Funding has always been a major topic that continues to come up in conversations with entrepreneurs and small business owners. This global pandemic has brought on even more talk of how existing businesses will maintain and what new entrepreneurs can do to find the funds to start.
Here are 5 ways that you can fund your business as you build your empire:
1) Put your money where your ideas are (bootstrapping)- Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (Apple), Sam Walton (Walmart), Lisa Price (Carol's Daughter)- All started out this way, yes things changed later but to get their businesses off the ground, they started with their own money. If you feel that Apple and Walmart are too far removed, consider Madam CJ Walker, Annie Malone, Melissa Butler, Angela Benton, Sara Blakely. It may not be ideal to use your own money to launch your business but most successful companies have bootstrapping roots. If you believe in your business, why wouldn't you be the first investor?
2) Crowdfunding- Kickstarter, GoFundMe and iFundWomen are all ways that you can get your community and anyone else on the web to donate funds to help get your idea going. iFundWomen is an especially innovative platform providing coaching and more to women entrepreneurs.
3) Small Business Loans- There are definitely stipulations that you will want to look into that come along with taking out a loan for your business idea. The SBA offers some small business loan programs that could work for you depending on your qualifications. A great option is Kiva (our trusted partner) is a great company that offers crowdfunding microloans at low or 0% interest. Accion is another company that focuses on providing loans and support to small business owners. Microlenders offer smaller loan sizes, require less documentation than banks and tend to be a lot more flexible. Microloans are great for business owners that need to secure capital to fulfill a contract or acquire necessary equipment.
4) Pitch Competitions- If you have a great idea and know how to articulate it on a stage, boardroom or even on paper, you could compete for money that can be used to start or grow your business. Companies like New Voices and Create & Cultivate have funds and host pitch competitions giving women entrepreneurs the chance to share their business ideas for the opportunity to win thousands of dollars.
5) Angel Investors- Your business or idea needs to have teeth if you want to attract outside investors. You'll need to work on your pitch deck, know your data and lead with your passion and knowledge about your industry. Angels want to know that you care about the business you're presenting. Is there social impact, an environmental benefit, are you changing the lives of your customers in a positive way? Angels are people first and appealing to their interests can help. However, you can't lean on the soft fuzzies. You need to be an expert when it comes to your market. Prepare a sales and marketing plan, conduct a competitive analysis, show how you're solving a credible problem and who the target audience is.
When it comes to women, especially Black women, getting funding to support a business is not an easy feat. When we get a little creative, it can totally be done. Most business are started with very little money in the early-stages. It forces you to get scrappy, resourceful and operate in the 'Power of Broke' as Daymond John would say. When you learn how to survive on very little, put in some sweat equity and operate lean during the early-growth stage, the pay off can be tremendous.