CHANGING COURSE BEGINS WITH A GREAT IDEA

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Getting Funding to Start Your Own Business

Short on funds to launch that great idea? Join the club. According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), 60% of all new businesses begin as undercapitalized start-ups. The clue here is that information can pave the way to financing. So put in the effort by doing your homework.

The SBA site (SBA.gov/financing) is a good source of information on small business loans. And be sure to contact your local SBA office for information on government-sponsored programs in your state.

Another viable source of funding is to find investors. Don’t think big venture capitalists here. Twenty or so years ago, a local woman named Lin told me she and her partner were trying to start their own bar and restaurant. At the same time that I encouraged her to go for it, I have to admit, I never really thought it would happen. She didn’t own a home and had an average paying job teaching at community college. At the time it just didn’t seem feasible to me that they’d be able to come up with the kind of money they’d need to do it. Boy was I wrong.

They raised the money by tapping friends, family and acquaintances to be small investors. It was a big success, but as anyone who’s worked in the restaurant business knows, it was also a lot of work. After about eight years they decided to sell and Lin changed course once again. She got her real estate license and is living her dream on the island of Vieques off of Puerto Rico where she opened her own vacation rental real estate company.

I remember reading an article a long time ago in Entrepreneur or a similar type magazine on a creative way of coming up with money to start a small business. Keep in mind my memory on this is a little hazy but as I recall, the general idea was this:

Say you need $10,000 to start your business. Instead of trying to borrow and be liable for the full $10,000, get 10 people to each kick in $1,000.

Half of the money is considered a loan to be paid back under terms negotiated ahead of time (and in writing). The other $500 is considered an investment. That way you and your investors share the risk.

If the business succeeds, then everyone gets the loan portion back with interest but also earn some kind of return on their investment. If the business fails, the most you are out is $5,000. To make the deal more enticing, tell the original investors that if the business really takes off they’ll be given the chance to re-invest.

Of course, you will want to talk to an attorney before drafting any agreements.

Finding the money to start your business may not be easy but it almost always
is do-able!

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