December 28, 2020 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Though the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) ended August 8, 2020—with a lack of clarity as to when it might be revived—businesses are still in need of capital.
Though more than 5 million PPP loans have been approved, accounting for $525 billion, according to data from the Small Business Administration (SBA), it’s still not enough.
House Democrats propose allowing second loans to small businesses but with some restrictions: They must have fewer than 200 employees and have experienced a 25% reduction in quarterly revenue year-over-year due to the pandemic.
Nonetheless, in advance of waiting for a stimulus package to be passed—and even if it does— businesses should consider any additional alternatives.
Six additional funding options
1. Equipment financing and leasing
This is not a traditional loan, but if your business needs equipment—perhaps even updated equipment in order to accommodate new Covid-related sanitation or social distancing rules—consider working with the manufacturer or distributor to lease the equipment rather than use the proceeds of another loan to buy it.
For example: Furniture, a pizza oven, an X-ray machine and construction tools can all be leased.
Leasing is similar to borrowing, except the manufacturer or distributor owns the asset and rents it back to you for a monthly fee, often with a lower payment than what a loan would be. Most leases come with a fixed interest rate and conditions vary.
If the terms of the leasing company do not fit your criteria, you can seek equipment financing from several other sources including banks, credit unions, online lenders, and even the SBA depending on several factors, including your creditworthiness.
2. Assistance from marketing and IT vendors
Thanks to programs launched earlier this year from large, name-brand providers, entrepreneurs are able to explore some relief from the “softer” expenses of running a business—notably marketing and IT.
Some of these might be grants, discounts, or more attractive terms on services or even equipment.
For example: Google is offering $340 million in ad credits for small and medium-size companies and Yelp is waiving advertising, product, and service fees for restaurant and nightlife businesses.
Large IT providers have traditionally offered special leasing options for businesses. Earlier this year, Dell, HP, and other technology providers announced special financing and deferred payments for partners and customers.
Ask your marketing or IT resource if any relief might exist in these areas.
3. Borrowing from friends and family
Financing from acquaintances and relatives remains one of the primary sources small businesses use to access capital. Even Jeff Bezos famously borrowed close to $250,000 from his parents to start Amazon in 1995.
However, as a business owner, you must decide how to structure the investment. If you intend to make regular periodic payments—and demonstrate commitment on a consistent basis—then a loan makes sense.
If you don’t want to make payments, offering an equity stake is an option. Of course, it’s difficult to regularly assess the business in the event that a friend or family member is curious about the business’ current valuation and what their equity stake is worth.
To avoid awkward situations and miscommunication, it’s better to err on the side of over communication on how you are using that infusion of capital.
Factoring is not a loan, but rather an advance on the value of your business’ accounts receivable.
A factoring company is a third party that is willing to purchase part or all of your receivables at a discount. The factor then owns the outstanding invoices and collects from your customers. The factor profits from the difference between the discounted rate negotiated to buy the receivables and the full amount collected from the customer.
If you are a retail business where customers pay at the point of sale, then factoring will not work for you.
If you are not a retail business, but instead have several, large customers who buy from you with specific terms, and those customers pay their bills regularly, then factoring could work out well for you. The factoring company purchases your receivables so you can get cash.
5. Non-profit micro lenders
Several state, regional and municipal governments, through their economic development initiatives, offer microloans to support local businesses and their communities.
Eligibility requirements vary and a few of the loans have zero interest. Some programs actually offer grants—i.e. a loan that does not have to be repaid.
This type of program benefits a business that can leverage a relatively small amount of capital into larger opportunities that create jobs and contribute to community growth.
Further, the business can leverage the association with the economic development organization for publicity and good will, hopefully leading to even more customers.
6. Alternative, small business lenders
Businesses should consider alternative lenders that have fewer requirements than banks in order to get approved for loans quickly.
Cash can be available as working capital within just a few days, and without the documentation, such as credit reports and tax returns normally required when applying for loans from traditional banks.
Diversify your lending leads
To take advantage of all loan or financing options available, small businesses need to get creative. Instead of waiting for a second round of PPP, they need to be more savvy about where they seek financing and the lenders they choose.
Harnessing a combination of sources is the path to survive in these uncertain times.