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How To Invest In Small Businesses – Bankrate.com

How To Invest In Small Businesses – Bankrate.com

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Small-business owners are integral to the fabric of the U.S. economy, generating millions of jobs and providing identity to the communities they serve. By fostering entrepreneurship and innovation, small businesses keep local economies healthy and vibrant.
Despite these benefits, many small businesses often lack funding to sustain and expand their operations, relying on local investors to get the capital they need to grow. Investing in small businesses offers potential returns, diversification, and an opportunity to participate in the success of the American economy.
This handy guide explores how retail investors could bolster their portfolios by investing in local businesses.
Whether you are considering funding a new business venture or taking ownership of an existing one, there are typically two main options:
While each deal is unique and may include a combination of equity and debt, these two principles are the foundation of most transactions. Like any other investment, though, each option carries pros and cons.
For example, potential returns on equity investments can be substantial should the business take off. With debt investments, however, investors are guaranteed a specific return regardless of the business’s profitability.
Similarly, some laws give precedence to debt repayments over equity investments if the business fails – depending on the corporate structure and other factors. Hence the importance to review and understand all the terms and conditions before investing.
Apart from the motivation of making someone’s dreams come true, many investors choose small-business investments to generate passive income and diversify their assets outside of the stock market and real estate holdings.
For a long time, investing in small businesses was reserved for accredited investors or individuals with a net worth of at least $1,000,000 and an annual income of $200,000 or more. Depending on the deal, federal regulation prohibited retail investors from accessing what officials considered to be highly risky investments.
However, the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, or JOBS Act, lifted some restrictions, allowing retail investors over 18 years of age to invest in crowdfunding platforms like Mainvest or Honeycomb Credit. Both startups vet small business owners and provide access to credit.
Nevertheless, because of regulations, most investors can only invest up to $2,500 or 5 percent of their annual income over 12 months if their yearly salary or net worth is less than $124,000. For those with higher incomes, the limit jumps to 10 percent of their annual salary or net worth, whichever is higher. There are no investment limitations for accredited investors.
The Securities and Exchange Commission periodically adjusts these limits based on inflation.
Because small businesses are more susceptible to economic shifts, overhead costs, changes in supply and demand, and other conditions, investors must exercise due diligence when selecting a potential investment. One advantage of investing with crowdfunding platforms is that these companies do much of the legwork upfront, such as reviewing tax returns, credit scores, and other essential documents.
Before deciding on an investment, here are some of the questions you may want to consider:
Of course, there are plenty of other considerations, including non-tangible ones. For example, what is the small business owner’s story, and what value does the business bring to the community? For many investors, investing in small businesses transcends monetary factors.
All investments carry varying levels of risk, and it’s no different when it comes to small businesses. Apart from potentially losing your entire investment, these deals are inherently risky — especially since many entrepreneurs don’t qualify for funding from traditional banks. Therefore, many financial professionals suggest only investing what you can afford to lose.
Target returns can range from 10 percent to 25 percent to compensate investors for that risk, according to the crowdfunding platform Mainvest.
Editorial Disclaimer: All investors are advised to conduct their own independent research into investment strategies before making an investment decision. In addition, investors are advised that past investment product performance is no guarantee of future price appreciation.
Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. We are compensated in exchange for placement of sponsored products and, services, or by you clicking on certain links posted on our site. Therefore, this compensation may impact how, where and in what order products appear within listing categories, except where prohibited by law for our mortgage, home equity and other home lending products. Other factors, such as our own proprietary website rules and whether a product is offered in your area or at your self-selected credit score range can also impact how and where products appear on this site. While we strive to provide a wide range offers, Bankrate does not include information about every financial or credit product or service.
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