If you have a startup idea, you’re probably excited to get it off the ground. Perhaps you feel like your idea is world-changing, and money and stardom are very close.
Before you get to the promised land, though, you’ll need to come up with funding. If you’re not independently wealthy, you’ll need to get that money somehow, or your idea will remain nothing more than a shining vision that never comes to fruition.
Let’s go over some of the more realistic funding ideas that exist.
Small Business Loans
If you’re going to use small business funding to grow your business, then getting a bank or credit union loan is one of the more traditional ways to do that. To do so, you’ll need to:
- Approach the bank or credit union loan officer
- Have a well-thought-out business plan
- Convince them of your idea’s validity
The issue you might encounter is that some banks and credit unions are notoriously dubious with small business plans. You’ll have to wow them if you’re going to get funding this way.
Use Your Own Money
People sometimes call using your own money for your business “bootstrapping.” It’s risky because if your company goes belly-up, it’s your own money that’s probably gone for good. To do this, you might:
- Drain your savings and checking accounts
- Cash in your CDs
- Cash in your IRA or 401K
Any of these are undeniably risky prospects. You have to genuinely believe in the business plan to launch a startup this way.
Still, if you believe with all your heart that you have a winning idea, then putting your own money into it might start a legendary success story.
Borrow from Friends or Family
You can also approach a family member or friend if you know they’re well off financially. It will be the same as with a bank or credit union loan officer. You should have a business plan that you can show them, rather than just a vague idea.
Perhaps they’re willing to help you with funding. This carries risks, though. If the business is not successful, it will be quite challenging to pay back the money that the friend or family member loaned to you.
Your relationship with them might sour because they want that money back, and it could be years till you can get it to them. Friendships and familial relationships sometimes end because of money squabbles, so you’d better think about that before you broach the subject.
You might also try crowdsourcing. There are platforms through which you can try to solicit money from strangers, such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe.
With this sort of enterprise, you’re trying to convince not a single bank loan officer, but many individuals the world over. If you’re going to tug on their heartstrings and get them to fund your project, you’ll have to connect with them somehow.
This strategy is most likely to succeed if your project sounds like an idea that will benefit the world in some meaningful way. If your project is something run-of-the-mill that doesn’t stand out, you probably won’t get to your fundraising goal.
Accelerators or Incubators
Accelerators or incubators often exist close to colleges. If your university has a well-known business program, they are more likely to be there.
These spaces act as a combination of mentorship development centers and communal workspaces. You can sometimes find individuals that share your vision and partner with them. Some may have seed money, so you can get your idea going with their assistance.
The only issue is that these programs usually exist for tech-related projects. If that’s not what you have in mind, then no one in one of these spaces is likely to help you.
You’ve probably watched shows like “Shark Tank,” and maybe dreamed of going on them. That’s often impractical, though.
You have a chance to do something similar on a local level if you enter a contest with your startup idea. Local small business associations and commerce chambers sometimes award grants and have contests with cash prizes for the winners. You’ll need a plan that, if you win, will create an entity that will help the local community.
You might decide to try not one of these ideas, but several. Perhaps you may even go down the list, trying the ones that seem most promising first. If you want to get your startup going badly enough, though, you’ll probably be willing to attempt just about anything to make that happen.