6 Quick Tips to Consider Before Applying for a Short-Term Business Loan Online

Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) have received a tremendous fillip of late, with the Government pitching in to give a hands up to this very vital business sector. SMEs engaged in businesses ranging from electronics to ad services, or from engineering to textile to handicrafts routinely face a cash crunch that handicaps their everyday operations, as well as hampers plans for expansion.

SMES and the short-term loan

It takes immense courage to begin your business, and taking risks of establishing, sustaining, and expanding it can be prohibitive for many. Financing is the fundamental issue here, and many businesses are compelled to shut shop or to approach banks in order to raise short-term business loans.

Finances are the lifeblood for any enterprise, and any business plan worth its salt must include sound planning for fund sources as well. Short-term business loans and short-term finance are available in plenty and offer SMEs a chance to overcome their temporary financial problems as also provide an opportunity to expand their business. However, these loans are not without pitfalls. Here are some tips that will help an SME to take a well-considered decision when it comes to applying for short-term business loans:

1. Do your homework

SMEs are recommended to do adequate research to identify the option that are most suitable to them. Occasionally, and especially if the borrower has a good credit score, a simple overdraft or line of credit can help the SME to tide over their cash flow problems. Bank loans carry low-interest rates, but the paperwork involved and time taken to sanction can be burdensome. Crowdfunding, inventory financing, and credit card financing are options that can be explored. Promoters also help to finance a large chunk of working capital requirements. But if a short-term loan is a final option, a careful look at the costs involved can help to tip the scales over.

2. Try online loans

Short-term online loans are meant to be repaid anywhere between 90 days to three years. They are quick, convenient and flexible. A good deal of the paperwork process is cut off and friendly financiers also help eliminate the traditional application method of back-and-forth conversation. The huge advantage lies in not necessarily having to offer collateral. Provided an SME finds the right fintech lender, they can benefit from the speed of digital processing. Additionally, preclosure penalties and hidden charges are also avoided. Genuine financiers will also provide the convenience of flexible loan tenures.

3. Measure business liquidity

There is always a possibility that even a profitable SME can run into cash-flow problems, regardless of the numbers reflected on the cash-book records. Delays in receivables have hurt many a lucrative business, and are in fact a common cause for cash-flow mismatches. In such cases, measuring the liquidity of the business can be very useful for an SME in order to find an alternative way to mitigate problems of a cash crunch. The proper evaluation of liquidity can be extremely beneficial, and can be measured in two ways:

Quick Ratio It shows the capability of business in covering current liabilities with current assets, and utilises the formula:

Quick Ratio= (Current Assets – Inventory)/ Current Liabilities 

Working Capital

It is measured by calculating the difference between the current assets and current liabilities, with the formula:

Working Capital = Current Assets – Current Liabilities

Getting these figures in hand can help measure business solvency, and thus available funds can be duly channelised and prioritised.

4. Capitalise on credit score
It pays to maintain a good credit score history, in more ways than one. A good credit ranking can help you bargain for lower interest rates on short term business loans. Also, it opens up room for tapping into other means of raising money, such as getting into partnerships or seeking non-traditional lenders for funding.

On occasion, the lender may analyze both your business and your personal debt load, in addition to your credit score. If any of these is already high, the lender may hesitate to extend or provide fresh credit for your business. So, it is important to keep a tight rein over your credit utilisation, so that the services offered by the lender are not affected by your credit score.

5. Check APR

While comparing and selecting the best short-term business loan and finance service, one must always keep in mind the number of applications they are filing for apply for the term loan. After receiving multiple loan offers, one must select the most suitable loan offer by comparing the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of every term loan lender. This is perhaps the most important calculation to estimate how expensive a loan is. Once you understand the logic of short-term business loans, it is easy to decide whether or not getting a particular loan is a right choice in terms of its actual cost.

6. Be ready for lender’s queries

Things don’t end here. There are chances that the lending party can contact the SME for verifying their documents that they submitted while applying for term loan. Thus, the SME owner must always be ready for answering any query regarding their documentation or regarding their future goals for the company. A small preparation toward this can prove to be very beneficial in getting a loan finalised. Ergo, shortfalls of cash may be inevitable, but not insuperable. A little bit of math and careful consideration of the choices can help you get the cash you need—hopefully at the price you can afford— without having to fall into a debt cycle.

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Implication of GST on e-Commerce Sellers

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is the single biggest reform in India’s indirect tax structure since the liberalisation of the economy in 1991. Through this reform, the government has integrated the previously disparate segments of the Indian economy and has truly begun the process of creating one market for the entire nation. The idea of a single tax on the supply of goods and services, from manufacturing to delivery to the final consumer, has eliminated the need for sellers to register with multiple tax platforms and file multiple tax returns.

GST is going to have a major impact on e-commerce in the country. Apart from consumers, this trade segment has two key players: the e-commerce marketplaces and the sellers. While e-commerce marketplaces such as Flipkart and Amazon are required to make necessary adjustments to their operations, it is the impact on e-commerce sellers, represented by the thousands of retailers that sell through the marketplace that requires intense scrutiny. Through this blog, we assess the impact of GST on e-commerce sellers and the steps such businesses need to take to ensure regular compliance.

GST-induced taxation changes for e-commerce sellers

Presently, GST appears to be an assortment of compliance guidelines. The enhanced regulatory requirements might take a seller’s focus away from operations for some time. However, GST as a single tax for products across India will be beneficial for all e-commerce sellers in the long run because of the aspect of transparency in trade brought forth by this new indirect tax reform. Let’s discuss the impact of GST on an online seller’s operations:

1. Increased reach of e-commerce sellers: GST has opened avenues for small and medium sized e-commerce sellers to compete with larger enterprises at a national level. Previously, these sellers were limited to operating within the confines of one state due to the looming tax rates of trading across multiple states. By unifying the taxation, e-sellers need not be burdened by multiple taxes while selling to consumers across various states.

2. Compulsory registration required: The government has specified a turnover threshold of Rs 20 lakh for registration under GST. This has been relaxed to Rs 10 lakh for north-eastern states. However, for e-commerce sellers, registration is mandatory, irrespective of whether they fall below the turnover slab of Rs 20 lakh or not. Removal of the threshold for registration will help bring more online businesses into the sphere of taxation.

3. Ineligible for Composition Scheme: E-commerce sellers are not eligible for the Composition Scheme either. The Composition Scheme permits businesses with a turnover of under Rs 75 lakh to file quarterly returns instead of monthly and pay tax at a low rate of 2%. Although this might seem to be a disadvantage for e-commerce sellers, the number of documents required to file for the Composition Scheme is relatively higher, reducing the burden of document collation on the seller.

4. Tax collected at source (TCS): E-commerce marketplaces are required to deduct 2% TCS on the net value of sales as the GST liability of the seller and deposit it with the government. Further, the sales reported by both the e-commerce marketplace as well as the seller need to tally at the end of each month. Discrepancies, if any, will be added to the turnover of the seller and they will be liable to pay GST on the additional amount. This measure will weed out fraudulent sellers and shall subsequently build trust between marketplaces and sellers.

5. Filing of tax returns: The e-commerce sellers need to follow the same process that is followed by brick-and-mortar retailers. Form GSTR-1, containing details of outward supplies, needs to be submitted by the 10th of every month. The seller will receive Form GSTR-2A by the 11th of the same month, which contains details of the tax collected by the e-commerce marketplace. They then need to review and submit Form GSTR-2 by the 15th of the month. Discrepancies in supplies are to be submitted through Form GST ITC-1 by the 21st of the same month. This would require businesses to be particular about tallying data coming from different sources before filing returns. Taking the help of a professional GST services provider in meeting compliance has become a requisite in light of these regulations.

6. Increase in Credit: The GST law has established ‘input tax credit’ to cover goods or services used by a company in the course of business. E-commerce sellers need to establish a direct relationship between the input material and the final product/service is eliminated. Much like other registered entities under GST, e-commerce sellers too can now avail input credit.

7. Refunds under cash on delivery: Consumers extensively opt for ‘cash on delivery’ in India and such sales witness return of orders to the tune of 18%. The reconciliation process for refunds takes around 7-10 days. Initially, there might be confusion around generating refunds for cancelled orders where taxes have already been filed.

The impact of GST on logistics and warehousing

With the Government having done away with multiple layers of tax, GST is bound to reduce costs incurred in e-commerce logistics. This reduction, according to some estimates, could be as high as 20%. Also, with state-level taxes being subsumed under GST, e-commerce platforms can reduce warehousing costs as they need not maintain huge warehouses across multiple locations in India. Such warehouses were earlier operating below their rated capacities, adding to inefficiencies and the selling price of products. Now, e-commerce marketplaces can opt for maintaining a few warehouses at strategic locations. These well-maintained logistics hubs will be able to attract FDI inflows and lead to an increase in overall efficiency in operations. With the free movement of goods and services and a uniform tax rate across states, e-commerce sellers will be free to transport across different locations in India.

The implementation of GST stands to benefit e-commerce sellers, as due to the elimination of entry taxes and faster movement of goods vehicles across states, the last mile delivery costs will come down. This benefit can be passed on to customers. Also, e-commerce marketplaces are now free to source goods from SMEs across India and not just limit themselves to local players across states. They were compelled to do this earlier to save costs on heavy inter-state taxation. Such a move will give impetus to the SME sector in India and foster healthy competition among SMEs, thereby improving the quality of products and services available in India.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that e-commerce will be subject to increased tax compliance and subsequently increased costs. However, in the long run, GST should level the playing field for e-commerce sellers, thereby streamlining their operations and setting the tone for increased business growth

Visit our blog to read more engaging content on GST.

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Oct 24, 2018

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How Short Term Loans Helps Small Businesses in India

A competitive environment works as a catalyst for growth for businesses, large, medium or small. Small businesses in India have been flourishing in a disorganized market for a while now, capitalizing on trends and changing consumer preferences. Yet one of the challenges they have to deal with is the lack of timely funds, whether by way of short-term business finance or investment in technology or infrastructure for scaling up. The struggle to get affordable financing has resulted in many Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) failing to realize their full potential.

This scenario is changing for the better. Term loans offered by online finance companies like Capital Float are your new-age finance options for seizing business opportunities that come your way. A trust-worthy financial partner that you can rely on, Capital Float has helped  enterprises boost their profit margins with convenient short-term business finance options. While some businesses require high liquidity, some may not; but no enterprise can work effectively without adequate cash flows. Restrictive lending policies, inflexible collateral requirements and slow disbursement times offered by formal financiers are of no help to SMEs.

Term loans from online lenders offer a way out of crippling interest rates and the chronic cycle of debt. Read on to find out why it makes sense to seek short-term loans in India.

Easy application procedure

As compared to traditional banks, online lenders such as Capital Float offer the convenience of filling out a 10-minute application form from anywhere, anytime. Digitally uploading required documents translates into an easy and hassle-free process. Given this day and age of instant connectivity, this isn’t a tough task; but going through the multiple layers of process at a conventional bank is.

Prompt approval

Apart from a laborious process of submitting umpteen documents and heavy paperwork, it is likely that a conventional lender will keep a small business owner waiting for loan approval. Compare this to a situation where applicants receive instant approval in minutes. Short loans are the lifeblood for a business. Meeting a smooth supply chain, daily payments, urgent expenses and several other unforeseen expenditures are part and parcel of business operations. Thus lack of liquidity can have ripple effects on many aspects of a business. Through quick approvals for term loans, online lenders ensure SMEs avert such crises with short-term business finance, available practically at their fingertips.

Not just fast, friendly too

Unless SMEs have some collateral to offer, turning to conventional lenders for term loans might be futile. Traditional banks are highly inflexible when it comes to scanning an applicant for short loans. Public Sector banks require a business to be running for at least three to five years to be eligible for a loan. The same holds true for private banks, traditional NBFCs and moneylenders. This is where new-age fintech lenders make a difference. Far more customer-friendly, and digitally enabled, lenders such as Capital Float provide Small and Medium Enterprises even as young as one year old with short term business finance. Aspiring entrepreneurs need some handholding when it comes to finances. These digital lenders are here to do just that.

Easier on the pocket

Term loans acquired through traditional means dig deep into your pockets. But, those availed of online are far easier for a number of reasons, including.

  • Pre closure penalties go up to 5% of the loan. This isn’t the case if you choose to get short-term business finance from Capital Float. We levy no such charges on clients if they wish to close the loan ahead of the term.
  • The processing fees for a short loan offered by traditional lenders start from 2% and in many cases go up to 3%. Financing through Capital Float means SMEs only have to bear a fee of up to 2% in processing fees.
  • An online lending platform offers small business applicants the flexibility of loan tenure— they can choose from anywhere between 1 month to 12 months. Conventional lenders and most private banks don’t offer term loans for that short a period.
  • Short-term business finance procured from PSUs, private banks and traditional NBFCs carry a hidden charge. SMEs don’t have to worry about that when they approach Capital Float for a short loan.
  • Strict repayment options are one of the characteristics of a term loan procured through traditional means. These work on an EMI-only basis. Would it not be far more convenient to have a choice of flexible repayment? All of Capital Floats’ financial products come with easy repayment options. All loan products are offered at a reasonable interest rate.

Variety of loan products

At Capital Float, we understand that every SME works in an unique environment and has particular working capital needs. Keeping this crucial fact in mind, the company offers innovative and flexible credit products to meet a variety of financial needs. Delivered in an efficient and customer-friendly manner, our short-term business finance is here to help SMEs meet their credit requirement anytime.

SMEs can choose from a host of short loan products that best match their business needs. These include Term Finance, Online Seller Finance, Pay Later Finance, Merchant Cash Advance, Supply Chain Finance and Taxi Finance. Capital Float believes in being transparent in its business transactions and boasts of a wide customer base. B2B service providers, manufacturers, traders, distributors, and aspirational taxi or kirana storeowners are part of Capital Float’s customer base, as its products have helped all these businesses bridge the credit gap comfortably.

There has been a steady growth in the number of small and medium enterprises in the country over the past five years. More interesting, the sector is opening up avenues for tech-driven innovation. However, this flourishing sector still requires substantial monetary support in order to improve its higher global competitiveness over the next five years. Conducive governmental policies along with easy access to finance will greatly enable ease of doing business. In addition, short-term loans for businesses in India, sought through fast, friendly and affordable means, are what will nurture India’s entrepreneurial spirit.

Oct 24, 2018

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The SME Lending Puzzle: Why Banks Fall Short

Let us consider the following hypothetical scenario:

ABC & Co., a small services firm, began operations in mid-2011. It reported a 40% jump in annual turnover from Rs. 5 Cr in FY 2012 to Rs. 7 Cr in FY 2013. As a startup, the company has not yet broken even and reported losses for consecutive years. The promoter is well educated, previously worked in organizations of repute for over a decade before deciding to float this venture. The short-term finance requirement of ABC & Co is about Rs. 40 lac for 90 days, but does not have any physical collateral to offer as security. At this stage, the promoter of ABC & Co. decides to approach banks and NBFCs in the market to fund this debt gap.

What would this promoter’s experience be in today’s scenario? Would he be successful in securing the necessary funds?

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According to a recent statistic, 33% of companies operating in the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises sector have access to banks and financial institutions, while the rest remain excluded and are compelled to raise money through informal channels.

This debt gap is alarming especially in the backdrop of the fact that SME segment contributes nearly 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and 45% of all industrial output.

Till date, banks and NBFCs have not been able to finance this debt gap effectively. What has prevented or restricted them from profitably penetrating this sector? Is it due to inherent credit risk in the segment, lack of collateral, government regulation and laws, or simply because there are greener pastures elsewhere to lend money?

Lets us understand the debt requirement of the SME segment (both early-stage as well as mature entities) before we try to further dissect this issue. In our example, ABC & Co. could require financing for primarily two reasons:

1) Capex, i.e. medium to long-term finance for business expansion, product diversification, renovation of business premises, or purchase of machinery.

2) Working Capital i.e. to cover short-term immediate cash flow needs arising from day-to-day business operations.

To cater to this demand, banks and financial institutions already have specific products (both fund and non-fund based) that can be broadly categorized into two categories for the sake of simplicity:

1) Simple lending products, which would typically cater to the first requirement of SMEs for Capex. These are medium to long-term financing products in the form of equipment and machinery loans, high yield unsecured business loans, Loan against Property etc.

2) Specialised lending products, which typically include factoring, trade finance, cash management services, project finance, bank guarantee, or letters of credit, which typically cater to the second requirement of working capital finance.

As is evident from the above, it is not the lack of “products” that explains the under-penetration of finance flowing to the SME sector. Rather, it is in the design, applicability and administration of these products to the SME sector that banks have fallen short.

In an effort to go deeper, we can identify four key reasons among others, for this shortfall:

1)  Sole Focus on Financials: The current approach to SME lending in most institutions is still heavily dependent on business financials- i.e. looking at historical data to predict future creditworthiness. Typically this involves a lot of paper work and many visits to the applicant.

This approach has not been very successful in the SME sector to-date due to the fact that the financials provided by the applicant are often opaque given the cash nature of business transactions and incentives to under report income to save on taxes. ABC & Co., on this parameter alone (aside from business vintage) would be filtered out as the current financial position reflecting business losses would not be very appealing to most financiers.

2)  Bureau Reporting: There are two kinds of credit bureau reports that can be generated by member banks and NBFCs – Individual and Corporate. While individual records are provided by most bureaus, only CIBIL currently provides reports for corporate entities in India. Valid records for SME entities are still not very evolved in the country. And while the bureaus can provide data on credit worthiness of the individuals involved in any given company, they cannot give relevant insights about an applicant who is a first time borrower.

Since ABC & Co. is newly established, there would not be any bureau record on the company. The application would then have to be judged on the strength of the individual records for the promoter as well as the business viability of ABC & Co.

3)  Selective Segmentation: The implication of the above two factors is that only the “upper layer” of the medium to large enterprise segment is able to pass through banks’ and NBFCs’ credit assessment parameters, leaving aside the major chunk of “small” entrepreneurs and entities whose need for adequate finance is more pronounced. These small entities could be major links in the supply chains of large players, and their inability to access finance could have the ripple effects across the value chain.

4)  Lack of Collateral Security: Lending in India traditionally has relied on taking adequate collateral as a “risk mitigant” to cover the credit risks associated with SME lending and the ambiguity around appraising this segment. The Loan to Value ratio (LTV) becomes the yardstick to segregate and approve or reject cases based on risk. This ratio is inversely proportional to the risk perception of the applicant.

Since ABC & Co. does not have any physical collateral such as property or machinery to offer and the promoter has pitched in whatever money he had in the form of initial capital into the business, his application would be rejected by most banks and NBFCs in the market today.

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This problem of access to finance for SMEs in India is even more accentuated for early-stage companies or startups such as ABC & Co. In their case, past financial performance would be not a correct indicator of the future potential of the enterprise. After initial round of equity funding from family and friends or seed investors, working capital requirements or ad-hoc needs for short term finance would inevitably kick in and must be dealt with in a timely manner to keep the firm operational.

To conclude, traditional lending to the SME sector in India can best be described as a “One Size Fits All Approach.” The risk management techniques used by banks and other financial institutions today are invariably more suitable for medium and large corporate entities. The same set of rules when inadvertently applied to small and early-stage enterprises result in a faulty output, i.e. the systemic rejection of most SME loan applications like ABC & Co. Given the intense nature of competition in the lending industry today, the consequence is that too many banks and financial institutions end up chasing the same set of “good” customers, leaving aside a much larger untapped segment of SMEs in the process.

Watch this space for more articles on the subject as well as suggested ways to underwrite “small” and
“early-stage” entities in the SME sector.

(Image credit: http://blog.directcapital.com/misc/small-business-loan-video/) 

Oct 24, 2018