Financing a Business: It’s Just Math… Kind Of

Here’s the good news: Florida was one of the top 10 states in the country in venture capital funding for the first quarter of this year, according to research by U.S. News & World Report. Now for the bad news: Although our state ranked No. 5, it lags way behind the leaders in dollar amounts and number of deals.

The top four states on the list control 80 percent of all U.S. venture capital dollars: California, Massachusetts, New York and Texas. California alone accounted for about half with $11.6 billion, or nearly 23 times more than Florida, which saw $511 million.

OK, I know that’s a lot of math. Some of my friends find this hard to believe, but in high school, I was inducted into Mu Alpha Theta, the math honor society. I’ve always been very good with numbers. You might say that’s unusual for a writer, but think about it. Journalists use numbers every day to gather statistics, research facts and calculate percentages. Some of my best editors early in my career taught me how to follow the numbers to get to the truth.

But at one point, I realized that when you add dollar signs, numbers become way more intimidating for many people. I get it. I did not grow up in a house where finance was discussed, and I didn’t learn about how to create and maintain wealth until much later in life. So I made it a point to learn about finance — and if I can do it, so can anyone. I’m not likely to turn into a banker anytime soon, but I was once an analyst writing about trends in back-office financial functions, including accounts payable. Before that, I was the editor of Financial Ops magazine for financial operations professionals.

I also was the editor of Venture Woman, which helped educate women entrepreneurs. Back in 2000, we reported that women-owned businesses in the U.S. received less than 5 percent of all venture capital. The needle hasn’t moved much since then, but we are starting to see more women and minorities jump in as investors, which might make a difference.

Thank goodness there are organizations in Orlando that are helping second-stage businesses meet their financial goals and needs. We’ve written about some of them in this issue:

• CenterState Bank, which is increasing its team of business bankers and its presence in downtown Orlando.

FAIRWINDS Credit Union, which is helping individuals and companies manage cash flow.

• Florida Funders and Florida Angel Nexus, which have joined forces to connect investors with small and midsize businesses.

• CEO Nexus and its founder and CEO, Steve Quello, a local pioneer of “Economic Gardening,” which helps grow the business community from within.

We call this the Finance Issue. But in fact, you’ll always find information about financing in i4 Business. We want to help you learn from each other’s experience.

That’s the only way we’re all going to grow Orlando’s business community. Learning about trends and options in business financing is just like learning how to play golf. You can go out there and swing a club around wildly and maybe you’ll hit the green. Or you can study it intently, watching the masters and absorbing knowledge from other people that you can apply to your own game. If I can do it, I know you can, too.

About the author

Diane Sears

Diane Sears

A career journalist, author and advocate for business growth, Diane Sears is the editor-in-chief of i4 Business. She is the founder and president of DiVerse Media LLC and co-founder of the Go for the Greens Foundation, which helps connect current and future women business owners with growth opportunities. She also serves in leadership roles with the Women Presidents’ Organization, Women’s Business Development Council of Florida/Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, and Athena PowerLink.

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