Depending on your start-up capital and how much retained earnings You accumulated in your balance sheet, you will face sooner or later the necessity to get additional financing to fund your growth. But the whole question is: "How much should you ask for in order to keep My business healthy?" Books have been written about "Leveraging your capital".
What does this exactly mean? You can find a good description at the Australian New South Wales Small Business site where return on Assets and Equity is covered. Another article from Andrew J.Sherman "Commercial Lending for Emerging Companies" is also worth reading as it outlines the main dimensions to be considered when borrowing money for Your business. They are definitely arguments to lend money to expand Your business, but the main question is how much and when to stop.
When you will be facing your banker, he/she will immediately ask for the latest set of Balance Sheet/Profit & Loss statements, in order to assess:
* How much credit he/she can afford to grant you?
* Are you capable to reimburse the loan and its interests without putting undue strain on Your business?
* And of course (but he/she won't tell you too much about that) how much gross profit will be generated for the bank?
Now, let's first calculate Your equity (made up of Your initial capital + the retained earnings - net profits of current and prior years - You left in your company to allow it to prosper over time). To make things simple, let's say the total of Your balance sheet is $100,000 (it does not matter here if we speak about Assets or Liabilities as per the Golden rule of accounting, both sides should be equal), and the total of intial Capital + Retained Earnings = $60,000. If now Your total Debt to bankers is $25,000, the Debt to Equity ratio will be equal to $25,000/$60,000 = 41.6%.
For many financial institutions, this is still OK, though they will start to be less friendly (i.e. to ask for collaterals to protect their interests just in case Your business goes sour). Their rules - it might vary with Your bank(s) - is that they will start to scrutinize Your balance sheet once You reach a 50% Debt/Equity ratio. Remember, bankers are not here to take risks with You but to earned money on loans (we do not want to open the pandora's box of bankers' business where they take immensely greater risks themselves on hedging on currencies or other portfolio management businesses).
My best advice is here again not to go too far (after all, What do you prefer?: "Grow more slowly but safely and build for the future" or "Grow fast and take undue risks that might eventually lead to future drastic, tough-to-make correctice actions"). Try to use the following advices and you shall be safe to run Your business:
* Add all your bank interests paid or planned and compare them against Your gross profits before tax and before taking these interests into account. If the ratio comes up at over 20%, ask Yourself if it is really worth to take the risk. One key question here is :"did you spent all Your energies and available resources throughout the whole year to give back such a major chunk of Your profits to bankers?"
* Put a ceiling on the ratio Bank loans and/or overdrafts divided by (Capital + Retained Earnings). If this ratio is above 50%, again ask Yourself if you do not go too far in letting other parties driving Your business for you.
* Finally, as the principal of Your loan is also repayable to the bankers, have a look at how much You need to repay every month or quarter and compare this amount against Your common recurrent business expenses. If the % is over 10%, ask yourself again the question if such bank loans truly help you to expand Your business or conversely throttles down your business initiatives.