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Monday, January 12, 2009

Learning to finance a startup Business

I wasn't always a business owner and, after all I like to share my experience with you about this long/short process. Don't be afraid of running out of time, be diligent and persistent.

No matter how great and unique your idea for a new business is, or what business are you buying or taking over, you won't get past the starting gate without funding. There are many ways to find money, but most are generally more appropriate for most established companies. Still, there are some smart tacks for start ups; there's money out there if you get creative. Here's a look at some options:

1. Bootstrapping. - the translation for"Bootstrapping" is - using whatever resources you have on hand to help you get your business to the next level.

Entrepreneurs spend an average of close to $70,000 - $75,000 to start a business, and most of that money is provided by the small-business owners themselves. I am talking about my own experience here

Where do entrepreneurs find the money? While most part comes from personal savings and home-equity loans, they also tend to use (plastic), Credit Cards heavily. Possibly, half of all start ups are funded by the owners' credit cards. Also, if you dare, get into your pension plan, I did!

2. Raise money from relatives - Friends and family come handy. At the very early stages of any start up, entrepreneurs also tend to raise money from relatives, colleagues and other people they know well.
Usually, friends family financing is informal; you probably don't have to write a business plan for the transaction. But, no matter how well you know your early investors, it would be wise to draw up a contract to prevent any misunderstandings down the road.

3. Borrow from Banks. For most start ups, getting a traditional bank loan is a long shot, especially in today's economy. That's because banks typically will only consider companies that have been in business for two years, at least. I don't have to go on about my personal story, we were turned down by some exactly for the reason I am going to mention in a minute here. Above all, they need to see a tangible asset that can be used as collateral. The bank is going to loan money based on your ability to pay out, and they're more likely to finance something that has greater value and a history of great performance.

4. Also try SBA - Small Business Association. One possibility is to apply for a loan guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA). A bank is less reluctant to take on a company with an SBA guaranty. Even with that seal of approval, you may still have to pledge your home/personal property as collateral.

5. Look for Grants you might qualify for. There are tons of information on the web, just be very selective who you start working with. You can order one of those kits and try yourself or you can find someone that write grands as a profession and help you with the application. If your venture is a technology business, you might be able to apply for a Small Business Innovation Research grant (SBIR).
That is a federally funded program mandating that certain agencies set aside part of their budgets to fund fledgling high-tech companies with interesting inventions they want to commercialize.
There also are a limited number of government grants for women and minority-owned businesses as well. One really good thing is: Competition for this money is steep. So, if you apply for the grant and win it, it's helpful for attracting funding from other investors.

6. Use Venture capital. Simply put, Venture Capitals rarely invest in start ups or even early-stage companies. Still, if your company already has a track record and promises high returns, it's worth a shot.
Learn about the service as it involves some sensitive issues. Your best bet is to use your network to find a referral. Then, make sure you have an great business plan put together. You also have to be willing to give up control over major decisions and/or to sell your business at one point in time.

7. Find "Angels". If you're further along in your development - you have a management team and, preferably, a product or service on the market that's of a high interest - you can try angels. They're private, high net-worth individuals who generally invest anywhere from $50,000 to $2 million in companies.
Who are they? most likely former entrepreneurs themselves, angels can offer not only money, they also can provide expertise and useful contacts.

How to find them? One avenue is to approach the growing number of angel clubs. These groups of private investors meet regularly to hear brief presentations from entrepreneurs seeking money and then, often, give money jointly to companies. to find them see link on this article!)

It's always important to do some research and document yourself on your options, your opportunity and use those professionals to get help from. Get expert tips, links on...
* Accounting and finance
* Entrepreneurial women, minorities, kids, more
* Global business
* Government regulations
* Green business
* Hiring and managing
* Legal issues
* Marketing
* Raising money
* Real estate
* Start up
* Technology

When it comes to Credit Cards, tread carefully. If you use them up to the maximum and create a huge debt and damage your credit rating, once your credit is shaky, it'll be hard to get further funding.


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