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Alternative Forms of Financing

Alternative Forms of Financing, Alternative FinancingIt happens all the time. Companies need capital, but they aren’t bankable. Banks or other financial institutions will not touch them because they are either too risky, not able to meet covenants, or it just doesn’t work out for some reason. So, where do those companies go? They need to look at alternative forms of financing. In this week’s blog, we take a look at alternative financing and why there is a need for it.

What is Alternative Finance?

What is alternative finance? The US Small Business Administration defines it as “financing from external sources other than banks or stock and bond markets”. It typically refers to fundraising through online platforms; however there are various sources that could be considered alternative forms of financing. We will look into those a little later in this blog.

Sometimes, the best way to add value in a company is to know where to go for cash. If you want to learn 5 other ways a CFO can add real value, then click here to download our 5 Ways a CFO Adds Value whitepaper.

The Need for Alternative Financing

Why is there a need for alternative financing? Not all entities (banks, stock, bond markets, etc.) are willing to finance certain companies due to a variety of reasons. For example, Company A is a 2 year old company that has a technology that will not be ready for market for another 6 years. A bank most likely will not fund that project because there is no revenue for 8 years and there is no guarantee that the company is ever going to be successful. Alternative forms of financing will help Company A continue to research and develop their product and bring it to market.

In addition, alternative financing often provides benefits like mentorship, customer validation, advice, and buy-in.

Alternative Forms of Financing

There are several alternative forms of financing, but today, we will look at 5 financing options for companies that are not bankable. Those include crowdfunding, grants, mezzanine lending, private equity, and bootstrapping/sweat equity.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is the most public form of alternative financing. It’s simply an online platform where many investors invest small amounts in a company. Popular crowdfunding sites include Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe. This is a great option for companies that have customers who want what they have but the bank does not agree. For example, some indie films have raised capital via crowdfunding platforms as both a marketing effort and capital raising. As a result of investor’s donations, they get perks such as rewards, early access, etc.

Grants

Other alternative forms of financing include grants, competitions, and accelerators. Grants do not have to be paid back, unlike a loan. They are usually disbursed or gifted by one entity. Often, that entity is a government department. It could also be a corporation, trust, or foundation. Most grants require an extensive application process. In addition, most grants are designated for a specific purpose – like research and development.

Grants, competitions, and accelerators often require business plans, financials, projections, etc. A benefit of going this route is to continually improve the business and add value. If you want to learn 5 other ways a CFO can add real value, then click here to download our 5 Ways a CFO Adds Value whitepaper.

Alternative Forms of Financing, Alternative Financing

Mezzanine Lenders

Mezzanine Lenders are organizations that provide loans to businesses; however, they are not required to have all of the guarantees and collateral of a traditional bank. Their loan to you might have some aspects of convertible debt to equity. In addition, it will definitely be more expensive than a traditional commercial loan. It will be about as expensive as using a credit card. But these lenders are great alternative to companies that may not be bankable.

Private Equity

Private Equity firms are funds, and team of individuals manages this fund that provides debt and equity to businesses. Usually, the “hold” period for the investment can be anywhere from 3-7 years. The Private Equity (“P.E”) firms bring best practices and find synergies with other portfolio companies to streamline costs. P.E. firms sometimes specialize in an industry or market to align their interests. Depending on the type of firm, private equity investors may take a managing role in a company.

Bootstrapping/Sweat Equity

While bootstrapping is not necessarily a form of financing, it does free up cash that is needed elsewhere. For example, a company can bootstrap by hiring employees on equity rather than a salary. While this may be a cheap option in the meantime, it can become expensive in the long run (especially if the company takes off).

It’s a CFO’s role to improve profits and cash flow. But to do that, they need to have the financial leadership skills to guide the CEO as they manage the organization. If you are ready to add real value to your company and get the respect you deserve, then click here to download our 5 Ways a CFO Adds Value whitepaper.

Alternative Forms of Financing, Alternative Financing
Alternative Forms of Financing, Alternative Financing

 

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What Your Banker Wants You To Know

What Your Banker Wants You To Know

In small or large businesses, we often end up dealing with banks and bankers beyond the checking account. When you have debt with your bank (your lender), the relationship takes on another dynamic. The typical loan agreement for traditional debt includes loan amount, terms, collateral provided, the covenants you must live by, and the dos and don’ts allowed. When things are going well, the relationship with your banker seems to always go well.  It is in difficult times that things get tough. Let’s look at what your banker wants you to know.

Growth is good, but it requires more capital to sustain. Learn about the 25 Ways to Improve Cash Flow (in addition to acquiring capital from the bank).

What Your Banker Wants You To Know

Your banks wants to know the bad new sooner than later. Furthermore, your banker does not want surprises. If you are having issues with your business, then discuss these early on with your banker. If you’re getting close to the limitations of your covenants, then let your banker know. In addition, if you see a change coming in your industry, then let your banker know early on. Be sure to give your banker the good news also. If you are planning on changes to Sr. Management, then mention these to your banker.

The banking world changes based on the economy, regulations, and markets. We remember 2008 when new credit at banking institutions basically shut down. Before that, it was fairly easy to get credit. And loan requirements were not as cumbersome – which is not always good. But the crisis caused a change in behavior at banks – some of it self implemented and some implemented by regulators.

In today’s market, money is still relatively cheap. There is an abundance of liquidity in the markets. So banks do want to loan money, but you must meet some basic guidelines.

What Your Banker Wants You To KnowWhat Commercial Banks Want

In order to loan you money, commercial banks basically want just a few things:

  1. They want to have collateral that secures their loan
  2. They want to know you have the cash flow to payback their loan
  3. They want to understand your business and they want to know what the funds will be used for
  4. They want to understand how much they will make $ on their loan to you

Different Types of Lenders

There are different types of lenders, including the following:

The cost of that capital goes from cheapest to most expensive lender on the list above. The structure of the debt also goes from easiest to most complex structure in the list above. Some want collateral (security), and some do not.

Looking for more capital? There may be cash lying around your business. Learn the 25 Ways to Improve Cash Flow today.

Keep Your Eye on Your Debt Covenants

Most likely, if you have commercial debt, then you may have some debt covenants stated in your loan agreement. Covenants are the requirements you as the Borrower must maintain to be in good standing with your loan agreement.

Oftentimes, the bank and banker find out something is wrong when you turn in your financials and/or bank compliance certificate. They find that one of the covenants is out of whack. You may have a debt/EBITDA covenant ratio as part of your covenants. This is a common requirement. Do not wait for you to “bust your covenants” before you reach out to your banker. Monitor your covenants closely. If you see drivers in your business that may create a problem with your covenants, then reach out to your banker.

Renegotiate Covenants

Believe it or not, I have been in situations where the loan agreement is already a few years old. The company has become much more financially healthy, and I went back to renegotiate certain covenants to ease the reporting burden. The bank was very open to modifying some covenants. Usually, you have to be in good standing and have a good historical track record to modify or request to modify covenants. But do not be shy. Simply ask. The worst that can happen is your banker says, “no”.

Most bankers in today’s market do really care about the relationship, even at the biggest banks. Your banker does want to see you succeed. If you are living through troublesome times, then your banker does want to see you get financially healthy. But you need to communicate with your banker. The worst thing you could do is hide something from your banker or try to sweep something “under the rug”. That will eventually come, out and you will have burned a bridge with your banker. After you hide something, or if you do not disclose something, your banker will always carry that doubt in the back of his mind. And they may not be there for you when you really need to negotiate that debt covenant.

Are there other areas in your company that you can focus on to improve cash flow (outside of bank loans)? We have put together the 25 Ways to Improve Cash Flow whitepaper to make a big impact today on your cash flow.

 

What Your Banker Wants You To Know
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What Your Banker Wants You To Know

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Unsecured Credit

See Also:
Debits and Credits
Credit Letter
Direct Tax
Credit Memorandum (memo)

Unsecured Credit Definition

Define unsecured credit as credit not collateralized by an asset. It is a common form of credit used for business. Furthermore, an unsecured credit line comes in many forms, including the following:

Though it may go unmentioned, many businesses use it to successfully finance any of their operations.

Unsecured Credit Meaning

Unsecured credit means credit which, when unpaid, cannot be reclaimed through the seizure of an asset. This is important to note because unsecured credit facilities may be confused with secured credit. Though lenders have other methods to regain the value of the credit they offered (such as a court decree saying the lendee must repay the lendor), there is no asset promised by the receiver of the credit.

On a small scale, unsecured credit loans are more simple to acquire than secured credit. For example, credit cards are the easiest method of credit to acquire outside of the financing of “friends, family, and fools”.

On a large scale, an unsecured credit agreement is fairly difficult to acquire. The example of this would be mezzanine debt financing: mezzanine financing is virtually as difficult to acquire as venture capital. In this situation, companies generally use an unsecured credit facility when they can not receive secured credit. This situation occurs when the company can not meet the requirements or obligations of the secured credit lender or prefer to keep their assets free of obligation.

The business owner makes the final decision on whether secured or unsecured credit is the best decision. A general rule of thumb would be that if the company has more to lose by collateralizing an asset then not receiving the financing, unsecured credit may be their best option. consult a trained CFO to find the best option for your business.

Unsecured Credit Example

For example, Karl is an entrepreneur who has started a company which manufactures precision electronics for the military. Because Karl makes each item to changing specifications, Karl must keep a lot of supplies on hand. He must have a strong base of credit to cope with his customer’s changing demands.

Karl has recently outgrown his current lines of credit. To make matters more complicated, he already promised almost all of his assets as collateral for other loans. With no option left, Karl must find an unsecured credit provider. He knows that credit cards will surely not be able to support his needs. He sees mezzanine debt financing as the only option.

After consulting with a trained CFO, Karl realizes that his company will actually lose profit by receiving the funding. The CFO clearly spelled this out in the financial analysis he provided. It seems the best option is for Karl to grow a little slower. Though he will have to deny some customers, it will ultimately result in a stronger business. Going forward, Karl’s company will be financed by free cash flow. Though Karl does not feel like as much of a “high roller”, he is happy that he made the prudent decision.

unsecured credit, unsecured credit definition

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Mezzanine Debt Financing (Mezzanine Loans)

See Also:
Recapitalizing Your Company Using Mezzanine Financing
Angel Investor
Venture Capitalist
Why Venture Capital
What is a Term Sheet

What is Mezzanine Debt Financing (Mezzanine Loans)?

Mezzanine debt financing is a subordinated and unsecured loan which typically features a warrant. This type of debt has higher interest rates because of its subordinated and unsecured status. It is not backed by collateral. In the event of debtor default, the claims of mezzanine lenders are senior only to the claims of common shareholders. Therefore, use mezzanine debt to finance startup companies with growth potential or to complement other forms of debt in a leveraged buyout.

Like other debt instruments, mezzanine debt includes a contract that stipulates the details of the loan. The contract describes the amount of the loan, the rate of interest and the interest payment schedule, the due date for principal repayment, and whether or not there is a conversion feature. The loan may also allow a portion of the interest payments to be accrued over the life of the loan and paid along with the principal at maturity. This feature is payment-in-kind.

Interest rates on mezzanine loans are substantially higher than other types of loans. This is to compensate the lender for the riskiness of making a subordinated and unsecured loan.


Download The 25 Ways to Improve Cash Flow


Mezzanine Lender

Mezzanine lenders are often private equity funds or venture capitalists. Therefore, consider these mezzanine loans speculative investments. The debt instrument provides a stream of income and some downside protection, while the warrant feature offers the potential for upside gains.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Mezzanine Debt Financing

For borrowers, mezzanine debt financing allows companies with less collateral to secure funding for growth. On the other hand, the interest rates on this type of loan are comparatively high. So it is expensive source of capital.

For lenders, mezzanine debt instruments offer higher yields than secured or more senior forms of debt. Also, the warrant feature offers the promise of gains if the borrowing company’s equity increases in value in the future. On the other hand, there is a greater risk of default because the claims are subordinate and unsecured.

Mezzanine Capital

Mezzanine capital refers to subordinated and unsecured debt or preferred equity. It often includes a warrant, or a conversion feature, that allows the lender or investor to convert the debt or preferred stock into a specified quantity of the company’s common stock at a set price within a stated period of time.

Equity Warrants

The equity warrant feature of mezzanine capital allows the lender or investor to convert the loan or preferred stock into a specified quantity of the company’s common stock at a set price within a stated period of time. Design it to give the lender or investor an equity stake in the possible future success of the company.

Mezzanine Meaning

The word “mezzanine” derives from the Italian diminutive form of the word “middle.” Use it to describe the lowest balcony in a theater.

If you want more tips on how to improve cash flow, then click here to access our 25 Ways to Improve Cash Flow whitepaper.

Mezzanine Debt Financing, mezzanine loans
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Mezzanine Debt Financing, mezzanine loans

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Internal Rate Of Return Example

See Also:
Internal Rate of Return Method
Discounted Cash Flow vs. IRR
NPV vs IRR
Required Rate of Return

Internal Rate of Return Example

An internal rate of return example is quite common in capital markets. The internal rate of return example below will be seen by anyone seeking angel, venture capital, equity mezzanine, or other forms of Owner’s Equity.

For example, Techco has developed a revolutionary online shopping cart for e-commerce. It believes that, with an investment for marketing expenses, the company concept can be quickly grown to profitability.

Capco is a venture capital firm that invests in early-stage companies that serve the business to business market. Furthermore, Capco invests only in companies with an existing product and an expectation of quick return on equity. They use the internal rate of return method and only invest in companies which currently have a rate of return of 30% or more. So, their IRR hurdle is 30%.

Initial Investment -$5000 Cash flow in Year 1 $1,000 Cash flow in Year 2 $3,000 Cash flow in Year 3 $6,000

Techco and Capco had a great first meeting. Techco would love to gain marketing expertise and funding from the Capco team. Capco appreciates the experience of the Techco management team, feels the company concept fits well into their field of interest, and knows that this investment has the growth potential necessary. The only concern is whether Techco can yield the required IRR calculation of 30%.

IRR Calculation

To make the final decision, Techco and Capco run the following IRR formula calculation as an internal rate of return financial calculator:

0 = -$5000 + ($1000 / (1 + IRR) ^1) + ($3,000 / (1 + IRR) ^ 2) + ($6,000 / (1 + IRR) ^ 3)

IRR = 32.979%

Techco and Capco mutually come to the conclusion that Techco’s IRR is 32.979%. As a result, Capco is confident that since Techco’s internal rate of return model is currently above 30%, it will probably grow with additional marketing. Capco and Techco, because of this, decide to become partners.

Private equity markets regularly deal with the above internal rate of return formula example and IRR formula calculation. As a matter of survival, they must have a strong grasp of the IRR definition, IRR formula, and IRR limitations.

Limitations of Internal Rate of Return

The internal rate of return calculation assumes that you will reinvest cash flows each year at a constant rate. For those internal rate of returns that are high (greater than 25%), it is impractical to think that you will find alternative investments at that same higher rate. This limitation is the biggest drawback to using the internal rate of return method. In order to compensate for the high return of the internal rate of return calculation, the Modified Internal Rate of Return (MIRR) was created so that the annual cash flows are reinvested at a lower, more probable reinvestment rate.

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Internal Rate of Return example

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Internal Rate of Return example

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Recapitalizing Your Company Using Mezzanine Financing

Recapitalizing Your Company Using Mezzanine Financing

“There comes a time in every company’s life cycle when the company and/or the entrepreneur need some more cash. Perhaps the company needs more working capital or some additional money to help fund an expansion. Or, maybe the entrepreneur feels that it’s time to reap the benefit of all those years of hard work. Whichever the case may be, the entrepreneur will be faced with many different financing options. An interesting and often over-looked option is that of bringing in a private equity partner in the form of mezzanine funding. Furthermore, the only option may be recapitalizing your company using mezzanine financing.

Why can’t I just go to a bank?

Let us consider a common business dilemma: 1) lack of working capital or 2) lack of funds for capital expansion. Entrepreneurs by nature are optimists and passionate people, especially when it comes to their companies. They want and need a financial partner that can grow with them. Typically, your first option of choice is your friendly, neighborhood commercial bank. There are several issues that one often encounters here…”

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Recapitalizing Your Company Using Mezzanine Financing

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