There are many ways to fund a business, including taking out a loan, seeking investments from venture capitalists or angel investors, and crowdfunding, but all these external means have serious downsides. In some cases, you’ll be forced to pay high interest rates (if you even qualify for a loan), and in other cases, you could be forced to give up partial ownership (and therefore control) of your company.
So what if you just fund the business yourself? Most people don’t have enough cash sitting around to fund their own business from scratch, but with a few inventive strategies, it’s possible to raise enough money for almost any small-scale business.
Knowing How Much Money You Need
To start, the most important thing you need to do is to figure out exactly how much money your business needs. Appropriate budget forecasting will help you in several ways; accumulating too much cash can make the process take longer than necessary, and put you at greater risk of overspending, and accumulating too little will leave your business vulnerable to shortages, which can compromise its probability of success.
Instead, you’ll want to gather the perfect amount for your business, covering not only your startup expenses, but enough expenses to help you get to your initial revenue flow. Make sure you consider things like:
– Office space
– Fees and licensing costs
– Human expenses (i.e., salaries)
– Marketing and advertising
– Consultants (including legal professionals)
The SBA projects the cost of an average business to be approximately $30,000, though in some cases, you can start a business for mere hundreds.
How to Free Up Cash
Let’s say you have an accurate estimate of how much money you need. How can you free up that cash?
Ask friends and family
Your first option is to hit up your friends and family members. They’ll be more open to flexible deals, such as treating the money like a low-interest loan, or taking a stake in your profits without exerting control over your decisions. The biggest downside here is the potential discomfort you might face when asking them.
Refinance your home
Don’t underestimate the financial advantages of refinancing your home. Depending on your current financial position, the move could free up some cash instantly and lower your monthly payments as well. Most people refinance when they have a sizable equity position in their house, or when they want to lower their interest rates.
Pay off or consolidate your debts
Similarly, you could work to pay off and/or consolidate your debts. Negotiating better rates and terms on your debts can help you save hundreds to thousands of dollars of interest payments. On top of that, once paid off, your personal monthly expenses will plummet.
Establish a second line of income
If your main line of work isn’t generating enough income for you to save up money for a business, you should consider taking on a side gig. Depending on your personal skills and interests, even an investment of a few hours a week could give you enough money to put toward starting a business.
Save up money
It should go without saying that saving up money is one of the best overall ways to plan for your business; setting aside a few hundred dollars a month could give you enough cash to start your enterprise in a year or less. It will also give you more time to plan out your business more fully.
Sell some of your assets. If you’re in more of a hurry, you could resort to selling some of your assets, especially if they’re things you no longer need.
Tap into a retirement account
It’s usually not a good idea to withdraw from your retirement accounts too early—especially if you don’t need to. However, if you’ve run through the other possibilities and you’re in a tough spot, it’s not a bad last-ditch option.
Rely on credit cards
Though it’s still somewhat loan-like, you can always rely on personal credit cards to cover any funding shortages you come across. The danger here is obviously becoming personally liable for whatever charges you run up; be very careful here, and know what you’re getting yourself into.
If you don’t have much cash currently, don’t give up hope. There are plenty of options you can use to free up enough cash to get you started. And, if you end up hitting a wall, you can always consider an alternative option for securing business funding, or work to lower your startup costs even further. With enough motivation and dedication, almost any prospective business owner can acquire what they need to get started.