When seeking equity financing for an existing or future business, its important to make sure you have a clear understanding of what you’re getting into.
Many times business owners are either in too much of a rush or pressed against a wall to consider the pros and cons of any equity financing options they are considering, being more inclined to take what they can get. Even if there is more time available to consider the “goodness of fit” of a potential investor into the business operation, the key issues and considerations can still be easily overlooked or glossed over.
The primary thing to remember is that taking on an investor is like marriage. You could be involved with this new person or person for a long time, and breaking up the relationship at a future point in time may not be very easy or even possible to accomplish under terms you can live with.
That being said, one of the first tenants when considering taking on an equity investor is start with the end in mind.
The reality is that anyone who gives you their money is going to want it back, so it only makes sense that the ending of any proposed investor marriage is clearly lined out from the outset in a manner that is acceptable for both parties.
From the business owners point of view, the goal may be to be able to buyout the investor at a specific point in time for a clear dollar amount, or at least for a dollar amount that is calculated by an acceptable formula.
This creates a structure where both sides can size up the value to each other of getting involved in a transaction in the first place as well as providing some level of protection to both parties.
Selling off part of your company without doing this is dangerous to say the least. Everything can seem nice and light at the start of the business relationship, but things can change radically in a very short period of time.
And regardless if the business is ahead or behind on its financial projections created at the time equity financing was secured, there is a defined process for either party to deal with any changes in circumstances or expectations.
Once the honeymoon is over, its hard to predict where the relationship will go so it only makes sense to provide both sides with a way out that doesn’t potentially kill the business in the process.