Making innovative small business ideas a reality takes funding. Figuring out where to land the cash to take your life’s passion to the next level feels like a bummer in the creative process, but it’s necessary for the actual success of your business plan. A small business dream is just that until you have the cash flow needed to launch it.
Here are a few legitimate places to look for funding for your small business:
1. Personal Loans
Many small business owners put their personal assets on the line to make their business dream a reality. It can be a risky approach – but with a smart business plan, the return on investment may be worth it. The sage advice is to never mix business and personal finances but launching your small business is an exception. Small business owners who are considering this route must have good credit that includes a track record of timely repayments.
In some cases, a small business doesn’t even need much initial cash to get started. Businesses that have low overhead and initial inventory costs can start selling goods or services and then use that revenue to continue to purchase what is needed to make the business successful. There are pros and cons to bootstrapping so weigh the options before diving in. One major pro is that by bootstrapping your business from the start you won’t need to give up any equity in the business to an investor. This leaves you in control of all the business decisions and gives you the greatest payout down the road when you sell the company.
3. Business Credit Cards
If you expect a quick return on your small business investment, consider getting a business credit card. Dedicate your earliest revenue to paying off those cards so you don’t end up with interest charges that take away from your profit. A credit card that is consistently maxed out will also hurt your credit score and hinder future financial decisions. If this is the right route for you, choose from major credit card providers like Visa and MasterCard, or go with a bank business credit card.
4. Family and Friends
Many people are leery of involving friends and family in business decisions, especially when it comes to money. But with the right business plan, involving family and friends could be a benefit for everyone. Don’t expect your loved ones to hand over cash just because they like you though; give them a strong business plan to look over and present your small business idea as if they were stranger investors. Create a legal document for repayment. Make the money they lend you a priority for repayment, including whatever interest or return is promised.
Speaking of banks, these traditional institutions offer small business loans. A few years ago, these loans were difficult to secure due to the state of the economy but today is it much easier to land a small business loan through a bank or credit union. Do some research into what banks and credit unions are small business loan friendly, and which ones tend to loan to your industry. You don’t want to lock yourself into a bad deal, but with some vetting you may be able to land the exact funding you need.
The popularity of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter has brought this form of non-traditional small business fundraising to the forefront. Usually, the small business owner offers something in exchange for the minimum investment – perhaps one of the products or another novelty item. It’s easy enough to list a small business need on these sites, but there are hundreds of thousands of projects in competition for investor funds.
7. Retirement Funds
If you’ve been socking money away in a 401K for several years, you can tap into that money for a small business loan. Make a plan to return the money, however, because even small business owners want to retire at some point.
There are seemingly endless avenues for small business funding – but there is also a lot of competition. You’ll want to tailor your “ask” based on the format of the funding request. Figure out which one makes the most sense for your return on investment timeline and then start asking.
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