Many people would love to start their own business. However, launching a business is not exactly easy, otherwise everyone would be doing it. One of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs or aspiring business owners face is finding the money to even start their business. So where do you find the funds? Well, to be honest, there are more ways than you think. And today, entrepreneurs and investors are coming up with very creative ways of helping to finance future entrepreneurs and business operations. Let’s go over them now!
First, some traditional ways of getting funding for your business are your own savings and investments, or getting help from friends and family. If you’re fortunate enough to have friends and family who believe in your business plan, then they will usually love to invest and help out.
Other popular choices are going to investors or lenders, which are equity and debt financing options. Investors are going to want equity or percentage of the company in return of their investment, usually 30%-50%. Investors are looking to double their investment within 2-3 years, so you have to make sure you project your revenues and expenses as best as possible. Lenders are financing institutions, such as banks and credit unions. Lenders are not going to take any percentage of ownership in your business, but they are going to want to know exactly how you plan on paying back the loan you get from them. When working with lenders, however, you must be conscientious about the financing terms and conditions, such as interest rates and pay back periods.
Now, let’s go through some additional resources that you may not have thought about. These resources involve the same elements (investors, lenders, peers, and family), but they are either creative ways that have been developed or just resources that are not commonly thought of.
Crowd Funding and Peer-to-Peer Lending
Crowd funding has become a very popular trend. Websites such as, Indiegogo and Seed and Spark, are crowd funding sources. You can develop a campaign for your project, business, or concept and raise funds through the help of people investing their money in your campaign. People give money because they believe in your campaign and from providing incentives. Crowd funding is a great way to get funds by reducing risk and raising awareness. But make sure to look into the different types of fees and stipulations set by each company.
Peer-to-peer lending is a similar concept to crowd funding; however, peer-to-peer lending involves having actual investors invest their money into listings that borrowers create. The investors choose to invest in the listings that fit their criteria. Borrowers must choose a loan amount and propose a loan listing. Investors make their return on investment based off the financing terms. You can check out Prosper and Lending Club.
Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists
Closely related, but slightly different. Venture capitalists are investors who will invest in start up businesses in order to get a high rate of return, but do not necessarily have knowledge or experience applicable to your venture. Angel investors are investors, often formed in groups, which have applicable knowledge and experience in the particular industry your business is in and look to provide value to your company on a more personal level. Either way, these investors are not too hard to find. The cool thing is that they are coming up with creative and easy ways to find them and to present your business plan. Check out Gust and Angel Vision Investors!
Boutique Investment and Merchant Banks
These are formed to assist investors and companies in their particular industry sectors. They will have the resources and expertise to raise capital for you. EIG is a company that specializes in helping investors and companies in the entertainment industry.
Foundations and Grants
If your business is highly focused towards social responsibility and economic development, you may be able to apply at some of the foundations, such as The MacArthur Foundation and The Park Foundation, and get a grant. These foundations have highly selective guidelines and values, but if you have the right type of concept and innovative solutions, they should definitely give your plan some consideration. The plus about grants is that they don’t have to be paid back!
What are these? Community Development Financial Institutions. The United States Department of the Treasury has a coalition of financial institutions that award money and tax credits to community-based organizations, especially in underdeveloped areas trying to revitalize. So, if you have a business or are an entrepreneur looking to get some financial assistance and improve the community you live in, then you can look into CDFIs. There are many resources, but here is a couple you can research: Community Development Financial Institutions Fund and CDFI Coalition.
Well, I hope that this helps jog your memory a bit or get you to think outside the box a little about where to find money. There are many options, avenues, and resources out there, you just have to know where to find them and keep digging. All of these have their specific guidelines, terms, and conditions, so make sure to find one that suits your situation. Something to keep in mind is that you might not be able to use some of these resources for your particular situation now, but sometime in the future. Maybe you come up with a new idea or plan. Maybe somebody or some organization you work for needs to find money. Now you know where to go or how to help.
Check out Are You Ready for the Shark Tank? for further reading on business finance.