Want Funding? 54 Insights from Traditional Lenders, Alternative Lenders, Entrepreneurs, and Successful Business Leaders

In the wake of our successful, first-ever Access to Capital event, and just in time for Small Business Saturday, we combed through the hours and hours of video recorded at the event to provide you these 54 nuggets of financial wisdom!

Want to dive deeper than just great quotes?  Watch the presentation in full here: Let the Experts Guide You.

Traditional Lending Panel

“You can’t have it both ways. If you want to zero out your financials so that you have zero tax liability, that’s fine and dandy. You may not have to pay Uncle Sam…but when you try to come and shop around for a bank loan, you’re going to have problems.”     -Bryan Moeller   4:58

“As a banker, I need to understand your cash flows. Your cash flow has to be documentable.”
-Bryan Moeller   5:44

“Keep your payments predictable.”  -Bryan Moeller   13:26

“The most important thing when you’re looking to get a loan is to build a relationship with a banker that knows you. Let them in. Invite them to your business. Help them to understand how your business works so that they can come to the table with you and offer up suggested solutions for your problem.” (not verbatim)   -Bryan Moeller   22:43

“A loan is another form of investment: the bank is making an investment in you and your business. So when we look at that, obviously we’re going to want some type of return, and we’re going to analyze that very carefully.”     -Shane Pierson   17:52

“Coming in with a plan, and expecting that the bank may be flexible in the way they [determine how much to loan you] is critical.”     -Shane Pierson   19:23

“I would say the biggest problem [with businesses trying to get loans] is validating and verifying cash flow. Whether it’s on the business side, or the consumers side – anyone that’s tried to get a home loan, you know? – the years of stated income credit or stated income borrowing do not exist anymore.”     -Troy Bosch   29:38

“What I’m running across quite frequently nowadays is for clients that are currently renting, and looking to buy property, you don’t realize how low interest rates are and how much of a building you can afford; and so we do analysis a lot of the time where someone will be paying $10,000 a month in rent. A new mortgage payment, even on an SBA structure with the first and the second combined, maybe it’s $8,500 or $9,000. People don’t realize how low rates have gone.”     -Troy Bosch   30:30 

Alternative Funding Panel

“Even though one would look at a startup and think they’re all the same, there are different stages in startups. In fact, there are startups that already have cash flow; they’re already generating cash flow which, as a lender and underwriter, makes it easier to determine how much money and how much you can help.”     -Marco Lucioni   10:42

“It’s a little tougher to underwrite a loan – from a loan perspective – when there’s actually no cash flow generated yet, and  there’s a business plan or an idea. In that sense the funds that are needed behave much more equity. In fact, I’ve had a couple people come to our booth this morning that I’ve pointed towards the crowdlending type of idea because I think that’s a wonderful way to fund a startup unless you already have some cash flow to prove and from which you can project and you can underwrite.”     -Marco Lucioni   11:01

“We try to find ways to say ‘yes.’ We don’t typically take any real-estate – commercial or residential – as collateral: we try to find either business vehicles or equipment – something within the business that is useable to get us to a ‘yes.'”     -Marco Lucioni   18:54

“If you’re just in the idea formulation phase you’ll have a very difficult time getting a loan anywhere from anyone; but if you do have some level of traction, or proving that the model is viable and there’s demand for it and you can sell it, then there are more options.”     -Levi King   13:25

“If you have a capital acquisition process that takes too much of [business owners'] time, its time spent away from your business.”     -Patrick Freeman   15:38

“One of the lessons that we have learned as lenders over the past couple years is that we need to go back to the old-school way of lending, which is relationship-lending: we really need to know about the business and the business owner and dig deep into what that idea may be if it’s a startup, or if you’re a business that’s been around for 20 years and is now struggling, why are you struggling and how can we turn it around.”     -Antonio Pizano   16:47

“VEDC has the capacity to deal with anything as small as a $2,000 loan request, to a $5 million request to purchase your own building, and anything in between.”     -Antonio Pizano   17:20

Entrepreneur Panel

“We’re blessed to be entrepreneurs in this country…As hard as it is to raise capital your first time out, or in a given market,  there are many many options and vehicles for capitals, and I think across the world this is about as rich a place as you can find.”     -John Suh   9:41

“Many times a closed window is a blessing, cause there’re times when things are too hot in terms of capital, and that creatives incentives entrepreneurs to do things that you would not do with your own money; and anytime you’re doing something with someone else’s money that you wouldn’t be doing with your own money, there’s probably a disconnect that you should re-examine.”
-John Suh   11:20

“If you want to look at what marks success among teams, it’s balance, and I think that as an entrepreneur is what you have to bring to the table.”     -John Suh   20:57

“Treating [investors - actual or potential - ] with respect and knowing that it’s a small world and that there’s a chain of people who fund at different levels, and they all know each other, and you as entrepreneurs get to know all of them. It’s a network of relationships that fund a network of companies; it’s rarely a one-to-one.”     -John Suh   28:44

“The investors that you bring in in your initial round are going to be your biggest asset to raising your future rounds.”     -Tony Westfall   26:16

“Do you want to have control, or do you want to make money?”     -Tony Westfall   25:21

“The biggest challenge is that you hear ‘no’ a lot…you will hear ‘no’ before you hear ‘yes,’ by definition.”     -Andrea Belz   11:48

“It is very difficult to write a check for one solo person, even if they are really passionate; that passion has to be so great that it attracts other people to you.”     -Andrea Belz   18:53

“I’ve seen that really good people want one thing, and that’s to work with other good people.”
-Andrea Belz   19:08

“You need to decide if you’re a small business, or a young big company. Those are two very different paths, and very different mindsets. The small business is probably left in someone’s hands to be nurtured and grown organically, etc.; the young big company needs investors, and requires all of the relationships that go with that.”     -Andrea Belz   29:21

“I think it’s important for entrepreneurs to listen to [that word]…and to use it often as well, which is ‘no.'”     -Jeff Stibel  13:21

“Entrepreneurs and CEOs need to be willing to say no until they understand the different sources of capital…until you understand that, you have no right going to the capital markets.”
-Jeff Stibel   13:33

“What we hear from banks, time and time again. Only one thing matters: the people running the business.”     -Jeff Stibel   15:15

“We’re eternal optimists. You know, the glass isn’t half full, the glass isn’t empty, the glass is full – it’s just got half water, half oxygen, and we’re gonna make something out of both of those.”
-Jeff Stibel   15:36

“Your job isn’t to go down with the ship – it’s to plug the damn holes.”     -Jeff Stibel   16:11

“It’s more important to spend time understanding what the investor’s needs are, making sure that you’re going to return more for them than they could ever imagine; never letting them down; you should be willing to give up on your money before you give up on your investor’s money.”
-Jeff Stibel   30:55

AEO Speaker Spotlight

“If one in three main street micro business hired just one employee…the country would be at full employment.”     -Connie Evans

“The smallest of businesses can lead and will lead to great business successes.”
-Connie Evans

“There are over 25 million micro businesses in this country; nearly 90% of all the businesses in America are micro. For the African-American community, 99% of all African-American businesses are micro.”     -Connie Evans

“Our data shows that those business owners who received support from the non-profit organizations had median [annual revenue] growth that was 30 percentage points above those who only received capital.”     -Connie Evans

“Everybody starts with an idea. Getting the confidence and the support and the connections, the coaching, as well as the capital you need to grow that idea into the success it can be and that you envision for it is an amazing, amazing opportunity.”    -Connie Evans

Women and Minority-owned Business Panel

“You shouldn’t be afraid of the private equity money that’s out there because it can really help you to do what you need to do in terms of growing your business.”     -Mark Wilson   13:54

“We all understand the challenges that go along with being a woman or minority owning a business, but the fact is you have to compete on your merit and what it is your company does. And there’s advantages to having your status because there is a community of companies out there that want to do business with you because of it, not because they owe it to you.”     -Mark Wilson   39:07

“One of the main things that I often tell business that I meet with is what I call the three Ps:there’s preparation, persistence, and really really some patience.”     -Victor Parker   5:25

“The main thing that I would emphasize is that always make sure that you’re prepared.”
-Victor Parker   6:20

“If you like to cook for example, don’t go open up a restaurant unless you’ve worked in a restaurant, or unless you have a business partner that’s worked in a restaurant. You’d be surprised how many people come in an say, ‘I make the best thanksgiving dinner in the world. Everybody loves it; I want to go open a restaurant,’ but that’s not what’s going to make you bankable.”     -Victor Parker   6:50

“Be extremely consistent with the way you interact with the folks you come in contact with. Be consistent, and build your brand that is consistent with what you want it to be.”
-Melissa White   19:22    

“Figure out where in the value chain you fit. So if you know what clients you’re going after, know what it is that’s valuable to them, and know where you fit in that picture. Because when you can articulate to them how you fit in to their entire picture of what is valuable, they can understand that better, they can see how you fit into their organization.”     -Jane Pak   20:05

Crowdfunding Panel

“The reason I chose debt [financing] is because I believe startups, while they’re important, they’re not actually who’s going to take most advantage of the crowdfunding platforms. It’s going to be bricks-and-mortar businesses, the companies that you see every day.”
-Candace Klein   11:20

“If you’re interested in doing crowdfunding, a security-based crowdfunding, so debt or equity, you need to get really comfortable with the amount of information you’re going to have to give out to the public. So, you need to think about the fact that you’re going to have to give up your business plan, and your financial projections. You’re going to get a criminal background check, and a credit background check on every single one of your owners, of your directors of your company. You’re going to have to get very comfortable with the fact that not only the SEC, but that the general public is going to have some access to that information.”          -Candace Klein   15:37

“A lot of the entrepreneurs I’m working with are so afraid of giving up their secret sauce; they don’t want to share what they’re doing; get over it – you’re going to have to.”     -Candace Klein   16:20

“One of the things if you’re an entrepreneur who’s looking at doing an equity or debt crowd fundraise, if to put together your own board of advisors right now, and to get an investor to sit on your board of advisors; someone who has looked at term sheets before; somebody who’s not necessarily investing in your company, but who can be your advocate, as it relates to putting together your terms.”     -Candace Klein   24:01

“One of the things that people do all the time on my platform is they’ll say, ‘I have an idea; I want a million bucks.’ That just doesn’t happen.”     -Candace Klein   21:19

“Looking to fund a crowdfunding campaign right now with $50 is kind of an impulse transaction. Those people can build a relationship, but if you’re going to put – if you’re the business owner and you’re asking someone to put $2,000 dollars of their hard-earned money into your company, they’re probably not going to it in the two days that they’ve heard about your campaign and made an impulse decision. It’s going to look like investing actually looks.”     -Chance Barnett  13:34

“Not everyone has a cool consumer product that will pitch well and sell well on the headlines of a blog or at Indiegogo. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have a great value proposition, and that you don’t have a great investment return model, so what we’ll start to see is more of a focus on teams and plans.”     -Chance Barnett   14:27

“What was envisioned under the law, was that crowdfunding platforms are a third party that just helps make an exchange of what you as a business owner want to raise with, and here’s my offer, and what an investor says yes to, or no to; however, standardization will make the process more efficient.”     -Chance Barnett   22:55

“What you want to see is success demonstrated; success stories I think speak more loudly than anything. So what are the resources being provided, what insight does that platform give you in process -in standardization, in knowledge about how to do a successful raise – that helps you, and what are the outcomes that are coming from that platform. Those are some of the things you should look for.”     -Chance Barnett   38:47

“If you can create that feeling of engagement, and create that feeling of community – that’s what’s going to help you more…make it personal for people.”     -Kate Drane   9:45

“One of the things that is pretty apparent…what it is is that there’s effort and equity that [you] need to [put] into [your project before you put it on a crowdfunding platform].”     -Justin Bachman   24:27

“I think it’s about the fact that the raise is half the battle. The other half is putting your company in the position to be successful longterm, to apply that money to building the company. So you’re going to want to work with a platform that’s looking for the longterm growth of your company and setting you up to succeed.”     -Justin Bachman   41:06

Hear a good piece of advice from the panelists that we missed?  Share it and who said it in the comments and we’ll add it to the list!

 

To see if A2C is hosting an event near you, or to check out other small business events, visit our events page!

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