In the first part of this series, we introduced the five stages of entrepreneurship we work with on a daily basis.
In this installment, we'll focus on The Crisis Manager, an entrepreneur whose straits are dire enough that the future of the business is threatened. Those troubles could include the slow collection of accounts receivable, the sudden and unexpected loss of a supplier, a rapid contraction in revenues or one of dozens of other challenges businesses face.
Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs find themselves in this dangerous position at some point in their careers.
Fortunately, there often is a way out of trouble or, at least a chance to create some breathing room that allows for hard decisions to be made without the financial equivalent of the sword of Damocles hanging overhead.
We find that many businesses (including successful ones) don't pay attention to their debt after securing a loan, which is a major mistake.
In some cases, financial relief can be arranged easily.
Interest rates may have improved, new government incentives could be in place and, financial troubles aside, your business might look more appealing to lenders thanks to higher levels of credit, cash flow or collateral. And perhaps your company is now eligible for loans backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA); those loans could replace those from alternative lenders who charged exorbitant rates and had unfavorable terms.
Aside from refinancing debt, perhaps changing the type of lending can help.
One possibility is the age-old practice of factoring.
Many companies use factoring to help meet immediate cash needs. Factoring is the practice of selling accounts receivable at a discount to a third party--to help meet immediate cash needs.
Rather than wait for customer payments, a factor will buy your invoices and advance you a percentage of that money. Once the factoring company collects payment from those accounts receivable, you receive the remainder of the invoice--with fees subtracted for the service, as well as for assuming the collection risk.
Another possibility for some companies is purchase order financing, which can provide short-term capital to cover the cost of both manufacturing and shipping hard goods.
And should all lending options fail, there's always the possibility of giving away equity in the company. Equity financing is the practice of raising money by selling common stock shares to either individual or institution investors.
In other words, those shareholders take an ownership interest in your business.
It's a good idea in theory. Any part owner will be invested in the success of the business.
In reality, it might be troublesome, if the investor is a pest and hinders your vision.
Give away too much equity and, at best, the investor might just be meddlesome and hinder your vision; give away too much equity, however, and the investor could take a controlling interest and possibly remove you from power.
The takeaway from all this is that The Crisis Manager almost always has options short of bankruptcy. And with a smartly played financial hand, perhaps our troubled businessperson can move on to one of the happier stages of entrepreneurship we'll profile in upcoming segments.