While big business may have access to bank lines of credit and even government bailouts, small businesses usually don’t have the same financing resources. When an emergency strikes and you need cash, you need to understand how to finance your business through a rough period.

Emergencies may include major equipment failures, serious cash flow shortages due to customer defaults, unexpected lawsuits, tax liabilities, or a myriad of other situations. Regardless of the cause, you need to find cash fast to rectify any situation that threatens the stability of your business. Following are some creative methods to get financing quickly.

Factoring Invoices

A factor is a company that buys your invoices for cash. If you sell a customer $1,000 worth of goods, for example, and extend 30-day credit terms, you obviously have to wait for your cash. A factor advances 80% to 90% of that invoice to you and sends the rest when your customer pays the balance. A hefty 5% fee is not unusual, but a quick $950 is most welcome in an emergency. You do need to set up an account with a factor beforehand, but in the case of an emergency, this can be done rapidly.

Credit Card Advances

Financing a business with credit cards is not a new idea, so ask your lenders for increased credit limits to temporarily get through whatever situation has caused the cash flow difficulties. Most likely you have multiple credit cards, so a $500 limit increase on a few of those goes a long way toward solving immediate problems.

Merchant Advances

Some companies lend businesses money at high interest rates. $5,000 may end up costing you $7500, but again, if your restaurant’s freezer has failed and you can’t operate without it, you may have to go the route of merchant financing. Find these companies online.


Certain businesses collect deposits before they do the work. Caterers commonly collect money upfront when they book a wedding or a holiday party. If you have customers who are ready to book but just haven’t gotten around to it, a few phone calls could generate some nice deposit dollars. Have your sales staff also prospect for new customers and find some quick cash that way.

Early Payment

If you have a good relationship with some prime customers, ask them to pay early for your services.  If they currently have 30-day credit terms but can pay in 15 days, ask them to do so to rake in that much needed cash.

Supplier Loans

Major suppliers may also lend you money in an emergency. Vendors need you to stay in business and you may be surprised at the reaction you get when you ask them for a short-term loan.


When the choice is going out of business or finding cash, it may be time to ask trusted friends and relatives for a loan. You may be embarrassed to explain the circumstances, but a short-term infusion of cash from any source is very comforting (and motivating!) in an emergency.


Employees obviously know about the emergency situation that has caused the cash shortage. Perhaps ask them to delay cashing their paychecks since this will free up some cash for the company or you ask them to loan money to the business. If this is done with a note, and as long as your employees fully consent to the loan and is not a condition of employment, it is completely legal and you may be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Running out of cash is one situation all entrepreneurs fear. But sometimes it just can’t be avoided. By utilizing some of the above ideas, you can probably find the funds you need to survive. Once you learn how to finance your business in an emergency, it will be much easier in case the situation ever occurs again.

About the author:

Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a credit card processing firm that offers merchant cash advance services for businesses looking to take the next step towards success. She brings more than 15 years of experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management, and marketing to the company and also serves on its Board of Directors.