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According to Harvard Business School, the typical small business has only enough working capital on hand to last 27 days. Obviously, your company can’t expand without adequate cash flow. It may not even be able to meet its current operations budget. Cash flow concerns can become especially problematic when you give customers 30 to 90 days to pay outstanding invoices.

Fortunately, you don’t need to risk losing customers by demanding immediate payment when you consider some more creative options. We offer five suggestions below that should help any small business maintain a more reliable cash flow. Knowing that many start-ups and small businesses fail to qualify for bank loans, we have deliberately left that option off the list.

Invoice Factoring

Selling unpaid invoices from your best customers to an invoice factoring company gives you the cash you need now in exchange for a percentage of the invoice total later. The company purchasing the invoice investigates the credit of your customer, not your small business. That is because it becomes responsible for collecting payment and wants to mitigate its risk.

Vendor Credit

This is the same thing you may offer to many of your customers. When purchasing inventory or supplies from a new company, be sure to ask about its invoice terms. Having up to 90 days to pay your own company’s outstanding invoices can improve cash flow.

Business Line of Credit

While this typically comes from a bank or finance company, it’s not the same as a straight business loan. The lender approves a specific credit limit, and you can draw up to that amount in cash. Most lenders set up these accounts with minimum withdrawal limits and require the borrower to write checks or initiate electronic funds transfers against it. You don’t receive a credit card. With a business line of credit, you only pay interest on the amount you borrow against the credit line and not the entire credit limit.

Merchant Cash Advance

This can be a good option if your business processes a lot of credit or debit card sales. In exchange for a lump sum from the creditor, it deducts a small percentage from your credit or debit card sales each day until you have paid the loan in full. This includes added interest. Although you won’t have to put up collateral, some merchant cash advance providers charge high interest and fees.

Business Credit Card

Although it may be tempting to put business purchases on your personal credit card when you’re first starting out, we advise you to separate the accounts entirely from the beginning. A credit card in the name of your business can help you acquire what you need until your business becomes profitable. Since interest rates can be high, it’s worth your time to shop around for a reasonable rate.

Need More Ideas to Generate Working Capital?

At Capital Business Strategies, it’s our goal to help our small business customers be as profitable as possible. We invite you to learn more about our services and then contact us to schedule your initial consultation.