A credit line can help with cash flow gaps

Dear Liz: My husband and I are self-employed. As we pay our bills, we are often a few thousand dollars short as we wait to be paid by our clients. Until now, we’ve been using a home equity line of credit to bridge the gap. We are ultra-responsible about paying it back. But our current 10-year draw period ends this month, and our lender has denied us either a new HELOC or a refinance. Is there another product that would help us? It would be sad if the only way to maintain our life is to sell our house, but that might be where we are if we can’t find some small line of credit.

Answer: Talk to the bank that has your business checking and savings accounts about the possibility of opening a line of credit. This is a standard tool for businesses of all sizes, but can be particularly helpful for small-business owners who have cash flow challenges. The interest rates on business credit lines are typically low, and you may be offered higher limits over time as you use the account responsibly.

If your bank isn’t interested in helping you, ask other entrepreneurs to help you find a more business-friendly financial institution. A community bank may be more flexible and more interested in winning your business than bigger, name-brand banks, but the experiences of fellow small-business owners can guide you to the best options in your community.

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  1. Short term, that’s a fine answer, but long term, the problem is that this business is “living above its means” and has been for a decade. Start putting aside some of the business’s income into a savings account and keep adding money until there’s enough to survive the average wait for payment without relying on credit.

  2. I see now that you addressed that concern in a followup article. Comment redacted 🙂