“You can never be too thin or have too much money to grow a business,” Wallis Simpson (paraphrased)
Like chocolate, chips, adulation from strangers and Clare Balding, can you have too much of a good thing? If you’re starting or growing a business, a non-specific desire for ‘more cash’ might improve your goals, but how much is ‘enough’ to achieve them? £1000? £10,000? £100,000? Do you need that much or can it be done with a lower budget?
Here lies the importance of business planning. It will give you a better idea of what’s really required. When you do have one in place, there are a few main funding avenues to take.
That’s what friends (and family) are for
If you’ve the option, the first thought is often turning to informal loans from loved ones. And there’s nothing wrong with creating a semi-formal agreement so all parties know (and remember) exactly how much is being loaned, the payment plan and steps to take if there’s a default. In short, set some boundaries – even with those that care, says Justin Schamotta.
The bank manager
While financial commentators suggest banks are slowly lending more, you still need a robust startup blueprint to secure a loan. They’re looking for a good credit history (Equifax, Experian and some banks can let you know your credit score for a fee), a good business plan and the steps you’ll make to pay it back. Your assets and financial and industry experience may also come into play.
But remember it’s a two-way deal; you’re the customer so shop around to find the best loan agreement.
Part of the credit unions
Credit unions can step in if you’ve a problem securing a loan. They usually offer repayment interest at a fraction of most high street lenders and have fewer charges like administration fees too. More flexible with credit histories, credit unions use profits to run the services and reward members – not shareholders.
Take a look at the above video from Young and Free Alberta or write up by Money Saving Expert.
Social or business startup loans
These government-backed low interest loans were created specifically to support new entrepreneurs.
Available to UK residents, the loan is offered by more than 50 partners across the UK including Smarta, Doug Richard’s (above) School for Startups and Startup.co.uk. With each you’ll also receive a business mentor to help make your company a success.
The Government, European Union and local organisations all offer business grants available to new UK businesses. Each grant has its own award criteria (and finding them can take a bit of work) but the biggest boon is you don’t have to pay it back.
Have a look at the Government’s business finance support finder to get started.
Crowdfunding (or how to make a bag of cash from a potato salad)
Usually you’d put your idea online, ask for money and the public offers money in exchange for goods, services or shares in the company. Kickstarter and IndieGogo are the most famous purveyors.
Zack Danger Brown (above) famously offered haikus in exchange for money to make a potato salad. He raised $40,000.
Angel investing among dragons
Pitch your idea to investors and hopefully they’ll fund your startup in exchange for shares in the company (hopefully without the Duncan Bannatyne dour grimace, above). Match with the right investor and you may pick up some mentoring from an astute brain used to building businesses.
Check out the UK Business Angels Association for a directory of potential funders.
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