Alternative Financing Vs. Venture Capital: Which Option Is Best for Boosting Working Capital?

There are several potential financing options available to cash-strapped businesses that need a healthy dose of working capital. A bank loan or line of credit is often the first option that owners think of – and for businesses that qualify, this may be the best option.

In today’s uncertain business, economic and regulatory environment, qualifying for a bank loan can be difficult – especially for start-up companies and those that have experienced any type of financial difficulty. Sometimes, owners of businesses that don’t qualify for a bank loan decide that seeking venture capital or bringing on equity investors are other viable options.

But are they really? While there are some potential benefits to bringing venture capital and so-called “angel” investors into your business, there are drawbacks as well. Unfortunately, owners sometimes don’t think about these drawbacks until the ink has dried on a contract with a venture capitalist or angel investor – and it’s too late to back out of the deal.

Different Types of Financing

One problem with bringing in equity investors to help provide a working capital boost is that working capital and equity are really two different types of financing.

Working capital – or the money that is used to pay business expenses incurred during the time lag until cash from sales (or accounts receivable) is collected – is short-term in nature, so it should be financed via a short-term financing tool. Equity, however, should generally be used to finance rapid growth, business expansion, acquisitions or the purchase of long-term assets, which are defined as assets that are repaid over more than one 12-month business cycle.

But the biggest drawback to bringing equity investors into your business is a potential loss of control. When you sell equity (or shares) in your business to venture capitalists or angels, you are giving up a percentage of ownership in your business, and you may be doing so at an inopportune time. With this dilution of ownership most often comes a loss of control over some or all of the most important business decisions that must be made.

Sometimes, owners are enticed to sell equity by the fact that there is little (if any) out-of-pocket expense. Unlike debt financing, you don’t usually pay interest with equity financing. The equity investor gains its return via the ownership stake gained in your business. But the long-term “cost” of selling equity is always much higher than the short-term cost of debt, in terms of both actual cash cost as well as soft costs like the loss of control and stewardship of your company and the potential future value of the ownership shares that are sold.

Alternative Financing Solutions

But what if your business needs working capital and you don’t qualify for a bank loan or line of credit? Alternative financing solutions are often appropriate for injecting working capital into businesses in this situation. Three of the most common types of alternative financing used by such businesses are:

1. Full-Service Factoring – Businesses sell outstanding accounts receivable on an ongoing basis to a commercial finance (or factoring) company at a discount. The factoring company then manages the receivable until it is paid. Factoring is a well-established and accepted method of temporary alternative finance that is especially well-suited for rapidly growing companies and those with customer concentrations.

2. Accounts Receivable (A/R) Financing – A/R financing is an ideal solution for companies that are not yet bankable but have a stable financial condition and a more diverse customer base. Here, the business provides details on all accounts receivable and pledges those assets as collateral. The proceeds of those receivables are sent to a lockbox while the finance company calculates a borrowing base to determine the amount the company can borrow. When the borrower needs money, it makes an advance request and the finance company advances money using a percentage of the accounts receivable.

3. Asset-Based Lending (ABL) – This is a credit facility secured by all of a company’s assets, which may include A/R, equipment and inventory. Unlike with factoring, the business continues to manage and collect its own receivables and submits collateral reports on an ongoing basis to the finance company, which will review and periodically audit the reports.

In addition to providing working capital and enabling owners to maintain business control, alternative financing may provide other benefits as well:

It’s easy to determine the exact cost of financing and obtain an increase.
Professional collateral management can be included depending on the facility type and the lender.
Real-time, online interactive reporting is often available.
It may provide the business with access to more capital.
It’s flexible – financing ebbs and flows with the business’ needs.
It’s important to note that there are some circumstances in which equity is a viable and attractive financing solution. This is especially true in cases of business expansion and acquisition and new product launches – these are capital needs that are not generally well suited to debt financing. However, equity is not usually the appropriate financing solution to solve a working capital problem or help plug a cash-flow gap.

A Precious Commodity

Remember that business equity is a precious commodity that should only be considered under the right circumstances and at the right time. When equity financing is sought, ideally this should be done at a time when the company has good growth prospects and a significant cash need for this growth. Ideally, majority ownership (and thus, absolute control) should remain with the company founder(s).

Alternative financing solutions like factoring, A/R financing and ABL can provide the working capital boost many cash-strapped businesses that don’t qualify for bank financing need – without diluting ownership and possibly giving up business control at an inopportune time for the owner. If and when these companies become bankable later, it’s often an easy transition to a traditional bank line of credit. Your banker may be able to refer you to a commercial finance company that can offer the right type of alternative financing solution for your particular situation.

Taking the time to understand all the different financing options available to your business, and the pros and cons of each, is the best way to make sure you choose the best option for your business. The use of alternative financing can help your company grow without diluting your ownership. After all, it’s your business – shouldn’t you keep as much of it as possible?

The Fashions and Designs of Women’s Hoodies

Today’s hoodies for women are far from the baggy, shapeless and predominantly black items we have been used to seeing on teenage boys. Now there are womens hoodies in all the top designer ranges, in a rainbow of colors and a multitude of stunning designs. There is no excuse for any woman to not have a hoodie or two in her wardrobe.There are hoodies in velour, silk and cashmere. Juicy Couture makes a whole range, with and without logos in short or long sleeves, including a style with a peplum. Kritik make some bright terry hoodies which team with matching shorts as beach and vacation wear and Pencey make a faux fur hoodie which is positively elegant.One of the hottest designs at the moment is the Kamikaze womens hoodie by Ed Hardy. Ed Hardy’s designs are celebrity favorites and can be seen on Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears and Ashley Tisdale. Online urban fashion stores stock all the well-known brands.Bench makes a beautiful soft grey cashmere mix hoodie with cutaway shoulders and Diesel has an attractive lightweight hoodie with crochet trim.A fresh idea in womens hoodies is hoodie dresses. These are just a longer length version of a pull on hoodie, though usually with short sleeves, in soft jersey fabric that can be worn as a mini dress. Worn over opaque tights or slim fitting jeans tucked into slouch boots these hoodie dresses are a fashionable addition to a young woman’s wardrobe.Among the newest bejeweled hoodies, as worn by Paris Hilton, are those of the Twisted Heart brand. Fantasia is a richly embellished hoodie with the gothic looking heart design on the back set with many tiny beads. Their Tropical Soul hoodie has silk drawstring ties and brightly colored beads in a heart design on the back. Whilst the Twisted Anchor hoodie has a nautical feel with flared sleeves, and an anchor motif in rhinestones.For teens and tweens, Hannah Montana hoodies are all the rage. All the girls want to look like their idol from the hit TV show, Hannah Montana played by Miley Cyrus. The show has been enormously successful and launched Miley on her singing career. Girls love the style of clothes Miley wears in the show and Disney has produced a range of fashion clothing based on her character. There are a number of different hoodies in the range, with sparkly metallic accents, and with a picture of Hannah emblazoned on the front.For older girls and young women who like to cycle, Rockstar’s ladies zip hoodie features a cozy fur-lined hood and an attractive grey and white stripe design with the double R Rockstar logo. Far too nice to wear on a bike this would make a great casual coat worn with leggings or jeans on a chilly day. If you are into snow sports the Roxy hoodies including the Roxy Porter hoodie is made from eco-friendly fabrics with a warm sherpa lined hood, perfect to keep you warm whilst looking totally cool.

Getting Started With Investing

IntroductionTraditionally investing has been seen as the preserve of the wealthy and has a reputation for being a minefield to the uninitiated. As western standards of living continue to increase, more and more people are beginning to realize the benefits investing even small sums can bring. This article seeks to explore some basic principles to help you get started with investing.1. What’s the basic premise of investing?The Collins English Dictionary defines the word invest in the following way; “To lay out, for profit or advantage.” To layout refers to the fact that something of value is needed in the first place in order to generate more wealth. In essence investing is a means of taking a pre defined sum of money and using it in such a way as to increase its original value, therefore generating a profit.2. Why Invest?This is one of the most fundamental questions that any person looking to invest needs to ask. The general answer is pretty obvious, to generate a profit, but the reason behind the investment are far more important and will directly influence how and where you chose to invest. In addition the answer will also determine the level of risk you are willing to expose yourself to and which will be explored in more detail later.Reasons as to why people invest are varied and may include some of the following; to build up a nest egg for retirement, to provide a financial safety net, to pay for future education or university fees for children, for fun because of the buzz investing can create.3. How Should I invest?This is also a deeply personal question and will depend upon the amount of money an individual has at their disposal. It is important to stress that investment takes many different forms all of which facilitate differing levels of investment. A single mum might decide to invest $20 or a business entrepreneur $1 million but both will seek a return on their capital outlay and how they go about achieving their investment goals may differ substantially.4. What level of risk should I expose myself to?Such a decision is very important as ultimately it will dictate the profitability of your final investment. In many respects this question will also be determined by the answer to the previous question, why invest? If an investment is being made to safeguard a financial future the level of risk taken may be lower than an individual investing for fun.Generally investments are made in three distinct categories low, medium and high. Low risk investments include Government bonds and savings accounts. Medium Risk investments could include certain types of shares or property. High Risk investments will almost certainly include shares in rapidly expanding companies exploring new markets. The dot.com crash in the late nineties, in which thousands of newly established technology companies went bust, is an example of a high risk investment going very wrong.What types of investment are there?This is not an easy question to answer because in theory anything that earns a profit from an initial outlay can be classed as an investment.There are however some common forms of investment that deserve further explanation.a) Government BondsThese are deemed low risk investments as money is invested in Government related projects and assets. It is unheard of in the western world for a Government to go bankrupt.b) SharesThis is a means of holding a stake in a company trading on the stock exchange and investors benefit from its profitability. Whilst share dealing can be low risk particularly if you are investing in established companies in the FTSE 100, most share investments are deemed medium or high risk. This is because such investments have the potential to return excellent profits but there is also a raised risk of losing your total investment.c) AntiquesAntiques are often a great source of investment given that they hold their value at the very least and have the added benefit of being easy to sell if you need a quick cash injection. In addition if you wish to leave a sum of money to family after your death they won’t be hit with inheritance taxes often associated with large amounts of physical cash. Perhaps one of the major drawbacks to investing in Antiques is the requirement of a level of technical expertise, or access to those skills, to ensure that suitable items are invested in.d) PropertyProperty can also be a very lucrative source of investment as property prices continue to increase across the developed world. Generally property prices increase in value in the long term.e) SavingsWhilst banks often make the distinction between savings and investments, in essence savings are a form of investment as the money you save with the bank is invested in low risk shares on your behalf, which ultimately enables financial institutions to make interest payments to you.How to investNow that you have more information to help you get started with investment the next step is to speak to an independent financial advisor. These consultations are almost always free and you can get specific advice tailored to your individual needs concerning investing. In the UK there is an excellent site for finding Independent Financial Advisors called unbiased, see the link at the end of this articleSummaryThis article has attempted to provide advice to enable individuals to get started with investment. Discussion has taken place about the basic premise of investing and the profitability of such a decision, along with examining different reasons for investing. Attention has also been given to how much might be invested and at what level of risk this might be undertaken at. Finally we have explored the vast array of investment options available and what the next step is for a budding investor.