What are my available sources of financing and what is the financing cost of those sources and options ask our clients? When we are talking working capital it all comes down to your firm’s ability to raise and utilize cash flow on an ongoing basis.
We will discuss what some of those sources of financing are, and more importantly the costs and benefits associated with those different types of financing for Canadian business owners
When you understand what working capital is you are obviously in a better position to source it! You therefore need to know how to measure working capital in terms of your overall business needs. That’s part of the problem and challenge, because when we sit down and work with clients on working capital and cash flow needs we quickly determine that working capital and cash flow mean different things to different business owners .
The problem usually starts with the business owner assessing his working capital needs by looking at the ‘Total Cash ‘line in his bank account. That is of course cash on hand, and doesn’t reflect working capital, which is the funds he has tied up in receivables, inventory, prepaid, etc.
We can go to the text book definition also ( not our favorite way of doing things ) and finding out that working capital is simply current assets minus current liabilities, calculated by a quick look at your balance sheet . We are not a big fan of that calculation, simply because it doesn’t give you a true sense of the turnover of those critical balance sheet accounts such as A/R and inventory. A quick example simply is that most business owners assume the larger the ‘working capital’ numbers the better shape they are in – in fact the exact opposite is true because they require cash flow to fund that higher investment in receivables and inventory.
The best way to measure working capital efficiency is on a regular basis to calculate your receivable and inventory turnover. They are either getting better or worse, and your working capital improves or deteriorates in the same relation.
You should also focus on business liquidity because suppliers and creditors will bear the brunt of your inability to fund your business – and deterioration in supplier / creditor relations is the worst thing that can happen to your business.
So now you have a better handle on working capital – what next. Well you clearly recognize that cash on hand and growing inventory and A/R isn’t helping your cash flow at all – you need external financing. You achieve external financing by the profits you generate from your business, plus working capital facilities via a bank or independent finance company. Your needs might be seasonal, or on going, depending on what industry you are in.
So back to our sources of financing and the costs associated with those sources. You of course have the option of either generating a working capital term loan, or, if it’s a larger facility, it might be called a Sub debt or mezzanine loan. Essentially they are unsecured cash flow loans with rates in Canada ranging from 10-15% - they are traditionally on a fixed term, fixed rate basis – 5 years is common. You also have the option of putting more permanent equity into your business via an equity injection of bringing in a new shareholder. We are perfectly clear with clients that this is the most expensive form of financing, because you are giving up future ownership.
If you can’t raise capital for a working capital loan call your suppliers. Are you kidding, customers ask?! Well partly, what we mean to say is simply that your working capital increases when you slow payments to suppliers – that’s a double edged sword re supplier relationships, so tread cautiously on that one.
Other more traditional alternatives are bank operating lines of credit, these come with the best rates, current in the 4-5% range in early 2010 in Canada. The only problem – great rates but difficult financing to achieve as Canadian chartered banks demand solid financials when they are granting this type of facility. A better way to achieve full liquidity via this method is to consider a factoring or asset based facility – Rates in Canada range for 9% / annum to 1-2% per month based on your overall financial position and size of facility . But, they offer you 100% working capital for all your business financing needs, so that’s a good trade off.
Many clients approach us for other working capital sources, such as a sale leaseback of unencumbered assets, or a bridge or bulge loan on equipment and real estate to shore up working capital. These are great short term, but no long term fixes.
Understand what sources of financing are available to your firm, knowing their costs, and executing on facilities or solutions that make sense for your business is the true working capital and cash flow solution for Canadian business. Speak to a trusted, credible, and experienced business financing advisor to guide you to the right business financing decision.
Stan Prokop - founder of 7 Park Avenue Financial - http://www.7parkavenuefinancial.com
Originating business financing for Canadian companies , specializing in working capital, cash flow, asset based financing . In business 6 years - has completed in excess of 45 Million $$ of financing for Canadian corporations .Info re: Canadian business financing & contact details: