One of the toughest things about starting your own business is getting adequate financing to make it a go. We asked readers how they initially financed their businesses and what they learned from that experience: Would they do it differently if they had to do it again?
Work, and more work
Ten years ago I financed my business by working an additional job in the evenings and another on weekends. I continued this during the first year of being in business. As I built a customer base, I gradually reduced the number of hours I worked part time until I was finally working on my business full time. I also used both personal credit cards and loans from family members.
Looking back, I would have first developed a business plan and worked with SBA and SCORE to look at all my financing options. I believe this would have propelled my business years ahead of where it is today.
—Mark Parow, owner of EnvisionNet, Onlinetoner.net
My business started with one client who, along with his family, encouraged me to go into business for myself. They saw in me what I didn’t see in myself. The family mentored me and provided the finances to start my company, which provides nonmedical homecare services to individuals in their homes.
When I moved to Beaver Street Enterprise Center (BSEC) from my home office, I found additional support. When my business began to grow and I needed a loan, the BSEC staff assisted in that process.
—Annie W. Branson, Annie Wilson Homecare Services, Inc., www.anniewilsonhomecare.com
Every way possible
When I initially financed my Web-marketing business, it was through “every way possible”— from using my tax refund to financing computers. I even mowed a woman’s grass to get a design system she no longer needed. I started my company with about $76 in my bank account.
This taught me to be extremely savvy with my spending and take advantage of every free resource I found. When I began to look, I found numerous open-source business solutions including a customer relationship management program, search engine optimization tools, and workflow management programs. These programs kept me working smoothly, and have aided in my very high Google rankings.
—Brooke Morris, MPower Images, www.MPowerImages.com.
Family and friends
We raised our first round of funding last summer from an investor group of mainly friends and family of our team. Some of our team members are in the investment banking industry, so their experience finding attractive investments opportunities certainly came into play. When we approached possible investors, we made a simple but solid presentation; we understood our vision and were able to explain it in a way they understood it. And we explained the risks. We wanted them to invest with an open eye.
—Nathan Fabrick, 110PLAYHARDER.COM