So here's the scenario: You've got a great idea--like, a really good idea. You're passionate about it and ready to jump into the world of entrepreneurship like a boss, except one little thing seems to be standing in the way...
You need some green to fund your start-up, but unfortunately Mark Cuban isn't on your speed dial. What to do, oh what to do?
Starting a business is pretty hot right now. But before you get those stars in your eyes, understand you're going up against a lot of competition. I'm not going to tell you not to do it--far from it!-- just note the importance of having a killer proposal no matter which way you go about getting some funds.
I'm not gonna recommend crowd-funding because although it can have awesome results (remember the guy that raised thousands to make potato salad?), unless your business idea catches the attention of the public, it's likely to go unfunded. Same goes for a friends/family recommendation-it's great if these people are willing to support your idea, but it doesn't validate it (which may make it harder to get capital down the road from other sources) and can make things, uh, tense. If you don't have to, don't.
Still interested? Okay here goes:
Rich Bitch money raising option #1: Get a grant. Finding and getting a grant isn't the easiest thing, but who are you to shy away from a little challenge? If you can secure one, you've got money in the bank for your start-up, free of charge. Depending on your business niche and demographics, there are various government grants available to you, even more if you're a female, minority, etc. Be prepared to write an extensively detailed proposal, baby.
A good place to start? www.FederalGrants.com
Rich Bitch money raising option #2: Enter a contest. No, I'm not talking about putting those shower singing skills to the test on The Voice in the hopes that the $100k prize money can go to your start-up. There are a growing number of contests that offer big prizes to encourage creative innovation. Several notable ones to consider are the MIT$100K, PITCH: Women 2.0 Startup Contest, and Amazon Web Services Start-Up Challenge.
Rich Bitch money raising option #3: Find your own Mark Cuban! Even if you're not competing on Shark Tank, you still have ways to find an angel investor (or two). A good angel investor can offer not only financial support, but also valuable connections and wisdom... yes, kind of like a fairy godmother. Take note though: because angel investors are willing to take on the risk of a start-up biz, they'll also be looking for something in return, normally a sizable portion of the company. If exchanging equity for $$$ isn't a big deal for you, then start doing some research. Networks like Gust, SBA, and Investors Circle help connect entrepreneurs with possible investors. Plus, just like with a grant, there are resources like Golden Seeds, Astia, and MBDA that are aimed primarily at helping women and minorities fund start-ups.
Nicole Lapin is a veteran financial journalist, serving as an anchor on CNN, CNBC, and Bloomberg. Her first book Rich Bitch: A Simple 12-Step Plan for Getting Your Financial Life Together...Finally was published in 2015 and you can follow Nicole on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and at NicoleLapin.com for smart financial advice and unconventional money tips.