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How to source funds to expand your business

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Funds to expand your business|How to source funds to expand your businessAs a small or medium enterprise business owner, you are probably always looking for growth opportunities. To realize such opportunities, you need a lot of money, and often you may not have that much to help you realize your dreams. You will need to source funds from other sources to make the most of the opportunities that come your way. But sometimes, due to the lack of financial literacy or good financial advice, you may end up making the wrong choice. For instance, you need to know the difference between grant & loan to know which one best suits your needs. Here are some options that you may consider when sourcing funds to expand your business.

Bank loans

Bank loans remain the most common option for most businesses looking to expand. Bank loans provide medium to long-term finance for your business. You will need to provide some documentation about your business, a plan, and collateral to acquire one. To be safe, get a financial advisor to help you understand the loan terms before deciding to go in for it.

SBA-backed loans

Only available in the United States, The Small Business Association offers small businesses various loans via participatory banks all over the country. SBA-backed loans are set up to help small businesses secure funding to grow their company specifically. Mind you, though, the SBA itself is not responsible for the loan. You will need to have a good working relationship with the loan officer at your local bank to gain access to such loans. You could also find the nearest Small Business Development Center SBDC and register to access their small business loans.

Venture capitalists

Venture capitalists are people who choose to invest in businesses to help them start-up or expand. Venture capitalists are looking to make a good return on their investment and, as such, may get involved in running the business or offer their expertise. Due to the huge amounts that venture capitalists look to invest in a business, you must have a solid business plan and serious projections for the future for you to be considered. The basic sums venture capitalists invest are from $500,000 to $10 million, so you must have a high growth strategy to entice them to listen to your pitch.

Angel investors

Much like venture capitalists, angel investors are looking to invest in businesses and see them succeed. The significant difference here is that instead of looking out for returns, angel investors rather want to transform their investment into the equity of your business. But they may not invest as much as venture capitalists. To seriously consider angel investors, you must first have an exit strategy for your business and solid projections for the future. If you aim to hold onto your business, then angel investment may not be for you. The goal is to gain equity, help the company grow and then sell it or when it goes very well, do an IPO.

Crowdfunding

This type of source funding has seen quite a hike as there have been many success stories. It is pretty straightforward; you ask people to donate a sum of money for a particular project to exchange diverse rewards. These rewards are generally categorized into equity, debt, and donation. However, to participate in crowdfunding, you need to know the rules and requirements of the sites and carefully review your options before you proceed.

Why P2P Lending Makes Complete Sense for Startups

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |P2P Lending|Why P2P Lending Makes Complete Sense for StartupsSince its inception, the peer-to-peer lending industry has moved ahead at warp speed. The P2P lending market was valued at $67.93 billion in 2019 and is expected to cross the $500 billion figure in 2027 at a CAGR of 29.7 percent, despite the global pandemic crisis.

P2P lending is a funding method that lets businesses get capital from several investors online. P2P lending marketplaces get investors and businesses seeking funding together on one platform. It is a debt-based investment that’s different from crowdfunding. It presumes that the borrower will repay the loan in installments over the specified period.

Since the entire process is technologically driven, it ensures transparency and involves low operating costs and market risk. Hence, this funding model is a perfect fit for startup owners and entrepreneurs who are constantly looking for quick access to funds and reasonable interest rates.

Here’s why P2P lending is an ideal business financing option for startups and SMEs.

1. It Offers an Easy and Streamlined Application Process

P2P lending allows startup owners to borrow capital without the hassle of going to financial institutions. This is an ideal scenario for startups as banks have extensive eligibility requirements and take a long time to approve a loan.

Also, startup owners who do not have good credit but a healthy cashflow find it tough to get loans from credit unions or banks. P2P lending is a great alternative option for such businesses. Even with a less-than-perfect credit score, a small business can get its funds through an online lending platform.

These platforms use the latest technology to provide direct and safe interaction between borrowers and lenders through a simple application process. They perform all the necessary checks, set all the rates and terms and conditions, apply legislation changes, and allow safe transactions.

For instance, the loan marketplace platform Swaper has built its own AI scoring model that’s completely automated and adjusts legislation changes to the new risk terms.

Check out this interview with Iveta Br?vele, the CEO of Swaper for details.

2. It Helps Startups Get Funds Quickly

Depending on the size of your loan, the process of funding from financial institutions can last for weeks on end. However, P2P lending is an online and transparent process where the borrowers are constantly updated about the progress of their funding.

P2P platforms offer startups with a huge pool of willing investors who evaluate borrowers and lend accordingly. Lenders needn’t support 100 percent of the financing; rather, it is pooled by many lenders. All this reduces the time taken to raise funds for a venture. Even loan amounts like $5,000 or more are funded in less than a week.

3. It Offers Excellent Interest Rates

When compared with the traditional ways of funding, P2P lending offers better interest rates. Banks usually have a higher interest rate on personal loans as they are unsecured loans. Repaying such loans can burn a hole in your pocket.

Being completely online (unlike banks), P2P platforms operate on low overheads. They do not have administrative and operational costs to pay. This allows them to offer attractive rates depending on the borrower’s credit score, loan amount, and loan term. Hence, startups looking to reduce their business costs can benefit from this type of financing.

4. There Are No Hidden Costs

If you’ve ever applied for a loan from a bank, you’d understand the importance of reading the fine print. Many who have failed to do so have landed in a soup. Banks have so many hidden charges that most borrowers aren’t aware of until it’s too late. Such cashflow surprises can ruin your startup.

Online P2P lending is different. As mentioned earlier, it’s a transparent process that clearly states the registration fee and the commission on the loan at the time of your registration. There are no hidden charges. What’s more? If you plan to repay your loan early, you will not have to contend with any prepayment penalties.

So, you can use your funds to scale your startup rather than wasting it on unnecessary penalties and hidden charges.

5. You Don’t Need a Collateral

Not all P2P lending platforms offer loans without collateral; however, they mandate a certain credit score and critically verify the eligibility of the borrower. They also check your business cash flow. If you meet the eligibility and your business has healthy cash flow, they may take collateral lightly and drop it from the requirements. So, you can get your startup funded without collateral!

Before opting for this funding option, consider the following pointers –

  • Take a look at the fine print at the bottom of each P2P provider’s home or the product page. They usually share the complete overview of the loan amounts they offer and the rates and fees they charge.
  • Make sure that the lender operates in your state or country. Many P2P lenders do not operate in all locations.
  • Review your credit reports for major negative entries if any as these may come in the way of your loan approval.
  • Watch out for tempting upsells. You may require a certain amount but qualify for a larger loan. A few P2P sites will encourage you to borrow more. Agree only if you think you can put the money to good use.

Summing Up

P2P lending is an ideal funding option for small business owners and entrepreneurs looking for quick and easy ways to fuel their venture. No wonder, over the past decade, P2P lending has become mainstream among startups seeking additional funding.

Use the information shared above to make an informed funding decision for your venture.

Easy Ways To Raise Capital For Your New Venture

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Raise Capital|Easy Ways To Raise Capital For Your New VentureAlmost three-quarters of new businesses and startups need a helping hand to get up and running, so if you are trying to figure out how to raise some much-needed capital, you are far from alone.

Sadly, money does not grow on trees – life and business would be so much easier if it did – but there are some ways to get the capital that you need to start up your new business venture without having to sell your soul. Let us take a look at some of them.

Launch a crowdfunding campaign

Crowdfunding is becoming an increasingly popular way of raising money, and that is because there are so many success stories with it. It is a case of having the right business idea and the right pitch – get those right and you will have hoards of people wanting to help you out financially.

Using a crowdfunding agency gives you the chance to connect to people with like-minded interests and knowledge that you may not otherwise be in touch with. It also allows you to get an idea of the level of interest in your product or service and what resonates with people who may be your target audience. It also gives you an opportunity to practise your pitch and your marketing campaign and tweak it for the future. Most importantly, it helps you raise the capital for your new venture.

Find an angel investor

The general definition of an angel investor is an accredited business person or individual with a net worth of more than $1 million, or an annual income exceeding $200,000. In most cases, they work alone, but at times will work alongside other angel investors to build up a fund.

An angel investor works by providing capital for the business start-up in return for convertible debt or ownership equity – imagine along the lines of Dragon Den. These are usually used when a traditional investor will not take the risk.

Ask family and friends

Many people turn to family and trusted friends when they are trying to raise the money to launch a new business venture. According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, 5% of US adults have invested in a company started by someone they know. It is a tricky one though because it relies on a huge amount of trust and faith. You need to treat it like any other formal business transaction – draw up legal contracts with clear rules on how the money should be paid back, the time frame and what will happen in the case of late or missed payments. Be aware that it a risky way of getting capital, as if things do not work out as you hoped and you find yourself unable to pay the money back, it can irreparably damage your relationship.

Raising money to start your new business venture does not have to involve countless trips to that bank and meetings. It can be much more straightforward than that. The key is to have a solid business idea and a business plan to go with it.

How To Secure Business Financing After Declaring Bankruptcy

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Business Financing|How To Secure Business Financing After Declaring BankruptcyPitching to banks and investors to get funding for a new business is always daunting, but it’s particularly scary if you’ve already had a failed business and declared bankruptcy in the past. You can be sure that investors will do their homework and they’ll know all about it, so there’s no point trying to hide it. A lot of people assume that having a failed business in the past means that nobody will touch you but that isn’t the case. In fact, a lot of the most successful business people in the world have had failed business and declared bankruptcy before they landed on an idea that took off. Investors understand this and they are willing to take a chance on people, even if things haven’t worked out in the past. However, it is more difficult to convince them that their money is in good hands.

There are a number of concerns that investors may have and you need to address them. Firstly, they will worry about why the first business failed and whether it was down to poor management. Secondly, they will want to know about outstanding debts. If your new business is very similar to the old one, creditors may be entitled to collect debts from it, which is a big problem for investors. If your new business looks quite similar to the old one, you also need to help them understand how things will be different this time and how you will avoid another failure. Addressing all of these issues can be tough, but it’s not impossible. Here’s how to secure investment for a new business after declaring bankruptcy.

Focus On Your Business Plan

Your business plan is more important than ever if you have already had failed business ventures in the past. Any lenders will want to know exactly how you plan to spend the money that they give you and what specific steps you will take to grow the business and return their investment to them. Banks will want a clear plan for exactly how you are going to repay any loans that they give you, so it’s vital that you can prove you have thought about every tiny detail of your new business. You can find some great templates for business plans online, which will help make sure you haven’t missed out anything important and keep everything well organized. When writing your business plan, you must be specific about the numbers because this is what lenders will be really interested in, considering your previous business failures. Although you are pitching the product, it’s vital that you demonstrate a clear understanding of the finances if you want to inspire confidence in investors.

Approach Private Investors First

Although some banks will still lend to you, private investors are more likely to take a chance on your new business, so you should focus on them first. They have more control over their money than a loan approval officer has over the bank’s money, so they can make that judgment call and decide to back your business even if it doesn’t seem like a good idea on paper. You will also find that if you can secure partial investment from a private party, this drastically increases your chances of being approved for a bank loan because you are not asking for as much.

Search For A Business Partner

Having a failed business and declaring bankruptcy in the past presents two major problems; the first is that you have a terrible credit rating, which means that banks and private investors are naturally cautious about lending to you and many people will reject you immediately when they run a credit check on you. The second problem is that people will assume that you lack business skills. You tried to start a business on your own and ended up bankrupt, so the evidence would suggest that you are not capable. There are, of course, other factors involved and you should explain these to potential investors, but it’s still likely that they will have concerns about your skills as a business person.

You can address both of these issues if you search for a business partner. If you are able to find a partner with good credit, you improve your situation immediately and with them listed as co-owner of the business, your chances of getting a loan shoot up. If your business partner has a good track record and a lot of experience, that works in your favor too. The investors are a lot more confident because it’s not just you that’s running the business, you have an experienced, successful partner to help you manage the workload, meaning you’re more likely to make it work.

However, you should be very careful when choosing a business partner to work with. Find somebody that is equally as passionate about the product but, most importantly, somebody that is on the same page in terms of the future direction of the business. When you start having fundamental disagreements about where your business is headed, you’re in big trouble. You need to think about what your relative strengths and weaknesses are too so you can choose a partner that compliments your skill set. If you’re a marketing whiz but you struggle to get to grips with the accounts, there’s no sense partnering with somebody that has spent their entire career working in marketing. Instead, you need a partner that knows the financial side of business inside out.

Put More Of Your Own Money In

This one might be tricky if you are already in a tough financial position but it really helps if you can invest more of your own money. If you are willing to back the business yourself, it shows that you are confident about it and that plays well with investors. If you’re not willing to risk that much of your own money, why should they risk theirs?

If you are struggling to raise any of your own money to put in, you should consider holding off for a while. It’s not a good idea to start a business when you are in a precarious financial position because, if it doesn’t work out, you’re in serious trouble. It might be best to spend a few years restoring your credit rating and building a healthy savings account. This will reduce the risk on your part and make it easier to secure financing.

Look For Alternative Financing Options

Banks and private investors are the most common ways to finance your business, but there are alternatives you should consider if you are struggling.

Crowdfunding, for example, is a very popular way of funding a new company these days and many successful businesses have started out this way. If you didn’t already know, crowdfunding works by asking lots of people to put a small amount into a business idea, usually with the promise of a finished product or access to exclusive content once the business is up and running. This allows you to pitch your business without any financial risk and people are more likely to back you because you’re only asking for a small amount. However, crowdfunding sites have become very popular and they’re incredibly competitive. If you stand any chance of getting the required amount, you must invest time and money in creating a high quality pitch with video demonstrations of your products. If you are going to try crowdfunding, manage your expectations and remember that your product could get lost amongst the thousands of others on crowdfunding sites.

Peer to peer lending is another alternative funding source that you might want to consider. These platforms connect investors with people that are in need of loans, and many of those investors are more willing to overlook poor credit ratings. Again, you are not guaranteed to get a loan this way but many struggling business owners find that it is a good place to find potential investors.

Depending on where you live, you might also be entitled to a small business grant or loan through a scheme of some kind. These grants are created by local authorities to encourage new businesses to open in the area. If you can get a grant, you won’t need to pay it back, which is a huge bonus for a new business that doesn’t have much money. Even if you do have to pay your loan back, the interest rate will be very reasonable and some may not charge any interest at all.

A lot of people give up after their business venture fails and they are forced to declare bankruptcy. They assume that nobody will ever finance them again and it’s too much of a risk to open a new business. But if you have a great business idea, you should take a chance on it because there are still ways to secure financing. As long as you learn from the mistakes that you made the first time around, you stand a good chance of making your new business work. Just follow these tips and you can get the financing you need.

5 Viable Options for Financing Your Small Business

StrategyDriven Managing Your Finances Article |Financing Your Small Business|5 Viable Options for Financing Your Small BusinessFinancing a small business isn’t always easy, but there are plenty of solutions available, no matter how bad your credit rating is. Before you start looking for finance, however, make sure you have a strong business plan. Lenders will want to see evidence that your busines is viable, even if you don’t need a lot of cash to get the ball rolling. In addition, be prepared to put up some collateral, either your personal assets or shares in the business. Often, loans come with strings attached, not just interest!

In this article, we will look at the best solutions on the table.

Credit Card

When you don’t need a huge amount of capital, easily accessible funding options like credit cards are a useful tool. The great thing about credit cards is that they are flexible, so if you only need a short-term cash injection to buy supplies, a credit card may work for you.

It’s even possible to enjoy a 0% loan if you look around for a good deal. Plenty of credit card companies have 0% introductory offers for new customers but bear in mind your personal credit rating will dictate which offers are available to you.

Bank Loan

Approaching your bank manager for a business loan is another option, but this one takes longer to sort out. Banks don’t typically throw money at customers these days; they were too badly burned in the financial crash of 2009. You’ll have to provide a solid business plan, as well as detailed cash projections outlining how you plan on repaying the money. If everything looks good on paper, you should have no problem qualifying for a business loan.

Specialist Lender

While high street lenders have their place in the finance sector, they don’t tend to work for people with bad credit or niche requirements. For example, if you have CCJs in your credit report or you want to start an online business selling CBD products, mainstream lenders won’t touch you. You’ll need a specialist instead.

Luckily, specialist business models and bad credit doesn’t have to hold your business back. There are lenders who will consider most applications, no matter how off-the-wall, so don’t assume your business idea is doomed if you have a few late payments on your report.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding has allowed all manner of businesses to achieve their potential. Thanks to sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, startups like Pebble and Oculus have achieved phenomenal success. As long as you have a great pitch and people can see the potential in your business plan, the money will flow your way. In fact, crowdfunding has been so successful in recent years that many small startups have bypassed traditional funding sources altogether.

Make sure you understand the different types of crowdfunding before you create a pitch. They include:

  • Donation-based crowdfunding – ask for money with nothing given in return
  • Reward-based crowdfunding – ask for donations in return for a reward
  • Peer-to-peer crowdfunding – cut out the middleman and borrow money directly from investors
  • Securities-based crowdfunding – investors are given a share in the business in return for cash

Angel Investors

Angel investors are people with a lot of experience and significant capital to spare. They look for embryonic businesses that show a lot of promise. In return for capital, the investor is given a share of the business or the promise of a decent return on their investment.
One advantage of securing funding from an Angel Investor is that you can tap into their experience in the early days of running your business. After all, they have a vested interest in ensuring your venture is a success!

Lastly, don’t dismiss the notion of asking friends and families to contribute to capital if they can afford it. If they say no, consider whether your business idea is worth pursuing.