Securing the financing you need to grow your business isn’t as simple as it sounds. Not only does it take time to establish a business credit history that stands alone from your personal credit, most traditional lenders require that a business have at minimum, a formal business plan and documented proof of steady income before they’ll extend small business loans. Because of these capital challenges, alternative financing options geared to small business owners are gaining in popularity. Here’s a look at four alternative lenders who may provide the affordable and fast access to cash that you need to maintain and grow your business.
Fundbox. When customers and clients are slow to pay, it can impact your ability to pay business vendors, and staff. Fundbox offers small business owners credit-on-demand that works in tandem with popular accounting software including Xero, QuickBooks, Wave, and FreshBooks. Applying for an account can be done in seconds online, and once established, the account is easily connected to the accounting app (from providers noted above). Fundbox users can then clear any invoice immediately and receive the money they’re owed (even if the vendor doesn’t pay for several weeks). Though there is a fee for such liquidity, the amount associated with each transaction is provided upfront, so borrowers can determine whether the reward of fast cash outweighs the cost. Repayment of credit on demand takes place over 12 weeks, in installments.
Behalf. This lender provides merchants with credit lines of up to $10,000. The money can be used to pay vendors for a variety of products or services (including legal counsel, or marketing projects) related to the business (but cannot be used to fund existing debt). Repayment terms extend up to 120 days, with customizable payment schedules. The site boasts the highest approval rate in the alternative financing industry, and claims that its customers have reported a 20% increase in sales with the additional credit line access.
Bluevine. Bluevine offers businesses access to credit lines up to $100,000. Like Fundbox, it also connects with Xero, QuickBooks and FreshBooks. Unlike Fundbox, it facilitates the collection of invoices on the businesses’ behalf. To do so, merchants select which vendors Bluevine will collect from directly, based on payment schedules and amounts owed. A remittance PO Box is assigned, so the payor is unaware they are paying Bluevine directly. When the money is received, Bluevine transfers the amount paid electronically to the businesses’ bank account (less fess), often within 24 hours of payment receipt. Because the funds are not actually “borrowed” (outstanding invoices serve as the “collateral”), there is no repayment schedule. If a vendor doesn’t pay an invoice, however, the business owner must pay Fundbox for the amount owed.
Kabbage. Kabbage offers fast access to working capital for online sellers, with credit lines ranging from $2,000 to $100,000. Because the approval process is based on data provided by other popular business resources, like Square, Paypal, Stripe, Etsy, Amazon, Yahoo, and QuickBooks; it’s a perfect fit for businesses who need inventory, and have a proven online business presence—but may lack credit history. Though there is no penalty for early repayment, fees do range from 1% to 13.5% of the loan amount the first two months; they reduce to 1% of the loan amount for each of the remaining four months.
Guidant Financial. Through Guidant Financial’s “ROBS” (rollovers for business startups) lending product, small business owners under the age of 59 ½ can access retirement funds to invest in a business (new or existing), without being subject to penalty and fees for early withdrawal of retirement funds. Because a ROBS lending model leverages retirement funds as the source of funding, money isn’t borrowed, and there are no repayment plans associated with the transaction. That said, there is risk: should the business fail, the business owner could lose the retirement funds that were put forth. Unlike the alternative financing models noted above, establishing a ROBS takes about a month complete. As such, it’s intended for larger and long-term borrower needs (like buying a warehouse, storefront or expensive equipment) as opposed to short-term access to cash.