Entrepreneurs these days come in all shapes and sizes, but financial liquidity can make or break any enytrepreneur's success. The low cost of technology and marketing has driven a herd of college-age entrepreneurs to start companies from their dorm rooms or parents' basement. At the same time, the structural mistrust of corporations as a whole (catalyst being the great recession) has motivated many 30- and 40-somethings to leave their pension-less jobs to start a business on their own, and build their own success. One thing is for sure though -- both groups of entrepreneurs not only have the same mindset (the Entrepreneur Mindset), but also have the same need for liquidity, no matter what type of life stage or business model.
It can indeed be quite difficult to map out detailed budgets and liquidity projections when you’re trying to grow something from nothing. In fact, many times liquidity planning gets ignored because entrepreneurs are so wrapped up in the day-to-day of trying to make their product. And it’s not even the company’s financial position alone that needs to be monitored. Many times, it’s the financial position of the entrepreneur that can force a business to close up shop if they can’t buy the simple yet necessary tools for survival like food and rent.
Depending on your specific situation, below are four financing strategies to pursue -- either individually or as a combined effort -- in order to efficiently extend your business runway and optimize your financial position for the greater good of your company.
A lot of today’s entrepreneurs don’t wait until their 30s to start a new business. Thanks to lower costs of technology, marketing, legal setup, etc., more and more companies are being built from dorm rooms. In these particular cases, personal liquidity becomes a high priority for today’s young entrepreneurs with no savings accounts and (in most cases) sizeable amounts of student debt.
There are a number of student loan consolidation companies currently live today, helping young entrepreneurs with those very pain points. Companies like LendEDU are paving the way to help simplify the student loan refinancing process. These platforms can introduce you to banks that are offering low rates and favorable terms for your specific financial profile. The value-add here is they do a lot of the legwork for you to introduce you to right plan for you – the entrepreneur – specifically.
Entrepreneurs can also tap the sources of capital (i.e., banks) directly if they’d like. Banks like Sofi are making a huge push to help young and struggling college undergrads and grads alleviate financial burden (you might’ve even seen a Super Bowl commercial about it). Reducing personal interest burden as an entrepreneur gives you one less thing to stress about, and allows you to extend your financial runway to focus on building your company.
Traditional SMB loans.
For many small businesses, walking down to the local Bank of America bank to get a loan can be a nightmare -- meetings, interviews, paperwork all to figure out if you’re even qualified for a loan. Not to mention, you might not even be sure if that bank’s offering is competitive or the right move long term.
Similar to personal finance marketplaces discussed above, platforms like Nav makes all aspects of business financing easier. You can shop and compare a variety of traditional SMB lenders and compare rates, processes and more from a simple dashboard (based on your personal and business credit score). You can even apply for short-term liquidity options like business credit cards in a much more efficient and cost-effective way. These platforms enable you to evaluate what type of business loan might work for your business and ensure you’re getting the best deal.
There’s been a steady rise in the number of nonprofit microfinance companies over the past few years. The benefit with these lenders is because they are nonprofit, that means their interest rates are extremely low. The flipside is they have specific rules when choosing the right borrower – some restrict loans to SMBs in certain states, others require you to be operating a business within a specific industry, or even have the founding team be of a certain gender.
The term “micro”, of course, means that the loans being issues are relatively small. But at the lowest interest rates around, these lenders can be drive down your cost of capital tremendously for your business. It’s well worth seeing if you fit the specific criteria of nonprofit microfinance companies. To name a few: Opportunity Fund, Accion, and Grameen America.
Peer-to-peer, alternative financing.
If you don’t meet the traditional “bank loan” qualifications (e.g., certain number of years in business, multi-period cash flows, assets to put up as collateral, etc.) then you might be prime to source capital from alternative means.
If you’re turned down from a traditional bank lender, then look at peer-to-peer lending companies like Lending Club, Funding Circle and others. Unlike traditional lenders, these types of platforms go out to thousands of accredited investors to see who would like to lend you capital at what rates. So there isn’t necessarily a single decision-maker as to your financing future – there’s an entire marketplace that will collectively determine if you are a good fit or not.
If your business collects a lot of customer payments via credit cards, then another alternative source of a capital can be Square Capital. Square’s program issues loans with payment periods tied the frequency of each customer “swipe” of a card – with each swipe Square repays a certain percentage of the loan with interest. So your interest and principal payments are paid down as revenue is coming in the door.