Starting your own business based off of your own, innovative ideas can be one of the most exciting things you do, but it can also be one of the most stressful. There’s no model, no template, nothing for you to build on except for your own general know-how and the basic business standards. That can leave you unsure as to how to get a lot of things done, including the all-important funding aspect of getting your business off the ground. If you’re looking for funding options for your startup, here are three very different but very real approaches you may want to consider.
There’s both a major upside and a major downside to self-funding your startup. The positive – it’s all you. You aren’t accountable to anyone else so you have the power to make your company whatever you want. If you go belly-up, if nothing else you won’t owe more than you have to other people. You might be out some dollars, but you’re not blindly in debt. The negative is that it’s all your money. Even if you succeed, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be turning a profit right away. Unless you have some substantial savings, regardless of eventual success you’re going to be living on a shoestring for quite some time.
That doesn’t mean don’t do it, though. You just have to weigh the good versus the bad. If you’ve got low overhead, as many web-based service companies have, self-funding could be worth it. If, on the other hand, you’re producing a physical good and are responsible for the high operation cost associated, self-funding might not be the way to go. Evaluate responsibly, because no matter what you choose, once your money is in your business, it’s in.
Loans and Grant
Loans and grants are two totally different animals, but they share one major thing – someone else is giving you the cash. With a loan, you’ll have to repay eventually. With a grant, you won’t. Grants.gov is a good place to start looking for government grants meant specifically for small businesses, and checking with your town and county may also provide some funding opportunties.
If a grant won’t provide enough funding or just isn’t an option, a small business loan such as an SBA or one from your local bank or credit union could provide you with a loan meant specifically for a new and growing business, with interest and payment options meant to handle the uneven growth and likely speed bumps most businesses encounter in their first year.
Hustling is a vague term and can encompass a lot, but for the purposes of your business, look at it as a way to get money out of your business before you’re ready to start delivering on your product. Start a crowdfunding campaign to get support from enthusiastic backers, over sneak-peaks at a small cost or for a suggested donation, pre-sell your product or service. There are a lot of ways to get money directly from your business, but it comes with a lot more accountability, less flexibility, and more of a risk if you can’t deliver. Make sure you’ve got a plan in case things don’t go the way you planned if your money is coming directly from your eventual consumers.