Funding can be a discouraging prospect.
You can't make money until you start your business, but you can't get the money you need to start your business. So you sit there--stuck and discouraged.
It's time to change all that. Funding is available. Maybe all you needed was a word of encouragement and a rousing round of advice to get you started. This article might be just what you're looking for.
Keep in mind that different funding techniques may work for different stages of a business's growth. A sell-everything-you-have idea may be your only option at first, but as the business starts to scale, you may step up your game and go for a business loan.
- Hustle. Best funding source on the planet? You. Your kickass work ethic and brilliant mind are the source of all funding goodness. Learn to hustle, and everything else in this list will work like magic.
- Have a plan. Funding isn't a dream-about-it prospect. You've got to hit the sidewalk, send some emails, and make some phone calls. Write down your plan and act on it.
- Join contests. Do this. Google "business funding contest" or "small business capital contest." What do you get Money falling from the sky, basically. There are hundreds of such contests ranging from the stupid to the stellar. Find one or two or five hundred, and give it a go.
- Join a startup accelerator (or incubator). Accelerators offer anywhere from $20-50k in startup capital to the businesses in the program. The primary value of an accelerator is notthe cash, but the overall business value of the program. Keep in mind the pros and cons of choosing the accelerator route.
- Get on Shark Tank. Sure, it's a long stretch, but it's reasonable to consider. If you get on Shark Tank, you've essentially got funding. Riches and fame--what more could you ask for?
- Presell. If you don't have a product to sell, then you can sell a promise. Selling in advance, before you even have manufacturing, construction, or an office space, is a method of gaining capital. It won't work for every business model.
- Leverage PayPal. No I'm not talking about online payment for which PayPal is famous. I'm talking about PayPal's business loan division. It's a no-credit-check method that allows you to flex payments along with the fluctuation of sales. For example, if you don't make any sales on a given day, you don't have to pay that day.
- Borrow from CanCapital. CanCapital has been around for a while (17 years), and they provide traditional term loans and adjustable loans which vary according to the ebb and flow of the business.
- Find a zero interest credit card. Nearly anyone with a pulse can get a credit card. Find an introductory offer with zero credit for any amount of time, and max it out.
- Use Kabbage. Kabbage calls themselves the #1 online provider of small business loans. You may not be able to borrow much, but something is better than nothing.
- Use OnDeck. OnDeck analyzes the health of your business to provide a loan, not just a credit score. You can potentially get funding from OnDeck early as 24 hours from right now.
- Borrow from Prosper. Prosper has some steep rates, but a good model for most small businesses.
- Kickstarter is the mother of all crowdsourcing sites. With 80k+ funded products, don't expect to go viral.
- Indiegogo is one of the most popular crowdsourced funding sites. They like tech products.
- Fundly. If you're launching a nonprofit, Fundly is a great option.
- RocketHub. Unlike some of the crowdfunding sites, RocketHub lets you keep all your funding, whether or not you meet your goal.
- Fundable is a crowdfunding site, but they've positioned themselves to help the small business, not just geeky cool products.
- AngelList, like the name suggests, is a networking site where you--the business needing funding--find angel investors. It's morphed into a job-seeking, LinkedIn-cousin sort of social platform, but the angels are still there.
- Stay employed. Use the income from your present job to fund your startup. It's a common model used by thousands of soon-to-be-business owners around the world.
- Side hustle. If your ultimate dream small business costs money, start a no-cost business that generates income. You may have to return to the teenage days of lawn mowing, car washing, and pet sitting, but it works.
- Get connected to people who can fund you. Word of mouth referrals are the best way to find money. The more you network, socialize, and ask around, the more introductions, people, and potential funding sources you'll find.
- Find a mentor. Mentors aren't just sage advice givers. They may also have funding money. If you don't have a mentor, find one. If you have a mentor, ask for advice on funding. Your mentor might fund you or find someone who can.
- Cash-out refinance on your home. Do you own a home? It's your new best friend. A home equity line of credit or cash-out refinance are tools that put money in your pocket.
- Local economic development agencies. Once you start a business, you'll discover the world of getting taxed out the wazoo. The government has a vested interest in helping you start your business. Find out about the economic development agencies in your state that can help you secure a loan.
- Get a self-employment loan. The National Association for the Self-Employed gives provides growth grants for some self-employed small business owners.
- Sell all your stuff. Say hello to Craigslist. You can sell your stuff and probably end up happier as a result. Then, you can use all that cash floating around to found your business.
- Live in your car. No, it's not a joke, and yes, it's been done before. Kurt Varner launched his business, not from his kitchen table but from the back seat of his car. Who knew a Honda Civic could be so valuable. Just don't let this mentality push you to unethical extremes.
- Get a Small Business Innovation Research or Technology Transfer loan. It's part of the government alphabet soup, but it works. If you're doing R&D or a tech startup, find out how you cash in on the the SBIR and STTR programs.
- Beg and borrow from family and friends. This the way that many businesses have lurched into existence. The possibility of personal rifts is high, but it can work. Be sure to pay them interest, sign a contract, and get legal advice.
- The Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF) is yet another government entity that lends money--$15 billion so far--to banks and loan funds. These banks and loan funds in turn can help your small business secure some cash.
- Get a bank loan. There's always your local bank. Start a conversation with a relationship banker or a small business agent to talk funding.
Loans, by their very nature, are risky. But that's the entrepreneurial life for you--no risk, no reward.
If you can go it without raising any money, be my guest. If, on the other hand, you want to accelerate your business dream before retirement age, go get some funding.
Some of these techniques are not going to work, but I think you'll find at least one that will.