Here’s a nice reminder: What Seth Godin is recommending in his blog post today, as alternative financing for a small business, is what we actually did. And it worked for us. 2percent_shutterstock_39477901_dedek[1]

Seth’s post is called Debt, equity and a third thing that might work better.

It works like this: You have an idea, a fledgling business or a new market to enter. You find an amateur investor (a wealthy dentist, a retired executive) and raise the money to bring it to market. And in return? The investor gets $xx for every unit you sell. From the first one until forever.

This is instead of the classic either-or: You get new money to finance a new business by getting either bank loans or new investment. The problem, of course, is that both of those are hard to secure, at best, and impossible for the vast majority of new businesses.

It turns out that back in 1994, when we were first trying to build Business Plan Pro, we contracted programming help for a fee plus a percent of future revenue. My wife and I didn’t want outside investors; we’d already mortgaged ourselves up to the hilt. But we really wanted to do the new product.

That actually worked for us. Business Plan Pro came out early the next year, and the company grew. The developers ended up making good money, too. Everybody wins.

Seth adds:

My general bias for entrepreneurs starting out is to bootstrap their business, because raising money is so hard and so distracting. But if you’ve set out to do something that needs cash you can’t raise any other way, this is worth exploring. Tell a story to an investor that wants to hear it, and create a cash-flow scenario that makes the investment worth it for both of you.

I agree with that. Good suggestion.

(Photo credit: dedek/Shutterstock)

Tim BerryTim Berry

Tim Berry is the founder and chairman of Palo Alto Software and Follow him on Twitter @Timberry.