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?

Baseball Glove Repair

Baseball glove repair would really not be a concern around this time of year if players and/or parents would just perform a little bit of “routine maintenance” on their baseball gloves right after the playing season is over and then maybe a little bit more right before the beginning of the next season. But this doesn’t seem to happen that much from what I can tell.So here we are…another High School Baseball and College Baseball season. I’ve already gotten a couple of baseball gloves in the last month or so that have broken. And it’s the same thing…very, very dry leather and laces. The laces on one of these baseball gloves were so dry, hard and brittle that they didn’t even feel like leather. The laces were so stiff that it was actually a little tough pulling these laces out of some parts of the glove.The condition of your baseball glove during and after a season will somewhat depend on where you live in the country. In the southeast and southwest you probably aren’t going to see a lot of snow, ice and mud. Your glove may face very strong sun and heat, though.The baseball gloves that I have just repaired were used in the northeast part of the country which can be terrible for leather. The leather can see snow and freezing temperatures. The baseball gloves will definitely get wet and muddy. This mud and water gets ground in sometimes day after day. This water eventually strips the leather of its original oils, softness and color. Then, summer comes. The sun beats down on the glove and dries it up even more. The laces become stiff, weak and brittle. They eventually break. Sometimes parts of the glove, like the eyelets and leather holes, rip. This even happens on the good, expensive gloves that are not cared for.All of these things can mostly be avoided. Simply try to implement some of the following tips:
Clean off your baseball glove during the season when it needs it. Just a warm, damp cloth will do. Don’t soak the glove. You’re just trying to get some of the dirt off.

During the season, if the glove has seen a lot of water and then a lot of sun, you should rub in a little bit of conditioner (not any kind of oil!) and let it soak in. This will restore some of the leather’s oils, softness and color.

Most importantly, give your glove a good cleaning and conditioning after your season is over. Wipe off all of the dirt and then after the glove dries rub a good coat of conditioner into the glove. Sometimes you may have to do this two or three times if the glove soaks up all of the conditioner right away. Wipe off any excess conditioner. Your restored glove will look and feel new during the off-season.

Tighten up loose laces and definitely repair broken laces or laces that you have a good feeling will break the next season. Do it now while you have the time.

And then, right before the beginning of your next season, inspect your glove again, tighten things up if necessary, put a light coat of conditioner on. There you are! Almost a new glove again.

Believe me, these simple baseball glove repair and restore tips work. I have taken care of a catcher’s mitt for three years now…and yes, it’s up in the northeast where a catcher’s mitt takes water and mud in great amounts in some games. But this glove, after three years, feels great and looks great. The laces and leather show no signs of weakness. This is all because I religiously follow the tips above.The kid who’s glove I fixed the other day…the real dry one, says his glove looks and feels new again. He actually likes the all-black laces better than the original gray ones too. I hope he takes care of it now. But I bet I see it again someday.And I bet I’ll repair a good number of gloves starting around now. These are all of the gloves from last season that were just thrown in garages or basements with no after-season conditioning or tightening or repairing of laces.So that’s where I’ll come in…again. Baseball glove repair and restore. I do it all of the time and never once have I advertised this. It all started with one glove, as a favor, and word got out. That was about six years ago and I’m still repairing gloves today.So try to keep in mind some of these baseball glove repair and restore tips. Your glove will always be in great shape and you’ll prevent those unexpected breaks during a game…and there will be no “down time” of your favorite glove.

Credit Scores – How Do They Work?

Credit scoring is a complicated process and each of the 3 major credit
repositories have their own credit scoring models in place to determine a
borrower’s credit score. The 3 main credit repositories are Equifax, Experian,
and TransUnion. Equifax has credit scores that range from a lowest possible
score of 300 and a highest possible score of 850. Experian has a range of
340-820 and TransUnion 150-934. Just like computers have upgraded operating
systems over the years such as, Windows 98, Windows 2000, and Windows XP, the
credit scoring system versions update periodically also. Not all lenders use the
same version or the most updated version when obtaining a credit report and
credit score for a borrower. Therefore, this is one reason why you may have
varying credit scores between one lender and another.There are five major components or factors that help to determine your credit
score. Roughly 35 percent of your credit score is derived from your payment
history, 30 percent from how much you owe compared to how much you have
available, 15 percent comes from length of credit history, 10 percent from new
credit and recent inquiries, and the final 10 percent comes from various other
items such as the mixture of credit you currently have. Next we will discuss
each of the five components in further detail and explain the basic principals
as to how credit scoring works. This information is to be used only to help
educate and as a guide to assist with the basic ideas involved in credit
scoring.Payment History (35%)Your payment history is the most important factor of credit scoring.
Bankruptcies, collection accounts, slow pays and late payments, foreclosures,
judgments, and liens can negatively affect your credit score. However, an
established history of on-time payments and a clean credit history will
positively impact your credit scores and help to increase them over time. The
older any negative credit history or adverse credit factors are, the less they
will negatively affect your credit score. Therefore, recent late payments or
other derogatory credit will negatively affect your credit much greater than
aged bad credit.Revolving Credit Balances to Maximum Limits (30%)The second biggest factor in credit scoring comes from how you utilize your
revolving credit. The credit scoring models are going to look heavily upon how
much revolving credit you have available compared to how much you have used. For
credit scoring purposes, having all revolving credit or credit card accounts
maxed out to their limits is not a good thing, nor is it going to help better
your credit scores. You don’t want to pay off all of your revolving credit
accounts because that will not show the credit bureaus how well you manage your
credit. Your ideal credit ratios should be roughly 20-40 percent usage. What
this means is that if you have a credit card with a $1000 limit you do not want
to max. out the credit card balance, but you would want to maintain a balance
between 200 and 400 dollars. If you do realize that you have borrowed more than
50% of your available credit limit on your card or your balance is getting close
to your limit, you should either try to pay your balance down to the 40% mark or
call your credit card company and see if they are able to raise your limit. The
biggest mistake you can make is to let your balance exceed your maximum credit
limit. This will negatively affect your credit score a great amount.Length of Credit History (15%)The longer and more established your credit history is, the better and more
positive of an impact it can make. Someone who pays their bills on time for a 10
year period of time is a much better risk than someone who only has a 1 year
history of paying their bills on time, even if they both carry the same credit
score. When you pay off credit card accounts do not close them, keep them open
and use them periodically in order to continue to build an established length of
credit. Closing your accounts can actually have more of a negative affect on
your credit score due to limiting the length of time that particular account was
open for. The longer you have established credit accounts, the better it is for
you. It is possible to still have a good credit score with a short credit
history; however lenders may not approve you for optimal financing options due
to the lack of history still.New Credit and Inquiries (10%)The amount of new credit you have opened, will have somewhat of a minor impact
on your credit scores. If you have numerous inquiries resulting from applying
for a lot of new credit and add many new trade-lines in your credit report, this
can have a damaging effect on your credit score. First, it may negatively affect
your scores because you have a lot of new, un-established accounts. Second, it
can negatively impact your score because you have a lot of inquiries with
various lenders for various types of financing over a short period of time.
Credit inquiries can affect your credit score, not a ton, but enough to lower
your score. This is not to say don’t shop around or don’t have more than one
firm pull your credit when looking to buy a car or a home. You definitely should
use due diligence and shop between a couple of lenders to make sure you are
getting a good deal. When you are comparing quotes however, you should try to do
all of your shopping within a 30 day max. period of time. All inquiries that are
made when applying for an auto loan or a mortgage loan are treated as only one
inquiry when they are done within a 14 day period of time. Therefore if you are
ever told to not have anyone else pull your credit or else your scores will
lower, this has little truth to it. There is only one type of credit inquiry
that counts toward your credit score. That one type of inquiry is when you are
making an application for credit: such as a home loan, auto loan, credit card,
etc… When you pull your own credit, a creditor you already have an account with
pulls your credit, and/or a prospective employer pulls your credit, these do not
have any impact on your scores. Understanding this can help you make sure that
you do not fall victim to all of the urban myths regarding credit inquiries.Types & Mixture of Credit (10%)Having a mixture of the various types of credit will have a small impact on your
credit scores. For a person who has a good mixture of credit such as a home
loan, auto loan, 2-4 credit cards and maybe a personal loan this could be deemed
a good mixture of credit versus a different person who has 15 credit cards and
no other credit. The ideal number of credit cards to maintain is 2-4. Also,
other types of liabilities are important to have, such as installment loans and
a mortgage loan.”Knowledge is power” and the most important step to applying for a loan is to
understand your credit report, your credit scores and how credit scoring works.
It is highly recommended that every person checks their credit report at least
once per year to help protect themselves from inaccurate information and from
identity theft. A new law was recently passed that permits a borrower to have
access to their credit report one time each year for no charge to allow them the
opportunity to review their credit history and verify the accuracy of all items
listed. You are permitted to obtain a credit report from each of the three
credit repositories, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. You can obtain your
free report by logging into the annual credit report and following
the directions. When you obtain your free report it will not contain your credit
score, but you can pay a small fee if you would like to find out what your score
is when you are ordering your free report. It is also highly recommended that
you pull a report from each repository individually as opposed to all of them
together so that you can dispute any erroneous information to each bureau
separately. If you report a problem to only one of the bureaus it will not be
fixed among all three of the bureaus. Remember the bureaus are separate of each
other and have no communication amongst each other either. Some creditors report
to only 1 bureau, some report to 2 bureaus, some report to all three bureaus and
some don’t report to any. This is why you must make sure that you check all
three credit repositories when you are utilizing your free annual credit report.
In conclusion, your credit is very important and understanding the basics of how
your credit scores are obtained is equally as important.Credit scoring is a complicated process and each of the 3 major credit
repositories have their own credit scoring models in place to determine a
borrower’s credit score. The 3 main credit repositories are Equifax, Experian,
and TransUnion. Equifax has credit scores that range from a lowest possible
score of 300 and aHere is a quick contact list for the 3 main credit repositories:Equifax Credit Bureau P.O. Box 740241 Atlanta GA 30374-0241 * (800) 685-1111http://www.equifax.comExperian (Formerly TRW Credit Bureau) P.O. Box 949 Allen TX 75013-0949 * (888)
397-3742http://www.experian.comTrans Union Corporation (Credit Bureau) Consumer Disclosure Center P.O. Box 390
Springfield PA 19064-0390 * (800) 916-8800 * (800) 682-7654 * (714) 680-7292http://www.transunion.com