You want to set up a share scheme, but is your cap table even ready?

You’ve asked the big questions and you’ve decided that setting up a share scheme is the right decision for your team and the business. There are loads of reasons it could be: aligning interests throughout the team, giving people real ‘skin in the game’ and it can be a real human motivator. Once you’ve made that decision, however, there are certain tasks you need to complete.

The first, and this can be a huge block if not done first, is to check that your business is ‘equity ready’. By this, I mean that your share structure and cap table are organised, easy to understand and flexible to change. You can view your cap table in real time on Vestd.

Quite often, despite the best-kept spreadsheets, this isn’t the case

We’ve talked before in our blog ‘Approaching a serious investment round or exit? Your cap table better be right’ about the 3 aspects you need to get right with your cap table. So this time I want to dive a little deeper into why.

Cap tables can be misleading

You might have done an incredible job at keeping your structure up to date. Your spreadsheet might be a thing of beauty, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that all your carefully recorded details have made their way to Companies House. With an air of mystery, occasionally actions you think you’ve taken (such as sub-divisions or even previous share issuances) were never recorded correctly at Companies House. And I’m afraid it’s Companies House whose opinion counts the most. This means, unfortunately, that despite your best efforts, your cap table can end up being an unreliable mess.

Everything a cap table should be

What you don’t want is what’s described above. A messy cap table means when you come to wanting to do anything with your equity you’ve got many knots to untie and ends to find before you can unravel it all. It gets expensive and time consuming.

A cap table should be simple, flexible and easy to understand. Not only for showing to investors and other shareholders but for your peace of mind as well. You want a clear picture of who owns what, who’s been promised what, and on what conditions. You also want to get rid of the trust issues with Companies House and have a cap table that shows information in real time. Wouldn’t that be a pleasure to look at?

It’s got to roll with the changes

But most important is the flexibility. When you want to do more with your equity, whether that’s setting up a share scheme for your team, or exchanging shares for investment or collaboration, you need to be confident that what’s already in place won’t suffer. For example, if you want to reward various team members with shares, how will that affect your own holding, and that of the other founding members? If you’ve got a clear cap table then figuring these scenarios out is much easier.

How do you get a cap table this good? Easy, use ours. Ditch the spreadsheets and visualise your current cap table in seconds. View all your existing shareholders, their percentages and share classes, all in one place, and give your board, investors, advisors or shareholders an instant, accurate view whenever they ask.