No business is instantaneously successful. There are multiple obstacles referred to as barriers all owners and managers have to overcome. There are three primary groups of barriers for every business out there.
Stock is a legal document, typical in the form of a certificate, that identifies ownership rights to a corporation. Stock is commonly identified in the equity section of the balance sheet. Different forms include Common Stock, Preferred Stock, Treasury Stock and many others.
Those corporations doing well and flush with cash sometimes buy back stock from their investors. Once purchased back by the company the stock is called treasury stock. However, in small business, buying back stock can significantly alter the entire corporate control ownership and impact the long term outcome and direction of the company.
Those small publicly traded businesses with share prices of less than $5 and capitalization of less than $50 million are referred to as penny stocks. Penny stocks may trade on any of the major stock exchanges. For investors the risk is generally greater and the chance of instant success is remote at best. To counter this relatively volatile environment an investor can participate for a relatively low investment dollar amount.
The majority of small businesses are owned by a single individual. An additional pool is family owned or controlled. The balance usually involves friends or relatives that are passive in ownership. These forms of ownership create some interesting shareholder dynamics and if not thought out, can create some legal and financial issues in small business when a life changing event occurs.
The process of collecting a large pool of investors, each contributing or investing a small amount of dollars for a highly focused project is referred to as crowdfunding. The crowd is financing the project or goal. This is very similar to how large non-profits address significant events worldwide. A good example is the American Red Cross addressing disaster relief in the aftermath of a major natural tragedy.
The shareholder agreement lays out the rules of the relationship between the shareholders of a company. Most often the agreement is poorly written because the legal team fails to understand the business aspect of each of the respective sections. One of these sections is referred to as the Article of Capitalization or commonly called the Capitalization Clause.
The one single term mostly equated to capitalism is ‘Stock’. When a business is incorporated, stock is the core medium of exchange for the investment. The company issues a certificate referred to as stock in exchange for the investment – most often cash. This is the one true form of pure risk. Most other forms of investments generally have some form of collateral, credit, or cash flow to substantiate the investment.