If your business is to grow, you need to invest in it. Whether the business is a start up, just getting going, or an established firm looking to expand, it needs cash to pay for recruitment, infrastructure, marketing, stock or whatever it is that you need for growth.
Choosing the way to fund your business growth can make a huge difference to your firm's future. While raising finance has one objective - to give you more working capital to invest in growth - the method you choose can have significant implications.
There are different routes for raising this finance. You can put money into the business yourself, take out a bank loan, receive capital from an external investor or take one of several other options. Factors that influence your choice include why you want the finance, the amount involved, your attitude to risk and business ownership, the assets available and your plan for repaying the funds.
How much and for how longBefore entering into a funding arrangement, it's important to be very clear on how much money the business needs and the plan for repaying it. You're investing in future growth, meaning potentially more sales and more profit, but how long will it take for these to come through? Preparing a detailed budget and cashflow gives you clearer visibility of how long it will be before you can repay. While you can't predict the outcome of your business growth activities, you can, using some reasonable assumptions, form a good idea of what's likely to happen.
Armed with this information, you're now in a better position to choose the right funding option for your business.
Debt financeRaising money for your business can involve borrowing money from your family, a bank or other financial institution. Borrowing, or debt finance, can take the form of a loan, a credit card, invoice finance or some alternative mechanism, such as peer-to-peer borrowing. You're committing to make repayments over a period of time, usually paying interest on the amount borrowed.
Debt finance is either secured or unsecured. A secured debt is where the amount borrowed is linked with an asset, such as a building, and the lender has rights over that asset should you default on making the agreed repayments. You're giving the lender some security that they'll get their money back should your business become unable to repay.
An unsecured debt is not linked to an asset, making it harder for the lender to recover their money. As a result, the interest payments on an unsecured arrangement are often higher and the amount you can borrow is lower. Many financial institutions ask that a director signs a personal guarantee, making them personally responsible for ensuring that the debt is settled.
One risk of debt finance is that the business can become trapped in a debt cycle. You're continually borrowing and paying interest, which eats away at profits. Debt finance can be hugely useful, but its use should be planned and managed.
Equity financeEquity finance means exchanging part of your business in return for a cash investment. This can be a popular approach for a startup company, particularly where high growth is anticipated, but it needs substantial investment to get going. Venture capitalists and angel investors are always looking out for investment opportunities like this - a business they can buy into that will give them a high return, years in the future.
Because equity capital means giving up ownership of part of your business, it can also mean handing over an element of control. The extent of this should be agreed in advance, in order to set clear expectations. Some investors are comfortable with leaving the founder to manage the business while others want some input into strategic decisions. This can be useful where the investment comes from someone with solid commercial knowledge and experience that they are able to share. Some angel investors want to provide mentorship as part of their investment.
Business angels and others willing to make an investment in equity will want some assurance as to how they will get their money back, and more besides. This could be in the form of dividends or as proceeds from the sale of the business.
The benefits of equity investments include access to larger sums of capital, and potentially, access to the expertise of their investor and their network of contacts. The downside can be loss of total control.
Asset financeYour choice of funding is broader when your business has assets, such as property, equipment or non-tangible items such as intellectual property. An asset has intrinsic value and this value can be released by taking out finance that's secured on the asset. An example of this is a sale and leaseback arrangement, where the business effectively sells the asset, say a major piece of equipment, and then leases it back from the new owner. This ensures that you can still use the asset, but you also get a lump sum payment from the sale.
A related approach to raising money is invoice finance, also known as invoice factoring. This is often used to improve cash flow in a business that raises invoices on credit terms. The company gets paid almost as soon as it's raised an invoice, even though the customer may take 30 days or even longer to settle the bill. As with most such asset finance arrangements, the interest rate on the money borrowed will affect its cost and the impact on the bottom line.
Business finance can also be raised against the value of an asset in the possession of the business owner, typically a private property.
Crowdfunding financeThe sharing of the risks and rewards of doing business has been at the heart of commercial funding for hundreds of years. That's the principle behind the stock market. Today, crowdfunding is a popular solution to the problem of finding investment for your business growth plans. It comes in various forms, allowing you to raise either debt or equity finance. There are a number of crowdfunding platforms online, each of which offers a different approach to both risk and reward for their members.
The Qardus option for business fundingWe provide finance to small and medium-sized enterprises with growth potential that the business owners want to unlock. The funding available is from £50k to £200k with terms of between 6 and 36 months.
Our funding process is rooted in Islamic community principles and is certified as Sharia-compliant. As a result, we don't charge interest and we don't work in business sectors considered damaging to society, such as alcohol, tobacco or gambling.
Because of our principles, our funding solution is an attractive option for Muslim business owners, but we also provide funding to business owners outside the Muslim community.
We offer fast, flexible and affordable business growth funding that's firmly grounded in ethical principles.