Small Businesses Have a Range of Financing Options

Although small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) are considered the backbone of business and a key source of economic growth and dynamism, they often have difficulty getting financing to expand, innovate and provide jobs.

There are many reasons for this. SMEs, start-ups and solopreneurships typically lack a long business history and track record of success. In addition, they usually do not have a large asset base to serve as collateral for loans, they often operate in high-risk industries, and they tend to show volatile patterns of growth and earnings.

Seed money to start a business generally comes from personal funds or from friends and family.

However, financing needs evolve as a business grows, and the funding sources used at the start-up stage of development are not the same as those used by established firms that have built up equity and collateral. The range of options for financing small and midsize businesses includes:

•    Owners’ personal savings, credit cards and lines of credit
•    Loans or investments from friends and relatives
•    Trade credit from suppliers
•    Government loans and grants
•    Loans from employees
•    Retained earnings
•    Business angel financing
•    Venture capital
•    Bank loans and lines of credit
•    Commercial credit cards
•    Factoring and invoice discounting
•    Equity financing

Increasingly, business angels – such as investors who provide risk capital in return for a stake in the company – are a key link in the financing chain for SMEs, as they bring business experience as well as capital to the table.

Calculating Wealth: A Primer on Assets and Liabilities

All money coming into or going out of a business is recognized on the balance sheet as an asset, a liability or owners’ equity.

An asset is anything a company owns that has future value. Cash, property, equipment, inventory, accounts receivable, investments, vehicles, and intellectual property such as copyrights, trademarks and patents are assets.

Assets can be current or long-term according to the ease with which they can be liquidated. Current assets can be easily converted into cash within a year. Examples are cash, checking accounts, accounts receivable and notes receivable that are due within a year.

The term “fixed asset” refers to land, buildings and equipment that are used in connection with the business. Although land is considered a fixed asset, it is not depreciated like other fixed assets because it doesn’t wear out.

Fixed assets such as buildings, office equipment, machinery and vehicles are depreciated over time.

Liabilities include all debts and obligations owed to outside creditors, vendors, employees or banks.

Common liabilities are accounts payable, payroll, and building or equipment lease costs.

Total current liabilities is the sum of all liabilities that must be paid within one year. Long-term liabilities are debts or obligations owed that are due more than a year out.

At any given time, a company’s assets must equal its liabilities plus owners’ equity.

Understanding assets and liabilities can help a business owner gauge his or her company’s financial health and plan for future growth.