Cash is king, as the age-old saying goes, especially for small businesses. Cash flow is the number one challenge they face in 2019, according to a Lendio survey of more than 500 U.S. small business owners. Marketing and customer acquisition rank second and third.
It’s no secret that without cash on hand, a small business can quickly run into dire financial straits, sometimes resulting in bankruptcy or shuttering the business for good. When business cash flow is healthy, owners enjoy the peace of mind, flexibility, and growth opportunities that come from having a cushion.
While cash flow ranks high on the list of small business owners’ top challenges in 2019, owners are most focused on solving their customer acquisition challenges, according to the survey. Respondents listed increasing revenue, acquiring new customers and retaining existing customers as the top three business goals for 2019.
Gender Differences Among Small Business Borrowers
Even with cash flow concerns and customer acquisition challenges top of mind, more than half of the business owner respondents (51%) said they would not consider applying for financing in the future. Less than half (46%) of business owners said they have ever borrowed money for their business. Of those who have applied for financing, the majority (59%) did so at traditional banks. Forty-one percent of these business owners said the loan application process was difficult.
The survey also reveals notable differences between male and female business owners’ approach to borrowing money:
- 14% more male business owners have borrowed money than their female counterparts.
- 28% more female business owners avoid debt than male business owners do.
- 14% more male business owners report being less trusting of lenders.
- Despite taking fewer loans, women and minorities tend to report a more positive experience borrowing money than men and majority business owners.
- On average, more women than men say the process of applying for loans is easy.
- 21% more men than women report utilizing alternative forms of lending like online lending, crowdfunding, and angel investors.
Factors That Matter Most to Small Business Borrowers
Business owners who have sought financing ranked interest rates, loan amounts, and payment amounts as the most important factors when looking for a business loan, in that order. Whether a loan is backed by the government is the least important factor, respondents said.
Survey respondents who did take on financing reported equipment purchases, cash flow, and working capital as the top three reasons for seeking loans, with paying off debt and expansion rounding out the top five uses of funds.
As for their level of knowledge with regard to small business financing, 52% of respondents rated themselves as amateurs, citing they are somewhat knowledgeable, but may need a little help understanding their options. Thirty-five percent said they are experts and could apply for and select a loan with little or no assistance. Fourteen percent of respondents said they are novices with little to no experience applying for financing.