Financing Your Small Business

If there were only two reasons for a business to fail they would be poor financing and poor management or planning. You can’t over-emphasize the importance of financing your business. Financing the business is not a one time activity as some might think. It is necessary whenever the need arises such as when expanding, modernizing etc. At this stage you need to understand the importance of exercising extreme caution and plan the utilization of capital. A wrong decision here can haunt your for the life of your business.Are You Sure You Want To Raise External Funds?For start-ups, it’s understandable that you need to raise capital through loans. But what about expansions and upgrades? Make sure that external financing is an absolute must before you apply. It is critical that you organize your finances at transitional stages but only after you make sure that you can’t do it yourself, either permanently or for some time. Equally important are the criteria of risk, the cost of not financing and how well it contributes to specific and overall goals of the company.FINANCING TYPESEquity Financing: Equity financing involves selling off of your shares (mostly partially) in return for cash and giving away that portion of ownership and rights to profits. Equity financing can be sought from private investors or venture capitalists. This brings about proper capitalization opening access to debt financing. Equity finance doesn’t need to be returned like loans unless your partner wants to withdraw.Debt Financing: Debt financing is loan financing against some kind of guarantee of repayment. The guarantee can be collateral, a personal guarantee or a promise. Lenders restrict the use of debt finance to inventory, equipment or real estate. You need to properly structure the debt and the rule of thumb for doing so is giving long term debt for fixed asset loans and short term for working capital. The reason is that fixed assets generate cash flow over their lifetimes and have the benefit of lower interest rates as opposed to working capital loans.Sources of Finance:You can choose finance sources depending on your circumstances and the amount required.1. Family and Friends: Small and short-term working capital requirements can be financed quickly through your own resources or through family and friends. The benefit here is the absence of the interest component (mostly.) This method of raising finances is handy even in early stages of business. You should be mindful, though, that disputes over money are the main reason that close relationships turn sour.2. US Small Business Administration: This is the most prominent source for debt financing. The SBA doesn’t lend money directly but organizes and guarantees loans through various lenders and sources under its umbrella. Local governments, banks, private lenders, etc. disburse loans immediately to businesses approved by the SBA. SBA loans are available for various business purposes and at the lowest interest rates available.3. Venture capital: Raising venture capital is organizing financing through selling shares whose value equals the finance you require. Essentially this means selling a portion of the ownership and control rights. It is essential that a proper valuation of your business’s worth is made before the deal is done.Financing a business shouldn’t be hard provided you have established your credentials as a good manager, have collateral/assets, a convincing cash flow statement, genuine need, a proven track record, good credit history and a robust plan. This should not just save your business from collapsing but also allows it to grow and succeed.

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