Growthink Blog

Raising Capital: Why Is It So Difficult?


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Raising capital for a startup or small business is without question one of the most challenging aspects of growing a business. The stories are manifold of entrepreneurs and small business owners becoming both frustrated and discouraged by the amount of time it takes to secure capital, the rejections they endure, and the lack of linearity and progress checkpoints over the course of the fundraising process. Complaints we hear repeatedly from entrepreneurs regarding fund raising include the following:


The Secrets of Early Stage Private Equity Investing


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According to 20-plus years of data collected by Thomson Financial, early, or seed stage, private equity investing has over the long-term, outperformed all other investment classes -- with average annual returns of over 20.6%.

Federal Government Financing Alternatives


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Entrepreneurs and small companies often overlook two ripe sources for capital: federal grants and loan financing.

But instead of trading equity positions in their companies for thenecessary capital, entrepreneurs and small companies who pursue fundingfrom the Small Business Administration (SBA) and from Small BusinessInvestment Companies (SBICs) donít have to deal with an equitycomponent to their transactions. However, similar to individual ìangelîinvestor and VC financing, companies seeking SBA and SBIC financingneed a strong management team and value proposition, and a credible andexciting business plan to consummate a financing transaction.

That's because an SBA loan, regardless of whether it is a directloan from the SBA, or, more commonly, a bank loan guaranteed by theSBA, is essentially a bank loan. The benefits of it versus atraditional bank loan are that it offers a lower borrowing rate and asomewhat greater ease of attainment for startups and smaller businesses.

In most cases, the SBA will guarantee that 90 percent of the loanwill be repaid to the bank. As such, banks are taking on less risk andcorrespondingly are more flexible with approvals. The SBA does usuallyrequire that the founders of the company personally guarantee the loans.

Alternatively, Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs) areprivately organized corporations that are licensed and regulated by theSBA. Small or emerging businesses which qualify for assistance from theSBIC program can receive equity capital and/or long-term loans fromthese companies. Essentially, these companies provide their owncapital, which is then supplemented by federal funds, to the companiesthey fund.

In a testament to the great "multiplier" value of small businessinvestment, U.S. taxpayers benefit from the SBIC program as taxrevenues generated from successful SBIC investments have more thancovered the cost of the program. Equally impressive, over the last 20years, small businesses have created roughly three out of four net newprivate non-farm U.S. jobs, with a significant percentage of thesebusinesses initially seeded/funded by these government loan programs.


Nine Business Plan Pitfalls


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In our experience of assisting with their business plans more than 1000 startups, small businesses, middle market and Fortune 500 companies, we have noted the following common business plan pitfalls:

Pitfall #9: Not Including Successful Companies in the Competitive Discussion.


Analysis Paralysis


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Does anyone do "early-stage investing" anymore? When we present deals to "early-stage" investors, we find their criteria to be more in line with the milestones of more established companies, and it sometimes seems like early stage is a non-entity.

I was encouraged by the news of Battelle Ventures and Allied Minds Inc., posted in The Deal here. The author mentions how both firms operate under unique structures which allow them to do true early stage investing in "pre-seed" technologies sourced straight out of research institutions and universities. Battelle only has one LP, the Battelle Memorial Institute, while Allied Minds raises money from shareholders in exchange for future equity with no specified time horizon. Perhaps these "special" circumstances allow them to take on more "risky" investments without having to answer to large numbers of LP's.

It makes me wonder if the traditional VC model actually works. What if traditional VC's could take the handcuffs off and get dirty with raw technologies and mad-scientists out of some futuristic research lab? What sort of companies would we start to see hit the marketplace and how frequent? What about timing issues and market relevancy?

"The greater the level of involvement and business expertise focused on early stage innovation, the more and higher quality of innovation we will see coming out in the marketplace" - Lesa Mitchell- VP for advancing innovation, Kauffman Foundation.

Amen.


The Business Of Ideas


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The best entrepreneurs and executives at fast-growing companies have the ability to move efficiently and profitably from ideation to execution, and then from execution back to ideation and then back to re-focused execution. And they do so regarding all aspects of their businesses -- marketing and sales, operations and finance.


Top Seven Capital-Raising Mistakes


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In my experience of working with many managers and entrepreneurs that have had great success in raising capital for their businesses, as well as our experience of working with as many that have struggled, here are some of the key mistakes I see most typically made:

Great Q and A on Guy Kawasaki's blog re legal issues and new startups


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Can be read here at - http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2007/10/ten-questions-1.html - all aspiring entrepreneurs should take in this advice - in general Guy's blog is one of the best (if not the best) out there re venture capital, entrepreneurship, and technology.


Data versus Intelligence in Your Business Plan


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A business plan, in its essence, is the process of mapping out with as much accuracy as possible, what the future of an enterprise or business initiative will be. To forecast effectively, the business plan strategist must intelligently evaluate and synthesize available industry and market data into a plan of action supporting credible market and financial projections. To do so effectively, it is paramount to efficiently differentiate between business data and business intelligence.


What Is Your Business Worth?


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There are three traditional valuation methodologies utilized in determining the worth for a private company.

They are:


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