The methods and types of funding used by a business to sustain and grow its operations

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What is Financing?

Financing refers to the methods and types of funding a business uses to sustain and grow its operations. It consists of debt and equity capital, which are used to carry out capital investments, make acquisitions, and generally support the business. This guide will explore how managers and professionals in the industry think about the financing activities of a company.

Financing diagram

Financing Activities

On a company’s cash flow statement, there is a section that’s referred to as cash flow from financing activities, which summarizes how the business was funded over a particular period.

Activities include:

  • Issuing debt to raise money
  • Repaying debt
  • Issuing equity to raise money
  • Repurchasing equity
  • Paying dividends

Debt vs Equity

Managers of businesses have two choices when it comes to funding activities: debt or equity. There are pros and cons to each, and the optimal choice is often a combination of each.

Characteristics of debt financing:

  • A loan that must be repaid
  • Bears an interest expense
  • Has a maturity date
  • Must be repaid before equity in the event of insolvency
  • Cheaper than equity capital
  • Adds risk to the business

Characteristics of equity financing:

  • Direct ownership in the company
  • Has no interest payments, but may have a dividend
  • Permanent capital, no maturity (except for certain types of preferred shares)
  • Last to be repaid
  • More expensive than debt

Capital Structure

The decision between debt vs equity financing is what ultimately determines a company’s capital structure. The optimal capital structure for a business is typically considered that which results in the lowest weighted average cost of capital (WACC). While that’s true in theory, in practice, managers of firms tend to have preferences depending on how risk averse they are.

A firm’s WACC is a function of the cost of debt and the cost of equity, expressed in the following formula:

WACC Formula


When managers of businesses think about their financing strategy, there are many factors that need to be taken into account.

These important considerations include:

  • Current cash balance
  • Upcoming capital expenditures
  • Upcoming debt maturities
  • Ongoing interest and dividend payments
  • Operating cash flow of the business
  • Current and expected interest rates
  • Risk tolerance
  • Capital markets conditions
  • Investors’ expectations

Additional Resources

Thank you for reading this CFI guide to financing, what it is, and why it matters. CFI is the official provider of the FMVA certification program, designed to help anyone become a world-class financial analyst. To learn more and advance your career, these additional CFI resources will be helpful:

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