There are many different sources of finance for your business and the best one for you will depend on what stage your business is at and where it is looking to go.
Two key things you need to establish early on are:
- What sources are available to my business?
- Which type of finance do I have a preference for?
Types of funding available
Below are some of the main funding sources available
Angel investors– typically the earliest equity investments made in startup companies. Angel investors are often former entrepreneurs themselves, and typically enjoy working with companies at the earliest stages of business formation.
Venture Capitalists- financing that investors provide to startup companies and small businesses that are believed to have long-term growth. Risk is typically high for investors, but the downside for the startup is that these venture capitalists usually get a say in company decisions.
Incubators- organisations that helps new and startup companies to develop by providing services such as management training or office space. There are plenty of options in the Irish market.
Accelerators- organisations that offer a range of support services and funding opportunities for startups. They tend to work by enrolling startups in months-long programs that offer mentorship, office space and supply chain resources. More importantly, business accelerator programs offer access to capital and investment in return for startup equity.
Bank finance- all the main Irish banks are open to lending to startups and SME’s but they are very selective about the businesses that they lend to.
Microfinance Ireland- a not-for-profit lender established to deliver the Government’s Microenterprise Loan Fund. MFI provides loans from €2k to €25k to newly established startups or growing micro-enterprises that do not meet conventional risk criteria applied by commercial banks.
Grants- there are a number of state bodies that offer grants under a wide range of headings. The main bodies are:
Local Enterprise Office (LEO)
The grants available will depend on the type of business and the stage of development that the business is at.
Crowd funding- there are a number of crowd funding platforms operating now including;
Asset financing- a type of lending that gives you access to business assets such as equipment, machinery and vehicles, or enables you to release cash from the value in assets you already own.
Invoice financing- the practice of using a company’s unpaid accounts receivable as collateral for a loan, which is issued by a finance company. The amount of debt issued by the finance company is less than the total amount of outstanding receivables.
Questions you need to ask yourself before deciding
- Am I willing to give up equity in the business?
If the answer is no then sources should as VC’s and Angel investors are out. If the answer is yes then you need to consider how much equity you are willing to give up. You need to have an idea of the value of your business as the potential investors will have one.
- What do I need the finance for?
Is it to help hire additional staff? Maybe it’s to purchase assets or build a website?
There are grants available for specific purposes so be specific about what the funding is required for.
- What other supports can the funder offer?
Funding decisions should not be based solely on the money. There are other additional benefits that each source of finance can offer.
Often equity finance is provided by people who have an interest in the business and can offer advice or mentoring to help the business succeed. They often have significant experience and contacts that can be utilised by the business.
Similarly banks have vast experience dealing with businesses like yours and have seen what those businesses do well and not so well. Use your bank as more than just a money source.
State bodies such as Enterprise Ireland and Local Enterprise Offices are a great source of advice and can point you towards the support available.
- What are the conditions of obtaining the finance?
This can sometimes be overlooked as the business is so caught up in just securing the finance. In most cases the securing of the finance will come with some restrictions.
With equity investors they may insist on some say in decision making. Banks often attach some conditions to their loans and will look for some security to ensure they can get their money back. Often they can ask for personal guarantees which should be considered in great detail before agreeing.
Similarly grants/funding from state bodies will have conditions attached. For example employment grants will specify the type of employee that can be hired.
How to decide which way to go
In some ways this will be determined by the options available. Here are some suggested steps
Step 1. Identify what you need the finance for and the amount needed
Step 2. See which of the available options match your needs
Step 3. Evaluate the pros and cons of each option. For example if comparing equity versus bank funding you must evaluate the trade-off between giving away equity with the cost of bank finance. Also as mentioned earlier, it is important to assess the other benefits that the funder can bring.
Step 4– Go talk to them. Finance should be an on-going relationship so it’s important you choose someone you can deal with as the business progresses.
How Financify can help?
We can work with you to firstly identify your funding needs and secondly discuss the funding options based on those needs.
We can also help you deal with funders to help achieve the best outcome possible for your business.
Get in touch and we talk you through it in more detail.