Every new startup business faces the dilemma of raising capital. Should you ask friends and family, do you use crowdfunding, seek out VCs, debt capital, equity capital or some converted option. There are pros and cons to each of the available options. Some options will require a rigorous process while others are based more on relationships and trust.
There are a plethora of variables to consider. Are you starting a lifestyle business? A business to sell?, IPO?, What’s the business model?, Scalability?, Current business maturity?, What cycle is your business in? Depending on where your business is, determines what options will be available.
How one seeks capital infusion depends on the owner(s). Are they high risk takers? Are they more concerned with control? Do they work well with partners? Are they stress adverse? Do they have an abundance of confidence in the product/service and themselves? Let’s face it, if the company is bootstrapped by the owners they have no one to answer to but themselves. If sales don’t meet expectations, they don’t have the anxiety that comes with answering to investors.
On the other hand, if you don’t raise the needed capital to have a successful launch, your business could fail for that reason alone. Not because of the product or service but simply because you couldn’t bring it to market successfully. You may have a great idea, product or service in a booming industry but if you fail to get to a sustainable plateau soon enough, chances are you won’t last long.
Several questions need to be asked first. How much money do you need? (Hint: double what you think) What will it be used for? What’s the current value of your company?
Any owner looking to raise money should update their business plan as well as putting together a pro-forma, regardless of which method is pursued.
When we started our medical software company in 2003, we grew organically. We decided not to take any outside investments. Did that stymie our growth? Absolutely! There is always the balance of equity and control. Where would Uber or Facebook be today without outside investments? It’s always easier to look back, but looking forward is a tougher challenge. Some founders have a solid vision that makes some of these decisions easier. That’s why Mark Zuckerberg can turn down a 1 billion dollar offer for facebook in the earlier days. His vision (and confidence) exceeded that offer. But that’s not the norm.
Suppose you knew for sure that your company would be valued at $125 million in X years. You could then decide now how much money to raise, how much equity you would be willing to give away etc. But reality is, founders often estimate these projections.
So, would you prefer to own 100% of a 1 million dollar company or 30% of a 125 million dollar company? Owners should also consider the process along the way. To grow to a 1 million valuation is much easier process then it is to grow to a 125 million dollar company.
Our medical software company was acquired, which gave us the capital to start PropertyZar.com. It’s a subscription-based business model in the real estate space, particularly property management. We are at a junction where we have the same question that so many other companies have. To raise outside capital or not?