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  • Anmol Trehin

Balancing Risk and Reward: Exploring the Pros and Cons of Debt and Equity Financing for Businesses

When it comes to financing a business, there are two common options: debt and equity. Debt involves borrowing money that must be repaid with interest, while equity involves selling ownership shares in the business. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, and it's important for business owners to carefully consider which one is best for their specific needs and goals.


Today we’ll provide an overview of both debt and equity financing to help you work through which option may be best for you. For a deep dive, schedule a strategy session with us today.

  1. What is Debt Financing?

  2. Should You Finance Your Business Through Debt?

  3. Maintain Ownership

  4. Tax Benefits

  5. Predictable Payments

  6. Build Credit

  7. What Are The Downsides of Debt Financing?

  8. Interest Payments

  9. Collateral Requirements

  10. Limited Flexibility

  11. What is Equity?

  12. Should You Finance Your Business Through Equity?

  13. No Debt Obligations

  14. Shared Risk

  15. Expertise and Resources

  16. What Are The Drawbacks of Equity Financing?

  17. Dilution

  18. Higher Expectations

Astre Legal, startup investment, debt vs equity financing, corporate law, finance, taxes, Anmol Trehin, corporate lawyer, avocate, montreal business lawyer

What is Debt Financing?


Debt financing involves borrowing money from a lender, such as a bank or other financial institution. This debt comes with the promise to repay the loan plus interest over a set period.


In Quebec, businesses can access debt financing through various channels such as banks, credit unions, private lenders, and government programs (like the Canada Small Business Financing Program). The terms of the loan, including the interest rate, repayment period, and any collateral requirements, will vary depending on the lender and the business's creditworthiness.


Should You Finance Your Business Through Debt?


Maintain Ownership


By taking on debt to finance your business, as opposed to giving equity, business owners do not have to give up any ownership stake in their company. This allows you to retain full control and decision-making power, which can be important to some entrepreneurs. Generally speaking, early-stage start-ups should carefully consider whether the right move is giving up equity early in their journey or preferring to take on debt to finance their activities.


Tax Benefits


In certain circumstances, the interest expenses related to debt financing can be deducted from the business’s taxable income, reducing the overall tax bill at the end of the financial year.


Additionally, start-ups can claim a capital cost allowance (CCA) on assets purchased with the funds from the debt financing. The CCA allows businesses to deduct a portion of the cost of the assets each year, which can reduce taxable income.


Finally, there are also refundable tax credits for certain types of debt financing, such as loans from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). This can make a business eligible for refundable tax credits under certain government programs.


It's important to note that the specific tax benefits of debt financing for start-ups in Quebec will depend on various factors, including the type of financing, the business's industry, and its financial situation. It's recommended that start-ups consult with a tax professional to fully understand the tax implications of taking on debt financing.


Predictable Payments


With a loan, business owners know exactly how much they need to pay back each month, making it easier to budget and plan for the future.


Build Credit


Making timely payments on a business loan can help establish and improve a company's credit score, making it easier to secure additional financing in the future.


What Are The Downsides of Debt Financing?


Interest Payments


Borrowing money comes with a cost - interest. Business owners will have to pay back more than they borrowed, which can eat into profits and limit cash flow.


Collateral Requirements


Some lenders may require collateral to secure a loan, such as property or assets. This can be risky for business owners, as they could lose those assets if they're unable to repay the loan. It’s important to carefully review the loan agreement before signing to ensure that you are aware of collateral requirements, and which assets may be seized if your business is unable to repay.


Limited Flexibility


Once a loan is taken out, business owners are locked into a repayment schedule. This can limit their ability to pivot or adjust their business strategy if market conditions change.

It's important for businesses to carefully consider their ability to repay the debt before taking on any loans. While debt financing can provide the necessary capital to fund growth and operations, it also comes with the obligation to make regular payments, which can impact cash flow and profitability.


What is Equity Financing?


By contrast, equity financing involves selling shares in the business in exchange for funding. This means that investors become part-owners of the business and share in its profits and losses.


In Quebec, businesses can access equity financing through various channels such as angel investors, venture capital firms, and crowdfunding platforms. It’s important to be careful when giving up equity in exchange for investments as it can impact your corporation’s “private issuer” status. Consult with our team before bringing on external investors to ensure compliance with the various corporate laws to maintain your private issuer status. The terms of the investment, including the ownership stake and the valuation of the business, will vary depending on the investor and the business's potential for growth and profitability.


Should You Finance Your Business Through Equity?


No Debt Obligations


When a company raises money through equity, they don't have to worry about making regular interest payments or paying back the principal. This can free up cash flow and allow the business to reinvest in growth.


Shared Risk


When investors buy equity in a company, they are sharing the risk and potential rewards of the business. This can be beneficial for business owners who want to spread out risk or who need larger sums of money to scale.


Expertise and Resources


Equity investors can bring valuable expertise, connections, and resources to the table. This can help businesses grow more quickly and efficiently than they could on their own.


What Are The Drawbacks of Equity Financing?


Dilution


By selling equity, business owners are giving up a portion of their ownership stake in the company. This means they may have less control over decision-making and profits in the future.


If a company raises multiple rounds of equity financing, the ownership stake of the founders can become diluted over time. This can make it more difficult to raise additional funding in the future or to attract new investors.


Higher Expectations


Equity investors are looking for a return on their investment, which means they may have higher expectations for growth and profitability than a lender would. This can create pressure on business owners to deliver results quickly.


Overall, businesses in Quebec should carefully consider their financing options and the potential impact on their operations and long-term goals before pursuing equity financing. It's recommended to consult with a financial advisor or lawyer to fully understand the terms and implications of any investment agreements.

 

In conclusion, both debt and equity financing have their pros and cons, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It's important for entrepreneurs to carefully evaluate their options and choose the financing that best aligns with their goals and growth plans. As a business law firm, we can provide guidance and legal advice to help entrepreneurs navigate these decisions and protect their interests.


This blog post is not legal advice and is for general informational purposes only. Always speak with a lawyer before acting on any of the information contained herein.

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