In the United States, Invoice Factoring is often perceived as the “financing option of last resort.” In this article I make the case that Invoice Factoring should be the first option for a growing business. Debt and Equity Financing are options for different circumstances.
Two Key Inflection Points in the Business Life Cycle
Inflection Point One: A New Business. When a business is less than three years old, options for capital access are limited. Debt financing sources look for historical revenue numbers that show the capacity to service the debt. A new business doesn’t have that history. That makes the risk on debt financing very high and greatly limits the number of debt financing sources available.
As for equity financing, Equity Investment dollars almost always come for a piece of the pie. The younger, less proven the company, the higher the percentage of equity that may need to be sold away. The business owner must decide how much of his or her company (and therefore control) they are willing to give up.
Invoice Factoring, on the other hand, is an asset based transaction. It is literally the sale of a financial instrument. That instrument is a business asset called an invoice. When you sell an asset you are not borrowing money. Therefore you are not going into debt. The invoice is simply sold at a discount off the face value. That discount is generally between 2% and 3% of the revenue represented by the invoice. In other words, if you sell $1,000,000 in invoices the cost of money is 2% to 3%. If you sell $10,000,000 in invoices the cost of money is still 2% to 3%.
If the business owner were to choose Invoice Factoring first, he/she would be able to grow the company to a stable point. That would make accessing bank financing much easier. And it would provide greater negotiating power when discussing equity financing.
Inflection Point Two: Rapid Growth. When a mature business reaches a point of rapid growth its expenses can outpace its revenue. That’s because customer remittance for the product and/or service comes later than things like payroll and supplier payments must take place. This is a time when a company’s financial statements can show negative numbers.
Debt financing sources are extremely hesitant to lend money when a business is showing red ink. The risk is deemed too high.
Equity financing sources see a company under a lot of stress. They recognize the owner may be willing to give up additional equity in order to get the needed funds.
Neither of these situations benefits the business owner. Invoice Factoring would provide much easier access to capital.
There are three primary underwriting criteria for Invoice Factoring.
The business must have a product and/or service that can be delivered and for which an invoice can be generated. (Pre-revenue companies have no Accounts Receivable and therefore nothing that can be factored.)
The company’s product and/or service must be sold to another business entity or to a government agency.
The entity to which the product and/or service is sold must have decent commercial credit. I.e., they a) must have a history of paying invoices in a timely manner and b) cannot be in default and/or on the brink of bankruptcy.
Invoice Factoring avoids the negative consequences of debt financing and equity financing for both young and rapidly growing businesses. It represents an immediate solution to a temporary problem and can, when properly utilized, rapidly bring the business owner to the point of accessing debt or equity financing on his or her terms.