Many small business owners dream about the day their business can compete with the industry big boys and maybe even (gasp) go public.
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What many of them don't realize, however, is that you may not need to wait to make the decision to go public with your operation.
In fact, small- to medium-sized businesses go public all the time and leverage the influx of new capital to grow their business so they can compete with much larger companies.
That being said, the decision to go public with your business should not be taken lightly. Going public has a lot of benefits, but it also has some drawbacks. If you are thinking about transitioning your company from private to public, here are some things you need to consider.
How To Do It
There are a number of ways to go public with your business:
- IPO (Initial Public Offering) - This is the most commonly utilized method of going public with a business. It involves registering your stock with the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell shares to the public.
- Small Corporate Offering Registration - This is a less costly and simpler alternative to filing a traditional IPO, making it a more viable option for many small businesses.
- ACE-Net (Angel Capital Electronic Network) - Through the SBA, this network allows small businesses to list their stock offerings. Contact the SBA for details.
Taking your company public has some important benefits. First and foremost, it has the potential to raise significant amounts of capital for your company, giving you the ability to expand your current operation.
It also makes it easier for major owners to "cash out" of the business by selling their stock to other shareholders.
An intangible benefit is that going public lends a certain amount of credibility to your company. Lenders, investors, and clients may be more inclined to participate in your business based on their perceptions of a publicly traded corporation.
For some reason, publicly-held companies also seem to attract more media attention and are more well-known in general, another perk of making the leap from private to public.
The single biggest drawback in taking your business public is loss of control. When you take on shareholders, you also take on an additional burden of accountability to those shareholders.
Depending on the number and size of your shareholders, you may even lose a significant amount of control over day to day operations.
Be aware, too, that going public takes time and money. Do your research to find out how much time and money before you commit yourself to de-privatization.