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Financing Basics

The term financing is commonly used to explain the acquisition of loans from banks or other financial institutions. Financing is usually provided to business owners, either to be utilized as start-up capital or to support an on-going business. Some businesses may require financing to help them through a rough patch, or simply to provide some liquidity until more current assets are turned into cash. Additionally, financing is also given to companies who are expanding their businesses rapidly and require the money to support their new operations and facilities.

Due the high interests and high risks that come with financing, small business owners are often compelled to evaluate their situation from all angles before making a financing decision. This is because there is a full range of loan types available in the market, each of them for different purposes and with different interest rates, repayment terms and loan terms. Apart from that, business owners do not want to miscalculate their loan amounts, as obtaining a greater loan value will mean a higher liability to the company, while getting a smaller loan will produce a situation of inadequate financing.

Inversely, banks or financing institutions function to provide financing facilities in order to make profits from the interest payable by the borrowers. In return, they obtain a monthly repayment amount from the company, including interests. Banks usually provide loans through the pledge of fixed assets to the banks as collateral. In the event of payment default, the lender will sell the assets to recover your debt to them. However, there may be cases that lenders provide loans without the need for collateral, but with a higher interest and more stringent qualifying procedures.

Apart from obtaining financing from lenders, small business owners are also eligible for loans from government fund agencies such as the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) or the local state governments. These agencies provide financing to help spur the growth of small businesses in the country, and usually impose criteria that are more flexible as compared to banks. In the Small Business Loan program run by the SBA, they act as a guarantor for the borrower in order for them to obtain loans of a longer term from SBA’s lending partners.

All the financing sources mentioned thus far are generally known as debt financing. This type of financing would be ideal for companies that have a high equity to debt ratio, which means that the owners of the company has invested more capital as compared to the amount of debt obtained. However, in cases where the equity to debt ratio is low, it may be difficult for a company to obtain debt financing. Therefore, the alterative to this would be to work with equity financing instead.

Equity financing would be funding obtained from friends, family or employees in exchange for shares in the company. Additionally, venture capitalists are also another source of equity financing, which has become a common source of income especially since the dot com boom.

Venture capitalists are professional investors and are prepared to take a very high risk in exchange for their investment. However, with the involvement of a venture capitalist, more stringent management and accounting procedures may need to be adopted, in addition to the inclusion of the venture capitalist in making major decisions.

It is not easy obtaining financing from venture capitalists as they expect high rates of returns for their investment in return for the high risks incurred. Many applicants are screened through yearly, with only a handful that will actually be funded. In addition to that, venture capitalists expect to grow their companies into regional brand names within a short period of time. Getting the company publicly listed is also one of the main objectives of venture capitalists.

In short, there are many avenues in which financing can be obtained. Ultimately, it is up to the business owner to decide on the financing source that would be most suitable for the company. As there are pros and cons to each, a financial and situational evaluation on the company would be most helpful for making the right decision.