Business Loans
How Does LendingTree Get Paid?
LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

Equity Financing for Your Business

Updated on:
Content was accurate at the time of publication.

Early-stage businesses with potential for growth can consider equity financing for their funding needs. This type of financing is provided by individual and group investors rather than banks or other financial institutions.

Unlike traditional loans, you don’t have to repay the funds you receive from equity investors. Instead, the investors get a percentage of ownership in your company, earning them a share of profits as your business grows.

Equity financing is a way to generate funds for your business through the sale of company shares. With equity financing, startups and recently established companies with limited cash can approach wealthy individuals or investment firms to see if they want to back their great ideas.

You can get equity financing from individual or angel investors, as seen on the popular show “Shark Tank.” Or you can raise funds via a crowdfunding platform or through a venture capital firm.

While you don’t have to repay the funds like with small business loans, you do have to give up a percentage of ownership in your company. However, you also gain expert knowledge from your investors when you bring them on board, which can help strengthen your business model.

Individual investors

You can ask your friends, family and colleagues to contribute funds to your business in exchange for a share of equity. Since each individual will likely contribute a small amount, you may need to recruit multiple investors to reach your funding goals.

Individual investors may not have experience in your field, or the relevant business skills to help provide support along the way. And, depending on the amount of equity granted, some investors may consider themselves partners in the business, and expect a say — or even equal vote — in business decisions.

Carefully consider — and discuss — exactly what an equity stake would look like before taking on investors. And keep in mind that you could risk straining close relationships if your business doesn’t succeed, especially if they invested a significant amount.

Angel investors

An angel investor is typically someone with a lot of wealth who helps fund startups — as long as they have potential for high returns. Often, angel investors have experience in the same or related fields and can offer guidance and support to ensure your business succeeds.

You can search for angel investors through your professional network or use a platform like AngelList or the Angel Capital Association.

Venture capitalists

Venture capital financing is similar to angel investing, but with funds coming from a firm instead of individuals. Venture capital (VC) investors typically require at least 20% ownership in your company and will have a say in business decisions. But they also act as a strategic advisor, helping connect you to industry experts to take your business to the next level.

While angel investors like to support early startup businesses, VC is generally reserved for businesses that are established but still growing. If your company is too young, a VC firm might worry about its long-term potential. And if your business has been running for more than eight years, there’s fear that you’ve passed the opportunity for fast growth.

Equity bridge financing

Bridge financing, or a bridge loan, can be used to cover urgent funding gaps while a company waits to secure long-term financing. If you don’t want to take on debt with high-interest rates, you could consider equity bridge financing with a venture capital firm.

With this option, the investment firm provides financing for a specified period in exchange for equity ownership in your business. The timeframe for funding can range from several months to a year — although the firm will keep ownership after the funding period ends.

Venture capital firms often take the risk to help a struggling business if they see a strong potential for growth, especially since they’ll be able to reap the returns for years to come.

Crowdfunding platforms

Crowdfunding for business involves creating a public fundraising campaign to collect donations from friends, family and the general public. Popular crowdfunding platforms include GoFundMe, Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

While you don’t need to repay the donations you receive, some platforms require you to give something in return, such as discounted rates, free t-shirts or VIP access to events. Additionally, most crowdfunding platforms deduct a small fee for their services and some will only release the funds if you meet your full financial goal.

Initial public offerings (IPOs)

Bigger companies with a solid track record can consider raising funds through initial public offerings (IPOs), which is where you sell company stock to the general public. However, businesses typically need to operate for around eight to ten years before exploring this option.

For smaller companies wanting to sell stock shares, you can start by offering over-the-counter (OTC) stocks on the Pink market. This is a trading platform for stocks not listed on the major exchanges. Keep in mind that you usually need some shareholders on board before offering any type of IPO.

Debt financing vs. equity financing

If your business needs access to more funds, two popular options include debt financing and equity financing.

With debt financing, you borrow a set amount of funds from a bank, credit union, alternative lender or Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). The most common forms of debt financing include small business loans, lines of credit and SBA loans. The lender doesn’t have any stakes in the company. Instead, you simply repay the debt with added interest.

Equity financing, on the other hand, involves selling a portion of your company’s equity in exchange for capital. For example, you could sell 20% of ownership in your business to an investor to help fund a major expense or expansion. The investor will then own 20% of your company and can contribute toward making key business decisions.

There are many advantages to each type of financing, with many companies using a combination of both as they see fit.


 No interest charges or repayment terms.
Unlike traditional business loans, you don’t need to repay equity financing with repayment terms or accrued interest. Instead, investors take a share of your company’s profits.

 Access to experienced industry leaders.
In general, investors have experience in your industry and are able to offer expertise, resources and guidance while providing networking opportunities. Since investors have their own money tied up in your business, they are motivated to do all they can to ensure your business succeeds.

 Higher funding amounts.
While banks and alternative lenders typically have borrowing caps, there’s no limit to how much you could receive via equity financing. Additionally, your investors may provide additional funds along the way, especially if you continue to show steady growth.

 Flexible qualification requirements.
Some investors will review your credit history, while others may be more interested in your business’s potential for success and growth. For example, startups with a highly marketable idea and a solid business plan could catch an investor’s eye over a well-established business that has already reached its plateau.

 Giving up a portion of ownership.
Although equity investments don’t require regular payments like with a loan, you essentially give up a portion of your business. This means fewer profits when it comes to paying yourself as a business owner.

 Sharing control with investors.
As shared business owners, your investors have a say in your business’s future decisions. This can be a challenge if you and your investors aren’t on the same page.

 Can be more expensive than borrowing.
If your company hits it big, you could end up giving away a significant portion of your profits. Meanwhile, a traditional business loan has a predetermined interest rate and once the debt is paid off, you’re done.

 Must have a business that shows high potential for growth.
Investors are more likely to hand money over to a business that shows signs of steady growth. This means some startups and slowly growing businesses won’t qualify.

1. Decide how much you need

Look at your business budget and calculate your most immediate funding needs. If the amount is relatively small, you might find it easier to apply for a small business loan. However, investors could be a better fit if you need significant funds or access to ongoing funds.

Your investor will want to know how much you need and what you plan to use the funds for, such as building an expansion, upgrading equipment or branching out into a franchise.

2. Gather important documents

Make sure to have your business’s essential paperwork on hand when approaching equity investors. While the required business documents will vary based on the investor or firm, here are some standard documents you might need:

3. Find investors

If you don’t have any connections with investors in your personal or professional network, you can search on LinkedIn or try using an online platform.

Here are some options to consider:

4. Negotiate the equity split

After picking an investor or firm, you will likely need to do a business valuation to determine your company’s overall worth. Knowing this can help investors negotiate the estimated price per each equity share. Your company’s time in operation, cash flow projections and general market trends can help influence the equity share.

Most venture capitalists want around 20% to 25% ownership in your company, while angel investors typically want between 20% to 50%. Remember, the equity share lasts forever or until the investing firm sells it back. This means you will hand over that percentage of profits as long as your company continues to operate.

5. Use the funds to grow your business

Once you’ve agreed on an equity price and share amount, the investor will release the funds to your business checking account. From there, you can use the cash to tackle your company’s most pressing needs, such as hiring new staff, refinancing business debt, purchasing new equipment and more.

6. Share the profits

As your business starts turning a profit, you will need to release the agreed-upon percentages to your investors. Payments are usually sent as dividends and is something your bookkeeper or accountant can help with — or you can use small business accounting software to do it yourself.

If your startup fails, you typically don’t need to repay the original investments. This is a risk investors take when they sign up to back your business.

Equity financing could be a good fit if your company is already established but needs an extra boost to reach the next level of success. If you have a limited credit history and can’t qualify for traditional financing but have a solid business plan in place, you might have better luck with an equity investor.

Additionally, some equity investors have extensive knowledge in your field and are committed to teaching you business strategies to improve your business model. In this sense, equity financing gets you funding plus a supportive business partner.

However, your business must show potential for growth to appeal to equity investors. If you’re a brand-new startup in a risky field, you might want to consider alternative funding methods instead.

loading image

There are many advantages to equity financing, such as helping you get funds during the early stages of your business without incurring debt. That said, it might not be the best fit for your company’s needs. Here are some other types of business financing to consider:

Business loans

A short-term business loan can provide a lump sum with scheduled repayments, typically lasting three to 24 months. Your interest rate will vary based on factors like your time in business, credit score and annual revenue. In general, traditional banks offer the most competitive rates, while online lenders have less-strict eligibility requirements.

If you need access to occasional funds, a business line of credit could be a good option. You can borrow up to a set credit limit as often as needed, only paying interest on the amounts withdrawn. However, some lenders also charge additional maintenance or withdrawal fees.

Business grants

There are a range of small business grants offered by the state and federal government, as well as corporations and nonprofits. You can search based on your type of business, location or demographics, such as business grants for women or minority small business grants.

While finding the right grant for your business can take time and effort, it can be worth it since this is free money you typically don’t need to repay.

Business credit cards

Business credit cards are typically easier to qualify for than small business loans and can help cover everyday or low-cost expenses. In addition, some credit cards offer generous welcome offers and travel rewards.

However, credit card borrowing limits don’t usually go as high as other types of small business financing. Since interest rates tend to run high, it’s best to pay off your full balance every month.

Bootstrapping your business

If you have some money set aside in savings, you could use it to bootstrap your startup. The main benefits include keeping 100% ownership in your company while avoiding debt.

However, you run the risk of not having enough money to cover basic startup costs or having extremely slow growth. Plus, being a one-person team means you can’t tap into any additional resources like when working with an investor.

Friends and family

You can also use a family loan to help support your new business. Even though this transaction may feel more casual than getting a bank loan, it’s still worth writing up a loan agreement outlining the terms and interest rates.

Also, make sure that owing money to a friend or family member won’t strain the relationship, especially if your business fails to succeed.

Sell your business

If you’re hard-strapped for cash, another option is to sell your business while staying on as an employee, CEO or partial equity owner. You could negotiate your future role or equity share in the company during the sale instead of accepting a clear lump-sum payment.

While this option requires you to give up ownership, which could be hard if you built the startup from the ground, it can help alleviate financial pressure. You might find a more established company to take your smaller company under its wings, with the potential to earn even more than when you were running things all by yourself.