I have often written that business managers and owners tend to leave the process of acquiring capital to the last minute and end up scrambling in many cases to get some type of financing in place before more costs are incurred or an opportunity is lost or some other dark consequence of not getting things done on schedule.
Not only does this very common approach to business financing create less than desirable results in the short term, but it also can wreck havoc on future business opportunities.
Let me explain.
The process of financing a business and managing a balance sheet is a lot about thinking three steps ahead as you try to proactively predict how things will unfold in the coming years and capital the business will require to operate within your predicted or desired path. And future predictions are not always going to be about growth. Sometimes the look ahead is going to be more on the gray or even dark side as you realistically or conservatively see a storm coming ahead and make a plan to deal with it that will hopefully lead to your long term survival.
Regardless of how you see the future, there is cause and effect in the field of view that needs to be factored into how you cash flow and fund your business.
This is why the decision making process of today can be so critical to what predictably is going to come next. Business financing done in haste most times creates a financing structure that will not easily allow for future moves without creating cost. In some cases, the capital acquired today will be a death sentence to the business if the future unfolds in a direction that is in congruent with what has been accepted or arranged.
An example of this would be an obsession with the cheapest sources of money. These sources not only can take an excessively long time to get into place, but they also demand close to extreme security positions and very stringent operating requirements that may or may not be met by expected future events. While cheaper money is always preferred over the alternative, the business has to be able to meet the requirements of the money, or be faced with demand to repay at likely an inopportune moment in time. And even if the business owner can comply with the demands of the money source, is there any flexibility left to allow for what comes next which might just require more outside money?
The process of thinking three steps a head requires that the business owner starts early and never stops looking for and understanding the available sources of business financing that are relevant to what he or she is trying to accomplish. The more pressed someone is with respect to securing capital, the less likely any capital required will properly allow for future moves.