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5 Alternatives to A Traditional Business Loan

5 Alternatives to A Traditional Business Loan

A friend of mine recently needed $10,000 to expand the scope of her little coffee shop, one that was starting to receive more attention than she had ever hoped for. The $10,000 would go towards a central air conditioner unit, new furniture and the purchase of a POS system to help her manage her transactions better and quicker.

Now, the problem was that my friend had a spotty credit history. A failed prior business venture and repayment problems related to a loan for that doomed venture meant that seeking out a traditional business loan was simply out of the question.

When she asked me for advice, I introduced her to peer-to-peer lending and she quickly found a lender who believed in her and her business. Now, 3 months down the road since then, she has paid back almost 40% of that loan and is well on her way to financial freedom, thanks to the continued and heightened success of her now not-so-small coffee shop.

This friend has thanked me many times and has repeatedly said that she would have just let her business stagnate if not for my advice, after being denied a business loan from the bank that denied her. It then dawned on me that I should try to put the word out there, that a traditional business loan isn’t the only way to go about securing funds for a small business.

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Here are 5 alternatives to a traditional business loan, alternatives you can easily pursue.

1. Peer-to-Peer Lending

This is what worked for my friend. FundingCircle is a great site that connects potential borrowers with potential lenders. What is different about FundingCircle as a lender is that it allows individual investors and even institutional investors to fund your loan request. This means that someone who believes in your business can lend to you. In other words, your loan request isn’t looked at by loan officers but by people who actually take time to understand your business!

Unlike banks where your business is very objectively viewed, FundingCircle investors take a very subjective look at your application. For example, the investor who funded my friend’s loan request had a history of running his own coffee chop chain. He thus quickly saw the potential of my friend’s coffee shop, ran the numbers and worked out a $10,000 loan with great terms, for both parties!

Though FundingCircle connects you with a lender in a very unique way, the are traditional like banks in the sense that they will require you to put up collateral that can be in the form of cash, property, assets or even your business for that matter. They typically process loans in a day and will award funds to your business in less than 10 days, should your application be approved.

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2. 401k Loan

This will be your perfect option if you are a salaried employee contributing to your 401k, while also moonlighting with a business on the side.

Unlike a traditional loan or peer-to-peer loan, a 401k loan will not need a collateral at all, as your 401k savings become a collateral in itself. 401k loans are extremely affordable and come with other great benefits such as a no-prepayment penalty clause. They are also available very quickly, often in a matter of days.

The disadvantages are that taking out a 401k loan will mean that you can’t contribute to your 401k until the loan is repaid. Also, ending your employment or getting fired from your job will mean that your repayment period on the 401k loan gets knocked down to just 60 days, unless you can secure new employment.

A 401k loan is one of the most popular ways to fund a startup, as startup business owners are usually still earning a paycheck.

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3. Crowdfunding

Here’s a fantastic story about two first year college graduates who recently raised $10,000 to fund their business venture of selling cold coffee on a tricycle, to just one college! They did it and did it easily with crowdfunding. What is amazing is that they secured the funding even though they promised to repay with just a free cup of coffee, a T-shirt, a picnic, or a coffee roasting class! Read about the BrewBike crowdfunding story here!

You can do the same for your business as well. All you need is passion for your business and a good presentation! Indiegogo and Kickstarter are two of the most popular crowdfunding sites out there. Give them a shot today!

4. Business loans based on your cash flows.

If your business has a stable cash flow, there are lenders out there who can lend you as much as $500,000 as a loan, as long as they see that your cash flow can handle the repayment. Such lenders will only require you to put up a personal guarantee and not even a collateral, to secure such loans.

Not surprisingly, this is one of the most sought after alternative funding methods for businesses that already have a stable operating history. Since such loans are processed in a matter of a few days, they are also the most popular option to business owners seeking emergency business loans, like when loans have to be used to repair or replace machinery that keeps a business running on its feet.

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5. A Loan from friends and family, with a legal agreement.

Everyone has great friends and family members that they look up to. Chances are that such friends and family adore you as well. There is absolutely no harm in raising funds from these people that you know, as long as you believe in your business and have all the intentions to pay it back.

But, you must do your homework before you approach friends and family for a business loan. Read this great book about how to seek out a business loan from family and friends, after making it a legal binding. Adding a legal  aspect to it will tell your friends and family that you are sincere about this loan request and that you want to pay it back.

Making it a legally binding loan request will also remove the awkwardness that might arise when they are willing to give you a loan, but want it documented in some way. Most friends and family say no to loan requests because it is just “asked” for, often leading them to think they have no recourse if the borrower decides not to repay the loan.

If you are uncomfortable approaching friends and family for a loan, try the other 4 options mentioned in this article. But then, don’t entirely rule out this option. You never know as there might be a friend or relative who will be more than happy to help you out, often for nothing in return!

Featured photo credit: Loan Now via loannow.com

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Last Updated on June 26, 2020

25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

“How to save money fast?” This is the question asked by all of us not in the top 1% of rich people.

If you are looking for ways to drastically reduce your expenses immediately, first look at what you need to spend money on every week. And I mean really need.

You don’t really need to order in food. You don’t really need to buy expensive perfume.

Building from that, you can work out how your regular expenses can be reduced.

As for irregular expenses, they can also be deceptively costly in the long run. Once-off buys can also be tackled with some prudent planning and a little extra research.

And remember: a budgeted lifestyle does not mean a bad or boring one!

But first, understand what budget you can cut down on daily:

  • Regular expenses for the average adult (can be trimmed but not eliminated):
    • food
    • rent/mortgage
    • cell phone
    • insurance
    • socializing/entertainment
    • transportation
    • hygiene products
    • household bills
  • Irregular expenses for the average adult (can be eliminated or cut down a lot):
    • travel
    • clothing
    • medication (*depends)
    • grooming (hair, nails etc.)
    • gifts

Now, let’s dive right into the 25 ways to save money fast:

Save Money on Food

1. Bring a stock of food to the office/work

Instead of popping out for an overpriced salad and a smoothie, leave a set of basic utensils at the office as well as a stock of non-perishable goods such as tinned fruit, tuna, rice crackers and so on (try to avoid the junk food and this can turn into a pretty great diet!).

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Stocking up means you won’t forget or say “I didn’t have the time” when you rushed out to work in the morning.

2. Buy the store-brand version

Many basic foods, such as bread and milk, will taste exactly the same as their branded alternatives. Go for stuff with minimal additives and preservatives. Meat in a tube is probably insanely unhealthy!

3. Eat cheaper cuts of meat

Learn how to tenderize and flavour cheaper meat and fish, and save on the (typically) most expensive item on your grocery bill.

4. Have group dinners

If 10 friends put $5 each in the kitty, it’s pretty easy to make a giant lasagne and get refreshments, as well as hang out with your favourite people.

Save Money in Transport

5. Get a bicycle

Save on gas money and bus/metro fares with this underrated mode of transport.

6. Use public transport and/or don’t get taxis

Some places can only be reached by car. But as a good practise, check your public transport website and see if any routes pass nearby where you need to get to. Walk as much as you can.

7. Find the cheapest gas

Regularly check out where the cheapest gas can be bought.

Save Money in General Shopping

8. Shop online

Not only will you save on the gas or transport fares from going to the shopping mall but you will also find better deals

9. Sell your old stuff

Get your unwanted belongings up on eBay ASAP and earn a few dollars.

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Here’re more ideas for you: 25 Things to Sell to Make a Lot of Money

10. Bulk buying stores

For regular non-perishable/slow perishable purchases such as toilet paper, cat food, pasta, washing powder and so on, do an epic stocking-up trip to a co-op or equivalent (my mum used to go to a place that restaurants buy from).

Be wary of supermarket “deals”, as some have been found to be fraudulent after working out a simple calculation.

11. Become a flea market/car boot sale/street market guru

You can find original gifts and develop good negotiation skills at these places.

12. Generic brand medication

More often than not, the generic version of paracetamol and other basics work the same as the branded version.

13. Choose deodorant, not perfume

It blows my mind when someone drops $70 on a bottle of spray. Stick with a nice deodorant, and not only will you smell just fine but you’ll be sweat-free as well!

Cut Down on Household Expenses

14. Printing

Ink is one of the most expensive substances in the office and coloured ink is doubly so. B

e more efficient and choose black and white, and if your printer doesn’t have a print-both-sides options, just print odd pages first, re-insert the paper and print even pages.

Expand the margins of what you are printing as often as you can to save on paper.

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15. Minimize SMS and phone calls

A combination of a free chat service such as WhatsApp and a free call service such as Skype can reduce your bill to nothing (so long as you have a decent Wifi connection).

16. Shop around for insurance

Most people don’t spend enough time searching for the best insurance deal.

Keep a watchful eye out for deals and new competitors in the market.

17. Try re-negotiating your rent/mortgage

If you have built up a good credit history or a good rapport with your landlord, then chances are a frank chat about needing to tighten your spending could result in lowering your payments. You’ve nothing to lose from trying.

18. Don’t get a TV

Invest in a computer/laptop and an internet-only package. You can watch more (and often better) entertainment on the web, and skip the advertisements as well.

19. Pool your internet bill with a neighbour

My apartment building is basically a big old house split into three apartments. There are five of us in total. We pool the internet bill, making it crazy cheap.

Save Money in Socializing, Entertainment And Travel

20. Have house parties

Instead of paying for overpriced drinks, set up a series of in-house get-togethers with your friends. Everyone takes a turn, so it’s not always your house that needs cleaning.

For sound insulation, hang heavy drapes on the walls and windows. For music, invest in a good second-hand set of speakers which you can connect to your computer. Let Spotify or Grooveshark playlists do the rest.

21. Open festivals, meetups and events

It never fails to surprise me how much underground stuff goes on around me for free or for very cheap. Find out who runs the blogs and websites that list all the less well-known cultural activities.

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22. Volunteer

If you can’t pay for a ticket, volunteer and get to be there anyway.

23. Housesit

There are multiple housesitting websites offering you the possibility to avoid paying hotels and skip the discomfort of crummy hostels.

Save Money on Hygiene and Beauty

24. DIY beauty

French manicures, pedicures, waxing, eyebrows… pretty much all of these can be achieved at home (and done well) with some practise. There are plenty excellent blogs and YouTube tutorials to help.

25. Fewer haircuts/volunteer at a trainee hairdresser

If you can’t bear the risk of a trainee touching your locks, learn more ways to manipulate your hair as it grows and get haircuts sparingly. Women’s haircuts are outrageously priced in many cities.

Bonus: Effective Money-Saving Tips for Everything

Here’s a summary of what you can generally do to save more money:

  • Share/pool resources. Organize a neighbourhood sharing scheme, common resources for your apartment block or with your friends. Not everybody needs an individual lawnmower.
  • Buy energy-saving everything. The easiest way to lower your bills – replace those lightbulbs!
  • Buy in bulk. Be sensible about it (i.e. make sure you have space!), and drastically reduce weekly expenditure.
  • DIY. Skill up using YouTube tutorials on plumbing and many other essential services so you never have to pay for simple problems again.
  • Research a lot before making a decision. Most money-wasting is the result of poor preparation and planning. Don’t shirk this part just because you don’t like it!
  • Use your network. Your network is full of resources that can ease the pain of budgeting. Ask for help.
  • Stop and think. Do I really need it?

Unfortunately, there are some things that require plain ol’ giving up for the time being. This can include high-cost sports such as skiing, the latest versions of some technologies, the finest brands of food/drinks, premier seats at the opera and most other indulgences.

What is important to remember during lean times is that when you look back on your life, it will be the experiences that stand out, not the extra comforts.

Living on a budget can teach you a lot about how much you can really get out of your paycheck. We only live one life, so make the most of every penny you earn!

More Tips for Personal Finance Management

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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