The various options for growth financing become increasingly more relevant as a woman business owner commits to growing her company beyond an “incorporated career” into a more resilient enterprise. Should she continue to depend solely on organic growth, credit cards and lines of credit? Or is it time to go after a major loan for equipment or real estate? Would spreading the risk across multiple business partners be a good idea, or would her business benefit from acquisitions? Could angel, venture capital, or private investor money be helpful? After all, what does it mean if she is the only person who is willing to invest in the business after all of these years?
My 34 years growing my businesses and obtaining growth financing for hundreds of clients has taught me how important it is for business owners to recognize the risk that an outsider thinks he/she/they are taking by investing in our businesses. You know that you are worth the risk, but they do not. Bankers, venture capitalists, or private investors put a lot on the line backing you. It’s not just the financial risk. It’s their reputation, professional track record, and credibility.
So how can a woman business owner reduce their perception of risk? It pays to read and have a good business plan, but true learning and good decisions about growth financing is an interactive sport. Although investments are not made as they were by the Bailey Building and Loan in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, decisions are influenced by an investor’s impression of the business owner. One popular phrase is that investors “bet on the jockey not just the horse.” The perceived character and reputation of the entrepreneur behind a growing enterprise matter.
The female entrepreneur who may want to stretch and do something like acquire a business that is larger than hers will benefit from having held leadership positions in a large chamber of commerce because those roles convey that she intends to stay in business, can deal with a variety of people, will address problems, and can make things happen. Providing speeches at business conferences and authoring journal articles portrays a position of industry leadership and a commitment to learning. Using the services of well connected regional accounting and legal firms helps the woman business owner meet influential people who may have the ear of prospective investors. Earning community service awards, attracting media coverage, and hosting special events can all help the female entrepreneur who wants to expand her growth financing options. Referrals to other possible investors flow more freely when influential people feel that they would look good by being affiliated with her [you].
It pays to review your growing company’s marketing from the viewpoint of prospective investors. What have these outsiders seen and heard about you beyond your business plan that would convince them to bet his/her/their reputation on you?
Known as The Growth Strategist®, Aldonna R. Ambler, CMC, CSP helps professional service firms, technology-driven businesses, and construction-related/distribution companies reach their goal of Achieving Accelerated Growth With Sustained Profitability® through a combination of speaking, consulting, executive coaching, authorship, and growth financing. Her clients seek a minimum of 50% growth/year, with the majority achieving between 100-200%. She has executed an ESOP, grown multiple international businesses, won just about every major award an entrepreneur can win, provided expert testimony on economic growth at over 30 legislative hearings, conferred with four different Presidents in the Oval Office, and published two books and over 100 articles. Aldonna Ambler is the host of a weekly Internet radio show on www.GrowthStrategistShow.com that focuses on growth strategies for mid market companies. She can be reached at 1-888-ALDONNA (253-6662) or at www.ambler.com.