More than half a million small businesses are started each month in the United States and the majority of them require startup costs for materials, employees, office space, equipment, shipping, manufacturing and more. While costs can range from nothing to hundreds of thousands of dollars (especially for businesses in the retail or manufacturing industries), the average business requires $65,000 in startup costs, according to research by Babson College.
The Small Business Administration says that small businesses are financed through a variety of methods, including the owner’s own personal savings, loans from family members, friends and banks, bonds, stocks and more. With regulations getting tighter and stricter when it comes to small business lending, small business owners may need to explore other methods of financing.
Here are five ways to bootstrap your venture if you can't get a business loan.
1. Purchase only what is necessary
If getting a loan is not an option, you’re going to have to spend minimally when starting out. Since 50 percent of businesses fail within the first five years, according to the SBA, it makes financial sense to start out with the bare necessities and build your business slowly as it starts gaining momentum. You could work out of your home, if possible, for the first year or two before renting an office space, purchase used equipment instead of state-of-the-art brand name equipment and market your business for free instead of immediately launching a costly marketing campaign.
2. Raise money through crowdfunding
Crowdfunding is a great way to help new companies raise money in order to fund a project or business venture. Popular site fundable.com allows entrepreneurs to raise capital in order to get their businesses up and running. The money through crowdfunding comes in the form of donations or investments and if you have the right message (or pitch) in place, it can be a great way to fund your business.
3. Seek the help of family or friends
It can be difficult to ask to borrow money from family or friends, but it may be necessary for you to get your business started. The more detailed your business plan is and the better laid-out your goals are, the greater chance you’ll have at getting them to lend you money. Show them your estimated yearly projections and give them an exact time frame on when you can pay them back, if that’s something you wish to do.
Related Article: Need a Business Plan? There's an App for That
4. Get a business partner or investor
Is there anyone that you could go into business with or someone you know who would be able to fund your business as an investor? An actual business partner may be ideal if you’re looking to eventually grow and want to bring new, fresh ideas to the table. A business partner can help with more than just the finances – they can help advertise, help with creating the product or providing the service, handle the accounting plus give you someone to bounce ideas back and forth with. An investor will fund your business, which is ideal for those who wish to remain a sole proprietor.
5. Earn more so you can save more
Instead of seeking the help of family or friends, crowdfunding or starting small, saving enough money so you can fund your new business yourself is a sure-fire method to save you from going into debt. You could also afford to purchase new items and hire a staff, if desired. Ways to help you get there are downsizing and living off half of your salary, picking up a part-time job or side hustle, cut cable and other unnecessary expenses and sell unused items on Craigslist or eBay. Giving yourself extra time to save up for the expenses yourself also allows you to fine-tune your business plan and get all the details in order before starting.
Related Article: Fast Cash: 12 Quick Ways to Raise Some Dough
A detailed business plan, including yearly financial projections coupled with a motivation and drive to do what it takes to see your business succeed, is a recipe for entrepreneurship success. First, focus on creating the plan for your business, which should include timelines, data, comparisons of similar companies, revenue projections, initial costs, marketing plans and any fees or licenses you may need and more. As these items all fall into place, you can start to narrow in on how you will finance your business to get it off the ground.
While financing is one of the most important factors, it’s not the only factor to take consider and as you can see above, there are many ways to bootstrap your small business without a loan.