Small Business Finance Success Improves With Realistic Options

The goal of being realistic when seeking new commercial loans and working capital financing will help commercial borrowers avoid a number of commercial finance problems. With proper preparation business owners should be in a better position to obtain new financing despite the difficult challenges impacting most working capital loans and small business financing. Nevertheless it should be anticipated that terms of financing will be different from prior commercial financing. Because of recent commercial lending difficulties, business owners actively assessing the most effective options for their small business finance decisions are likely to find the smoothest path to business loan success.

In view of volatile conditions which have recently impacted credit markets, this will not be a simple task. A very common example of the problem is illustrated by how much misinformation and confusion there has been about business financing and working capital availability. Getting more accurate information about what is realistically possible can be one of the most difficult challenges for commercial borrowers.

When seeking to identify realistic choices in a confusing working capital management climate, a number of harsh realities must be confronted by all small business owners. For most current commercial financing decisions by business owners, there are several major factors to anticipate. In the first example, additional small business loan collateral is being requested by most commercial lenders. Second, many regional and local banks have discontinued lending for business financing and working capital. In a third example, businesses which are not currently profitable or not current in their debt payments will have extensive difficulties. Fourth, business construction funding currently is very limited in most areas. In a fifth example, lenders are eliminating unsecured business lines of credit for most small business owners.

Despite the new business financing limitations just noted, there are practical working capital options for small business owners to consider. An increasingly effective commercial financing option in the midst of an uncertain economy is a merchant cash advance program based on credit card processing activity. Even though this commercial funding option has been available for a few years, it has not been used by most small businesses. For most businesses which accept credit cards, merchant cash advances should be evaluated as an important tool for improving business cash flow. Small business owners wanting to pursue this financing option should consult a business financing expert who is knowledgeable about this working capital management approach as well as other small business loans.

Even though working capital loans are not as widely available as they were just a few months ago, this kind of small business financing is still in fact obtainable. Since some of the largest providers have stopped making these business loans, the main change for business borrowers is the likelihood that they will be dealing with a different commercial lender. Small business owners will benefit from finding an experienced and candid business financing expert to assist in evaluating realistic options because the most effective working capital financing providers are not aggressively marketing this capability.

As stressed above, when making commercial financing decisions it is becoming increasingly important for business owners to first determine their effective business finance funding options. Because of recent volatility in financial markets, this task is likely to be much more difficult than most commercial borrowers realize. It is advisable to explore commercial finance options that might be necessary if economic conditions change even further even for business owners who are satisfied with their current working capital financing arrangements. The use of Plan B contingency financing is an important tool to assist commercial borrowers in this process.

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Six Words to Describe Business Financing

This report was produced in a direct effort to provide more understandable insights about some of the most critical business finance issues effecting commercial borrowers. Our approach in this report is to describe current commercial loan circumstances in six words. We have adopted a similar model in other commercial finance reports such as “seven words to describe commercial property loans”. The “simpler is better” perspective reflects the belief that after hearing an almost endless number of reports about commercial lending difficulties, what small business owners might really need is a more concise explanation about these problems and the resulting impact on their business financing options.

Before proceeding, it is important to emphasize that small business finance options are often more complicated than anticipated by many business borrowers. We are definitely not attempting to characterize business loans and working capital financing as either straightforward or simple. In fact, quite the opposite is the case. The unfortunate reality that most business financing processes have always been excessively complicated and that meaningful improvements are not on the way is one of our ongoing observations. We nevertheless feel that it is critical for each small business owner to have an absolute and total understanding of the entire commercial finance process in the face of the prevailing commercial lending complexity. To help in providing more understandable insights about commercial loans and business banking problems, this particular report is one of several thorough efforts on our part.

Our first example of six words describing business financing options is “banks are saying no more often”. For any small business owner still unaware of this harsh reality and who might doubt this observation, a series of candid conversations with other business borrowers will probably remove all doubts. The failure of banks to provide an adequate level of business loans on a widespread basis is the primary point to remember. It is important for small businesses to realize that they are not alone when they hear their bank say no to routine requests for commercial financing.

“Commercial property values have decreased dramatically” is a second observation. There are very few exceptions. The biggest business financing impact is likely to occur with commercial refinancing situations. Many banks are aggressively recalling existing commercial real estate loans and this literally forces a borrower to seek business refinancing even if a business owner has no interest in refinancing their commercial mortgage. With decreasing commercial real estate values, business refinancing will be a challenge for most small businesses.

“Lines of credit are disappearing fast” is another six-word description of commercial financing. Even the most successful businesses need a reliable source of working capital financing, so this situation is especially serious if a business cannot replace bank financing when it suddenly disappears. Even if a business still has an adequate line of credit, it is important to realize that on a widespread basis banks are reducing and eliminating business credit lines with almost no advance notice.

As our final observation in this report, “business financing is in intensive care”. Extreme measures such as firing their banker and finding alternative commercial funding sources will need to be anticipated by small business owners in many cases. Bankers have not been sufficiently candid about commercial lending problems in the past, and nobody should expect that they will publicly announce that they are in any kind of financial trouble. On the contrary, a prevailing outlook from most banks is they are lending normally to small businesses. When dealing with any commercial lender, commercial borrowers will need a healthy amount of skepticism.

As we noted, this article is one of several efforts to help small business owners survive an extremely challenging commercial lending environment. This report was intentionally designed to produce a concise overview of several complex small business finance issues by describing commercial loan difficulties in six words. A better understanding of practical business financing options for commercial borrowers should also be realized by reviewing related reports such as “six words describing working capital management” and “seven words to describe merchant cash advances”.

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Your Bank and Business Financing – Reality Check

Business owners and managers want to compare equipment finance companies to their bank and for a good reason; a bank is a company’s first point of reference when borrowing money or financing equipment or an expansion project. A bank is the most obvious place to start and a secure place to store your money and use their multiple services. But what a bank does not do well, both historically because of their structure and the recent tightening of the credit market, is offer business financing for capital assets (equipment). Yet many people get confused when looking for an equipment loan because they are not seeing the whole picture; this is a case where you definitely want to compare apples to apples to get the best results.

Here are a few points to compare; these are not set in stone but based on years of experience, these trends apply a majority of the time.

1) Total Dollars Financed – banks normally require that you keep a balance of 20% or 30% of the equipment loan amount on deposit. This means they are only financing 70% or 80% of your equipment costs because you have to keep a certain amount of YOUR money in a fixed account for the duration of the loan. In contrast, an equipment finance company will cover 100% of the equipment including all “soft” costs and will only request a one or two month prepayment. No fixed deposits required.

2) Soft Costs – banks also will normally not cover “soft” costs like labor, warrantees, consulting and installation which means these costs come out of your pocket. An equipment finance company will cover 100% of the equipment price including “soft” costs and some projects can be financed with 100% “soft” costs which no bank would ever consider.

3) Interest Rates – this is the most popular question in the finance world; what’s my rate? If the bank requires 30% deposit in a fixed account then that automatically raises a 5% interest rate to a 20% rate. Now people will argue that you get that deposited money back at the end of the term but that is money which you do not have access to and has an opportunity cost associated with it. Equipment finance companies target their financing rates between 3-5% for cities and 7-9% for commercial financing which is a real fixed rate and not under-stated as the bank rates can be thus independent finance company rates are very competitive with “true” bank rates.

4) Process Speed – banks often take weeks to review and approve a finance request while independent finance companies normally only take a few days and can work much more quickly. Finance underwriters only review business financing while a bank has other types of requests clogging their channel.

Banks also have many more levels of approval and review to pass while independent finance companies normally only have two, underwriting and credit committee. Even with complicated deals, the finance company’s process is always faster.

5) Guarantee – banks require, as a standard part of their documentation, a blanket lien on all assets, both personal and business assets are used as guarantee against default on the loan. Your business assets, your home, your car, and your boat can all be on the line when entering into a bank transaction. This may also be the case with an equipment financing company but if your business operation is solvent then only your business will be listed as collateral and not your personal assets; this is known as a “corp only” approval.

6) Monitoring – banks require yearly “re-qualifying” of all their business accounts which means on the anniversary date of your loan each year, you must submit requested financial documents to assure the bank that everything is going well and nothing has affected your business in a negative way. Finance companies do not require anything during the term of the loan or finance as long as the monthly payments are made on time. Nobody will be checking into your business or policing what you do.

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Sources of Business Finance

Sources of business finance can be studied under the following heads:

(1) Short Term Finance:

Short-term finance is needed to fulfill the current needs of business. The current needs may include payment of taxes, salaries or wages, repair expenses, payment to creditor etc. The need for short term finance arises because sales revenues and purchase payments are not perfectly same at all the time. Sometimes sales can be low as compared to purchases. Further sales may be on credit while purchases are on cash. So short term finance is needed to match these disequilibrium.

Sources of short term finance are as follows:

(i) Bank Overdraft: Bank overdraft is very widely used source of business finance. Under this client can draw certain sum of money over and above his original account balance. Thus it is easier for the businessman to meet short term unexpected expenses.

(ii) Bill Discounting: Bills of exchange can be discounted at the banks. This provides cash to the holder of the bill which can be used to finance immediate needs.

(iii) Advances from Customers: Advances are primarily demanded and received for the confirmation of orders However, these are also used as source of financing the operations necessary to execute the job order.

(iv) Installment Purchases: Purchasing on installment gives more time to make payments. The deferred payments are used as a source of financing small expenses which are to be paid immediately.

(v) Bill of Lading: Bill of lading and other export and import documents are used as a guarantee to take loan from banks and that loan amount can be used as finance for a short time period.

(vi) Financial Institutions: Different financial institutions also help businessmen to get out of financial difficulties by providing short-term loans. Certain co-operative societies can arrange short term financial assistance for businessmen.

(vii) Trade Credit: It is the usual practice of the businessmen to buy raw material, store and spares on credit. Such transactions result in increasing accounts payable of the business which are to be paid after a certain time period. Goods are sold on cash and payment is made after 30, 60, or 90 days. This allows some freedom to businessmen in meeting financial difficulties.

(2) Medium Term Finance:

This finance is required to meet the medium term (1-5 years) requirements of the business. Such finances are basically required for the balancing, modernization and replacement of machinery and plant. These are also needed for re-engineering of the organization. They aid the management in completing medium term capital projects within planned time. Following are the sources of medium term finance:

(i) Commercial Banks: Commercial banks are the major source of medium term finance. They provide loans for different time-period against appropriate securities. At the termination of terms the loan can be re-negotiated, if required.

(ii) Hire Purchase: Hire purchase means buying on installments. It allows the business house to have the required goods with payments to be made in future in agreed installment. Needless to say that some interest is always charged on outstanding amount.

(iii) Financial Institutions: Several financial institutions such as SME Bank, Industrial Development Bank, etc., also provide medium and long-term finances. Besides providing finance they also provide technical and managerial assistance on different matters.

(iv) Debentures and TFCs: Debentures and TFCs (Terms Finance Certificates) are also used as a source of medium term finances. Debentures is an acknowledgement of loan from the company. It can be of any duration as agreed among the parties. The debenture holder enjoys return at a fixed rate of interest. Under Islamic mode of financing debentures has been replaced by TFCs.

(v) Insurance Companies: Insurance companies have a large pool of funds contributed by their policy holders. Insurance companies grant loans and make investments out of this pool. Such loans are the source of medium term financing for various businesses.

(3) Long Term Finance:

Long term finances are those that are required on permanent basis or for more than five years tenure. They are basically desired to meet structural changes in business or for heavy modernization expenses. These are also needed to initiate a new business plan or for a long term developmental projects. Following are its sources:

(i) Equity Shares: This method is most widely used all over the world to raise long term finance. Equity shares are subscribed by public to generate the capital base of a large scale business. The equity share holders shares the profit and loss of the business. This method is safe and secured, in a sense that amount once received is only paid back at the time of wounding up of the company.

(ii) Retained Earnings: Retained earnings are the reserves which are generated from the excess profits. In times of need they can be used to finance the business project. This is also called ploughing back of profits.

(iii) Leasing: Leasing is also a source of long term finance. With the help of leasing, new equipment can be acquired without any heavy outflow of cash.

(iv) Financial Institutions: Different financial institutions such as former PICIC also provide long term loans to business houses.

(v) Debentures: Debentures and Participation Term Certificates are also used as a source of long term financing.

Conclusion:

These are various sources of finance. In fact there is no hard and fast rule to differentiate among short and medium term sources or medium and long term sources. A source for example commercial bank can provide both a short term or a long term loan according to the needs of client. However, all these sources are frequently used in the modern business world for raising finances.

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A Brief Guide To Online Finance Degrees

Online degrees are gaining popularity because they are flexible, accessible and convenient. However, if you plan on getting a finance degree online you need to make sure that Moreover they are also acknowledged by most of the employers provided they are pursued from accredited online universities. You can opt for various levels of degree programs as well as certification programs completely online without discontinuing your existing job.

Types of Online Finance Degrees

Different levels of degreesin finance can be pursued online; this includes undergraduate, bachelor’s, master’s as well as Doctorate Degree in Finance. You can even consider various types of specialization to develop niche careers. Some online colleges even offer a combination of accounting and finance degrees.

Some of the most popularOnline Finance Degrees are:

>Online Finance MBA Programs
>Online Finance Certificate Programs
>Bachelor of Science Finance
>Bachelor of Business Administration Finance
>Master of Science in Finance
>Master of Science in International Finance

Choosing an Online Finance Degree

If you are interested in a specific career in the field of finance, you can consider different levels and types of Online Degrees in Finance. They can help you to develop lucrative careers like finance analyst, finance manager or budget manager. However, while choosing an Online Finance Degree at any level, you should look for credible degree programs. You should conduct adequate research and develop a list of accredited online colleges which ensures quality online education.

You can find out about its accreditation from various accredited agencies which are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. With these accredited degree programs, you can develop a lucrative career in the field of finance. This can enable you to get jobs in various work settings like private banking, financial planning, insurance or investment management.

Curriculum for Online Finance Degrees

The curriculum for an Online Finance Degree is one that can help you to develop a strong foundation in the field by gaining business skills along with gaining knowledge about different areas related to the field like finance, marketing, management, economics and statistics. You can also get in-depth understanding about various aspects of the field like risk management, related concepts, different strategies, investment and banking and financial markets.

The basic curriculum for different types of Online Degrees in Finance includes subjects like:

Financial and Intermediate Accounting
Cost Management
>Business and Finance
>Mathematics and Statistics
>Money Markets
>Commercial Finance
>Fiscal Accounting
>Financial Administration
>Insurance
>Global and Domestic Business Finance
>Introduction to Economics
>Investment Banking

An Online Finance Degree offers a lot of benefits and can help you to get experience as well as pursue higher education without leaving your existing jobs or compromising on other family commitments. You can pursue it at your own schedule and pace and can take it up from anywhere and at anytime.

In these times of uncertainty, a finance degree pursued from a top university is one of those few careers that still promise a good salary and a prestigious job.

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The Future Of Finance Jobs

In the not so long-gone past, many career advisers were advising young people seeking to start out a career to go into finance. The financial markets were doing well then, finance jobs were in plenty and MBA schools were bursting with young students seeking to build a career in finance. And the finance jobs were, of course, not limited to the financial markets. With a strong economy, finance graduates who couldn’t get jobs in the financial markets and investment banks could quite easily be absorbed into commerce and industry accounting jobs. Other would get middle office finance jobs in the public service, and going was good.
Then the bubble burst.

The economy went into recession mode, the financial markets shrunk and finance graduates who had taken up jobs with investment banks found themselves facing the axe, as the investment banks are the worst affected by turmoil in the financial markets. And as if on cue, companies, in a bid to cut costs, were also cutting on their head counts, thus also shaking the fortunes of the finance graduates who found commerce and industry accounting jobs in the private sector. In the midst of all this, it seems that the only secure finance graduates are those who took up middle office finance jobs in the public sector, but even this is not fear-proof for we do not know for sure what the full effects of the economic turmoil will be on civil service staffing.

So in the face of all this, what is the future of finance jobs?
It might seem counter-intuitive to say, but the future of finance jobs is still bright, in spite of the current turmoil in the financial markets. As it were, economists tell us that the current economic turmoil is largely short-term to medium term, which is to say that it won’t be with us forever. Which means that the people who chose to pursue a career in finance need not regret their choice, as better times are coming. But even before the better times arrive, the people with finance backgrounds who are currently getting laid off might not find themselves in the cold for too long.
As governments unveil the various economic stimulus plans, there will be need for people to manage the money as it goes into various sectors which translates to some finance jobs. Of course the finance jobs created in this way will be for the best brains in finance.

And then there is the fact that all companies, like human beings, have a native survival instinct, which they are likely to find handy in these hard economic times. One survival strategies for companies in crises is to hire the experts who are likely to navigate them through the particular crises. And since the current crisis is financial, the companies are likely to find themselves hiring financial experts to help them address the economic crisis. Of course, the companies are not likely to be overtly looking for finance experts to help them address the financial crises. What we are likely to see is an increase in commerce and industry accounting jobs, but the accountants so hired are bound to be almost exclusively tasked with cost and revenue management tasks, geared towards helping their employers sail through the turbulent times successfully.

And finally the good times will surely come back again. If the history of the financial markets is anything to go by, we know that all bursts are always followed by booms.

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How Can You Finance A Mortgage?

Most homeowners purchase their houses through mortgage finance or a loan. There have been many changes in home mortgage financing and loans in the past ten years, bringing many benefits to homebuyers. These changes also bring some significant tradeoffs. The greatest benefit a homeowner received from the changes in mortgage finance is that there are more choices. More choice means a homebuyer can effectively shop around for the best mortgage finance deals and make better decisions.

There are a number of specialized mortgage finance institutions that provide mortgage finance products. Savings and loan mortgage finance institutions are also known as thrift associations, since lenders take the deposits of their customers and use the money to create mortgage finance and loan products. Thrifts declined during the 1980s when interest rates were erratic, and mortgage failures were at an historic highpoint. Thrift institutions were replaced later on by mortgage finance bankers, who originate the mortgage finance product and offer them to investors. In the 1990s, mortgage brokers arrived on the scene. These are freelance mortgage finance agents who handle loans for a number of lenders and sell them to several clients that may include investors or homebuyers. Mortgage brokers remain popular with homebuyers who are looking for mortgage finance advice. Because these brokers have relationships with several lending firms, they represent the best source of mortgage finance advice concerning the current real estate market. Another good source of information for homebuyers who are looking to make a final mortgage decision is the Internet.

The general rule in the 1980s was that only individuals with good credit could obtain a mortgage finance loan. In the current market, nearly anyone can apply for such a loan if they want to buy a house. If you have excellent credit, you will probably find a mortgage finance loan that covers the total purchase price of a home. Having bad credit does not necessarily mean that you will not be able to get a mortgage finance loan, however. It is still possible, but you will pay a higher interest rate. Homebuyers who are getting their first house and how do not yet have a credit rating also have mortgage finance loan options available to them. These loans typically have low down payments and flexible standards defined in the underwriting.

The loan approval process has been made much faster because some of the underwriting has been streamlined. Computers have allowed mortgage finance loan information to be accessed rapidly, In fact, some finance companies offer approvals online or by using computer programs. The concept of credit scores” has also led to a decrease in the number of finance loans that are rejected. Credit scores can offer some relief in usually strict mortgage loan approvals, so applicants have less of a problem.

The modern mortgage finance market has developed a number of new mortgage products as well. When interest rates began to fall, homeowners took advantage of the decreases to refinance their mortgages. In order to reduce the expense of refinancing, lenders than began to offer mortgage finance loans without discount points.

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Where To Get Your Online Finance Degree

An online finance degree is a wonderful option for individuals who want to go to college, but for whatever reason prefer an online forum as opposed to a traditional classroom. Frequently, those who opt for an online finance degree have busy schedules already because of family and work commitments, and juggling a typical class schedule is nearly impossible. Also, individuals who have disabilities often times opt for an online finance degree simply because it is easier to work straight from home. No matter why you want an online finance degree, there are many options out there for you to choose from.

The online finance degree is a very popular major, and because of this almost all of the online universities offer the online finance degree. In addition to this, the online finance degree is not only available in bachelors, but also in masters and in some cases PhD. So, no matter if you want just a bachelor’s online finance degree or want to get an online finance degree at ever level, the choice is totally yours.

Paying for your online finance degree is not as difficult as it ahs been in the past, either, because now you can get student loans and choose different payment plans for your online finance degree. Paying for your online finance degree has never been easier.

In addition to this, you will need to decide exactly what you are looking for in the university where you will obtain your online finance degree. The reason for this is because there are so many online university options that range in popularity, accreditation and cost, that you will need to find out which ones offer the best online finance degree for your budget.

Be sure, however, before you begin studying for your online finance degree that you know your university is accredited and has many successful graduates with their online finance degree.

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