If you need capital for your business, know you’re not alone. In 2016, 73% of small businesses used some form of financing.
While money doesn’t grow on trees, there are a number of ways you can seek funding for your business—some more traditional than others.
Here are six ways you can raise the cash you need to expand your business.
1. Bootstrap your business
Provided that your business isn’t operating in an industry that requires lots of startup capital, like manufacturing or transportation, you can potentially fund your own venture—and it may be more feasible than you think.
For instance, even if you don’t have enough in savings to run the operation, you could get a 0% intro APR business credit card, offering you the chance to borrow cash for a period of time without incurring interest.
Perhaps you think funding the business yourself carries lots of risk—and it does. But it’s important to consider your potential.
Brent Gleeson, a leadership and team building coach specializing in organizational transformations, states, “if you believe in your vision and have an absolute refusal to accept failure as an option, you should feel comfortable investing your own money into the business.”
This will make investors and lenders more willing to partner with you down the line, as you’ll have skin in the game.
2. Launch a crowdfunding campaign
There are many crowdfunding success stories out there. And with the right product and pitch, you can be one of them.
For instance, in 2013, Formlabs, a maker of affordable desktop 3D printers, raised $3 million on Kickstarter. This capital allowed the company to scale their operation and achieve their goal of manufacturing affordable 3D printers for the public.
Eventually, the 3D printer maker caught the attention of venture capitalists. During a series A round, Formlabs closed $19 million in investments, giving them the chance to expand beyond their initial goals.
Crowdfunding gives you the opportunity to connect with like-minded people who you wouldn’t normally be able to engage. You can gauge interest in your product and understand what’s resonating with people and what’s not. This shows you how to improve your product and your pitch. Most importantly, crowdfunding can bring much-needed funding to your business.
So, how do you launch a successful crowdfunding campaign?
Nathan Resnick, a serial entrepreneur who’s had success raising money on crowdfunding sites, stresses that you must develop your story, as “people on crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo want to know how you turned your idea into a reality.”
Your video pitch must show the value of your product, the need it serves, and why you require support. Having a good website and doing PR outreach helps as well.
3. Apply for a loan
Even as technology creates new ways of raising capital, traditional financing products remain the primary way small businesses fund their operations. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), almost 75% of financing for new firms comes from business loans, credit cards, and lines of credit.
Generally speaking, the small business loans with the most favorable rates and terms are going to be SBA loans and term loans from banks and other financial institutions. To get approved, you typically need to meet requirements like the following:
- Must have been in business for 2 years or more
- Must have solid annual revenue (typically at least $100,000)
- Must have good credit (like a score of 640+)
These aren’t hard and fast rules and will differ depending on the lender. If you don’t qualify for a term loan with a good APR, there are other, albeit more expensive, types of funding available.
If you have outstanding invoices, you could opt for invoice financing to get that money faster. Or, if you need cash for machinery, tech devices, office furniture, or something similar, consider equipment financing.
Before applying for a small business loan, prepare loan documents you’ll need to show. You’ll most likely be asked to show financial statements, like your profit and loss statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement, as well as tax returns and bank statements. Personal information may be checked as well.
4. Ask friends and family
Raising capital through friends and family is a viable option for many. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, 5% of US adults have invested in a company started by someone they know.
Caron Beesley, a content marketing specialist and SBA contributor, advises that you ideally select a friend or family member with solid business skills. She also suggests that you “narrow your list down to friends or family who have faith that you will succeed, who understand your plans, and who are clear about the risks.”
Once you’ve done that, Beesley stresses that you must demonstrate passion and due diligence by having a sound business plan and direction. Also, be realistic about how much money is needed.
Finally, make sure to agree on what form the funding will take. They could be a loan or equity in your company. If the money is a loan, agree to a repayment plan and use a P2P lending website to document everything and manage the loan.
5. Find an angel investor
By definition, angel investors are accredited individuals with a net worth exceeding $1 million or annual income of more than $200,000. They typically operate alone, but may team up with other angel investors and form a fund.
Knowing this, angel investors can be a good source of capital for your business. First, you must have a solid business plan put together and a great pitch ready. You have to capture their attention with enthusiasm and promising data points about your company’s current situation and future potential.
You may be wondering how you find angel investors. This might seem difficult, but many resources exist.
6. Get investment from venture capitalists
Venture capitalists (VCs) typically want to invest in slightly more mature companies than angel investors and sometimes want to have more of a say in managing the day-to-day operations.
Since VCs have a responsibility to achieve certain returns for the firm or fund, they want scalable and cash-flow positive companies with proven and scalable products and businesses.
If your company satisfies these requirements, you could apply for an investment with a VC firm. It’s not the easiest thing to accomplish, but plenty of small businesses have done it successfully.
Your pitch is crucial to obtaining funding. Sequoia, one of the most successful VC firms on the planet, stresses, “you need to convey the main reasons why an investor should love your business in the first 5 minutes.” Sequoia partners state you can do this in three simple steps, which are:
- Explain what’s changed. Detail the innovation, industry shift, or problem that presents substantial opportunity for your company.
- Explain what you do. In one sentence, show how your company can capitalize on this opportunity.
- Explain the facts. Get to your company’s story and financials quickly. Lay out the opportunity with numbers. Discuss the team and their abilities and experience.
Get the capital you need to drive forward
The key lesson here is that you have many options for financing your business. Don’t get discouraged if one doesn’t work out. By demonstrating due diligence and being resourceful and persistent, you can raise the capital you need.
Then, money will no longer hold back your business. You’ll be free to expand.
Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Prior to Fundera, Meredith was the CCO at Funding Gates. Meredith is a resident Finance Advisor on American Express OPEN Forum and an avid business writer. Her advice consistently appears on such sites as Yahoo!, Fox Business, Amex OPEN, AllBusiness, and many more.