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How to increase cash flow during the coronavirus outbreak
Low-cost and fast funding to keep your business up and running.
Updated . What changed?
The SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been a popular resources for some small businesses — but it might not help if you need access to regular cash for unexpected expenses. More traditional financing options like lines of credit might be a better choice for cash flow financing.
9 ways to increase cash flow during the coronavirus outbreak
Business line of credit
A line of credit gives your business access to a credit limit that under normal circumstances runs anywhere from $5,000 to $5 million. Rates can start at around 8% and go as high as 80%, depending on your business’s financials and your credit score. But you may be able to find discounted rates during the coronavirus outbreak.
Once you’re approved, you can access cash as needed — usually no later than the next business day. This makes it ideal if you expect to need funding, but aren’t sure how much or how long that need will last. It can be less expensive than a credit card in some cases. And it can cover a wider range of expenses, like rent and utilities.
Online business loans
Online business loans can get cash in your bank account as soon as the same day, depending on the lender. These tend to run from $2,000 to $500,000 with rates from 6% to 60% APR depending on the lender, your credit score and business financials. Some lenders are also offering low- or no-interest business loans with the option to defer payments for up to six months or even a year.
Online loans are faster and easier to qualify for than their bank counterparts. But unless you get a discounted loan, they tend to come with higher rates than other loans. And some come with daily or weekly repayments, which can be inflexible if you’re struggling with cash flow.
Find an online business loan today
Business credit cards
Many business credit cards come with an intro APR of 0% for the first six to 18 months — if you can qualify. This gives you access to interest-free financing, as long as you’re able to pay off the balance before the interest rate kicks in.
If you don’t think you’ll be able to pay off the balance before that date is up, a loan or line of credit might be less costly, since they tend to have lower rates. You’ll also generally need excellent credit and a strong history of business financials to qualify.
Business insurance claims
If you already have a business insurance policy, reach out to your provider to find out what’s covered during a pandemic. If you’re already covered, you could receive a claim to help cover operating costs. The size of your claim depends on factors like your location, the size of your business, what industry you’re in and the insurance company you’re working with.
You could also explore a specialist insurance policy. A handful of companies are offering pandemic policies to help businesses hit hardest by the coronavirus, like James Allen Insurance. These include healthcare, hospitality and retail companies.
Don’t already have insurance? Starting a new policy now won’t help — you won’t be covered for events that happened before you had insurance.
Invoice factoring involves selling unpaid invoices from other businesses or government contracts at a discount to a factoring company. Typically, you receive between 80% and 95% of your unpaid invoice balance up front, and then the rest minus a fee as the invoices are filled. Generally, it’s more expensive than a term loan or credit line.
Invoice factoring might be costly, but it could be easier to qualify for since eligibility depends on your clients and their invoices. It also doesn’t involve debt repayments, which can hamper your business as it tries to recover from a loss in revenue. But it can take anywhere from a day to a few weeks to get your funds.
Compare invoice factoring and financing providers today
Consider nonrecourse factoring
When exploring your options, try to find a lender that offers nonrecourse factoring. This means the factoring company takes the loss if your invoices aren’t filled. With recourse factoring, your business is responsible for paying back the funds if your customer doesn’t fill their invoice in time — which is highly possible during the coronavirus outbreak. Nonrecourse factoring tends to come with higher fees, however.
What about invoice financing?
Invoice financing allows you to take out a loan using your business’s invoices as collateral. You pay off the loan plus interest and fees, ideally as your clients start filling invoices.
This is usually less expensive than factoring. But if your repayments mainly depend on clients filling their invoices on time, this option could set you up for default in a time when businesses are struggling to stay on top of their bills.
You can apply for funding through the following government-backed loan programs:
- SBA Express Bridge Loans. You can apply for up to $25,000 in quick SBA funding with rates up to 9.75%. If you’re waiting on EIDL money (or get an EIDL in the future), you can use those funds to refinance your bridge loan — or pay it off over seven years.
- Employee Retention Tax Credit. The stimulus package offers tax credits up to $10,000 to help businesses keep employees on staff — an alternative to the Paycheck Protection Program. You can apply to get an advance on your credit by filling out IRS Form 7200.
- State and local loans. Many state governments have launched low-interest and interest-free loans to help small businesses affected by the outbreak. However, these are often also limited funds, so make sure your local government is still accepting applications before you apply.
- State and local grants. Some state and local governments are also offering grants for small businesses. Like loans, these are also based on limited pools of funds.
- SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. The SBA reopened applications for the EIDL Program to all types of businesses — not just agricultural businesses — on June 15, 2020. You can learn more with our guide to SBA disaster loans.
- SBA Paycheck Protection Program. The application deadline for the SBA Paycheck Protection Program is now March 31, 2021. Funding amounts go up to $10 million for First Draw loans and $2 million for Second Draw loans — and you might be able to get 100% of the loan forgiven if you use the funds on payroll costs and other eligible expenses.
- SBA Debt Relief Program. Under the CARES Act, the SBA is covering interest, principal payments and fees on most SBA loan programs for six months — including new loans — through the coronavirus SBA Debt Relief Program.
Negotiate with suppliers and creditors
Many lenders and credit card companies are waiving fees, deferring payments and offering other financial assistance to help businesses cope with the financial fallout of the coronavirus outbreak. But many of these are only available on a case-by-case basis, so you’ll need to call to learn what your options are.
Suppliers might also be willing to negotiate new payment terms to make sure they don’t lose your business. But get in touch as soon as you can. Skipping payments without communication can hurt your relationship with your supplier — and hurts its ability to run its business.
Cut back on expenses
Go over your business’s balance sheet to see where you can cut back — especially if you’re paying for something that you no longer need if you have employees working from home, like a corporate Seamless account. After you qualify for financing or see an uptick in revenue, you can start adding back programs if they make your business operations run more smoothly.
In addition to state and local governments, private organizations are also offering grants to small businesses. These are often available in specific areas or by industry. Like other grant programs, these are typically based on limited funds and can run out quickly — but new funding opportunities are appearing on a near-daily basis.
Check with local business organizations, like the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) near you, to learn about the options available in your area.
5 tips to manage your cash flow
These strategies can help you make sure you’re getting the most out of your sales.
- Discount early payments. Provide an incentive for your clients to pay ahead of time by offering a discount. You won’t bring in as much, but it could avoid the need for costly financing.
- Sell equipment you aren’t using. Instead of letting old equipment sit around, turn it into a profit — or trade it in if you’re applying for financing and it’s an option.
- Ask for a deposit on orders. To avoid that gap between receiving an order request and payment, ask for customers to provide a deposit of at least 50% on large orders. This can help cover production costs and avoid the need for financing.
- Negotiate costs and terms. When possible, give a counter offer when ordering supplies or renegotiate the terms of payment to better fit your business’s monthly cash flow.
- Offer subscriptions. A subscription can translate into more consistent revenue than one-off sales.
There’s a chance you’ll need to combine multiple types of financing to cover your operating costs during the COVID-19 outbreak, since the low-cost options take a while to come through. But communicating with your creditors and suppliers right away is key — they might be able to adjust your repayments so you don’t have to borrow as much.
Read our guide to business loans to find other options to apply for today.
Frequently asked questions
Answers to common questions about increasing cash flow during the coronavirus outbreak.
Do I need good credit to get a business loan during the coronavirus outbreak?
Not necessarily, though it depends on the lender. Many private lenders still have the same credit requirements. But the SBA doesn’t mention personal credit requirements for its disaster loans. And lenders like FundRocket are offering 0% interest loans with no credit check or collateral required.
Are there resources to help me avoid layoffs besides financing?
Yes, check with your local Rapid Response team. Rapid Response is a part of each state’s Department of Labor and can guide you through the options to avoid permanent layoffs.
For example, the federal government recently expanded unemployment insurance to help businesses continue to offer workers a salary while operations have slowed or completely stopped. Many states are also expanding access and waiving requirements.
Are traditional SBA loans available during the coronavirus outbreak?
Yes, the federal government is still backing loans through the SBA loan program. But they can take a lot of time and resources to process if you’re looking for larger amounts, which clock in at around $5 million.
If you’re looking to borrow less than $350,000, you may be able to get your funds faster through the Express Loans program — which includes the Express Bridge Loans. Especially if you use a service like SmartBiz that helps with a lot of the paperwork for you — for a fee.
Are PPP loans still available?
Yes, the SBA Paycheck Protection Program was reopened in January 2021 with a deadline of March 31, 2021.
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