Where’s The Money?

How To Get The Cash Up Front Your Business Needs

You may have a terrific plan and be a talented workaholic, but finding funding is another issue. Most business failures are a result of inadequate funding from day one.

Business owners often start with too little money. (You can never have enough!). It’s one of the most common reasons that new businesses don’t make it. Adequate financing and the know-how to use it wisely are crucial ingredients for your business to grow and thrive. Inadequate funding limits what you can do.

Your financing will either be debt or equity financing from institutional or informal sources.

Debt is acceptable, and so is approaching your local bank. Remember, banks are not necessarily providers of venture capital.

Common traditional sources include family and friends, personal credit cards (not always recommended, home equity lines of credit, commercial bank loans and bank loans backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Some small businesses also receive a type of funding from their suppliers and vendors, in the form of special payment terms, discounts or even direct loans. Suppliers want you to succeed, so they are sometimes willing to help.

With equity financing, you offer investors shares of your business in return for cash. Unlike a loan, you are not required to pay the money back.

But these investors now own part of your business, and will want a return on their investment, to which they are entitled. Other funding or cost-sharing options include partnerships, joint ventures, alliances, co-branding arrangements and business incubators. Incubators rarely offer cash, but they provide crucial support in the form of free or reduced rent and business services.

The SBA 7(a) Loan Guarantee Program is the main small business financing tool. It helps secure loans up to $1 million for small businesses that are unable to find financing on reasonable terms through conventional lending  channels.

The SBA Web site has an excellent section on financing that includes helpful advice on funding basics, estimating costs, personal vs. business loans, equity financing, eligibility standards, steps to successful borrowing and lists of small business lenders.

To learn more about financing a small business, contact SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business.” SCORE is a nonprofit organization of more than 10,500 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to small business owners. To find a counselor online, see www.score.org.