You’re probably wondering if I’m referencing the Sade song – Smooth Operator. No need to ask, I’m not. Rather it’s a way to introduce the ways businesses can control their cash flow and take out the bumps of day-to-day operations - creating a smooth(er) ride.
There is a lot of talk at the moment about the economic cycle and how the RBA is using interest rates in an attempt to lessen the downward trajectory of the curve and smooth the cycle.
The business cycle is similar. All businesses go through highs and lows and experience times of boom and troughs. And it would be helpful, when needed, to smooth out the curve. That’s where invoice financing comes in for SMEs.
Businesses need cash to fund their operations — to pay for materials, distribution, rent, and payroll, for example. And, It’s normal for businesses to have irregular cash flows. However, irregular cash flows, combined with limited cash reserves, can create problems.
In situations where stretched-out payment terms create a cash crunch, businesses sometimes look to invoice financing to turn their accounts receivables into cash. Invoice financing can offer a good alternative to bank loans.
Invoice financing is a way for businesses to borrow money against the amounts due from customers. Invoice financing helps businesses improve cash flow, pay employees and suppliers, and reinvest in operations and growth earlier than they could if they had to wait until their customers paid their balances in full. Invoice financing can solve problems associated with customers taking a long time to pay, as well as difficulties obtaining other types of business credit.
What is invoice financing?
Invoice financing is a cash advance that small-business owners can receive on their outstanding customer invoices. This type of business loan is also sometimes known as accounts receivable financing or invoice discounting.
With invoice financing, your invoices serve as collateral. This can make invoice financing easier to qualify for than other small-business loans, although borrowing costs can be higher.
How does invoice financing work?
With invoice financing, lenders advance a percentage of a business’s unpaid invoice amount — potentially as much as 90%. When the customers pay their invoices, the business receives the remaining percentage, minus the lender’s fees.
Invoice financing companies can charge fees in different ways, but usually, they charge a flat percentage (1% to 5%) of the invoice value.
How to get invoice financing
Invoice financing is usually offered by online lenders and fintech companies. Compared to other types of business loans, banks are less likely to provide invoice financing.
To apply for invoice financing, your client may need to provide:
· Basic information about the business.
· Business bank statements.
· Business financial statements, such as an accounts receivable ageing report.
· Invoices they’d like to finance.
How it Works
Based on the information the lender gleans from your client’s accounts receivable ledger, they will advance a proportion of that ledger’s value which is usually around 75-85%. Once the outstanding invoices have been paid, they’ll then remit the outstanding balance, minus their fees.
This kind of credit is designed to grow, as a business grows. As more invoices are raised, more funds become available without the need for further credit applications and additional credit checks.
As a finance professional your expertise can assist SMEs to become aware of and access this potentially invaluable finance option.
Invoice Financing is part of the Cash Flow Financing module in the Business Finance Certification, a professional development program that helps position you as an SME Finance specialist, so you can help your clients succeed and prosper.
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