How to Choose the Right Equipment Finance for Your Business?

The right equipment can help your business in becoming more productive and profitable. So, if you want to drive your business forward and you don’t have the available cash flow to invest in equipment, you can obtain finance for it. Business equipment finance can be used for purchasing new and used equipment or vehicles. It will help you in conserving your working capital for other purposes like inventory or operating expenses.

Business equipment finance is ideal for established businesses who want to finance the purchase of:

>> Cars, utilities and light commercial vehicles

>> Trucks and buses

>> Forklifts

>> Computing and office equipment

>> Printing, medical and manufacturing equipment, or

>> Industrial plant equipment

Choosing the Right Business Equipment Finance Arrangement

Lenders/credit providers offer many types of business equipment finance options. You have to choose the right one in order to run your business smoothly. Here is a list of different types of vehicle and equipment finance arrangements available in the market:

Finance Lease – This financing arrangement allows you to use the equipment or vehicles and also lets you enjoy the benefits of ownership. The lender/credit provider retains actual ownership of the goods.

Commercial Hire Purchase – In this financing arrangement, the lender/credit provider owns the equipment or vehicles during the hiring period (usually two to five years). And, when you pay the final instalment, ownership is automatically transferred to you.

Chattel Mortgage – It is an effective way to finance goods for business use. Under this loan agreement, you will borrow funds to purchase equipment or vehicles (chattel) and you will also take its ownership at the time of purchase. Against these benefits, you will provide the security for the loan to the lender/credit provider by way of a mortgage over the equipment or vehicles.

Equipment Rental – It is an agreement between the lender/credit provider and you whereby the lender/credit provider buys the equipment or vehicles on behalf of you and rents it back to you over a fixed period (two to five years).

Seeking the Right Advice for obtaining the Right Business Equipment Finance

It is vital for your business that you have the right finance structure in place. If you choose the wrong loan package, you may end up hurting the financial stability of your business. To avoid such mistakes, you must consult an expert commercial finance broker. He/she has a thorough knowledge of the credit policies and standard requirements for business equipment finance. So, he/she will be able to provide you the right financial advice. You should also seek help of your accountant in understanding the treatment of depreciation and any tax advantages that may be available to you.

Revenue-Based Financing for Technology Companies With No Hard Assets

WHAT IS REVENUE-BASED FINANCING?

Revenue-based financing (RBF), also known as royalty-based financing, is a unique form of financing provided by RBF investors to small- to mid-sized businesses in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of a business’ gross revenues.

The capital provider receives monthly payments until his invested capital is repaid, along with a multiple of that invested capital.

Investment funds that provide this unique form of financing are known as RBF funds.

TERMINOLOGY

– The monthly payments are referred to as royalty payments.

– The percentage of revenue paid by the business to the capital provider is referred to as the royalty rate.

– The multiple of invested capital that is paid by the business to the capital provider is referred to as a cap.

CASE STUDY

Most RBF capital providers seek a 20% to 25% return on their investment.

Let’s use a very simple example: If a business receives $1M from an RBF capital provider, the business is expected to repay $200,000 to $250,000 per year to the capital provider. That amounts to about $17,000 to $21,000 paid per month by the business to the investor.

As such, the capital provider expects to receive the invested capital back within 4 to 5 years.

WHAT IS THE ROYALTY RATE?

Each capital provider determines its own expected royalty rate. In our simple example above, we can work backwards to determine the rate.

Let’s assume that the business produces $5M in gross revenues per year. As indicated above, they received $1M from the capital provider. They are paying $200,000 back to the investor each year.

The royalty rate in this example is $200,000/$5M = 4%

VARIABLE ROYALTY RATE

The royalty payments are proportional to the top line of the business. Everything else being equal, the higher the revenues that the business generates, the higher the monthly royalty payments the business makes to the capital provider.

Traditional debt consists of fixed payments. Therefore, the RBF scenario seems unfair. In a way, the business owners are being punished for their hard work and success in growing the business.

In order to remedy this problem, most royalty financing agreements incorporate a variable royalty rate schedule. In this way, the higher the revenues, the lower the royalty rate applied.

The exact sliding scale schedule is negotiated between the parties involved and clearly outlined in the term sheet and contract.

HOW DOES A BUSINESS EXIT THE REVENUE-BASED FINANCING ARRANGEMENT?

Every business, especially technology businesses, that grow very quickly will eventually outgrow their need for this form of financing.

As the business balance sheet and income statement become stronger, the business will move up the financing ladder and attract the attention of more traditional financing solution providers. The business may become eligible for traditional debt at cheaper interest rates.

As such, every revenue-based financing agreement outlines how a business can buy-down or buy-out the capital provider.

Buy-Down Option:

The business owner always has an option to buy down a portion of the royalty agreement. The specific terms for a buy-down option vary for each transaction.

Generally, the capital provider expects to receive a certain specific percentage (or multiple) of its invested capital before the buy-down option can be exercised by the business owner.

The business owner can exercise the option by making a single payment or multiple lump-sum payments to the capital provider. The payment buys down a certain percentage of the royalty agreement. The invested capital and monthly royalty payments will then be reduced by a proportional percentage.

Buy-Out Option:

In some cases, the business may decide it wants to buy out and extinguish the entire royalty financing agreement.

This often occurs when the business is being sold and the acquirer chooses not to continue the financing arrangement. Or when the business has become strong enough to access cheaper sources of financing and wants to restructure itself financially.

In this scenario, the business has the option to buy out the entire royalty agreement for a predetermined multiple of the aggregate invested capital. This multiple is commonly referred to as a cap. The specific terms for a buy-out option vary for each transaction.

USE OF FUNDS

There are generally no restrictions on how RBF capital can be used by a business. Unlike in a traditional debt arrangement, there are little to no restrictive debt covenants on how the business can use the funds.

The capital provider allows the business managers to use the funds as they see fit to grow the business.

Acquisition financing:

Many technology businesses use RBF funds to acquire other businesses in order to ramp up their growth. RBF capital providers encourage this form of growth because it increases the revenues that their royalty rate can be applied to.

As the business grows by acquisition, the RBF fund receives higher royalty payments and therefore benefits from the growth. As such, RBF funding can be a great source of acquisition financing for a technology company.

BENEFITS OF REVENUE-BASED FINANCING TO TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES

No assets, No personal guarantees, No traditional debt:

Technology businesses are unique in that they rarely have traditional hard assets like real estate, machinery, or equipment. Technology companies are driven by intellectual capital and intellectual property.

These intangible IP assets are difficult to value. As such, traditional lenders give them little to no value. This makes it extremely difficult for small- to mid-sized technology companies to access traditional financing.

Revenue-based financing does not require a business to collateralize the financing with any assets. No personal guarantees are required of the business owners. In a traditional bank loan, the bank often requires personal guarantees from the owners, and pursues the owners’ personal assets in the event of a default.

RBF capital provider’s interests are aligned with the business owner:

Technology businesses can scale up faster than traditional businesses. As such, revenues can ramp up quickly, which enables the business to pay down the royalty quickly. On the other hand, a poor product brought to market can destroy the business revenues just as quickly.

A traditional creditor such as a bank receives fixed debt payments from a business debtor regardless of whether the business grows or shrinks. During lean times, the business makes the exact same debt payments to the bank.

An RBF capital provider’s interests are aligned with the business owner. If the business revenues decrease, the RBF capital provider receives less money. If the business revenues increase, the capital provider receives more money.

As such, the RBF provider wants the business revenues to grow quickly so it can share in the upside. All parties benefit from the revenue growth in the business.

High Gross Margins:

Most technology businesses generate higher gross margins than traditional businesses. These higher margins make RBF affordable for technology businesses in many different sectors.

RBF funds seek businesses with high margins that can comfortably afford the monthly royalty payments.

No equity, No board seats, No loss of control:

The capital provider shares in the success of the business but does not receive any equity in the business. As such, the cost of capital in an RBF arrangement is cheaper in financial & operational terms than a comparable equity investment.

RBF capital providers have no interest in being involved in the management of the business. The extent of their active involvement is reviewing monthly revenue reports received from the business management team in order to apply the appropriate RBF royalty rate.

A traditional equity investor expects to have a strong voice in how the business is managed. He expects a board seat and some level of control.

A traditional equity investor expects to receive a significantly higher multiple of his invested capital when the business is sold. This is because he takes higher risk as he rarely receives any financial compensation until the business is sold.

Cost of Capital:

The RBF capital provider receives payments each month. It does not need the business to be sold in order to earn a return. This means that the RBF capital provider can afford to accept lower returns. This is why it is cheaper than traditional equity.

On the other hand, RBF is riskier than traditional debt. A bank receives fixed monthly payments regardless of the financials of the business. The RBF capital provider can lose his entire investment if the company fails.

On the balance sheet, RBF sits between a bank loan and equity. As such, RBF is generally more expensive than traditional debt financing, but cheaper than traditional equity.

Funds can be received in 30 to 60 days:

Unlike traditional debt or equity investments, RBF does not require months of due diligence or complex valuations.

As such, the turnaround time between delivering a term sheet for financing to the business owner and the funds disbursed to the business can be as little as 30 to 60 days.

The Complete Handbook for Buying and Financing a Truck

Trucks, trailers or any other commercial vehicles are important business assets required in the normal day-to-day running of your business operations. As a business owner, you are constantly faced with a number of critical decisions, whereby you have to decide – what is best for your business. So, if you are a business owner you should carefully consider a number of important factors when it is time to get a new truck, trailer or any other commercial vehicle, such as having:

1. The right truck that will help to keep your business competitive

2. The right truck for the work required and at the right price

3. The right finance arrangement to buy a truck

Different Types of Truck, Trailer or Commercial Vehicle

Business owners can buy any of the following vehicles:

>> New Truck

>> Refrigerated Lorry

>> Trailer

>> Tipper, or

>> Transporter (light or heavy)

Factors to consider before buying New Truck, Trailer or Commercial Vehicle

There are a number of factors you should take time to consider when buying a vehicle, and you should ask yourself the following questions:

>> Is the truck, trailer or commercial vehicle new or used?

>> Is the truck, trailer or commercial vehicle coming from a dealer, auction, or private sale?

>> Has the truck, trailer or commercial vehicle been previously written-off?

>> How many hours has the truck recorded?

>> Is there any money owing on the truck, trailer or commercial vehicle?

>> Are you considering drawing down from your home loan (e.g. equity release) to give you the required cash to buy your truck, trailer or commercial vehicle?

Finance Arrangement

Listed here is a brief summary of the types of finance arrangements available in the market place, and after you have read this article you should find choosing the right finance arrangement to be the simplest decision you will make:

Finance Lease – This financing arrangement enables you (the customer) to have the use of your truck, trailer or any other commercial vehicle and the benefits of ownership, while the financier (lender) retains actual ownership. The finance lease arrangement will also enable you to free-up your capital for other business purposes.

Commercial Hire Purchase – This financing arrangement is where you (the customer) hire the truck, trailer or any other commercial vehicle from the financier (lender). You have the certainty of a fixed interest rate over a set period (I.e. 2 to 5 years) and the flexibility of reduced monthly payments by including a final “balloon” payment at the end of the term.

Asset Loan – This financing arrangement gives you (the customer) the security of knowing that your truck, trailer or any other commercial vehicle is an asset of your business and it offers you the certainty of a fixed interest rate, over the choice of loan terms (I.e. 1 to 5 years).

Seek Expert Advice

I sincerely recommend that you should seek expert advice before choosing any of the truck finance arrangements because, the taxation and accounting treatments you choose may vary from option to option.

If you want to remain in the driver’s seat and concentrate on running your business so that you can cover your costs, overheads and running expenses, then look no further and take advantage of professionally qualified and specialised finance brokers, because:

>> They have a thorough knowledge of the finance and trucking industry

>> They have access to many lenders/credit providers as they deal with them on a regular daily basis

>> They can customise the best truck finance arrangement for you

>> They can get you into a new truck quickly and easily

So, if you don’t want to spend hours of your valuable time trying to find the right truck finance arrangement, then let a specialised and professionally qualified finance broker do the running around for you.

Learn the Importance of a Specialised Finance Broker in Getting Development Finance

Development Finance is a specialised form of funding suitable only for professional builders and developers. This form of funding will require the assistance of a professionally qualified and expert finance broker who has the required skills and experience to negotiate the finance on your behalf.

Suitable Development Finance Projects

If you are a professional builder or property developer, you must speak to an expert finance broker, who will help you in understanding the finance strategy required to fund any of the following projects:

>> Residential construction

>> Commercial property

>> Industrial property

>> Retail property, and

>> Land subdivisions

What Information do I need to provide?

Lenders/credit providers will look at a number of areas when they are considering your loan request. You will need to present a full proposal to the lender/credit provider, and they will require you to provide the following information:

>> Your Business Plan, which should list your background, professional qualifications and your trade and project management experience

>> Your experience as a property developer

>> The location of your proposed development

>> Development Type (Residential or Commercial)

>> The profit potential of the development

>> Your financial statement of accounts and personal assets and liabilities to determine your development cash flow

>> The amount of equity that you will bring to the development project

>> Copy of the planning consent and drawings for the scheme

>> Comparable evidence for the resales

>> A suitable exit strategy

Can I get an “In Principle” Decision?

When you are applying for development finance, you should have all the required information available so that the lender/credit provider can review and assess your finance proposal. The lender/credit provider will advise you:

>> If it is possible to arrange the required finance for development project, and

>> How long it will take to obtain an “In Principle” decision (You must remember that the lender/credit provider will make the final decision)

Why Choose a Professionally Qualified and Specialised Finance Broker?

It is always wise to start the development finance process with a professionally qualified and specialised finance broker because:

>> They will help you to prepare a Business Plan, which will set out your development finance requirements in exactly the way that lenders/credit providers wish to see

>> They know what the standard requirements for development finance loans are

>> They can accommodate a much faster credit decision for you, provided that they receive from you all the required documents as soon as possible (e.g. your professional qualifications, trade qualifications and certificates and your previous building or development experience)

>> They can structure a Customised Development Finance funding strategy that will meet your needs regardless of the size or complexity of the building or development project

>> Through their extensive network of specialised lenders/credit providers and private lenders, they are better equipped to offer you access to funds for your required building or development project

>> They can help you to secure the required finance so that you can fund all the stages of the construction cycle:

1. From financing the initial purchase of the land

2. Through to progressive construction draw-downs, and

3. To enable you to cover all the approval costs

So, this is what you, as a professional builder or developer, need to know about development finance. I sincerely hope this article helps you to understand why you need to seek assistance from only a professionally qualified and specialised finance broker.

Alternative Financing

Alternative bank financing has significantly increased since 2008. In contrast to bank lenders, alternative lenders typically place greater importance on a business’ growth potential, future revenues, and asset values rather than its historic profitability, balance sheet strength, or creditworthiness.

Alternative lending rates can be higher than traditional bank loans. However, the higher cost of funding may often be an acceptable or sole alternative in the absence of traditional financing. What follows is a rough sketch of the alternative lending landscape.

Factoring is the financing of account receivables. Factors are more focused on the receivables/collateral rather than the strength of the balance sheet. Factors lend funds up to a maximum of 80% of receivable value. Foreign receivables are generally excluded, as are stale receivables. Receivables older than 30 days and any receivable concentrations are usually discounted greater than 80%. Factors usually manage the bookkeeping and collections of receivables. Factors usually charge a fee plus interest.

Asset-Based Lending is the financing of assets such as inventory, equipment, machinery, real estate, and certain intangibles. Asset-based lenders will generally lend no greater than 70% of the assets’ value. Asset-based loans may be term or bridge loans. Asset-based lenders usually charge a closing fee and interest. Appraisal fees are required to establish the value of the asset(s).

Sale & Lease-Back Financing. This method of financing involves the simultaneous selling of real estate or equipment at a market value usually established by an appraisal and leasing the asset back at a market rate for 10 to 25 years. Financing is offset by a lease payment. Additionally, a tax liability may have to be recognized on the sale transaction.

Purchase Order Trade Financing is a fee-based, short-term loan. If the manufacturer’s credit is acceptable, the purchase order (PO) lender issues a Letter of Credit to the manufacturer guaranteeing payment for products meeting pre-established standards. Once the products are inspected they are shipped to the customer (often manufacturing facilities are overseas), and an invoice generated. At this point, the bank or other source of funds pays the PO lender for the funds advanced. Once the PO lender receives payment, it subtracts its fee and remits the balance to the business. PO financing can be a cost-effective alternative to maintaining inventory.

Non-Bank Financing

Cash flow financing is generally accessed by very small businesses that do not accept credit cards. The lenders utilize software to review online sales, banking transactions, bidding histories, shipping information, customer social media comments/ratings, and even restaurant health scores, when applicable. These metrics provide data evidencing consistent sale quantities, revenues, and quality. Loans are usually short-term and for small amounts. Annual effective interest rates can be hefty. However, loans can be funded within a day or two.

Merchant Cash Advances are based on credit/debit card and electronic payment-related revenue streams. Advances may be secured against cash or future credit card sales and typically do not require personal guarantees, liens, or collateral. Advances have no fixed payment schedule, and no business-use restrictions. Funds can be used for the purchase of new equipment, inventory, expansion, remodeling, payoff of debt or taxes, and emergency funding. Generally, restaurants and other retailers that do not have sales invoices utilize this form of financing. Annual interest rates can be onerous.

Nonbank Loans may be offered by finance companies or private lenders. Repayment terms may be based on a fixed amount and a percentage of cash flows in addition to a share of equity in the form of warrants. Generally, all terms are negotiated. Annual rates are usually significantly higher than traditional bank financing.

Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) usually lend to micro and other non-creditworthy businesses. CDFIs can be likened to small community banks. CDFI financing is usually for small amounts and rates are higher than traditional loans.

Peer-to-Peer Lending/Investing, also known as social lending, is direct financing from investors, often accessed by new businesses. This form of lending/investing has grown as a direct result of the 2008 financial crisis and the resultant tightening of bank credit. Advances in online technology have facilitated its growth. Due to the absence of a financial intermediary, peer-to-peer lending/investing rates are generally lower than traditional financing sources. Peer-to-Peer lending/investing can be direct (a business receives funding from one lender) or indirect (several lenders pool funds).

Direct lending has the advantage of allowing the lender and investor to develop a relationship. The investing decision is generally based on a business’ credit rating, and business plan. Indirect lending is generally based on a business’ credit rating. Indirect lending distributes risk among lenders in the pool.

Non-bank lenders offer greater flexibility in evaluating collateral and cash flow. They may have a greater risk appetite and facilitate inherently riskier loans. Typically, non-bank lenders do not hold depository accounts. Non-bank lenders may not be as well known as their big-bank counterparts. To ensure that you are dealing with a reputable lender, be sure to research thoroughly the lender.

Despite the advantage that banks and credit unions have in the form of low cost of capital – almost 0% from customer deposits – alternative forms of financing have grown to fill the demand of small and mid-sized businesses in the last several years. This growth is certain to continue as alternative financing becomes more competitive, given the decreasing trend seen in these lenders’ cost of capital.