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?

Which Men’s Underwear Is Best for Sport

Following the end of the Summer 2012 London Games we have become a nation full of renewed enthusiasm for sport and have started to dust off the gym back, air the trainers and splash out on some new trendy gear. As more people join gyms and sports clubs they may be interested to learn the importance of choosing the right underwear for sport.Men often over look the most important things in their sports locker such as their choice of sports underwear and this is probably because they are an item of clothing which doesn’t allow them to flash a sporty designer logo. Yet they are probably the most important piece of your sports attire you will purchase because a testicular trauma is probably going to be far more painful than anything else you might sustain from incorrect sports wear.High impact sports account for the most reports of testicular trauma and it is hardly surprising when you think about how much bouncing and jerking around they have to sustain during a game of rugby for instance or even running. Women appreciate the importance of supporting bouncy parts during sport and have been wearing sports bras for a long time. Yet, how many men still wear their regular undies to the gym, loose fitting boxers and baggy briefs that have very little support or sports benefits whatsoever.So what exactly are the important features we need to look for when considering what underwear we pull on for the gym? Here are some top tips of key features you should look for.Support is probably going to be the most important feature to look for when choosing suitable underwear for sport. Traditionally men’s underwear consists of a pouch at the front formed by two vertical seams either side of the pouch to provide shape. However, this type of construction offers little support or control. More supportive underwear often features a shaped pouch that incorporates a semi circular seam that passes under your ‘giggleberries’ to cup and support. These are by far the most supportive and having ensured you have chosen the correct size will be probably the comfiest design you will be able to find for sport.Fabric are an imported aspect and there are many types of natural and synthetic fabrics to choose from, which have developed a long way technically. Often the best type of fabric for sport is a cotton rich or a cotton modal fabric as these offer a soft, natural and breathable experience. This is important when it comes to allowing air to circulate and reach the skin as will as wicking moisture away from the body to minimize the potential for fungal rashes to occur or irritation. However, there are equally some very good synthetic microfibers available and ones that even offer anti bacterial properties to reduce the unwanted effects of body odor to develop.Finally, you will want to consider the overall construction and quality as you will be putting them through some enduring paces whilst at the gym. Many of the comfiest fabrics and underwear can be on the thin side or even incorporate perforated mesh material to make them cooler and more breathable, which is fantastic. However, all I would say is do not compromise on quality as this is one item of clothing that needs to standup to doing its job. Take a close look at the stitch and look for a quality finish. Double stitch seams and soft quality internal wash labels are a good indicator that the manufacturer has not cut corners, hence you should be able to expect the rest of the garment to be of good quality.

A Complete Review Of The Major Credit Reporting Agencies And Credit Reports

Today we have grown into a nation looking for instant gratification, the buy now pay later syndrome. So, without a good credit rating it will be very difficult to get the things you want at the time you want them. Consumer credit has become widely accepted as a substitute for ready cash, so having good credit is the key to your future of getting all you deserve, and the key to opening doors that make your life more comfortable and worry free.As a consumer it is to your benefit to fully understand how credit works and every aspect of what is involved when you apply for any type of credit, including the major credit reporting agencies that hold your credit report file. When you understand what the banks and other creditors are looking for, and you know what is in your credit report, you will be able to control your financial future and make the best choices for yourself and not accept anything less than what you deserve.When you apply for credit, lenders want to know about you, your employment history, your income, your assets, and most importantly they want to know about your credit history. A lender will get lots of information directly from you through a credit application, then, they will pull your credit bureau reports to confirm this information and review your credit references and credit report scores. Then upon evaluation of your credit application combined with your credit report, the lender will determine your credit risk and make a final decision on whether or not to grant you credit and at what rate of interest they will charge you.So, now that you know the process of getting credit, let us take a deeper look into the factors that can either be an asset or liability to you when applying for credit – your credit report.What is a credit reportYour credit report is your financial resume, a summary of your financial reliability, containing both personal and credit information. Your credit report is maintained by credit reporting agencies, also known as credit bureaus, and provided to lenders, employers, insurance companies, landlords and other companies who have a legitimate need for this information, based on the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Your credit and personal information is reported to the credit reporting agencies from various creditors, in most cases electronically, instantly updating your file.What is in my credit reportYour credit report is divided up into five main areas: personal profile/identifying information, inquiries, credit history, public record information and your credit score.PERSONAL PROFILE / IDENTIFYING INFORMATION – this is where all your personal information is recorded – your name including any alias and possibly your spouses name, current and previous addresses, Social Security number, date of birth and current and previous employment. You might find some of this information is incorrect or incorrectly spelled, this can occur when creditors pull your credit bureau as they usually enter in the information though the computer where data entry errors can occur, and these mistakes will update your credit bureau report. However, if there is information that is not even close, such as an address, this should alert you to investigate this further as it is a possibility that you may be a victim of identity theft.INQUIRIES – in this section you will find listed all the parties that have requested a copy of your credit report and the date it was done over the past two years. There are two types of inquires, soft and hard. A hard inquire is when you have applied for something and is initiated by you, for example, you have applied for a loan or mortgage or completed a credit application for a credit card or even applied for insurance. These hard inquiries are the ones that appear on your credit report and are visible to creditors when they access your credit report. A soft inquiry only shows on your credit report when requested by yourself and do not show to the creditors. A soft inquiry can come from your existing creditors that are monitoring your account, companies that are looking to offer you promotional applications for credit and each time you request a copy of your credit report.CREDIT HISTORY – in this section you will find an itemized list of your credit cards, loans and mortgages, both currently active accounts and past closed ones. The information reported includes, type of account, when it was open, the high balance or limit, monthly payments, date of last payment, how the account is paid including any late payments, date of last activity and a rating of how the account was paid.PUBLIC RECORDS – this information is obtained from local, state and federal courthouses and includes bankruptcy records, foreclosures, tax liens, monetary judgments, court-ordered payments, and over due child support payments. Public records are a negative credit reference and will lower your credit score. They also stay on your credit report anywhere from six to ten years.CREDIT SCORE – your credit report scores are a rating determining you credit risk and the likelihood of defaulting on a loan. Lenders will use this score as a tool to assist them in deciding whether or not they will lend you money. Your credit score is a snap shot of your credit at that point in time, and can change on a daily basis. The score is a three digit number ranging between 300 and 850. Statistics show that the higher the number the less likely you will default on a loan, therefore you are a good credit risk; and the lower the number the greater chance there is for you to default on your payments, making you a greater credit risk.When your credit score is low, you still may be able to borrow money but, you will most likely have to pay a higher rate of interest and you may not get all the money you request and possibly have to pay additional fees, basically you are at the mercy of the lender. However, the higher your credit score is the more you are in-charge, you can get any loan at the best possible rates with no restriction.Your credit score is a complicated calculation, where the credit reporting agency takes into consideration many factors, including but not limited to, your payment history – late payments, both current and previous will bring down your score; your credit balance in relation to you limit – if you are at your maximum credit limit or if you are over it will bring down you score; the number of inquires – if you have to many in a short period of time it will bring down your score; the length of time you have had credit, the total number of outstanding debts and any derogatory information or public records, such as bankruptcies, collection, judgments and written off accounts – will bring down your score.Where does the information on my credit report come from?Your credit history information is gathered at companies called credit bureaus or credit reporting agencies. There are three major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. They receive information voluntarily from creditors and the credit reporting agency updates and maintains your credit report file with this information. Creditors report, loans, credit cards, mortgages, on a regular basis electronically. Your file is also updated when you apply for credit, as the information from your credit application is submitted to the credit reporting agencies when they pull your credit report.Who are the major credit reporting agenciesThere are three major credit reporting agencies. Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. These are independent companies from one another, and it is important for you to know that they do not exchange information. This means that it is quite possible that you not only have a separate credit report with each of them, but that they may contain different information. There are hundreds of smaller credit bureau companies across the country however these major credit companies are the largest and the main bureaus that the banks and financial institutions use. You will find that creditors may use one of the three credit reporting companies, however it is not unusual for them to use all three.Who has access to my credit reportThe Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) contains rules regarding who can access your credit report. Generally speaking, a credit reporting agency may only provide information from your credit file when the requested relates to the extension of credit, collection of a debt, a tenancy applications, an application for employment or insurance, the issuance of special licenses or potential financial dealings that involve you. The law also gives these companies access to your report as part of an ongoing business relationship. An example of this would be you have a loan at a bank and you miss your payment, this gives that bank a right to obtain an updated copy of your credit reports. Credit card companies use this option a lot. They consider it part of the maintenance of your account. As credit cards are revolving (not a closed end loan), a customers circumstances can change, so credit card companies will obtain updated credit reports on their customers to review them and look for warning signs of a customer getting over extended in credit which could result in problems fulfilling their obligations. This is how credit card companies can either raise or lower your credit limit or interest rate automatically. However, in the case of an employer, this law does not apply and they need the employee’s permission each time they wish to request a copy of your credit report.You are also entitled to copies of your credit reports, and today with the internet there are many fast and easy ways to obtain credit reports online. You can purchase a copy from each of the major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian or Tran Union, the cost may vary however, under the latest Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rules they are restricted to the maximum amount they can charge you. Check with your state laws, as some states require the credit bureau companies to provide you with a copy of your credit report periodically for free. The FCRA gives you the opportunity to receive a copy of your credit reports if you have been denied for credit or other benefits based on your credit report, you are entitled to receive a free credit report from the credit bureau that provided the report. The FCRA also allows you obtain
totally free credit reports. If you suspect that you are a victim of identity theft or fraud, if you are unemployed or if you receive welfare assistance.