In the first part of this series, we introduced the three risk profiles we work with on a daily basis.
Before we can even begin to suggest funding options for you, we conduct an extensive vetting process.
That process gathers information about your place in the business world, such as the products or services offered, the management team, the general financial situation, the competitive landscape and the company life cycle, just to name a few pieces of information.
But just as important as all those factors - and maybe more so - is the company's risk tolerance. As you might expect, our recommendations are based largely on what you tell us.
To gauge that risk tolerance, we have you answer five questions and score them on a 1-3 scale. A "1" means you would not consider the option, while a "2" means you'd consider given a better understanding of the situation and the costs/benefits. And a "3" means you are open to the option.
Depending upon the score, we break you into the categories of "risk averse," "risk neutral" and "risk flexible."
Let's focus today on the risk-averse client.
Although entrepreneurs and start-up business people are often painted as risk takers, a study of 250 British entrepreneurs a few years ago reported that 52 percent described themselves as having risk-averse characteristics.
Paul D. Brown, author of "Entrepreneurship for the Rest of Us," wrote about risk aversion in Inc. a couple years back.
"Successful serial entrepreneurs adhere to the basic principles of risk management: If you're going to play in a game with uncertain outcomes:
1. Don't pay/bet more than what you can expect as a return, and
2. Don't pay/bet more than you can afford to lose."
As you'd expect, our options are somewhat limited for this client. For example, most risk-averse clients would be leery of providing a personal guarantee in exchange for a lower interest rate, a larger credit facility or other favorable terms. Nor would they be willing to provide additional collateral to obtain the most-appropriate funding structure for their business.
And the chances they would bring in an equity partner - and give up some control of the company -- are slim, too.
While these businesses may not have the stomach for bold moves, they aren't completely out of options.
The best financing sources are likely to be conventional lenders. Considering their likely conservative business approach, they may well have the sound business practices desired by Small Business Administration-approved (SBA) lenders.
Another possibility - which is among the top forms of financing used by startups - is self-financing. That entails using your own money to invest in the company, with personal assets used as collateral for outside funding.
Examples might include securing a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC); borrowing against life insurance; using your Individual Retirement Account (IRA) for a short-term, interest-free loan; borrowing against investments and securities; or even simply using a credit card or personal savings.
These aren't the only options, but they give you an example of what's available that the risk-averse company can stomach.
Next up, we'll look at our risk-neutral clients and explore what's available to them.