Marijuana Business Financing: Tough Questions From Investors


2019-09-12 11:00:53 cannalawblog


As veteran marijuana business owners (and virtually every other type of industry owners) know, there may come a point in time in the business when you are sitting across the table from someone who is offering to put money into your business. They may be your prospective business partner. They may be your close friends or family members. They may be friends of friends. They may be a private equity group, angel investors, or venture capitalists. Many of your closest family and friends have been close to you during your business growth. The ones who trust you because they have a close personal connection probably will not ask too many prying questions because they are investing in your strength, tenacity, and vision, not primarily in the strength of your business prospects. There are several right ways and many wrong ways to accept money from outside financiers for your business, but this post is not about how to do a securities offering the right way. (See here and here for some prior posts on that topic.) This post is about preparing yourself as the business owner for the types of questions you should expect to receive when you are discussing your business with potential investors. All savvy investors are savvy because they are experienced. When we are feeling especially erudite, we may call them “sophisticated investors.” We call investors with a lot of assets “accredited investors,” which does not necessarily mean they are sophisticated, though many are. While sophisticated investors will not know everything about every product in every business market, they know the fundamentals of a good business. Many investors, especially in the venture capital and private equity world, have owned businesses. And they will be able to determine whether your cannabis business venture is worth investing in, regardless of whether you are primarily involved in cultivation, processing, manufacturing, R&D, distributing, or selling retail marijuana products. Prospective investors are literally everywhere: in your community, in your state, and in larger national and international markets. The U.S. has been and will continue to be the safest place to earn a good return without introducing unnecessary risks. Prospective investors are looking for a good return in a good business, and yours may be it, depending on how well you address the types of concerns below. 1.     Does Your Management Team Know What They Are Doing? Sophisticated investors are really not that different from your parents or grandparents. Your family and friends believe in you and invest in your business because they know you. Your prospective investors who do not know you need to understand both the human side of you and your business acumen. If you convince them that you know your market, your niche within that market, and that you are committed to doing what you know or can reasonably develop through talent acquisition, they will trust that you will take care of their money as if they were your family or friend. This is the ultimate test of your fiduciary duties to your investors – proving that you can keep both the duty of care (make sound business judgments) and the duty of loyalty (put the business’ interest above your own). Your temperament will also matter. If you are a jerk to work with and they can sense that, it may not kill the investment opportunity, but it might. 2.     Do You Understand the Financials of Your Business? This is not a legal issue, but it is an extremely important issue because your investors are probably well versed in business finance. If your bookkeeping skills are atrocious because you are a DIY kind of person or your bookkeeper does not have good organizational skills; if your financial statements are incomplete, inaccurate, or just plain wrong; or if your Quickbooks accounts have not been closed out every month, no sophisticated investor will touch your business until you get it all cleaned up. Why not? Your financials are the easiest way for someone to understand your business at a glance. If your financial inputs are sloppy, then your outputs are unreliable, giving your prospective investors no real metrics to compare your business to other businesses they have invested in or are considering. If you do not have good financial statements, there is zero chance that you really understand your market or can plan for future growth because you also have no good data from which to base your business decisions. You need to know your key business metrics (KPIs = key performance indicators) so you can explain to your potential investors exactly what great things you want to accomplish with their investment in your company. If you just need money because “cash flow is tight”, you will walk away with zero investment dollars. 3.     Do You Understand Your Business Risks? Your prospective investors will want to know that you are aware of your business risks. Do not shy away from giving your cold-blooded appraisal of your business, your employees, your business partners, your products, your weaknesses, and your acknowledgment that even though you believe in your company and will work relentlessly, success is never certain. Litigation lawyers love undisclosed or underrated risks, uncertainty, and ambiguity in investment relationships and contracts because this environment creates a cornucopia of ways for them to sue your company on behalf of your disgruntled investor, even if they are (were) your close friends. Good transaction or “deal” lawyers want to make sure you think through every possible risk of your cannabis business before you start hinting to anyone that you might want to take on investors. You need to learn to think like a paranoid lawyer who sees risks everywhere. Remember that not all risks are created equal. A great transaction lawyer will help you see your risks, evaluate them, and weigh them according to their relative likelihood to arise in your business. 4.     Do You Have Your Owner Relationships Soundly Grounded in a Written Contract? One of the worst things you can do is start a business and never get around to putting key relationships in writing. I see this way too often in the cannabis world in businesses with two or more partners. Either everything was done on a handshake or the operating agreement or shareholder agreement is not good, does not reflect reality, or is just plain wrong. Recently, I reviewed a contract for some LLC owners who used an agreement intended for a partnership. That was a huge problem because it gave all of the LLC owners equal rights, which is appropriate in some scenarios but not in others. That is one of the reasons why today we almost never form partnerships but instead use LLCs and other vehicles. Get your ownership agreements in place and discuss the difficult “what if” scenarios now during your business honeymoon phase. If prospective investors catch wind that you and your business partners are not in sync on all issues, they will not be willing to invest. Take heart that very few businesses who are preparing to take on investors have everything in perfect form. As business owners you always have two or three or ten times more things to do than you have time to do, even if you have trusted and competent people working with you in your business. The best thing you can do is keep a running list of potential due diligence items (see here and here) and work through your list with competent professionals.
正如经验丰富的大麻企业主(以及几乎所有其他类型的行业所有者)所知道的,当你坐在桌子对面的时候,你可能会有一点时间,从一个人提供资金投入你的企业。他们可能是你未来的商业伙伴。他们可能是你的亲密朋友或家人。他们可能是朋友的朋友。他们可能是一个私人股本集团,天使投资者,或风险资本家。在业务增长期间,您的许多最亲密的家人和朋友都与您关系密切。那些因为个人关系密切而信任你的人可能不会问太多的问题,因为他们投资于你的力量、坚韧和远见,而不是主要投资于你的商业前景。有几种正确的方式和许多错误的方式接受外部金融家为您的企业,但这篇文章不是关于如何做一个证券提供正确的方式。(请参阅这里和这里关于这个主题的一些先前的帖子。)这篇文章是关于当你和潜在投资者讨论你的业务时,你应该作为业务所有者准备你应该得到的问题类型。 所有精明的投资者都很精明,因为他们经验丰富。当我们感到特别失信时,我们可能会称之为“老练的投资者”。我们称拥有大量资产的投资者为“合格投资者”,这并不一定意味着他们很老练,尽管许多人是。尽管成熟的投资者不会了解每个商业市场的每一种产品,但他们知道一个好的业务的基本原理。许多投资者,尤其是在风险资本和私人股本领域,都拥有企业。他们将能够确定您的大麻商业风险是否值得投资,无论您是否主要涉及种植、加工、制造、研发、分销或销售零售大麻产品。潜在投资者无处不在:在你的社区,在你的国家,在更大的国家和国际市场。美国一直并将继续是在不引入不必要风险的情况下获得良好回报的最安全的地方。潜在投资者正在寻找一个良好业务的良好回报,你可能是它,取决于你如何处理好以下类型的关注。 1。你的管理团队知道他们在做什么吗? 成熟的投资者与你的父母或祖父母并没有什么不同。你的家人和朋友相信你,投资你的生意,因为他们认识你。你的潜在投资者不知道你需要了解你的人性和你的商业智慧。如果你让他们相信你了解你的市场,你在那个市场的利基,并且你致力于做你所知道的事情或通过人才的获得可以合理地发展,他们会相信你会把他们的钱当作你的家人或朋友来处理。这是对你对投资者的信托责任的最终检验——证明你既能履行谨慎义务(做出合理的商业判断),也能履行忠实义务(将企业的利益置于自身利益之上)。你的性情也很重要.如果你是一个混蛋,他们可以感觉到,这可能不会扼杀投资机会,但它可能。 2。你了解你公司的财务状况吗? 这不是一个法律问题,但这是一个极其重要的问题,因为你的投资者可能精通商业金融。如果您的簿记技能是残暴的,因为您是 DIY 类的人或您的簿记管理人没有良好的组织技能;如果您的财务报表不完整、不准确或只是简单的错误;或如果您的 Quickbook 帐户没有被关闭每个月,没有一个老练的投资者会接触到你的业务,直到你把它全部清理干净。为什么不?你的财务状况是一个人一眼了解你的业务的最简单的方法。 如果你的财务投入很少,那么你的产出是不可靠的,给你的潜在投资者没有真正的指标来比较你的企业与他们投资或正在考虑的其他企业。如果你没有好的财务报表,你就没有机会真正了解你的市场,或者可以计划未来的增长,因为你也没有好的数据来作为你的商业决策的基础。您需要了解您的关键业务指标( KPI =关键绩效指标),因此您可以向您的潜在投资者准确解释您希望通过投资您的公司来实现什么伟大的目标。如果你只是因为“现金流紧张”而需要资金,你就会选择零投资。 3。你了解你的商业风险吗? 你的潜在投资者会想知道你知道你的商业风险。不要回避对你的企业、你的员工、你的商业伙伴、你的产品、你的弱点和你的承认给你冷静的评价,即使你相信你的公司并将坚持不懈地工作,成功永远不确定。诉讼律师喜欢在投资关系和合同中不公开或被低估的风险、不确定性和模糊性,因为这种环境为他们创造了一系列的方式来代表你不满的投资者起诉你的公司,即使他们是你的亲密朋友。 好的交易或“交易”律师想要确保在你开始向任何人暗示你可能想要承担投资者之前,先考虑一下你的大麻业务的所有可能风险。你需要学会像一个偏执的律师那样思考,他认为风险无处不在。请记住,并非所有的风险都是平等的。一个伟大的交易律师将帮助你看到你的风险,评估他们,并根据他们相对可能出现在你的业务。 4。你的业主关系是否在书面合同中牢固地建立起来? 你能做的最糟糕的事情之一就是创业,永远不能把关键的关系写下来。我经常在大麻行业与两个或两个以上的合作伙伴打交道。要么一切都是在握手,要么经营协议或股东协议都不是很好,不反映现实,要么是明显的错误。 最近,我审查了一些有限责任公司业主的合同,他们使用了一个协议,打算建立伙伴关系。这是一个巨大的问题,因为它给予了所有有限责任公司所有人平等的权利,这在某些情况下是合适的,但在其他情况下不是合适的。这就是为什么今天我们几乎从未建立伙伴关系,而是使用有限责任公司和其他工具的原因之一。制定您的所有权协议,并在您的企业蜜月阶段讨论目前困难的“如果”情况。如果潜在投资者发现你和你的商业伙伴在所有问题上不同步,他们将不愿意投资。 请记住,很少有企业准备接受投资者的一切都是完美的形式。作为企业主,你总是有两、三、十倍的事情要做,比你有时间做,即使你已经信任和有能力的人与你合作在你的企业。你所能做的最好的事情是保存一份潜在的尽职调查项目清单(见这里和这里),并与胜任的专业人员一起完成你的清单。