For many entrepreneurs, the minute they realise they need small business funding, they automatically panic and wonder, “How on earth am I going to get funding?”
The good news is that there are a number of ways you can get funding for your small business if you know where to look and do the right preparation.
How small business funding differs from big business funding
Basically, it’s a matter of scale. A small business isn’t likely to require R100 million in finance.
A small business can get started on as little as R1 000 – and with profits put back into the business – can grow organically and rely very little on external funding.
The other difference pertains to size in another way: Big business tends to refer to corporate entities with shareholders, boards of directors etc., while small business tends to refer to privately owned and operated business.
The dangers of running your business finances through your personal account
Say you want to start a small business crafting wooden furniture and you can buy most of the equipment on your credit card. In one way, it’s the quickest and easiest way to get going, but running your business finances through your personal accounts come with risk.
Not separating your business from you personally sets you up for legal liability. If, for example, you default on credit card payments or fall into debt, your personal assets can be seized over and above your business assets.
The other risk is that of keeping clear records and distinctions of which expenses are business and which are personal. This can lead to tax complications come tax season and you can incur fines that can close your business.
Having a separate account for your business also lends credibility to it, and in the event you require finance from a bank, your clear financial documentation will aid the bank in assessing whether to grant you a loan.
Why a clean credit record is so important to small business funders
In order to qualify for grants or loans, the lending facility needs to assess whether you’ll be able to repay the loan, and your credit record is their way of checking. Even if you’re starting a brand new business, if you have a tarnished personal credit record or are blacklisted for bad/non-payment, your ability to borrow will be negatively affected.
Every South African is entitled to a free credit report once a year. You can learn more about about your credit record through credit bureaus like TransUnion.
Related: Small Business Start-up Guide
Various small business funding options available
If you’re not in the position to self-fund through use of personal credit and/or savings, you can investigate these following ways to get small business funding.
Small Business Funding Option 1: Angel Investment
An angel investor is typically a wealthy professional who is able to provide you with start-up capital in exchange for equity in the business or a fixed percentage interest on the loan. Angel investors can be individuals or form angel networks in order to distribute risk.
Angel investors can be hands-off, not wanting to be part of the business, while others may want to be involved in decision-making and/or act as a business mentor.
A rookie mistake made by many is to enter into verbal agreements with angel investors without terms and conditions written and signed by both parties. Without a contract in place, conflict can arise; an investor can withdraw their funding, and the business’s future can be jeopardised. Make sure whenever finance is involved, there is a written agreement in place.
Small Business Funding Option 2: Bank funding
If you choose to approach a bank for finance you need a number of things in place before you approach them.
First is a comprehensive and fully understood business plan complete with financial projections. You also need to provide a full set of financials for them to examine. Then you need to understand the kinds of loans available and which kind is best suited to your needs.
If, for example, you need to buy equipment which devalues with age and use, it’s not advisable to take a long-term loan where you’ll be paying for it long after it’s served its lifespan.
Bank Finance Options for Small Business:
- Overdraft – is ideally suited to managing cash flow.
- Business revolving credit – this is a line of credit available as and when it is needed and repayments are typically fixed monthly instalments. The original limit is usually restored after a set percentage has been repaid.
- Medium-term loans – are ideally suited for capital expenses and repayable for a period of two to seven years, but can be longer. Interest and repayment tend to be linked to prime, how much collateral you have, and the value of the asset you need finance for.
- Business mortgage / Property finance – in the event you wish to buy or renovate property for your business or convert part of a residence into office space, this is the loan to investigate.
- Vehicle and asset finance – Whether it’s a vehicle or specialised equipment required, talk to your bank about vehicle and asset finance to determine whether its terms are suited to your business.
Small Business Funding Option 3: Crowd Funding
Relatively new to the scene, crowd funding is an exciting way to gather finance. It works in a similar way to angel investment, except many individuals are able to pledge varying amounts to the business in exchange for equity, interest, or other more creative returns.
As an example, new products, music albums and films have been crowd funded in exchange for early releases, while restaurants have named menu items after benefactors.
Typically, however, a product or service is pitched and uptake in funding helps determine whether there is demand for it, and first releases help fine-tune it.
South African crowd funding platforms include:
The top international crowd funding platforms include:
Small Business Funding Option 4:
Funding for Previously Disadvantaged Individuals (PDIs)
Small Business Government Grants and Loans
The government is involved in small business development by providing funding to previously disadvantaged individuals. These can take the form of grants, loans and tenders.
A government loan, like a loan from a financial institution, is given to an approved business that is required to repay the loan. It usually has more lenient repayment schedules and interest rates.
A government grant, by comparison, does not require repayment by the awarded business. The South African Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has a number of initiatives designed to improve business activity for previously disadvantaged individuals, women and youth. You can read more at www.dti.gov.za > SMME development > financial assistance. Any business wanting to gain access to grants or funding needs to be BEE accredited and have a tax clearance certificate.
Enterprise Development (ED) Funding
This form of government mandated funding is devised as a means to create more jobs in South Africa through business development, and enterprise development is one of the elements of the BEE scorecard. Large corporates are required to pay towards enterprise development or use an Enterprise Development beneficiary in their business supply chain as part of their BEE scorecard.
How a small business benefits from ED funding is by enrolling in a corporate’s ED empowerment programme that can include mentorship, incubation, becoming procurement ready, how to be commercially viable and sustainable, etc.
Related: 5 Small Business Loan Ideas
Small Business Funding Option 5: Bootstrapping your Small Business
If you’re not drawn to the previous examples of funding, you can bootstrap your business. Fundamentally it’s starting and growing a business without external help.
This is achieved through getting operational as quickly as possible; keeping fixed overheads as low as possible – even if you have to work in your childhood bedroom or understaff; reinvesting profits into the business; and keeping growth in check by maintaining steady growth over explosive growth.
Related: 6 Tips For Bootstrapping
Alternative Finance – Filling The Gap
Alternative Finance is finance beyond the traditional – it is defined by the financiers’ area of specialisation – by what they specialise in, whom they serve, and how they provide their funding.
- Call: 011 886 0922
- Visit: www.spartan.co.za
Alternative Finance is finance beyond the traditional – it is defined by the financiers’ area of specialisation – by what they specialise in, whom they serve, and how they provide their funding. It does not replace traditional finance but rather functions as a complementary and additional form of funding.
Alternative financers are specialists – they focus on a particular need and on a specific audience. As a result their ‘how’ is customised to deal with their chosen target market and for this targets unique needs. This applies to the funder’s processes and to their level of flexibility around things such as collateral. An example of this is that a SME may have an existing R1 million overdraft (their traditional finance) secured by R 1.5 million collateral but suddenly they need R5 million for some kind of contract or bridging finance – they need it fast and don’t have that extent of collateral.
The traditional funder cannot provide what they need, their process is too long and their flexibility is too low. An alternative financier providing bridging finance and specialising in SMEs is ideally positioned to fill this gap.
One of the most significant differences between a traditional funder and an alternative financier is in their process. In the case of the alternative financier, they have often chosen to deal exclusively with a particular customer base, for example SMEs. As a result, this funder has both an affinity and contextually relevant empathy in working with SMEs.
Not only do they speak the same language the funder also has an appreciation for the time and material constraints of the SME and has developed their processes to cater to this market. This applies most notably to the turnaround time of the funding need and to the assessment aspect – where flexibility around things such as collateral is vital in making the finance happen for the SME.
A traditional funder is unable to meet the deadline of a bridging finance need, submitted on an urgent basis, where the finance is needed as soon as 2-3 days from time of application. A specialised or alternative funder is able to do exactly this. A traditional funder is also unable to find creative methods in solving the SMEs lack of high-value collateral in applying for finance.
This SME has generally already used their high-value collateral for traditional credit facilities but now needs funding for growth or resolution of a temporary cash flow challenge. An alternative financier is able to look at such an application in a different way, and has most likely already established alternative ways to make this happen for the SME.
CrowdFunding As E-commerce In South Africa
Crowdfunding is the new bank loan, without the pressures of repayments. This is why you should look into crowdfunding your ecommerce business in South Africa – from our experts.
“Crowdfunding is the new bank loan, without the pressures of repayments. Crowdfunding is an online method of fundraising that allows people all over the world to put their ideas or pitches onto a digital platform. These pitches are then available for people worldwide to see, and to decide whether or not they would like to support the campaign. There are four main types of crowdfunding: Rewards-based, donation-based, equity-based, and debt-based, each with its own unique purpose,” says Nicholas Dilley of South African crowdfunding platform Thundafund.
“In South Africa, crowdfunding is still a relatively new concept and with many South Africans sceptical about making online transactions, it’s very much a rising industry. Rewards-based crowdfunding has become a growing force. Thundafund is the brainchild of entrepreneur Patrick Schofield, who founded the company in 2013. The way that rewards-based crowdfunding differs from any other form, is that in exchange for the money raised, the project creator is expected to give something back to the backer in the form of a reward. These rewards can vary, anything from a thank you card to a tangible product. However, when selecting rewards for your campaign, it is important that you keep your project and potential backer in mind.”
In 2017 alone, Thundafund raised more than R8 million, which was almost equivalent to the previous four years combined.
“In South Africa, we say that, realistically, you can expect a maximum of R150 000 in crowdfunding. However, we are constantly being surprised. It really comes down to how amazing your project is, how big the network is, and if the rewards are what people want. There is no reason to believe that any start-up couldn’t raise over R1 million if founders put the work in and justify how the money will be spent,” says Nicholas.
The rising of Sugarbird Gin
One of Thundafund’s biggest recent success stories was Sugarbird Gin, which managed to raise R1 086 973. The gin is an idea conceived of by a four-person company called Steel Cut Spirits.
“As a company, we care about crafted products that have a story and an ability to excite, inspire and bring people together. We also have a proudly South African desire to put our produce on the global map, and an interest in great local gins that can use fynbos to create amazing flavours,” says Steel Cut Spirits CEO, Rob Heyns.
Despite having already had success in the industry, Rob and his co-founders identified crowdfunding as one of the best ways to bring Sugarbird Gin to the market.
“All FMCG products face the three-part challenge of competition, barriers to scale and working capital constraints. The model of rewards-based crowdfunding addresses all three of these challenges at the same time,” says Rob.
“By launching via a crowdfunding campaign, we were able to stand out from many other products on the market, and involve our new friends and fans in our ongoing mission at the same time.
“We were able to operate at scale from day one by consolidating these first orders and thus produce great gins at a better price by working with the volumes of more established gin companies. We were also able to access funds upfront before producing batches, which provided the cash flow needed to grow quickly. There are very few better ways than crowdfunding to test a concept, solve cash flow issues, scale to proper production from day one and stand out from the competition. When I decided to go ahead, I studied crowdfunding thoroughly for two months while ensuring that our team had the required skillset to be able to execute.”
With the crowdfunding of Sugarbird Gin, Steel Cut Sprits decided to treat the campaign like the online selling of a product.
“Rewards-based crowdfunding is essentially a form of e-commerce, as you are selling products or services, so we approached it from the angle of an e-commerce campaign. Your product and marketing thus need to be spot on. We employed an evolving product strategy of refining our offers based on sales feedback before and during the campaign. We also applied a plethora of online marketing strategies, including audio-visual, digital marketing, social media, PR and even direct selling to large potential backers,” says Rob.
Nicholas agrees that crowdfunding needs to be approached in a professional manner. Most people will judge your business purely on your crowdfunding campaign and its funding page.
“Businesses and start-ups must have campaigns that appear very professional. The campaign should also be viewed as a marketing exercise that will allow the entrepreneur to test his or her product in the real world and receive feedback. Doing fun activations, like launch parties and events can also be a great way to get the word out there about your project and brand.”
SAB Transforms Supply Chains
Supplier Development Programmes grow black-owned suppliers and create jobs.
The South African Breweries (SAB) has invested more than R200 million into creating an inclusive supply chain that incorporates black-owned and black women-owned SMEs through its supplier development programmes, SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive. In addition, more than 100 jobs have been created through these efforts.
SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive aim to create a diversified and inclusive supply chain by supporting the growth of black-owned suppliers through business development support and funding. The programmes are two of four entrepreneurship development programmes run by SAB to help create 10 000 jobs in South Africa by 2022 — SAB KickStart, SAB Foundation, SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive.
SAB’s agriculture programmes also contribute towards the aim to create jobs by growing emerging farmers.
“From rural entrepreneurs to big business, SAB has laid the foundation to support entrepreneurs and to contribute towards government’s efforts to grow the economy and reduce unemployment in the country,” says Ricardo Tadeu, Zone President, SAB and AB InBev Africa.
“We recognise that one of the major hurdles for SMEs in South Africa is the ability to gain entry into big business and form part of their supply chains. This requires a symbiotic relationship with big business working alongside smaller suppliers.”
SAB Accelerator and SAB Thrive cohesively solve the challenges of creating a healthy pipeline of suppliers that represent the demographics of the country. SAB Accelerator has piloted ten businesses that have created 29 permanent and 79 part-time jobs in a period of just six months, and is currently incubating 24 businesses as part of the official post-pilot intake. SAB Thrive has invested R100 million in seven businesses, which have created 46 new jobs. In addition, the programme has contributed R140 million in new B-BBEE preferential spend.
The SAB Accelerator is an in-house programme dedicated to developing black-owned and black women-owned suppliers. Geared towards fast-tracking participants’ growth, the programme employs ten highly experienced business coaches and ten engineers, offering both tailored business and deep technical coaching to the participants.
It has a three-phased approach consisting of:
- Diagnostic: Screening the business’s current situation and systematically identifying gaps and opportunities for growth.
- Catalyst: Proposing an intensive three-month coaching intervention addressing key business functional and technical areas of improvement or growth.
- Amplify: Providing additional business development to support graduates of the Catalyst Programme.
The SAB Accelerator strongly focuses on enhancing market visibility and access of its participants.
- Existing black-owned or black woman-owned suppliers currently servicing SAB’s supply chain at the time of application.
- Existing black-owned or black women-owned businesses that have potential to join the SAB supply chain based on their product or service.
The SAB Thrive fund is an enterprise and supplier development (E&SD) fund set up to transform the company’s supplier base. The fund was established in partnership with the Awethu Project, a black private equity fund manager and SME investment company. The aim is to invest in and transform SAB suppliers to represent our country’s demographics. SAB Thrive investees benefit from 100% black equity capital and business support.
The fund invests growth equity capital into SAB’s existing high-growth black-owned suppliers, furthering their profitable expansion into the SAB supply chain without diluting the black-ownership of these businesses.
Existing white-owned suppliers are provided equity capital to support the enhancement of their black ownership, while facilitating the introduction of black entrepreneurs to their business. The intention is to apprentice the individual to take over the business in the near future.
- Black-owned suppliers in the SAB supply chain that want to grow their business through access to black-owned growth equity capital.
- Existing white-owned suppliers in the SAB supply chain that want to transform their B-BBEE ownership.
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