from one contract to kick start another contract. “There’s a domino effect when this happens. The business very quickly gets totally out of kilter, and the owner never quite manages to get on top of his finances. To avoid this trap, concentrate on finishing the job at hand. Ensure that you allocate the funds that you get to where you lent the money from — no matter what.

“This goes back to managing cash flow. Business owners believe that finding a second project from the first (when it’s not finished and the money isn’t in the bank) 
will help them grow. Instead, it just kills their business.

“Cash is king and never borrowing money can cap your growth, but you need to understand the difference between healthy debt and bad debt.”

Financing property

suraj-lallchand

Suraj Lallchand, Director at Fedgroup Ventures, a division of Fedgroup.

While the solutions for cash flow assistance, buying equipment, working capital and funding a contract are similar to each other, property development is specific.

Done correctly, investing in the commercial property from which you run your business can make strong financial sense and result in savings on your bottom line.

“Many business owners who own their premises have two separate companies,” explains Suraj Lallchand, director at Fedgroup Ventures, a division of Fedgroup. “The first is the original company that actually runs the operations, and the second is a ‘prop co’ that owns the property.”

The reasons for this are simple: There are tax benefits, it opens a second income stream, and it keeps the two entities separate, allowing the business owner to one day sell the business while maintaining the property portfolio they have built up. In many cases, if the business is sold but remains in the premises, as the property owner they will continue to draw rental fees from 
the business.

“It’s a simple process,” explains Suraj. “You would put the property into the prop co, take a loan against the property, and charge rent to the operations company. This then becomes a taxable deduction for the operational company, and the interest you pay on the loan for the building is deductible for the prop co. As a result, you bring your taxable income down to a minimal amount. We see many companies that would rather purchase their own properties and take the tax deductions than continue to rent.”

The key to owning your own commercial property is whether or not the operations company can afford the rental and has strong prospects for the future. “If you can’t occupy the building and you don’t find a tenant, the prop co will end up defaulting on its loan and losing the property,” he adds.

“We always do our due diligence on the borrower and the property in question,” agrees Rick de Sousa, Head of Commercial Property Finance at Fedgroup. “The security we are lending against is determined by the value of the property as well as the owner’s ability to service the loan. If the owner of the business is purchasing the property, then the business’s stability and projected income is an important factor for us to consider.”

According to Rick, there is a completely different level of responsibility involved when you purchase premises compared to rent. “It’s a good example of risk and return,” he says. “Your risks increase, and it becomes your responsibility to ensure the building is maintained, rates and taxes are being paid, security, insurance, health and safety — you no longer have a landlord taking care of any of these things — but the returns should be commensurate with that risk.”

Rick’s advice is that you ensure the yield of the property makes sense. “Property has proven to outperform inflation. It’s generally in the high teens. In addition, commercial property is pretty predictable when it comes to rentals as well. You can bank on a yearly increase of 6% to 8%. This all aligns with whether the property is well managed though, and if you’re the landlord and the tenant, whether your business can continue to pay the rentals for the foreseeable future.”

From a property owner’s perspective, Fedgroup’s terms are flexible. “We can lend up to 75% of the asset value,” says Rick. “We also give interest-only terms. This means you can choose to only pay the interest, and once the business has grown and your revenues have increased, you can elect to start paying capital, or you can continue to only pay your interest and see returns once the property has appreciated and is sold. Those returns can then be invested in the next property.”

Over and above the flexible terms and the fact that Fedgroup does not prescribe how funds are allocated once the loan has been granted, Rick believes their clients benefit from the property experience of the division’s team and partners. “We can talk property with them, which is extremely valuable when making such a big decision.”

Property portfolios

“Many businesses keep the company and property portfolio separate. There are tax benefits, it opens a second income stream, and it keeps the two entities separate, allowing the business owner to one day sell the business while maintaining the property portfolio they have built up.” — Suraj Lallchand, Director at Fedgroup Ventures, a division of Fedgroup.

Growth through property

“Owning commercial property is a good example of risk and return. Your risks increase, but the returns should be commensurate with that risk.” — Rick de Sousa, Head of Commercial Property Finance at Fedgroup.

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Cash Flow

Outsmart Cash Flow Problems With The Right Finance Solution

To unlock growth within your business and build an asset of value, you need cash. Have you investigated the financing solutions that suit your specific needs and growth goals?

SwypeFin

Published

on

cash-flow-management-financing

Did you know that SMEs with access to credit can grow faster and achieve optimal size sooner, while those with limited access to finance potentially remain stagnant and smaller in size? This is according to the Finmark Trust study, released in 2016. There are a number of research studies that confirm the link between access to finance and business growth, showing that increased access to funding increases revenue and job growth in SMEs.

Access to finance improves cash flow, which enables business owners to invest in business growth. According to FinFind’s SA SMME Access to Finance Report, business expansion is the number one reason for businesses requesting funding.

“Working capital is essential for the day-to-day operations of a business,” says Shayne Burnstein, director of Swypefin, which offers alternative funding solutions.

“More often than not, business owners lack sufficient working capital to meet their daily cash flow requirements or expand their operations. This can ultimately lead to the failure of the business. It’s common for a business to borrow capital and by using the basic principles of leverage, they can invest in assets that generate higher returns.”

The reality is that growing a business requires money. Capital is needed to fund the increased expenses incurred to prepare for and facilitate increased revenue growth. Businesses that secure funding can invest in hiring more staff, secure bigger premises, expand into new markets or new products and services, purchase additional equipment, vehicles and machinery, as well as fund larger marketing budgets, amongst other things.

Without access to finance the speed of business growth is reduced and, in many cases, the ability to achieve the potential of increased revenues, profits and job creation is jeopardised.

Related: Free Business Plan Template Download

Making finance work for you

According to FinFind’s SA SMME Access to Finance Report, the top six reasons that SME business owners request access to funding are to expand their businesses, for cash flow assistance, buying equipment, working capital, funding a contract and for property development.

There are many ways to use this capital, provided you understand your business needs and have a clear growth strategy. A strategic deployment of funds can be anything from investing in the right equipment that will help you grow your business to securing early settlement discounts — all of which have the potential to boost growth in your business.

An example of early settlement discounts can be found in the retail industry. “Currently retailers are trading under very challenging conditions. With VAT and the price of petrol increasing, consumers have tightened their belts,” says Shayne. “Under these conditions suppliers are offering retailers trade discounts for COD payments. It often makes sense for them to borrow the capital to take advantage of the trade discounts, enabling the retailer to increase their margins.”

Growth capital can be used in any industry and any-sized business, from a dentist or doctor’s business to a clothing manufacturer. “Advancements in 3D printing technology enable dentists that historically relied on outsourcing a technician to make dental crowns, for example,” says Shayne.

“This process typically takes a few weeks at a considerable cost. By borrowing capital to purchase 3D printing equipment, the dentist can bypass the technician and make the crown in an hour, allowing them to see more patients, which would significantly increase their turnover. As a business owner, you need to critically consider what will help you grow your business: Is it new equipment, bigger premises or marketing spend? What can you invest in that will grow your turnover and your profit margins? That’s where financing makes sense.”

Alternative financing solutions

Studies such as the CB insights study on fintechs, the World Bank Group (2017) on Alternative Data Transforming SMME Finance and the IFC’s (2010) SME Banking Knowledge Guide show that fintechs are able to reduce many of the pain points and barriers to SME funding and importantly facilitate increased scale.

Related: Venture Capital 101: The Ultimate Guide To The Term Sheet

“By automating processes and gaining more insight into available data, fintech companies are able to make more informed decisions regarding the credit profile of clients,” says Shayne. “We have developed an algorithm that looks at your previous 12 months’ turnover in order to determine an amount of your future sales that we can advance to you,” he continues, explaining how Swypefin’s product works.

“Our repayments are based on a percentage of your turnover, which allows you the flexibility to pay less in the months in which your cash flow is constrained and pay more in your busier months. We do not tie up your assets as collateral. Our fee is fixed, transparent and pre-agreed upfront. You will never be liable to pay more than what is agreed upon. If the advance is settled early we offer a pro rata refund on the fixed fee depending on when settlement takes place.”

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