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 Top 6 Triathlon Nutrition Supplement Mistakes

In reality, most triathletes take supplements. With the advantage increased energy and nutrient requirements, a desire to enhance performance, and a greater degree of food and exercise based inflammation, we really can get a bit of a benefit by popping pills (legally, of course).However, many athletes indiscriminately grab their “morning handful” of capsules, swallow them, and “check off” their nutrition supplements for the day. The fact is, this supplement shot-gunning approach can result in sub-par absorption and utilization of the nutrients, vitamins, minerals or other desirable compound in the nutrition supplement.So here are the top 6 nutrition supplement mistakes, and how you can avoid them:Nutrition Supplement Mistake #1: Eating Fiber With Your Fish OilMost people take their fish oil supplement in the morning, along with breakfast. The problem is that most breakfast foods are high fiber. And soluble fibers such as pectin, guar gum, and oat bran, and also the insoluble fiber lignin (found in plant cell walls) can affect fat absorption by “wrapping” fatty acids within the digestive tract and decreasing their absorption. Fatty acids and cholesterol that are bound to fiber are less absorbed – and only free fatty acids allow for fat to be transported through the walls of the small intestine. Fiber-bound fatty acids will mostly pass into the large intestine.In other words, by popping your fish oil capsules with a high-fiber morning cereal, you’re basically making expensive fish oil poop. So what should you do? Try taking your fish oil with an afternoon, fat-based snack, such as a handful of olives, almond butter on pita, or avocado with crackers.Nutrition Supplement Mistake #2: Taking High Dose Antioxidants RegularlyThis can be confusing, especially if you’ve been indoctrinated with the idea that all antioxidants are good, but recent research suggests that antioxidant nutrition supplements, such as high dose Vitamin C, may actually impair recovery, increase inflammation, decrease insulin sensitivity, and lead to a lower fitness response to exercise. The basic idea is behind this is that antioxidants protect the body from the damage produced by free radicals, but if you’re always taking high dose antioxidants, your body never learns to generate it’s own antioxidant activity, and thus does not not grow strong free radical buffering capacity on it’s own.While this is a fairly new topic in sports nutrition, and research is scant, my recommendation is to save any high dose antioxidant supplements for your harder training days (such as long training weekends) when your body probably needs a little extra help. But on recovery days and easy or short training days, hold back on the antioxidants. You probably don’t need them and they may be doing you more harm than good.Nutrition Supplement Mistake #3: Eating Amino Acids When You’re Trying To Control AppetiteBranched Chain Amino Acids, also known as “BCAA’s”, are in a ton of different during-exercise and post-exercise nutrition supplements. But it is a little known fact that in cancer patients who need to gain weight, BCAA’s are actually used to stimulate appetite and help people to eat more. Obviously, if you’re trying to lose weight or control appetite, eating a handful of BCAA’s in the evening before dinner may not be such a good idea. This is only a worry for a select few folks who are focusing on appetite control and weight loss, but is certainly good to know if you regularly experience food cravings.Nutrition Supplement Mistake #4: Taking Proteolytic Enzymes on a Full StomachProtelytic enzymes, like BCAA’s, are found quite regularly in recovery-based nutrition supplements. Check the nutrition label of your recovery nutrition supplement for words like “papain”, “bromelain”, “trypsin” and “chymotrypsin” – these are all proteolytic enzymes. The primary benefit of these enzymes is to enhance recovery by decreasing inflammation. But the inflammation-reducing benefit of proteolytic enzymes is significantly decreased when the enzymes are taken on a full stomach or with a meal. Therefore, popping your post-exercise proteolytic enzymes with your post-exercise meal is not the best idea.Instead, take any supplements containing proteolytic enzymes on an empty stomach, such as in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon, or even right before you go to bed at night. If you tend to wait for 1-2 hours post-exercise to eat a meal, this would also be a good time to take proteolytic enzyme nutrition supplements.Nutrition Supplement Mistake #5: Not Timing Fat Burning Supplements ProperlyThe premise behind “fat burning” supplements is that they contain components such as insulin and blood sugar stabilizing components such as chromium, vanadium or even cinnamon. From a strategic standpoint, these compounds should be absorbed and active in your body well prior to eating a meal. Swallowing a fat-burning supplement with breakfast, directly before breakfast, or directly after a meal is not going to do much for you. So the best time to take a fat-burning supplement is 30-60 minutes prior to consuming your 2-3 main meals of the day. Incidentally, I do not recommend high caffeine or ephedra based fat burning supplements, as they can be hard on your adrenal glands and central nervous system.Nutrition Supplement Mistake #6: Allowing Fish Oil or Flax Oil To Get WarmWhen the fragile oils in fish oil, flax seed oil, or just about any other seed or vegetable based oil becomes warm or heated, the oil can become oxidized, and form free radicals that can do cellular damage to your body. A warm fish oil does you more harm than good. So if you drive in your car with fish oil or flax oil sitting in a gym bag on the back seat, this is a very bad idea. So is traveling to a race with fat-based nutrition supplements in your backpack or race bag, if it is going to be in a hot airplane compartment or sitting in the sun. It would be better not take these nutrition supplements at all if that will be the case.Instead, keep fish oil or flax oil type supplements in your refrigerator or freezer, and keep them as cool as possible when traveling. If they do get warm, throw them out. They’re not going to do you any good at that point.

Trust Digital Marketing Experts For A Greater Engagement With Your Target Audience

The digital space is brimming with ever-growing opportunities and your business should not miss out on those. You need to have a viable online marketing strategy in place to build the base and grow the business. Your marketing strategy should include paid and organic searches together to lay a solid foundation for the future and gain immediate results. From SEO to PPC to SMO, every technique should be leveraged to the core to not let advantages slip by.At the same time, you have to achieve business targets in the set budget together with enjoying a greater degree of flexibility in every aspect of the market. As your business can’t afford to avail the costly advertising or marketing channels such as TV, print, radio and magazine etc., you need to find something that suits your budgetary capability. This is where digital marketing comes into the picture, as it brings cost-effectiveness, simplicity and measurability benefits together.In addition, digital marketing gives you the advantage of knowing every aspect of the promotion. From clicks to visits to views to costs to conversions, you’re aware of each and every aspect which brings a greater flexibility of tweaking and twisting the marketing campaigns. You can know the age, sex, gender and location of online users who are associated with your business in whatever capacity. Above all, your business finds a wider market to cater and this leads to the achieving of more prospects.Similarly, you can blog regularly to inform, enrich and entertain users and seek prospects out of them. You can run email marketing campaigns and use Google Analytics to get a better understanding of the market. And then, there is the option of benefiting from social media and its ever-rising user base. Once your business makes its presence on social platforms, it finds the opportunity of connecting and communicating with users or target audience in a real-time basis.More so, digital marketing makes your business and its elements more visible on the internet, and this enhanced visibility helps in brand awareness and brand development. More people are finding you on the internet, and this leads more trust to build. All this gives a boost to lead generation opportunities, which is surely one of the goals of your business. That apart, your level of engagement with the customer gets a big boost which ultimately benefits your business more.In a sense, digital marketing makes your business activities on the internet. It solidifies its presence across channels in the digital space. And once the visibility is improved, more people visit your website, read about your products, show interest in your services and ultimately become prospects for your business. This is how the entire digital marketing cycle works to transform your business completely.With so much to gain, it’d be a surprise if you did not hire the services of digital marketing experts. Hiring only experts means you understand the significance of digital marketing. And once you don’t hire skilled professionals, your business may not be able to achieve what it so desperately wants.
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