Alternative Financing Vs. Venture Capital: Which Option Is Best for Boosting Working Capital?

There are several potential financing options available to cash-strapped businesses that need a healthy dose of working capital. A bank loan or line of credit is often the first option that owners think of – and for businesses that qualify, this may be the best option.

In today’s uncertain business, economic and regulatory environment, qualifying for a bank loan can be difficult – especially for start-up companies and those that have experienced any type of financial difficulty. Sometimes, owners of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan decide that seeking venture capital or bringing on equity investors are other viable options.

But are they really? While there are some potential benefits to bringing venture capital and so-called “angel” investors into your business, there are drawbacks as well. Unfortunately, owners sometimes don’t think about these drawbacks until the ink has dried on a contract with a venture capitalist or angel investor – and it’s too late to back out of the deal.

Different Types of Financing

One problem with bringing in equity investors to help provide a working capital boost is that working capital and equity are really two different types of financing.

Working capital – or the money that is used to pay business expenses incurred during the time lag until cash from sales (or accounts receivable) is collected – is short-term in nature, so it should be financed via a short-term financing tool. Equity, however, should generally be used to finance rapid growth, business expansion, acquisitions or the purchase of long-term assets, which are defined as assets that are repaid over more than one 12-month business cycle.

But the biggest drawback to bringing equity investors into your business is a potential loss of control. When you sell equity (or shares) in your business to venture capitalists or angels, you are giving up a percentage of ownership in your business, and you may be doing so at an inopportune time. With this dilution of ownership most often comes a loss of control over some or all of the most important business decisions that must be made.

Sometimes, owners are enticed to sell equity by the fact that there is little (if any) out-of-pocket expense. Unlike debt financing, you don’t usually pay interest with equity financing. The equity investor gains its return via the ownership stake gained in your business. But the long-term “cost” of selling equity is always much higher than the short-term cost of debt, in terms of both actual cash cost as well as soft costs like the loss of control and stewardship of your company and the potential future value of the ownership shares that are sold.

Alternative Financing Solutions

But what if your business needs working capital and you don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit? Alternative financing solutions are often appropriate for injecting working capital into businesses in this situation. Three of the most common types of alternative financing used by such businesses are:

1. Full-Service Factoring – Businesses sell outstanding accounts receivable on an ongoing basis to a commercial finance (or factoring) company at a discount. The factoring company then manages the receivable until it is paid. Factoring is a well-established and accepted method of temporary alternative finance that is especially well-suited for rapidly growing companies and those with customer concentrations.

2. Accounts Receivable (A/R) Financing – A/R financing is an ideal solution for companies that are not yet bankable but have a stable financial condition and a more diverse customer base. Here, the business provides details on all accounts receivable and pledges those assets as collateral. The proceeds of those receivables are sent to a lockbox while the finance company calculates a borrowing base to determine the amount the company can borrow. When the borrower needs money, it makes an advance request and the finance company advances money using a percentage of the accounts receivable.

3. Asset-Based Lending (ABL) – This is a credit facility secured by all of a company’s assets, which may include A/R, equipment and inventory. Unlike with factoring, the business continues to manage and collect its own receivables and submits collateral reports on an ongoing basis to the finance company, which will review and periodically audit the reports.

In addition to providing working capital and enabling owners to maintain business control, alternative financing may provide other benefits as well:

It’s easy to determine the exact cost of financing and obtain an increase.
Professional collateral management can be included depending on the facility type and the lender.
Real-time, online interactive reporting is often available.
It may provide the business with access to more capital.
It’s flexible – financing ebbs and flows with the business’ needs.
It’s important to note that there are some circumstances in which equity is a viable and attractive financing solution. This is especially true in cases of business expansion and acquisition and new product launches – these are capital needs that are not generally well suited to debt financing. However, equity is not usually the appropriate financing solution to solve a working capital problem or help plug a cash-flow gap.

A Precious Commodity

Remember that business equity is a precious commodity that should only be considered under the right circumstances and at the right time. When equity financing is sought, ideally this should be done at a time when the company has good growth prospects and a significant cash need for this growth. Ideally, majority ownership (and thus, absolute control) should remain with the company founder(s).

Alternative financing solutions like factoring, A/R financing and ABL can provide the working capital boost many cash-strapped businesses that don’t qualify for bank financing need – without diluting ownership and possibly giving up business control at an inopportune time for the owner. If and when these companies become bankable later, it’s often an easy transition to a traditional bank line of credit. Your banker may be able to refer you to a commercial finance company that can offer the right type of alternative financing solution for your particular situation.

Taking the time to understand all the different financing options available to your business, and the pros and cons of each, is the best way to make sure you choose the best option for your business. The use of alternative financing can help your company grow without diluting your ownership. After all, it’s your business – shouldn’t you keep as much of it as possible?

Friendly Advice on How to Start a Farmers Market

If you would of told me that I would be managing a farmers market a year ago I would of thought you were crazy. The opportunity arose quite suddenly to be the manager of our local farmers market. I am no expert on how to run a farmers market, but the following are important concepts to consider when you are thinking of starting a farmers market for your community or taking over one as a manager.Before you even begin to formulate your location, vendors, layout, marketing strategies you need to have a board of directors. This board will be the governing entity of your market. You will need people who are experienced in urban planning, business, the agricultural scene, and active with your community. It is also a good idea to talk to other farmers markets; how did they start their market? What advice do they have? Would they be willing to help you? Once you have your board members selected, you need to come up with a mission for your market. What do you stand for? What do you want your community to gain by your presence?You can’t have a farmers market without vendors. The type of vendor for your market really depends on your location. Here in Asheville, artisan vendors don’t do great. Produce vendors those are the vendors you want. You need to make sure that they are not all selling the same crops. Variety is key. At our market we have five produce vendors. They all have different items for sale. With the new craze of food trucks, it would be a great idea to recruit one or many for your market. My market is a smaller farmers market and I found that it’s best to try to reach out to food trucks that are just starting out. The ones that have been around for a longer period of time may consider your market – if it’s on the small scale or just starting up – a waste of their time because they may not make what they would consider to be a good profit for their time.Marketing is a deal. Based off data the best way to market is using social media; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,etc. These are valuable assets to any business. You can also use Google Business to let people know about your market. Social media posts are free, which is great when you are just starting out. Once you get your market sustainable cash flow, you can look into boosting posts on Facebook and Twitter. Both Facebook and Twitter offer you to set your advertising budget which allows for less stress; once your budget has been spent the advertising stops until you reset it. Another great idea is to partner up with local businesses that are willing to promote your market using their social media. From my experience going and talking to local restaurants, breweries, kitchen supply stores that do food demos are all great prospects.Location! Location! Location! This is very important to farmers markets. Last year my market was behind a church in their parking lot. There was no road visibility. We lacked new customers due to no visibility. During the off season we worked diligently to find a new location that was more visible, had walk ability, as well as good parking. We are now partnering with a local business to use their parking lot which has road visibility, parking as well as walk ability for our neighborhood. This move was a win-win for everyone involved. Our customers are now their customers, and their customers are now our customers.If you want to start your own farmers market here are some resources to consider reviewing before starting the process. There is a course you can take through the Farmers Market Federation of NY, Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Broome County and SUNY Cobleskill and funded by NYS’s Fresh Connect Program. This program costs $200, after taking the certification course you will be a certified Farmers Market Manager. It is an online course. I plan on taking it in the near future. Another great resource is ASAP. They have a section dedicated to how to become a farmers market manager with Powerpoint slides, PDF’s on farmers market rules and regulations. The best part is that this is a free resource.Resources:http://www.nyfarmersmarket.com/fmm-pro-suny-farmers-market-managers-certification-programhttp://www.asapconnections.org

US Markets in green on Friday; Dow 30 up over 345 points, Nasdaq Composite, S&P 500 up nearly 1%

US Markets were trading in the green on Friday with Dow 30 trading at 30,678.80, up by 1.14%. While S&P 500 was trading at 3,701.66, up by 0.98% and Nasdaq Composite 10,690.60 was also up by 0.71 per cent

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US Markets in green on Friday; Dow 30 up over 345 points, Nasdaq Composite, S&P 500 up nearly 1%
Earlier today, Indian stock markets ended the week on a winning note. It was the sixth straight gains for equity markets. Source: Reuters
US Markets were trading in the green on Friday with Dow 30 trading at 30,678.80, up by 345.25 points or1.14 per cent. While S&P 500 was trading at 3,701.66, up by 35.88 points or 0.98 per cent and Nasdaq Composite 10,690.60 was also up 75.75 points or 0.71 per cent. A Reuters report said that today’s strength was on the back of a report which said the Federal Reserve will likely debate on signaling plans for a smaller interest rate hike in December, reversing declines set off by social media firms after Snap Inc’s ad warning.

Source: Comex

Nasdaq Top Gainers and Losers

Source: Nasdaq

Earlier today, Indian stock markets ended the week on a winning note. It was the sixth straight gains for equity markets. The BSE Sensex ended at 59,307.15, up by 104.25 points or 0.18 per cent from the Thursday closing level. Meanwhile, the Nifty50 index closed at 17,590.00, higher by 26.05 points or 0.15 per cent. In the 30-share Sensex, 13 stocks gained while the remaining 17 ended on the losing side. In the 50-stock Nifty50, 21 stocks advanced while 29 declined.