Dear M & M: I am hearing lenders are tightening down and gaining access to capital is getting harder not easier when we need it the most. What can I do? – Frank

Dear Frank: As always, banks want to loan money to small businesses, but you need to show them how you are going to pay them back. How are you managing your cash right now? It is important. Not only how you are spending cash, but how are you acquiring cash?

Now more than ever it’s time to forecast at a minimum the next six months projected or forecasted sales. What does it look like? Are you doing everything possible not just to maintain what you had, but looking at other ways you might be able to generate more cash?

Selling off old inventory and eliminating vehicles or equipment you just don’t need any more are ways to generate cash. Maybe renting out space you aren’t using?

Empty that storage warehouse. Sell the building. Get out of that lease. You need to look at the income side of everything. What can we do to get more money coming in?

You are a carpet cleaning company. Maybe you can offer in-home maid services. Think outside the box. Create an opportunity with a local company that replaces carpet to pay you something for referrals. Connect with property managers, apartment complexes and local businesses to do repeat business to not rely solely on individual residential carpet cleaning services.

Can you walk into the bank you are doing business with and actually talk to someone who knows you and your business? Do they have the authority to actually loan you money or get you to someone that can?

If the answer is no, you can do two things. Find the person at your bank who can help. Get to know the person. The second choice would be to find another bank that can help you. A bank is more than just a place you have your business checking account with. You need to have access to cash or liquidity. Liquidity is how quickly a business can generate cash from its assets. Your bank can be your most valuable asset to help generate cash.

Are you using your bank in that way? Start by asking for a line of credit. See what the answer is.

ASK M&M is prepared and submitted by Mark Schmitt, director of the Small Business Development Center at Cochise College; and Mignonne Hollis, executive director at the Arizona Economic Development Foundation. To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Cochise College (520) 515-5478 or email schmittm@cochise.edu or contact the Arizona Regional’ Economic Development Foundation at (520) 458-6948 or email hollism@aredf.org; www.aredf.org.