Assuming you’ve assessed your readiness, and have begun putting plans on paper, you’re probably feeling pretty good about this whole business ownership “thing” right about now. Hate to burst your bubble, but it’s time to face the elephant in this room: MONEY. You need to ask yourself — and the sooner, the better — “How am I going to pay for this?”
Here are seven possible options:
Use your own money
Before you consider borrowing the money to launch your business, take a hard look at your personal financial assets. Can you withdraw funds from your savings account? Cash out your stocks? Downsize your standard of living? Sell that luxury SUV? If these are not viable options, consider your credit cards. Many a small business has managed to stay afloat by charging its way through a first year or two of operation, but it’s risky. If you go this route, use only cards with favorable interest rates (look for cash-back bonuses too!), always read the fine print before you commit and make every payment on time.
Apply for a commercial loan
Commercial loans, whether from private or public sources, are generally approved based on the borrower’s capacity to repay as determined by past business experience, personal credit rating and collateral. For a first-time business owner with little or no credit history, securing a bank loan can be tough – though not impossible – and a well-crafted business plan could make all the difference. If you can present a strong case for your firm’s potential profitability, your written plan just might sway a skeptical loan officer.
Potential sources of commercial loans for small businesses include:
- Commercial Banks, which might be less than enthusiastic about financing business startups these days due to the high rate of small business failures associated with the pandemic, are still worth pursuing. Many of the biggest names in banking – Wells Fargo, Chase, Capital One, Bank of America, Citibank, etc. – have entire divisions devoted to small business lending and may offer convenient online banking options. Types of funding and terms vary from bank to bank. Browse internet sites for broad details, then make an appointment to meet with a loan officer at a nearby local branch to discuss specifics.
- Credit Unions offer many of the same services as banks, including small business loans and online banking options, but as nonprofit institutions, they tend to put greater emphasis on personal service and feature higher interest rates on deposits and lower rates on loans.
- Commercial Finance Companies are often willing to take higher risks than banks, but they commonly charge higher interest rates. As a rule, these firms tend to evaluate loan applications more on strength of collateral than track record or profit potential.
- Digital Banking Platforms typically provide many of the same services as traditional commercial banks and credit unions, but with this difference: All transactions are digital; no brick-and-mortar visits are required. Freelancers working from home or in shared workspaces may find this platform’s emphasis on convenience and flexibility particularly appealing.