Small businesses are Australia’s economic backbone. Recent research found, more than 99% of all Australian companies are small businesses, and they contribute $380 billion AUD to the economy.
But one consistent issue these companies face is obtaining capital. Roughly a third of small businesses start with less than $7,200 AUD, and 58% start with less than $35,500.
Knowing where to turn can you help secure the capital needed for your business to flourish.
Here are some viable financing options:
GRANTS AND ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
One of the first avenues to explore is government funding. This isn’t necessarily an option for brand new startups, but it can potentially work if your growth is your focus.
Visit the Grants and Assistance Programs section of Business.gov.au to get started. Enter information like your postcode, industry and business objectives, and you’ll see which programs you qualify for.
Here’s an example.
Click on the specific program you’re interested in, and you’ll get an overview, eligibility criteria and learn how to apply.
For instance, one small business grant program was specifically designed for helping Melbourne-based companies grow and was offering up to $30,000.
BUSINESS CREDIT CARDS
This is perhaps the most convenient option and provides you with a line of credit for funding your small business. While business credit cards may not be the right choice if you need a large amount of funding, it can certainly help fill in the gaps.
They’re fairly easy to qualify for when compared to many other business loans and offer plenty of flexibility in terms of spending. Many offer rewards like cash back and travel points. They also give you a financial cushion so you can cover unexpected expenses as they arise.
An added plus is business credits can help build your credit score as long as you consistently make payments on time. In turn, this can help you lock in better interest rates on future business financing options.
The main drawback is that many come with high interest rates. If mismanaged, it can create a financial backlash that hurts your company. So you’ll want to thoroughly go over the details and make sure you understand the repayment terms.
This guide from Small Business Loans Australia highlights 5 of the top business credit cards to check out.
SECURED BUSINESS LOANS
These are collateral-based loans where you put up a valuable asset such as your car or home in exchange for financing.
“What you choose to secure these business loans with, you’re essentially promising your lender that you’ll repay your loan,” says Fundera. If you aren’t able to repay your loan, the lender can use the collateralised assets or personal guarantee to legally recoup their losses.”
As a result, you need to be sure that you can repay a secured business loan in full and feel comfortable doing so.
Here are the pros:
- They often have lower interest rates than credit cards or lines of credit
- You can usually obtain larger dollar amounts because they’re less risky for lenders (some offer up to $710,000 AUD)
- Many have long repayment terms
Here are the cons:
- You can’t obtain them unless you have a valuable asset
- They come with a high level of risk (you could lose your home or car if you default)
- They’re hard to get if you’re a new business and aren’t yet established
- To learn more about business loans and compare top providers, check out this resource from Finder.
Crowdfunding is a relatively new concept that’s gained a lot of traction as of late. This is where a business raises capital through “the crowd” — a group of people who support your idea and make financial contributions to your company.
This typically involves small amounts of money across a large group of people rather than just a large sum from a single investor. In exchange, backers usually receive some type of reward such as a pre-order of the product or branded merchandise.
Those seeking crowdfunding launch a campaign with a specific timeframe. If funding targets are reached by the deadline, you receive the money and backers receive their reward. Otherwise, you won’t receive the funds and backers won’t be charged. In other words, it’s all-or-nothing.
One of the main benefits of crowdfunding is that it’s low-risk. You’re not required to fulfill rewards unless your funding goal is met, and you don’t have to pay any money back like you would with business credit cards or a line of credit.
You’re also not losing any equity in the process. Backers are essentially donating to your company, so you don’t have to give up an equity stake to investors — something that can be huge if you’re successful.
On top of that, crowdfunding can give you some nice exposure. There have been instances where campaigns have went viral with brands basically becoming household names overnight. This makes it ideal if you’re a new startup looking to gain the attention of your target audience.
The downside would be that it takes time and money to create a campaign, and there’s always the risk of failure. If your campaign goal isn’t met by the deadline, you won’t have anything to show for it.
There are now hundreds of crowdfunding platforms to choose from. This list from Crowdfunding.com highlights some of the more popular ones.
“Angel investor” is a catch-all term that applies to a private investor, seed investor or anyone with a large amount of capital who’s interested in providing funding to a business, usually in exchange for capital.
Negotiations are made where both parties decide upon how big of an investment there will be and how much equity stake will be given away. Since an angel investor faces a high level of risk, they usually seek a high return on their investment — often 20 to 50% equity.
Therefore, it’s not usually a good move if you’re looking to retain most of your equity. It can, however, be viable if giving up equity justifies the growth of your business.
Going this route offers 2 main advantages. one, you can obtain a large amount of capital, with deals easily reaching six figures. This can ignite business growth and dramatically increase cash flow. You can purchase inventory, hire new employees, buy new equipment and reinvest in your company.
The other benefit is the knowledge and expertise that comes along with an angel investor. Many are entrepreneurs themselves and know what it takes to successfully grow a company. Having them in your corner means you’ve got a valuable partner with a huge incentive to help your business. You may even be able to take advantage of their contacts to open even more doors.
Check out Australia Angel Investors for a comprehensive list of over 1,400 potential investors.
Also known as debtor finance, this is a form of business financing that involves using your outstanding invoices as collateral. You simply upload the invoice you’ve sent to your client, get approval (up to 95% of the value of the invoice, often available within 24 hours) and receive a cash advancement. The remaining money becomes available once the invoice is paid in full.
If slow or late-paying clients are the primary reason for your lack of cash flow, debtor finance is an effective solution.
And many companies enjoy the flexibility that it offers. Debtor finance offers a full range of solutions to accommodate a variety of needs.
There are full service facilities where the lender assumes responsibility for collections and tracks down payments. This works well if you don’t want to be burdened by the distractions of continually following up with slow-paying clients.
There’s also an option for confidential facilities, which are ideal if you have a dedicated finance department and don’t wish to disclose the fact that you’re seeking financing to clients. Everything is still done in-house. You just receive a line of credit.
There’s also Selective Invoice Financing where you only submit invoices you want funding against. You can submit just one invoice or multiple invoices whenever you need. This tends to work well if you only need occasional financing for an injection of working capital. Operating a seasonal company or needing to replace a piece of equipment are good examples.
And unlike secured business loans, you don’t usually need to put up real estate or your vehicle with debtor finance. Your outstanding invoices are all you need.
WEIGHING YOUR OPTIONS
There are a lot of possibilities for small businesses seeking financing. You can go a more traditional route like business credit cards, grants or secured loans. Or you can take a newer approach like crowdfunding, angel investing or debtor finance.
What’s important is that you find viable financing options that meet your needs and you feel comfortable with. In other words, does it offer the funding you need and have reasonable repayment terms?
Examining each of the options listed above should provide you with the information you need to point you in the right direction.