The director of a property legal services provider has opened up about the benefits he has seen to his business since moving from personal credit cards to debtor finance to manage cash flow, as new research shows SMEs are still grappling with access to funding.
Mark Ryan, of Sydney CBD-based Viking Legal Services, said the 11-year-old firm had relied on his personal credit card from its inception to carry over shortfalls in working capital.
“I bill my clients, [but even] if they don't all pay, I've got other expenses that have just got to continue. We've got times when we've got heaps of money and other times when there's just no funds,” Mr Ryan told My Business.
“We could have done overdrafts, but with overdraft situations you tend to just rely on the overdraft. So this is something where I just temporarily use it and then I'd pay myself back.”
However, Mr Ryan said he was forced to change the practice “six to eight months ago” due to a change of supplier.
“We were looking at […] moving to a new provider for our online work. They were going to need payment a lot quicker than our previous provider, so in order to be able to do that, we thought 'Well, we're going to have to do something about the cash flow situation',” he said.
Viking Legal Services turned to debtor finance through Scottish Pacific and Mr Ryan said his firm hasn’t looked back since.
“There's no more issues in terms of cash flow at all,” he said.
“I invoice on Monday, I have it by Wednesday or Thursday, so it's never really an issue with cash flow anymore. My clients can take the same amount of time to pay and it's really of no consequence to me anymore. So it's a big advantage.”
The only drawback, according to Mr Ryan, is having to carefully manage client expectations ahead of implementing the system.
“Probably the only drawback is the initial thing when you let clients know what you're doing and then suddenly they start getting invoices from someone else. A couple of them were a little bit weird about that,” he said, noting that close communication with the clients about what he was doing and why eliminated any potential problems.
This comes as Scottish Pacific's latest SME Growth Index found that 65.4 per cent of small business owners have had to tap into their personal finances at some stage to overcome the challenges of working capital and cash flow.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.