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By Jon Steiert Updated on August 25, 2021

How a Mission-Driven Business Grew With a Merchant Cash Advance

Chad Woodard’s mission is to answer the question, “How do we fix the healthcare crisis that our country is in?” In 2016, however, that question was secondary to, “how do I improve my cash flow and keep my business open? After spending five years as a partner in another practice, Chad founded Symbio Physiotherapy to provide preventative care to patients regardless of their ability to pay. But to do that and keep his mission-driven business growing, Chad needed a way to stabilize Symbio’s cash flow.

“We’re really trying to get to the root of someone’s problem instead of just treating symptoms,” Chad says. While this mission is worthy of praise, goodwill can’t pay rent or the salaries of his employees. Behind-the-scenes, Chad was struggling with his cash flow. On top of that, while he was trying to turn the healthcare model on its head, he still needed to attract enough patients to scale his practice, which meant finding more money to spend on marketing.

If he couldn’t solve his cash flow problems, Symbio Physiotherapy would never be able to fulfill its mission.

Chad Woodward founded Symbio Physiotherapy to provide preventative care to patients regardless of their ability to pay.

Motivated By Movement

Chad originally moved to New York City to pursue fame and fortune as a Broadway star. But not long after moving to the Big Apple, he suffered a serious hip injury and began working with a physical therapist. The experience was life-changing. With each session, Chad began to feel more and more in sync with the work his therapists did to prepare him for the rigors of dance. The way each movement and exercise impacted another resonated and meshed with his well-choreographed sensibilities.

Seeing how much he was connecting to the therapy, a friend jokingly said he should go into physical therapy. “So I did,” says Chad. From there, he began seeing patients privately, eventually starting a business with another physical therapist five years before founding Symbio.

In 2015, Chad founded Symbio Physiotherapy, where he would focus on treating gymnasts, dancers, athletes and anyone who simply wanted to improve their mobility. Symbio offers a variety of non-conventional therapeutic services, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay, extending from fascial mobilization to male pelvic floor evaluation, cupping and a range of manual therapy approaches.

Before moving on from his previous practice, Chad decided to transfer an inactive Tax ID from his old therapy venture to the new business, with the idea of preserving the longevity of his business ownership. Knowing the importance of maintaining a positive operating cash flow, Chad made this decision with in order to set him up for success in the future. For someone who never had aspirations of being a business owner—let alone a physical therapist—Chad was beginning to carve out quite the entrepreneurial journey. And just like every entrepreneurial journey, there would be challenges along the way.

The Cash Flow Struggle

At some point in every small business’s lifetime, it’s common to experience an operating cash flow issue. For businesses used to waiting 30, 60 or even 90 days to be paid, it can become a way of life. Regardless of the business owner’s willingness to adapt, financial obligations aren’t usually as flexible, leaving many entrepreneurs in need of operating capital. This is what happened to Chad. While he stuck by his pledge to provide care to his patients, he needed to find a way to care for his business.

While some of his patients from his previous business followed him to Symbio Physiotherapy, the first two years of the business were a challenge. He needed working capital to maintain, improve and grow.

“I begged, borrowed, and bargained with pretty much every human that I know,” says Chad. Even with the help of those closest to him, Symbio Physiotherapy was still in need of working capital. He started by applying for a bank loan and learned quickly how difficult it is to receive an approval.

“I had a lot of difficulty finding ways to get capital…at a reasonable interest rate or a reasonable term,” Chad says. Even with the transferred Tax ID number that showed he had owned a business for years, he still had trouble qualifying. He had hoped, “that lending institutions would see that I had this corporation with some longevity, and they would then be happy to talk to me.” But even after all that work, financial institutions viewed Symbio Physiotherapy for what it truly was: A brand new company. “[T]hey had no interest in talking about credit or loans or anything,” Chad says, “because I couldn’t show any history under that brand name.”

To secure any type of business financing, business owners need to meet specific qualifications. Typically, they need to have been in business for at least six months, generate monthly revenues of at least $10,000, and possess a personal credit score of at least 520. When he first began applying, Chad struggled to meet these requirements.

“Basically, the only way that the bank was willing to loan me any money was if I could demonstrate that I was already really, really wealthy and had like crazy things to turn over as collateral,” says Chad, “which I didn’t have.”

As Chad was sitting with the loan officer, he asked if he could summarize what it sounded like he needed to secure a loan. “[Essentially,] you’ll be willing to loan me money at a time where I won’t need it.” The loan officer all but agreed. It was time to search for another option.

The Path to Funding

After being shut out of the traditional bank route, Chad began searching for solutions through alternative lenders. His pursuit eventually lead him to Fast Capital 360 and Business Advisor Kris DiRenzo. Chad explained his cash flow circumstances to Kris—as well as his experience with traditional banks—and laid out the goals he had for his business. Kris loved Chad’s ambition, but could tell his previous experiences left him looking for answers.

“Beyond looking for funding,” Kris says, “Chad came to me looking for business financing advice.” Chad was looking for a partner; someone he could trust to keep Symbio Physiotherapy moving in the right direction. Kris worked with Fast Capital 360’s partners to find a cash flow financing program known as a merchant cash advance that would provide Chad with the working capital he needed to meet his financial obligations.

What Is a Merchant Cash Advance?

A merchant cash advance (MCA) is capital provided by a lender in exchange for a portion of your credit or debit card sales over a specific period of time. Advances are great for businesses who have had trouble qualifying for a working capital loan, or simply don’t have the option of waiting for a traditional bank loan approval. For businesses in need of fast, easy funding, MCAs are a good solution.

The funds from an MCA can be used to cover a variety of business needs, like payroll, emergency expenses, product line expansion, large purchase orders and other growth opportunities.

MCAs offer accessible qualification terms that make them more widely available for a variety of businesses. These programs do not require borrowers to provide collateral and don’t require a fixed monthly payment (repayment is inline with your volume of credit card sales). Merchant cash advance programs provide amounts ranging from $3,000 to $500,000 and are typically repaid between 3 and 18 months.

Seeing Results

The ambition Kris saw in Chad materialized in a big way. In less than two years, Symbio Physiotherapy has grown more than 333% as the MCA funds allowed Chad to add new equipment, cover payroll, build his team and support marketing campaigns. At times, Chad would borrow more working capital than he immediately needed to funnel into marketing efforts and spur growth.

Typically Chad would borrow a little extra during a period when he needed a small advance, “Just to cover payroll and expenses.” His theory was: “If we take out a bit more … not only are we just surviving, we can get more people to know who we are today instead of a month from now. Instead of just payroll, wouldn’t it be great if we have lots of new people come to see us thanks to this push?”

Chad’s marketing push worked, and the growth that followed has allowed Symbio Physiotherapy to expand the team to 15 employees with two offices in Chelsea and the Financial District. The combination of Chad’s drive, vision and execution allowed the business to turn the funds directly into effective action. “[If] I had to tell you what was my experience with Fast Capital, for sure, it was overwhelmingly positive, and I would recommend it to somebody that needed funding.”

“All I did was help guide him,” Kris says. “He did all the hard work. Getting to work with someone like Chad is what makes my job so rewarding.”

Symbio Physiotherapy’s remarkable progress even qualified the business for an SBA loan that offers more capital with longer terms. Considering how ambitious the next phase of Chad’s plan for the business is, he’s going to need a good deal more capital.

Chad Woodward speaks to a man at Symbio Physiotherapy. Merchant cash advances helped Woodward grow his business.

What’s Next for Symbio Physiotherapy?

When Chad talks about his plans for the future, he jokes about global domination in a tongue in cheek kind of way. “We have a second location that right now is just a single treatment room down in a different neighborhood,” he says. “We would like to expand our outreach in our present center downtown area.”

Those are his immediate plans, mind you. The next level involves continuing to expand Symbio Physiotherapy’s reach across the whole of New York City. Chad isn’t limiting his vision of the future to “physical” treatment centers, either. He would love to create an online resource that would allow him and his team to treat more people, even if they’re not physically with them. “A combination of perhaps,” Chad says. “I don’t know; when the time is right.”

For a business owner who was never supposed to be a business owner, Chad’s mission has taken him further than he ever imagined it would. “I had this vision in place,” he says, “and it was going to be five clinics here in New York City, and that was going to be it.” As Symbio Physiotherapy has grown and evolved, so have his ambitions. “I feel that we have tapped into a model that is reproducible when given the time and the right efforts,” he says. “Perhaps it’s relentless optimism, but I would like to take the company into different markets within the United States and perhaps beyond as time and circumstances allow.”

Jon Steiert is a content writer focused on making business and financial information accessible to any business owner. He’s always on the lookout for fascinating stories that just haven’t been told properly.
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