Going forward, set a collection policy that you know will work in both a bull and bear market. Specifically, it would be wise to run a scenario analysis with the elements of working capital to see what terms work under various financial conditions.
Many companies get too comfortable during a bull market and lose sight of certain key elements of working capital--make sure you don't get yourself in the same situation going forward.
Option 1: Seek a Strategic Partnership
This can be a tough decision to make but it is an option worth exploring if you can find a company that compliments your business. You mentioned that you have opportunities of growth but don't have the cash to make it happen. If you can find a partner that has a strong balance sheet (i.e. cash) and a complimentary business model, perhaps you can form a partnership. Now, there are a lot of questions you must ask yourself in figuring out the right partner, such as:
1. Would a partnership help both companies financially?
2. Do the two companies have cultures that are compatible?
3. Am I comfortable giving up certain management functions to this partner?
Option 2: Seek Financial Investors
If all you need is cash, then perhaps you can raise capital by partnering with an investor who will just provide funding and take an ownership position in the company. Again, you will have to give up some ownership, but you will also have the ability to grow with fresh capital.
Option 3: Seek Further Financing Options with Banks
While your credit is poor, you may still have some opportunities to obtain financing with a bank. You may have to go to several regional and community banks to find a lender but you may find one with some suitable financing terms.
So, while your situation is tough, I believe you still have options to explore. You may just have to think a little out of the box.
Ryan Himmel, CPA and registered securities analyst, is the founder and CEO of BIDaWIZ.com, a professional network for small businesses and entrepreneurs to obtain trusted advice and services from a team of CPAs, Enrolled Agents, Financial Planners & Tax Attorneys. His team provides answers to the many finance and tax questions that small businesses encounter every day. Ryan has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fox Business and Crain's New York, among other publications. Ryan also regularly contributes to the community with his finance and tax blog.