Today, we’re going to discuss the difference between a business loan and an equity investment from a private investor. Many people make the mistake that private investors will generally provide a business loan for the development or expansion of a new business. However, most private investors are seeking to a choir a percentage of a business in order to receive dividends and capital appreciation from the stock as the business grows. The risks that are associated with the business loan as well as the moderate interest rates that are normally associated with this type of investment are geared far more towards financial institutions, lenders, and banks. Credit unions are also an excellent source of small business loans as it these groups are funded almost exclusively by their member base. A private investor is going to want at least 20% to 50% (sometimes more) in exchange for the capital needed in order to launch business operations. Many private investors could simply invest in quality blue chip stocks or ETF funds in lieu of putting their money in a high risk small business. As such, and with limited exceptions – most people that work the private investors can expect to sell a certain portion of their business in exchange for the money needed.
Conversely, a business loan is a specific term credit facility that is granted by a bank that requires monthly payments of principal and interest are made until the loan is completely repaid. Business loans, mortgages, car loans, and similar financial instruments all follow pretty much the same method of loan is granted and then monthly payments are paid back over a certain specific term and with a specific interest rate. If an entrepreneur does not want to give up a significant portion of their business than they can turn to using a business loan. Often, many entrepreneurs will stay away from using a business loan if they have had significant issues with their credit, or if they do not have collateral, or they are operating a business that is not to produce revenue for a significant period of time.
For instance, a technology business is not necessarily a very good candidate for a business loan given that it can take two years to five years before revenue generation occurs. Almost all financial institutions want to see that revenue generation will occur within six months and they will begin receiving repayment of the principle very quickly. As such, as it relates to specialized businesses – like technology companies – business loans are generally reserved specifically for companies that are already in operation, per our producing revenue, and can support a significant financial obligation.
One of the key things to know when working with a private investor is how much control it they want of the business. For much wealthier angel investors, these individuals typically are hands off of the most part. However some angel investors are tremendously more hands-on and want to have a say as it relates to the day-to-day operations of the business. This is something that we will continue to touch upon as it relates to business lending, investments for small business, and related information regarding business development and expansion.
On a final note, anyone that is working with a private investor should retain an attorney to make sure that a proper contract is written when working with these individuals or groups. This is primarily due to the fact that during a dispute – a properly written contract can assist the entrepreneur with ensuring that the terms were clearly spelled out at the time of the investor was made. There have been numerous instances, lawsuits, and settlements where the terms of an investment were made in a more offhand manner and have cause significant issues as it relates to the capital structure of the business. As always, having a properly qualified attorney as well as a certified public accountant working with your business can be an invaluable source of information and assistance as you progress through business operations.