It's still not easy to find money out there, especially via traditional funding routes. For those entrepreneurs who have no collateral, it's nearly impossible. And if you are a female business owner, studies show that your odds of success are even less.
Entrepreneurs fund their business growth most commonly through credit cards, borrowing from friends and family, SBA and home equity loans, and angel investors. Never mind the possibility of losing your friends and alienating your family. These other options have their own risks--like losing your home and potentially giving up control of your business.
Funding challenges for women business owners aren't letting up much. According to the NAWBO 2013 State of Women-Owned Business Survey, nearly a quarter of women business owners did not seek a new loan or line of credit because they did not believe they would get it. Their instincts are accurate as loan approval rates for women-owned companies are 15 percent to 20 percent lower than they are for male-owned companies.
Sure, there are all sorts of equality reasons that make these facts important, but think about this: Although women-owned small businesses currently account for less than a fifth of employment, the Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute projects that they will by account for one-third of the new jobs created by 2018. In order to significantly decrease joblessness and fuel a brighter economic future, women must have access to capital.
Serena Walker, Founder of The Athena Business Institute, says there are less traditional, often overlooked, methods of funding your business. The really cool thing about these options is that your credit history and assets won't influence the outcome.
To better educate women of their funding options, The Athena Business Institute is conducting a week long virtual women's business funding summit beginning on July 15, 2013. Here are just a few of the choices that Walker and her panel of experts will address. While the summit is for women, these funding paths naturally work for male business owners as well.
Contests and Competitions
Do you need money for common business expenses like rent, equipment, and travel? Perhaps you're looking in the wrong place. According to Walker you can enter contests often hosted by large companies to win anything from a year's free rent for office space to business software, office equipment, mentoring, sourcing contacts, distribution opportunities, contacts with high ranking people within your industry, training, and even cash! To test her theory I Googled contests to win office equipment and found quite a few, including this chance to Win a Free Steelcase Office Makeover from The Human Solution.
Purchase Order Financing
If you've been afraid to approach large vendors or distributors because you don't have the cash to produce enough inventory, then you'll be excited to learn about this option. When you have a solid purchase order ready to fulfill you can use a purchase order finance company to pay the suppliers directly, usually via a letter of credit. Once you deliver the order, proceeds will begin to flow.
Rolling Your IRA or 401k into Your Business Without Tax Penalties
While there is no official IRS ruling authorizing the full process, you can do a 401k rollover into your business. It's not without complications so make sure to work with a financial advisor who has done it before. Basically, you roll the money into a retirement pension under the name of your company and then that pension invests in the company.
My personal favorite is the contest option because it's fun, creative, and risk free. What's yours?