Finding the right reusable short-term credit source is a survival necessity for most small businesses. That’s because the cash flow management cycle is the biggest challenge successful companies have to their stabilization into long-term business entities that can flourish and give back to their communities. Without proper accounting for your outgoing expenses, you lose access to raw materials, equipment, and even labor. If you’re in retail or another industry that relies on sales to the public and you take a lot of credit transactions, a merchant cash advance could be just the resource you’ve been trying to find to keep your cash flow in order.

The MCA is unique because it is a cash advance that is secured to your merchant account, with a repayment agreement that gives the lender a percentage of your credit receipts until the debt is satisfied. That makes it more accessible to the right borrower than traditional credit, and the flexible method of accounting for repayment means you won’t have to worry about a payment being too large to make. You will also repay the advance more quickly if your business booms in response to your investment, so the wise use of a merchant account advance can really help a thriving business become a successful one.

The key to getting the most out of a merchant cash advance is timing it correctly. If you’re applying for your first one, understand that it can take five days or so to go from application to funds in your account if you’re approved. You also need to have a business that does a lot of its sales through a credit card transaction. If you primarily operate on a cash or invoice basis, you’re not going to find this product a good fit and you’re probably not going to be considered by the more affordable and accessible lenders.

Make sure your credit is fairly good, because while this type of advance is not as heavily based around your credit score as traditional business loans, it is still more affordable and accessible to those with better scores. Finally, look for a lender who can work with you on a quick approval. That way, you find out whether you’re getting the funds quickly. Many lenders have preapproval processes that can take the worry out of applying for a merchant cash advance with a credit check that just takes a few minutes. The key is to shop around and find the lender with the right combination of service perks and costs.