The comparison of small business financing to a puzzle is not meant to diminish the critical importance of success by business owners when they encounter difficulties with commercial lenders. The most practical goal for using a puzzle analogy in this article is to help describe an otherwise complex working capital and commercial finance situation in a more understandable way. The current commercial loan stakes for commercial borrowers are high because their business survival might be hanging in the balance.
In using a puzzle comparison, this analogy provides an opportunity to evaluate the commercial loans puzzle (a challenging commercial lending climate) as something that tests the ingenuity of small businesses to solve. When reviewing the current small business finance environment, an increasing number of commercial borrowers are comparing what they are finding to a puzzle with pieces scattered everywhere. The ongoing descriptions of commercial financing in terms of solving a puzzle should provide a reasonable reflection of the underlying problems that cannot be ignored by a prudent business borrower. The growing confusion represented in small business owner interactions with their current bank concerning available business financing options is no doubt also reflected by such an analogy.
Recent experiences by many commercial borrowers with their business banker probably resemble a constantly changing level of difficulty for an already confusing small business finance puzzle. It has become a common experience for banks to take over two months for a working capital financing process that should realistically be completed in three weeks or less, and in many cases even then the lender does not complete the process for providing the requested working capital to the business which has been waiting without any awareness that funding might not be finalized. Suggestions that commercial lenders have misrepresented what is required to finalize commercial loans are emerging in too many reports for borrowers to ignore.
For a number of years most business financing has been more complicated than borrowers realize. Recent events have made these complexities more obvious primarily because the eventual results have changed so drastically. It is situations like those noted above that cause business borrowers to feel like some of the required puzzle pieces have been removed from the board. In effect that is exactly what has happened in many cases because fewer banks are now providing small business financing. When this happens with the bank that a business has previously relied upon for their small business finance needs, a business owner is indeed likely to feel as if the commercial finance puzzle pieces have disappeared.
By continuing the puzzle analogy, there are two practical options for commercial borrowers to analyze and consider. First, in an approach which can lead to a small business finance puzzle which will involve “fewer pieces” if executed successfully, business owners should assess the potential for a reduction in their commercial debt requirements. Second, by looking for alternative commercial lending sources, small businesses should attempt to find the “missing pieces”. As with any complex business financing situation, both of these (as well as any other realistic commercial loan choices) should be thoroughly reviewed with the help of an experienced expert.