Eight Ways to Fund Your Start-Up

8 ways to fund your startup

You have a great concept. You've developed your business plan. Everything is set, except for one thing.

Funding Your Startup

There are several ways to fund a start-up that involve varying degrees of risk and effort. When choosing a path, it is important to know your options and evaluate which one is most suited to your needs and tolerance for risk.

To help you get started, here are eight possible sources of capital to fund a start-up business.

1. Fund It Yourself

Most start-ups, at least in the beginning, are self-financed. This may involve using your savings, borrowing against a retirement account, or taking out a home-equity loan. This is a good thing if your venture succeeds, as you retain all of the ownership. But if things don't go so well, you must consider and weigh the risks you're taking.

2. Friends and Family

People closest to you may be a good source of initial start-up funding. After all, they already know you, your background, and your integrity. They may be less concerned about your business plan and more willing to invest or lend based on the strength of your character.

But there are risks that are different than from other funding sources. Personal relationships can be at stake if problems or misunderstandings arise.

3. Initiate a Crowd-Funding Campaign

In crowd-funding campaigns on sites like Kickstarter, anyone can make online pledges to help fund your start-up. This usually involves pre-ordering a product, or receiving rewards. This is an innovative way to fund a smaller start-up.

4. Join a Start-up Incubator Group

What is an incubator group? An incubator group is a start-up accelerator often associated with universities or large organizations. Their purpose is to spur innovation. Most provide access to resources such as office space, but some also provide seed funding. To learn more, visit Y Combinator or National Business Incubation Association.

5. Apply for a Small Business Grant

There are lots of untapped government grants out there. Seek them out and you could potentially walk away with a safe and reliable source of money for your start-up.

A good place to start looking for small business grants is the US Small Business Administration.

6. Apply for a Line of Credit or Loan

If your tolerance for risk is low, talk to your bank or credit union about applying for a low-fee line of credit or personal loan. Your banker may also be able to help you with an SBA loan.

Keep in mind, though, you will have to make monthly payments right off the bat.

7. Seek Help from Angel Investors

Most cities have groups of high-net-worth individuals who are looking to invest in interesting business opportunities in their communities. If you’ve seen the television program, "Shark Tank," these are examples of angel investors. They often want to see at least some track record of success, but some will entertain start-ups. The downside is that you may be giving up a considerable stake—often 10 to 50 percent—of your company for the ange funding. On the other hand, you may gain valuable expertise and contacts from someone who is motivated to help your venture succeed.

A good place to start is the Overland Park, Kansas-based Angel Capital Association, which offers a list of more than 12,000 accredited angel investors.

8. Go After Venture Capital Investors

Venture capital investors are professional investors who look for big ideas. For the majority of new start-ups, this isn't a viable alternative, as VCs fund only about one or two percent of all business plans they review. But for those with the right combination of concept and team resumes - usually worth a few million dollars and supported by a team of proven individuals - they can be a great resource. VCs can scale capital needs quickly for fast-growing companies. If you’re a smaller company that may not be ready for full-scale VC funding, check out Sequioia Capital, a crowd-funded VC platform.

One Critical Piece of Advice

Whatever path you choose to take to finance your business, it's critical that you have a professional-looking presentation.

SmartDraw can help you create visuals that show prospective lenders or investors your product, strategy, and other critical information. Plus, SmartDraw make it easy to export your visuals to Microsoft Office® or as a PDF so your documents and presentations will look like they were produced by a pro.

Experts say you have about 90 seconds to impress investors or lenders with your business plan. Make it count, with a visually rich report or presentation deck created with the help of SmartDraw.

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