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?

Effectively Growing Your Digital Marketing

In the past, if you owned a small, or even medium-size, business, you may have been able to get away with very little marketing. Well those days are gone. Not only do you need to market nowadays (no matter what size business you own) but you need to be involved in many different types of marketing. They are all a part of your marketing strategy.The changing approach to marketing for your businessIn days gone by, the marketing approach that business owners used was outbound marketing. With outbound marketing, the advertiser placed ads in various places (print ads, television, radio, etc). Although that marketing approach worked for a long time, eventually, the target audience got smart and learned how to block the ads in various ways. Of course, that left the business owners with a really big problem.A newer (and probably more effective approach in this digital technology age) is inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is the opposite of outbound marketing.Because they are coming to you willingly, they are prequalified and; therefore, they are customers who suit your business needs more closely. There are several different ways that you are able to reach your customers and to positively influence them.You can interact with your target audience over the Internet, through the various social media channels that you have chosen for your particular business, and various other means of online communication. The truth is that business people nowadays are too busy and too impatient to spend a lot of time on anyone or anything. If you can interact with them quickly and effectively, they will listen to you and they will keep coming back for more. It is a win-win situation.Take advantage of what is in front of youMost likely, by now, you recognize the importance of interacting with your target audience (and anyone connected to your target audience) online. Online interactions give you to opportunity to reach a very large number of people in the shortest amount of time possible. However, it is very important for you to understand clearly that even though you are involved with inbound marketing for your business and if you are seeing positive results from your marketing efforts, that in no way means that you should abandon your outbound marketing efforts.Traditional marketing is still very important and you should still retain that as part of your overall marketing strategy. In fact, the two types of marketing should work together and, if you work them correctly, you will see that they have a synergy that is very powerful and that achieves the results that you are hoping to achieve. Some of the marketing strategies that you will definitely not want to abandon are word-of-mouth, referral, and just plain open communication. They will all take you very far.The good thing about inbound marketing is that it will not eat into your budget very much at all. In many cases, you can achieve results from your inbound marketing efforts without spending any money at all. Of course, the price that you will have to pay is not in dollars. It is in time and effort, which are definitely valuable commodities for you as well. There are many different ways in which you can make a positive difference through your online marketing strategy.
Become an influencer via online marketing: You need to realize (if you haven’t realized already) that social media is an extremely powerful and influential tool. It behooves you to make the most of it and to leverage all that you can of social media for your business. You may (or you may not) be surprised at how much you can achieve through your social media efforts.
Increase your list of customers through your social media channels: The most popular social media channels can help you to increase your list of customers. If your branding is strong, which it definitely should be at this point, those social media channels will work in your favor. The fact is that people really want to interact through social media. It is quick, effective, and fun and many people are really interested in being a part of the whole social media scene.
Pay close attention to analytics: It is essential that you track your business’s progress extremely carefully. One of the many reasons why analytics are so important is that they allow you to understand what you are doing right and what isn’t working. They also allow you to identify trends and you can continue to hone what you are doing and you will see that the results will be positive.
Influence people so that they become loyal to your brand: Content really is king when it comes to your business’s success. People are not only interested in what you have to say but they are also extremely excited to tell you (and anyone else who is listening) what they think. They want to feel as though you value their opinions. And, why not? It is a human quality to want to be accepted and appreciated.
Position yourself so that you are top of mind for other people: Again, this goes back to the importance of content. If you share top-quality content with people on interesting, relevant topics, there is no doubt that people will be very interested in what you have to say and in how you say it. In fact, they will probably want to keep coming back for more and they will be excited about sharing your words with people whom they know and trust. That is exactly what you want to happen.
ConclusionWhen it comes to your marketing strategy for your business, it is important to remember that both traditional marketing and inbound marketing are important and your marketing strategy will be the most successful if you can use both marketing approaches together. Together, they will create an incredible buzz that people will not soon forget. If your story is sincere and told with heart, people will listen to what you have to say with pleasure. Together, there will be no stopping you!

Women Who Wear Tight Jeans Can’t Claim Rape?

A man in Australia was found not guilty of raping a woman, by a court jury recently. The jury stated that he could not have taken the victims jeans off by himself, therefore she must have helped and the rape was consensual. The woman was apparently wearing very tight jeans. This is not an isolated case either…In Seoul, a 7 year sentence of a man accused of raping a woman was overturned, because she also was wearing very tight jeans. Another court case in Italy also dealt with a woman wearing tight jeans where supposedly the man could not have raped her without her consent. Fortunately, that case ended in the man being found guilty.What does this mean? Let’s think about this for moment… This means that rapists or perverts are now going to start targeting women with tight jeans because the courts are allowing it. This is a loophole for future rapists! OR perhaps others might say, women need to start wearing tight jeans, in order for them not to get raped? This is all nonsense!Women are not the ones with the problem here, rapists or perverts are to blame. Women should be able to wear any clothing that is appropriate in society. Do you ever hear of men getting raped because some of them wear their pants down to their crack? Why the double standard? Us women need to be aware and watch closely, so that this doesn’t become a trend with courts in the USA!