Money is the lifeblood of business. Getting capital at the right time and at the right rates is one big aspect of any entrepreneurial venture. Where can you find the capital and who will give it to your business? These are questions which haunt every entrepreneur and pose a challenge to the entrepreneur at whatever stage the business is in - at the stage of starting out and expansion stages as well.
There are basically two ways of financing - debt and equity. Debt is when you borrow to invest in the business and equity is when you use your own funds to start-off the business venture.
So, you're probably wondering how to find seed money for any such start up or expansion plan.
- You: The best source of funds for a small business first time loan. The business is the entrepreneur when it is a proprietorship. Your savings is a good place to start to fund your own business venture.
- Bank Loan: Based on the proprietor's credit history and the business proposal or business plan. The proprietor's credit history and past business performance (if an existing business) will help in getting a business loan for the small business. Write up a good plan that helps the banker/lender understand your business and the industry you are in and this will help in the process of securing the loan.
- Your near and dear ones: Your family and friends is the next good source for a business loan and they can be easily convinced by you and your business idea, to invest in your business enterprise.
- Changing the business profile to a strategic partnership so that the assets of the partner(s) can also be considered for securing business loans. A partnership not only assures the business a complementary balance with skill sets and talents which may be lacking in the original entrepreneur, but also ensures that the loans and opportunities available to the business double because of the entrance of the partner through his net worth and network.
- Customers and vendors can also be a source of funds when they are sold on the compelling business idea and agree to buy into the business and invest money.
- Your personal assets are a good source of funds and you can consider selling them for your business.
- The United States Small Business Administration is not a source of direct funding for small businesses, but they do stand as guarantor for small businesses when they are convinced of their feasibility. One can go onto their website, ww.sba.gov, and submit all the information required through the application form. If the qualification criteria are met, then SBA forwards these details to the lenders for their underwriting and subsequent granting of the loan.
- The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance gives information on federal programs that offer grants. The Foundation Centre (http://www.fdncenter.org/) shows links to private foundations, community-based foundations, corporate grant makers, etc. The site, http://www.grants.gov/ helps by giving information on applying for federal grants and contracts. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (http://www.atp.nist.gov/) provides financial support for projects, which involve advanced technology.
The business idea and performance along with your credentials as the entrepreneur are primary deciders, which will help secure you a loan. So once you have the idea, the plan and are ready, then why wait? Get going!