Various sources of finance for a small business can be broadly categorized into equity or debt financing. Equity financing means offering a part in ownership interest in the company against finance. Debt financing means loans – companies owe money and has to pay interest on the loan.
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Financing – Small Business Perspective
If we look at investor perspective, research suggests that small businesses fail at a higher rate than big businesses, thus default risk is also high. This is the reason that small businesses have less access to credit than larger companies because lending to a small business is riskier and more expensive than lending to larger companies. Additionally, evaluating small companies is difficult and not very cost effective as its data is not as easily accessible as large companies.
In spite of all the hurdles, there are many financing options available to small companies. Let’s look at some of the financing options and deal with the problem of ‘How to Finance a Small Business?’
Sources of Finance for a Small Businesses
Following are some of the financing methods that small businesses can use:
Own Capital / Savings
Number one & the easiest source of finance for a small business is one’s own savings. At any stage of business, when a business is in need of capital, an entrepreneur can tap into his personal assets such as – stocks, mutual funds, real estate or jewelry – to raise money. He can either sell the assets to raise money or take a loan on any of the assets. Entrepreneurs can invest such personal capital in their business as equity capital, or they can give loans to their own company.
Family & Friends
Parents, sibling, extended relatives & friends who have excess cash to lend may be willing to finance your business. They may lend the money to the business in the form of a loan or may be willing to take an equity stake in the company.
Banks have a special department dedicated to providing loans to small companies. To get a loan from a bank, companies have to qualify for bank’s minimum criteria. Every bank has its own criteria with regards to earning potential, annual turnover, credit scores, etc. There are many types of loans that banks offer such as working capital loans, term loans, loan against property, etc. Companies can choose the type of loans as per their requirement.
Small Business Loans
Each country has certain banks or institutions dedicated to providing loans only to small businesses, an example of such institute in India is SIDBI, in the USA there is SBA. The main target of these institutions is to lend money to small businesses who have not been able to obtain financing on reasonable terms through normal lending channels. These entities usually give money as loans only.
If a company is unable to get a business loan, the entrepreneur might consider getting a personal loan & using it in their business. The entrepreneur must have a good credit history for raising a personal loan. We can get a personal loan by mortgaging home, jewelry, etc.
Some small businesses might have suppliers willing to sell on credit. Such credit may range anywhere from one month to three months. This is a very good method for small companies to fulfill short-term funding needs. This is an inexpensive method of finance for any small business.
Private Equity Firms
Private equity is a type of equity capital that is not listed on any stock exchange. These firms raise funds from investors. It then invests these funds to buy capital of promising startups & small businesses. The drawback of such finance is that the private equity firms will acquire a controlling position or substantial minority position in a company and then look to maximize the value of their investment. Thus, the entrepreneur might not have sole control over the business decisions, which may lead to conflict.
Venture Capital Firms
Venture capital firms are a type of private equity firms, but venture capitalist provides funds to only those companies who are in the early stages of their business cycles. These are emerging small companies with high growth potential. Venture capital firms invest in emerging companies in exchange for equity, or an ownership stake. Small start-up firms may receive series of rounds of financing from venture capital firms.
Crowdfunding is a relatively new method when we consider sources of finance. It is a method of raising funds by borrowing a small amount of money from a large group of people. A typical example of crowdfunding is proposing people to invest US$ 10, and even if 1000 people invest, the company can raise US$ 10,000. Such financing is usually done for a particular project. The benefit of crowdfunding is that small company can make flexible proposals as per their requirement. They can offer equity against the money or take the money on loan; they can offer simple interest payments as against compound interest like most regular loans.
Crowdfunding gained popularity after the rise of social media because it became easier to reach a number of people by putting minimum effort.