With so many alternative financing options now available, you may assume that raising capital to grow your company isn’t as tough as it was back when traditional banks dominated small-business lending.
However, most businesses need funds to support their businesses but generally, fail to find any source. No loans. No investors.
Here are some do’s and don’ts for avoiding the common mistakes that many entrepreneurs make when raising capital.
While conducting research for the book Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck, co-author Anthony Tjan found that up to 70 percent of entrepreneurs he surveyed had exited a business successfully (through an IPO or a sale to another firm), despite the fact that they lacked a business plan when they started the company.
However, if you need to generate capital, a formal business plan is typically required by banks, private lenders, or venture capitalists. Why? A business plan addresses important financial questions, such as the amount you need to borrow, what you need it for and when, as well as how to manage risk, how much you can afford to lose, and how you’ll repay money you borrow if the company doesn’t succeed.
A good place to start is inside the Accounting & Inventory Software that helps you unearth important numbers for your business.
You may intend to use your legal business name and EIN for all of your business-related bank accounts, credit cards, and financing. But when your business is less than three years old and/or lacks its own solid credit history, your personal credit often determines your ability to secure business capital.
Preparing your personal credit before applying for business capital can stack the deck in your favor. Check your credit report for free on AnnualCreditReport, and take note of the key factors that influence lending risk, including bill payment history and your debt utilization ratio.
Seeking sufficient capital from just one or two (vs. various) lenders not only ensures that you have the resources you need to fuel growth, but also helps to protect your credit score. That’s because every time you submit a loan application to a lender, you authorize an inquiry onto your credit report. Too many inquiries can hurt your credit — and signal that you’re desperate for cash.
You need to know what your business is worth in order to determine how much you’re able to risk. Naturally, you can turn to a professional valuator. But if your startup is small, you can probably arrive at some rough figures on your own.
Start with these questions: How much is the company worth today? How much could it be worth in the future? How long will it take to create the future value? What is the likelihood of achieving success?
Your valuation also plays a role in the type of capital you use. For example, some lenders may require that you act as a personal guarantor to your own business’s financing, using your personal assets (home, car, savings) to back the loan if your company isn’t worth a lot or the business fails.