Managing Cash Flow for a Growing Business

Cash Flow I eCommerceFuel

There’s a lot to keep track of when you have a growing small business, and managing cash flow can be tricky. Bill D’Alessandro is back this week to help us shed some light on different cash flow issues and how to handle them.

Bill and Andrew have had their own problems with cash flow in the past, so today they share those lessons. They talk about why you might be strapped for cash even if your revenue is booming, legitimate reasons for having cash flow issues, and the best ways for small businesses to raise more funds.   

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(With your hosts Andrew Youderian and eCommerceFuel.com and Bill D’Alessandro of RebelCEO.com)

Andrew: Welcome to the eCommerceFuel podcast, the show dedicated to helping high six and seven-figure entrepreneurs build amazing online companies and incredible lives. I’m your host and fellow e-commerce entrepreneur, Andrew Youderian.

Hey, guys, it’s Andrew here, and welcome to the eCommerceFuel podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in today. Today, we’re gonna be talking about cold, hard cash. How do you manage cash flow in a growing business? And we touched on cash flow in our episode about accounting, the one riddled with gunshots and explosions, which we’ll link up to in the show notes if you haven’t listened to it. But what I wanted to talk about, a little bit more about cash flow. What are legitimate reasons for having cash flow problems? What are bad reasons for having cash flow problems that are kind of indicative of systemic problems in your business and some options for smoothing those out? And joining me to talk about it is Mr. Bill D’Alessandro. Bill, how are you doing, buddy?

Bill: Doing well. Nice to be back for sort of part two on cash flow and accounting.

Andrew: Yeah. If we have any listeners left after our accounting episode. Hopefully, they’ll stay with us for this one. I guess this is not super sexy stuff, right? But it’s pretty important.

Bill: It depends on your definition of sexy, I suppose. But I think this is pretty fascinating stuff, and if you have an e-commerce business or any business, really, that’s growing, you are probably going to be riveted by this conversation.

Bill’s Cash Crunch Tale

Andrew: I wanted to maybe kick things off, talk about how important this is and if you don’t manage it well, some of the situations, it can put you…and, Bill, would you mind…you kind of had a story where you had a cash crunch in the last year or two. Would you mind maybe kicking things off with the story of what happened and kind of the stress that put on you?

Bill: Yeah, it was brutal. So this was a little over a year ago. This is probably early 2015 and I had just done an acquisition, our core business was growing, the business I acquired was growing. And it seems crazy to say, I hadn’t really learned the lesson of cash flow management at the time because if you have a business that’s growing, I mean, imagine…growing soaks up cash, right? Your business doubles, your inventory is going to double, and that means that’s that much inventory you have to buy, that’s cash out the door, and we’ll get into that more later. But basically, I outgrew my cash, and I realized that I was gonna run out of money, and I didn’t have a good line of credit lined up, and I actually had to make a spreadsheet where I made daily cash flow projections. So I projected, I had dates across the top. Days, not months.

I had days across the top, and then I had all of the sources of cash, like, you know, sales from my website, then when was Amazon gonna pay me, when were a couple of wholesale customers gonna pay me, and then when where all my bills coming. And I knew what days they had to sit on, you know, when do I have to pay my Pay-Per-Link agency, when do I have to pay all sorts of stuff. And I mapped it out by the day. And I think I was down, at one point, to under $1000 in the business checking account, you know, the closest to the trees I was flying on one day. I won’t make it without running out of cash.

And I projected it and I pushed some bills out if I had to because it let me see, like, “Wow, on this day, by my projection, I have negative $5,000 in my bank account. I need to push out this bill, you know, beyond that day.” So that was about probably two months before I was able to get it under control, and it was because it was kind of pre-summer, and for people that follow know that I sell a lot of sunscreen, so we were gearing up in inventory, and so we just got a cash crunch.

It wasn’t that the business wasn’t profitable, it wasn’t that business wasn’t growing, which is why it kind of threw me for such a loop and came out of nowhere. If you don’t pay attention to it, you can really get burned. So it could happen to anybody, and to have a cash crunch does not necessarily mean you’re having a business…I mean, it’s a business issue, but it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something structurally wrong with your business. It could just be that you’re growing too fast. So don’t think that if you’re having a cash crunch it means you’re doing something wrong. Or don’t think that if your business is growing you’re not gonna have a cash crunch.

Slowing Your Growth

Andrew: Maybe we can dive into legitimate reasons for having cash flow problems because there are definitely are some, and there’s definitely reasons where if you have cash flow problems for those reasons, you have a big problem. So inventory growth, the one you touched on, probably one of the biggest reasons growing companies have this issue, especially like in Amazon with so many people blowing up Amazon businesses. The more they grow, it just sucks cash up. That is a legitimate reason, but how do you, apart from financing, which we’re gonna talk about, that some of the financing you can use for short-term loans to bridge some of these cash flow issues, how do you deal with that? You can slow down growth, of course, you can kind of grow just organically, but then that limits how quickly you’re able to grow. Apart from financing and slowing your growth, are there any other ways to, you know, address that?

Bill: Unfortunately, slowing your growth is almost one of the only options. The other way you can possibly help yourself is if you’re growing so fast that it’s soaking up inventory, and maybe it’s worth an illustration of why growing fast sucks up inventory. If you have $1 million in sales and $200,000 of inventory, which is fairly standard. You turn your inventory five times a year, so you have one-fifth of revenue and inventory. You probably also have, say, 20% margin, so you probably make $200,000 a year, and you’ve got $200,000 inventory.

Well, if you go from $1 million in sales to $2 million in sales, your inventory has got to go from $200,000 to $400,000, and that’s an additional $200,000 of cash that is sucked up by that growth, but that was your entire debt income last year. So you’re gonna look at your revenue and go, “I’ve doubled,” and you’ll look at your bank balance and go, “It hasn’t grown a dime, what the heck is going on?” And that’s what’s going on, is that it’s all going into inventory. So if you’re having this problem, one of the best non-bank places you can look is to your suppliers and see if you can get trade terms from your suppliers. Go to them and say, “Hey, look. I’m a good customer, I need 30 days to pay. I need 60 days to pay.”

I think you might have trouble pushing them off much longer than 60 days, but a lot of suppliers will give you net 30 without even blinking, and some will give you, you know, say, 50% down, net 60 if you push them, and that’s interest-free. I mean, that’s…you should be…everybody should be asking all of their suppliers returns, even if you’re not in a cash crunch because it will help alleviate a potential cash crunch. I can’t tell you I have net 30 or 60-day terms with a couple of my suppliers now, or most of my suppliers now, and it’s a lifesaver a lot of times. And then, of course, though, the holy grail would be tab what’s called a negative cash conversion cycle, which is where you’re able to sell the stuff before you have to pay the people you bought it from.

Andrew: It’s called drop-shipping.

Bill: It’s called drop-shipping. Exactly. That’s right. You know all about that.

Managing Accounts Receivable

Andrew: What about the…another potential legitimate reason to have cash flow problems is on the accounts receivable side, and it’s kind of on the inventory. It’s similar, but let’s say you’ve got, you know, you ship out stuff to people and they gotta pay you, and you’re the one extending the terms to them, either from an e-commerce perspective, or maybe even a consulting perspective, or something like that. So a lot of times, like I was chatting with a good friend of mine who is getting ready to launch a business, and this was a huge deal for him because a lot of times he doesn’t get paid until…sometimes like 90, 120 days after the fact, and that was a huge issue.

And so, depending on your industry, it can be normal and it can be a legitimate reason for having cash flow problems, but I think it’s important to differentiate between having a normal delay with your receivables, whether that’s 30 days, 60 days, whatever the standard is in the industry, versus not managing those well, in terms of extending terms and credit to people that you shouldn’t, not having a good kind of credit, or some kind of credit reference policy in place to make sure that doesn’t happen, or just not following up on your collections.

Like I’ll be honest, we…when I owned Right Channel, we didn’t do a ton of terms, but we definitely extended terms, and there was one time where, man, we almost lost out on a $10,000 order, in terms of collecting. We ended up being able to collect on it, but it was a little scary because we didn’t do our diligence as much as we should have upfront, and then, just even throughout the process, there were times when my accounting processes were not very dialed in where I get to the end of a corner and I’d say, “Whoa, I’m not quite sure…there’s like four or five guys in here, I don’t even know if they’ve paid me yet.” And it took me a bunch of digging.

Bill: I know that feeling. That’s a bad feeling.

Andrew: It’s a bad feeling. So the difference between, you know, AR is normal, it’s a good reason for having…not a good reason, but a legitimate reason, but you’ve gotta make sure you’re handling it properly.

Bill: Yes, for sure. I mean, I don’t like to extend credit to anybody. I make everybody pay upfront in full for their first order, and then if I do terms, I’ll take them to, say, 50% net, 30%, 50% upfront, and the great thing about that is, even if you don’t collect, at least that 50% upfront covers your ass so you’re not losing your shirt.

Keep Working Capital

Andrew: A couple of…kind of let’s go for maybe very legitimate reasons to maybe…reasons that can be legitimate, or in some cases just aren’t legitimate at all for having cash crunch problems. Working capital. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts, Bill, but like I kind of the opinion that even for the drop-shipping business that we were joking before, you know, like cash flow-positive business, I still kept a certain amount, a buffer, in my bank account as working capital. Money that could bridge me over for, you know, if I had a little shortage for awhile or if a credit card…

Bill: So really, you mean safety fund here, because working capital includes inventory, accounts receivable, and accounts payable. You really mean like a slush fund?

Andrew: Thank you, yeah. That’s a good clarification. Definitely a slush fund, yup. So doing something like that. So I think that’s something you gotta have, and I know you could crank down and use financing for these things, but in my opinion, that’s just something that you need to have that’s kind of there for basics.

Bill: Yeah. I keep about a month of expenses in the bank because, I mean, the fact…I’ve got multiple brands, multiple businesses, like the odds that it entirely dries up instantly are pretty low, or I couldn’t, you know, get it back online. And I’ve got lines of credit, that if things were really hit the fan, I could buy myself another three or four months with no revenue at all. But I keep about a month on-hand of expenses. How much do you keep on-hand?

No Cash Flow? No Employees

Andrew: Probably a couple of months, but probably maybe two, two and a half months. Yeah, that’s something, but if you’re running it down to the wire and you don’t have some little buffer in there, and that’s why you’re having cash flow issues because you’re…that wouldn’t be a result. I just think you need to have that in your business to begin with. What about things like hiring employees and marketing? I could say…I would make the case that if your business, you know, can’t…with the cash flow that started generating can’t sustain bringing in a new employee, you probably should not be…well, you can make a couple of cases.

I would probably be more cautious and say, “I don’t have the cash flow there. I’m not going to go ahead and hire someone,” and hope that they generate the cash flow, or finance that through a line of credit. I would not get into cash flow problems to hire, and a lot of times, same thing with marketing unless it was a very…a very proven, like, “Hey, I put $100 in this ad campaign and I get a thousand,” or something like that. But what are your thoughts on that?

Bill: I think the only time that when you should hire…you should spend money you don’t have to hire somebody as if it’s other people’s money. If you’ve raised a bet around venture financing or something like that. I mean, if you’ve taken a real moonshot, if you’re taking a risk and you know that that one potential outcome is that this business fails and you’re pouring rocket fuel on the fire, that’s the time to hire ahead of growth. Hire people you can afford, rather, but I think that’s pretty scary in a normal business that you finance with your own money and where a bankruptcy is not…you would prefer it not to be a likely or even potential outcome. Hiring ahead of growth can be pretty scary when you can’t afford it.

And marketing, I think that’s still case by case. I mean, yeah, if you can show me…if it’s Google AdWords and you can show me I can convert people for $10 and I’ve got an overall value of $50, yeah, I’ll charge $5 million on my credit card, you know, until that merry-round stops because instant payback, right? But as far as like…I would be scared. I know people…I know a guy that just got burned because he bought a whole bunch of inventory, basically, on credit for a deal he was going to get featured with a national company and it didn’t work out, and now he’s sending all this bunch of inventory that was way too much, and he financed it, and he’s in trouble. I know some people that will pay…I mean, it’s like the equivalent of taking out a Super Bowl ad and hoping that it works. I think that would be pretty scary.

Cash Flow for Taxes

Andrew: What about taxes? And this is, again, when you have way more experience than I do in terms of managing cash flow like this, especially for growing a business with lots of inventory. But in the example you used earlier, you go from, let’s say, $1 million to $2 million business, you go from 200k of inventory to 400k. Well, you’re plowing all of the profits back into inventory to be able to accommodate that growth, but of that 200k of profits, you really…let’s say you had to put 60k into taxes. And I guess you could…you can make the argument you could use the financing to pay for…it doesn’t really matter if you’re…you’re paying 60k, whether that’s for the inventory portion or the taxes portion, but how do you look at taxes with cash flow management? Do you feel good paying that tax expense out of, let’s say, a line of credit or something like we’ll talk about here in a minute?

Bill: It would make me nervous, but it happens every day. I mean, that’s sort of the brutal thing about growing a business, exactly what you described. Your inventory can soak up all of your free cash flow and taxes are due, and you go, “But I don’t have any free cash flow.” But you had income statement income that you owe taxes on, it sucks. That’s, I think, one of the hardest things about growing a business, is this inventory, taxes, free cash flow interplay. There’s not a good way around it.

Andrew: So with your business, do you kind of project, let’s say, quarterly or annually? Let’s just use quarterly and say, “Hey, here’s what I made. Here’s my cash flow.” Do you ever earmark some of that money for the tax payments and reduce the growth that you could grow by in order to pay those taxes without financing, or do you just kind of see the financing as, “Hey, this is the amount I have due, whether it’s for inventory, or whether for taxes, I don’t care, I’m gonna use a line of credit for that”?

Bill: Yeah. I’ve been lucky. In the past, I’ve been able to do some legally creative accounting to reduce my taxable income. I’ve not run into a huge pinch with taxes, but this year might be a little bit different, just because I’ve exhausted a lot of my tax shields. So I think I may have a substantial tax bill coming due at the end of this year, which I’m a little bit scared about and wondering whether I shouldn’t be putting some money aside for. But realistically, I’m not gonna slow down the growth of my business, like I’m gonna handle that when the times comes.

When To Use Credit Cards

Andrew: So I want to move on to talking about some of the options for actually smoothing out some of these legitimate cash flow problems, and this episode was actually spawned by one of our community members who said, “Hey, this would be a great episode.” This is a huge pinpoint for small merchants in terms of getting financing, especially if you don’t have hard assets for light internet businesses. Even if you have inventory, there’s a lot of the value of your business which is tied up into intangibles. So I want to talk through some of the different options.

And the first one, of course, is credit cards, which I’ve used on occasion for…especially in the early days for a couple of things, but overall, probably not the best option. I mean, you’re looking at 30 days before you start paying just egregious interest rates, and, Bill, do you have anything good to say about using credit cards as like a long-term solution for smoothing out cash flow?

Bill: No, I don’t. I mean, I use credit cards. I put everything on credit cards for the points, but I pay it off every month. But at the same time, it still gives you kind of 45 days to pay, right, on average. By the time your statement closes, and then you have 30 days to pay it. So credit card, it’s a legitimate thing that you can do. I mean, it basically lets you get an average net 45 for everything you buy, which can be helpful. So I wouldn’t discount that credit cards can be helpful, but I wouldn’t be carrying balances on credit cards just because, as we are about to get into, there’s so many other ways to borrow money that are less expensive.

Andrew: It’s interesting. The next one is a bank select, a line of credit, which is effectively a bank, can give you…they’ll say, “Hey, we’ll loan you up to $100,000 and it’s facility you can draw on.” So if you only need $2,000 or $5,000, you can draw from them, only pay interest on what you use. And it’s interesting. I called up a bank here in the Bozeman area, a local bank, because you always hear about, I’m sure you have some thoughts on this, too, but I wanted to hear it directly from a banker, and I asked him…chatted with him a little bit about what they look for and, with a business, things they look for in terms of if they’re gonna offer a line of credit.

Number one, at least this particular rep said cash flow. We look at the cash flow of the business. Second was collateral. And third was credit. And the biggest phrase that stood out to me, and they said this just verbatim, they said, “We like our dirt,” meaning we like our collateral, right? Like we want hard assets, and again, as an internet business that may have some inventory, but a lot of are intangibles, that means you’re probably gonna have a harder time, or you’re gonna have to personally guarantee stuff.

Borrowing from Banks

Bill: I would say, in my experience, and I’ve done a lot of bank borrowing, both lines of credit for everyday business, term loans for inventory, and SBA loans for acquisitions. In my experience, the primary thing they care about is collateral, and then credit, and then they don’t really care at all about cash flow. If you can’t get there on collateral and credit, you’re gonna have a hard time. If you are a small business, however, something is sort of place to your advantage. If you’re borrowing less than $100,000, it kind of turns out that that’s a routing error to most banks.

So if you walk in and you’re looking for a loan or a line of credit of under $100,000, most banks will kind of hand-wave that, and the way they…the formula that I’ve run into across a number of different banks is about 15% to 20% of your annual revenue, they will give you in a line of credit, kind of without too much analysis. As long as you have good personal credit and you’re willing to personally guarantee the loan of the line of credit, they will give you, you know, 15% to 20% of your business’s revenue and line of credit. You walk out the door and get it done within a week. And that’s effectively a credit card, but the interest rates are gonna be in the single-digit percentages rather than 25%, like a credit card.

Andrew: I got quoted Prime Plus 1% to 2% yesterday for…if you’ve got reasonable credits. You’re looking at 5% interest for a line of credit, which, compared to some of the other options, is pretty reasonable.

Bill: It’s awesome. And the other thing we should highlight is you’re going to have to personally guarantee it, so get comfortable with that. If you’re a small business…I mean, it’s until you are over $10 million in revenue, or probably over $20 million in revenue, you’re just not gonna get a line of credit or a bank loan without personally guaranteeing it. The banks are too uncomfortable with it because you could just…if you’re a small business, you shut down the business tomorrow and wash your hands a bit and they don’t get paid back, they can’t liquidate a whole…Right Channel Radios, I mean, what is it? There’s not even a warehouse full of radios. It’s just Andrew Youderian pushing some buttons. So, you know, if you get hit by a bus, they’re out, and they need to be able to go after your house, or your stocks, or your personal assets. So if you are below $10 million in sales, I mean, just don’t even ask the bank about not personally guaranteeing it because they’re gonna tell you, “Too bad.”

PayPal Working Capital

Andrew: So there’s a whole other line, it’s kind of cropped up. I recently, of online lenders that they cater to this exact problem. We’ll talk about a bunch of them, but I think, Bill, I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on this. From my research, talking with members in the community, just doing a research online. The one that came away as similarly the best option was PayPal Working Capital.

Bill: I also read that thread in the private forum and I was floored because, on the most part, people hate PayPal, as far as ease of working with and their website is terrible and all this stuff. But everybody had very rosy things to say about PayPal Working Capital, and I’ve not worked with PayPal Working Capital, but suddenly, they’re ideal, and people had wonderful experiences.

Andrew: Yeah, and some of the big reasons were application process was easy because, well, stepping back, one of the reasons that PayPal is able to do this is, of course, they have…they’re looking at your PayPal account. They have years of history on your cash flow that’s coming in. Not only that, they’re authorized to be able to go in there and take it if they need to for repayment. In terms of the application process, I’ve heard really very straightforward, it can take sometimes minutes to get approved, and then the way it works is, usually, the amount that you borrowed you pay back over a period of one to five months. And it’s set up, I believe, as a percent of your daily deposits.

So if you pay back…let’s say you have $2,000 come into your PayPal account for the day, they’ll take a minimum of 10% of that, so $200 to apply toward your kind of the amount that you owe. So rates I saw, these are just ballpark, but annualized rates, these are gonna be more expensive, but 15% to 30% APR, roughly. But yeah, it seemed like, at least…we’ll link up to the thread in that in the private community, but it seemed like people are pretty happy with it.

Bill: Yeah, and there’s another thing that’s very similar to this, which is Amazon Lending, which is the same concept. They know how much you’re selling and they dock a percentage of your daily sales until they get paid back. The one thing…kind of the way that this differs from a bank is, I think…I mean, it’s all just money, but the way this differs from a bank in a way that I think is a little bit shady is, both PayPal and Amazon and a lot of the other companies we’ll talk about coming up, they’ll say, “Borrow $100,000 for a total cost of only 8% of the loan value.” Well, it turns out the loan is three months long. So it’s actually a 32% APR. Whereas a bank, when they quote your interest rate, it’s an annual rate every time. So when you’re looking at PayPal Working Capital, or Amazon Lending, or anything else, just make sure you’re understanding the time frame over which you’re paying it back and how much you’re actually paying an interest.

Shopify Payments

Andrew: And I think Shopify, too, I never heard much about this, maybe I shouldn’t be mentioning it, given we’re talking about it, but I believe they do something similar where they’re in the lending game, again, they’ve got Shopify Payments. Do you know anything about them or who’s running the back end of that? Because I would guess they probably have someone running that. Maybe Stripe or something.

Bill: I’m sure it’s through…I mean, Stripe is the data and the credit card processing. I think it’s very early for Shopify payments. I’ve just heard rumors. It’s like rumors and unicorns. I haven’t even heard of anybody who has actually had a Shopify Payments loan, so I’d love to on Twitter or in the comments.

Kabbage

Andrew: And then, two more, there was Kabbage and OnDeck. And Kabbage, they lend up to $100,000, they require one year of history and about 50k in business revenue, but they’re gonna be, I think, probably on average, higher than PayPal Working Capital, 32% APR. And I, again, this is pretty just based on somewhat cursor research, I didn’t spend three days researching this, but their reputation didn’t seem quite as good as PayPal Working Capital. And then, there’s OnDeck as well, up to half a million you can borrow. You need at least a year and 100k in revenue. They look like they’ve got rates that aren’t quite as…in that 15%-plus range, but those are, again, just ballpark numbers. Are you familiar with any of those guys, Bill?

Bill: I’m semi-familiar with Kabbage. It works the same as…it may take a percentage, I think, of what you make every day. Let me just say a word on OnDeck. I’ve heard a lot about OnDeck. I have a close personal friend, an entrepreneur, who took an OnDeck loan, so I’m intimately familiar with how they work. And unless they’ve changed the way they work, these guys are freaking loan sharks.

The way they calculate OnDeck, their payments, are…and they say, “Okay, you want to borrow a hundred grand. And you want to borrow it for a year. And your interest rate is 20%. So, okay, your total repayment is $120,000.” So what they do is they’re gonna take that $120,000 and divide it by 365 and take their money out every single day. The reason that’s intensely problematic, as you might have figured out, is that the money that they took out on the first day you paid a year of interest on but you only had it for a day. So the effective APR is through the roof because of this daily repayment model that they have, and their advertised APRs are not cheap either, 15%-plus. I think his was at 24%, no, he’s was a 30%, plus daily repayment, which means effective APR like north of 50 when you actually ran the numbers.

So just remember when you’re getting into it with these sort of alternative lenders, that a lot of the rates they advertise are not really the true cost of capital because it’s not a full year, or they take daily repayment, or, you know, whatever it might be. Just make sure you understand what you’re actually paying because it can really be quite expensive. The best option, if you can get it, is to go to a traditional bank. You really should only be looking at Kabbage, OnDeck, or even Amazon Lending, or PayPal Working Capital, if you can’t get a line of credit or a term loan from a traditional bank.

Andrew: Got it. Beautiful. Bill, any big push you wanna make towards self-funding here for growing the business? No lines of credit?

Bill: Good luck with that.

Andrew: I’ll refer listeners to Bill and my very lively debate on the merits and demerits of debt, an episode we did awhile back. We’ll let that one speak for itself, but…

Bill: That would be a great segue from this episode. That would be the next one to listen to.

Andrew: Man. So anyway, if you’re having cash flow issues, make sure they’re for the right reasons, and if possible, get a line of credit and smooth those out and only go down the ladder towards potential loan sharks if, hopefully, you don’t have to. But, Bill, good talking as always. Thanks so much for lending your expertise.

Bill: Anytime. Anytime.

Andrew: You want to connect with and learn from other proven eCommerce entrepreneurs? Join us in the eCommerceFuel private community. It’s out tight-knit vetted group for store owners with at least a quarter million dollars in annual sales. You can learn more and apply for membership at eCommerceFuel.com. Thanks so much to our podcast producer, Laura Serino, for all of her hard work in making this show possible, and to you for tuning in. Thank you for listening. That’ll do it for this week, but looking forward to see me again next Friday.

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Post tagged in: Lifestyle & Growth, Operations, Podcast

2 Comments

  1. Interesting topic and I’m glad you addressed it. I’ve been thinking a lot about “intermediate problems” that are rarely addressed in training and books, where a lot of information is towards beginners or high-level companies and CEO’s.

    1.5 years ago we started going to banks for a LOC and ended up working a deal with a small town local bank. After 4 months of questions, answers, paperwork, getting a consignor on the loan, and essentially teaching them how an internet business works we were able to finalize the LOC. The interest rate is good although the downside is working with small town banks and the paperwork necessary to get a SBA backed LOC.

    Turns out we didn’t need to access it until only recently, but having that safety cushion has been key. As a growing inventory business cash flow has become a major factor in our daily operations. I’m glad you addressed the idea of how one can be highly profitable but you look at the bank account and go “where’s all the money?” Sometimes I even begin to question if I’m doing something completely wrong in my biz and have a major blind spot about cash flow and how it’s supposed to work. Again, thanks for letting me know I’m not the only one who experiences this.

    A further question I have, and it seems to have been covered by Bill is – when is it ok to go into debt with your business? It’s a question I ask and have trouble with when I think or hear about all the boot-strapped-now-10-million-in-revenue-crushing-it stories that are out there. I’ve asked my CPA, I’ve consulted with my CFP, but neither have a concrete answer about this. Sometimes I think it’s advice that can be given by other entrepreneurs in the trenches, and specifically inventory heavy biz owners.

    Also, Shopify Financing is available. They hit me with offers in the Admin daily. It seems to work the same as Paypal where you are paying 10, 13, 15% of your daily sales. A slight plus here for Shopify people is you may get a bigger offer from Shopify Financing compared to Paypal if a majority of your sales are processed by Shopify Payments, as this was what happened for me.

  2. Hey Andrew and Bill,
    I loved this podcast and went back to the Accounting one I had somehow missed. Managing the cashflow crunch now. You really made a lot of things clear. I was looking into sources of cash and found this one. I’ve posted the email here because it seems a little tricky if I can’t trust when they say APR what I should ask about. There seems like there could be so many little tricky tricks they call pull on me. Should my bookkeeper or CPA be a good source to look over stuff before we do a loan?

    “Hi Ben,

    Thanks for your email.

    Our investors receive a x1.1 to x1.3 return on their investment over about three years. That translates into an annualized interest rate of roughly 8% to 25%.

    We do charge an origination fee. It’s usually 3% to 4% of the loan amount.

    To make an example, if you were to borrow $100,000 then we might set the repayment amount at $120,000, and set the revenue share such that you would repay the loan in 36 months, assuming revenue does not increase or decrease dramatically. It’s important to remember that because the revenue share (the percentage of your revenue that you repay each month) does not change, you’re always only paying what you can afford to pay, until the loan is completely repaid. Our revenue shares never exceed 8%, and usually are around 3% of your monthly revenue.

    As a good rule of thumb, we’re able to lend between 10% and 15% of your last 12 months of revenue.

    Please don’t hesitate to call or email if you have any further questions.

    I look forward to working with you.

    Regards,
    Larry

    Larry Baker
    Co-Founder, Bolstr
    1046 West Kinzie, Floor 3 | Chicago, IL 60642
    E: larry@bolstr.com P: 312-224-8749 | T: @bolstr @larryobaker
    Video: Learn how Bolstr works in under 2 minutes | Follow us on Facebook

    On Mon, Sep 26, 2016 at 1:54 PM, Benjamin Clark wrote:

    Ya. you guys are advertising 8-25% APR on your site is that the actually annualized percentage rate or is that the percentage of the borrowed money that we would pay back. If we borrowed 100K at your “10%” would we pay back a total of 110K.
    Also is there any loan origination fees or other “fees”.

    Benjamin