From bootstrapping to crowdfunding, here’s how to raise capital for your business.
1. Bootstrap your business
Provided that your business isn’t operating in an industry that requires lots of startup capital, like manufacturing or transportation, you can potentially fund your venture—and it may be more feasible than you think. For instance, even if you don’t have enough in savings to run the operation, you could get a 0% / low-interest APR business credit card, offering you the chance to borrow cash for some time without incurring interest. Perhaps you think funding the business yourself carries lots of risks—and it does. But it’s important to consider your potential.
Brent Gleeson, leadership and team-building coach specializing in organizational transformations, states, “if you believe in your vision and have an absolute refusal to accept failure as an option, you should feel comfortable investing your own money into the business.” Investing some of your own money will usually make investors and lenders more willing to partner with you down the line.
2. Launch a crowdfunding campaign
There are many crowdfunding success stories out there. And with the right product and pitch, you can be one of them. For instance, in 2013, Formlabs, a maker of affordable desktop 3D printers, raised $3 million on Kickstarter. This capital allowed the company to scale its operation. Thus it achieves its goal of manufacturing affordable 3D printers for the public. Eventually, the 3D printer maker caught the attention of venture capitalists. During a series A round, Formlabs closed $19 million in investments, giving them the chance to expand beyond their initial goals.
Crowdfunding allows you to connect with like-minded people with whom you wouldn’t commonly be able to engage. You can gauge interest in your product and understand what’s resonating with people and what’s not. It shows you how to improve your product and your pitch. Most importantly, crowdfunding can help you raise money to fund your business. Your video pitch must show the value of your product, the need it serves, and why you require support. Having a good website and doing PR outreach helps as well.
3. Apply for a Loan
Even as technology creates new ways of raising capital, traditional financing products remain the primary way small businesses fund their operations. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), almost 75% of financing for new firms comes from business loans, credit cards, and lines of credit.
Generally speaking, the small business loans with the most favorable rates and terms are going to be SBA loans and term loans from banks and other financial institutions. To get approved, you typically need to meet requirements like the following:
- You have been in business for 2 years or more
- The business has strong annual revenues (typically at least $100,000)
- Good credit (like a score of 640+)
These aren’t hard and fast rules and will differ depending on the lender. If you don’t qualify for a term loan with a great APR, there are other, albeit more expensive, types of funding available. If you have outstanding invoices, you could opt for invoice financing to get that money faster. Or, if you need cash for machinery, tech devices, office furniture, or something similar, consider equipment financing.
Before applying for a small business loan, make sure to prepare any loan documents you’ll need to show ahead of time. You’ll be asked to show a profit and loss statement, balance sheets, tax returns, and bank statements. In some cases, your personal information may be checked as well.
4. Raise Capital by asking friends and family
Raising capital through friends and family is a viable option for many. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, 5% of US adults have invested in a company started by someone they know. Caron Beesley, a content marketing specialist and SBA contributor, advises that you ideally select a friend or family member with solid business skills. She also suggests that you “narrow your list down to friends or family who have faith that you will succeed, who understand your plans, and who are clear about the risks.”
Once you’ve done that, Beesley stresses that you must demonstrate passion and due diligence by having a sound business plan and direction. Also, be realistic about how much money is needed. Finally, make sure to agree on what form the funding will take. It could be a loan or equity in your company. If the money is a loan, agree to a repayment plan and use a P2P lending website to document everything and manage the loan.
5. Find an Angel Investor
By definition, angel investors are accredited individuals with a net worth exceeding $1 million or an annual income of more than $200,000. They typically operate alone but may team up with other angel investors and form a fund. Knowing this, angel investors can be a good source of capital for your business. First, you must have a solid business plan put together and a great pitch ready. You have to capture their attention with enthusiasm and promising data points about your company’s current situation and future potential.
You may be wondering how you find angel investors. It might seem challenging, but many resources exist. For instance, Funding Post arranges for angel investor showcases around the country. And the Angel Capital Association is a great platform to seek out, meet, and arrange pitches for angels.
6. Get investment from Venture Capitalist
Venture capitalists (VCs) typically want to invest in slightly more mature companies than angel investors. And sometimes want to have more of a say in managing the day-to-day operations. Since VCs have a responsibility to achieve certain returns for the firm or fund, they want scalable and cash-flow positive companies with proven and scalable products and businesses.
If your company satisfies these requirements, you could apply for an investment with a VC firm. It’s not the easiest thing to accomplish, but plenty of small businesses have done it successfully. Your pitch is crucial to obtaining funding. Sequoia, one of the most successful VC firms on the planet, stresses, “you need to convey the main reasons why an investor should love your business in the first 5 minutes.” Sequoia partners state you can do this in three simple steps, which are:
- Explain what’s changed: Detail the innovation, industry shift, or problem that presents a substantial opportunity for your company.
- Explain what you do: In one sentence, show how your company can capitalize on this opportunity.
- Explain the facts: Get to your company’s story and financials quickly. Layout the opportunity with numbers. Discuss the team and their abilities and experience.