Funding Floodgates ReopenSeptember 20, 2011 | By: Sean Murray
If you’re a business owner, it’s time to get ’em while they’re ~HOT! Small business funding is BACK and more available than they’ve been in years. And guess what? Because we’re just a news site, we’ve got no reason to douse you with a cheesy sales pitch. There’s a lot of money out there right now and that’s the truth.
Merchant Cash Advance (MCA) continues to dominate the alternative financing market but a few new options are changing the landscape. You might call them ‘alternatives to the alternatives’, deals that are based on MCA but have all the bells and whistles of a loan; Fixed time frame, a payment schedule, and even personal guarantees! The underwriting criteria generally requires a set of recent healthy bank statements and semi decent credit credit (yes, your credit still matters) to qualify. Beyond that, it’s up to the individual lender to present their respective checklist of closing documentation. This usually includes some combination of a business property lease, applicant ID card, business permit, and a recent tax return. That’s it. Oh, and the wait time? Expect a week long process if you’re quick on the draw with paperwork.
Two years ago, there wasn’t much variety in the MCA space. Business owners could shop all they wanted but the underwriting and cost structures were essentially identical everywhere. Now there are factor rates that range from from 1.20 to 1.65. It’s more merit based than it used to be. The higher credit rating, stronger cash flow businesses can earn something better than the one-size-fits-all 1.35 factor rate of yesterday. On the same token, the complete credit averse can grab a shot at financing too, but at a steep price.
But there’s more to it than just cost, there’s also the setup:
Don’t want to switch your merchant account?
Stay where you are: There’s a significant chance your merchant processor already has a contract with the MCA provider you’ve chosen. Often times your sales representative may encourage you to open a new merchant account for the lower discount fees and to have a higher degree of control if problems arise. Ultimately, a new merchant account is not essential if you want a MCA.
Leverage your strong cash flow history: If you’ve managed to keep a large positive balance in your bank account for the last few months, your MCA provider could simply extract the agreed percentage from there, rather than directly through the merchant account.
Lock it up: A Lockbox provides the MCA provider with peace of mind by obtaining their payments without the risk of Non-Sufficient Funds from the debit method but also allows you to keep your merchant account. It’s frequently used as a compromise for businesses that are legally prevented from changing their merchant account(i.e. franchisees), but are too cash flow weak to qualify for direct debit payments.
But the buck doesn’t stop at the many ways you can do MCA. You’ve got options!
Merchant Loan: An actual loan based on your credit card sales history. A percentage may still be withheld from each card sale but a periodic or an end-of-term lump sum payment will be applied as needed to ensure the loan is completed within the time frame allotted.
E-Bay/Amazon Loan: Get a loan based on your sales history on Ebay.com or Amazon.com. The largest lender of this type is Kabbage.
Cash flow loans: We described these in the 2nd paragraph. Expect cost ratios from 1.12 to 1.55 and term lengths between 4 and 24 months.
How can you find the floodgates?
You can refer to the directory of direct MCA providers but can check out alternative lenders such On Deck Capital, ForwardLine, Kabbage, and Sure Payment Solutions if you want to diversify your options.
Kennesaw based funding provider, AdvanceMe expects to fund $1 Billion in the next two years. That’s nearly as much as the entire MCA industry did in the last two years combined.
2009 was a year full of “I should’ves” as in “I should’ve obtained financing before the financial crisis.” Cash is finally available to small businesses again and although it is more expensive than it used to be at the local bank, there may never be a time where the process is this quick, approval is this easy, or where your credit score is weighted this lightly. We’re not the salesman here, just the messenger. If there was any project you were remotely considering, now is the time to make a move… Don’t wait until the funding levees have been restored.
http://debanked.comLast modified: September 20, 2011
Sean Murray is the founder of deBanked, an 11-year veteran of the merchant cash advance industry, a casual Lending Club and Prosper note investor, the co-founder of Daily Funder, an alternative lending speaker, consultant, writer, and enthusiast. Connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on twitter.