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Small Business Financing Options – Despite the Credit Crunch

There’s no question that the financial crisis and ensuing credit crunch have made it more difficult than ever to secure small business financing and raise capital. This is especially true for fast-growth companies, which tend to consume more resources in order to feed their growth. If they aren’t careful, they can literally grow themselves right out of business.Amidst all the gloom and doom, however, it’s important to keep one thing in mind: There are still options available for small business financing. It’s simply a matter of knowing where to look and how to prepare.Where to LookThere are three main sources you can turn to for small business financing:Commercial Banks – These are the first source most owners think of when they think about small business financing. Banks loan money that must be repaid with interest and usually secured by collateral pledged by the business in case it can’t repay the loan.On the positive side, debt is relatively inexpensive, especially in today’s low-interest-rate environment. Community banks are often a good place to start your search for small business financing today, since they are generally in better financial condition than big banks. If you do visit a big bank, be sure to talk to someone in the area of the bank that focuses on small business financing and lending.Keep in mind that it takes more diligence and transparency on the part of small businesses in order to maintain a lending relationship in today’s credit environment. Most banks have expanded their reporting and recordkeeping requirements considerably and are looking more closely at collateral to make sure businesses are capable of repaying the amount of money requested.Venture Capital Companies – Unlike banks, which loan money and are paid interest, venture capital companies are investors who receive shares of ownership in the companies they invest in. This type of small business financing is known as equity financing. Private equity firms and angel investors are specialized types of venture capital companies.While equity financing does not have to be repaid like a bank loan, it can end up costing much more in the long run. Why? Because each share of ownership you give to a venture capital company in exchange for small business financing is an ownership share with an unknown future value that’s no longer yours. Also, venture capital companies sometimes place restrictive terms and conditions on financing, and they expect a very high rate of return on their investments.Commercial Finance Companies – These non-traditional money lenders provide a specialized type of small business financing known as asset-based lending (or ABL). There are two primary types of ABL: factoring and accounts receivable (A/R) financing.With factoring, companies sell their outstanding receivables to the finance company at a discount of usually between 2-5%. So if you sold a $10,000 receivable to a factor, for example, you might receive between $9,500-$9,800. The benefit is that you would receive this cash right away, instead of waiting 30, 60 or 90 days (or longer). Factoring companies also perform credit checks on customers and analyze credit reports to uncover bad risks and set appropriate credit limits.With A/R financing, you would borrow money from the finance company and use your accounts receivable as collateral. Companies that want to borrow in this way should be able to demonstrate strong financial reporting capabilities and a diverse customer base without a high concentration of sales to any one customer.How to PrepareRegardless of which type of small business financing you decide to pursue, your preparation before you approach a potential lender or investor will be critical to your success. Banks, in particular, are taking a much more critical look at small business loan applications than many did in the past. They are requesting more background from potential borrowers in the way of tax returns (both business and personal), financial statements and business plans.Lenders are focusing on what are sometimes referred to as the five Cs of credit:o Character: Does the company have a strong reputation in its community and industry?o Capital: Lenders usually like to see that owners have invested some of their personal money in the business, or that they have some of their own “skin in the game.”o Capacity: Financial ratios help lenders determine how much debt a company should be able to take on without stressing the finances.o Collateral: This is a secondary source of repayment in case a borrower defaults on the loan. Most lenders prefer collateral that is relatively easy to convert to cash, especially equipment and real estate.o Conditions: Conditions in the borrower’s industry and the overall economy in general will play a big factor in a lender’s decisions.Before you meet with any type of lender or investor, be prepared to explain to them specifically why you believe you need financing or capital, as well as how much capital you need and when and how you will pay it back (if a loan) or what kind of return on investment a venture capital company can expect. Also be prepared to discuss specifically what the money will be used for and what kind of collateral you are prepared to pledge to support the loan, as well as your sources of repayment and what measures you will take to ensure repayment if your finances get tight.You should also ensure that your financial statements and records are current and that your internal control systems are adequate for handling the level of accounting and bookkeeping lenders and investors expect.

Hiring an Entertainer for Your Kid’s Birthday Party

Hiring an entertainer for your kid’s birthday party is a matter of doing some research. You have to first find out what type of entertainment your child would be interested in and then you have to start looking for entertainers of that type. You want to make sure you do a thorough interview of the entertainer, too, so you can ensure he or she will be able to provide the quality of performance you desire.Entertainment at a birthday party is a way to help kept he party moving along and to help keep everyone busy. It is also a chance for you to take a break from the chaos. You can do a little clean up and be able to prepare the next activity on the agenda during this time as well. You are sure to appreciate what having entertainment can do for the party.To begin the process of hiring an entertainer for your kid’s birthday party you will need to decide what type of entertainer you would like to hire. There are many options and you will need to narrow them down. You should consider the following things:- your child’s age- your child’s interests- the time allotted for entertainment- your budget- what is available.You want to choose an entertainer that will be interesting to your child and age appropriate. You will also want to make sure you choose someone who can fill the allotted time and fit your budget. Lastly, you have to go with what is available, so you may want to check out the yellow pages before making the decision on what type of entertainer you want. You may find out you need to choose a few different types of entertainers depending on what is available in your area.After you know what type of entertainer you want you can begin to contact them and see if they meet your other needs. You should try to speak directly with the entertainer, if possible, so you can ask specific questions. However, if you can not speak directly to them, that is fine. You can always ask questions at the interview.The interview is an important step. You want to make sure the entertainer can deliver what they promise. They should be willing to do a short presentation for you to give you an idea of their show.Based upon the information you have gathered you should be able to make it easy to make a choice. Hiring an entertainer for your kid’s birthday party is a process, but one that you will be glad you went through. By doing a complete assessment of the entertainer you can be assured that he or she will fit into the party and accomplish the goal of actually entertaining the children.

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