Types of business finance

There are two main types of business finance, debt finance and equity finance. Broadly speaking, debt financing is funds borrowed from a lender and repaid with interest and equity financing is capital exchanged for part ownership / shares in the company.

Debt or equity?

All businesses, big or small need finance at some point. Whether they’re just starting out, looking to expand, purchase equipment or just smooth out bumps in cash flow. In this article, we’ll explore the main types of business finance available and the benefits of each.

Running a business is tough. Over 250,000 businesses failed in FY17/18. That’s up 12.7% from the year before! Lack of capital is one of the main reasons. That could result in insufficient investment in equipment, operations or marketing. However, the main reason is more day to day - cash flow management. Cash flow problems are a headache for almost 50% of Australian companies.

This means choosing the right type of finance is critical to the success or failure of your business. And there are an enormous range of options available. Let’s explore them!

So to start with there are two main broad categories of finance available for businesses:

  • Debt finance - funds borrowed from a lender that must be repaid with interest.
  • Equity finance - money exchanged for part ownership of your business. This could be your own funds or from investors.

Debt financing - traditional business loans, credit lines and receivables finance

It’s a broad term, which encompasses many types of finance options. What they share in common is that they do not give away part ownership, but the funds must be paid back with interest.

Loans can be short term (from 30 days to a year) - these are usually available to more established companies. Or long term (from 1 to 5 years) - often for larger expenses. Such as starting a business or for equipment or fixed assets.

There is also usually some sort of credit check. In order to determine if you’re credit-worthy, lenders may want to look at:

  • Your credit rating
  • Your business track record and financials
  • Your past bank history
  • Whether you’ve invested your own money
  • Your ability to repay the loan

Debt financing can be secured or unsecured, with secured loans attached to a fixed asset, such as property. If you can’t meet the payments, the lender will seize the asset. Unsecured loans tend to be smaller and attract higher interest rates.

Equity financing “I'm looking for $100,000 for a 10% stake in my business”

This is the world of venture capitalists and angel investors. It’s a risky business for the investor, but with risk comes reward. As we said at the start of this article, many businesses fail. And investors (the business owner included) only see a repayment or a return if the business makes money.

There are lots of things to consider when giving up equity. They’re pretty well beyond scope of this article, but they include decision making and voting rights, dilution, valuation and exit methods.

So let’s consider the advantages and disadvantages of both types of finance:

Debt Financing

ProsCons
You get to keep control of your business and the decisions that drive itMost types of loan must be repaid in full with interest over a fixed term
The interest on the loans is generally tax-deductibleRepayments begin straight away
You have the option of either long or short loan termsIt must often be secured against collateral, which you can lose if you don’t keep up with repayments
Funds can be available quickly and when they are neededConstant cash drain from the business, as the loan is repaid every month

Equity Financing

ProsCons
Generally, there is less risk involved as the loan doesn’t have to be paid back immediatelyInvestors take some ownership of your business - meaning you lose some
You’re not paying it back so there is more cash on handThey also get a say in the direction of the business plan, as well as day-to-day business decisions
The investors could bring credibility & skills to your operationThere is a lot of time and effort involved in finding people to invest

Sources of debt & equity finance

There’s a wide range of funding opportunities for business owners, choosing the right one will depend upon how established your business is, what the funding is required for and the assets the business has.

Sources of debt finance

  • Financial institutions - a traditional lender; a bank, a building society or credit union
  • Finance companies - non-bank financial institutions and online lenders
  • Retailers - purchasing goods through credit, which must be paid back at a later date with interest
  • Suppliers - trade credit on materials and services needed to run your business
  • Receivables finance (or invoice financing) - using your unpaid invoices as an asset to secure a loan or line of credit (we’ll explore different kinds of receivables finance in much more detail in other articles)
  • Peer to peer loans - a way to match businesses looking for a loan with people looking to invest
  • Family & friends - a loan taken from people you know. It’s important to get a formal written agreement / terms and conditions here to avoid any misunderstanding
  • Equipment finance / asset finance - a loan secured against assets on a company's balance sheet
  • Trade finance - a type of finance used to facilitate imports and exports

Sources of equity finance

  • Personal finances / bootstrapping - most small business begins this way
  • Venture capital - businesses who specialise in making investments in companies in whom they see potential
  • Private investors / angel investors - like VC, but individuals rather than firms
  • Family & friends - taking cash from people you know in exchange for part ownership
  • Crowdfunding or equity crowdfunding - a recent method of fundraising which gives the public early or exclusive access to a product or service in exchange for up-front funds. Equity crowdfunding involves offering shares for funds at an early stage
  • Government - in certain circumstances a government grant may be available for small businesses
  • IPO (or initial public offering) - to float your company on a stock exchange and sell shares to the public

The Waddle Difference

Waddle offers a modern form of receivables finance. We've built an innovative invoice finance solution allowing businesses to close the cash flow gaps that are holding them back. The Waddle platform seamlessly connects with cloud accountancy platforms, like Xero & MYOB and generates a finance offer within a few clicks.

Once approved, Waddle offers an instant line of credit based on your unpaid invoices, which is adjusted in real-time as they are raised and paid. You pick the invoices to fund and only pay for those that you draw down. And thanks to the cloud accounting integration, bookkeeping is a breeze with no invoices to upload and instant reconciliation.

It’s also fully confidential, so your important client relationships stay with you. And Waddle offers the friendliest terms with no minimum monthly spend, no contracts or hidden fees, giving you fast and easy access to working capital with minimal fuss. Get an offer now!