Building Your Business Business Financing What Is Debt Financing? Debt Financing Explained in Less Than 5 Minutes By Susan Ward Susan Ward Twitter Susan Ward wrote about small businesses for The Balance for 18 years. She has run an IT consulting firm and designed and presented courses on how to promote small businesses. learn about our editorial policies Updated on March 17, 2021 In This Article View All In This Article Definition and Examples of Debt Financing How Debt Financing Works Advantages of Debt Financing Disadvantages of Debt Financing Photo: Peter Dazeley / Getty Images Debt financing is when you borrow money to run your business, as opposed to equity financing, in which you raise money from investors who are in return entitled to a share of the profits from your business. Debt financing can be divided into two categories based on the type of loan you're seeking: long-term or short-term. Find out more about debt financing, how it works, and the advantages and disadvantages of using this method to run your business. Key Takeaways Debt financing occurs when a business borrows money to run operations as opposed to equity financing, in which you raise money from investors who are in return entitled to a share of the profits from your business.Examples of debt financing include traditional bank loans, personal loans, loans from family or friends, credit cards, government loans, lines of credit, and more.The main advantage of debt financing over equity financing is that the lender does not take an equity position in your business. Definition and Examples of Debt Financing Debt financing is what happens when a business borrows money in order to operate, rather than raising money from investors—which is called equity financing. Some examples of debt financing include: Traditional bank loansPersonal loansLoans from family or friendsGovernment loans, including Small Business Administration (SBA) loansPeer-to-peer loansHome equity loansLines of creditCredit cardsEquipment loansReal estate loans How Debt Financing Works You can think of debt financing as being divided into two categories based on the type of loan you're seeking: long-term and short-term. Long-Term Debt Financing Long-term debt financing generally applies to assets your business is purchasing, such as equipment, buildings, land, or machinery. A lender will normally require that long-term loans be secured by the assets to be purchased. With long-term debt financing, the scheduled repayment of the loan and the estimated useful life of the assets often extends for three- to seven-year terms. Loans guaranteed by the SBA can provide terms up to 10 years. Long-term debt will most likely have fixed interest rates that convert into consistent monthly payments and high predictability. Note Long-term debt financing makes it easier for businesses to budget, make consistent payments each month, and increase their credit score. Short-Term Debt Financing Short-term debt financing usually applies to money needed for the day-to-day operations of the business, such as purchasing inventory, supplies, or paying the wages of employees. Short-term financing is referred to as an operating loan or a short-term loan because scheduled repayment takes place in less than one year. A line of credit is an example of short-term debt financing. Lines of credit are also typically secured by assets (or collateral). Note: Common types of short-term debt financing include short-term bank loans, accounts payable, wages, lease payments, and income taxes payable. Short-term financing is commonly used by businesses that tend to have temporary cash flow issues when sales revenues are insufficient to cover current expenses. Startup businesses are particularly prone to cash flow management problems. Credit cards are a popular source of short-term financing for small businesses. In fact, according to a U.S. National Small Business Association study, 59% of small business owners used credit cards for financing in 2017. Advantages of Debt Financing The main advantage of debt financing over equity financing is that the lender does not take an equity position in your business. You retain full ownership and the lender has no control over the running of the business. Debt interest costs are fully tax-deductible as a business expense, and in the case of long-term financing, the repayment period can be extended over many years, reducing the monthly expense. Assuming the loan does not have a variable rate, the interest expense is a known quantity for budgeting and business planning purposes. Other advantages include: Builds up business creditProvides leverage for owners' equityGives stability in budgeting and planning for futureLong-term debt can eliminate reliance on more expensive short-term options Disadvantages of Debt Financing For extended financing, banks normally require assets of the business to be posted as collateral for the loan. If (as is common with small businesses) the business does not have sufficient collateral, the lender will require personal guarantees from the business owners. According to the Small Business Administration: “For all SBA loans, personal guaranties are required from every owner of 20 percent or more of the business, as well as from other individuals who hold key management positions. Whether a guaranty will be secured by personal assets or not is based upon the value of the assets already pledged and the value of the assets personally owned compared to the amount borrowed.” As an owner, this leaves you personally responsible for paying back the loan, even if your business is incorporated. If your business is unable to make the loan payments, whatever personal assets you posted as collateral—house, car, investment accounts, etc.—can be seized by the bank. With debt financing, the fixed repayment schedule and the high cost of loan repayment can make it difficult for a business to expand. With equity financing, money is invested in the business in exchange for equity. There is no fixed repayment schedule, and investors generally have a long-term goal of return on investment. If your business is in need of debt financing or equity investment, you must have a solid business plan in place before any lender or investor will consider giving you funding. This includes the financial details of your business, such as an income statement, cash flow projections, and a balance sheet. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. U.S. Small Business Administration. "Types of 7(a) Loans." Accessed March 17, 2021. National Small Businesses Association. "Year End Economic Report." Accessed March 17, 2021. U.S. Small Business Administration. "Office of Capital Access | Resources." Accessed March 17, 2021.