Thursday, May 01, 2008

What Kind Of Capital Is Right For Your Business?

There are two kinds of capital: debt and equity. Both kinds are typically used by a company during its lifetime. Lenders have different objectives than investors and therefore look at different factors about a company when deciding whether or not to invest or make a loan. Keep in mind that while there are two kinds of capital, there are many ways to find money for your company.

Debt is money borrowed, which must be repaid at a set time period and generates income for the lender over that time period. Lending sources include not only banks, but also leasing companies, factoring companies and even individuals.

Lending sources look primarily at two factors: how risky the loan is; and whether the company can generate sufficient cash to pay the interest and repay the principal. The growth potential of the company is secondary; the primary considerations are the track record and asset base of the company. Usually the debt must be secured against the assets of the company and very commonly must also be secured against the assets of the owner of the company, also called a personal guarantee.

Assets of the company are not usually given full book value in securing a loan. In other words, if your inventory has a book value of $50,000 (or it cost you $50,000 to produce that inventory) a lending source will only give you 50% to 75% of that value. The reason being is that the lending source is not in your business and would have to quickly liquidate the inventory, rather than selling it at market prices.

Accounts receivable, or money that is owed to you from customers who have previously purchased your product but not paid for it yet, are also discounted. Using the same example, $50,000 worth of accounts receivable may only be worth 60% to 70% of that value to the lending source. Customers may not pay the full amount owed, or feel they have to pay for the product at all, if an outside lending source is demanding payment. And so on.…with equipment, land, buildings, furniture, fixtures and what ever other assets the company has, the same general rule applies.

The lender often requests that the personal assets of the owner of the company are pledged as a contingency and as a gesture of faith by the owner. Obviously, if the owner of the company does not believe in his/her own company's ability to repay the loan, why should the lending source?

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