Situation: A company is looking at options to fund growth. These include selling a stake in the company, bank financing, organic growth. or partnering with another company. There are trade-offs to each option. How do you fund business growth?
Advice from the CEOs:
- There is a question that should be answered before talking about funding: what is the vision for the business?
- Think about building the business that the founders want to run. What size company feels comfortable from an operational perspective? What does it look like?
- Does the company have the right people and infrastructure to support planned growth? Are current direct reports capable of taking on additional projects and monitoring both current facilities and additional sites?
- As the company grows, can the bottom line be increased as fast as the top line?
- Commit the 5-year plan to paper. Before deciding how the company will grow, determine the vision, the growth rate to support that vision, the organization required, and the strategic plan to get there.
- The funding decision is an investment decision. What’s the return for a multi-million-dollar investment? What incremental revenue and earnings will it produce?
- Estimate how much revenue the investment will generate in 5 years. At the current gross margin, what is the incremental gross margin per year.
- Given this estimate, what is the projected EBITDA? Does the annual EBITDA represent a reasonable rate of return on the investment?
- The investment ROI must be known – both from the company’s perspective and for any lender or partner who invests in the planned expansion.
- How high do the company’s relationships extend in key client companies? Do client upper management realize how critical the company is to them?
- If the answer is not high enough, develop these relationships. This could open new funding opportunities.
- For example, if the CEO knows the right people at a key customer, let them know that the company may want to build a facility near them. The customer may be interested in partnering with the company to finance the facility.
- A multi-million-dollar joint venture plant investment is a modest investment to a large customer if it gains them a strategic advantage.