capital

Our business is growing steadily. When is it right to move into a new facility? How do we find funding?

We are getting close to capacity at the kitchen we rent but we are at a point where we (2 people) might not be able to meet the new volume without a new facility and more employees. The business isn’t grossing that much yet, but won’t unless we can increase output. Asked on MosaicHub by Eric Martin

Mike’s response

How can you increase capacity without increasing overhead?

— Find an “as needed” contract kitchen for the time being. A restaurant I frequent is open for breakfast and lunch, and is going to rent out its kitchen in the evenings for people like you.

— Do a second shift. Hiring a “night crew” is a lot cheaper than opening a new facility. Utilize your existing facility and equipment to the max.

Raise your prices! If you have increasing volume and you’re not yet profitable, you’re not charging enough. Unless you can demonstrate profitable operation, you’ll never be able to raise growth capital.

Get more efficient, and thus boost your labor productivity. I have a bakery client who started tiny, and now she’s at $3 million. It has been very hard for her to make the production more efficient. “We’re an artisan bakery!” she proclaims. But now she’s getting productivity religion, and it’s going straight to the bottom line. And quality is not slipping; if anything, the greater consistency is increasing quality.

Schmooze your bankers. Everybody’s first suggestion for raising money is crowdfunding, but I doubt it could work for you. You want permanent capital–perhaps $50,000 or more. You can’t crowdfund that much. You’d spend a huge amount of time and effort, then probably not make it.

Focus on getting profitable by getting the most from your current facility, get help putting a plan together, impress your banker, and get a legitimate capital loan.

 

 

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Q. How can I finance a small business project without collateral?  Asked on High Table by Shehzad Aman

A. Here are a few ways to finance without collateral.

1. Your savings. You should be as demanding on yourself as a banker would be to demonstrate the viability of your proposal.

2. Your family or friends. They may loan to you without collateral because they know and trust you. Your obligation to repay is even stronger than it is with a bank.

3. Crowd funding. It’s the latest rage. I have read a lot about it, but I’m not sure how successful people have been raising capital this way. Who can get it, for what amounts and purposes? What promises do they have to make?

4. Your own creditworthiness. If you have a good credit score and good relationship with your bank, you should  be able to get a non-recourse loan for several thousand dollars.

5. Charging it on your credit cards–the all-time worst way to fund a business, yet one that is used all the time.

To borrow money without collateral, you need strong and trusting relationships with people who have money.

Some may suggest venture capital. But VCs aren’t interested in “small.”

There may be business development grant or loan from a foundation or government agency, but this is not something to count on. None of my clients have ever gotten enough capital this way to start a business.

Perhaps you are being too restrictive by saying “with no collateral.” Ask yourself what kind of collateral you have. For example, if you purchase equipment, the equipment itself serves as collateral.

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Shehzad, I answered this question as if you were in the U.S. But it looks like you are in India. I know nothing about the small business banking sector there. I suspect that personal relationships are even more important. But there may also be business development loans from some agency that wouldn’t be available here.

 

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