Getting the right financial product for your small business is important. However, entrepreneurs should be careful about which small business financing options they choose. Some make more sense for your company than others. Small Business Trends talked with Hanna Kassis an expert at Segway Financial about how to differentiate between loans, cash advances and factoring.
“The biggest difference is cash advances and factoring are not loans, although sometimes they’re disguised as loans,” Kassis says. The trick for small business owners is in understanding how to pick the financial product that works to make their situation better. Choosing the wrong path can lead to deeper financial issues if your small business is in some trouble to begin with.
Here’s a chart showing the benefits of the various types of financing depending upon your business needs:
Small Business Loans and FICO
There are some fundamental differences. For example, small business loans report to the credit bureaus about the credit of the business and not the owners. These are generally the way to go when you’re looking to make a long term investment in your business.
A good FICO score is required. All your company assets can be used as collateral and funding usually takes about 3-7 days. Use these when you’re on a stable footing financially and looking to grow or expand. Small business loans are a great way to replace outdated machinery and even build a new wing.
Miss a payment on one of these and it gets reported on your business credit. With the other two types, that kind of slip up gets reported on your personal credit.
Merchant Cash Advances and Factoring: For a Different Set of Business Needs
These other products have a different set of requirements. A merchant cash advance is a good product for an emergency financial situation. Factoring is the right tool to match income and expenses. With the merchant cash advance, cash flow history is required but your small business doesn’t need to supply any collateral.
Factoring, on the other hand, requires actual invoices and those receivables and invoices are used as collateral.
Kassis notes another difference between the two products.
“Companies that qualify for factoring are typically B2B under unfavourable terms,” He says. “That delayed payment could be a result of the seller offering it to get business or the vendor offering it because they’re spending enough money they can dictate the terms of the deal.”
Say you’re selling bolts to a manufacturer. They’re buying in volume and keeping you busy, buy not paying for terms of 30, 90 or ninety days. Factoring can help you can over temporary cash crunches. These products generally take about 2-5 days to process.
If you send invoices, you have a wider range of options. Those choices are limited for enterprises like grocery stores that accept cash up front.
“Businesses with invoices will qualify for factoring, cash advances or a loan,” Kassis says. “Businesses that don’t invoice can only get a cash advance or a loan.”
Cash advances are the quickest solution to get but you need to be careful when you make a decision to go after one of these. There is no collateral needed here and the time to fund is quick at 1-3 days. However, Kassis is clear small business needs to take a good look at why they’d need this type of money before they act.
“The cash advance is the catch-all. With about $10,000 a month from any source, you can probably get one of these products.”
Cash Advance Catch-all
However, there’s a big caveat to this catch-all. Kassis explains this is a great product for seasonal businesses and restaurants in tourist areas. Both of these small businesses might need some cash ahead of their busy season. He’s clear, however, a cash advance won’t stop a downward business slide.
“If you’re struggling, a cash advance will put you out of business,” he says.