There are several types of loans available to business owners — so many, in fact, that the options can seem overwhelming and confusing, especially to smaller business owners without a lot of experience raising capital. This guide will help educate you on the options so you can make a more informed decision about financing your growing business while limiting added risk.
Obtaining financing from a bank or lender for your small business can be quite the task. That’s why it’s important to know when it’s the right time to do it. You may not get the results you want if you do it at the wrong time. Depending on your business goals and objectives, you may want to borrow money right away or bootstrap for as long as possible and borrow money later on down the line. Below are 4 questions you should ask yourself (and answer) to determine if you’re ready to borrow money for your small business (especially if it is a startup).
In its purest form, Mezzanine Debt is a business debt instrument that carries along with it certain rights to convert debt into equity (stock, common shares, partnership interests, LLC membership units, etc.). Mezzanine debt financing is not a pure debt or a pure equity instrument. It is something in the middle. In fact, the word ‘mezzanine’ is derived from the Italian word ‘mezzano’, meaning middle, and is used to describe how this particular form of business capital combines elements of both debt and equity financing into one instrument.
Unfortunately, owning a business does not make someone an expert in financing. The lenders are the ones who know the ins and outs of rates and terms and documents. To even out the playing field, it is important for a small business owner to ask the right questions and consider the following factors when deciding whether to refinance:
Finding and obtaining small business funding can seem like a daunting task for you as a small business owner, especially if your business is a startup and you have no experience sourcing capital. It may seem like it’s almost impossible to get the small business funding you need in the current economy. The truth is lenders are still lending, you just need to know how to find them. Keep in mind that there are thousands of bank and non-bank lenders out there so there’s plenty of fish in the sea. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to obtain funding, but landing it may not be as difficult as you may think if you know how to go about the process. [KEEP READING]
Many small business owners borrow money to start and grow their business. And is often the case those same business owners find themselves hitting credit limits established by banks and other lenders causing enormous growing pains for the business. Simply stated, running out of business capital when you’re growing a business is difficult at best.
In the last six years, millions of Americans have lost their jobs and found it exceedingly difficult to find new ones, even after putting in decades with the same company. Many forward-thinking individuals among the unemployed have concluded that creating their own businesses and jobs may be their best hope for working again. The entrepreneurial spirit is still alive and well in America!
Debt Service Coverage Ratio compliance often is required or necessitated by covenants in a bank loan agreement. A bank loan covenant regarding the debt service coverage ratio will specify the amount of income a business and/or its guarantor must generate relative to the debt principal and interest payments on an annual basis to remain in compliance with the covenant. The business owner, or his or her CFO or Controller, should monitor this ratio carefully on a monthly basis so the covenant is not unintentionally broken.
The debt service coverage ratio is a measurement used by lenders to determine if a business is able to meet its debt servicing obligations through its operating income during a given period of time. In most cases, a lender wants the operating income to exceed the debt servicing costs by some measure. This ratio defines the extent to which a business’s operating income (or other defined measure of cash flow) exceeds the cost to service its bank loans.
Finding money to grow a business has changed tremendously since the great recession. Whether sourcing capital in the form of debt, equity, or something in between, also known as mezzanine, it’s safe to say entrepreneurs have more multiple options than ever to pursue. That doesn’t make the task an easy one to accomplish. Unfortunately for the entrepreneur, the additional options have only served to increase the confusion surrounding their need for cash.
Technology has done some amazing things to the small business financing space. It used to be that you would go to the bank and hope they would give you a loan. And we all know what happened with that 90% of the time. Prior to the Great Recession, we saw a rise in factoring and Merchant Cash Advances. But since then an “alternative” lending space has evolved rapidly.
Most individuals who consider themselves entrepreneurs believe they must start their own business to earn the title. However, what some do not realize is that the entrepreneurial spirit can be fulfilled in a variety of ways, not the least of which is purchasing an existing business. The following is a list of advantages for buying a business over starting one from scratch.
As markets recover post-recession, business owners are presented with growth opportunities. However, a business owner may not have access to the capital needed to execute on a growth strategy. Where does a business owner turn?
When you look across all lending solutions for small business owners the clear #1 – aka the most important – factor that is most widely considered and most highly “weighted” is credit.
Many entrepreneurs faced with the demands on cash of a growing business are tempted to sell equity to outside investors, or perhaps give away stock to retain a valuable employee. Diluting your stake in this way may solve the immediate problem, but it can have unforeseen consequences when the business eventually is sold. Stockholders’ personal circumstances evolve in different ways over the lifetime of a company, and whatever the original intention everyone may not be on the same page when you are ready to sell.
Entrepreneurs may often be under the wrong impression that their business debt will disappear when the business is sold. In some cases, the debt is absorbed or is assumed by the buyer. But usually this is not the case.
Recapitalizations can be used to provide liquidity to owners, refinance the balance sheet or fund future growth initiatives. When the owners sell a majority of the business but still retains some ownership, it is termed a “majority recapitalization”.
Banks include loan covenants in their loan agreements to preserve their position as lender and to improve the likelihood the loan will be paid back by the borrower on time and in full. A covenant is simply a fancy term for the word ‘promise.’
The Bank Workout Group is a department in a bank that handles what is known as the bank’s special assets. Banks send their troubled loans to this department to handle negotiation and management of the bank’s forbearance agreements.
As we gathered last week, instead of receiving the financial documentation we were promised, we were all relieved of our duties. Isn’t that a nice way to say “you’re fired”?
EBIT is an acronym for Earnings Before Interest and Taxes. This is a term Bankers often use as a measure of a business’s earnings from operations. The EBIT reveals operating profitability without non-recurring or unusual income or expenses.
As I meet with entrepreneurs, I’m often asked the same question: “When is the best time for me to sell my business?” The answer to this question is not the same for every business owner, for many reasons.
I continue to be surprised as I meet with entrepreneurs who truly regard Venture Capital as their Holy Grail. It’s as though they are looking for a Super Hero to make their dreams of entrepreneurial success come true. But having spent more than a few sessions on the entrepreneur’s side of the table in negotiations with venture capital firms, I know better. And it seems there are others who share my opinion!
Not long ago, one of my dear friends abruptly stated “it’s not about you” after patiently listening to my long story about a business relationship which changed, without warning. I just love this friend and how she was able to candidly share her observation which has proven to be brilliant and incredibly powerful.
Working with successful entrepreneurs who are dedicated to growing and selling a valuable business offers me the opportunity to learn from the best. I pinch myself most days as I am invited into the lives of my clients and have the privilege of experiencing the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Truly, it is my pleasure!
Often entrepreneurs find themselves in a situation where their commercial bank considers their existing line of credit too risky to extend or renew. This places the entrepreneur and their banker at odds, and many times pushes the business owner to take drastic steps to keep their company’s doors open and paychecks coming. Has this happened to you or one of your fellow entrepreneurs?
Many people discuss the importance of pivoting in the context of a startup business. And I agree, once a business launches, the entrepreneur must be mindful of what is working and what is not. That’s when it is time to pivot the startup.
Bankers and Entrepreneurs rarely see eye-to-eye. Recently, my observation of this unfortunate reality caused me to chuckle as I sat with one of my clients and her business banker. What made me laugh was how two extremely accomplished individuals could define the term “special assets” so differently.