I recently received the following question from a reader named Scott:
I started a transportation company two years ago in Virginia. It grew so fast that it killed my cash flow, and I have struggled ever since. We grew to $9 million in annual revenue within 12 months, but my start-up costs and growth contributed to $587,000 in cumulative losses. I have slowly gotten it down to around $395,000, and we are making money (P&L shows a profit every month this year) but it will take a long time to get out of this hole. I have made deals with all of the vendors I owe, but I am looking for a partner to buy 10 percent to 49 percent of the company, if necessary. I have everything I own in this company and will lose everything if I can't find someone to help me get through this tough time right now. Have you got any ideas or contacts that I might be able to talk to about investors? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
The last thing I would be looking for is an equity partner. Two reasons: one, from the investment side, I doubt many investors would put up money without having a controlling interest (I know I wouldn't). Two, from the entrepreneurial side, most of us don't play well with others, and it would be putting you in an uncomfortable position. But there are other avenues for you to find money. Here are my suggestions: One, see if you can find a way to either borrow against your receivables or sell your receivables. When people loan money in this manner, they're loaning money not on your credit but on the credit of your customers. Two, it sounds like you need anywhere form $250,000 to $350,000 (of course, I would need more information to know for sure). I think your best bet might be to do what I call Rolodex financing: friends and family and the proverbial doctors who invest. Stay local and try to give these people their money back plus interest plus some small optionable equity positions. Good luck.
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NORM BRODSKY | Columnist
Street Smarts columnist and senior contributing editor Norm Brodsky is a veteran entrepreneur who has founded and expanded six businesses.