Case Study: SME Capital Markets: Educating the Small Business Owner


Small business owners spend years growing their dreams into income streams that support them and their families. They sink every dime they have into developing websites, offering new products, and getting in front of potential customers. Over time, these businesses grow into entities of pride and value. It is impossible not to feel proud of an endeavor that started as an idea and evolved into a way to earn a substantial or comfortable living.

In the process of becoming a consistent and viable way to earn a living, small businesses become inherently valuable. Owning a business is like owning stock, only you own all of it. The problem, though, is finding a way to recapture some of the value you have created. Imagine owning a $1 million dollar business, but not being able to access any of that $1 million. It is a challenging situation, and it is not unique. Small business owners tend to have nearly all of their wealth in their businesses, which means that they cannot diversify their investments and protect themselves from normal business risk.

There is a way out of this predicament, and SME Capital Markets is ready to help. With a plethora of resources and advice available, small business owners can learn how to take their businesses public on Going public is not the exclusive domain of large companies with hundreds of millions of dollars in their war chests. A small public offering can be a viable way for small business owners to recapture some of the wealth they have created.

Your Most Valuable Asset

Small business owners tend to have the vast majority of their wealth tied up in their businesses. This means that you can take the actual cash that you earn (after expenses), but you cannot tap into the full value of your business. For private companies, a rule of thumb is that your business is worth 2.5 times earnings – essentially 2.5 times what you make after business expenses and salaries. After you pay all your expenses, including your salary, you have a certain amount of cash left over. Your business is worth more than twice that amount, but you cannot reach the total value. So, you have a dilemma.

SME Capital Markets helps small business owners increase the value of their companies and access that value. Focused on small companies, SME Capital Markets provides information and advice on how to go public. The information and advice is focused on the issues that smaller businesses face; large companies should look elsewhere.

SME Capital Markets offers all the resources that small business owners need to make an informed decision about going public. The website offers reports, original research, and mountains of data. Using this information, small business owners can decide if going public is right for them. If it is, they can contact the company’s principal, Brad Smith, to explore a public offering in more detail. Prices for information are quite reasonable, making it easy for small business owners to understand what it means to go public, and whether to take the next step.

Cashing Out

SME Capital Markets offers real advice for small business owners. Their goal is not to drag you into a difficult decision that is not appropriate for a business of your size. Instead, they prefer to help you make an informed decision. If the decision is to go public, they will help you every step of the way. Electing to go public is a serious decision, requiring a considerable amount of work (just to make the decision). SME Capital Markets endeavors to make this a realistic option for small business owners while not pushing them into unnecessary complexity.

There is a special environment for small businesses that go public – the Over the Counter Bulletin Board ( OTCBB ). Unlike the big IPOs of the dotcom days, the OTCBB is for smaller companies that want to generate more capital (either for growth or as a way for the business owner to cash out). Stock prices are lower, and the stock trading patters are a bit trickier than for large companies. This venue, though, allows successful small business owners to recapture much of the wealth that they created – and otherwise would not be able to touch.

Going public also can increase the value of your business. As mentioned earlier, the value of a small business usually is determined by multiplying your earnings by 2 ½. Not bad, right? Your business is worth more than twice the income it generates. By taking your small business public, though, it could be worth much more. Public companies tend to trade at more than 5 times the company’s earnings, so by going public, you can double the value of your company.

That is the goal of SME Capital Markets. They want to help small companies that are ready to take a big step. But, they want to help in a way that only works to the benefit of the small business owner.

How the Web Helped

SME Capital Markets chose to market its services via the web for many reasons. Essentially, the web opened a much larger market to the company than simply pursuing clients through word of mouth networks or traditional print advertising. Small business owners represent a diverse, disparate market. Small business owners can be hard to find. Print advertising would have been inefficient, since small business owners read the publications that matter to their businesses. A small online retailer, for example, is more likely to read publications that cater to online retailers than small businesses. The information in the former is much more directly valuable.

The information offered by SME Capital Markets is easily delivered over the web. Small business owners can save up to 10% of the cost of a report by downloading it instead of paying for shipping and handling. The information is easy to find, and customers can access it quickly. As a result, using the web for its major presence was natural; SME Capital Markets can make its products more accessible and less expensive by operating online. This helps SME Capital Markets fulfill its mission of helping small businesses make difficult decisions without having to spend a fortune.

Lessons for Small Businesses

SME Capital Markets offers a twofold lesson for small businesses across the country. First, the services offered by this company offer small business owners a way to tap into the value of their businesses while potentially increasing that value (by going public). Also, SME Capital Markets has used the web as a way to communicate information quickly and efficiently to a distributed audience without having to increase its prices to reach this audience.

Helping small companies is fundamental to the mission of SME Capital Markets. In the world of finance, fortunes are made with larger businesses. To enter the small public company space requires a focus on service instead of astronomical profits; there is no other reason to enter that market. Consequently, SME Capital Markets remains focused on its purpose of helping small business owners enjoy the wealth they have created but cannot access. Going public is not the right decision for every small business, but SME Capital Markets can help you decide if it is the right decision for you.

In accomplishing its mission, SME Capital Markets has demonstrated the importance of using the web. The entire business would not have been viable without a way to reach a diverse, fragmented market. With the development of a simple website, using prepackaged and inexpensive components for processing payments and disseminating information, SME Capital Markets was able to launch in a short period of time and begin to serve its constituency. Its materials are accessible to entrepreneurs who may not be able to find them otherwise.

SME Capital Markets used the web to assemble expertise, generate information, and reach its market quickly and effectively, demonstrating the potency of an online presence for small businesses. With the work of SME Capital Markets, entrepreneurs can focus on new growth techniques while learning the flexibility of the online business environment.

Copyright 2006 Daniel Scheff

Free help by SBA for Small Business Loans

Why should anyone be interested in helping you for free?

The government benefits if it gives small business start up loans and that is why it helps.

o Statistics show that small businesses number more than the big businesses.

o Small businesses employ more than 50 percent of the work force.

o Small businesses contribute to more than 50 percent of the nation’s GDP-Gross Domestic Product.

o Small businesses are the principal source of new jobs.

Starting a small business or expanding your small business is not easy. Expert guidance and help is given to you for free by SBA. The US Small Business Administration was established in 1953 and has business offices in every state. SBA works with thousands of lending, educational and training institutions nationwide. It does not provide grants but offers counseling. Government small business loans are offered to many entrepreneurs. Look up the web sites of the state economic development agencies to know if it is available in your state.

SBA is only a guarantor of loans offered by banks and other private financial institutions. The lending institutions that agree to terms of the SBA provide loans to small businesses through SBA. In case of inability of repayment of loan within the stipulated time; the SBA pays the lender the agreed upon guarantee amount, and the borrower has to pay the SBA the entire amount.

Can the SBA help you?

Small business is one that is independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its field of operation. SBA has regulations to determine whether your business qualifies as a small business. You could look up the SBA website or federal government regulations to find out if your small business startup loan or small business loan for expansion qualifies. Your business has qualified then the next question that any lender would ask you, is: Do you have a business plan?

Most lenders would require a detailed description of the business you are going to start up or expand. Look up the SBA site for planning options and counseling. The many things that SBA helps you is

o Writing a business plan

o Getting the loan

o Marketing

o Licenses and Laws

o Patents and copyrights

o Selling to government and abroad

o Hiring employees

o Buying the right equipment.

Notable among it various programs are Small business loans for minorities, Small business loans for Women, Small business loans for veterans and young entrepreneurs. The various small business loan programs offered by SBA are.

Basic 7(a) Loan Guaranty

This is the primary business loan program. It is offered to those who do not qualify for loans through the normal lending channels. The terms offered by SBA are more flexible. Valid loans are those where the proceeds of the loan are used for sound business purposes. The maturity is 10 to 25 years depending upon working capital and fixed assets.

Loan Prequalification

Low income borrowers, disabled business owners, exporters, rural and specialized industries are the target for this program. Bad credit small business loans do not fall in this category. The applicant has a credit merit then it is easier to secure the loan.

Certified Development Company (CDC), a 504 Loan Program

This is a variant of the Basic 7(a) loan to obtain real estate or equipment for expansion or modernization.

Micro Loan, a 7(m) Loan Program

This is available in selected locations in most states. The SBA stand as guarantor to organizations that provided the loans, technical assistance and management for small scale financing. Not-for-profit child-care centers can also avail these loans for working capital or purchase of inventory or supplies.

Disaster Recovery

Home owners, Property owners in disaster areas qualify for this loan program. Term of the loan is 30 year and the rate of interest is below 8 percent for those who can obtain credit elsewhere and below 4 percent for those who cannot obtain credit elsewhere.

Applying For a Small Business Loan

When you have ideas, plans, and desires in place, the anticipation of moving forward in operation a small business is extremely exciting. Only one thing can hold you back – money. Working with a lender and applying for a small business loan can be easy or difficult, depending on how much preparation you’ve put into the process.

The lender will ask for a variety of items when applying for a small business loan

1. Business Plan.

If you don’t already have one, write one. Virtually no lender will consider you for a small business loan without the organization, detail, and direction you have for your business, and all of this is stated in a business plan. For information on how to write a business plan, visit – Don’t be afraid to hire a professional writer to write or proofread the plan for you if you’re not confident in doing it yourself.

2. Loan Proposal.

Nearly all lenders require a loan proposal if you are applying for a small business loan. After you’ve written a detailed business plan, your loan proposal can be written. The information in a loan proposal includes details on who you are, including your experience and business desires; how much money you need and what it will be used to purchase or fund; how you intend to pay back the loan; and what your plans are if you cannot pay the loan back in full.

3. Completed Lender’s Application.

Most lenders will also require that you complete a business loan application when applying for a small business loan. Your application should be very organized and presented in a professional manner. Don’t omit any details, and be completely honest about your credit history, even if you don’t have an excellent credit rating, when applying for a small business loan. Some lenders base their loans on the character of the person applying for a small business loan, and if you’re “borderline” for qualifying for the loan, your honest application can prove to the lender that you are indeed trustworthy for receiving a small business loan.

4. Financial Statements.

If your business is already in existence, visit the lender for your interview with two years of tax records, as well as two years of business and personal bank statements when applying for a small business loan. Not all of that information may be required immediately when applying for a small business loan, but it’s better to be prepared with the information on hand, rather than have to tell them that you’ll have to bring that in at a later date. Your tax records will show the profitability of the business, as well as detail its expenditures. Your bank statements will prove that money is coming in, and that the business is already established. If your business is yet to be launched, you still need to go to the meeting prepared with both two years of tax forms and two years of personal bank statements when applying for a small business loan. This will show the lender that you are a responsible, reliable individual, that you pay your bills, and that you file your taxes in an honest, timely, and fair manner.

5. Resume

While not required for a meeting with a lender, it’s probably a good idea for you to have a current resume with you for the interview with the lender when applying for a small business loan. As mentioned, there will be some judgment of your character made at your loan interview. If this should come into play during the interview, you can easily present your resume to show your work experience when applying for a small business loan. This is especially important if you’ve worked in the field in which your business will be based. It’s also important in the instance that you have experience in a business-related area, such as management, marketing, or accounting, to show that you are capable of succeeding in business due to your experience in working with other businesses.

The bottom line is to be prepared when applying for a small business loan:

– Visit the lender with all files neatly presented and very organized.

– Present information as requested during the application process and interview when applying for a small business loan.

– Dress for success. Don’t show up at your meeting in jeans and a sweatshirt when applying for a small business loan.

– Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten anything, and don’t get flustered. Offer to drop off or fax the requested information as soon as you leave the meeting. Offer to provide any additional information that could possibly play a role in your loan’s approval.

If your business loan is not approved, don’t become frustrated. Many small businesses are declined on small business loans. Look into alternative loan sources, and don’t give up.