Understanding Your Funding Options

There are many people who own a business and have never taken a loan on the venture. If you can use your personal savings or access family/friend loans, more power to you.  There may come a time when you want to leverage some of your assets to expand your business.  Make sure the asset is something you are willing to risk.  Understand the power of leveraging your assets to attract capital may mean not spending your assets down to help adjust the risk.

Here are some examples of funding options:

Self-Funding.  Sometimes called bootstrapping.  Be careful not to dip too far into your personal savings.  Credit Card debt is not good for anyone.  

Crowdfunding.  Preparing to launch your campaign is more than assuming random strangers are hoping to fund your project. Learning how to tell the story of your idea, how do you find people who care about your story long before you start your Kickstarter or other crowd fund campaign. Be strategic so you have the best outcome and reach your goal.

Grants.  Expect the grant competition to be competitive.  Be ready to prove your concept and find the institution that supports your type of business or you.

SBA. Two years of stable revenue and profits for loans, but free resources to set you on the path toward a better outcome with business planning tools.  Be aware of impact of Business Closure and Accelerated Repayment.

Bank Loan.  Check with your bank as more options are becoming available to support small business owners.

Seed/Angel/Scaling.  Sometimes you may find a way to leverage funding by offering equity in your success. This takes serious consideration on the exit strategy.

Usually, to access financing, you'll need some business experience either as the owner for a couple years or in a similar business to attract investment.  Lenders want to know you have the experience to succeed in your chosen field.  You can work with the SBDC, and angel investor, try to crowdsource the funds, but you will need to build a business case.  You are the best person to tell your story and you need to understand your cash flow so make sure you keep an eye on your finances. 

Debt financing that gives you access to capital without diluting ownership in your business can be difficult if you haven't substantial revenue, business history, or good credit. There is a strategy and thoughtful process to building up your business.

As the business owner, you need to personally invest in your business, it shows you have a personal stake in its success.  But be wise in doing so. You determine the growth and direction, so make sure you can explain your goals and needs.  Be confident, more importantly be realistic so you enter this stage of owning a business with a thorough business plan/ strategy. 

Setting up crowdfunding campaigns will gain you exposure and help bring in capital, but building your reputation as someone to do business with is even more important and that comes from referrals, either from the work that you've done, or the network of people you've surrounded yourself with to send you business.

However you decide to access capital, have a clear path on how to maintain control of your business and your finances. Another great opportunity to find an expert in the field. Capital is critical for your success, just make sure you understand the terms and your responsibilities.