Are you selling goods or services to companies in other countries? Although expanding your company beyond your national borders is very exciting and profitable, it will also subject you to the payment habits of your foreign customers. Many times, customers can take as long as 60 days to pay for their goods. Although large export companies can wait that long to get paid, most small and medium sized businesses can’t. This creates a cash flow problem. Of course, you can always ask your customers to pay you immediately by bank wire as soon as the invoice is presented. However, few customers will abide by that request and you risk loosing business to the competition.
Going to the bank to get a business loan or bridge financing may help, if your business is established, can provide three years of financial statements and if your personal credit is stellar. But, what if you don’t meet banking criteria? Or are a startup? Then you should consider trade finance.
Trade financing enables you to finance your local and foreign sales and can provide the working capital that your company needs. Accounts receivable factoring, a popular trade finance tool among exporters, allows you get paid for your export invoices in as little as two days. It eliminates the 60 day payment wait and enables you to get your paid immediately. This provides you with working capital to pay suppliers and employees. Export factoring is relatively simple to use and integrates well with most companies. It works as follows:
1. You deliver the goods or services to your foreign client and send an invoice
2. You send a copy of the invoice to the factoring company
3. The factoring company advances you up to 85% of your invoice as a first installment
4. One your invoice is paid, the factoring company will rebate you the remaining 15% as a second installment, less their fee
No two factoring companies will price an opportunity the same way, however most factoring rates go from 1.5% to 3.0% per month. Rates vary based on the commercial credit quality of your clients, your industry and the amount of financing that you need. As opposed to most trade finance solutions, factoring is easy to obtain and can be setup in a few days. This makes it an ideal solution for small and midsize companies.