This article is part of our “Business Startup Guide” – a curated list of our articles that will get you up and running in no time!

When it comes to funding, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Depending on where you’re at in your business, what type of funding you are seeking, and the amount you need, where you’ll look can vary widely. We’ve compiled a list from a variety of places to help you research and narrow down the options that are best for you.

Loans:

1. SBA loans

Small Business Administration loans are often one of the first places that small business owners in the United States think of looking for a loan, and they’re right to think this way. This can be great option if you fit the criteria. You can take a look at this article for details on the SBA Loan program.

2. Bank loans

Though there has been plenty in the news lately about the difficulty of receiving a bank loan, this is certainly still an option, particularly for those with substantial collateral and very good credit. We also have some tips on securing a bank loan.

3. Nonprofit microloans

Kiva is a great example of an outline portal for microloans. If you only need a small amount of money, particularly if you are a minority-owned business operating in a developing nation, working with one of Kiva’s field partners could be a good route.

For more great options, check out NerdWallet’s list of nonprofit microfinance organizations. 

U. S. Government Funding Options:


4. Small Business Lending Fund is a dedicated government fund that provides capital for small business loans through specific lenders in each U.S. state.

5. Economic Development Agencies in your area can assist with loans and grants. Each state and some local governments have one.

6. National Institute of Health Funding is going to apply fairly specifically to those who are running technology or research based businesses.

7. National Association for the Self-Employed offers grants and scholarships to those who are self-employed.

8. Government Small Business Grants are often industry specific, but there is a lot available. The SBA offers a convenient area on their website to conduct research about which may be right for you.

Alternative Lending Sources:

Alternative lenders are institutions that provide loans or lines of credit as an alternative to traditional bank loans or the government. Our VP of Business Development Caroline Cummings created a list of her favorite options for alternative lending last year. Hiveage also outlines some helpful pros and cons of alternative lenders.

9. Kabbage is a place for finding lines of credit.

10. OnDeck awards loans based off of the annual revenue of your business.

11. PayPal will lend based off an existing business’s earnings on their site. Entrepreneur reports how this program was expanded just earlier this year.

12. Can Capital awards loans based off of the monthly revenue of your business.

13. Prosper offers peer to peer lending.

CrowdFunding:

On crowdfunding websites, you create promotional materials and set up a page for your business or project to accept financial backing from those who visit the site. Each site varies a little, so be sure to read the fine print as you decide which is right for you.

14. Indiegogo has started the option of offering fundraising campaigns without end dates. 

15. Fundly has a social bent and is good for nonprofits.

16. RocketHub lets you keep all of the money you raise, even if you don’t meet your goal.

17. Kickstarter is currently the world’s largest crowdfunding platform.

18. Fundable is more specifically aimed at small businesses.

19. Venture Capital:

Venture capital is really only an avenue if you fit the specific criteria. Our latest post on venture capital, 10 Tips for Finding Venture Funding, is a useful read on the subject.

The Funded is a site for those who have received venture capital to share their experiences and ratings with others looking at the same option.

20. Angel Investment:

Angel investors can be a great financing option for the right business. You can read Palo Alto Software founder Tim Berry’s tips on securing angel investment here. Circle Up and the Angel Capital Association are good resources when looking for angel investment. Gust matches investors up with small businesses seeking funding, and AngelList lets you browse investors.

Bootstrapping:

Bootstrapping: the time-honored tradition of doing basically any and everything you can think of to find money to use in your business.

21 and 22. Friends and family

This is a tried and true method—the people in your life often believe in you and will put their money where their mouth is. Here are some suggestions on navigating fundraising from friends and family. 

23. Business line of credit

This is an option for those who need cash quickly and have fairly good credit. Check out this article for more information.

24. Contests

Seriously, if you have a great business idea or maybe you’ve perfected your pitch, enter a contest. You never know!

25. Service or product presales

I have a friend who helped pay for massage school by pre-selling massages—she simply offered her massage services for after she would become a LMT (licensed massage therapist), in exchange for a contribution to her tuition. Once she graduated and got her licensure, those who contributed had a “pre-paid” massage waiting for them, which they could schedule at their convenience.

26 and 27. Using your savings/selling assets

Although this is also known as “betting the farm” and can certainly be risky, it is an option to use your personal savings and/or sell one of your existing assets and use that money to fund your business.

28. Using other income to fuel your business:

As we’ve written about on Bplans previously, many people have a side hustle until they are able to go full time in the direction of their own business. Renting a room in your house using a popular site like air bnb is a great example.

Industry Specific:

Depending on what kind of business you’re starting or running, there could be funding from an industry-related fund or organization. Here are two examples:

29. Whole Foods Local Producer Loan program:

If you’re running a business that provides locally grown and created food-based goods to your area, you could apply to receive funding from Whole Foods.

30. Franchises:

Some franchises, such as Matco Tools, offer in-house financing to incentivize those looking to start a franchise with their company.

Not in the US?

31. My 13 Favorite Alternative Funding Options of 2013

Caroline Cumming’s post here on Bplans offers alternative lending tips for non-U.S. residents.

32. Microloans

As previously mentioned, if you’re outside of the United States, many microloan programs are aimed toward non-U.S. citizens.

33. MicroAid

We’ve got in depth information here, but Microaid is an organization that can help you get an extremely low-budget micro enterprise off the ground.

34. The UK government has a section of their website dedicated to business finance and support. 

35. The Canadian government has a separate website providing information on the Canada Small Business Financing Program and government grants (specific criteria often apply).

Have you successfully funded your business? What method did you use? If you had to do it again, would you? Or would you try a different method?

This article is part of our Business Funding Guide: fund your business today, with Bplans. 

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