Before submitting an application for funding, it is important to understand that the easiest way to finance your business is self-funding.
During the application process for funding, oftentimes, lenders request your business plan and/or current financial records and projections. It is important that your business is legally structured and you have a business account. Do not co-mingle your funds.
Obtaining funds for your business can be difficult especially for first time entrepreneurs and/or those without good credit and/or collateral, but it is not impossible. The lower your credit score the worst the terms of any loan will be.
Initially, lenders will rely upon your personal credit to determine whether you will be approved for business funding. In addition, they may ask for collateral to secure the loan as well.
9 Ways to Obtain Funding for your business.
Bank loan. Banks can provide small, medium or long term financing. The terms are generally much shorter than a house mortgage and the interest can be higher. If you are looking to obtain a bank loan, be sure to understand the terms of your agreement, have good financial records and a business plan.
Business credit cards. Business credit cards is basically the same as personal credit cards. Some company's may offer special incentives when applying for a business credit card. The great news is that business credit cards and business line of credit is normally not listed on your personal credit report. However, if you default or don't make your payments, they may report it to the credit bureaus, which will affect your personal credit. The application for a business credit card and business line of credit is short a process and is a great way to start building your business credit. Business credit cards are typically used for purchases and should be paid back monthly to avoid finance charges.
Business line of credit. A business line of credit is a revolving line that you can draw against as you need it. It's typically used for short term working capital to help improve cash flow, or to finance the costs of unexpected expenses in your business. It should not be used to make daily purchases. Interest is only paid on the portion of the funds used. In other words, it's a business loan that is readily available for cashflow and unexpected expenses in the business. Use it as needed.
Friends or family. Mixing business with pleasure can easily ruin a good relationship so if your family or friends are going to fund your business, keep it professional by having a written document that is notarized, drawn up by a lawyer, and signed in front of a witness. The pros is that family usually tend to be more flexible, have a lower interest rate, and a longer repayment plan. Make sure the terms are spelled out completely including repayment plan, and signed by at least three people: the business owner, a witness and the person who’s loaning the money.
Online lending. This is a quick way to get money deposited into your account in as little as 24-48 hours. They take you through a short application process and they will have an answer back quicker than banks. Ondeck.com and Kabbage.com are both A rated companies.
Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA is a federal agency that is committed to helping small business owners excel and they guarantee the loans with lending partners. The SBA generally have better terms than going directly through the bank and they will assist with getting your business ready for funding.
Investors. Investors can be an individual or a company that has a vested interest in the success of your business. There are different kinds of investors such as angel investors, venture capitalist, and outside investors. They normally require a percentage of the business, stock and/or repayment plan with interest. Make sure you have good business plan and understand your numbers. Watching Shark Tank or a show similarly will give you a sense of the information that investors look for.
Crowdfunding. There are various online platforms where you ask others to give to your business by asking a pool of people, colleagues, and supporters to sow into your vision. This is a great way if you have a strong group of supporters, because crowdfunding usually does not have to be paid back. Gofundme.com, Kickstarter.com Crowdrise.com are recommended by many. Choose the one right for you.
Grants. Government, state, and local grant programs are great ways to obtain free money for your business, however, the application can be lengthy. It is best to work with a grant writer and a copywriter to help you with clearly articulate the vision on paper. There are federal and state grant programs such as Minority Business development agency. Be sure to check your local county and city for grant opportunities.