When you think about what’s holding you back from growing your business, does the word money ever come up? What would you do if you had an extra $10,000 or $50,000? Would it take your business from hobby to full time job? Would it take your income from just scraping by to a comfortable life? Would it enable you to hire an employee so you could get more done? Would it allow you to hire a PR rep or a SEO expert? Would it allow you to exhibit at that trade show with the $10,000 booth fee? All week we’ve been looking at what it costs to run a business but today we’re talking about how to get those funds.
A lot of the big successful businesses you see didn’t get that way by funding their start up out of their own cash on hand. Some certainly went that route, but if you don’t have a stack of cash that shouldn’t prevent you from investing the funds you need to invest to grow. YOU HAVE TO SPEND MONEY TO MAKE MONEY and realistically, your business might never get to the point you’d like it to without the proper capital. So here are some ways you can get your hands on the cash you need to take your venture to the next step:
If you have decent credit, leverage it to get some cash. This might mean putting things on a credit card (recommended for short term loans like getting supplies to fill a large wholesale order) or taking out a loan. Another option is a micro-loan. These are loans specifically designed for small businesses and tend to be under $35,000.00. The Small Business Administration is a great resource for getting started with micro-loans. There are pros and cons to funding your business on credit. The good news is that you retain 100% ownership of your business, provided that you can repay your lenders. The bad news is that these types of loans can have high interest rates. A credit card loan can be around 18%, a micro-loan tends to run at an interest rate of 8-13%. That said, if you can’t or don’t want to get investors and you don’t have personal assets to leverage, this is the way to go to get the funds you need to grow.
2. Personal Assets
Personal assets are actually a pretty good way to get low interest rate loans. If you have a 401k you can borrow against it, this may end up being less expensive than borrowing against a credit card. 401k loans also do not require a credit check, so if your credit isn’t great, this can solve that problem. There are pros and cons to 401k loans, which this article sums up nicely. Another option is a home equity line of credit (also called a HELOC). If you have equity in your home, you can get a low interest line of credit against that equity and you can use that to fund your business. A HELOC is nice because you can score a low interest rate, you only have to take the money you need as you need it, and when they money is borrowed, it’s treated as a home loan, which means all that interest is tax deductible. You can look into scoring a HELOC from sites like LendingTree.com. Make sure you rate shop so you can get the most favorable rates. You’ll also want to watch out for minimum withdrawals, some HELOCs have them, some do not.
Like other forms of credit, leveraging personal assets to get ahold of cash for your business is nice because you don’t have anyone else getting a stake in your venture. You retain all the autonomy and profits. You also take some of a financial loss going this route, due to tax ramifications and interest, but if you can vastly accelerate the growth of your company, this is a loss worth taking.
Getting investors for your business can be challenging, but it can also yield a significant cushion of cash without the personal financial risk that comes with loans. Typically investors give you capital to grow your business in exchange for a share of the ownership. There are various ways you can structure investor relationships, but typically it means giving the investors some say in how you run the business. It also means when you make money, they make money too, so all the profit doesn’t end up in your pocket. This article and this article provide a pretty nice overview of working with investors. Sites like Funding Universe and Go Big Network specialize in connecting entrepreneurs with investors. Inc Magazine also has a directory of angel investors.