By Noah Brockman, Oregon SBDC Network Capital Access Team; First published by the Oregon SBDC Network here.
There are several steps small business owners seeking funding should take to prepare for acquiring capital. In this article, you’ll find a checklist of “to-dos” for accessing capital. If you have questions or need support, the Oregon SBDC Capital Access Team is here to help!
Revisit Your Household Budget
Consider your monthly income and expenses. Have there been any changes recently? Think about how business income contributes to your household income, and make sure to review your personal and business credit. With these factors in mind, consider whether your financial profile will be acceptable to prospective lenders.
Get Clear About Your Funding Needs
Having clarity about how much you need and how funds will be used is vital as you prepare for business funding. How much cash do you already have available, and will you have sufficient personal and/or business cash reserves after your cash injection? It’s also important to think about the time frame for funding.
Create a Startup Budget
If you’re just starting your business and need funding to launch, this to-do is for you! If you haven’t already, make a startup monthly budget that indicates all revenues, cost of sales, and expenses. It’s helpful to prepare a list of any new business assets you need to get started, such as inventory and equipment.
Create a Project Budget
For those who are already in business and require capital to grow, make a project budget to outline your funding request by asset type—such as inventory, equipment, tenant improvements, and/or permanent working capital.
Evaluate Your Current Situation
Already in business? Need cash for working capital? Take a look at your business to see where you might already have some cash tied up, such as A/R or inventory. Review your fixed overhead expenses to assess any cuts you can make to reduce your cash expenditures. You may also want to look at your gross profit margin to see if it’s on par with your industry average and determine if you need to make any adjustments to COGS or pricing.
Determine Your Financial Projections and Cash Flow
Whether you’re starting or growing your business, it’s a good idea to put together at least a 12-month financial projection/cash flow budget showing anticipated revenue, cost of sales, expenses, profits, owner draws, and debt service payments to share with funders. If possible, a 24-month projection is even better. Try to be conservative, and make a list of your underlying assumptions.
Understand the Types of Funding Available to You
Familiarize yourself with different types of funding and how they fit with different scenarios. For an overview of traditional and nontraditional funding, click here.
Assess Your Position for Debt or Equity
Are you in a position to borrow? What collateral will the lender use to secure the loan? How will you pay it back? Pull your credit report to ensure that there are no hidden surprises. Consider whether you have owner equity (cash) to put in. Having at least 10% is a great start.
If you’re already in business, is the business profitable? If you’re not interested in taking on debt, are you seeking an equity investment? Ask yourself what return on investment you can offer to investors.
Develop or Update Your Business Plan
Whether you are starting or growing your business, it’s vital to develop a business plan to share alongside your financial projections to help funders understand your vision. At the Oregon SBDC Network, our business advisers can help you create a comprehensive plan to move your business forward.
Organize Your Business Documents and Paperwork
For existing businesses, make sure your financial statements are up to date, and gather past year-end business financials, as well as personal and business tax returns. For new businesses, gather your organizing documents, any industry-specific licenses, and any insurance or lease documentation.
If you are seeking guidance on the best path forward, the PCC Small Business Development Center can provide assistance. Connect with your local PCC SBDC and register for confidential, no-cost advising on your funding options and in all areas of your small business.