So, you’ve got a great idea for a business — and you’re a woman. While popular belief holds that running a business is a man’s world, that’s no longer true. In the United States alone, there are 12.3 million women-owned businesses — 40 percent of all businesses. These businesses range in size from sole proprietorships to large companies with hundreds of employees.
If you’re ready to join this growing group of women, it’s time to get your business on its feet. To do that, you need to secure funding to support its growth. Contrary to what you may have heard, you don’t need to be wealthy to start a business. Here are some ways to fund your new women-owned business:
Small Business Loan
In the United States, you have multiple options for small business loans. The Small Business Administration backs loans from private financial institutions to new businesses. If you have good credit and have been in business a while, you can usually get one of these loans to help grow your business. If you’re just starting, it can be challenging to get a business loan. You may need to take out a personal loan based on your credit history.
If you’ve got a viable business idea with market potential and a robust business plan, you can try to obtain angel capital. Many entrepreneurs desire this type of funding because, as the name suggests, it provides a necessary cash infusion to your new business without the expectation that you pay it back. You don’t have to meet the credit checks or provide the collateral that a bank would require.
In exchange for funding your startup, angel investors typically want equity in your business. That amounts to owning a piece of your company. While that may sound scary, it can be a huge benefit to your business. Angel investors are usually experienced business people who can provide helpful guidance and consultation to your company.
If you’re interested in starting up a company and selling it, you should look into venture capital. Unlike angel investors, venture capitalists work with firms to invest from a pool of money. And while you don’t typically need to pay the money back, you need to be able to deliver a high ROI (return on investment) to the venture capitalists. Most venture capitalists want an ownership stake in a company, so if you’d like to hang onto your business down the road, go for angel investors.
As a Woman-Owned Business, you are eligible for small-business grants. Like angel investments, these don’t need to be paid back. Unlike angel investments, you don’t need to sacrifice ownership share in your company. There are many grants available for women-owned businesses. The federal government backs some, and others are available through private foundations. Unfortunately, the criteria are typically strict and the process is highly competitive.
When applying for a small business grant, ensure that your business meets the profile described in the call for applications. You’ll likely need to assemble a lot of documentation and write an extremely compelling proposal to win the grant. Once you get one, though, the benefits are immense: A small business grant provides an infusion of cash to your business that never has to be paid back.
Whichever type of funding you choose, make sure that you develop a thorough business plan that encompasses your financial obligations. Funding woes are among the top reasons Woman-Owned businesses fail. Don’t leave it up to chance: Make a strong financial plan, enact clear agreements with any investors, and meet your commitments. And remember, always do your research before signing anything! Caution and clarity are key to business success.