For some businesses, supply chain finance is an afterthought or a necessary evil. But for these three women entrepreneurs, doing supply chain finance right is not only a requirement—it's an opportunity for leveraging business success.
Cristina Bertero: Focus on Relationships
After working as an attorney in her native Brazil, Cristina Bertero found running a Cleveland-based branded materials company required a whole new set of skills.
“The learning process for me was a big one," Bertero says.
Now in business with her husband, Bertero has learned, through trial and error, the importance of establishing and maintaining good relationships with suppliers.
“I deal with tons of suppliers," she explains. “It is extremely important or we are going to lose money."
One key, Bertero says, is understanding that suppliers are all different.
“You need to learn from the get-go what the rules are for each supplier," she says. “Some suppliers for example, you pay after you negotiate terms. Other suppliers you pay using your credit card."
With others, Bertero can negotiate discounts for faster payment.
“You need to communicate with each one of them when we start the relationship," she says. “You need to know where you are stepping so you don't have bad surprises."
That doesn't mean nothing can be changed. When Bertero was considering signing a major contract to supply hospital uniforms, she realized her suppliers would need to help her fulfill it.
“The volume is extremely big," she says. “I really need to talk to my suppliers and say, 'I'm not going to pay you in two weeks. I need more time.'"
With her history of communicating, understanding and fulfilling her promises, Bertero is confident that she can get the supply chain finance flexibility she needs.
“It's all about the relationship," she says, “and showing you are doing your part well."
Cassandra Poland: Managing Costs and Seeking Flexibility
As owner of ComForCare Home Care in Ambler, Pennsylvania, Cassandra Poland loves feeling that she is providing essential assistance to seniors and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“At the end of most days, I sit for five minutes in a spirit of thankfulness for this tremendous opportunity," she says.
Having started her business with her own savings from a previous career, Poland was able keep finances simple and quickly create positive cash flow to reinvest in the business.
It's easy to get complacent in paying the same bills every month, however, you may want to take a more analytical approach and assess whether there are areas where you could spend less.
—Leslie Tayne, founder, Tayne Law Group
As the franchise expands, she's looking for additional flexibility.
“I am now seeking a line of credit to support my growth plan," she says. “Supply chain financing can be an asset and support my expansion."
Poland appreciates the value of automating the process of paying suppliers.
“My goal is to 100 percent automate accounts payables," she says. “However, there are a few accounts that are not yet automated due to system limitations."
Another supply chain focus is on avoiding buying too much, especially of the wrong things.
“When I started, I purchased office supplies and marketing materials in surplus," Poland says. “Now that I have been in business for a few years, I know exactly which materials typically appeal to my niche market. I now purchase only what I need and will use. And I work closely with my supplier to personalize my materials."
Leslie Tayne: Good Records and On-Time Payments
For Melville, New York-based debt resolution attorney Leslie Tayne, managing supplier finance starts with keeping good records and knowing where Tayne Law Group's money is going.
“It's easy to get complacent in paying the same bills every month," says Tayne. “However you may want to take a more analytical approach and assess whether there are areas where you could spend less—or even areas where you should be spending more—for the betterment of your business."
Accurate and complete records are essential for enabling on-time payments, Tayne says. “Late payments can lead to late fees and negative effects on your business credit score, which can be detrimental to your overall business' finances," she warns.
While Tayne appreciates the value of business loans, merchant cash advances and other forms of supply chain finance, her practice also exposes her to the risk of a business borrowing more than it can pay off in a timely fashion.
For that reason, she advises making sure you streamline and automate accounts payable as well as possible before turning to supply chain financing with debt.
“Getting into unmanageable debt can be extremely detrimental to your business," she says.
Tayne also says supply chain finance can and should be a concern of more people than the business owner.
“Share information," she advises. “Often within a business, multiple people need access to accounts payable information. Allowing this information to be accessible to all relevant people can help streamline the process and avoid communication problems."
It's also best to digitize what you can.
“In today's world, technology rules everything," Tayne says. “Keeping everything digital can help prevent errors as well as loss of data and information."
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