Thursday, July 12, 2012

Creative business financing

What is the best way to finance a new business?  There are a few great options but at this time a 401k roller might be the most popular. 

Here are a few thoughts from Guidant Financial, one of the top funding sources in the USA.

“We have seen significant growth in our business since the end of 2008 and early 2009 when the markets collapsed,” said David Nielssen, Guidant’s co-founder and chief executive. “What is interesting is that today’s small-business and franchise buyer is aware of the credit crisis, and they are investigating their funding options much earlier in the process.” Between 2009 and 2011, he said, the number of inquiries at Guidant increased by 196 percent.

Companies like Guidant and DRDA, a Houston-based accounting firm, facilitate the process of rolling over funds from a 401(k) to purchase stock in your own company. “Rollovers do not operate on a debt model,” Mr. Nielssen explained. “They allow a person to invest in a business without paying interest, making payments or having a payback window.”

The plans frequently go by acronyms like BORSA (Business Owners Retirement Savings Account) or ROBS (Rollovers as Business Start-ups), and they do not incur the taxes and penalties associated with early distributions from a 401(k). (If you consider using this type of financing to purchase a business, be sure to engage experienced professionals who are familiar with setting up and administering these types of plans, which are subject to compliance with both the Internal Revenue Code and ERISA law.)

There are upfront fees to begin the process, as well as annual fees to have the plan administered, so a bit of analysis is needed to determine whether it is a cost-effective option. According to Suzy Granger, business development officer at DRDA, clients are required to invest a minimum of $50,000 from a 401(k), with the typical rollover amount coming in around $150,000. The average rollover at Guidant is $174,000, according to Mr. Nielssen. In any transaction, the funds from a 401(k) rollover may be sufficient to complete the purchase, or they can be used in conjunction with other sources of financing like cash, Small Business Administration loans or other debt instruments.

Do your homework and look at all your options but 401k rollover should be one looked at carefully.

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