In Business Financing, There Are Exactly 4 Uses of Debt And Equity Capital

When seeking any type of business financing for any sized business, small or large, there are four and only four uses or applications of capital.  I’m going to go over each of them and why this is important to know and understand.

First of all, why is this at all important?  Identifying the exact use of capital creates greater relevance in the capital procurement process.

OK, I’ll speak English.  Locating suitable capital funds, either debt financing (business loans), equity financing(investor capital), or a combination of the two, will depend to some degree on how the funds will be applied in your business.

Lenders and investors can be very specific in deals they will seriously consider funding and one of their key criteria will be how the funds will be applied.

Certain applications of funds will completely remove certain lenders and investors from the mix.  By understanding this at the outset, you can create greater relevance in your search to secure capital by screening out the sources of money that will automatically not be interested in your deal.

This doesn’t mean the deal is good or bad, its just not going to be relevant to certain sources of business financing.  So you can save yourself a lot of time and aggravation focusing on relevant sources.  There are of course other criteria that helps determine relevance, but for today let’s stick with use of funds.

So what are the 4 uses of debt financing and/or equity financing?

– Start Up.  The start up of a new business venture.

Acquisition.  The acquisition of an existing going concern business.

– Expansion.  The Expansion of the assets of an existing business for the purposes of growth.

– Debt Consolidation/Reorganization. The repackaging of existing and potentially new debt into a modified or new debt instrument or instruments.  This predominately relates to businesses in some distress or downturn that need to either inject more capital into the business to cover losses or move short term debt to a longer term debt instrument to improve the balance sheet and security position of lenders.

Within each of these uses, there are even more specific sub uses such as:

– working capital to finance day to day operations
– short term capital to purchase and add value to inventory
– short term capital to finance accounts receivable
– longer term capital to acquire other tangible assets like equipment, buildings, and land.
– capital to acquire  intangible assets

If you are seeking business financing for a start up venture, there are many sources of capital that don’t fund start ups.  Identify them, and don’t waste your time asking them for money.

If you’re looking to acquire an existing business, don’t seek funds from someone providing trade credit related to working capital type assets only.

As I alluded to earlier, there are other twists to this as well as certain lenders and/ or investors will consider expansion funding, but have other criteria to determine if the deal is relevant to them (amount of funding, industry, debt to equity ratio of the balance sheet, debt service coverage, assets to be acquired, security ratio, etc.)

Each lender will have their own criteria set for each application of funds they will seriously consider.  I say seriously consider because most lenders state at the outset they will look at virtually any deal to maximize their marketing efforts, but in reality, they all have a pretty narrow focus.

That’s why its important to understand how to accurately describe the business financing you seek and then qualify the universe of funding sources so that you’re only spending time with a relevant list.

But more in depth lender qualifying is a topic for another day.  Stay tuned.

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About the Author Brent Finlay