Alternative Financing Vs. Venture Capital: Which Option Is Best for Boosting Working Capital?

There are several potential financing options available to cash-strapped businesses that need a healthy dose of working capital. A bank loan or line of credit is often the first option that owners think of – and for businesses that qualify, this may be the best option.

In today’s uncertain business, economic and regulatory environment, qualifying for a bank loan can be difficult – especially for start-up companies and those that have experienced any type of financial difficulty. Sometimes, owners of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan decide that seeking venture capital or bringing on equity investors are other viable options.

But are they really? While there are some potential benefits to bringing venture capital and so-called “angel” investors into your business, there are drawbacks as well. Unfortunately, owners sometimes don’t think about these drawbacks until the ink has dried on a contract with a venture capitalist or angel investor – and it’s too late to back out of the deal.

Different Types of Financing

One problem with bringing in equity investors to help provide a working capital boost is that working capital and equity are really two different types of financing.

Working capital – or the money that is used to pay business expenses incurred during the time lag until cash from sales (or accounts receivable) is collected – is short-term in nature, so it should be financed via a short-term financing tool. Equity, however, should generally be used to finance rapid growth, business expansion, acquisitions or the purchase of long-term assets, which are defined as assets that are repaid over more than one 12-month business cycle.

But the biggest drawback to bringing equity investors into your business is a potential loss of control. When you sell equity (or shares) in your business to venture capitalists or angels, you are giving up a percentage of ownership in your business, and you may be doing so at an inopportune time. With this dilution of ownership most often comes a loss of control over some or all of the most important business decisions that must be made.

Sometimes, owners are enticed to sell equity by the fact that there is little (if any) out-of-pocket expense. Unlike debt financing, you don’t usually pay interest with equity financing. The equity investor gains its return via the ownership stake gained in your business. But the long-term “cost” of selling equity is always much higher than the short-term cost of debt, in terms of both actual cash cost as well as soft costs like the loss of control and stewardship of your company and the potential future value of the ownership shares that are sold.

Alternative Financing Solutions

But what if your business needs working capital and you don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit? Alternative financing solutions are often appropriate for injecting working capital into businesses in this situation. Three of the most common types of alternative financing used by such businesses are:

1. Full-Service Factoring – Businesses sell outstanding accounts receivable on an ongoing basis to a commercial finance (or factoring) company at a discount. The factoring company then manages the receivable until it is paid. Factoring is a well-established and accepted method of temporary alternative finance that is especially well-suited for rapidly growing companies and those with customer concentrations.

2. Accounts Receivable (A/R) Financing – A/R financing is an ideal solution for companies that are not yet bankable but have a stable financial condition and a more diverse customer base. Here, the business provides details on all accounts receivable and pledges those assets as collateral. The proceeds of those receivables are sent to a lockbox while the finance company calculates a borrowing base to determine the amount the company can borrow. When the borrower needs money, it makes an advance request and the finance company advances money using a percentage of the accounts receivable.

3. Asset-Based Lending (ABL) – This is a credit facility secured by all of a company’s assets, which may include A/R, equipment and inventory. Unlike with factoring, the business continues to manage and collect its own receivables and submits collateral reports on an ongoing basis to the finance company, which will review and periodically audit the reports.

In addition to providing working capital and enabling owners to maintain business control, alternative financing may provide other benefits as well:

It’s easy to determine the exact cost of financing and obtain an increase.
Professional collateral management can be included depending on the facility type and the lender.
Real-time, online interactive reporting is often available.
It may provide the business with access to more capital.
It’s flexible – financing ebbs and flows with the business’ needs.
It’s important to note that there are some circumstances in which equity is a viable and attractive financing solution. This is especially true in cases of business expansion and acquisition and new product launches – these are capital needs that are not generally well suited to debt financing. However, equity is not usually the appropriate financing solution to solve a working capital problem or help plug a cash-flow gap.

A Precious Commodity

Remember that business equity is a precious commodity that should only be considered under the right circumstances and at the right time. When equity financing is sought, ideally this should be done at a time when the company has good growth prospects and a significant cash need for this growth. Ideally, majority ownership (and thus, absolute control) should remain with the company founder(s).

Alternative financing solutions like factoring, A/R financing and ABL can provide the working capital boost many cash-strapped businesses that don’t qualify for bank financing need – without diluting ownership and possibly giving up business control at an inopportune time for the owner. If and when these companies become bankable later, it’s often an easy transition to a traditional bank line of credit. Your banker may be able to refer you to a commercial finance company that can offer the right type of alternative financing solution for your particular situation.

Taking the time to understand all the different financing options available to your business, and the pros and cons of each, is the best way to make sure you choose the best option for your business. The use of alternative financing can help your company grow without diluting your ownership. After all, it’s your business – shouldn’t you keep as much of it as possible?

Increase Fat Loss by Nutritional Journaling

Fat loss continues to be one of the most popular topics in health and fitness and people are always looking for new ways to lose weight and improve the way they look. Companies are always promoting new and often untested products such as pills, powders, creams, exercise equipment, and diets to promote fat loss, but the vast majority of these things are marketing gimmicks that are rarely as effective as previously established methods for losing fat. One such proven method for increasing fat loss that often goes overlooked is nutritional journaling.If you are unfamiliar with the concept of nutritional journaling, it is basically just writing down what you eat and drink throughout the day, although there are many different ways to go about keeping a nutrition journal. A journal can be very thorough or much more simplistic, but keeping virtually any type of nutrition journal should increase the amount of fat you lose.It may not seem as though keeping track of what you eat and drink would significantly affect fat loss, but you can see how powerful nutritional journals are by taking a closer look at the most popular and enduring weight loss businesses. Most popular programs do not necessarily use a journal, but they generally use something to help you keep track of what you eat. This typically involves things like following a point system or eating pre-made meals that have specific calorie contents.Regardless of what system is used, the real benefits come from making you keep track of what you eat and drink and not from some special characteristic of one particular system. Some people will certainly prefer one system over another, but the specific system is not really all that important. By tracking your eating and drinking habits, you become more aware of everything that you put into your body. As a result, your unconscious eating habits start becoming more conscious eating choices.In other words, by keeping track of foods, calories, points, etc., you are actually increasing your awareness about how and what you eat. Many people have poor eating habits and they often don’t realize how much or how frequently they eat. By following this type of system, you can stop being a slave to poor eating habits and start making more conscious decisions about what you put into your body.Fortunately, you don’t have to sign up for one of those programs, because you can get almost all the same benefits from keeping a nutritional journal on your own. A personal nutrition journal doesn’t have to contain every little detail about what you eat and drink, although a journal with more useful information generally results in greater fat loss over time. However, even a simple journal with very basic information may significantly improve your fat loss.Just the act of writing down the items you eat and drink, along with the time you had them, will make you think more seriously about your nutritional choices. For instance, if you are supposed to be eating healthy and you find yourself writing down a lot of junk food or other empty calories, you will see how much you are straying from the way you are supposed to eat. Then the next time you start to have chips or cookies, you will probably think about having to write it down, which by itself may make you stop and choose something healthier or have a smaller portion instead.Keeping this type of basic journal is very quick and easy and you do not need any special equipment. You can use a pen and paper, computer, iPhone, or whatever else works for you. The only thing is that you should write down what you eat/drink fairly soon afterwards, because if you wait too long, you may forget some things or the information will otherwise not be as accurate. The more accurate your information, the more it will help you.If you are willing to put forth a little more effort with your nutritional journal, you can also use it to fine tune your nutrition program and further improve your overall health and fat loss over time. To get more out of your nutritional journal, I still recommend keeping track of what and when you eat and drink, but you will also have to look at more specific components of your food. At the minimum, you should keep track of total calories, calories from fat, calories from protein, calories from carbohydrates, and grams of fiber.You can go further and break things down even more to include variables such as calories from sugar, calories from trans-fats, calories from saturated fat, etc. In these cases, the important thing is to have the information be in numerical form and have almost every category use the same type of measurement. For example, in the above categories, everything is broken down into number of calories per item/ingredient. You don’t have to use calories, but it is probably the easiest.The issue is that much of this information will not originally be listed in terms of calories, but rather grams. The problem with grams is that all grams are not equal in terms of calories. For instance, one gram of carbohydrate or protein is about 4 calories, alcohol is 7 calories, and fat is 9 calories, so simply writing down everything in terms of grams does not really provide a clear picture of your overall nutritional intake. By converting everything into calories, you can easily compare your intake of each type of ingredient to find out what you need to add or what you should consume less.On the other hand, fiber does not have any calories, so you should still record it in grams, because you want to eat at least 25 grams per day. Your fiber should ideally come from both soluble and insoluble sources, but most of it will probably be insoluble. In any case, if you see that you are not getting close to the minimum 25 grams of fiber, you should make it a priority to eat more foods that are high in fiber. However, without keeping track of your fiber intake, you may not even realize that you need more fiber. These types of changes are important, because improving fiber intake can cause significant your long-term health and fat loss.Some people choose to track their nutrition in even greater detail and additionally record their intake of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients. However, I would not recommend nutritional journaling for anything this involved as it would take way too much time and effort. If you want stats on everything, there are numerous computer programs available to help you keep track of all this information. For most people, a more basic nutritional journal will work just as well.If you have never tried keeping a nutritional journal, it may sound like more effort than it is worth, but this is certainly not the case. The most basic journals are easy to keep and take very little time and keeping a nutritional journal really does increase your awareness and makes you more accountable for your eating habits. This can be very empowering, but it also makes you take responsibility for how and what you eat, which is probably one of the big reasons why many people are unwilling to try nutritional journaling.It is certainly easier to follow your regular eating habits without giving them much thought and if you have good nutritional habits, this approach may be fine. Unfortunately, many people do not have the best eating habits and this is problematic, because so much of long-term health and fat loss success is dependent developing good habits. Keeping a nutritional journal will let you identify the problems in your current eating program and help motivate you to replace bad eating habits with good ones over time.There really are many different ways that keeping a nutritional journal can help improve your nutritional habits and ultimately your fat loss, so I hope you at least give a simple journal a try. Keeping a nutrition journal often results in more significant improvement than people first expect, but it works best when you are honest, accurate, and consistent with your journal. In any case, a nutritional journal will certainly give you better results than the next new miracle pill or similarly gimmicky health and fitness product that promises great results with minimal effort.

How Online Travel Companies Use Press Releases for Effective Marketing Tactics

Press release distribution has always been one of many effective marketing tactics for online travel companies around the world. However, in the recent years, this method have proved to be more potent than any other marketing tool used for promoting services across the global travel industry.Online marketing gurus in travel industry have been inventing and reinventing News release distribution as an effective vehicle to not only drive messages to the potential customers but also allure them to sign up for lucrative tour packages.Contrary to the conventional practices, many online travel companies use press releases in a clever and creative way to promote their business and services towards many potential customers round the year. Here are a few ways to use press releases to gain optimum mileage from online PR distribution.Promoting Tour PackagesNews stories are a great tool for travel companies to promote their tour packages. The announcement of some attractive tour packages can make a great headline and entice popular attention toward tour services during peak vacation seasons. Informative press releases on tour and travel packages generate decent revenues for online travel companies.Connecting to Prospective TouristsApart from informing new customers, online travel agencies can also try to fortify their customer base by distributing attractive news releases. There are many frequent flyers who demonstrate keen interest in products and packages offered by various travel companies. Travel agencies can create specifically tailored press releases to inform and connect with those potential customers for service promotion. Writing such content and spreading them across the web brings attractive tour packages to the attention of interested customers.Helping Information CirculationThere are a good number of online and offline PR agencies that circulate interesting and fresh information to their readers. Online travel agencies can take advantage of this by crafting their press releases for better circulation. Skilled and experienced writers can be deployed to help maximize the chances of your news story circulation for optimum exposure of your service packages.Educating Aspiring VisitorsOnline travel companies, today, are adopting innovating and effective marketing techniques to create loyalty amongst their customers. They use press releases to share travel-critical information with their prospective buyers. For instance, many online tour agencies have published stories to help their customers with protecting their finances during the travel.Ambitious travelers tend to look for useful financial information to ensure a happy and hassle-free experience. Therefore, press releases with an informative dimension can help generate interests for your tour services among your potential customers in the travel industry.Creating Social AwarenessSmart online travel companies are beginning to use press releases as a tool of creating social awareness, bringing classified customers closer to the possibility of using their services. Such textual content that include interesting data and survey statistics about the tour experiences can create potential impact on buyers’ behavior when they look for travel reviews online. Therefore, contrary to conventional marketing tactics, PRs are going way beyond the dissemination of practical information.Thus, online travel companies can do well to write good press releases which can be effective marketing tactics to bring in business.