The True Cost of Raising Funds

A startup is considered to be successful when it is able to raise money. The fact that a startup was able to convince potential investors to open their wallets is considered to be proof that the business model is stable. The fundraising aspect can be considered to be quite thrilling and even glamorous.

However, it is important to note that fundraising is not free. While many people are fixated on the fact that capital starts flowing into the company’s coffers, they tend to ignore the exorbitant costs which are associated with such transactions.

In this article, we will try to provide details about the various costs which are commonly associated with such transactions.

  1. Opportunity Costs: Now, anyone who has raised money knows that the process can be quite lengthy and time-consuming. The management of startup companies needs to put in an inordinate amount of effort in order to be successful in raising funds. There are endless meetings and presentations where investors constantly ask for more data about the firm. Also, companies are not able to raise funds from the first investor that they pitch to. This means that they have to constantly connect with newer investors and start the process all over again.

    It has been estimated that when any company is trying to raise funds, almost 50% of the time is spent on activities related to this fund-raising. The management is only able to devote half of its time to strategic and operational purposes. This can have a significant impact on the performance of the firm. In the best-case scenario, companies may have to hire people to perform the day-to-day operations when the management is busy raising funds.

    In the worst-case scenario, the revenues and operations of the firm will end up taking a hit while the managers are busy raising funds. In both cases, it can be said that the firm has to bear significant opportunity costs related to fundraising.

  2. Out of Pocket Costs: The process of raising funds requires the firms to interact with a lot of intermediaries. Each of these intermediaries provides services to the firm and hence the firm has to bear its costs.

    For instance, firms have to hire lawyers, auditors, and investment bankers to be able to approach the correct investors with the correct documentation in place. Each of these intermediaries takes a huge fee. These costs can significantly add up to become a big percentage of the funds being raised. The out-of-pocket costs can make it unviable to raise money, particularly if a relatively small amount of money is being raised. In the absence of fund-raising, the firm does not have to spend this money and it can all be redirected towards improving the performance of the business.

  3. Compliance Costs: Even after the firm is successful in raising funds, the costs do not end. Investors often provide funds with the caveat that they want to monitor the use of these funds. Hence, companies have to appoint auditors and accountants who routinely inspect their books. Also, the firm may have to comply with other points mandated by the investor in the underlying agreement.

    Compliance requires skilled personnel to spend their time. Hence, the process often turns out to be quite expensive for the company raising funds.

  4. Information Costs: Startup companies want to maintain secrecy at an early stage of their business. This is because they generally have some sort of intellectual property that they believe will help them in beating the market. Also, startup companies do not have very strong legal defenses for their intellectual properties. Hence, it is common for such companies to restrict the outflow of information. However, when it comes to raising funds, companies feel a significant loss in their ability to maintain secrecy.

    1. Firstly, companies have to disclose a lot of this confidential data to investors when they discuss business plans.

    2. Secondly, companies also have to provide investors with periodic access to this information.

    Even though startups get investors to sign non-disclosure agreements, there is always a risk that the information could be leaked to competitors causing potential harm to the startup firm.

  5. Limitations on Freedom: Lastly, when a company raises funds, they lose a certain part of their freedom. Unless they have raised funds from the market, the company can take risks in order to grow its business. However, after they have raised funds, there are limitations on their freedom. They need to convince the investors before they implement an aggressive marketing or operational strategy. This adds a layer of complexity and the go-to market time for the firm increases. This increase in the time required to implement the strategy can also hinder the success of the same strategy.

The bottom line is that fundraising is not only about glamour. There are some very real costs associated with raising funds. Hence, if a company is able to avoid funding and continue with its own money, it would be better to do so.

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