Two women are looking over some papers, one of them has a pen

Using Personal Guarantees to Fund a Start-Up

Frank Mastronuzzi
4 min readMay 11, 2023

--

Starting a business is an exciting but challenging journey. One of the biggest challenges that new entrepreneurs face is funding their start-ups. While there are various sources of funding, personal guarantees have become a popular option for entrepreneurs seeking to fund their new ventures. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of personal guarantees and how they can be used to fund a start-up business.

What is a Personal Guarantee?

A personal guarantee is a legally binding agreement that allows an individual to take on the responsibility of paying back a loan if the business is unable to repay the loan. Essentially, a personal guarantee is a promise to pay that is made by an individual, usually the business owner or a director, rather than the business itself. Personal guarantees are commonly used by lenders as a way of mitigating their risk, particularly when lending to new businesses that may need an established credit history.

How Personal Guarantees Work

When a lender requires a personal guarantee, they are essentially asking the business owner or director to put their personal assets on the line in order to secure the loan. This means that if the business defaults on the loan, the lender can seek to recover the money owed by going after the personal assets of the guarantor. This could include personal savings, property, or other assets.

It’s important to note that personal guarantees are not only limited to loans. They can also be used for other types of business credit, such as credit cards, overdrafts, and trade credit. In these cases, the business owner or director agrees to take on personal liability for the amount owed on the credit.

Benefits of Personal Guarantees

Personal guarantees can offer several benefits to new businesses seeking funding. Firstly, they can help to secure funding that might otherwise be difficult to obtain. Lenders are often reluctant to lend to new businesses that don’t have an established credit history, but a personal guarantee can provide the reassurance they need to approve the loan.

Secondly, personal guarantees can help new businesses to access better interest rates and loan terms. By agreeing to a personal guarantee, the business owner or director is effectively demonstrating their commitment to the business’s success, which can make them more attractive to lenders. This can result in better loan terms, such as lower interest rates or longer repayment periods.

Thirdly, personal guarantees can help to build the credit history of the business. By taking on personal liability for the loan, the business owner or director is demonstrating their confidence in the business, which can help to build trust with lenders. This can lead to future funding opportunities with better terms and conditions.

Risks of Personal Guarantees

While personal guarantees can offer several benefits, they also come with risks that should be carefully considered before agreeing to them. The most obvious risk is the potential loss of personal assets if the business defaults on the loan. This can be particularly devastating for new businesses that may not have accumulated many assets yet.

Another risk of personal guarantees is the impact they can have on personal credit scores. If the business defaults on the loan and the guarantor is unable to repay the debt, this can have a negative impact on their personal credit score. This can make it more difficult to access credit in the future and can also affect their ability to secure funding for personal endeavors, such as buying a house.

Finally, personal guarantees can also create tension and conflict within personal relationships. If the business owner or director has to rely on personal relationships, such as family and friends, to act as guarantors, this can create tension if the business is unable to repay the loan. It’s important to carefully consider the impact that personal guarantees can have on personal relationships and to have open and honest conversations with potential guarantors about the risks involved.

Bottom Line

Ultimately, the decision to use a personal guarantee to fund a start-up business is a complex one that requires careful consideration of the potential risks and benefits. While personal guarantees can be a useful tool for securing financing, they also carry significant risks that entrepreneurs should be aware of before making a decision. By carefully evaluating the potential risks and benefits, negotiating the terms of the personal guarantee, and exploring alternative financing options, entrepreneurs can make informed decisions about how to fund their start-up businesses.

--

--

Frank Mastronuzzi

Founding Partner @punchfinancial, VP Business Development @GreenoughGroup, CFO, MBA, SF-Based, consummate optimist, proud zio, proud daddy of Luca, the Wheaten