Debt vs. Equity Financing: How to Make the Right Choice as a Business?

Debt vs. Equity Financing: How to Make the Right Choice as a Business? | Finance | Emeritus

Entrepreneurs are always brimming with ideas, but it is not easy to set up a business. It often requires capital, which is secured through financing. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to raising funds. There are two major options—debt and equity financing. Now most businesses have to pick a lane because both these methods are different with their respective advantages. It is a critical strategic decision with severe ramifications, making it important to determine a winner in debt vs equity financing. So, let’s explore these options in detail, evaluate their benefits, and figure out which is the ideal bet in the contest—debt vs equity financing.

strip banner

ALSO READ: What is VC & How Does it Work? An Insightful Guide

Debt Financing

Debt financing typically involves borrowing money to launch or scale your business. It’s like taking out a loan from a bank or another lender, with the promise to repay the principal amount plus interest over a defined period. There are various forms of debt funding for startups present today. Here are some of them:

1. Types of Debt Financing

A. Term Loans

It is a popular form of debt funding for startups. They seek a lump-sum amount for expanding operations or hiring talent. These loans carry a fixed repayment schedule along with interest rates.

B. Lines of Credit

They are akin to credit cards for businesses with more flexibility than term loans. They tap into a pre-approved amount as per their needs while only paying interest on the amount of credit used by them. It is, thus, ideal for covering operational expenses or unexpected costs. 

C. Debt Factoring

Debt factoring involves selling outstanding invoices to a factoring company at a discount. The company collects a fee for assuming the risk of collecting payment. Debt factoring, therefore, provides immediate access to working capital to cover business expenditures.

D. Equipment Loans

These loans enable firms to specifically buy business equipment. They carry low interest rates and require the equipment to serve as collateral. As a result, firms can avoid the risk of losing their entire business in case of a loan default.

2. Essential Considerations

Every organization must do their due diligence if they intend on choosing the former in debt vs equity financing. Let’s check out what factors firms need to consider:

A. Interest Rates

This is the cost of borrowing money. Compare interest rates offered by different lenders, as low interest rates reduce the overall financing costs. However, they may carry stricter loan terms than loans with high interest rates.

B. Repayment Terms

Every loan needs to be repaid within a timeline. The length of the repayment term particularly impacts monthly payments. A short-term loan has a low interest rate with high monthly payments, while long-term loans have low monthly payments with high interest.

C. Collateral Requirements

Many lenders provide loans instead of collateral such as real estate or equipment. There is a likelihood of the lender seizing assets if you fail to pay back the loan on time. Moreover, a loan has a low interest rate with collateral in the picture.

D. Impact on Credit Score

Choose loans that can be serviced easily because late repayment impacts your credit score negatively. On the other hand, regular payments build your score. A strong credit score is crucial for securing future financing with favorable terms.

ALSO WATCH: Information session on CBS Finance and Accounting for the Nonfinancial Professional (Online) Program

Equity Financing

Equity financing is the process of raising funds for your business by selling ownership stakes in the company. In other words, investors get a piece of your company in exchange for cash. Investors come in all shapes and sizes. Here are some of them:

1. Types of Equity Financing

A. Angel Investors

Angel investors are wealthy individuals who invest their own money in early-stage startups. They invest small amounts, ranging from $25,000 to $1 million per startup. They provide mentorship apart from capital.

B. Venture Capitalists (VCs)

VC firms manage large pools of money from institutional investors. They focus on innovative companies with the potential for significant returns. Their investment can either be a few million dollars or tens of millions. VC firms provided an impressive $29.6 billion in the first quarter of 2024 to various startups.

C. Private Equity Firms

These firms raise capital from institutional investors to acquire and invest in mature companies. They target businesses with strong financials, which can improve through operational changes or strategic acquisitions. Their deals often range from hundreds of millions to billions of dollars.

2. Key Factors to Consider

The decision to pick the latter in debt vs equity financing depends on several factors:

A. Dilution of Ownership

A company has to reckon with a reduction in the ownership percentage of existing shareholders when it issues new shares. Hence, the owners or early investors can witness a loss of control and influence over business decisions.

B. Potential for High Returns

Equity investors are usually impatient and seek high returns because they assume a lot of risk. There is no guarantee as returns are influenced by market conditions, the company’s performance, and its growth prospects.

C. Investor Involvement in Decision-Making

Most investors, especially VC and private equity firms, seek board seats to have a say in the company’s strategic decisions. They may influence key business decisions, personnel changes, and strategic direction to protect their investment. It’s, therefore, crucial to ensure that investor interest aligns with company management to avoid conflicts.

ALSO READ: How to Attract Private Equity Investment: A Complete Guide

Bootstrapper’s Perspective

Bootstrapping is a perfect way to fund your business idea in the beginning. However, organizations need millions to scale quickly in the right direction. Let’s dig deep: 

1. Advantages of Maintaining Control

A. Maintain Agility

Debt allows bootstrappers to expand without compromising their independence. It allows you to call the shots without any approval. Agility can be a crucial difference in a dynamic market.

B. Reap Rewards

The benefit of having full ownership of your company means that you get to take home all the profits in the future without sharing them with investors.

C. Imbue Discipline

Debt can help tune a focus on generating a profit to ensure timely repayments. Financial discipline can produce a sustainable business model in the long run. 

2. Potential for Higher Growth and Expertise

A. Access to Capital 

Bootstrappers can accelerate their growth rapidly, with investors providing millions. The funding can be used for marketing campaigns, product development, or team expansion.

B. Networking 

Startups can leverage investors’ valuable industry knowledge and connections. Their insight can help companies navigate challenges and avoid common mistakes.

C. Credibility

Certain investment firms can add an air of validation around a business idea. It can attract new customers, partners, and top talent consequently.

3. The Mezzanine Financing Alternative

A bootstrapper must consider their business goals, risk tolerance, and resource requirements before deciding between debt vs equity financing. They can opt for mezzanine financing if they want the best of both worlds. It is a hybrid approach for businesses seeking capital without diluting ownership. A few things to note about mezzanine financing:

  • Acts as subordinated debt, ranking below traditional debt in the repayment hierarchy during a liquidation event
  • Comes with higher interest rates due to the increased risk profile
  • Option of converting debt into equity in the company if certain conditions are met
  • Offers flexible repayment terms compared to traditional debt
  • Ideal for established businesses with a proven track record but not yet ready to go public

ALSO WATCH: FinTech: Innovation & Transformation in Financial Services | NUS Business School | Emeritus

Debt vs Equity Financing: Choosing the Right Path

The only way to make the best possible choice for debt vs equity financing is to consider these factors:

1. Business Stage

An early-stage startup can either tap into angel investors or rely on bootstrapping. VC firms enable businesses to scale operations whereas debt financing is the primary acquisition method. Banks or private lenders offer large loans secured by the acquired assets.

2. Risk Tolerance

A firm’s risk appetite is crucial to determining debt vs equity financing. For instance, bootstrapping limits debt obligations, debt allows firms to retain control with financial risk, and equity financing dilutes ownership but provides larger capital sums.

3. Business Goals

It is important to have clarity, as bootstrapping allows full ownership with limited capital. Loans provide capital and control over decision-making while increasing the debt burden. Equity financing offers significant capital for rapid expansion while diluting ownership.


1. Debt Financing

Domino’s Pizza initiated a major rebranding effort in 2010 where it decided to renovate stores and improve menus. The company opted for debt financing by securing a $500 million loan to fund its plan. The approach not only allowed them to maintain control but also pursue competitive growth. Airbnb is another example of a company that borrowed successfully.

2. Equity Financing

Uber, the ride-hailing giant, initially raised billions of dollars from venture capitalists. The funds allowed them to scale operations rapidly and dominate the market. They diluted their ownership, but the returns justified the risk for investors and fueled Uber’s rapid growth. Facebook is also a good example of how to leverage equity financing.

ALSO READ: What is Value Investing? The Top 4 Factors for Building a Resilient Portfolio

There is no clear winner in debt vs equity financing as they both serve unique purposes. The idea is to align the financing strategy with the specific needs and goals of the business. Emeritus offers a range of finance courses that enable you to gain cutting-edge financial skills at your convenience. These courses deepen your understanding of financial analysis, investment strategies, and corporate finance simultaneously. Enroll today and elevate your career that sets you apart in the competitive world of finance!

Write to us at


About the Author

Content Writer, Emeritus Blog
Mitaksh has an extensive background in journalism, focusing on various beats, including technology, education, and the environment, spanning over six years. He has previously actively monitored telecom, crypto, and online streaming developments for a notable news website. In his leisure time, you can often find Mitaksh at his local theatre, indulging in a multitude of movies.
Read More About the Author

Courses on Finance Category

US +1-606-268-4575
US +1-606-268-4575