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Short-Term Financing Methods

Credit Lines

Under a revolving line of credit line agreement, the lender, usually a bank, supplies a business with funds intended to fill temporary shortages in cash that are brought about by timing differences between cash outlays and collections. Credit lines are typically used to finance inventories, accounts receivable or for project or contract related work. You must often have a track record before you can receive a credit line, and collateral may be required. There is usually a time limit that is negotiated on the credit line. Banks will generally require that you maintain a designated balance of funds in your commercial bank account.

Short-Term Loans

These types of loan may be used for seasonal build-ups of inventory and receivables, as well as to take advantage of supplier discounts or pay lump sum expenses, such as taxes or insurance. Generally, you repay short-term loans in a lump sum at loan maturity. Short-term loans are generally made on a secured (or collateralized) basis and are for a term of a year or less.

Asset-Based Loans

These are loans where the lender advances funds to the small business based on a percentage of your current assets, usually accounts receivable or inventory. The loan is used as a source of funds for working capital needs. The lender takes a security position in the assets owned by your business.

Contract Financing

One method of arranging financing for contracts for goods or services or purchase orders is to use your contract(s) as collateral for a short-term loan(s). In contract financing, funds are advanced to you as work is performed. Payments by the contracting party, the business for whom you are working, are generally made to the lender. Obviously, a major consideration for a lender is your business’ ability to satisfactorily perform and complete the contract or purchase order.

Factoring

This is somewhat similar to accounts receivable financing with one notable exception. Factors actually buy your receivables and rely on their own credit and collection expertise. Essentially, your customers become their customers. Payments are made directly to the factor by your buyer. Factoring is generally used by firms unable to obtain bank financing. As a result, the cost of factoring is usually higher than other forms of short-term financing. However, factoring can offer you several advantages. Factoring relieves small companies of the expense and responsibility of maintaining a credit and collection department. The factor normally provides all of these services for a fee. Factoring also offers flexibility in the amount of borrowing. Factoring is commonly provided on a continuous contractual basis rather than on a one-time transaction. As new receivables are generated, they are sold to the factor. Therefore, as your company’s sales grow, additional financing becomes available. The sale of receivables to the factor may be either with recourse or without recourse. Without recourse is the method preferred by most small businesses because it means that the factor assumes the full risk of non-payment by the company that owes the receivable.