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June 11, 2021
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Growth funding – debt, equity, or both?

Not all business growth needs funding.

There are two types of growth: organic growth and next-level growth. Listen to this podcast from The Money Show where Pavlo Phitidis unpacks both, and what the funding options are for each. 



Organic growth sees your growth emerge along with the business’s ability to support it. Your organic growth rates will be governed by your working capital cycle, team, and equipment capacity and then outside influences like the country’s growth rates and economic cycles. See this as a marathon that requires a consistent, predictable pace to finish the race. 

Next-level growth relies on you going beyond your weekly, monthly activities and requires trailblazing and a very deliberate, focused effort. Think of entering a new market, acquiring new assets or teams, developing new products or innovations, or even acquiring a competitor or aligned business. See this as a sprint within the marathon to get ahead quicker and faster than the rest of your former best time. 

As you put more effort into growth, you need more oxygen or fuel to feed the increased activity. Accessing this funding is vital and failing to do so fails your effort of next-level growth. 


Where do I go first for funding? 

Depending on your life stage and stage of business. The further you are from retirement, the more risks you can take. A more mature and established business means your funding will be cheaper.  

A younger business and owner may start by looking to banks for debt and likely fail. Next will be an external funder called an angel funder, who will look to take equity against a loan provided, or a pure equity stake as an early-stage investor. This means they become a shareholder and earn a seat in your future and direction. It is a marriage of sorts.  

At a later stage, business owner and business can turn to banks for debt funding and likely succeed. A loan is granted and requires capital and interest payments to be made until it is settled and repaid in full. It will mostly be granted against the security of an asset. 


When is debt best and how do I get the deal done right? 

Debt is best and cheapest in all cases of organic growth. If you tick up the growth rates in your business, debt is still best. The reason is that you remain in full control of your business – this might be a good or bad thing! Nonetheless, it’s an easier source of funding to understand, evaluate and calculate, keeping things simpler for you.  

But, it is unlikely to be granted in any meaningful amount unless underpinned by an asset.  

Your business assets – plant, equipment, debtors, stock, investments – all act to cover the risk of the debt being provided by the funder. Earlier stage businesses will require higher risk cover than later stage businesses because they face a less predictable future. If you need funding to support your businesses growth and uptick using non-material assets like salaries, technology, marketing, and so on, you might get some through overdraft (costly), but it’s unlikely since there is no security against that spend. You can look elsewhere to get that funded, but it’s messy and complicated.  

When raising debt, be sure to understand the cash flow implications. The next month you’ll be required to pay back the debt! Payments include principal capital amounts as well as interest on the debt.  

Suppose your funding is an investment that will take time to yield an increase in revenue or profit to settle that debt. In that case, you need to negotiate a moratorium on capital or interest or both. This acts as a holiday on the payments you owe for a specified period but increases the debt’s accumulated value, which still accrues interest. 


When is equity best, and how do I get the deal done right? 

If you are ready to sprint, you need growth funding. Again, your first option should be from your coffers, followed on by debt if the amount is not too big, and you can manage the payments you’d need to make to the debt provider.  

Alternatively, and most likely, if it’s a big sprint, you’d need to raise equity. The process begins with finding the right funder. More than money to invest, they should bring skills, relationships, understanding, and other benefits to help you attain your next-level growth ambitions. This would make them a strategic funder. If all they offer is money, they are simply a funding provider. This matters because the pricing of the equity will differ between the two options.  

A strategic funder can get you where you want to be faster, safer, more reliably, and more efficiently. They can probably also get you there bigger. They will price it all into the cost of the equity. In addition, equity funders will also want a clear, obvious exit strategy.  

Their business is about investing an amount of money with the intention to get out of your business in the future with more than they invested. How they extricate themselves from your business will be a key concern for them and you need to be able to convince them accordingly.  

Equity is good to fund your business once you have exhausted your debt options and it stretches across all your growth assets, tangible, or intangible. It’s hard to raise, takes a massive amount of time and tests your intention behind why you do what you do. Seldom do we have time to think ahead into the future – equity. 

The way we build businesses, and the way companies must be built to secure the right funding at the right time differs. Often, we bemoan the funders, blame others, and claim there is no funding in the market when we fail at securing it.  

There is more money to fund business growth than there are businesses worthy of funding. Knowing that and adopting an Asset of Value™ growth approach will locate you in the heart of a deep oxygen pool to fuel your greatest ambitions.  

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