Cash flow management is a headache for small business owners everywhere. Not only do clients inevitably pay late (or not at all), but clients come and go, equipment breaks down, and random, unexpected expenses crop up at the least convenient of times. To keep the lights on and business running smoothly, businesses have to rely on a combination of careful money management and third party financing. Unfortunately, choosing the right financial partner for your business is no easy task.

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Different types of institutions offer different kinds of financing that may be better suited to some businesses than others. Moreover, every financial institution you work with will operate in its own somewhat unique way. To ensure that you’re getting the best service possible, there are a few specific things you’ll want to look for when you’re shopping around for a business finance solution.

1. Transparency

In any healthy business relationship, it is in the best interest of both parties to share relevant information and ensure that they understand exactly what the relationship means for each of them. When you first meet and speak with a representative of a financial institution, it’s a good idea to ask exactly how their services work, and what the costs and benefits are for both parties.

Working with someone who is unwilling or hesitant to explain their business practices is risky at best. Similarly, hidden fees or an unnecessarily convoluted application process are reasons to proceed with caution. Like any other business with a great product, a great financial partner should have no trouble justifying the cost of their services and has no need to rely on underhanded tactics to drive up their own revenues.

2. Rapid response

There are a lot of situations in which your business might need some extra cash. Perhaps you unexpectedly lost a major client, or you are dealing with late payment issues, and need some funds to cover operational expenses at the end of the month. Perhaps you need to replace some equipment, to acquire some extra stock, or to hire and train some new employees in order to facilitate growth. What most of these issues have in common is that they’re time sensitive.

Business owners can rarely wait days or sometimes weeks to get access to the financing they need. More often than not, problems that are discovered today need to be fixed tomorrow. While not all kinds and amounts of financing can be immediate, it pays to research your options ahead of time and find out who can help you soonest. Fifo Capital, for example, can process most applications within 24 hours, ensuring that customers can get access to the financing they need in time to address their problem without falling behind on their own bills or missing a growth opportunity.

3. High touch service

Small businesses can’t afford to hire a team of financial consultants to advise them on the best financing options for them, or on what the risks associated with different financial decisions might be. A good financial institution will take the time to understand your business and the situation you’re in, and work with you to come up with a good solution. A great financial institution, however, will continue to offer that same level of service with a dedicated financial representative who understands your case and will help you adapt your strategy as your situation changes. Others might simply delegate calls from existing clients to a call center, which often means working with generic support personnel who may or may not have any real expertise in regard to your issue.

4. Long term relationships

That dedicated professional support is particularly conducive to long-term relationships. Cash flow interruptions aren’t rare events, and small business owners don’t have time to shop around for a new financial institution every time they need something. Because of that, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to work with an institution that doesn’t take a long term approach to its clients. Those that take the time to develop that long-term one-to-one relationship stand to gain a lot by working with you to grow your business and to help you succeed.

As your business develops, your financing needs become more diverse, creating a more lucrative source of revenue for your financial partner. This symbiotic relationship is one that’s worth encouraging, and those who already understand its value are going to make more reliable and useful partners for small business owners.

Financial institutions that specialise in working with SMEs have a lot to offer; not just in the sense of offering financing to stabilise cash flow, but also in facilitating their long term success. At Fifo Capital these values shape the core of our service philosophy. If you’re looking for the right financial partner for your business, we encourage you to get in touch with us today.