Capital for small business is now more available than it has been in years, but most small businesses have no idea how to access it. Large and midsize companies can afford to hire CFOs, but that is just too expensive for the rest, which comprises 98 percent of all businesses. Enter the intermediary, a person or firm that has connections to sources of capital. Most businesses don’t realize that all kinds of techniques and methods exist to fund a business. Intermediaries are familiar with these various techniques, and they would be only too happy to help entrepreneurs access this world of capital.
Who are these intermediaries? Most entrepreneurs don’t have to look far from their own inner circle to access their accountant, lawyer or banker. What if these people can’t help? Don’t fret. There is a world of business people who do nothing but introduce businesses to sources of capital. How do I know about this group? I am one of them, and have been most of my career. I know hundreds of intermediaries, and I believe each of them also knows hundreds of other similar individuals or firms. A huge network of middlemen exists; they call themselves investment bankers, finders or financing consultants. How do you find them? Most come via referrals from bankers, accountants and lawyers. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. I suggest you look for them on the Internet under “business capital” or look up “capital finders” on sites like LinkedIn.
Once you have found an individual or a firm, check them out thoroughly. Reputable firms will all give references. Then comes the issue of how to compensate an intermediary to find capital for your business.
Consider a number of factors. First, you must have a presentation package that includes the use of the funds—the capital—and the impact those funds will have on your business. If you don’t have a presentation, most intermediaries will help you prepare one (and will charge you for it).
Then it depends on the type of financing you are looking for. For debt financing, which usually can be arranged quickly, most intermediaries should work based on performance with no retainer. On the other hand, if you are looking for investors and equity capital, most reputable intermediaries will charge a retainer because a lot of work and time are involved; the funding process could take many months of searching for the right investor group.
I also recommend using your own lawyer before signing any finder’s or investment banker’s agreement.
So if you’re looking for funding, get out there and get your piece of the new capital pie, which is getting bigger each day.