Lars Jacobsen

Member Article

Small business guide to supply chain finance

Lars Rolf Jacobsen, of online invoicing network Tradeshift, shares his expertise on supply chain finance for small businesses.

If there is one thing that small businesses struggle with on a near consistent basis, it is cash flow. Making sure there is enough money in the bank to pay the bills will keep many business owners awake at night. More often than not, a lack of cashflow will come down to one thing: unpaid invoices.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. A process called Supply Chain Finance (SCF) is increasingly being used by small businesses to help unlock capital for their business when they need it. SCF allows you to optimise cash flow by tapping into funds that might not be available to you yet.

So what is SCF all about? What do you need to get it to work? And what technology is required?

Most importantly, how can it help you with your day to day business? Our quick and easy guide to SCF should answer all your questions and more.

Supplies, supplies

The modern invoicing process is a broken and confusing mess. You do your work for a business, you send them the official invoice and then you generally wait 30-60 days (or more) for the money to come through. Why? Well, because that’s just how things have always been done.

SCF can help you access the money trapped in this cycle. Traditionally, if you wanted to access this money, you’d have to take out a loan and would end up paying a significant price to do so on the basis that anyone who lent you the money would be taking a risk. That’s because, while the invoice exists (and even if you have a clear statement of intent from the buyer that they will honour the invoice), the bank that is lending you the money will still have a concern that funds might not come through.

The 21st century supply chain

At Tradeshift, we see things a little bit differently by linking SCF and e-invoicing together. So when you send out an invoice, the buyer can click a button that basically says ‘we’re committed to paying this invoice in the agreed payment timeframe’. By closely linking with banks and other funding sources, we give small businesses the opportunity to access the money immediately, no questions asked, because the buyer has committed to paying.

With SCF, the interest charged will be significantly lower than the type of interest you would receive through a typical business loan. It really is a win-win situation.

It’s that simple - by improving the communication between supplier and buyer, it is possible to take the hassle out of invoicing and it is also possible to ease the pain of cashflow through systems like SCF.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Tradeshift .

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