Why haven’t you started your business?
The answer I almost always get to this question involves lack of funds. You don’t have enough money to start, is that right?
I TOTALLY hear you on this one. When I first started my business I had very bad credit (Jay Z voice), DEBT, no property to take equity out of, and no family/friends to borrow from.
But today, I am the proud owner of two growing businesses. I believe you can be one too! That’s why I am writing this post to help you address this last excuse for not starting your dream hustle with four real options for getting money to start your business.
If you have less than perfect credit or your company is still young, then you know how hard it is to get a loan for your business. Here are a few options to get money NOW, while you build your business and the capital to pay back the debt.
If a traditional loan is out of the cards, consider partnering with friends and family. Find a friend or family member who is willing to provide seed money or partner with you on your business. This is a great way to stay accountable and even find a partner to share the burden with. A word of caution when taking this route. Sometimes money makes people act funny. Be sure to be transparent about your expectations and keep the lines of communication open. Lending among intimate parties can be disastrous if not done professionally.
If your credit can stand it, consider using a low-interest card to bootstrap your business. Some cards allow a 0% or similarly low-interest rate for the first year. That’s more than enough time to figure out if your business will succeed or not.
If you need a small amount of money, a micro lending company is a good option to consider. Micro loans are easier to get than traditional loans because they usually serve niche groups like women or minorities. The most well known micro-lending companies are Kabbage and Kiva, but there are hundreds of other nonprofits and companies that provide micro-lending. Check out this list here and here.
The U.S. Small Business Association provides training and financial resources for small businesses. You can find joint funding programs with your local city or apply for financial assistance at the federal level. The qualifications are a bit strict for the more common loans, but I encourage you to check out programs on your local level. Often times the city has a small business department that subsidizes loans specifically for new businesses and companies with little collateral.
Unlike loans, there are various contests and programs that provide grants and seed money to start your business. This is money that you do not have to pay back. I like to separate these scenarios into two distinct categories.
The first are grants. Grants are either public, coming from state and local government, or private. Both usually have very specific guidelines. Many of these grants require a lengthy application that asks you to show how you will use the money. So, if you want to get started, make sure you have a rock solid business plan and vision for your business.
Check Out This Article For A List of 11 Grants For Women-Owned Businesses.
The second scenario involves contests where you will pitch your idea. The application process is less lengthy, but they usually involve more in-person work. You will have to pitch or present your idea in front of a group of panelists and explain why your business is innovative, socially conscious, or most likely to succeed. Pitch contests are common in most cities. They are usually funded by colleges, your local SBA, or other entrepreneurial organizations. (I have a list of grants in the member’s area. You can join by clicking here)
I use the word “stack” to encompass the overall idea behind saving money. If I were to be honest, this is my favorite way to start a business. Yes, it takes more time and requires a long-term vision, but it is a dependable, predictable, realistic and rewarding approach. Here’s how to stack your money to fund your business.
Make More Money
Is pride preventing you from looking into part time work ?
When I first had the idea for a company about hair and health, I had a professional Project Manager job. During the day I worked in the office, but at night I waitressed at a sushi place. Working 3 nights a week gave me $1200 extra dollars CASH a month (And corns on my feet. UGHH). I have a degree in political science. I also completed 2.5 years of a JD/MBA. It’s pretty obvious that I am a little overqualified to be a waitress. But you know what? I did it because I needed to make extra money and I had a dream and a goal.
So I want to encourage you to consider part-time work or even taking extra shifts at your current job. Other options to make more money are signing up for AirBNB, UBER/Lyft, or using your skills to freelance on websites like Upwork or Fiverr.
This is one of the most painless ways to grow your personal small business fund. When I decided to start Fulfillity, I lived in a beautiful 1 bedroom apartment. I made the decision to move out of my $800/ month apartment and rent a room from a friend for $300/month. I even sold ALL the furniture in my apartment for $201500. At the time, I felt like investing in my dream was bigger than my beautiful purple couch (which I miss so much). It was a BOLD MOVE. I know. And you don’t have to do it as BIG as I did. I do, however, want you to consider a few easy ways you can cut expenses.
- Coffee – Kick your coffee habit and put that $4 in a jar every day instead.
- Eating Out – Learn to cook and reserve eating out to twice per month. There are so many free recipes online.
- Learn To Budget – I struggled (and still do) with this. I love The Budgetnista (Tiffany) and Myleik Teele. They really inspired me to take control of my finances. I would deposit my check and have 3 envelopes of cash one for fun, one for groceries, and one for tithes. So that would be my only cash during my pay period. I also stopped carrying my debit card with me. I actually froze it in some Tupperware in my freezer! Extreme, I know! But, that was the only way to keep me from making it rain at H&M.
- Downsize What You Can
- Find a roommate or move into a studio
- Eliminate cable and get Netflix and Hulu instead
- Exchange your car for lower car payments or start taking public transportation to save gas
- Find a budget phone company. I used virgin mobile for 2 years. It was $40 unlimited everything.
- Change gyms. Planet Fitness is only $10/month or find an inside routine like a workout DVD.
We can spend years daydreaming about the project we want to start or wracking our brains trying to figure out how to get the money. Let me tell you something. Time WILL pass. Every month that you spend thinking or worrying about starting your business is a missed opportunity to stack money to start your business.
Check out apps like Digit or banking programs that are designed to help you save money. Sign up for your bank’s Christmas program and put $100 away every paycheck. Deliberate moves to save, even while you work up the courage to start, can garner you over $2,400 per year!
If you’ve got the spirit here are a few guerrilla ways to get money to start your business.
Crowdfunding is the process of raising money from a large group of people online. If your idea is compelling enough, strangers will give you money to support your idea or reserve first rights when your product is ready! Popular crowdfunding sites include Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
Host An Event
This is a little old-school, but hey it works. You can throw an event like a poetry night, fashion show, or house party to raise money for your idea. Events like these make it easier to ask your friends and family to support you in a way that is more tangible. This idea works even better when the event is related to your idea (like funding your first book with a poetry night). But it doesn’t have to be related. Remember those rent parties back in the day?
Affiliate marketing is where you get a commission for selling someone else’s product. In a nutshell, advertisers are willing to pay you to advertise their products and services. They’ll give you a special link and the more people you get to complete an action or take advantage of the affiliate offer via your link, the more money you’ll make.
I recommend Clickbank.com, Peerfly, Maxbounty, and Adscendmedia if you’re looking to get started with affiliate marketing. These are professional companies that have a lot of options to choose from.
What do you really need to get started? A website? A car? A marketing video? If you can identify small projects that you need to complete in order to start your business, then consider trading services or items for these projects. Last year I traded booth space at an expo for a 6 week weight loss program at my old company. So get creative and start thinking about what skills or hookups you can offer in exchange for the services you need to start your business.
Presales are the process of selling your product/service before it is finished or created. You can do this with a physical product, coaching services, etc. A presale will give you time and allow you to gather capital to create your product.
Those are my 4 realistic ways to get money to start your business. If you like what you read consider sharing it!