As the old saying goes, it takes money to make money. One of the most important parts of running any successful business is having the finances available to keep it running smoothly. While financing can be difficult for any business, it is often most difficult for businesses that operate B2B, or business to business. To understand why financing is so crucial for B2B businesses, it is important to understand the differences between B2C (business to consumer) and B2B (business to business).
Business to Consumer, more commonly known as B2C, would be a retail business. When people think of businesses, it is B2C businesses that typically come to mind first. Whether it is a restaurant, clothing store, barber shop, or bowling alley, all these businesses deal exclusively with the end user of the products or services they are selling, consumers. For businesses that operate B2C, sales are typically small, and they make lots of separate sales. For example, a restaurant’s typical sale may only be $100, but they will serve 50 families at lunch time. A barber shop may only charge $25 for a haircut, but each hair stylist may see 25 customers each day. The transactions are small, and typically most consumers will either pay them with cash or credit, as a result, financing isn’t a huge problem for B2C businesses.
Of course, not all B2C businesses deal with lots of small orders, some have larger orders and make fewer sales. An example of this would be a furniture store, where maybe they only make a handful of sales each day, but each sale is for several thousand dollars. As a result, financing does become a concern for these businesses because many of their customers may not have the ability to pay several thousand dollars all at once. This is why furniture stores typically partner with banks to offer their customers consumer financing. This gives their customers the ability to pay for a $3000 bedroom set over the course of a few years. A more extreme example would be a car dealership, where pretty much every customer is going to need to finance the purchase of their car. Again, this is handled by banks who can utilize tools such as credit scores to offer financing options to consumers. In these situations, financing plays a major role in the day-to-day operation of some B2C businesses as their customers need to be offered financing if they want to make a sale. However, the financing is for the consumers, not for the business.
Business to Business, more commonly known as B2B, refers to the companies who supply to the B2C businesses. For example, a B2B business would sell the lettuce to the restaurant so that they can make salads, they sell the shirts to the clothing store for them to hang on their racks, they sell the shampoo to the barber shops so they can wash their customers’ hair, or they sell the pins to the bowling alley so that bowlers can get a strike. However, besides the fact that they are selling to businesses and not consumers, there is another very major difference between B2C and B2B, B2B orders are always much larger than B2C orders. While a diner in a restaurant isn’t going to ask to finance their $10 salad, the restaurant is going to need to purchase 100 heads of lettuce to make all of their salads for a day, plus large quantities of other foods as well. It is quite possible that a restaurant will purchase thousands of dollars worth of food each day, on top of making payroll, paying rent, and paying all their other expenses. As a result, they are going to ask for time to pay for that food, typically thirty days. The same is true of the clothing store who is purchasing a handful of different styles of clothing in a wide variety of sizes, the barber shop who needs purchase large quantities of shampoo, conditioner, and other styling products, or the bowling alley who has to purchase many pairs of bowling shoes and even new pins occasionally. In all of these examples, orders are going to be large and the customer, the B2C business, is going to want to have time to pay for them. In all of these situations, the B2B business is going to have to offer their B2C customers financing and give them thirty days to pay. In the case of furniture sellers or a car manufacturer, this is even more important. Furniture stores may be placing orders of $10,000 or $20,000, and a car dealership can easily place orders that reach into the millions, and both are going to need time to sell the product to pay for the orders. So, it is crucial for pretty much any B2B business to offer financing to their customers.
So, it is clear that offering financing is a major part of running a B2B business. However, unlike retailers who are able to partner with banks to offer consumer financing to their customers, there are no banks who are going to partner with a B2B company to offer their customers financing. While banks may be willing to offer a business loan or line of credit to well qualified businesses, the process requires that the business shares financial statements and establishes a relationship with the bank. Oftentimes the business would be expected to have checking and savings accounts with the bank, and acquiring a loan can be a process that takes several months. Banks however will not offer on-the-spot financing to a business that is purchasing merchandise in the same way that they would offer on-the-spot financing to a consumer purchasing a car. As a result, it is up to the B2B company to offer the financing solutions that their customers need themselves. This leads to our next problem, how to B2B companies pay for the products they sell in the first place.
Businesses that operate B2B of course have expenses themselves that need to be covered. If they are a manufacturer, they will need to purchase raw materials from suppliers that are also B2B businesses. If they are importers, they will need to purchase product from a factory overseas, another B2B business. While a domestic supplier of raw materials may be willing to give credit to their customers, and overseas supplier or factory absolutely will not extend credit to their customers, and will instead typically require payment prior to shipping the product. It is not uncommon for Chinese factories to require anywhere between a 30% - 50% deposit just to start production for an order, and then require the balance to be paid prior to the product being placed on a ship. This means that importer will typically need to pay their factory 60-90 days before they receive their product, and then wait at least an additional 30 days before their customer pays them for it.
While larger B2B businesses may be able to qualify for bank loans and lines of credit, and some may even have enough available funds to finance these transactions on their own, for most small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) this can be a huge problem. Fortunately, there are solutions available that offer financing to B2B businesses. With purchase order financing, SMEs can get a short-term loan to cover the cost of paying their suppliers, and with accounts receivable factoring, they can cover the time period between when they ship to their customers and their customer sends payment. Best of all, both of these solutions can work together to give them a single seamless solution to their financing needs.
When a B2B business receives a large purchase order from a customer, they can then use that purchase order as collateral in order to receive a short-term loan so that they can pay their suppliers to produce the order. This loan gets paid off with the proceeds of the resulting sale, so small businesses may qualify for much larger loans than they would normally, giving them the fund necessary to pay their suppliers for the order. As a result, SMEs don’t have to shy away from larger orders and can grow their business at a quicker rate than they would be able to relying on their own funds.
Accounts receivable factoring, often simply referred to as factoring, is the act of selling your accounts receivable to another party, a factor, at a discount. So instead of waiting 30 days or longer to get paid by a customer, a B2B business may factor their receivables and get funding the same day they ship merchandise to their customer. Since they are selling their receivables, they are not just getting funded earlier, but they are also passing along all the risk associated with offering credit to their customer to their factor. The factor becomes responsible for collecting from the customer, and in the case of non-recourse factoring, fully insures the receivables against non-payment.
Typically, in the world of finance, only one financing solution can ever be utilized by a company. The reason behind this is because each financing solution requires collateral, and most of the time a lender will place a blanket lien over all of the borrower’s assets. As a result, other lenders are then unable to work with the borrower. However, many factoring companies offer purchase order financing in addition to accounts receivable factoring, giving their clients the ability to utilize both financing tools.
In this situation, a business will present a PO to their factor and tell them how much they would like to borrow. The factor then loans them the requested amount so that they can have the order produced. Once produced and received, the business will ship and invoice their customer and then factor the resulting receivable. The factor will apply a portion of the proceeds towards the PO loan, and will send the balance to the business.
Of course, there is a cost associated with both purchase order financing and accounts receivable factoring, but that is true of any type of financing. In order to save money, most businesses will factor most or all of their invoices and only use purchase order financing when absolutely necessary. Typically, the proceeds from factoring provide B2B businesses with the cash flow that they need in order to keep their business running smoothly. Purchase order financing is really only necessary for exceptionally large orders, or to get a seasonal business through their busy season. Factoring is available on any size orders and is also a debt free form of financing.
If you are looking for Purchase Order Financing and Accounts Receivable Factoring to help fund your business, look no further than DSA Factors. We are a family owned and operated business that has been factoring for 35 years. As a small business ourselves, we understand the difficulties that many small businesses face and are always available to speak with our clients and come up with solutions to funding their business. Give us a call today and 773-248-9000, email us at email@example.com, or chat with us here on our website and secure your business’s financial future. At DSA Factors we have money to make your company grow!