Businesses come in all shapes and sizes, from large corporations with hundreds of employees to mom-and-pop enterprises. But there is one thing that all businesses need, financing. Being aware of the financing possibilities available for businesses can help a company succeed. The following is a list of various financing alternatives.
- Bank loans: A commonly used source of funding, bank loans require a solid business plan and often a personal guarantee from the entrepreneurs. More than 50% of small businesses use some type of institution-based credit to start, operate or expand their business.
- Government grants: Government agencies provide financing such as grants and subsidies that are available to many businesses. Check the Government of Canada website for business grants and financing options.
- Business incubators: A business incubator is a program that gives early-stage companies access to mentorship, investors and other support to help them get established. There are a number of business incubators in Alberta such as Innovate Calgary at the University of Calgary, The Northern Alberta Business Incubator in St. Albert, Tecconnect in Lethbridge and the Agrivalue Processing Business Incubator for food-based businesses in Leduc.
- Venture capital: A venture capitalist is a person or firm that invests in small companies, generally using money pooled from investment companies, large corporations, and pension funds. Though less than 1% of small businesses in Canada receive equity-based funding from venture capitalists, there are ways to find this type of funding by networking and meeting people at local start-up groups, or by researching, contacting or joining groups like the Venture Capital Association of Alberta. Venture capitalists are generally looking for technology-driven businesses and companies with high-growth potential in sectors such as information technology, communications and biotechnology.
- Angel investors: Angels are wealthy individuals or retired company executives who invest directly in firms owned by others. They often contribute their experience, technical knowledge, management skills and contacts. Angels tend to finance the early stages of a company. They often reserve the right to supervise the company’s management practices and may be looking for some sort of share in a company. Check out this bdc site for information on finding angel investors and the National Angel Capital Organization.
- Crowdfunding is the use of small amounts of capital from a large number of individuals to finance a new business venture. It makes use of the easy accessibility of vast networks of people through social media and crowdfunding websites and brings investors and entrepreneurs together. Crowdfunding has the potential to increase entrepreneurship by expanding the pool of investors beyond the traditional circle of owners, relatives, and venture capitalists. The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada is a good place to find information on crowdfunding for small businesses. If you’re considering the crowdfunding route, ensure that your intellectual property is protected. Read the fine print on crowdfunding websites.
- Peer-to-peer lending: P2P lending is the practice of lending money to individuals or businesses through online services that match lenders with borrowers. It allows investors to lend money directly to other individuals via a P2P platform. Check out Peerform and Funding Circle.
- Microloans are simply small business loans that are issued by individuals rather than banks or credit unions. These loans can be issued by a single individual or aggregated across a number of individuals who each contribute a portion of the total amount. They are a great option if you need a bit of capital to fund specific operational costs, expansions, or projects. They typically have specific limitations in regards to how much you can borrow. Check out Accion, LiftFund and Kiva.
- Pitch competitions are contests where entrepreneurs present their business concept to a panel in the hope of winning a cash prize or investment capital. Even if you don’t win, the pitch competition can be a way to introduce yourself to the elite world of venture capital and angel investment. Check out Hatch Pitch, Disrupt and PITCH.
- A business line of credit: This is an option for those who need cash quickly and have good credit. Check with your local bank.
- Personal funds: Many businesses use some type of personal funds to finance themselves (savings, mutual funds, collateral).
- Love money: This refers to money loaned by a spouse, parent, family member and/or friend.
If you’re interested in starting or expanding a business and you require financing, there are many and varied options available. No matter the size of your business or the amount required, there is a method to finance your company that suits your needs. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.