You need money to take your business to the next level, but there are so many avenues down which you can travel to get funding. How do you know which option makes the most sense?

If financing isn't your forte, take some advice from Maya Mikhailov, cofounder of the retail mobile app platform GPShopper, an 8-year old company that has garnered funding in a plethora of ways for a variety of reasons. Here's what she says you need to consider when it comes to the most popular ways of infusing cash into a business.

Venture Capital: Firms That Will Help Steer Your Company

Some of the greatest tech companies of the modern age would never have existed without VC funding. It may or may not be ideal, depending on your company's size and what you're hoping to achieve. Compared with other funding options VC firms have to appease institutional investors, necessitating a thorough due diligence process to ascertain risk. They also typically invest large sums of money and require a hand in steering the direction of a funded company.

Seeking VC investment too early is a bad idea, however. "You end up spending a great deal of time going from VC to VC trying to find the right partner, getting the right terms, and that's a very time-intensive process," Mikhailov says. "And if you're a small company starting out there could be a big drawback there, because you can take your eye off the ball of delivering products and service."

Typical range of investment: Millions of dollars.

Equity you can expect to give up: Anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent, depending on your company's maturity and traction in the market.

Angel Investors: Wealthy Individuals

These people invest their own money without the red tape involved in working with VCs. On the flip side, angels generally only like to invest once, versus being a well you can repeatedly come back to. Also, working with several angels at once means managing multiple deal structures. "The pro is that angel investing has grown in recent years, especially as many VCs want to invest larger sums," she says. "Angel investors are picking up the slack to invest smaller amounts in early stage funding."

Typical range of investment: Between $50,000 and $250,000.

Equity you can expect to give up: Usually less than 20 percent (convertible debt notes are often employed for this type of funding).

Small Business Bank Loan: You'll need Collateral and a Good Credit Score

Getting a bank loan depends on your personal and business credit scores and usually you need to provide a personal guarantee or put up collateral. "So, unless you're willing to take that personal risk of saying 'I'm putting my credit on the line' it may not be one hundred percent the way to go," she says.

Typical range of investment: Less than $350,000.

Equity you can expect to give up: None, although you'll usually need revenue.

Strategic Investment: Like a Partnership but with Capital Involved

This option may not be on your radar but if there is a deep-pocketed player within your industry which isn't a competitor it might be mutually beneficial to seek investment from such a company. For example, GPShopper recently closed a round of funding from Synchrony Financial, a consumer financial services company (formerly a division of GE Capital) with the idea that an alignment between the two companies provides a more robust offering for retail customers, which both entities serve. "If you find that there's a company within your industry that is closely aligned with your goals and objectives as a corporation, it may be in your best interest to go [it] and say, 'Hey, listen, we can both grow together. I'm a nimble company. I can bring great technology to the table. You can bring a great wealth of experience and there could be a very symbiotic relationship,'" she suggests.

Typical range of investment: Millions of dollars.

Equity you can expect to give up: Similar to VC funding, but with other benefits, such as new client opportunity.

Published on: Jan 30, 2015
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