When I started my first business, my partners and I covered all of our costs through personal credit because it was one of our only options.
Working for a bank, I knew this wasn't the best route to raise capital funding for my first dog care facility, Hounds Town USA Franchise.
A lot of other entrepreneurs may go through a similar path to funding, and you know what – that's absolutely okay!
There may be several reasons why your small business may need to try to access alternative funding, such as student loans, lack of credit, the size of your business, and more.
Here are a few alternative ways to access capital in today's climate:
The Community Development Financial Institutions Fund is a program that has been around for decades, and they have different regulatory requirements and are able to approve loans for owners with lower credit scores, collateral shortfalls and more.
The benefits of CDFIs, other than just lending to a greater variety of businesses, can include longer amortization on loans and lower interest rates.
Each CDFI has a unique and specific goal.
They are all community-based and mission driven, and they target the needs specific to low-income communities, which your business may fall under depending on its geographic location.
Personal Debt/Family Lending
If your business doesn't qualify for a loan through traditional means, you can do things the old-fashioned way, like I did, and fund it personally.
One of the first steps to starting a business is coming up with a savings plan so you can start to build up cash reserves crucial for the life of your young business.
If you personally have excellent credit, you can use personal debt to support your growing business - especially if your business is just in the ideation or beginning stages.
Bottom line, no one is going to loan you a hundred percent of your dream. Most of the time, you must have skin in the game. In fact, I have liens on my house, but that's fine for me because I believe in my business that much.
You can also bring in friends, family, and other members of your inner circle to serve as investors.
Just be careful to be clear with the terms of what they get in return for investing in your business. Whether it be ownership, stock options, or more, make sure to have everything done by the book and reviewed by a legal and financial professional.
Crowdfunding like Kickstarter is another new and modern resource to fund your business.
The online platform provides a way to raise capital while promising early access to your product for those who contribute, and includes additional bonuses and gifts for your supporters.
Raising capital this way has really taken off in recent years, but you'll need to utilize your various social medias to get the word out about your mission and drive potential contributors to your crowdfunding page.
Getting certified based on your background
Those who know me well know I am bullish on getting your business certified.
Getting certified helps you establish trust and rapport with members of your community and gain access to a variety of resources. It makes you and your business visible, and allows you to share your story and values with the community. Show the community who you are, get certified and get access to so many resources.
Perks of certifying your business include business contracts, opportunities to gain advising, and connecting with other businesses in your community.
Most importantly, you may be eligible for funding specified to the community you are certified with.
So, before you go cashing in your 401K or selling off your valuables to fund your business, consider these alternative options.
You might just be in a much better place to access crucial funding than you think!