Make money go further when starting a business
Starting a business requires capital. Even setting up as a sole trader, you need to be able to make it through the first few lean months until you build a regular order book or get your name out there.
But if you’ve never had to find funding before, where do you look? It’s a more complex business funding landscape than ever – but it’s also one with great potential for start-up business funding, no matter what industry you are going into.
Here are some of the most common sources of start-up business funding in the present day, and how to go about getting funding from those sources.
Many small business owners will go to their bank first of all to apply for funding, and this isn’t always a bad option. You might already have quite a good relationship with your bank manager or business advisor, and even if they can’t help you with funding, they might have some useful suggestions for you anyway.
It’s worth speaking to an advisor before you start using any funding from your bank to build your business, as they could have a more suitable lending product that will cost you less in the long run.
For example, a business development loan can cover some of the costs of expansion, hiring or investing in new equipment, whereas just paying for those things with an overdraft or credit card could leave you exposed to much higher interest rates.
You might be able to get financial support from third-party investors, usually in return for an equity stake in your business – so be prepared to hand over some shares if you decide to go down this route.
In some cases you might find an investor willing to work on a profit share agreement without taking actual shares in your company, or you could find similar arrangements with key suppliers that effectively save you money by allowing you to avoid paying upfront for goods and services.
Remember, anything that saves you money on your operating capital can be equivalent to a form of funding or investment – so don’t assume you have to get cash deposited into your account in order to tackle your finances and spending.
Don’t overlook your workforce when it comes to drumming up finances and extra support, as there might be someone willing to put some extra into the business in the hope of getting more out – after all, if your employer is thriving, your job is more secure and there’s more chance of getting a pay rise or promotion.
But also don’t mislead people. If you promise something in return for a time or money investment by your staff, make sure you deliver on that promise. The old adage ‘work hard, play hard’ is worth keeping in mind, as a workforce rewarded with an all expenses paid social event will often repay that investment many times over in extra effort on the job.
You might even find a potential investor among your employees – particularly those who were first through the door when you started up, and feel closest to the core of your business.
If you have a genuinely friendly workplace culture, try an informal chat with those individuals about your hopes for the future, and see if you think any of them might be willing to help you realise that dream.
And finally – the internet. There’s a tendency for people online to lean towards socially aware investments or new trendy gadgets, but any genuinely good idea has a decent chance of grabbing attention, especially if you’re lucky enough to go viral on the social networks.
Crowd funding is possibly the most modern method of raising finance for your business, and you usually do this by promising early access to your product once it is finished, or a special edition for those who supported you in your infancy – such as a limited run of your product in a commemorative casing.
It all depends on what you are trying to raise funding for, but it’s worth considering whether ‘the crowd’ would be interested in supporting you.
Even if not, the internet can still be a good place to find individual investors and, of course, to compare different business loans and business bank accounts with overdrafts to find one that will work for you.
Finally, look out for peer-to-peer lending opportunities. These can match you with someone willing to lend some money on terms that might be more favourable than the banks, which you can then repay at a later date when – hopefully – your new venture has begun to pay off.