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Purchase Order Finance – How Your Customer Orders Can Be Used to Pay Your Supplier

Your business has just broken through by getting a big order for your new, improved anti-gravity unit. This is going to take you to a whole new level. Yay!

You don’t have the money to finance your life-changing new order. Boo!

Purchase order (PO) finance is a game-changer when you have an order and a supplier, but when you still need the money to pay for the order. This is a common business problem for entrepreneurs. When success knocks, a business owner with great customer relationships needs to make certain his finance capabilities match his growing order flow.

Here’s how PO finance works: you get an order from a creditworthy customer. The funding company checks the customer’s credit and satisfies themselves that the customer is stable. Then they will arrange payment to the supplier with your customer order as security. Orders to suppliers outside the country will generally be paid for with a letter of credit; inside the country, there may be other arrangements made to secure payment for the goods.

Many business owners worry about their credit when they seek finance. The key in PO finance is the strength of your end buyer; THAT is the primary determinant in getting the deal done. Your own business financial picture is taken into account, of course, but your experience and the customer’s credit profile are of much higher relative importance.

If you have good profit margins, you may need very little of your own cash to do the deal. It is possible that almost all of the supplier’s cost will be covered by the finance group. Normally, some of your cash will be required, as finance people are much more comfortable when you have capital at risk also.

When goods have been delivered to the customer, you can invoice your customer for the goods. This allows you to convert purchase order finance into invoice finance. PO finance is perceived as a riskier form of financing because more things can go wrong. As a result, you pay more until the PO converts to invoice financing. As a result, it is always in your interest as the business operator to complete the PO portion of the finance quickly.

A key point in the use of PO finance and other finance tools is to assess the cost of funds versus the profit margin to be obtained. Entrepreneurs sometimes think that certain types of funding are too expensive. This is only true if margins are narrow. Finance costs must always be assessed relative to the profit to be obtained. There are a number of reasons why more expensive funding is useful: to maintain customer relations by satisfying certain orders; and of course, to capture a profit that would be lost without the finance.

The private finance companies who provide PO financing differ from banks in one other important way. Whereas a bank will generally approve a credit line and leave that amount in place for quite some time, private PO funders have a different view. They seek execution partners who want to grow their businesses. Once you, the business owner, have shown your ability to manage increased order flow effectively, you become the perfect candidate for an expanding credit line in the funder’s eyes. Relationships count in the finance world, especially to companies who are looking for the right entrepreneur to back.

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