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Small businesses with the ambition and opportunity to grow will eventually hit a dilemma at some point. Do you become a publicly traded company or continue operating as a private interest? The former option is a great method for raising your profile and raising funds, but it’s also a costly process that can marginalize the role of the owner in the business’ operations. There’s no pat solution, and the right choice is going to come down to your management style and ambitions. Here’s what you need to know before making the decision.

Advantages of Remaining Private

The most obvious strength of staying private is that you have more control over your business operations. While you’ll likely still be beholden to investors, you know who’s investing in your company, and you can address their needs directly. There’s also the fact that investors in a private company have to be accredited. A private owner with a strong idea of where they want their company to go can choose investors personally to ensure that they have matching standards. It’s also worth remembering that staying private now doesn’t mean that you can’t go public later. Becoming an IPO is like letting the genie out of the bottle, and you can’t revert back to private once you’ve pulled that trigger. There’s also a certain amount of risks involved. One of the big mistakes that smaller businesses make is going public too soon. If your business isn’t large enough to sustain the rigors of the public market, it’s going to get steamrolled, but staying private gives you the flexibility to grow at your own pace without the higher rate of risks.

Advantages of Going Public

The obvious advantage of going public is simple: cold, hard cash. An initial public offering can bring your company huge sums of money in a very short amount of time. For businesses that possession vision and ambitions but not the pure capital to support them, an IPO can facilitate rapid growth. That’s exactly the point. The cash infusion from an IPO allows a proof of concept to be developed into a lucrative property in as little time as possible, and it’s a great choice for business owners who care more about cashing out on their great idea than being the driving force behind its direction for years to come.

Whether you want to go private or public is a personal choice, and it’s one that shouldn’t be taken without a great level of consideration. Weigh your options carefully before you decide whether or not to go public.