Monthly Archives: October 2017

Purchase Order & Letter of Credit Financing

Many business opportunities come with an associated challenge. For most entrepreneurial businesses, the greatest challenge is financing the business opportunities created by your sales efforts. What are your options if you have a sales opportunity that is clearly too large for your normal scale of operations? Will your bank provide the necessary financing? Is your business a startup, or too new to meet the bank’s requirements? Can you tap into a commercial real estate loan or a home equity loan in sufficient time to conclude the transaction? Do you decline the order? Fortunately there is an alternative way to meet this challenge: You can use Purchase Order Financing & Letter of Credit financing to deliver the product and close the sale.

What is purchase order financing?

Purchase order financing is a specialized method of providing structured working capital and loans that are secured by accounts receivables, inventory, machinery, equipment and/or real estate. This type of funding is excellent for startup companies, refinancing existing loans, financing growth, mergers and acquisitions, management buy-outs and management buy-ins.

Purchase order financing is based upon bona fide purchase orders from reputable, creditworthy companies, or government entities. Verification of the validity of the purchase orders is required. The financing is not based on your company’s financial strength. It is based on the creditworthiness of your customers, the strength of the commercial finance company funding the transaction, and in most cases a letter of credit.

What is a letter of credit?

A letter of credit is a letter from a bank guaranteeing that a buyer’s payment to a seller will be received on time and for the correct amount. If the buyer is unable to make payment for the purchase, the bank is required to cover the full amount of the purchase. In a purchase order financing transaction, the bank relies on the creditworthiness of the commercial finance company in order to issue the letter of credit. The letter of credit “backs up” the purchase order financing to the supplier, or manufacturer.

Is purchase order financing appropriate for your sales program?

The perfect paradigm is a distributor buying products from a supplier and shipping directly to the purchaser. Importers of finished goods, exporters of finished goods, out-source manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors can effectively use purchase order financing to grow their businesses.

Is purchase order financing appropriate for growing your sales orders?

Purchase order financing requires you to have management expertise- a proven track record in your particular business. You must have bona fine purchase orders from reputable firms that can be verified. And you must have a repayment plan; often this is from a commercial finance company in the form of accounts receivable or asset-based financing.

You should have a gross margin of at least 25% to benefit from purchase order financing. Sellers of services or commodities with low margins, such as lumber or grain, will not qualify.

The bottom line decision for purchase order financing:

It can take two or more years to develop a profitable business. Banks generally base their lending limits on a business’ performance for the past two or three years. Purchase order financing, combined with letters of credit and/or accounts receivable or asset-based financing can give you sufficient funds to cover your operating costs, financing costs and still realize significant profits. If you qualify for purchase order financing, you can grow your business by taking advantage of large purchase orders and eventually qualify for bank financing.

Financing Cash Flow Peaks And Valleys

For many businesses, financing cash flow for their business can be like riding a continuous roller coaster.

Sales are up, then they do down. Margins are good, then they flatten out. Cash flow can swing back and forth like an EKG graph of a heart attack.

So how do you go about financing cash flow for these types of businesses?

First, you need to accurately know and manage your monthly fixed costs. Regardless of what happens during the year, you need to be on top of what amount of funds will be required to cover off the recurring and scheduled operating costs that will occur whether you make a sale or not. Doing this monthly for a full twelve month cycle provides a basis for cash flow decision making.

Second, from where you are at right now, determine the amount of funds available in cash, owners outside capital that could be invested in the business, and other outside sources currently in place.

Third, project out your cash flow so that fixed costs, existing accounts payable and accounts receivable are realistically entered into the future weeks and months. If cash is always tight, make sure you do your cash flow on a weekly basis. There is too much variability over the course of a single month to project out only on a monthly basis.

Now you have a basis to assess financing your cash flow.

Financing cash flow is always going to be somewhat unique to each business due to industry, sector, business model, stage of business, business size, owner resources, and so on.

Each business must self assess its sources of financing cash flow, including but not limited to owner investment, trade or payable financing, government remittances, receivable discounts for early payment, deposits on sale, third party financing (line of credit, term loan, factoring, purchase order financing, inventory financing, asset based lending, or whatever else is relevant to you).

Ok, so now you have a cash flow bearing and a thorough understanding of your options available for financing cash flow in your specific business model.

Now what?

Now you are in a position to entertain future sales opportunities that fit into your cash flow.

Three points to clarify before we go further.

First, financing is not strictly about getting a loan from someone when your cash flow needs more money. Its a process of keeping your cash flow continuously positive at the lowest possible cost.

Second, you should only market and sell what you can cash flow. Marketers will measure the ROI of a marketing initiative. But if you can’t cash flow the business to complete the sale and collect the proceeds, there is no ROI to measure. If you have a business with fluctuating sales and margins, you can only enter into transactions that you can finance.

Third, marketing needs to focus on customers that you can sell to over and over again in order to maximize your marketing efforts and reduce the unpredictability of the annual sales cycle through regular repeat orders and sales.

Marketing works under the premise that if you are providing what the customer wants that the money side of the equation will take care of itself. In many businesses this indeed proves to be true. But in a business with fluctuating sales and margins, financing cash flow has to be another criteria built into sales and marketing activities.

Overtime, virtually any business has the potential to smooth out the peaks and valleys through a more robust marketing plan that better lines up with customer needs and the business’s financing limitations or parameters.

In addition to linking financing cash flow more closely to marketing and sales, the next most impactful action you can take is expanding your sources of financing.

Here are some potential strategies for expanding your sources for financing cash flow.

Strategy # 1: Develop strategic relationships with key suppliers that have the ability to extend greater financing in certain situations to take advantage of sales opportunities. This is accomplished with larger suppliers that 1) have the financial means to extend financing, 2) view you as a key customer and value your business, 3) have confidence in the business’s ability to forecast and manage cash flow.

Strategy # 2: Make sure where possible that your annual financial statements show a profit capable of servicing debt financing. Accountants may be good at saving you income tax dollars, but if they drive business profitability down to or close to zero through tax planning, they may also effectively destroying your ability to borrow money.

Strategy # 3: If possible, only transact with credit worthy customers. Credit worthy customers allow both the business and potential lenders to finance receivables which can increase the amount of external financing available to you.

Strategy # 4: Develop a liquidation pathway for your tangible assets. Equipment and inventory are easier to finance if lenders clearly understand how to liquidate the assets in the event of default. In some cases, businesses can get resale option agreements on certain equipment or inventory from prospective buyers assignable to a lender to be used as recourse against a lending facility for financing cash flow.

Strategy # 5: Joint venture a sales opportunity with another business to share the risk of a large sales opportunity that may be too risky for you to take on yourself.

Using Owner Financing

The American Dream; what does it mean to you? People have different jobs or hobbies or passions in life, but one constant remains the same among all of us, and this common thread that unites our dreams is that of Home Ownership! Unfortunately, in this current economy, achieving the dream of home ownership is becoming more difficult than any time in recent history. Too many Americans are following the unwritten rule of home ownership that tells us to ‘Find a Realtor and Get a Bank Loan’. In past economies, with thriving job markets, lower inflation, and less credit restraint, that ‘rule’ may have made sense to follow.

But our current economic system is making it difficult for the average person to achieve the American Dream of Home Ownership. In times of unstable job markets, with double digit unemployment forcing people to become self-employed to make a living, the banks are requiring a W-2 stable job history in order to issue loans. In times of a great credit crisis, the banks are requiring stricter credit scores than most people are able to achieve. Fewer and fewer honest, hard working Americans who are used to following the ‘traditional rules’ for owning a home are having the opportunity to own their own homes.

What if you could achieve the American Dream of Home Ownership without the assistance of a bank?

The purpose of this document is to allow motivated home seekers an opportunity to write a New Rule of Home Ownership that allows you to declare your freedom from the services of a Bank in order to partake in your piece of the American Dream of Home Ownership!

In order to understand the New Rule of Home Ownership, let’s take a closer look at the existing rules of purchasing a house with Traditional Bank Financing.

The first part of the Traditional Bank Financing focuses on Qualifying for a Loan. While many different loan packages exist, the most common loan written in today’s market is an FHA Loan, and therefore, we shall use their guidelines as an example. The following are guidelines for an FHA Loan:

o FHA Loans require a minimum credit score of 620 to be eligible for a loan
o FHA will require 3.5% down on the home. This down payment MUST come from your account. You are not allowed to borrow from friends, family or anyone else. You must document where the funds for the down payment came from. Specifically, the source of the down payment must be from your personal checking, savings or retirement account and CAN NOT be borrowed!

In order to work with most Realtors, you must first get pre-approved for a bank. Many Realtors won’t even show you a house unless you can prove that you are able to afford and receive financing for the property. This painful process of pre-approval from a bank can take 2-3 days and involve the following steps:

o Proof of Creditworthiness
o You must provide 2-4 years worth of tax returns!
o You must provide your last 4 pay check stubs if you are an employee or an updated Profit and Loss statement if you are self-employed, a business owner, an independent contractor or entrepreneur. However, if you cannot show a consistent pay stub as proof of income, then you may want to skip ahead to the part of this document where ‘Owner Financing’ is discussed, as you will find it increasingly difficult to qualify for a mortgage.
o Your bank may require you pay off other debit to help improve your credit score to qualify for the loan
o And the worst part… this proof of creditworthiness is done throughout the entire home buying process! Even once you qualify and pick out the home of your dreams; underwriters at the bank will have you go through the same process to make sure you still qualify.

Now that you are pre-qualified for the home of your dreams, you may finally begin the process of working with a Realtor to find your new home.

Once you’ve found your home, the Traditional Banks will want an inspection performed on the home and may require the seller to fix EVERYTHING for the bank to finance your loan. Some people just want a small discount on the house and they will do their own repairs however, many times a traditional bank will not allow you to do this! These small fixes may add to the total price of the house.

Also, expect to pay Realtor fees, bank fees, filling fees, “point buy down” fees, loan origination fees, closing costs, title fees, surveys, appraisal fees, and anything else imaginable for which to be charged. Though many of these fees can be rolled into your loan, over the long term, you may be paying an extra 10% in unnecessary Financing Fees that are loaded into your loan!

What if there was a quicker, easier, and less intrusive way to take your share of the American Dream? What if you could look at homes without having to pay a Realtor fee, pre-qualify for a loan, and go through a 3 month home buying process? After all, we ARE in a BUYER’S market in Real Estate, so why shouldn’t we be able to buy?

Consider the possibility of declaring a New Rule. Instead of working with (and paying for) a Realtor, why not work with the Seller directly? Especially if that seller is a Professional Real Estate Investor who is not only willing to sell the house in a quick and simple matter, but is also will to FINANCE the sale of the house on a short-term basis!

The Basics Of Recreational Vehicle Financing

It is generally regarded that getting a good financing deal on an RV today is far easier than it was before. Recreational vehicle financing has been around since there have been RV units to finance but only recently has there been an influx of flexibility in how it was done. Also, in comparison to before, recreational vehicle financing now is far more direct, straightforward, and simpler. However, it would be good to keep in mind that financing an RV purchase is not exactly the same as financing a car. Some would say it is far more similar to financing a boat.

There is a prevalent perception that anyone who buys an RV, even with a financing deal, is going to be a person who pays up on time. The overall reliability of people who opt for recreational vehicle financing gives lending companies confidence in allowing for lower interest rates and terms that are not as harsh as those one might find on a car financing agreement. Monthly payments are also more affordable, thanks to that reputation. As such, if a person is considering purchasing an RV, it would be a good idea to take advantage of that reputation, in conjunction with a good credit rating and a clean credit history. The aforementioned combination could easily land a potential buyer an incredible bargain on their RV purchase.

Another incredible aspect of recreational vehicle financing would be the average number of years for the payment terms. Typically ranging from 10 to 20 years, an RV financing arrangement is considerably longer than that of a car. Also, very few financing institutions lump the interest rates at the start or end of the payment period, which means that the interest is spread out evenly. What that means for the average buyer is the fact that they need not fear suddenly having their budgets constrained by a sudden increase in the interest they have to pay for their new recreational vehicle.

One trait recreational vehicle financing shares with automobile financing would be the emergence of online financing companies. Operating the same way as their automobile counterparts do, RV financing groups are known for being less critical about a person’s credit rating and credit history, provided they have not declared bankruptcy or have defaulted on previous loans. Both car and RV lending companies also share the convenience of speed. It is not uncommon for an online RV financing group to be able to determine within a minute whether or not a potential customer would qualify for a financing agreement based on their limitations and terms. Both car and RV financing groups also share another minor convenience in the fact that neither will attempt to push extras such as insurance or an extended service plan on the buyer the way a dealership would.

With the ease, speed, and flexibility offered by recreational vehicle financing services on the Internet, it is no wonder that there is a slow but steady growth of people turning to online lenders for their financing needs. While the market for recreational vehicle financing is significantly smaller to the market for automobile financing, it is still substantial enough to warrant a number of websites and companies willing to provide their services to prospective buyers. With the price of real estate currently on the rise, some people might turn to RV units as a cheaper, temporary alternative. Naturally, the aforementioned people will come to realize that turning to an RV financing group is the best way for them to minimize their expenses.