If you’ve ever attempted to raise capital – be it debt, equity, or other type of financing—you know that it is not an exercise for the faint of heart. It can be a daunting task, even in the best of times. However, when economies go through periods of uncertainty similar to what today’s markets are experiencing, your task can quickly turn into an overwhelming one.
The successful fundraising will follow a thoughtful plan that includes these three points:
PREPARATION – Before beginning any project, it is crucial to be prepared. Your strategy ought to be well thought out and easily conveyed to your audience. How well do you know your business, your customers, and your history? Can you translate, eloquently and with passion, this knowledge to an audience that may not know your industry? You will need to be able to have an in-depth dialogue regarding the financial condition of your company which will include historical financial statement analysis of the balance sheet, income statement and statement of cash flows. There will also need to be a projected financial model which includes the above statements and demonstrates the ebb and flow that the business will go through in the coming years. The ultimate goal is to show your financing source how they will get repaid and what type of return on investment they will realize.
RESOURCEFULLNESS—There are hundreds of sources, offering varied types of financing, which make it the equivalent of searching for a needle in a haystack. Generally speaking, debt and equity are the two types of financing with many subcategories for each. Debt holders usually require substantial security before they are willing to lend. This type of financing can help even out cash flow and allow for certain operating expenditures such as fleet or equipment maintenance. Most of us associate debt financiers with banks, but they can also include other types of lending institutions. For those companies with more ambitious capital requiring initiatives, debt financing alone will typically not suffice. They generally must turn to more expensive equity financing. Equity investors will take on much greater risks than their debt financing counterparts, with the return on their capital essentially coming by way of a future sale or recapitalization of the business they invest in. Equity sources can take the form of high net-worth individuals, or firms— private or institutional. They invest and manage larger sums of capital for others and fund larger objectives like a major expansion into a new market, rampant business growth, and/or acquisition of other companies.
PERSEVERANCE – Seeking financing requires tireless effort! It may include several false starts involving a couple different financing sources. Funding rarely, if ever, shows up at your doorstep. Finding the right source of financing necessitates time, determination and proper planning. Don’t give up!
Follow these three points, and realize you do not have to go through this process alone. Find a consultant that specializes in helping businesses seek funding. Build and utilize a trusted relationship through this time. After all, as your business is built on relationships; your next major financial step should be as well. It will also mitigate uncertainty of the ups and downs of markets and maximize your chances of securing the right type of financing.