Your business has just broken through by getting a big order for your new, improved anti-gravity unit. This is going to take you to a whole new level. Yay!You don’t have the money to finance your life-changing new order. Boo!Purchase order (PO) finance is a game-changer when you have an order and a supplier, but when you still need the money to pay for the order. This is a common business problem for entrepreneurs. When success knocks, a business owner with great customer relationships needs to make certain his finance capabilities match his growing order flow.Here’s how PO finance works: you get an order from a creditworthy customer. The funding company checks the customer’s credit and satisfies themselves that the customer is stable. Then they will arrange payment to the supplier with your customer order as security. Orders to suppliers outside the country will generally be paid for with a letter of credit; inside the country, there may be other arrangements made to secure payment for the goods.Many business owners worry about their credit when they seek finance. The key in PO finance is the strength of your end buyer; THAT is the primary determinant in getting the deal done. Your own business financial picture is taken into account, of course, but your experience and the customer’s credit profile are of much higher relative importance.If you have good profit margins, you may need very little of your own cash to do the deal. It is possible that almost all of the supplier’s cost will be covered by the finance group. Normally, some of your cash will be required, as finance people are much more comfortable when you have capital at risk also.When goods have been delivered to the customer, you can invoice your customer for the goods. This allows you to convert purchase order finance into invoice finance. PO finance is perceived as a riskier form of financing because more things can go wrong. As a result, you pay more until the PO converts to invoice financing. As a result, it is always in your interest as the business operator to complete the PO portion of the finance quickly.A key point in the use of PO finance and other finance tools is to assess the cost of funds versus the profit margin to be obtained. Entrepreneurs sometimes think that certain types of funding are too expensive. This is only true if margins are narrow. Finance costs must always be assessed relative to the profit to be obtained. There are a number of reasons why more expensive funding is useful: to maintain customer relations by satisfying certain orders; and of course, to capture a profit that would be lost without the finance.The private finance companies who provide PO financing differ from banks in one other important way. Whereas a bank will generally approve a credit line and leave that amount in place for quite some time, private PO funders have a different view. They seek execution partners who want to grow their businesses. Once you, the business owner, have shown your ability to manage increased order flow effectively, you become the perfect candidate for an expanding credit line in the funder’s eyes. Relationships count in the finance world, especially to companies who are looking for the right entrepreneur to back.
PROBLEM Since early 2006 to the present our financial system in this country has been in disarray and significantly crippled. Hundreds of banks have already failed and been closed; hundreds more have been forced into mergers (shotgun marriages) with stronger banks; hundreds more are operating as “zombie” institutions-they look like banks and they try to act like banks but they cannot make loans. Most of the “too big to fail” banks based in New York, California, or Atlanta appear to be operating normally, but the truth is they are not lending to the “little guy”. They are lending to the publicly traded corporation primarily. In plain English, getting a loan from a bank for the average borrower is next to impossible.SOLUTIONS – Don’t operate your business or don’t do the transaction
– Pay all cash-don’t borrow
– Borrower from non-banks-friends, family and private lenders
– Do transactions using non-traditional methods-creative financingJUST WHAT IS “CREATIVE FINANCING? Creative real estate financing is an all-inclusive term. It essentially means arranging a transaction whereby any and all types of financing is considered to do the deal. Most or all of these types of financing happen to fall outside of the standard government mandated banking guidelines and restrictions. The financing vehicles considered do not conform to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA, VA, or other HUD guidelines.Examples of “creative” financing vehicles are: Private Party Financing, Seller Financing, Bank lending that does not comply with the HUD guidelines, Exchanging Equities, Lease with Option Financing, Contract for a Deed Financing, Equity Sharing Financing, Home Equity Financing, Credit Card Financing, and any combination of the above.EXAMINING “CREATIVE FINANCING” TOOLS INDIVIDUALLYOf all of the various types of creative financing tools mentioned above the most common and the most easily understood is private party mortgage financing, which includes seller financing. The underlying concept is that the bank is not involved in the transaction and the private party lender takes the place of the bank. There are many advantages to removing the bank form the transaction. The main benefits are:- Qualifying (accepting) the borrower is the decision of the private party
– Qualifying (accepting) the property is the decision of the private party
– The interest rate and the monthly payment is the decision of the private party
– The maturity date of the loan (balloon date) is the decision of the private party
– The down payment amount is the decision of the private party
– The time necessary to close the loan is much shorter
– A valuable, long-term stream of income is created
– The interest earned may be higher than any other available investmentAll of these benefits, when combined, make private party mortgage financing a very powerful tool to cause a transaction to close that otherwise would have failed. And, additionally, they may offer investment benefits not elsewhere available.THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COINNow, after examining the benefits of private party financing, we should, in fairness, look at the negative aspects. No tool is the perfect tool for all jobs, and no type of financing is the perfect type of financing for all transactions and for all people.The negative aspects are summarized below:- Emotionally, not everyone is comfortable waiting for monthly payments
– Emotionally, not everyone is comfortable with financial details
– Emotionally, not everyone is comfortable with a risk of loss
– Emotionally, not everyone is comfortable doing something new
– Practically, a lump-sum of cash may be needed nowMAKE IT A WIN-WIN TRANSACTIONIt is very important to honestly and objectively evaluate each part of the financing transaction. The goal is to make it be a win-win transaction for both parties. Are the personalities of the borrower and the lender compatible? Has the note and mortgage been properly structured so that there is a high probability that the borrower can meet his obligations over the term of the loan? Has the lender anticipated accurately his future need for cash flow income and lump-sum income?As with most important things, the devil is in the details!In subsequent articles we will examine some of the other types of “creative financing”.