What is 'Financing'

Financing is the act of providing funds for business activities, making purchases or investing. Financial institutions and banks are in the business of financing as they provide capital to businesses, consumers and investors to help them achieve their goals. The use of financing is vital in any economic system, as it allows companies to purchase products out of their immediate reach.

BREAKING DOWN 'Financing'

There are two main types of financing for companies: debt and equity. Debt must be paid back, but it is often cheaper than raising capital due to tax considerations. Equity does not need to be paid back, but it relinquishes ownership to the shareholder. Both debt and equity have their advantages and disadvantages. Most companies use a combination of both to finance operations.

Equity Financing

Equity is another word for ownership. For example, the owner of a grocery store chain needs to grow operations. Instead of debt, the owner would like to sell a 10% stake in the company for $100,000. Companies like equity because the investor bears all the risk; if the business fails, the investor gets nothing. At the same time, giving up equity is giving up control. Equity investors want to have a say in how the company is operated, especially in difficult times. So, in exchange for ownership, an investor gives his money to a company and receives some claim on future earnings. Some investors are happy with growth in the form of share price appreciation; they want the share price to go up. Other investors are looking for principal protection and income in the form of regular dividends.

Debt Financing

Most people are familiar with debt as a form of financing because they have car loans or a mortgages. Debt is also a common form of financing for new businesses. Debt financing must be repaid, and lenders want to be paid a rate of interest in exchange for the use of their money. Some lenders require collateral. For example, assume the owner of the grocery store also decides that she needs a new truck and must take out a loan for $40,000. The truck can serve as collateral against the loan, and the grocery store owner agrees to pay 8% interest to the lender until the loan is paid off in five years. Debt is easier to obtain for small amounts of cash needed for specific assets, especially if the asset can be used as collateral. While debt must be paid back even in difficult times, the company retains ownership and control over business operations.

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