Business financing programs are resulting in mixed signals for borrowers. Business lenders are increasingly reducing or canceling commercial lines of credit, refusing to refinance commercial mortgages and turning down new requests for small business loans. In contrast to their actual lending practices, most lenders have announced that they are lending normally to businesses. These mixed signals are due to a variety of financial and economic issues, but the end result is likely to be confusion for small business owners.
Having enough cash flow to support daily operational requirements is a critical need from the perspective of a small business owner. Very few businesses are debt-free, and the inability to borrow needed funds on an ongoing basis will quickly produce serious consequences. It is probably fair to say that the average business owner does not understand why they are currently unable to get adequate working capital or commercial loans from their current lender. The primary mission for commercial borrowers is likely to involve locating new sources of capital once they realize that their current lenders might not be up to the task of helping their business financially.
Looking at this perplexing situation from a lending perspective, it is likely that most commercial lenders truly want to be more active in providing small business financing than they currently are. However, many banks are undercapitalized and have been forced to increase their liquid assets to satisfy government standards. This can force such banks to make fewer new loans and to cancel some existing loans. In other cases, lenders have depended excessively on short-term commercial financing sources and now find themselves short of capital to make loans because their own business funding sources are proving to be inadequate.
Some good news emerging from this confusing lending climate for small businesses is that there appears to be an adequate supply of new lending sources to fill the void left by the exit of many banks and other lenders from commercial lending. A prominent commercial lender recently announced that they needed more capital in order to continue making small business loans. Even though the failure of this lender would be inconvenient to businesses using their services, it has become clear that there are indeed other lending sources sufficient for solving the problem.
Despite the unfortunate complications due to mixed signals from lenders, business owners are in better shape than they probably realize to make it through the current business funding chaos. In order to increase the chances of their business surviving, borrowers should take a more active role in their business financing.
Stephen Bush is Chief Executive Officer of AEX Commercial Financing Group and is a working capital expert who helps small business owners throughout the United States. Please contact Steve for candid and practical advice about small business loans and short-term working capital financing.