Alternative Financing Vs. Venture Capital: Which Option Is Best for Boosting Working Capital?

There are several potential financing options available to cash-strapped businesses that need a healthy dose of working capital. A bank loan or line of credit is often the first option that owners think of – and for businesses that qualify, this may be the best option.

In today’s uncertain business, economic and regulatory environment, qualifying for a bank loan can be difficult – especially for start-up companies and those that have experienced any type of financial difficulty. Sometimes, owners of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan decide that seeking venture capital or bringing on equity investors are other viable options.

But are they really? While there are some potential benefits to bringing venture capital and so-called “angel” investors into your business, there are drawbacks as well. Unfortunately, owners sometimes don’t think about these drawbacks until the ink has dried on a contract with a venture capitalist or angel investor – and it’s too late to back out of the deal.

Different Types of Financing

One problem with bringing in equity investors to help provide a working capital boost is that working capital and equity are really two different types of financing.

Working capital – or the money that is used to pay business expenses incurred during the time lag until cash from sales (or accounts receivable) is collected – is short-term in nature, so it should be financed via a short-term financing tool. Equity, however, should generally be used to finance rapid growth, business expansion, acquisitions or the purchase of long-term assets, which are defined as assets that are repaid over more than one 12-month business cycle.

But the biggest drawback to bringing equity investors into your business is a potential loss of control. When you sell equity (or shares) in your business to venture capitalists or angels, you are giving up a percentage of ownership in your business, and you may be doing so at an inopportune time. With this dilution of ownership most often comes a loss of control over some or all of the most important business decisions that must be made.

Sometimes, owners are enticed to sell equity by the fact that there is little (if any) out-of-pocket expense. Unlike debt financing, you don’t usually pay interest with equity financing. The equity investor gains its return via the ownership stake gained in your business. But the long-term “cost” of selling equity is always much higher than the short-term cost of debt, in terms of both actual cash cost as well as soft costs like the loss of control and stewardship of your company and the potential future value of the ownership shares that are sold.

Alternative Financing Solutions

But what if your business needs working capital and you don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit? Alternative financing solutions are often appropriate for injecting working capital into businesses in this situation. Three of the most common types of alternative financing used by such businesses are:

1. Full-Service Factoring – Businesses sell outstanding accounts receivable on an ongoing basis to a commercial finance (or factoring) company at a discount. The factoring company then manages the receivable until it is paid. Factoring is a well-established and accepted method of temporary alternative finance that is especially well-suited for rapidly growing companies and those with customer concentrations.

2. Accounts Receivable (A/R) Financing – A/R financing is an ideal solution for companies that are not yet bankable but have a stable financial condition and a more diverse customer base. Here, the business provides details on all accounts receivable and pledges those assets as collateral. The proceeds of those receivables are sent to a lockbox while the finance company calculates a borrowing base to determine the amount the company can borrow. When the borrower needs money, it makes an advance request and the finance company advances money using a percentage of the accounts receivable.

3. Asset-Based Lending (ABL) – This is a credit facility secured by all of a company’s assets, which may include A/R, equipment and inventory. Unlike with factoring, the business continues to manage and collect its own receivables and submits collateral reports on an ongoing basis to the finance company, which will review and periodically audit the reports.

In addition to providing working capital and enabling owners to maintain business control, alternative financing may provide other benefits as well:

It’s easy to determine the exact cost of financing and obtain an increase.
Professional collateral management can be included depending on the facility type and the lender.
Real-time, online interactive reporting is often available.
It may provide the business with access to more capital.
It’s flexible – financing ebbs and flows with the business’ needs.
It’s important to note that there are some circumstances in which equity is a viable and attractive financing solution. This is especially true in cases of business expansion and acquisition and new product launches – these are capital needs that are not generally well suited to debt financing. However, equity is not usually the appropriate financing solution to solve a working capital problem or help plug a cash-flow gap.

A Precious Commodity

Remember that business equity is a precious commodity that should only be considered under the right circumstances and at the right time. When equity financing is sought, ideally this should be done at a time when the company has good growth prospects and a significant cash need for this growth. Ideally, majority ownership (and thus, absolute control) should remain with the company founder(s).

Alternative financing solutions like factoring, A/R financing and ABL can provide the working capital boost many cash-strapped businesses that don’t qualify for bank financing need – without diluting ownership and possibly giving up business control at an inopportune time for the owner. If and when these companies become bankable later, it’s often an easy transition to a traditional bank line of credit. Your banker may be able to refer you to a commercial finance company that can offer the right type of alternative financing solution for your particular situation.

Taking the time to understand all the different financing options available to your business, and the pros and cons of each, is the best way to make sure you choose the best option for your business. The use of alternative financing can help your company grow without diluting your ownership. After all, it’s your business – shouldn’t you keep as much of it as possible?

Digital Marketing – The Need For Digital Marketing – Avoiding Bad Companies

Digital marketing in contextThere are 1.5 billion internet users worldwide, and in the UK alone over 884 million minutes are spent online. Internet sales account for £36 billion per year – Brits spend £71 per month on average on online goods and services (reference: see below). It is obvious that a digital presence has now become mandatory as opposed to just desirable. But it can be said that to be absent from Google is to be absent from the internet. I would further this by suggesting that to be absent from the first page of Google is to be absent from the internet. Enter digital marketing.Competition on the internet is fierce. Inadequate digital marketing means low search ranking, poor brand exposure and ultimately loss of lucrative revenue streams.What should I look for in an online marketing company?If you have an interest in your company succeeding online, achieving a page-1 rank on Google is of the highest concern. There are no secrets – Many companies will try to convince you into thinking that search engine optimisation (SEO) is niche and dodgy and only they have the knowledge of ‘advanced’ link building strategies, etc, etc. These are tactics used to gain dishonest sales.An honest and professional digital marketing agency will provide accountability and transparency to its services. Vague weekly reports are not enough. Some sort of regular precise update with current progress, assuring clients that goals are being met, is obligatory. In addition, objectives are agreed during several initial meetings, ensuring both parties are happy and confident in the campaign’s direction.An online marketing agency is not the same as a web designer who provides generic SEO!What benefits are there in hiring a digital marketing agency?A good agency will maximise the impact of your online marketing to get the best return on your investment. After initial meetings, they should get on with their job and leave you to do what you do best – run your business! Most importantly, the solution should be tailored to your needs and objectives, amplifying the power of your marketing campaign just like the generic solutions won’t!
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Skin Care Jargon – Demystified!

Have you ever looked at the ingredients list of the skin care products and skin care cosmetics that you buy and got confused by the undecipherable terminologies used? Just as it is important to consider the ingredients of your skin care products, it is important that you know what the terms and jargon are. So here is a handy list of common buzz words of the skin care market.AntioxidantsThey are powerful nutrients that prevent free radicals from causing damage to the skin cells. Free radicals are actually unstable oxygen molecules that take away electrons from their surrounding molecules thus creating a chain reaction and damaging the skin. Antioxidant rich skin care products can enhance the skin quality.Chemical SunscreensUnlike regular sunscreens (referred to as physical sunscreens that block the UV rays of the sun) chemical sunscreens absorb the ultra violet radiation. Popular chemical sunscreen ingredients are Avobenzone, Oxybenzone, Octisalate and Octinoxate.Collagen and ElastinThey are protein fibers found within the skin cells that are responsible for the skin structure and elasticity. Collagen supports the skin tissues and keeps it firm and taut while elastin allows the skin to stretch and strain without getting ruptured. As we grow old, the levels of collagen and elastin fibers deplete thus leading to the formation of wrinkles and fine lines.EmollientsThey are special ingredients that help spread and keep other agents of the skin care product on the skin. They help lubricate the skin and protect the barrier function of the skin. They lie on top of the skin surface and trap in the moisture. In this way, emollients help to prevent dehydration.Essential OilsDerived from herbs, essential oils have an extensive range of skin care benefits. They are often included in skin care products to deliver a soothing and stimulating feeling to the skin. However, it is not advisable to use essential oils during pregnancy.HumectantsThese are the ingredients that attract moisture to the skin and thus soften skin’s surface. Because they help to keep the skin moisturized, they are effective in diminishing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines that are a result of dehydration.HypoallergenicThis term is used to describe ingredients that do not or are less likely to cause any allergic reaction on the skin.KeratinFound in all the layers of the epidermis, this protein fiber that protects the skin against a range of stressors. Hard keratin is found in hair and nails. In fact, the epidermis is comprised of 95% of dead keratinocytes. This is why it is necessary to exfoliate the skin on regular basis in order to scrape off the dead-skin layer and reveal the fresh new skin cells underneath.Free RadicalsAggressive oxygen atoms that have lost an electron, and are therefore unstable. They must then look for an electron from other atoms, which can cause a damaging cascade effect.NoncomedogenicThis is a common term used for skin care products that do not clog the skin pores or cause comedones.Open Comedones/ Closed ComedonesOpen comedones are whiteheads while closed comedones are blackheads. They are a result of accumulation of dirt and debris within the skin pores and subsequent blockage of the same.Physical SunscreensThese sunscreens reflect off and scatter the UV rays of the sun when they reach the skin surface. Physical sunscreens are advisable for people with sensitive skin. Common ingredients of physical sunscreen are Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide.ParabensThey are the artificial preservatives used in skin care products in order to prolong their shelf life. Though they are important to prevent the development of micro organisms in skin care products, but they can be harmful for the skin. It is not advisable to use products that contain a large concentration of parabens. Smaller concentrations of the same are safe though.Stratum CorneumThis is the outermost layer of the skin. Skin cells that are formed within the deeper layers of the skin take about 28 days to reach the stratum corneum. The cells in this layer are all dead and require exfoliation to clear off. However, even though the cells are dead, they form the first line of defense for our skin. They prevent water loss and protect the skin from environmental toxins and UV rays.SurfactantsThese ingredients help to reduce surface tension between skin and the skin care product that you apply and enable it to spread better.