Forget applying to banks to get a loan for your business. Most of them stopped being in the “give a loan to a small company who has no collateral” business in 2007. This does not, however, mean that you are out of options to fund the growth of your company.
So now that you can’t go visit your local banker where else can you turn? Here are 10 options to try:
This method allows you to sell or pledge your accounts receivable to a third party for immediate cash. It’s a $150 billion industry and goes back to the ancient time of Babylonia. Factoring is more expensive than a bank and a great fit for a growing company, but is not a method of financing for a company that is shrinking or losing money.
2. Retirement accounts
Borrowing money from your IRA or 401(k) can be tempting. First consider a 60 day interest free loan from it. There are no fees if it is paid back in this time frame. This is your retirement money, so using it is risky and potentially devastating if you lose your business.
3. Government grants
The government has money to give but these programs require research at local, state and federal levels. Agencies such as USDA, the Department of Commerce, and the Treasury Department offer up some attractive programs but they are very specific and technical in nature and come with reporting strings attached.
4. Peer to peer lending (P2P)
It is now possible to go online and get funding from people you do not know at sites such as Prosper.com and Lending Club. The amount paid for the loan depends on your credit score, the economy, the length of the loan and “your story.” P2P loans are not easy to get and the interest rates can be very high.
A sister method to P2P, you can now get people to invest in “your cause” in exchange for something (other than money). This is a different source of funding since the money is not repaid. The rewards for donors range from receiving your first products to having a product named after them. Popular sites that facilitate crowdfunding include IndieGoGo and Kickstarter. Crowdfunding is very emotional and involves gathering cash from MANY people. The success in raising cash is based on the appeal of your idea.
While this is relatively new in the United States, these small loans up to $10,000 are gaining popularity. Loans are based on your experience, passion, market opportunity and sales. Organizations include Accion USA, Grameen Bank and Kiva. It is a good alternative if you have an appealing idea and need a small about of money.
7. Supplier or wholesaler financing
This method works with your supply chain to get the money that you need. It usually works best with a smaller, local supplier who really wants your business and is willing to work with you. Factors can be a real help in this are as they can offer vendor assurance letters which can help garner additional credit from a vendor.
8. Business plan competitions or other contests
When all else fails, try to win the money! There are a lot of regional and national competitions giving away substantial amounts of money. These include the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Challenge, The GE Ecomagination Challenge and the Amazon Web Services Start Up Challenge. This is probably the toughest way to raise money and you need a very competent team, great idea and you also need to be a good presenter.
9. Business incubators
If your business is new and technology base then it could be a good candidate for seed money, a mentorship or other similar services to get started. These types of organizations have a great track record of success which include Excelerate Labs and TechStars. There is a lot of competition to become part of an incubator these days so focus on a handful of organizations which match up best with your goals.
Swap products or services, not money. Before there was currency, there was only barter (trading). The U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that 25 percent of the world’s trade is still done this way. Barter can save money, move unused inventory and find new customers. Bartering can be done directly with another business or through a barter exchange like IMS Barter.
Remember, where there is a will there is a way!