How To Finance Your Dream Business Without Complicated Investment Or Stress
Career & Money

How To Finance Your Dream Business Without Complicated Investment Or Stress

Turning that business idea into a reality can seem overwhelming, especially when you sit and think about all the money it might take to get things going. But sis, get out of your own head when it comes to business funding. If you have a viable idea or you've been running a side hustle that you'd like to take the next level, the best thing to do is actually get strategic, write down solutions, and act.

We've got you covered to get started. Here are a few ways to finance your business without too much overcomplicated hassle or stress:

1. Get an investor.

The venture capital process can seem a bit intense, and it does involve a lot of moving parts, but that's not the only way to get an investor. Your initial investor could literally be a mentor, former boss, friend, or family member. Sometimes it's just simply someone believing in you and loaning (or even donating) a couple hundred dollars to get your business launched (especially those that are online-based) or a couple thousand as an investor expecting a return within a certain amount of time.

You can also try crowdfunding, where, sometimes, donors are investors in the startup of your business. You'll need to research platforms like Kickstarter or Fundable, for example, to find out which one is right for your funding goals, which would be a good fit for the type of business you're starting, which one has the right site capabilities and the rules or guidelines you have to follow for each. You'll also need to, in some cases, create content, use storytelling, market yourself and your skills, or provide incentives for people to invest in order to successfully reach fundraising goals. (You can find more information on setting up a crowdfunding campaign here and here.)

Think outside the box on this because when it comes to getting startup funds, you really have to be strategic, set a plan, and pace yourself. You'll also need to be clear on what you're offering and to whom.

You also have to be okay with hearing the word no and fine-tune your sales skills in order to get people to buy into your idea. If you're not quite the salesperson or public speaker, partner up with or hire someone who is. Maybe your startup dream includes a co-founder or partner who has the gift of gab, knows marketing, and likes the hustle of pitching a business. A coach or experienced professional can also help you with this. Organizations like Score and the Small Business Administration (SBA) also offer virtual events or seminars that include how-tos in this regard.

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2. Apply for grants.

As cliche as it sounds, there is, indeed, lots of free money out there, especially for women and women of color who have solid business goals and tenacity and actually want to do the work toward building or expanding a business.

For some grants, you'll need to follow protocols, submit paperwork, and do your due diligence in terms of what's required of you once you are awarded the funds. For others, it's simply an application and an award. Period. Either way, free money is worth the effort, and taking the time to apply for a multitude of small grants or a couple of big ones is well worth it.

(You can find a great list of grants for women entrepreneurs here and here, and be sure to keep searching because, again, there are many options if you consistently search and apply.)

3. If it's a side hustle, actually funnel your profits back into expanding the business to become profitable enough for you to quit your job.

If you're looking to quit your job in order to turn your side hustle into a full-time business, be deliberate about funneling the profits from that side business back into it so that it can grow. Avoid the temptation to use that money for things like vacations, a larger home or apartment, or shopping sprees.

Create a budget where you can track how you're using the profits and where you can re-invest in terms of tech products, automation tools, interns, team members, or a larger space to serve more customers so that you can see real results.

4. Use some of your 9-to-5 earnings for funding.

While you're working, create an exit plan (whether is one for the next year, five years, or even 10 years) where you are not only thinking about when you'll have enough money to launch the business (and possibly quit or lessen your hours or responsibilities) but you'll have enough of a cushion to sustain any emergency or other costs or fees associated with launching your business.

You can set aside the money today via savings, investment, or another account so that when you're ready to lease that space, build out that prototype, pay for that website launch and hosting, or hire a team, you have the funds to do so.

If you're a creative, try something like Patreon. While this is not a fundraising platform (I reiterate, it is not), you can use the funds from your followers or supporters to save up for your business or to launch a business that is an extension of what you already do in your day job as a creative.

You might have to sacrifice a few luxuries depending on your timeline, but be sure you're adjusting your plan according to your current lifestyle, responsibilities, spending habits, and other factors so that you can be realistic in your approach to this. Do your research on the overhead and launch costs of your business (here's a good resource) so that you can at least have an idea of how much money you might need at the onset.

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5. Enter a pitch competition.

Many pitch competitions offer thousands of dollars to winners, as well as other resources. Typically you'd have to enter and then go through rounds of basically selling the idea and feasibility of your business to a panel of judges. The qualifications to enter might vary but oftentimes many startups have gotten the financial leg-up they needed to really take their dream businesses to the next level.

And don't just stop at one. Maybe $5,000 isn't enough and you need more. Well, enter more competitions and try your hand at adding to those funds. (You can find more about pitch competition resources here and here.)

As with applying for grants, be diligent, patient, and deliberate in your search, write a list and put them on your calendar---or even create a spreadsheet or Google doc---and take the time to find opportunities both for small and large amounts. Schedule the time to search, get to know the qualifications, find out more about how past winners were successful, and get a coach if you need to.

6. Apply for accelerator or mentorship programs.

The great thing about these programs is that, on top of funding, you get the support and networking you need to really succeed at fully launching your business. While some require applicants to already have been in business for a while, some do not, so get out there and again, do your research. From large companies like Amazon to nonprofits like the Black Owned Media Equity And Sustainability Institute, there are options out there for you to not only get the money you need but the actual mentorship and support.

If you think you don't quite meet the requirements of some of these accelerator or mentorship programs, find out how you can qualify and work toward being qualified so that you can really get in the game and become a success.

(Find out more on accelerator and mentorship programs here and here.)

7. Get a bank loan or use credit.

I listed this one last because I'm not a huge fan of this---as I'm more of a bootstraps-DIY kind of girl when it comes to my approach to launching anything---especially if you've never launched a business before, but if you qualify, you're comfortable with managing your own personal finances well, and you have the resources, go to your local credit union or other bank and apply for a business loan. This can be a great boost for you to get your business off the ground. You can also use funds from a personal loan from a bank you already have a relationship with and apply those funds to start your business.

Don't be afraid of exploring all funding options if you truly want to make your business dream a reality. It takes deliberate effort, confidence in your path and idea, and a willingness to be strategic and relentless in your pursuit.

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