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Raising Capital: Equity vs. Debt

The banks generally still aren’t playing ball, but there are creative solutions allowing small companies to win financing.

Business StrategyIn November 2008, Donn Flipse was forced to close one of his three flower superstores in Florida’s Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Nine months later, Flipse expanded by acquiring the business of a retiring florist in a wealthy section of South Miami. Those two events normally would have led Flipse to lean on his $500,000 line of credit. But that credit line had been personally guaranteed by a family member who, because of a decline in that person’s own finances, was unable to continue the guarantee. Flipse paid off the revolving loan with “the only thing available” — money from two of his grown children, both of whom are shareholders and sit on the company’s board. Now, for the first time in its 19-year history, Field of Flowers, which employs 46 people and expects to bring in $6 million in sales this year, doesn’t have bank financing.

Like thousands of other small business owners with good credit histories, Flipse also found his credit-card companies lowering his limits. He plans to pay back his kids in early 2010, after the Valentine’s Day and Easter rushes bail him out. “There was no choice,” he says. He recently had to lay off two of six headquarters employees, leaving the dispatcher running the computer system. “We’re not thrilled about any of it. But the company’s a part of our lives.

This article originally appeared in BusinessWeek.


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