LOOKING FOR CAPITAL?
It's true that both banks and equity investors are growing more cautious, but it's still possible to get the cash you need. We asked four small-business experts for advice on raising funds in tougher times.
CHRIS LEHNES, Vice-president for business development at CIT Small Business Lending Corp., Livingston, N.J.:
1) Put your financials in order. "Be prepared for the bank to ask for even your tax returns."
2) Have a clear and specific plan for how you'll use the funds. Avoid speaking in generalities.
3) Offer to guarantee the loan personally or provide collateral from your personal assets.
MICHAEL BERNSTEIN, Partner at Grant Thornton, Chicago-based accounting, tax, and management-consulting firm:
1) Explain to your lender how the loan's proceeds will improve your company's profitability.
2) Demonstrate that you can control expenses during slow economic times. Show what can be cut.
3) Be flexible when negotiating loan terms. "In this environment, they're not in a rush to write you a check."
LISA KIRCHENBAUER, President, Kirchenbauer, Arlington (Va.)-based management and consulting firm
1) Defer expenses for six to nine months. "Lenders will loosen up by the end of the year."
2) Tap your retirement plan. You could take a loan against your account to raise the needed funds.
3) Switch to another bank. A small community bank is often more receptive to local companies.
ROBERT HISRICH, Professor of entrepreneurship at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland:
1) Tap your assets. Consider financing inventory, receivables, and equipment.
2) Find serious angel investors. They tend to favor a strong company with a good track record.
3) Ask a few select friends or family for funds. "Too many people giving small amounts can drive you crazy."