1 Written and produced in partnership with Professor Nick Wilson Chair In Credit Management University of Leeds AND PAYONTIME.CO.UK THE GUERRILLA GUIDE TO FINDING WORKING CAPITAL Sponsored by SME Invoice Finance Limited. GuerrillaGuide.co.uk
2 2 THE GUERRILLA GUIDE TO FINDING WORKING CAPITAL EXPLORE THE ALTERNATIVES By David Hogg Your business is your life s work; it s your baby. Now more than ever, you need to protect and nurture it. Above all, you want your business to flourish - and that means being prepared to seize competitive advantage wherever you can find it. The UK economy also needs the growth and jobs that businesses like yours continue to create. Anything that stifles that process will dramatically impact on economic recovery. Whilst the current business environment is ever changing, one fundamental statement remains constant: It s not bad ideas that kill businesses, it s lack of cash. The reality is that the greater the range of options you have to access working capital, the more control you have over your business and its future. This indispensible, independent and, above all, digestible Guerrilla Guide to Finding Working Capital is packed with valuable ideas and information to help you navigate the business finance jungle. In clear, lively and reassuring chapters, it answers the questions that business owners ask every day. We hope this guide helps you track down hidden reserves of cash and the optimum type of finance that will enable your business not just to survive but also to thrive. Best wishes, David Hogg Managing Director SME Invoice Finance Limited DEDICATED TO SMEs Since its inception in January 2000, SME Invoice Finance Limited has been dedicated to providing owner-managed businesses with a range of powerful invoice finance solutions, such as confidential invoice discounting and invoice factoring. Privately owned, fiercely independent and backed by major blue-chip shareholders, SME Invoice Finance Limited is a substantial invoice finance company in the UK market providing circa 60million of funding to clients nationwide. Unlike traditional sources of finance, SME Invoice Finance does not slavishly follow the rulebook. Instead, they focus on supporting businesses, taking the care to understand their specific objectives and create an invoice finance solution that is tailored to meet the needs of each client.
3 SECTION i / Introduction 3
4 4 THE GUERRILLA GUIDE TO FINDING WORKING CAPITAL FOREWORD THE RULES HAVE CHANGED TAKE CONTROL By Professor Nick Wilson On the one hand, you could say that small businesses now have no choice but to explore alternative sources of working capital. On the other, you have never had so much choice or so many proven alternatives. The rules have changed. Historically, businesses have been heavily reliant on traditional bank lending. According to the Bank of England, gross lending to businesses (excluding the financial sector) stood at 657bn in December However, by December 2011, this figure had shrunk by 151bn. Increasing regulation has resulted in strict loan-to-deposit ratio targets, which are forcing the banks to reduce the size of their loan books. There is also strong evidence to suggest that access to finance from traditional sources will get even more acute as the economy improves and demand for credit increases. According to the Breedon Report, the funding shortfall facing small businesses is expected to be as high as 190bn in just five years. With traditional sources of finance coming under pressure, owners of small businesses are actively looking beyond the mainstream. Many are seeking to combat the impact of the double-dip recession by radically rethinking the way they look at their finances. Business owners are starting to recognise the risks associated with reliance on one single source of finance. This Guerrilla Guide to Working Capital is an important resource. It enables you to explore the alternatives available to you both inside and outside of your business to make more informed decisions. According to the BIS Business Survey 2010, two-thirds of businesses embarking on growth were looking at using internal funding sources. The arguments for alternative external sources of finance are compelling. More diverse financing gives businesses greater choice, promotes competition amongst finance providers, potentially reducing cost, and leads to greater resilience in the financial system. With more options comes more control over the development and destiny of your business. The Guerrilla Guide to Working Capital is the first step to finding rich reserves of working capital to help you grow and prosper. It s time to take control. Kind regards, Professor Nick Wilson Chair In Credit Management University Of Leeds Professor Wilson is a world leading authority on credit management and participated in the expert economists sub-committee on the Breedon Task Force looking at alternative debt markets for SMEs.
5 SECTION ii / Foreword, definition 5 work ing cap i tal Noun Working capital is an effective measure of a company s underlying operational efficiency and its short-term financial health. It is the resource that a business uses to finance its day-today operations and is calculated by deducting current liabilities from current assets. The reality is that working capital is so much more than a mere dictionary definition, it s the lifeblood of your business the difference between failure and success.
6 6 THE GUERRILLA GUIDE TO FINDING WORKING CAPITAL 1 WORKING CAPITAL FROM WITHIN Cash In - From Stealth to Wealth Brought to you in partnership with payontime.co.uk - the UK s leading independent source of credit management advice. There s an old saying that a sale is not a sale until it is paid for. This statement underlines one of the biggest problems for small businesses getting paid on time. The quicker you can get paid in the current unforgiving environment, the better your cash flow and your business performance. The problem is that many business owners shy away from the systems and processes that are essential to securing prompt payment. Often the reason given for this is concern over losing customers. This begs the question, what is custom worth without payment? This approach is simply killing small businesses. So, in the fight against late payment, it pays to invest the time in credit management. Here are some tips to help you to get more money in your account, more quickly: Get close to your customer Apply the 80/20 ratio, i.e. identify the few major customers who buy 80% of your sales - therefore who pay the most. The few major accounts Get good credit agency reports to indicate the right level of credit. Get to know customers payments staff. Visit them at intervals. Cultivate them to get priority treatment - as you would buyers. Give them priority attention on queries and service. The mass of non-major accounts Get the right individual s name for letters and phone calls, not just for your main contact but the person in the accounts department who arranges your payments. With new customers, introduce this early on, perhaps from credit application forms, engagement letters or routine correspondence.
7 SECTION 1 / Working capital from within 7 Make your credit terms crystal clear In a sales negotiation It is professional, not anti-selling, to say we can allow 30 days to pay - does that give you any problems? Discuss it, don t duck it. On an order acknowledgement Stress your payment terms, as a condition of sale supersedes any buyer s terms. Send it to a named, responsible person. On an account application form Include a paragraph for the buyer to sign, agreeing to comply with your stated payment terms and conditions of sale. On invoices and statements Show the payment terms boldly on the front. On invoices, also show the due date; e.g. Payment Terms: 30 days from invoice date - payment to reach us by 14th March 201X. On statements, repeat the terms and indicate debts past due dates. Open new accounts properly Attitude Treat this as the best chance you have to get payments properly arranged. Your customer should expect to request time to pay and to be checked out. Don t deliver until you are happy to allow credit. Allocating the Account Number should be the control point. Actions Credit Application Form: obtain correct name, company registration number (for companies), payment address, person for payments, phone, fax numbers, details and acceptance of terms. Allocate account number and set up correct account details. Send a letter to the payment person confirming the amount of credit available. By doing so, you are introducing yourself to the person who will be making the payments, as well as confirming your payment terms and reiterating the amount of credit available. Now you are ready to sell to the customer on a credit basis, use a special ledger category for 3 months, with telephone contact, to get your customer into good payment habits. Issue effective invoices rapidly Design an attention-grabbing invoice that is better than any you see coming into your own company. Keep it brief and clear. Get rid of clutter such as advertising and technical detail - the Invoice is for accounts staff to use. Invoice within 24 hours of a chargeable event. Remember, nothing happens until your bill gets into the customer s payment process. Include your payment terms and due date, date, delivery date and method, description, price and total payable and especially the customer order number or payment authorisation. Send the Invoice to a named individual. Use FIRST CLASS post to beat customer closing deadlines. Use a courier for very large values. You cannot expect customers to pay against incorrect invoices. Make sure yours are accurate when you are negotiating or quoting. Get credit references or not, according to policy. Decide maximum credit amount.
8 8 THE GUERRILLA GUIDE TO FINDING WORKING CAPITAL Use the Internet to fast track payment E invoicing helps retrieve money more quickly from your customers, by reducing the amount of time wasted whilst your invoice is in the post. The average payment time for a business is between 40 and 60 days. However, businesses which use e invoicing report a significant reduction in their average payment times. Reduced print and postage costs. If invoices are sent electronically, money can be saved on the cost of paper, print cartridges, envelopes and postage. Reduced requirement for sending out copy invoices. The direct delivery of invoices to the customer s inbox minimises the likelihood of them claiming they have not received them or that they must be lost in the post. Time delays are minimised, as copies can be re-sent and received by them immediately. Faster dispute resolution. The sooner your customer receives your invoice, the earlier they can alert you to any concerns they have about their account or the amount due. Issuing invoices electronically It is advisable to state your intention to invoice customers electronically in your contract and to ensure that they are able to receive communication by this means. For existing customers, write to them informing them of the change to your terms and conditions - and seek their agreement. Verify the correct address for the person responsible for making payments. It is important to protect the authenticity and integrity of the invoice when sending it electronically. Therefore, your invoice should either be written into the itself, attached as a protected word file or sent as a pdf document. Keep the wording and lay out the same as previous paper invoices to avoid confusion and, if possible, use delivery tracking to check that your has arrived safely. Print off and keep a hard copy of all invoices you send electronically as a back up. Paying electronically As well as invoicing benefits from using the Internet, it also pays to encourage electronic payment. Benefits of receiving payment by electronic funds transfer include the following: It can reduce late payment, as your customers payments are automatically deposited in your account on the agreed date Money is delivered directly into your bank account, meaning you don t have to wait up to a week for cheques to clear. Cleared funds are available to you straight away. Reduces the chance of cheques being lost or stolen in the post. Saves you the trouble of depositing cheques at your bank. Gaining intelligence An Aged Debt Analysis (or list of debts outstanding according to amount of time outstanding) is the essential working tool for collection and the best control document for you to monitor what s happening. Think about the following; List accounts in order of size - largest debt first. Computerised Systems - use an open-item version of the statement sent to each account showing all unpaid items - current and overdue - with disputed billings segregated for action. Manual System - use paper copy statements as above, but change to open-item display as soon as possible (the brought-forward balance method is outdated and generates too many queries). Confronting Collections Customers either pay on time, or when chased, or when threatened. You need to find the time to know which customers respond to which and deal with them accordingly. You have visiting, ing, phoning, post and fax (yes they are still about) available to you to chase payment. Here are a few tips: A Stop-List can be effective for products in short supply. Visit the top few major accounts to resolve problems and build relationships while collecting large cheques. Keep a tab on what they owe you in late payment interest and compensation. You can use this figure as leverage. For more details on how to calculate what you are owed click on to payontime.co.uk Make sure Sales and Credit Management talk to one another. Coordination is the name of the game. Phone major accounts in advance of due dates to ensure payments are in process, in time to solve problems before your deadline.
9 SECTION 1 / Working capital from within 9 Phone all other accounts, working down the list by size of debt, according to time available. MAKE SURE OF ALL LARGE DEBTS BEFORE TELEPHONING SMALL DEBTS. Working in alphabetical or account number order is dangerous. When contacting your debtors by telephone, it is important to observe the following: Be systematic incorporate phone calls into your collection strategy. A good strategy will timetable appropriate dates for issuing invoices, making phone calls and issuing reminders. Be prepared check that the information relating to the outstanding debt is correct, and that the information is readily available when making the call, i.e. the account number, the credit limit available to the debtor, the invoice date and the balance due. Be courteous remember that every contact your company makes with your customer can add to your existing relationship. A professional but friendly approach can earn your debtor s respect and cement loyalty. Send letters to any overdue accounts too small to telephone. Two standard letters are enough after an Overdue Message on the statement. A polite reminder letter should be enough for customers who Pay when Chased. For those who only Pay when Threatened, a second and Final Demand is needed. The intervals between the letters depend on company cultures, but 14 days is plenty. If the Final Demand does not work, its threat must be carried out. Bluffs are soon seen as weakness. Faxes convey urgency and often beat defensive barriers when letters are being ignored or phone calls diverted. They should be sent to senior people and are more significant when third-party action is mentioned. Remember - phoning for cash is easily the most effective collection method. Get help or go legal If customers ignore reminders, it could be because they are waiting for a significant threat; using a third party can have a stirring effect. in the first month because of their third-party effect and full-time effort. Send all undisputed debts below a certain value to an agency after a certain time. This releases your own resources to collect large, current amounts from active accounts. This Debt Collection Agent Checklist sets out the key information, which the credit manager should have to hand when appointing a debt collection agency Non-Court Action Going to court is not the only way of resolving a dispute. There are other options such as negotiation, mediation, conciliation or arbitration. Solicitors They issue powerful letters in a short space of time, charging a pre-agreed fee. Use a firm specialising in debt collection, not just any solicitor. Statutory Demands These can be sent by you, your collection agent or solicitor, promising an application to court for the formal Winding-Up of the business if payment is not made within 21 days. Alternatively, the seller can obtain a court order for the debt. Court Action Solicitors are essential for High Court actions but not county court. Fees are higher in the more effective High Court. Before suing, check that there is no known dispute, no other useful steps are possible and the customer has the means to settle. Make sure your solicitor has everything they need. For example, the Form of instruction to solicitors is designed to ensure that you avoid any inaccuracies that can undermine a claim such as: The need to ensure that the name under which the seller is suing matches up exactly with the name of the company or trading division with which the customer originally contracted. The need to identify the status of the debtor, i.e. whether they are trading as a sole proprietor, as a firm or as a company. This is vital to ensure that the proceedings are being taken against the right party/individual. The need to give essential information about the debt itself, such as the amount due, whether it has arisen as a result of goods sold and delivered, services rendered or work done and materials supplied. It is always useful for the solicitor to be given copies of invoices and details of the dates, numbers and payments due under each. Collection Agents They work on a no collection - no fee basis and charge 5-15% of amounts collected, depending on complexity and volume. Good ones collect over 80%
10 10 THE GUERRILLA GUIDE TO FINDING WORKING CAPITAL Cash Out Secure Your Supply Chain and Ambush Wastage Particularly when cash flow is tight, late payment can turn into a game of pass the parcel throughout the supply chain. You don t have to play that game. In tough economic times, it may seem counterintuitive to some companies to pay their suppliers on time. The opportunity that prompt payment presents you with is far greater that of building a reservoir of goodwill with your suppliers. Your supply chain can make or break your business and its ability to serve its customers. The way you manage your purchasing/sales relationship is critical to your profit margins. A commitment by you to prompt payment can be a powerful aid to better buying. It will certainly produce closer, more co-operative partnerships between you and your suppliers. It will allow you to access better terms, better supplies and better service. In other words, suppliers invest in themselves to help you do better business. Some tips to getting started are; Have a top management policy on prompt payment of bills. Ensure that all staff are aware of it, especially but not only those in finance and purchasing. Agree terms of payment at the start of all contracts. Monitor your payment system regularly for timely payment of invoices Have a good system for clearing disputes quickly. Foster good relationships with suppliers by informing them of your payment procedures and who is responsible. Meet your suppliers and engage them with your business aims. Create a common purpose If you do this and are in need of greater working capital, they may, just may be able to give you longer credit terms. Why? Simple. They know you will pay them on time. That s about trust - one of the most valuable commodities in business.
11 SECTION 1 / Working capital from within 11 Your Savings Campaign Starts Now Austerity appears the watchword of the times but looking for savings is not necessarily about frugality. It s about being more careful about what you spend and when you need to spend it: something we know as spend resistance. Involve the whole team and come up with a plan. Get radical with your thinking and boost your bottom-line profit. Here are a few ideas to throw in to your team s brainstorm session to kick this project off: Get interest on your money by setting up a sweeps account Renegotiate your lease or rent. Check out alternatives for utilities. Got spare space? Consider a short term let to a new or small business. If you have things in storage have a good clear out making sure to keep records that are legally important to keep. Look at your subscriptions to publications, groups and organisations. Are they essential to the business or just magazines gathering dust uncreased and unloved? Send one person to that seminar or conference and get them to do a show and tell to everyone back at base. Do you use consultants? Consider what they actually add. Perhaps contact your local university s business school. It s full of bright young things who d love to help you for a much lower hourly rate. Can anyone take on multiple roles as you grow or job share instead of going straight for a new hiring? Find a cheaper insurance quote. Right size office supplies. Do you need everything you are ordering? Are you really using all the office equipment you have on lease? Can you downsize that copier or go down to one all-purpose copier for example? Look at the computers you have. Do you have spare equipment that could be upgraded rather than buying a spangly new Mac? What meetings can be substituted for conference calls? What expensive telephone conference calls can be done on cheaper video calls? How can you trade time and expertise with suppliers instead of cash? You may be surprised how much you can help each other with no money changing hands. Does your agency have to do all your website updates? Get access to the admin system behind your site and write your own updates. Cut the advertising and get social. You may be able to reach more customers via LinkedIn than from a magazine. Undertake a full audit of your marketing and test alternatives. Print off less and store digitally more. Look at the packaging your suppliers use if you can reduce their costs they will pass it on to you. Do you have a programmable thermostat to keep those heating bills down? Disposable cups? Lose them for some crockery. Buy recycled printer cartridges. Cut your lighting bill with motion detectors on infrequently used spaces. Use freelancers more. They are plentiful and eager in these times. Kids of yours and your team are always looking for holiday jobs. Make it your business of looking after you and yours. Anything bought retail can you buy it wholesale? Car share more on business trips. Does the chairman need a 4 star hotel or can he muck in with everyone else at the 3 star down the road? Don t eat in the hotel it is always cheaper outside and sometimes much better! Do you really use all the features of and phone lines on your system?
12 12 THE GUERRILLA GUIDE TO FINDING WORKING CAPITAL Whatever your business situation, whether you are a new start or rapidly growing business, or whether you are looking to restructure or acquire another business, you will need a constant supply of cash to support your ambitions. In this current environment, where there is pressure on liquidity, the key to your future success is to ensure you have access to the right finance facility to your cash flow requirements at the right time. There are many different types of finance available - each of them designed to meet different needs. What we have done in this section is give you a crash course of the options available to you and where to look for more information. 2Instead, we ve focused on what you need, right now. WORKING CAPITAL FINANCE BOOTCAMP We deliberately haven t covered investment capital, namely larger sums required for long-term strategic investment. That could fill a separate guide in itself.
13 SECTION 2 / Working capital FINANCE BOOTCAMP 13 Asset Finance Asset finance is a loan that is used to obtain equipment or vehicles for your business, such as office equipment, plant and machinery or company cars. It can offer a flexible alternative to a normal loan, providing cash flow and tax benefits. It is secured on the asset being provided and differs from a loan in that the finance cannot be recalled during the lifetime of the agreement. The item or equipment can usually be upgraded at the end of the term. The two main forms of asset finance are leasing and lease purchase. The key is very often whether you want to own the asset or not. With leasing, the leasing company buys and owns the asset. The customer, or lessee, then hires the asset, paying rental over a fixed period. At the end of the contract, the customer usually has a choice of extending the lease or simply returning it. Lease rentals are 100% allowable against your pre-tax profits. Hire Purchase is a financing solution for companies wishing to purchase business assets. The customer pays an initial deposit, with the remainder of the balance and interest paid over a period of time. On completion, ownership of the asset transfers to the customer. More info fla.org.uk/business Asset Based Lending UK businesses are increasingly turning to their assets to release cash flow for growth. Asset Based Lending is a versatile form of finance that not only releases the value tied up in your sales ledger but also additional assets, such as plant and machinery, stock and freehold and long-leasehold property. Bank Loans and Overdrafts A business loan is generally a fixed cost, fixed term loan. An overdraft is an agreed cash-borrowing limit that is arranged with your bank to provide shortterm funds. Whilst we may be familiar with what a bank loan or overdraft offer, they are becoming more elusive to secure. So it is important to understand how you can best improve your chances of getting what you need. Firstly you will need a comprehensive business plan that shows quite precisely what the loan will be used for. Your projections need to be realistic, show you can afford the repayments on top of your costs and expenses in the business and backed up by as much evidence as you can muster. Secondly, show them how good you are at your trade or profession. Client list, testimonials, qualifications and anything else that will help them understand that you do not present a high risk i.e. they have a strong chance of getting their money back with interest. Thirdly, be prepared to offer guarantees or collateral. Banks do not like taking risks so they are looking for Plan B and possibly Plan C to make sure they don t lose. It s important to be patient. It s not as quick a process as it once was because caution has taken hold. But you can counteract that by shopping around. Don t accept bad service or a bad deal. Finally, a fixed ceiling facility may not right for your business, particularly if it is growing rapidly. An overdraft can also be called in by the bank without notice, so it is worth being aware of this in advance before signing on the dotted line. It is frequently used by more mature businesses that are looking for a finance solution driven by strategic reasons, such as expansion plans, funding an acquisition or a management buy out. More info abfa.org.uk/abl/abl.asp
14 14 THE GUERRILLA GUIDE TO FINDING WORKING CAPITAL Business Angels A business angel is typically a wealthy individual willing to invest in a business, quite typically a successful businessperson in his or her own right. They usually fill the gap between raising finance from friends and family and full-blown venture capital. Usually found investing in the early stages of a company s development they may be open to taking a higher risk than, say, a bank, but would be expecting a higher return in the form of a slice of the action, or equity. The Angel may be able to bring business experience that is valuable to you but be prepared to be thorough with the business plan and your numbers. Angels are expecting a percentage of their investments to fail due to the high-risk nature of what they are investing in. So they are looking for a high return and a defined exit point, a certain number of years ahead. Your plans have to demonstrate clearly and realistically that they can achieve this. More info bbaa.org.uk Crowd Funding A recent and growing phenomenon, fuelled by the Internet and its ability to allow people and businesses to collaborate. One of its advantages is that it allows business ideas that do not fit the conventional finance world s mold to be given the opportunity to live and develop. The wisdom of the crowd thinks it s a good idea and puts its money where its mouse is. The big drawback though is that you have to tell a lot of people about your great business idea to get them interested and run the risk of it being pinched. Good intellectual property protection is essential before uttering a keystroke. More info crowdfundingtoday.co.uk Factoring Factoring provides an injection of cash against the value of a company s invoices and frees up management time, removing the burden of running the sales ledger and credit management functions. In essence, with Factoring you sell your invoices to a third party, a Factor. The factoring company will pay a percentage of the value of the invoices to you straight away and then go and collect the full amount owed. Once the factoring company has collected the outstanding debt, the balance will be paid to you minus the amount already advanced and the charges. What this will deliver is the ability to get a high proportion of the money you are owed by your customers right now and thereby increase the cash within your business. In addition, the factoring company takes the administrative burden of collection away from you. There are two different types of factoring; recourse and non-recourse factoring. With recourse factoring, the factor will be able to reclaim their money from you if the customer does not pay. The factoring agreement will specify how many days after the due date for payment you must refund the advance. Non-recourse factoring is where the factor takes the risk of bad debts away from you, invariably backed by credit insurance protection, which makes it the more expensive route of the two. More info abfa.org.uk/public/factoring.asp
15 SECTION 2 / Working capital FINANCE BOOTCAMP 15 Family and Friends The people that know and love you are a frequent source of both financial and emotional support. But in terms of business and their financial support it is vital that you are formal for everyone s benefit. Decide whether you are seeking short term finance, where a loan might be appropriate, or something more longer terms where you may consider offering shares as opposed to structuring it as a loan. But don t sacrifice your control of your business. Above all, manage peoples expectations. Treat it like any other investor and have a thorough plan and projections and make it clear what you intend to use the money for and what their payback is likely to be and when. As with all finance, they are running a risk but without being professionals so your duty of care is quite high. It may be the cheapest form of finance since a business may not need to pay as much interest on the money borrowed. However it may not be able to generate the level of working capital the business is looking for, depending on the requirements. More info bit.ly/l1bhta Invoice Discounting Having large sums of cash tied up in your debtors can seriously hinder your business development. Invoice discounting is an effective way of improving your cash flow by converting your invoices into cash on an on-going basis. It has the same immediate cash flow benefit as factoring but you keep control of your sales ledger and customer relationship. The facility is generally confidential which means that your customers are unaware of the arrangement. Money is advanced by the invoice discounting company against your sales ledger and you will normally pay a fee which equates to a percentage of the value of your invoices or an agreed fixed fee. Funds are made available at an agreed percentage rate against invoices as they are issued for you to draw down as needed. More info bit.ly/lgbtg6 Government The Government run a number of different schemes depending on the nature of the finance a business needs: Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) EFG is a loan guarantee scheme designed to facilitate additional lending to viable SMEs lacking the security or proven track record for a commercial loan. It is not a replacement for commercial products and will account for 1%-2% of total lending to SMEs. The Government provides the lender with a 75% guarantee for each individual loan, subject to a cap on total claims arising from a Lender s portfolio. Accredited lenders deliver the funds. There are currently 45 accredited lenders, including all main UK High Street Banks. The EFG is open to SMEs with an annual turnover of up to 25m [rising to 44m from January 2012] seeking loans between 1000 and 1m, repayable over a period of 3 months to 10 years. Export Enterprise Finance Guarantee (ExEFG) ExEFG facilitates the provision of short-term export finance to viable SMEs that lack the security necessary to obtain such facilities commercially. As required by EU State Aid rules, the scheme operates on a commercial basis. The Government provides the lender with a 60% guarantee for each individual facility, subject to a cap on total claims rising from a lenders annual portfolio. The borrower pays an upfront 3% per annum (pro rata) premium regardless of facility utilisation or drawdown, to meet the costs of the scheme. Accredited lenders deliver the funds and ExEFG is open to viable SMEs with an annual turnover of up to 25m seeking short-term export finance between 25,001 and 1million for terms of up to 2 years (available in increments of 3 months). More info bit.ly/jgyih2 Supplier Credit This is the easiest way for businesses to obtain funding. Businesses are able to buy goods and services using supplier credit. When business owners need more credit from suppliers they are sometimes able to negotiate longer credit terms or larger credit lines.
16 16 THE GUERRILLA GUIDE TO FINDING WORKING CAPITAL Next Steps To work out how much cash you ll need, start by producing a list of everything that you plan to spend your money on and when these payments are due. Once you have your expenses mapped out you need to build a cash flow forecast, so you can see on one page, exactly what is coming in and what is going out. You can download a free Excel Cash Flow Forecast Template here to help you answer the question: How much cash do I need to run the business day to day, week to week and month to month? Simply enter all of your expense headings on the left hand side and the monthly amount under the appropriate month column. If you have a net outflow each month i.e. your outgoings exceed your incomings, then this is the amount of money that you ll need to have set aside each month to fund your business. The total amount of cash that you ll need is the total monthly amount of cash you ll need until you break even (cumulative cash flow). Increase fixed costs to give yourself a cushion, known as a contingency. Typically, costs are higher than you expect and therefore a sensible approach is to have cash in hand of times the amount that you think you ll need to break even. Don t forget about any stock payments you may need to make. Once you have your forecast you can easily create what if scenarios, asking questions such as: What will my working capital requirement look like if the business is to grow by 5%, 10%, 25%, 50%, 100%? What will my working capital requirement look like if the business is reduced? What further working capital will I need in order to meet the objectives in my business plan? You can refine your cash flow model further by asking these questions: What is the actual delay in receiving money from my customers? Is it a one-off requirement for a project or an ongoing working capital need? Is the requirement short term or long term? How quickly do I need funding? Can I (and my co-directors) self-fund this working capital shortfall? Remember to bear in mind if your business is seasonal or cyclical as this can dramatically affect your cash flow. Most business owners by their very nature look for opportunities and therefore are typically optimistic about when and how much sales that they make. It pays to be conservative in both revenues and expenses. Discount last year s revenues. Often it takes longer to get the sales than first thought, especially if you re selling products to larger businesses that may need to go through a set of internal processes before they commit to purchase. So moving your expected income to the right by 3 months, helps you plan for any unforeseen problems. Don t forget, the amount of income that goes in the cash flow statement is the amount of cash you receive, and not the sale. If you sell something in January, you might not actually get the income until March if you re giving your customer credit terms. Armed with that powerful knowledge of your working capital requirements, revisit the list of finance options in this Guerrilla Guide, highlighting those which you would like to know more about. Explore the Guerrilla Guide Resources, such as our Jargon Buster. Speak to your accountant, your finance broker and members of the trade associations mentioned in this guide. It s your business and your destiny. This is just the start.
17 SECTION 2 / Working capital FINANCE BOOTCAMP 17 Keep Your Working Capital Going and Your Cash Flow Flowing Ready for more? Join us at GuerrillaGuide.co.uk for more resources, tracking the latest buzz on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. You ll find topical news for SMEs, fresh perspectives and video interviews with contributors from every chapter of this Guide. And in the spirit of the Guerrilla Guide, please feel free to join the conversation. See you there!
18 18 THE GUERRILLA GUIDE TO FINDING WORKING CAPITAL Jargon Buster Sometimes, finding out about finance can feel like learning a new language. Clear up the confusion with this handy guide to finance terms. from customers not paying invoices under specific circumstances. You can buy individual credit insurance policies or take them as part of a 'non recourse' facility. Advance rate The agreed percentage of eligible debts available for you to draw down. Aged debt report A summary report of all outstanding balances for each debtor over a period. We generate this report from the invoice date. Approved debt A debt an invoice finance company has accepted as being eligible for prepayment. Assets Anything your company owns that has a monetary value, including debtors. Assignment of debt A legal mechanism that gives an invoice finance company the right to collect cash from your debtors to repay amounts the invoice finance company advanced to you. Associated businesses Other businesses you own or which you can exert control over. Availability (of funds) The amount of cash available for you to draw each day if you wish. An invoice company usually calculates this by multiplying the total eli- gible invoices by the advance rate, then subtracting the amount you've already drawn plus charges. BACS (Bankers Automated Clearing System) A transaction that transfers funds from one bank account to another - usually in three working days. CHAPS (Clearing House Automated Payment System) A transaction that processes payments between accounts on the same day. Also known as a telegraphic transfer. Cash flow A measurement of the cash your company gains or loses during an accounting period. Cash flow is one of your most important management tools. Confidential invoice discounting (CID) An invoice finance facility where a lender (discounter) confidentially advances funds to a business, secured against the value of the business sales ledger. The business retains complete responsibility and control of its sales ledger, credit control and collection. Contra-trading A trading relationship that might involve buying from and selling to the same customer. This may create an offset to establish the balance of what's owed and by whom. Credit insurance This protects against bad debt arising Credit limit Your own limits are the amount of credit you're prepared to give to your customers. An invoice finance company's limits are the credit levels it applies to each of its customers, up to the amount it's prepared to advance money (funding limits). These limits are not necessarily the same. Current account The account showing the financial obligation between your business and the invoice finance company. The invoice finance company calculates this by totalling all prepayments and fees charged to you, less all collections received from your debtors. Current assets Cash, debtors, stock - anything you would expect to convert into cash within twelve months of your balance sheet date. Debtor concentration The percentage value of your ledger held by individual debtors. For example, if you had a total ledger of 100 and one debtor accounted for 50, your ledger has 50% concentration. Dilution Anything that can reduce the value of invoices you've al-
19 SECTION 3 / JARGON BUSTER 19 ready raised, such as credit notes. Disapproved debts (disapprovals) Debts against which an invoice finance company won't provide funding. There are various reasons why debts might be disapproved. These include debts that are typically more than 90 days old (aged); disputed by the debtor; known to be bad or irrecoverable; or linked to associated businesses or contra-trading customers. Disbursements Monies paid from your account to discharge a valid expense. Disclosed discounting An invoice finance arrangement similar to confidential invoice discounting. As it isn't confidential, your customers may be aware that their debt has been assigned to an invoice finance company. Discount charge The rate of interest payable on funds outstanding (borrowed). This is usually expressed as a percentage over the bank base lending rate and calculated daily. Export debts Debts arising from selling goods or services to an overseas buyer. These may be invoiced in sterling or another currency. Fixed assets Assets held for business use rather than for sale or converting into cash, for example, fixtures, fittings, equipment and buildings. Full service factoring A method of accelerating cash flow to a business using the sales ledger (receivables) as security to borrow money. The invoice finance company also provides the business with a full sales ledger management, credit control and collections service. Facility limit The maximum balance to which the current account can be drawn at any time. This limit is often flexible and negotiable with the invoice finance company. Ineligibles The value of disapproved debts. Initial prepayment (IP) The maximum percentage value of your invoices available for you to draw in advance. Non-recourse factoring This is a factoring facility where, under certain circumstances, the factor provides credit insurance as part of their overall funding package. This provides a level of bad debt protection against nonpayment by your customers. Prepayment The maximum percentage value of your invoices that will be available for you to draw in advance. Reassignment A debt previously assigned to an invoice finance company that's been returned to you. Reconciliation A process of matching the balance of your sales ledger to the balance recorded by the invoice finance company at the same point in time. Reconciliation usually occurs at the end of each month. Recourse factoring Where an invoice finance company will seek to recover advances made to a client regarding any debt not paid within a certain time - usually 90 days following the month of the invoice date. Refactoring fee An additional charge that covers the cost of collecting debts that have aged beyond the agreed credit period. This charge is usually a percentage of the outstanding amount. Service fee A charge by an invoice finance company for administering your account. This is typically a percentage of sales. It's likely to be higher for a full factoring service than for invoice discounting, due to the additional workload. Take-on debts The value of the ledger when the facility commences. An invoice finance company will take on these debts when the facility starts and use them to calculate the initial available funds. Working capital Current assets less current liabilities. This represents the investment required to finance stock, debtors, and work in progress.
20 Copyright 2012 by SME Invoice Finance Limited. All rights reserved. We invite you to this book to friends and colleagues, post it on your website, or otherwise distribute free electronic versions. It should be left in its original form, with no added or subtracted text or images. It may not be sold or otherwise used for commercial gain. SME Invoice Finance Limited reserves all rights to this book in print, video and all other formats.
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