Small Business Start Up Funding Encyclopedia

This Small Business Start Up Funding Encyclopedia is a quick, yet comprehensive reference guide, provided to help budding entrepreneurs find sources of start up funding for a new business. While many other financing options exist (such as invoice factoring and supplier financing), only those sources related to starting a new business are outlined here.

Traditional Sources of Small Business Start Up Funding
Unsecured Personal Loans
You can normally apply for an unsecured personal loan up to $100,000 from a bank, if you have an excellent credit history, low debt ratio and steady source of sufficient income. Another option may be to borrow from family members or close friends.
Private Equity Investors/Angel Investors
Private investor financing may be an option for you, if you are willing to give away equity ownership in your company in exchange for start up money. Essentially, a private equity investors owns a piece of your business.
Commercial Loans
Commercial banks offer start up loans which are usually secured on the owner’s personal property or assets. Another option is an SBA loan. The U.S. Small Business Administration offers several small business loan funding programs, which include the 7 (a) Loan, the Microloan and the SBA Express.   Keep in mind that the SBA is not the direct lender, but operates as a loan guarantor. Excellent credit and a viable business plan are required for serious consideration.

The U.S. government offers grant funding to select businesses, primarily engaged in education, health and human services, technology, or research and development. Please be advised that government grants are usually not a viable option for most start up businesses. A select number of private sector grants are also made available, from foundations, non-profit and for profit organizations. One source is Business Owner’s Idea Café.
Venture Capitalists
Usually, a group of seasoned investors that pool their resources into a managed fund. Venture capital is rarely offered below one million dollars, and usually only goes to start ups expected to yield a very high return on investment.
Non-Traditional Sources of Small Business Start Up Funding
Credit Cards
Credit card financing is one of the most expensive forms of start up funding. If your business plans involve start up with the use of credit cards, you may be setting yourself up for failure.
Home Equity Lines of Credit
Home equity lines are one of the more affordable means of getting your start up funded. It involves borrowing against the equity value in your home. A home equity line should only be considered, if you have an airtight business plan. Failure to repay will put your home at risk.
Equipment Leasing
If your new business requires the use of equipment or heavy machinery to operate, equipment leasing may be a perfect option for you. Leasing reduces the amount of start up cash you would otherwise have to raise.
Merchant Account Financing
This form of financing involves the selling of your future credit card sales to a finance company, in exchange for an immediate cash advance. My advice is to avoid this type of financing altogether.
Social Lending Websites
Peer-to-peer lending groups, like Prosper and Lending Club, match private lenders with credit worthy borrowers in an online setting. Loan terms and interest rates tend to be more favorable than traditional banks.
Start Up Contests
Start up funding contents may be an option for you if you are willing to do the online research it requires. Several private companies offer annual contests which award cash and various business start up services. One such contest is the “Elevator Pitch Contest”, sponsored by Start Up Nation.

Bootstrap Financing
Bootrapping is the art of building your business from the ground up, without the use of debt financing. This form of start up funding is embraced by entrepreneurs desiring to minimize their risk. Bootstrapped businesses also enjoy higher long term profitability, than their debt financed counterparts.
Start Your Small Business TODAY!
I hope you have found this reference guide useful, in learning more about the small business start up funding options available to you. Did you know that you can start a small business, even if you have little money, poor credit, or don’t own a home? Find free sources of business start up funding, and jumpstart your dreams of owning your own business — without BIG bank loans.
Learn more by requesting your free copy of “The Bootstrap Business Start Up Planner”, by visiting my website.
©2009 Kimberly Kelly – All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
Permission to reprint this article is granted strictly on the condition that it be reprinted in its entirety, with all live links and author bio in tact.

11 Reasons to Reject the Recession and Grow Your Business

Many economists are predicting that with GM filing for bankruptcy on June 01, 2009 that the economy has hit bottom and will start to improve. With this being the longest recession since the Great Depression and many “green shoots” in the economy starting to appear, it’s now time to prepare for future growth and not sit back and wait for it to happen. Besides, if you don’t do these things now when will you have time?

So here are eleven tips to be ready for growth:

1. Let’s start with you
If you’re running a business that sells products you are used to counting your inventory. If you are a service business and don’t have inventory you understand the concept. So this idea is simple, let’s start with you. What do you need to be ready for the growth of your business – a vacation to freshen up your energy levels, some training to learn that piece of software you always wanted to know how to use, an accounting, sales and marketing or Social Network Media course.

2. Do some audits of the business
Let’s make sure we are “business ready” so when things get busy we don’t waste opportunities. Items to check in this category include your lease; when does it expire and is it worth re-negotiating with the landlord now or hiring a professional to help you do this? Update Training Manuals and Employee Manuals. If you don’t have either of them, now’s the time to do it or hire someone to do it for you. Answering the same question from each of your employees is not only repetitive but a waste of time. Making sure your manuals are also legally compliant is a good business investment. This audit can also include the corporate records of the business.

3. Review your business insurance
This idea is an extension of the above. If you’re doing a business audit, talk to your insurance agent to see what changes you need to make. You’re probably concerned some policies have gone up but it’s possible some have gone down or you can lessen coverage on some items to better handle your premiums.

4. Talk to your employees and get them motivated
The recession has been tough on everybody. Being the owner of the business we tend to think it’s been tougher on us. However, your employees have been concerned about losing their job, cuts to the numbers of hours they work, reduction in overtime or bonus’ plus their own standard of living. It’s time to re-engage them; check where they are at and what they see. Perhaps it’s time to hand them more responsibility so they can grow as the business grows but this may require training. Let’s get that training going and building a team spirit.

5. Upgrade your office equipment
If you’re working off outdated equipment and its holding back your business, now’s the time to upgrade. If the new equipment is sophisticated there will be a learning curve involved. Now’s the time to get on with it. And if you do it now, you will be ahead of your competition.

6. Upgrade your computer network
The technology experts suggest changing computers and software every 3 years. If this is critical infrastructure for your business operations now’s the time to do it. After all, we are in the 21st century and technology is dynamic so let’s use it to its fullest extent.

7. Upgrade your accounting system
Your accounting system is the financial life blood of your business. If you are working off old software that you’ve been threatening to upgrade, now is the ideal time. Changing systems requires proper research and validation, building a strategy to move to the new version and the associated training. Now is the perfect time to look at this option.

8. Talk with your customers
Here’s a novel idea – talk to your customers. I mean really talk to them. Find out how they are doing, how they are feeling and their view of the world. Perhaps they are thinking of spending a little more as they see things are turning around. And as they are one of your customers and already buy from you, they may be willing to buy something else you sell but didn’t realize you carried it because they were too busy to ask.

9. Update your website
For a lot of businesses, the website is the gateway customers use to decide if they want to do business with you. If your website has broken links or hasn’t been upgraded in a long time, now’s the time to have a professional refresh all your products and services and train you on any new technologies they recommend.

10. Contribute locally in your community
There are plenty of opportunities to help in your community. In fact, local communities are desperate for help. Find something that’s important to you and get involved as your help is needed and will help put your issues into perspective.

11. Create or make a communications plan
What do your employees say when they answer the phone, write in emails or when they meet customers face to face? What do your sales brochures say that you give to your clients? How about your website, business cards or advertisements? Do your current communications sound tired, bored or uninterested? Now is an ideal time to revisit what you communicate and how you communicate the products and/or services in your business.

Is selling your business in the back of your mind? Now’s the perfect time to work through that option. Selling a business requires thought and planning. Building an exit strategy includes positioning your business correctly, not only for potential buyers but also how this impacts you personally with tax and personal financial planning issues. With unemployment so high, buyers will be looking for options other than returning to Corporate America.

Small Business Credit Cards Vs Unsecured Lines of Credit Contrasts

Access to credit lines for businesses provides many advantages. Most business owners are aware credit lines are beneficial. The larger the company, the more advantageous a credit line. There are a variety of credit line products available on the market and the selection continues to expand.

For business owners in the startup phase of their company, the choice of financing available can be confusing. It may be difficult to decide which option best suits their circumstances. One popular product is a small credit card. Another is an unsecured business line of credit. Understanding the practical details of each may be of assistance in determining your preference.

The small credit card is a form of credit line designed for new businesses. It is often obtained without difficulty. Small business cards payments are accepted by most suppliers, which may be attractive to entrepreneurs without a proven business history.

Bonus features are often attached to small business credit cards. Discounts or cost-effective options may be offered. A new business may find these opportunities attractive.

For a business without access to readily available funds, a small business card may be the answer.

There are drawbacks to small business credit cards however. Most credit card issuers compel the business owner to sign a personal liability agreement. This means that, if the business is unable to make payment on business debt incurred on the credit card, the owner will have put their own personal assets at risk to satisfy any arrears.

Another consideration is the business owner’s personal credit rating. An unfavourable business credit score may be included with the business owner’s own personal crediting rating. This may occur even though the owner has not used the credit card for personal transactions. Obtaining a credit card that does not oblige the owner to sign a personal liability agreement is recommended.

Unsecured Line of Credit

An unsecured line of credit does not require the business to provide assets, known as collateral, against the amount borrowed. In other words, if the business defaults on payment of the line of credit, the lender may not seize personal assets to recover its losses. To obtain this kind of financing, the business needs to have established an unblemished credit history. New businesses will not likely qualify for an unsecured line of credit. To become eligible, the new business must first build a business credit. As such, this form of financing may not be appropriate in the early stages of a business.

If the business has the requisite credit history and has existed for a period of time, the unsecured line of credit can be advantageous. As a business expands a higher credit line is often useful. This is especially true for businesses which make bulk purchases or have sizable expenses.

The unsecured line of credit charges a lower interest rate than small business credit cards. It also advances an increased credit limit. This may offer greater flexibility with comparable features to the small credit card.

Important facts to remember are to build an excellent credit score, conduct research into which financing option best meets your business’s requirements, monitor your credit expenditures and make payments on schedule.

Your business’s prosperity and expansion will benefit if a business credit line is chosen and handled with care.