Funding Growth with External Working Capital

Outside moneyIn my recent article, Tips on Managing Working Capital for Growth, I discussed ways to increase internal working capital by managing your inventory, accounts receivable and accounts payable. While good management strategies in these areas can contribute to business growth it is typically a slower – or “organic” – growth. To expand your business at a faster rate, you will undoubtedly need access to external working capital.

External working capital will come at a cost to the company in the form of interest or loss of a percentage of ownership; it is generated either through equity or debt. Let’s explore some options for generating external working capital and how they differ.


  • Selling stock to the public is not a viable option for most small businesses since it requires a substantial cash outlay up front to create an IPO (Initial Public Offering).
  • Venture Capital involves selling part of your business to outsiders. Typically seeking a high return and focused on profitability, these buyers’ objectives may conflict with your own goals for your business.
  • Preferred Stock sales generate external working capital through a combination of equity and debit. Returns are guaranteed to buyers but no voting rights accompany the stock. Check with your tax professional for more information about using this option – certain entities (e.g. Sub-S) cannot have more than one class of stock.
  • Equity can be injected into the company by an owner of the business who is in a position to put up personal funds.

Debt – Long-term:

  • Term Loans, typically financed for 5 to10 years, are collateralized with fixed assets of the company. These loans can be suitable for businesses that require a substantial investment in equipment and machinery. Loan payments are paid out of future profits derived from the fixed assets.
  • Equipment Leasing is another form of long-term financing. The business effectively rents, rather than purchases, the fixed assets.
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers six different types of loans. Banks may be more open to making these loans since the SBA guarantees a portion of the repayment.

Debt – Short-Term:

  • Trade Credit involves negotiating favorable extended payment terms with vendors and suppliers.
  • Accounts Receivable Financing provides a loan that is secured by A/R. The lender makes advances against A/R and collects payments directly from customers.
  • Accounts Receivable Factoring means that A/R is sold to a third party who collects payments directly from customers. This option typically requires a long-term contract with the factoring company and a high volume of A/R.
  • Inventory Financing allows the lender to make advances against the value of inventory including raw, work-in-process and finished goods. This is generally not a good option for new businesses.
  • Line of Credit is also known as a demand loan. Funds are borrowed and repaid during the loan period, providing flexibility for seasonality and normal peaks and valleys of cash flow.

As you can see, there are numerous financing options through which external working capital can be generated for your business. The key is to clearly identify which loan or use of equity fits your business and plans for its growth. Keep in mind that, to be approved for any type of financing, the business must be able to provide accurate financial records, both past and present. And with few exceptions, the owner will be required to provide a personal guarantee for loans.

For help in determining which of these options may be your best solution for generating external working capital, feel free to contact me for a complimentary consultation.

Written by

Rick Arthur is a CFO whose expertise is built on Financial Intelligence and 35 years in senior financial roles. Coupled with a CEO’s perspective and the experience of building his own $20 million company, he brings a unique depth of insight into business from the top down. Wired to get to know people, Rick works hand-in-hand with business owners of intentional, growth-oriented companies, solidifying relationships as a trusted advisor and confidant to his clients. He leverages his experience to help business owners gain traction and stay laser-focused on the company’s vision, cash flow, and profitability – all while creating big picture solutions for strategic planning, growth and sustainable success.