Whether you're starting a digitally-based business or opening up a storefront retail space, startup costs are commonplace for all entrepreneurs alike. Some can sneak away with a "started in my garage with nothing but my laptop" type of expense, while others have to shell out their whole life savings on a dream. For the latter, sometimes you need a little more than what you saved up.
On the journey to opening my gym, I went from creating my dream space with a very reasonable budget of one million dollars -- just kidding on the reasonable front -- to slimming it down to a much more feasible six-digit number. Even after the heartbreaking decision to cut out the succulent decorations and state-of-the-art reception area (read: not that necessary after all), I still needed to come up with a little more money to make this dream come true.
If you're stuck in the same boat and hesitant to step into the VC or angel investment world, check out these modern day options to obtain those last few dollars while still maintaining control of your company.
First things first: cut it down.
The first step before searching for more cash is to take out what you don't need. Cut it down to the bare minimum. What are the absolute essentials you need to run your business? What parts can you barter or do trades for? Get creative here -- enough hacks could really save you a lot of extra change.
What can you offer?
Take an honest look at your bank account. How much can you realistically contribute to your new company while still surviving the day to day? NerdWallet recommends that your rainy day funds allow for 3-6 months of living expenses.
Getting an SBA loan from a big bank is an obvious way to go, but the process for clearing that process can be intense, especially if you still have student debt, a first-time owner, or don't have a ton of collateral to guarantee the loan.
In fact, Fundera cites the following approval statistics from the SBA website: "29% approval for all minority-owned businesses versus 57% white-owned, 71% for male-owned businesses versus 29% female-owned, 67% existing businesses versus 33% new business, and 17% rural companies versus 83% urban."
If you fall into the negative end of statistics above and you only need funding between $500 to $50,000, there are many local organizations or non-profits that will provide you that amount with lower interest rates and fewer upfront requirements. Plus, there are added benefits if you're a minority or women-owned business and some places even include access to mentors and monthly trainings to ensure you'll succeed.
Try Equipment Leasing With Option to Purchase
If you've checked off the loan box and still need funding, consider this: leasing equipment with the option to buy it at the end. This way, you're not mindlessly renting your equipment for years on end or shelling a lot of money upfront, but you're slowly paying it off so that you can own it in a few years. This is different than a normal lease purchase because you do not have to buy it out in the end if you don't want to.
Typical contracts include a $1 buy out or fair market value. The $1 buy out is good for long lasting equipment like construction materials or heavy duty items, where you'll pay higher monthly costs but be able to redeem depreciation tax benefits. Fair market value (FMV) is good if you're investing in fickle items like computers or tech that may need to be upgraded or returned at the end of the lease term anyway.
At the end of the day, you'll be saving a ton of startup costs using this neat equipment hack.
Tap Into Credit Cards or Lines of Credit
This one is a little tricky and that's why we saved it for last. It should only be reserved for those last few dollars, not be your main piece of funding. Credit cards need to be paid off monthly and can come with annual fees, so that's more of a temporary quick fix as your revenue is coming in.
On the other hand, you can opt for a line of credit with your bank. This is a pre-approved maximum amount of money the bank will loan to you. The upside is that you only get charged interest on what you use, so if you end up only need a few thousand instead of the full amount, it's an overall cheaper safety net. This is best used for working capital and can help complete payroll or fulfill big inventory orders simultaneously.
At the end of the day, lines of credit should still be paid off in a timely manner, but know that there is a lot of flexibility in how and when you can pay it off. Plus, once you pay it off, your line of credit refreshes back to the pre-approved amount. Lines of credit allow you to use that cash however you need, whereas specific loans will require you to only spend it on specific needs, like equipment or tenant improvements.