As a small business owner, you want to grow your business into a brand that customers know and trust. But that kind of cred doesn't come cheap. Getting access to capital to fuel your growing business can be tough, but there are several ways you can get the funds you need.
Start at home.
Bootstrapping—using your own money to fund your small business—can be an effective way to fill your coffers, business.com notes. Many successful small business owners have broken open their piggy banks to get their businesses off the ground. Consider dipping into your savings or taking out a home equity line of credit to grow your business. If your credit limit is high enough, you could use your credit cards for growth funding.
Just make sure that you document any money you put into your business as a loan or owner's equity, Fit Small Business cautions. A certified public accountant or a tax adviser can show you how to record these transactions for tax purposes. They can also tell you what is and isn't tax-deductible, too.
Find money within your business.
To make your finances lean and mean, take a good, hard look at how you're spending cash. Trimming expenses can free up more cash that you can invest into growing your business, and there are ways to cut costs without cutting your staff, business.com notes.
Another way to access capital: generate more revenue. Figure out how you can move more merchandise (but without growing so fast you have fulfillment issues). How you'll do it will depend on the business you're in. Research the best revenue growth strategies in your field and network with successful business owners to pick their brains for advice.
Organizations such as SCORE and the Small Business Development Center can also help you find money in your business that you can use as growth capital. They offer free services and training on how to access capital and how to enhance your small business operations.
Once you've tapped your internal options, the next step is to look outside your business for growth capital. But to get that money, your finances and records need to be in order, your credit score needs to be healthy, and you need to be organized.
Apply for a small business grant.
A small business grant could be a big boon if your revenue is limited. Better yet: you don't have to pay back the money you get through a grant, but you usually have to pay taxes on it.
Grants might provide free money, but they're not easy money. Grants are most often available from government organizations, nonprofits, and corporations—but only if you meet the grant's requirements. They're also highly competitive. Consider hiring a grant writer for those more competitive grants (or the ones that offer big bucks).
The Balance offers some guidance on securing grants, but it isn't exhaustive. And be careful when you're searching for grants online. Try to find a free grant database before paying for access to one, and be on the lookout for potential scams.
Launch a crowdfunding campaign.
It's possible to raise a substantial amount of money through a really good crowdfunding campaign.
Crowdfunding campaigns are great if you have an innovative product or a creative idea. There are many moving parts to crowdfunding campaigns, but it all comes down to choosing the right platforms and promotional strategies.
Some crowdfunding platforms charge fees, though, and the money you raise could be taxable, depending on where you live.
Secure a small business loan.
Small business loans are widely available to most businesses—especially if you have collateral like invoices, customer payables, or equipment. Traditional banks offer loans to business owners with good credit, and alternative lenders can help bridge short-term cash flow gaps, too.
Shop around for the loan and lender that's right for your business. Friends and industry colleagues might be able to recommend one to you, too.
If a lender seems like a fit, see if they specialize in supporting businesses like yours. Find out what their terms, fees, and interest rates are and when they charge them (say, once a month or once a year).
Read any loan agreement and its related documents carefully. If you can't repay the loan, it could close off some of your access to capital.
Talk to angel investors or venture capitalists.
If you're still searching for capital to grow your business, you could turn to an investor, who'll trade you money for an ownership stake—sometimes a sizable one—in your business (and your profits). On the bright side, you won't have to worry about repaying a loan.
Venture capitalists typically represent firms, while angel investors are usually wealthy individuals or groups. Each usually comes with an extensive network of highly successful entrepreneurs who you can lean on for advice. There are differences, though, in terms of how much money they have and their investing motivations, business.com writes.
Venture capitalists usually offer operational and growth support by placing managers or board members in your business. Angel investors usually don't. Venture capitalists are also usually more serious about getting a return on their investment on an aggressive timeline. They want to build your business fast, then sell their stake to make money on their investment.
To get their money, though, you'll probably have to pitch your business to venture capitalists and angel investors. Pitching is a specialized skill, so it's important to learn how to pitch these funders successfully.
Follow these steps, and you'll have access to capital that can help turn your business dreams into reality.