This post will offer insight to those who have plateaued before they have even started their business. Specifically, this is for those who do not know where to go for funding or feel they may not be eligible for bank funding. If you feel like you are running in place without capital, keep reading.
There is a lot to consider when trying to get your business going. This is why a business plan is important; it helps you outline your next steps.
If you are not sure what your next step is on your journey, it may be time to consider help.
I have a business plan…now I need money
A common sticking point is just beyond the weeds of completing a business plan; this is the place where you realize you cannot move any further without money.
Most people assume a bank loan is the best plan “A”. Some lucky folks may have an investor in mind, or may be in a position to leverage funds from family and friends.
For the rest of the entrepreneurs out there who do not see a clear path forward for funding, a great resource to consider is your nearest SCORE office. SCORE partners with the SBA and offers free advice and workshops to start-ups and established businesses. Other resources might be available at a University or Community College.
Are these free resources going to lend me capital?
The local resources available to you are not necessarily in a lending position, but they can probably tell you where to seek funding. They are often privy to the latest SBA loan programs that may not come up at the top of your funding considerations. Low interest, long pay-back period loans can be the key for success for many startups who cannot afford to leverage traditional bank loans, which often demand 20-40% cash down requirements.
Finding out more about your local resources is important. Events, classes, and seminars in your area where other entrepreneurs are going through similar steps can help you connect with like-minded people who are going through similar challenges. They may also be able to offer you advise based on their own recent experience.
I don’t have a business plan yet, is it too soon to seek capital?
It might be a bit early to start asking for money if your business plan is not drafted yet. However, it is never too soon to start connecting with local small business resources. In fact, you may need the support most when you are creating your business plan. Problems and issues can seem to materialize out of nowhere. A great business idea can lose its luster and momentum once plans for zoning, clean title searches on commercial property, inventory planning and unexpected expenses drive up original estimates.
SCORE mentors, local colleges and SBA personnel can offer you guidance for completing your business plan too, at no charge.
For those who do not have the time needed to chase the information for a business plan, or who need personalized advice and tactical help, resources like Written Success can help with the actual research and financial projections for your business. This will ensure you have what you need to gain respect and credibility when approaching lenders for financing.
The bottom line: get out there and ask for help. If you have your business plan just about finished and are not sure what to do next, look into the local – and often, free – resources in your area like educational institutions, SCORE and SBA and ask for personal advice about where to find the best financing options for your business. They are often more than happy to help, and have information handy that you may not find if you try to go it alone.