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How to increase business cash flow during the coronavirus outbreak

Low-cost and fast funding to keep your business up and running.

Small businesses likely need to consider both short- and long-term solutions to cover operating expenses during the coronavirus outbreak. The Singaporean government has announced a S$48 billion Singapore dollars support package for businesses and households to help with the devastating impacts of COVID-19. But you might also need to apply for more traditional financing to tide you over as you wait for any government applications to be processed.

7 ways to increase cash flow during the coronavirus outbreak

Business line of credit

A business line of credit gives you access to a credit limit that runs anywhere from around S$2,000 to millions of dollars in some cases. Rates can start at around 5% and go as high as 20%, depending on your business’s financials and your credit score. Once you’re approved, you can draw down on your line of credit as soon as 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. You can generally borrow between S$2,000 to S$1,000,000 with fees and rates differing between lenders.

Online loans can be faster and easier to qualify for than their bank counterparts. But 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.

Business credit cards

Most business credit cards come with benefits tailored to businesses, such as multiple cardholders and business reward points. But when you’re in a cash flow crunch you need to focus on other features such as interest-free days and 0% purchase offers. Business credit cards tend to come with annual fees, so compare your options and find one with an annual fee that is manageable.

If you don’t think you’ll be able to pay off the balance before in full before the due date, a loan or line of credit might be less costly, since they tend to have lower rates.

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. You might be covered by business disruption as a result of infectious diseases, but most insurers have exclusions around disruptions from highly effective diseases and will not cover them. Coronavirus is now classified by the World Health Organisation as a pandemic, so business insurance will not cover you for any business losses.

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

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 upfront, and then the rest minus a fee as the invoices are filled.

Invoice factoring might be costly, but it could be easier to qualify for as 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.

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. It allows you to choose which invoices to finance and receive up to 80-90% of the invoice within 24 hours. The remainder of the invoice will be transferred to you when the customer pays, minus a fee. 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.

Negotiate with suppliers and creditors

Some 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 get in contact with their financial hardship department 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. 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.

5 tips to manage your cash flow

These strategies can help you make sure you’re getting the most out of your sales.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Negotiate costs and terms. When possible, give a counteroffer when ordering supplies or renegotiate the terms of payment to better fit your business’ monthly cash flow.
  5. Offer subscriptions. A subscription can translate into more consistent revenue than one-off sales.

Bottom line

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.

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