Business Loans In Canada: Financing Solutions Via Alternative Finance & Traditional Funding

Business loans and finance for a business just may have gotten good again? The pursuit of credit and funding of cash flow solutions for your business often seems like an eternal challenge, even in the best of times, let alone any industry or economic crisis. Let’s dig in.

Since the 2008 financial crisis there’s been a lot of change in finance options from lenders for corporate loans. Canadian business owners and financial managers have excess from everything from peer-to-peer company loans, varied alternative finance solutions, as well of course as the traditional financing offered by Canadian chartered banks.

Those online business loans referenced above are popular and arose out of the merchant cash advance programs in the United States. Loans are based on a percentage of your annual sales, typically in the 15-20% range. The loans are certainly expensive but are viewed as easy to obtain by many small businesses, including retailers who sell on a cash or credit card basis.

Depending on your firm’s circumstances and your ability to truly understand the different choices available to firms searching for SME COMMERCIAL FINANCE options. Those small to medium sized companies ( the definition of ‘ small business ‘ certainly varies as to what is small – often defined as businesses with less than 500 employees! )

How then do we create our road map for external financing techniques and solutions? A simpler way to look at it is to categorize these different financing options under:

Debt / Loans

Asset Based Financing

Alternative Hybrid type solutions

Many top experts maintain that the alternative financing solutions currently available to your firm, in fact are on par with Canadian chartered bank financing when it comes to a full spectrum of funding. The alternative lender is typically a private commercial finance company with a niche in one of the various asset finance areas

If there is one significant trend that’s ‘ sticking ‘it’s Asset Based Finance. The ability of firms to obtain funding via assets such as accounts receivable, inventory and fixed assets with no major emphasis on balance sheet structure and profits and cash flow ( those three elements drive bank financing approval in no small measure ) is the key to success in ABL ( Asset Based Lending ).

Factoring, aka ‘ Receivable Finance ‘ is the other huge driver in trade finance in Canada. In some cases, it’s the only way for firms to be able to sell and finance clients in other geographies/countries.

The rise of ‘ online finance ‘ also can’t be diminished. Whether it’s accessing ‘ crowdfunding’ or sourcing working capital term loans, the technological pace continues at what seems a feverish pace. One only has to read a business daily such as the Globe & Mail or Financial Post to understand the challenge of small business accessing business capital.

Business owners/financial mgrs often find their company at a ‘ turning point ‘ in their history – that time when financing is needed or opportunities and risks can’t be taken. While putting or getting new equity in the business is often impossible, the reality is that the majority of businesses with SME commercial finance needs aren’t, shall we say, ‘ suited’ to this type of funding and capital raising. Business loan interest rates vary with non-traditional financing but offer more flexibility and ease of access to capital.

We’re also the first to remind clients that they should not forget govt solutions in business capital. Two of the best programs are the GovernmentSmall Business Loan Canada (maximum availability = $ 1,000,000.00) as well as the SR&ED program which allows business owners to recapture R&D capital costs. Sred credits can also be financed once they are filed.

Those latter two finance alternatives are often very well suited to business start up loans. We should not forget that asset finance, often called ‘ ABL ‘ by those Bay Street guys, can even be used as a loan to buy a business.

If you’re looking to get the right balance of liquidity and risk coupled with the flexibility to grow your business seek out and speak to a trusted, credible and experienced Canadian business financing advisor with a track record of business finance success who can assist you with your funding needs.

The Bank Won’t Back Your Business Because You Don’t Have a Backup Plan

The first thing that has to be said about backup plans is that there is a definition of a backup plan that your bank uses for its purposes, and a quite different definition of a backup plan that you’ll want to use for your purposes. Trust me – you don’t want to experience the bank’s “backup plan”. When a bank talks backup plans, it usually means (at least as a first step) your banking relationship being transferred to “Credit & Asset Management” or some equally ominous sounding department that is typically interested in only one thing – getting the bank’s money back as quickly as possible and then sending you on your not-so-merry way. That’s the bank’s idea of a backup plan – commonly referred to in the industry as the “secondary exit” when described in credit papers. As you may have already guessed, this secondary exit usually means selling off your assets and placing your business into liquidation.The first question that the bank asks when considering an application for credit is “Is there an underlying, viable, sustainable business here?” Or, to put it into terms that we have been using throughout this series; “Is this business bankable?” In answering these questions, a great deal of analysis is done and your business is assigned a “PD” or Probability of Default based on the estimated ongoing viability of the business. The PD, expressed as a percentage, is an estimation of the likelihood that you will default on your loans within the next 12 months. If you default, the bank has already calculated what they need to know about what to expect from their “backup plan”. Another measure called the LGD or Loss Given Default would have been calculated for your business and is an estimate of how much the bank stands to lose (also expressed as a percentage) when they move from default to recovery – selling off your assets.The backup plan I’m talking about here is the one you need to have prepared for your business. Preferably, your backup plan will kick into effect long before you start defaulting on your loan repayments. Otherwise, the bank’s backup plan tends to take precedence over yours.So how do you go about putting this backup plan together? There are really four “steps” to putting it all together, and the great thing is, the first step is already nearly done for you. That is, it’s already nearly done if you’ve taken my advice from the first few articles in this series and you are now the proud owner of a business plan that includes a sound risk management plan.Step one is all about measuring the things that you need to measure in order to keep tabs on the key risks you’ve already identified in your risk management plan. Needless to say, it does absolutely no good to identify risks your business might be exposed to and then come up with ways to mitigate those risks if you’re not going to measure key elements of your business (internal factors and external factors) to see whether or not you’re being exposed to those risks on an ongoing basis. So step one is simply to regularly measure how your business is going against the potential risks you’ve identified in your business plan in the “risk management” section.Step two is the evaluation of the things you’ve been measuring. In other words, you need to be able to critically analyze the data you’ve collected and understand the implications of them for your business. This is the most important step in your backup plan, because without it, you cannot progress to step three and four and finish the backup plan. Not to mention, you’re left with a load of useless data that you’ve been collecting to mitigate identified risks to your business and you have no clue what it all means. Proper evaluation is required to see how you’re traveling at avoiding or minimizing the risks, but it also allows you to do step three, which gives you the practical, “what to do” part of your backup plan.Step three is to adapt your business plan in whatever way necessary to improve your business, make your business more successful and ensure the long-term survival of the business as a whole. In short, step three is about “reinventing” your business regularly based on the evaluation (step two) of the data you’ve been measuring (step one) to ensure that you NEVER have to revert to the bank’s backup plan, no matter what. The U.S. Marines have a motto that reminds their troops how to perform in any situation, even in the heat of battle – “improvise, adapt, and overcome”. Now, in business, as I imagine would be the case in war, I think it’s always better to do a lot of planning to reduce the amount of improvising necessary. But you get the point – things don’t always go to plan – that’s why you need the backup plan.These first three steps sound pretty straightforward, pretty simple. But getting it right couldn’t have more profound implications for the survival of your business. And properly thinking out what to measure, how you interpret the data collected, and how to constantly improve how you do business will definitely make your business more bankable. Simple? Maybe. Easy? No way. Even the best business minds in the world know that the first three steps don’t make for a complete backup plan if you don’t include one more step…Step four is to seek out expert advice. You will not be able to run a lasting, successful business without creating relationships with trusted advisers that can help you out from time to time. In fact, having established relationships with key advisers that you trust and are willing to “share” your business with comes in handy in almost every aspect of what I’ve been talking about in this series – from putting together a business plan to creating and updating your backup plan. A business owner that thinks he knows everything he or she needs to know without the assistance of some expert advice from time to time is fooling himself and no one else. He certainly won’t come away from an encounter with a bank without giving them at least one reason not to back his business. Connections with and, to an extent, reliance upon key advisers in key areas should never be considered a weakness but an advantage. Competent, trusted advisers can help even the most talented business owners keep a proper sense of perspective on the “forest” and the “trees” simultaneously.Consider some key areas where a trusted adviser could be helpful:Accountant- Do you have an accountant that can help you understand the numbers, what they mean, what the key drivers of your business are and how to act to improve the bottom line? Or do you have “some guy” that you talk to once a year when you need your taxes done?Solicitor – Do you have a lawyer that knows your business, your industry and your individual situation to the extent that he can look out for you and proactively keep you up to date with legal issues that could potentially impact upon you and your business? Or do you have a solicitor (that you only go to when something has become an emergency) that you know only because he did the conveyancing on your last property purchase?Financial Planner – Is your financial planner creating opportunities for you and growing your investment or retirement portfolio in a manner consistent with your appetite for risk and the plans that you have agreed to in regular consultations? Or is your planner just the guy that helped you set up your self-managed super fund that now consists of a term deposit and the commercial premises you operate your business from?Business Banker – Do you have a business banker that is like a business coach; that understands how to run a business and understands how you run your business in particular? Is he proactively looking after your needs whether or not it means he’ll sell you another product? How often does he call you? Visit your premises? Do you have a business banker or a glorified bank teller?Of course, you don’t really need a backup plan if these four steps sound all too hard. Remember, the bank has a backup plan prepared if you don’t already have one. But the bank won’t back your business if they think that they are going to have nothing to rely on other than selling up your collateral. They want to see that your business has made plans to adapt to adverse circumstances and that you are not so set in your ways that you cannot think of alternative ways to run your business if a problem arises.

What Are The Greatest Changes In Shopping In Your Lifetime

What are the greatest changes in shopping in your lifetime? So asked my 9 year old grandson.

As I thought of the question the local Green Grocer came to mind. Because that is what the greatest change in shopping in my lifetime is.

That was the first place to start with the question of what are the greatest changes in shopping in your lifetime.

Our local green grocer was the most important change in shopping in my lifetime. Beside him was our butcher, a hairdresser and a chemist.

Looking back, we were well catered for as we had quite a few in our suburb. And yes, the greatest changes in shopping in my lifetime were with the small family owned businesses.

Entertainment While Shopping Has Changed
Buying butter was an entertainment in itself.
My sister and I often had to go to a favourite family grocer close by. We were always polite as we asked for a pound or two of butter and other small items.

Out came a big block of wet butter wrapped in grease-proof paper. Brought from the back of the shop, placed on a huge counter top and included two grooved pates.

That was a big change in our shopping in my lifetime… you don’t come across butter bashing nowadays.

Our old friendly Mr. Mahon with the moustache, would cut a square of butter. Lift it to another piece of greaseproof paper with his pates. On it went to the weighing scales, a bit sliced off or added here and there.

Our old grocer would then bash it with gusto, turning it over and over. Upside down and sideways it went, so that it had grooves from the pates, splashes going everywhere, including our faces.

My sister and I thought this was great fun and it always cracked us up. We loved it, as we loved Mahon’s, on the corner, our very favourite grocery shop.

Grocery Shopping
Further afield, we often had to go to another of my mother’s favourite, not so local, green grocer’s. Mr. McKessie, ( spelt phonetically) would take our list, gather the groceries and put them all in a big cardboard box.

And because we were good customers he always delivered them to our house free of charge. But he wasn’t nearly as much fun as old Mr. Mahon. Even so, he was a nice man.

All Things Fresh
So there were very many common services such as home deliveries like:

• Farm eggs

• Fresh vegetables

• Cow’s milk

• Freshly baked bread

• Coal for our open fires

Delivery Services
A man used to come to our house a couple of times a week with farm fresh eggs.

Another used to come every day with fresh vegetables, although my father loved growing his own.

Our milk, topped with beautiful cream, was delivered to our doorstep every single morning.

Unbelievably, come think of it now, our bread came to us in a huge van driven by our “bread-man” named Jerry who became a family friend.

My parents always invited Jerry and his wife to their parties, and there were many during the summer months. Kids and adults all thoroughly enjoyed these times. Alcohol was never included, my parents were teetotallers. Lemonade was a treat, with home made sandwiches and cakes.

The coal-man was another who delivered bags of coal for our open fires. I can still see his sooty face under his tweed cap but I can’t remember his name. We knew them all by name but most of them escape me now.

Mr. Higgins, a service man from the Hoover Company always came to our house to replace our old vacuum cleaner with an updated model.

Our insurance company even sent a man to collect the weekly premium.

People then only paid for their shopping with cash. This in itself has been a huge change in shopping in my lifetime.

In some department stores there was a system whereby the money from the cash registers was transported in a small cylinder on a moving wire track to the central office.

Some Of The Bigger Changes
Some of the bigger changes in shopping were the opening of supermarkets.

• Supermarkets replaced many individual smaller grocery shops. Cash and bank cheques have given way to credit and key cards.

• Internet shopping… the latest trend, but in many minds, doing more harm, to book shops.

• Not many written shopping lists, because mobile phones have taken over.

On a more optimistic note, I hear that book shops are popular again after a decline.

Personal Service Has Most Definitely Changed
So, no one really has to leave home, to purchase almost anything, technology makes it so easy to do online.
And we have a much bigger range of products now, to choose from, and credit cards have given us the greatest ease of payment.

We have longer shopping hours, and weekend shopping. But we have lost the personal service that we oldies had taken for granted and also appreciated.

Because of their frenetic lifestyles, I have heard people say they find shopping very stressful, that is grocery shopping. I’m sure it is when you have to dash home and cook dinner after a days work. I often think there has to be a better, less stressful way.

My mother had the best of both worlds, in the services she had at her disposal. With a full time job looking after 9 people, 7 children plus her and my dad, she was very lucky. Lucky too that she did not have 2 jobs.