When it comes to starting up your own business, your own company, your own means of being the boss, there is a lot to think about. There is the product or service you’re offering, the marketplace you’re wanting to launch, the buying habits of your demographic and who you need to bring onto your team to maximize growth. But while all of this is important, there is one clear winner when it comes to the most common question asked by wannabe entrepreneurs, and that is, “how to I find the funding that’s required?”
Unfortunately, there is no magic spell that will conjure up a pile of cash in the sense that there isn’t a place where the rich hang around waiting for you to perfect your business. What there are, however, are options for you to explore. Just make sure you really concentrate on which one will best suit you, or which two will best suit you, knowing the pros and cons of each.
Let’s take an investor as an example. You may or may not have seen Dragon’s Den, but what happens on their is what will happen to you. There will be a lot of scrutiny on your business and your ability to lead the charge and, if you get past that pressurized environment, you will be expected to give up a portion of your business – both equity and control – in exchange for funds. Pros and cons.
In a way, getting funding is a matter of knowing what you want, and what you are willing to sacrifice.
1. Go & fund Yourself
You may think this is a cop-out of a suggestion, but it is an important thing to consider because of the positives it grants you. What’s more, over 90% of startups these days are self-funded for the simple fact it is cheaper than ever before to do it. While it may set you back in terms of a launch date, the obvious advantage is that you will own your business 100%, both in equity and control.
However, you don’t necessarily have to self-fund yourself completely. Perhaps you only need to save a certain amount to get off the ground, and then seek further investment to grow. According to the Fortunate Investor, the fact that you have put up your own capital to get yourself up and running will make you more attractive to investors because you will have a lot to lose if you don’t deliver, which means you are shouldering a lot of the risk. So self-funding has the advantage in the long-run too.
2. Tap up the government
Depending on where you live, most startup companies are eligible for a small business grant which is provided to you by the government. What they are looking for in terms of a business to stump up cash for is usually a worthy cause, whether that be education or medicine or maybe even technological advancements.
It changes, so do your research, which will often be available on local government websites. The downside to this route is that it tends to be a lengthy process with more red tape than an arts and crafts store, but the plus-side is that you won’t have to give up any of your business. Win.
3. Blend into the crowd
This is arguably one of the newest forms of finding investment, but going down the crowdfunding route is one of the greatest ways to collect the money you need. What’s more, there are tons of different platforms for you to explore, with the most successful being Kickstarter.
The way it works is pretty well documented these days but you essentially you explain what your business idea is, set yourself a financial target to reach, and then start welcoming pledges based on pre-buying your product, getting a discount, being credited for their financial help or any other number of rewards you want to offer. The big benefits of this, no equity giveaway and a wonderful means of boosting your exposure to the masses, especially potential customers.
4. Look for some angels
If you live in a built-up area, such as a city or large town, then chances are that there will be groups of HNWI (high net-worth individuals) who have an interest in investing in small companies and startup businesses. As a syndicate of financiers, they typically invest anywhere up to a million bucks in startups that qualify for funding.
Traditionally this was quite a challenge because it was tough to find these angel investors, but nowadays there are online platforms that do the hard work for you, such as Gust. It then becomes a matter of finding an investor that is looking to invest in your area and one that shares your passions. The rest is just a matter of negotiation.
5. Adventures with venture capitalists
It should be noted that this option is mainly for startups that are in need of the bigger bucks, startups that have a proven team in place but need to find over a million in investment. If this is you, then this could be the perfect avenue to saunter down because a venture capitalist is a professional investor that hand over institutional money to qualified startups.
What they mean by qualified startups is one that has demonstrated success already, has a proven business model and is now ready to upscale their operations. There will be a need to discuss terms and investment and what they get in return, but it is a discussion, so stay as level-headed and professional as possible.
6. Seek out your peers
Peer-to-peer lending has become the big disruption in the world of finance. It is still early days, but it is essentially doing to the world of bank loans what Airbnb is doing to hotels and Uber is doing to taxis. It is the big disruptive technology in this realm and it is a great option, and one with lots of options.
What it does is simply cut out the middleman – the banker – so that lenders can go straight to borrowers. The big benefit of this is that the borrowing rates are so much cheaper than banks can offer, which makes it far less risky for the lender because the repayments will be easier to achieve, while also offering high rates of return. It is an absolute win.