Helping Your Small Business Clients Find Capital
Funding is critical to any small business. Whether your clients run into a temporary cash flow problem, or need the funds for a planned expansion of the business, at some point in the relationship they may need help with financing.
The financial statements that you prepare will be the foundation for the application. However, your potential value goes well beyond preparing the financials. Consider the following ways you can support your clients, strengthen working relationships, and help maximize their outcomes.
Help them understand what they need.
With any business loan or funding request, start by getting your client to clarity on what they need, and how the cash inflow should be structured. You can help your clients save significant money in interest and fees by structuring the transaction in a way that gets them everything they need – and nothing they don’t.
An updated budget, including a cash flow budget, is a great place to start. Stress-test of assumptions and review of contingencies will be valuable for considering every angle and getting the most out of the funding.
Help them be accurate.
Numbers are often not the business owner’s strongest suit. Consider offering assistance with double-checking the figures, and reviewing (or even completing) the application paperwork. Accuracy and completeness can make the difference between getting approval and money in the bank account – or getting turned down because of a mistake on a form.
Help them demonstrate commitment.
A lender will want to take a smart risk in extending credit or handing over the funds. Help your small business tax clients demonstrate commitment to their business – whether by including analytics that show sales growth, an industry trends report that forecasts an increase in demand, or a business plan with concrete steps to put the money to good use.
Keep a flow of communication.
Ongoing communication with the lender can make a positive difference on the timeline and the ultimate outcome of the application. You expect the lender to be responsive, since they stand to make money on the interest and fees. The lender also expects your client to be responsive in the event clarification or additional documentation is needed. Help your client by staying involved, serving as an accountability partner, and assisting them in demonstrating commitment to the process.
Build a network of resources.
Having a network of trusted lenders can save your small business tax clients valuable time by simplifying research and decision-making, which is particularly important if they need the money quickly. Consider reaching out to local lenders to get to know them.
If the funding need was caused by a crisis, analyze what happened
Sometimes, the need for funding is forecast as part of the business plan – perhaps there is a planned equipment acquisition to support business expansion, or a move to a larger space. Other times, the lending request was not anticipated. Help your small business clients analyze what happened, so that they can avoid a systematic problem in the future. Perhaps the collection cycle, criteria for purchase on credit, or a relationship with a supplier must be revisited and re-negotiated.
In closing, help your small business clients by using your expertise to get them the best lending outcomes. In return, they will see you as an integral part of growing their business, and your strategic partnership will deepen the relationship in ways that are beneficial for both parties.