Ideas often come easily to the entrepreneur. Even with great ideas, securing funding for a new venture can be the toughest part of the entrepreneurial process. Depending on the type of venture, funding can be even more complicated. While many folks lean towards “bootstrapping” a.k.a. self-funding, some ideas take a bit more capital than an entrepreneur might have in their own bank account. Others pursue the help of angel investors or launch crowdfunding campaigns. These methods might be trendy options, but it’s not time, just yet, to dismiss some of the more traditional types of funding like good old fashion bank loans and lines of credit. These options are often referred to as debt options. Even these seemingly traditional debt options have experienced some revamps over the past decade. Let’s explore the highlights of each:
While banks are the obvious place to start, you can get loans from multiple other sources like:
- Angel Investors- locally, specific to a business industry, and/or national groups.
- Family and Friend loans- just ask the people who believe in you the most, but PAY THEM BACK.
- Person-to-person (P2P) on sites like Lending Club (it’s like a combination between crowdfunding and a bank loan).
- Non-Financial Institution lenders for cash flow lending like Northwestern Mutual and Prudential
- Personal Guarantees with the Entrepreneurs personal property as collateral.
- Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)- groups with specific affinity business groups in mind (examples: Farmers, Women-owned businesses, etc.) that might not be backed by traditional banks.
- Community Banks– smaller independent banks that understand community need and investment more than maybe a large national bank would.
Lines of Credit:
- Work much like opening a credit card, but through a lender. There is a maximum amount the entrepreneur can charge.
- Or, open a business credit card– it is a credit line.
- Unlike a lump sum loan, businesses use the money only as it is needed and only make payments on money spent.
- Lines of credit are particularly helpful if you have some cash flow slow downs because of a seasonal business or because you are just establishing the right payment schedule between you, your customers, and your suppliers.
- Some suppliers work out lines of credit with the businesses that buy from them, this is industry specific, but it’s worth asking for a line of credit from a supplier.
- Founded in 1953, the Small Business Administration has loaned funds to over 20 million businesses (Rogers 2014).
- Perks of their loans include longer pay back periods, most around 10 years and some up to 25 years.
- The SBA does not loan directly to businesses, rather they use approved banks and financial institutions.
- Only 1/3 of these loans go to new businesses each year in favor of established businesses.
- Non-profits, financial institutions, gambling, life insurance, and non-US citizen owned companies are all ineligible for SBA funds.
- The SBA offers a wide variety of loan products like Express loans, Micro Loans, and Real Estate & Equipment loans. Contact an SBA certified lender for a full list of options.
- In addition to funding, the SBA offers programs and classes through their development and learning center.
- SBA lenders can be found through sba.gov or 1-800-827-5722
Crowdfunding might be trendy, but remember, entrepreneurs can’t afford to just try one way. I hope this article has convinced you that loans, lines, of credit, and SBA funding has evolved and all three might be a viable option for your business depending on the needs of your entrepreneurial pursuit.
Hecht, J. (2016) 5 Best and Fast Small-Business Loans (Some of Which You’ve Never Heard of). Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow/314882
Hecht, J. (2017) Lines of Credit: Online Lenders vs. Traditional Banks. Retrieved from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/271273
Rogers, S. (2014). Entrepreneurial Finance: Third Edition, Finance and Business Strategies for the Serious Entrepreneur. 161-195.
Slotnick, D. (2018) The 8 best small business credit cards to open in 2018. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/best-small-business-credit-card
Loans Definition – Entrepreneur Small Business Encyclopedia https://www.entrepreneur.com/encyclopedia/loans
Additional links to businesses and financial institutions can be found throughout the article.