The toughest part of starting any new business is coming up with start-up funds. It does not matter if you are starting a home-based business or opening a retail location, you are still going to need money to get started. One good general rule of thumb is that you want to try to raise as much cash as you can on your own so that you only borrow as much money as you absolutely need. There is nothing wrong with borrowing money to get your business started, but the more you borrow, the longer it will take before your business truly sees a profit. Here are some suggestions to help you finance your new business venture.
Look for Grants
You can find federal grants for women-owned businesses thought the United State government at this website. Additionally, there are several non-profit agencies and female entrepreneurs that offer regular grants to woman who want to start a business, some of them are The Women’s Funding Network, Make Mine a Million and The EILEEN FISHER Business Grant Program for Woman Entrepreneurs. Applying for grants can be a time consuming process, but every dollar you receive is one less dollar you have to spend out of your pocket. It is well worth your time to investigate as many grant options as you can find.
Ask People You Know
Your family and friends are likely to be more supportive of your idea than you may think. Some might even give you outright donations to help you get started. As long as you do not get offended or upset if someone says no, it does not hurt to ask. Even if you have to borrow money from them, getting a loan someone you know is less formal than dealing with banks like SunTrust or ING. Additionally, a friend or family member who loans you money is less likely to charge you interest and may give you some time to get your business started before you have to start repaying them.
De-Clutter and Make Money
We all have items in our home that we really do not need or could stand to part with. Why not sell some of them and put the money towards your business fund? Perhaps you have a collection of DVDs you no longer watch, or books you have already read. Maybe you have children who have old toys they no longer play with. It does require some work, but many people sell things on eBay to help generate money for their goals. If eBay seems like it would be too much of a hassle, a good old-fashioned yard sale may work just as well. You also might want to consider selling some collectibles or jewelry as well.
Get a Personal Loan
If you only need a relatively small amount of money, a personal loan is often easier to get than a small business loan. In March 2013, Wells Fargo announced their intention to lend 55 billion dollars to women-owned businesses and other banks have similar programs. Another good option is to try online websites like prosper.com, creditloan.com, mtb.com, or any other that can match you up with different companies. Some people like the personal touch of going to a brick-n-mortar bank, while others prefer the convenience of comparing loan offers online.
Take Out a Small Business Loan
If you are planning to open a store, a restaurant or some other type of retail location, then you will need more money than a personal loan will cover. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) does not have any specific loan programs for women, but they do offer small business loans and provide a variety of resources for female business owners. You may also want to check with the bank that you have your checking and/or savings account with. If you have a good history with them, they may be more inclined to give you a small business loan.
Refinance Your Home
If you have a good amount of equity in your home, you may be able to refinance your mortgage and get enough cash out to start your business. However, there are two major caveats to this method that you need to keep in mind. For one thing, it is a very expensive way to borrow money because there are all sorts of fees involved, especially the settlements fees, which are quite high. Secondly, if your business does not succeed and you get in financial trouble then you are putting your home at risk. Borrowing against your home should be handled with extreme caution so that you do not lose your most precious asset.
Look for Investors
There are many angel investors, private investor who loan money to start-ups, who may be willing to help you. You might also want to try approaching people you know and instead of asking for a loan or a gift, invite them to invest in your company. This can be a great way to raise money for both entrepreneurial ventures and small to medium businesses. Keep in mind though, that any investor is going to expect to see a return on his or her investment, some may even ask for partial ownership of the business until you can afford to buy them out. Before accepting money from an investor, make sure you have all the terms of your agreement in writing.
Having a great idea and a solid business plan is a great start, but the biggest hurdle you will face is finances. The best advice is to contribute as much as you can, borrow what you can afford and be creative when it comes to raising funds. It is a very good idea to not just have enough money to cover your start-up costs, but to put some money in an emergency fund as well. Every new business is a unique experience and you never know when something unexpected might happen. If you have money put aside, it will help you keep your cash flow positive. As big an obstacle as it may appear, you can find the money to help pursue your dream.