Starting your own business is one of the most challenging—and rewarding—leaps you can take with your career. Turning your idea into a successful, thriving firm takes ingenuity, determination, and grit. It also takes a decent chunk of capital. You have to spend money to make money, right?
According to the U.S. Small Business Association, 57% of start-up businesses rely on personal savings to get their firms going. But if you’re just starting out or are planning an expansion to take your business to the next level, you might need more than you feel comfortable taking out of your savings.
Luckily, there are other sources of financing available that can help offset your costs. In fact, a recent National Small Business Association report found that available financing for small firms is on the rise, with 73% of businesses being able to access the financing they need.
Whether you need to get your business off the ground, expand your reach, or have cash on hand, it can take some creativity to find the right financing to help you thrive. Here are the basics of debt financing to help you find the right solution for your business.
What is Debt Financing?
Debt financing is the technical term for borrowing money from a lender to help run your business (as opposed to raising equity to cover your costs). Examples of debt financing include small business loans and lines of credit. Small businesses use debt financing to cover a range of expenses including start-up costs, operations, equipment, and repairs.
How Does Debt Financing Work?
Essentially, debt financing means borrowing money from a lender that you agree to pay back, typically with interest. If you’ve ever taken out a loan, you’ve financed a debt. The terms of the financing are agreed upon in advance, and you are mostly free to use the money however you wish.
Getting debt financing with favorable terms can be dependent on your credit score and financial profile. However, it is a relatively quick way to secure funds.
What’s the Difference Between Debt Financing and Equity Financing?
Equity financing refers to selling shares of a business in exchange for capital. Basically, this means finding investors who, in exchange for a portion of the business, help fund it. Equity financing can include everything from raising funds from friends and family to securing multiple rounds of financing from angel investors and venture capital firms.
A benefit of equity financing is that it’s money that is given rather than lent, meaning that you won’t have to pay interest. Another benefit is the investors themselves: Having good relationships with them can lead to important connections, mentorship, and resources to help your business grow.
Of course, a potential downside to equity financing is losing some control over the business and its operations (for example, many investors may want a seat on your board in exchange for funding . It can also take a long time—and a lot of effort—to attract and secure investors.
What’s the Difference Between Short and Long-Term Debt Financing?
Debt financing can be divided up into categories of short-term and long-term. Short-term debt financing refers to loans that are repaid over a period of a year or less. This includes everything from using a credit card, to opening a line of credit that you repay as you use it. Short-term financing can be useful for everyday expenses, small emergency repairs, and to cover cash flow.
Businesses use long-term debt financing to cover larger purchases such as expensive equipment, renovations, or real estate purchases. This can include mortgages or business loans which have multiple-year repayment plans. Often lenders require these types of loans to be secured by the assets that they are helping you purchase. For instance, a property mortgage would be secured by the property itself.
What Debt Financing Options are Available?
If you’re looking for an immediate solution, short-term debt financing may be a good place to start. For covering smaller day-to-day expenses that you plan to pay back quickly, a credit card might be the easiest and most familiar option.
Opening a line of credit can also be a handy way to manage cash flow or finance an expansion over a period of time. A line of credit works a bit like a credit card, but with more flexibility.
Lines of credit tend to be larger than credit card limits, and they usually have more competitive interest rates. Just like a credit card, you can borrow what you need as you need it, and then make monthly repayments.
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