In fact, your options are more varied than ever. And the start-up cash you need may be hidden right under your nose. Wondering how to find it? Ask yourself two critical questions:
1) Who else will win from your success?
2) How can you make them an offer attractive enough to help you get started?
Answering these two questions accurately and acting on those answers may lead you to all the cash and credit you need to get and stay in business for at least the first few months.
For instance, can you sell services in advance to customers at a discount?
Is it possible to sign up people as preferred customers (or subscribers) if they pay in advance?
I love the story of the U.K. chocolate-maker who arranged to borrow funds from his clients (“chocolate bonds”) and repaid them by delivering tasting boxes of chocolates. Now that’s a sweet deal for all involved.
Or the hairdresser who sold advance subscriptions for haircuts to loyal clients before she went out on her own.
What companies, if any, will be your upstream vendors (folks who would be selling to you if you go into business)?
Would they give you favorable terms (in price or payment schedule) for materials or equipment?
Next, is there a government entity that would benefit from your business and help you with free space, grants or loans or tax incentives? Many local, county and state governments offer a wealth of programs to help new businesses, especially minority or woman-owned businesses.
In my town, an empty car dealership is about to be reopened as a business incubator for multiple start-ups. You local paper or city councilperson may have similar resources to help you and your new venture.
In the U.S., the Small Business Administration offers a guaranteed loan program, a bonding program and a venture capital program which you can learn about by visiting:
In the E.U., a wide array of funding opportunities for small to medium businesses can be reviewed at:
Similar programs exist in Canada, Australia and many other countries.
Schedule a few 10-30 minute appointments with yourself to write down all your ideas over the next few days.
Then check out these additional new places to find start-up cash:
If you are in the USA, micro-loans are available at AccionUSA. Loan amounts from AccionUSA range from $500 to $30,000.
Internationally, you can find micro-loans through the innovative Kiva.
Or, if you are adventurous, you can explore a peer-to-peer loan model at a site called Prosper. There you can obtain a loan from a private person. Of course, like all loans, you are obligated to repay it (plus interest).
Another option is to approach family or friends for a loan to help you start your business.
Be sure to structure your interaction and expectations in a way that is clear enough to preserve the relationship and spell it out in writing so no misunderstandings arise later and mess up a relationship you really care about.
Lastly, angel investors are another potential source of money for you.
These individuals and groups meet to learn about the best new business opportunities with the intention of helping to fund them (and make money themselves in the process). Often, they will provide valuable advice and guidance as well.
In fact, Inc. Magazine has compiled an angel investor resource directory to help prospective business owners.
Some people will suggest offering a percent of your business in exchange for free services.
I don’t recommend that. You may be working in this business for years, long after the need for that person’s services has gone away. Instead, think of other trades you can offer for an in-kind exchange.
Finally, have you considered all the ways you can lower your start up costs through the type of business you select or by starting small and gradually ramping up? One chef and would-be restaurant owner started with a hot-dog cart on the way to her goal of having her own restaurant.
You can bet she served the most delicious hot-dogs of any cart in the city and built a name for herself as she built her cash reserves. (And better personal credit will help her get better terms on cash and credit for her business.)
A start-up that does not require loads of cash, will be quicker to launch, won’t leave you dependent on others, and will allow you to be more flexible and resourceful.
Are you getting ideas about how and where you can get the funding you need?
Then try these easy action steps in the next week:
1. Schedule a few short appointments with yourself to brainstorm and research these suggestions.
2. Come back to this post to report your actions and progress in the comments.
3. If you have tips or stories about the best strategies for accessing start-up cash today, please share them in the comments below.
Take Charge, Build Wealth!