When you search the internet for the answer, you tend to get the same lame regurgitation of things like new businesses should look to friends, family, and fools for capital; existing businesses should look to banks; and that you need to consider debt financing versus equity financing that gets into the whole venture capital versus angel investor rhetoric.
Wow. Really revolutionary and informative information. Some even go so far as to say these are secrets if you can believe it.
Now I’m not implying that these various terms I just threw out don’t need to be explained or are not important. No sir/madam. I’m merely saying that all these terms with some amount of abbreviated explanation are thrown at you like a bucket of water in some weak attempt to answer the question.
Perhaps its because the generic answer set I’ve outlined is pretty basic and safe and even friendly.
Instead of starting at the beginning, lets start at the end. A bad ending. Depending on whose stats you read, over 50% of businesses will fail, fold, go kaput in less than 5 years of existence. Whether its 43.7% or 71.2% that fail in 5 years doesn’t really matter. The point here is that its a lot and its alarmingly high.
So, why is it so high and what that got to do with securing capital? Answer, it has everything to do with securing capital.
The internet for one is awash with people looking for money to finance their business ventures, either start up or existing, and most of the solutions that they come across are geared towards lending them money based on nothing to do with their business.
Business financing in large part, is not based on business. Its based on personal credit, personal net worth, liquidatable (new word) assets, third party guarantees, government grants and guarantees, etc. This applies not just for start ups, but for existing businesses as well.
The point (yes I do have a point) here is that if you try hard enough, you can probably find someone to give you some money for what you’re trying to accomplish that you say requires capital.
But your ability to be successful is dependent on 1) having a tested business model; 2) having a tested marketing approach and position; 3) having enough necessary experience, or access to the necessary experience for the venture, and finally 4) accurately estimating the capital required to become cash flow positive (business can generate enough cash to pay bills and generate a return on the capital you secured) including a substantial contingency plan for all the things that may go wrong along the way.
If you don’t complete the above 4 points, my first question to you would be, how do you know how much capital you really need? My second question would be, if you don’t secure capital sufficient to complete whatever you’re starting (your estimate was out and now you’re short), what are you going to do?
So how to secure capital for your business starts with how much capital do you need and is that much capital going to be able to generate a return based on your plan of attack.
In most business failures, if they did the exercise first (honestly and objectively at the very beginning), they wouldn’t need to secure capital because they’d find so many holes in their own logic and planning that they’d stop and revise things until they made more sense.
I’m not saying planning is perfect, because its not. And no amount of basic planning and analysis will stop business failure. But I’m telling you, its not going to be anywhere near 50% either.
The final point today is that when you make the effort and figure out what business approach should work (and I do say should as planning is imperfect) and clearly outline the capital you need to secure, you will not only have an easier time securing business capital (well thought out plans have a higher probability of getting funded), but you’re also more likely to meet or exceed your profit expectations (well thought out plans have a higher probability of making money).
We’ll get into a lot more on how to secure business capital as there can be a lot to it, depending on what you’re trying to do.
But the starting point is not “where do I apply?”, or “what tricky things can I do to get an application approved?”
If you that’s where you want to start, you’re looking to become another statistic.