Finding financing in any economic climate can be challenging, whether you’re looking for start-up funds, capital to expand or money to hold on through the tough times. But given our current state of affairs, securing funds is as tough as ever. To help you find the money you need, we’ve compiled a guide on 10 financing techniques and what you should know when pursuing them.
1. Consider Factoring
Factoring is a finance method where a company sells its receivables at a discount to get cash up-front. It’s often used by companies with poor credit or by businesses such as apparel manufacturers, which have to fill orders long before they get paid. However, it’s an expensive way to raise funds. Companies selling receivables generally pay a fee that’s a percentage of the total amount. If you pay a 2 percent fee to get funds 30 days in advance, it’s equivalent to an annual interest rate of about 24 percent. For that reason, the business has gotten a bad reputation over the years. That said, the economic downturn has forced companies to look to alternative financing methods and companies like The Receivables Exchange are trying to make factoring more competitive. The exchange allows companies to offer their receivables to dozens of factoring companies at once, along with hedge funds, banks, and other finance companies. These lenders will bid on the invoices, which can be sold in a bundle or one at a time.
2. Get a Bank Loan
Lending standards have gotten much stricter, but banks such as J.P. Morgan Chase and Bank of America have earmarked additional funds for small business lending. So why not apply?
3. Use a Credit Card
Using a credit card to fund your business is some serious risky business. Fall behind on your payment and your credit score gets whacked. Pay just the minimum each month and you could create a hole you’ll never get out of. However, used responsibly, a credit card can get you out of the occasional jam and even extend your accounts payable period to shore up your cash flow.
4. Tap into Your 401(k)
If you’re unemployed and thinking about starting your own business, those funds you’ve accumulated in your 401(k) over the years can look pretty tempting. And thanks to provisions in the tax code, you actually can tap into them without penalty if you follow the right steps. The steps are simple enough, but legally complex, so you’ll need someone with experience setting up a C corporation and the appropriate retirement plan to roll your retirement assets into. Remember that you’re investing your retirement funds, which means if things don’t pan out, not only do you lose your business, but your nest egg, too.
5. Try Crowdfunding
A crowdfunding site like Kickstarter.com can be a fun and effective way to raise money for a relatively low cost, creative project. You’ll set a goal for how money you’d like to raise over a period of time, say, $1,500 over 40 days. Your friends, family, and strangers then use the site to pledge money. Kickstarter has funded roughly 1,000 projects, from rock albums to documentary films since its launch last year. But keep in mind, this isn’t about long-term funding. Rather, it’s supposed to facilitate the asking for and giving of support for single, one-off ideas. Usually, project-creators offer incentives for pledging, such as if you give a writer $15, you’ll get a book in return. There’s no long-term return on investment for supporters and not even the ability to write off donations for tax purposes. Still, that hasn’t stopped close to 100,000 people from pledging to Kickstarter projects.
6. Pledge Some of Your Future Earnings
Young, ambitious and willing to make a bet on your future earnings? Consider how Kjerstin Erickson, Saul Garlick and Jon Gosier are trying to raise money. Through an online marketplace called the Thrust Fund, the three have offered up a percentage of their future lifetime earnings in exchange for upfront, undesignated venture funding. Erickson is willing to swap 6 percent of her future lifetime earnings for $600,000. The other two entrepreneurs are each offering 3 percent of future earnings for $300,000. Beware: the legality and enforceability of these “personal investment contracts” have yet to be established.