Is a lack of funding stopping you from starting your own business? It doesn’t have to.
You can still make this happen, even if you don’t have a lot of money to contribute from your personal savings. Being a successful entrepreneur is much more dependent on your ability to commit to, reach out to, and influence others than it is on the amount of money in your pocket.
Here are just a few ways you can fund your business without bootstrapping:
Find your customers first
There’s no need to finish building your business before you find your tribe of loyal fans.
You can start taking pre-orders or set up a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter or Indiegogo to help fund your business while it’s still in its pre-launch stage.
For some business models, this is an excellent way to get people talking. When your business is new, unfinished, and mysterious, you can create anticipation for a bigger and more successful launch. Your business will grow faster if you already have a swarm of customers before you open your doors to the public.
Kickstarter campaigns are not just for tech companies with groundbreaking innovations. When Jake Bronstein set up a Kickstarter for his American-made men’s underwear company Flint and Tinder, he aimed to raise $30,000. Instead, his campaign raised $300,000. Bronstein had not accurately predicted the costs of fulfilling so many orders, and lost money on the first round of products.
Even so, he was able to deliver a premium product. The company attracted a following of raving fans that made it possible to create three more successful Kickstarter campaigns that reached their pre-order goals hundreds of times over.
Taking pre-orders not only gives you access to the funds you need to start your business – it also helps you build a buzz and confirm that your idea will be profitable. Validating your business idea before you actually launch is just a part of what Eric Ries calls the Lean Startup model: a business that uses highly efficient validation methods to reduce waste in funds, resources, and creativity by focusing on target customers’ needs.
If you’re even casually thinking of becoming an entrepreneur, you should be familiar with Lean Startup methods and put the ideas to use in your projects. You can read all about it in Ries’ besteller, The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses.
Get a business loan
While lenders are always apprehensive to lend money to first-time business owners, you have a good chance at securing a loan when you go to the right lender with a solid bank-ready business plan.
Big banks might balk at loaning money to a brand-new business owner, but credit unions and community banks are generally more receptive. You may still need to offer existing assets for collateral, and it helps to have a great credit history.
Online lending sites are making it much easier to find a funding source for business loans. Prosper and Lending Club are peer-to-peer personal loan marketplaces that let you borrow money directly from investors. The interest rates are lower than most banks and credit cards, and you’ll make fixed monthly payments. And don’t forget about 360 Payments’ own business lending services! Apply quickly and easily today.
Barter with other businesses
People do still barter in the modern day United States, though with fewer household goods and more business-related services.
You could save money on accounting services, web design, inventory, or just about any business-to-business product or service. Though valuable, these relationships can be hard to come by.
You’ll need to have a remarkable offering to convince professionals to help your business for free or a significant discount. You might decide to offer an equal value in your own goods and services, or perhaps client referrals to help your bartering buddy get more business.
Two of the most popular online networks to find business owners to barter with are ITEX.com and BBUBarter.com. You might also want to try Craigslist, and simply reaching out to businesses that offer the services you need. You never know if you don’t ask!
Find an investor
An investor is going to expect equity in return for their investment, so you’ll need to consider who you would really be willing to share your business with. You’ll have less control over your own business, but you’ll also have the potential to grow much faster.
There are a few options for seeking investor funding: you could work with an angel investor, a venture capitalist or a private equity firm. You can find an investor in your local business or trade network, or online on AngelList.
To land a high-profile investor like Brad Feld, you’ll need to be willing to develop a long-term relationship with someone who holds values and passions that complement you and your startup. To get a better understanding of what this means, check out Feld’s blog post about the moment he decided to contribute to MatterMark.
Success is a Team Sport
Even the most motivated and well-funded entrepreneur can’t build their dream startup alone. Starting and running a successful business requires building a network of partners that can provide support and top-notch service. For credit card processing, may we humbly suggest 360 Payments. Give us a call or drop us a line on our website. We’d love to show you how we partner with businesses to help them reach their goal.
PS – Check out these other great business funding tips.
PPS – With scarce resources, you’ll need to be extra vigilant about saying no to things that don’t matter!