Finding Financing as a Small Business
All small businesses need cash to operate, and there are many ways to generate the required funds. Most commonly, owners will make an initial investment from their savings or other personal resources to get started. But what if that isn’t enough? In this article, we’ll explore a few ways to finance a business.
Most community banks are big supporters of small businesses, so this is a great place to start. Establish a relationship first by opening business checking and savings accounts. Then apply for a line of credit, which is a pre-approved loan that you can tap when you need it for working capital.
If you plan to purchase a building or equipment, you should be able to get a loan by using the asset as collateral. Business expansion loans are also an option; you may be able to borrow against your accounts receivables or other contracts with guaranteed income. Always match the term of the loan with the life of the asset being purchased. In other words, don’t use your line of credit for purchasing assets such as equipment.
Beyond community banks, you might also consider applying for a loan with an online lending agency, bank, credit union, or community development financial institutions (CDFIs).
When applying for a loan, keep in mind that you’ll likely need a good personal credit rating and either a strong business plan or financial statements to show the financial condition of your business.
Partners and investors
Investors such as angel investors or venture capitalists can provide cash in exchange for a position of debt or equity in your business. Obtaining financing in this manner is a significant decision since you are no longer the sole owner of the company once you give away some of your equity (think: Shark Tank).
Another option is to bring a partner into your business. Typically, the partner will provide cash as well as management or other professional skills that complement yours, and they’ll be actively engaged in the process of running the business.
Plenty of government programs exist to help small businesses obtain financing, especially as we continue to navigate the pandemic. The Small Business Administration has loans and programs available to small businesses on a consistent basis. This year, they are also overseeing the forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, economic disaster funding, shuttered venue operator loans, and restaurant relief grants, to name a few.
You should also research what’s available to you locally, as your county, city, and community governments may be offering grants or loans. Last but not least, organizations like the Small Business Development Council (SBDC) can provide space, funds, and training to small businesses in their area.
Nonprofits and educational institutions
Some nonprofits and educational institutions also provide grants, scholarships, and other funding opportunities to local businesses and even business owners who are part of a special interest group, like veterans, women in STEM, etc.
Factoring is an option for businesses with accounts receivable balances. It is a transaction in which a business sells its accounts receivable as collateral to a third party at a discount in exchange for a cash advance to meet its immediate needs. This type of loan is common in the retail fashion industry where items are ordered months in advance of when they are sold, causing a cashflow gap.
Crowdfunding has been made popular in the last decade by popular platforms such as Kickstarter. A business can apply on these platforms for funding, and individuals can make contributions. Sometimes the business will promise goods or services in exchange for funding. This type of funding requires a strategic marketing campaign and in some cases, a sales funnel. It’s a popular method of funding for start-ups that intend to sell goods but needs assistance in production costs.
Credit card advances
It’s common for owners to charge startup expenses and use cash advances from their personal credit cards. Convenience comes at a cost, however, as this is one of the most expensive ways to fund a business and should only be used as a last resort.
The fine print
All financing options come with fine print. Terms and interest rates vary significantly. Sometimes, there is a balloon where you have to pay everything back all at once. Be sure to carefully read any agreements you sign and review them with your lawyer. Some agreements prohibit certain business decisions, which could leave you in a dire position financially. For example, businesses that obtained a PPP loan may not be able to accept a buyout offer because the loan agreement prohibits them from doing so. If they don’t read the fine print and sell the company anyway, they are now personally liable to pay back the PPP loan proceeds.
If you have questions or want to discuss the best financing options for your business, please feel free to contact us anytime.