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2018

Q: Might you be able to suggest any other ways to finance a business, other than the usual suspects like loans, crowdfunding, credit cards, and the like?

 

A. You bet I can. In my book, Get Your Business Funded, I share more than a dozen creative ways to fund the dream. Here are two of my favorites:

 

1. Factoring

 

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Factoring is a process that a lot of companies use when they need a quick infusion of cash but don’t want to, or can’t, get a bank loan or other financing. Instead, they sell an upcoming payment that is due, that is, an invoice, to a company (called a factor) for an immediate payment of a discounted fee.

 

There are several great things about factoring:

 

  • It is quick. Once you find the right factoring company to buy the asset, it is simply a matter of their verifying the amount due and then getting you the money. Usually it’s no more than a week.
  • There are few forms to fill out.
  • Your credit rating is irrelevant. Instead, it is the credit of the entity that owes you the money that matters. Once the debt is verified as due by a legitimate entity, you get the money regardless of your financial situation.

 

There are downsides, as well::

 

  • Usually (but not always, see below) the company that owes you the money will necessarily be made aware you are using a factor and selling the money owed; the factor will contact them so that the factor is paid directly by that company.
  • You will get less than 100 percent. How much less? It depends upon various factors (ha!), but it should be somewhere between 85 percent and 98 percent.

 

The good news is that factoring is changing with the times. One company I like a lot is called Fundbox. Fundbox offers a few different funding options, but for our purposes here, what I love is that its factoring/invoice funding remains private; your customer need never know you sold their invoice.

 

2. Seller Financing

 

This is a great option for startups.

 

When you want to be an entrepreneur, there are all sorts of ways to get into the game. You could start a business from scratch. You could find a partner. You could buy a franchise. You could invest in a business. But of all of the options, one of the best is buying an existing business.

 

Buying an existing business is usually a good idea for several reasons:

 

  • First, it is less risky. With an existing business, you can look through the books and get a good idea of what you are getting and how much money you can make
  • Also, the brand and goodwill are already established; you won’t be starting from scratch
  • Additionally, there is already a client base
  • Finally, you can sometimes get the current owner to help finance the purchase

 

That last point is the one we need to emphasize here. Seller financing is where the seller helps you, the buyer, buy the business.

 

Say what?

 

Yep, you read that right and it occurs more often than you think because it is a fairly risk-free way for a seller to effectuate a sale. Here’s how it works: The owner of a business will find a suitable buyer who may need some help financing the deal. The owner, if amenable, will agree to take a promissory note as whole or (far more often) partial payment for the sale of the business. In real estate, this is known as “carrying the paper.”

 

The reason a seller would be open to this sort of deal would have to be that the buyer offers him or her a solution. Maybe the business isn’t selling. By offering the owner the chance to sell it (if they carry some paper), the buyer kills two birds with one stone: They get the needed financing to buy a business and the owner gets to sell a business. The buyer becomes a solution to the owner’s problem.

 

Additionally, the seller may agree to seller financing because:

 

  • The seller should get an ongoing payment that is typically more than she could get from another investment
  • The seller knows that the loan is safe because the business is viable

 

How much will the seller finance and what does a deal look like? It really depends upon the circumstances but suffice it to say that 100 percent deals are rare. Not impossible, but rare. Far more likely is a deal where a business owner will agree to finance up to 50 percent of the deal. There will be no negotiating over the asking price and the interest rate will be a bit higher than the going rate. The note is usually due in five years, and monthly payments are expected in the meantime, with a possible balloon payment due upon maturity of the note.

 

All in all, seller financing is a good solution for the cash- or credit-strapped wanna-be entrepreneur.

 

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About Steve Strauss

 

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Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

As an entrepreneur, you will probably face a handful of major consistent dilemmas, but one of the most persistent and complex is the way you approach the value of your business. This boils down to a struggle between running your business to maximize cash—that is the money that you have in the bank each year—or to maximize equity—that is the overall value of the business entity.

 

These choices are very much at odds.

 

     Related Content: Be Like Goldilocks When Valuing the Sale of Your Business

 

Maximizing cash means that you may take on non-core clients because, well, they bring in more cash! It also means that you pinch every penny and may make decisions that payoff a little today, but don’t add value in the long-term. This includes forgoing investments in arenas like marketing and personnel that often require a cash burn before you see a return on the investment.

 

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     Related Content: Five Ways to Make More Money Without a Single New Customer

 

The benefit to a cash maximization strategy is straightforward; you have more visibility and predictability of cash coming in, year after year.

 

The downside is substantial though. By focusing on cash and forgoing investments, big and small, you may limit the upside opportunity for your business.

 

Running your business to maximize equity requires an iron stomach. It requires more risk-taking but with the promise of more rewards.  Because you are focused on building long-term value, you are laser-focused in your offerings of products and/or services, and you won’t take on non-core clients solely because they have cash ready to spend.

 

It requires not being cheap, too. It means that you invest in the best people, even when maybe you can’t technically afford them. It means dollars focused on sales and marketing and not watching every penny like a hawk. Certainly, it doesn’t mean you spend like there’s no tomorrow but it does require spending like you anticipate tomorrow is going to be big.

 

This can lead to less money available for you to pay yourself and can even require outside capital, whether that be equity or debt.

 

So, when do you make the shift in strategy? Like anything, it is part art and science.

 

If you have not set yourself up financially (for example, you have lots of personal debt, little or no savings and substantial rent or a mortgage due), it may be difficult for you to stay in the mindset required for equity maximization. So, work on paying down personal debt and getting yourself in position to have a few years of financial flexibility first. And note, by financial flexibility, I mean you can feed yourself ramen noodles, not four-star meals.

 

If you have some financial flexibility and you can get comfortable with the discomfort of being a risk taker, then really think about trying to pursue equity maximization for a few years, as it will take time (and always more time than you expect). If it pays off, you will have a much bigger business that should allow you to increase your return on investment by multiples of any cash return you would otherwise receive. The reality is that if you are taking on the risk of being self-employed, you might as well shoot for creating some serious value to the business and not just creating a job for yourself.

 

It’s a constant dilemma, but one that should be carefully considered, as the risks and rewards of pursuing cash vs. equity returns are substantially different.

 

     Related Content: Finding the Right Balance When Trading Equity for Cash

 

About Carol Roth

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Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File ® legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

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