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How to Fund a Startup Business No Matter What

What do you need to know about how to fund a startup business? First, there is more than one way to do it!  It’s true. Regardless of what is happening around you, in most cases you can fund a startup business in some way.  It may very well take longer depending on your exact situation, but it is almost always possible. 

You Can Fund a Startup Business No Matter What is Going On

Fund a Startup Biz Credit SuiteThe thing is, virtually everyone assumes if they cannot get a business loan, they can’t fund a startup business.  That really isn’t true. There are all kinds of options for funding. Loans are only one of them. Furthermore, there are probably many more types of loans than you think. We put together a list of some of the most common, and less common, ways to fund a startup business in any situation. 

Fund a Startup Business: Traditional Loans

These are the loans that you go to the bank to get.  With a traditional loan, you are almost always going to have to give a personal guarantee.  This means they will check your personal credit.  If it’s not great, you are probably out of luck. That is where a lot of people stop, thinking they have hit a brick wall.

There are ways over that wall however.

Check out our best webinar with its trustworthy list of seven vendors to help you build business credit.

Fund a Startup Business: SBA Loans

SBA loans are traditional bank loans.  However, they have a guarantee from the federal government. The Small Business Administration works with lenders to offer small businesses funding solutions that they may not be able to get based on their own credit history. Because of the government guarantee, lenders are able to be a little less strict on personal credit score requirements. 

The trade-off is that the application progress is lengthy. There is a ton of paperwork connected with SBA loans. 

Fund a Startup Business: Private Loans

Private business loans come from companies other than banks.  These companies are sometimes called alternative lenders.  Many have popped up in the past decade as entrepreneurship has become more common.  The need for a financing option from somewhere other than traditional banks has spurred this growth. 

There are a few benefits to using private business loans over traditional loans.  The first is that they often have more flexible credit score minimums.  They still rely on your personal credit. Yet, they will often accept a score much lower than what traditional lenders require. Another benefit is that they will sometimes report to the business credit reporting agencies.  That helps build or improve business credit. 

The tradeoff is that private business loans typically have higher interest rates and less favorable terms.  Still, the ability to get funding and the potential increase in business credit score can make it well worth the cost. 

Examples of Private Lenders

The thing about private lenders is, you almost always have a time in business requirement. However, it can be as low as one year, even 6 months in some cases.  

BlueVine

The minimum loan amount available from BlueVine is $5,000 and the maximum is $100,000. Annual revenue must be $120,000 or more and the borrower must be in business for at least 6 months. Personal credit score has to be at least 600. It is also important to know that BlueVine does not offer a line of credit in all states. 

OnDeck

With OnDeck, applying for financing is quick and easy. Apply online, and you will receive your decision once application processing is complete. Loan funds will go directly to your bank account. The minimum loan amount is $5,000 and the maximum is $500,000.

There is a personal credit score requirement of 600 or more.  Also, you must be in business for at least one year. There is an annual revenue requirement of at least $100,000 as well. In addition, there can be no bankruptcy on file in the past 2 years and no unresolved liens or judgements. 

Fund a Startup Business: Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding sites allow you to pitch your business to thousands of micro investors. Anyone who wants a piece of the action can buy in. 

Investors pledge amounts ranging from as low as $5 to as high as they want. They may give $5, $80, $150, or even over $500. As a general rule, they can give as much or as little as they want.

Though not always necessary, most business owners offer rewards for investment. Typically, this comes in the form of the product the business will be selling. Different levels of giving result in different rewards. For example, a $50 gift may get you product A, while a $100 gift will get you an upgraded version of product A.

The two most common crowdfunding platforms are Indiegogo and Kickstarter. 

Check out our best webinar with its trustworthy list of seven vendors to help you build business credit.

Fund a Startup Business: Angel Investors

These investors are usually only in for a one-time deal. Many choose to spread their risk out over many people and many businesses to be certain they get a safe return on their investment.

Angels tend to be a lot more informal than most types of funding. They can be people you know. Or they can be people you connect with through networking or other means. 

Angels are not covered by the Securities Exchange Commission’s (SEC) standards for accredited investors. But a lot of them are accredited investors anyway. 

To become an accredited investor, an person has to have a minimal net worth of $1 million, and an annual income of $200,000.

There are a number of angels who aren’t millionaires. They could be friends or colleagues with home equity, or local professionals who are looking to invest. 

How Do You Find Angel Investors?

The best way to find these kinds of investors is to ask. You can also try an angel investors website or network. Try Gust, which used to be called Angel Soft. They keep a database of investors, companies, and programs. Startups can also search for business plan competitions and more.

Another option is to look at the biggest angel investor groups. Be aware, however, that these meetings are really only going to happen if you can get an introduction. 

According to Entrepreneur, in order from smallest to largest the top 10 Angel Investor groups are:

  1. New York Angels Inc.
  2. Alliance of Angels (Seattle)
  3. Pasadena Angels
  4. Hyde Park Angel Network (Chicago)
  5. Band of Angels (Menlo Park, CA)
  6. North Coast Angel Fund (Cleveland)
  7. Golden Seeds LLC (NYC)
  8. Investors’ Circle (San Francisco)
  9. Tech Coast Angels (Los Angeles) and
  10. Ohio Tech Angel Funds (Columbus, OH)

Focus and requirements may vary from group to group.  For example, some concentrate on local startups only. Do your research so you don’t waste yours and the angels’ time if it isn’t a good fit.

Fund a Startup Business While Keeping Your Day Job

Here’s an option that most don’t want to hear, but it is totally legitimate and sometimes, it’s just the best way.  If you do not have access to a ton of funds to launch a huge new business right away, consider keeping your day job and start your business small, as a side hustle. 

Not every business can start this way, but a lot can.  For example, a bakery or a cleaning business can easily start this way.  If you set up from the beginning to be fundable and build business credit, you can go even further.  More on that later. 

Fund a Startup Business: The Retirement Years

This is similar to keeping your day job in that you start small.  If you have retirement savings you could use that as loan security, or take a loan directly from retirement if your plan allows for that.  You can build your business slowly, a little at the time. While you’re doing so, you can work to build business credit and overall fundability 

Whatever You Do, Build Fundability from the Beginning

So, how do you do that?  How do you build fundability and business credit? The first thing you do is set up your business to be fundable.  When you do this, you will also be setting it up to be a separate entity from you as the owner, which is the first step in building separate business credit.  How do you build a fundable foundation? You need the following.

Contact Information Separate from the Owner

The first step in setting up a foundation of fundability is to ensure your business has its own phone number, fax number, and address.   That doesn’t mean you have to get a separate phone line, or even a separate location.  You can still run your business from your home or on your computer if that is what you want.  You don’t even have to have a fax machine.  

An EIN

The next thing you need to do is get an EIN for your business.  This is an identifying number for your business that works in a way similar to how your SSN works for you personally.  

Incorporate

You have to incorporate as an LLC, S-corp, or corporation. It gives credit to your business as one that is legitimate, and it separates your business from you as the owner.

Which option you choose does not matter as much for fundability as it does for your specific budget and liability protection need.  The best thing to do is discuss it with your attorney or a tax professional.  You are going to lose the time in business that you have.  When you incorporate, you become a new entity. Basically, you have to start over. You’ll also lose any positive payment history you may have.

This is why you have to incorporate as soon as possible.  Not only is it vital to fundability and for building business credit, but time in business is also important.  The longer you have been in business the more fundable you appear to be.  That starts on the date of incorporation, regardless of when you actually started doing business. 

Separate Business Bank Account

You have to open a separate, dedicated business bank account.  There are a few reasons for this.  First, it will help you keep track of business finances.  It will also help you keep them separate from personal finances for tax purposes. 

In addition, you cannot get a merchant account without a business account at a bank. That means, you cannot take credit card payments.  Studies show consumers tend to spend more when they can pay by credit card.

Licenses

For a business to be legitimate it has to have all of the necessary licenses it needs to run.  If it doesn’t, red flags are going to fly up all over the place.  Do the research you need to do to ensure you have all of the licenses necessary to legitimately run your business at the federal, state, and local levels. 

Website

These days, you do not exist if you do not have a website.  However, a poorly put together website can be even worse.  It’s the first impression you make on most, and if it appears to be unprofessional it will not bode well for you with lenders or customers. 

Fund a Startup: Build Business Credit 

Okay so, you need to know how to fund a startup, not how to set it up, right?  Here’s the thing. Once you have your business set up like this, you can start building business credit so that you have more options for funding your business.  

The main key to this is to use starter vendors that will issue net terms on your invoices and report those payments to the business credit reporting agencies.  Even if you are keeping your day job or starting small during retirement, you can use these vendors for the things you need in the everyday course of business. 

Things like office supplies, packaging, and even cleaning supplies can be purchased from such vendors on account using your business information.  As you get enough of these accounts reporting, you can apply for store credit, then fleet credit, and eventually, regular business credit cards that are not limited to specific types of purchases or specific stores.  Then, your business credit should be strong enough that you can qualify for a loan and launch your business on a bigger scale.

Check out our best webinar with its trustworthy list of seven vendors to help you build business credit.

Fund a Startup Business: There are More Ways than One

The truth is, there is more than one way to fund a startup business.  Depending on your specific situation, you will have to decide which option or combination of options will work best for you and your business.

The post How to Fund a Startup Business No Matter What appeared first on Credit Suite.

How to Use AI SEO to Improve Your Website

The internet has become the go-to source for everything from trivia about celebrities to fixing our kitchen sinks. But AI SEO may be changing the way marketers help their sites rank high on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Failure to rank may result in your business missing out on valuable search traffic. Which means far less revenue for your business.

For a long time, you could get by with basic SEO strategies.

But not anymore.

With artificial intelligence (AI) taking over the world, you need to up your game.

What does that mean for your SEO strategy?

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an umbrella term that covers several different technologies, including machine learning (ML), computer vision, natural language processing (NLP), deep learning, and other, still emerging technologies.

What’s the point of AI?

AI has one principal goal – to perform (often laborious and mundane) cognitive tasks better and faster than humans. It is a technology designed to make our work and life easier.

In business, AI has already proven to be effective in increasing revenue.

In sales and marketing, 30% of AI adopters cited a 6-10% increase in revenue after implementing the technology.

impact of ai

These are pretty impressive results.

And yes, AI can also be beneficial to your SEO.

But, will AI replace SEO?

Emphatically – no!

Let’s talk about how AI is impacting SEO and why it won’t be taking over.

What is AI SEO?

AI has become a core component of major search engine algorithms, including Google’s Rankbrain and BERT.

This factor means if you understand AI and how it impacts search engines, you can boost your SEO using AI.

But that’s not all.

AI is also an excellent tool for data analysis, which is a significant part of designing an effective SEO strategy.

From helping you spot trending topics to discovering content gaps, you can do tasks faster and more efficiently with AI-powered SEO software.

AI and SEO are a match made in digital heaven.

Why is AI SEO Important?

Although both AI and SEO are complex disciplines, used together, they make it easier for you to boost your website’s rankings.

One thing to keep in mind about search engines is they always put the user first. They aim to deliver content that’s as relevant as possible.

Because of this, SEO is not just about keywords anymore. It’s about:

  • Concepts: What is the idea behind the searchers’ query?
  • Context: What is the intent behind the searchers’ query?
  • Customer satisfaction: What are the most relevant answers to the user’s query?

So, keyword stuffing doesn’t work anymore (and hasn’t since Hummingbird). For your content to rank, you need a great link building strategy and to optimize for AI-powered search engines.

Today (and in the future), one of the main factors that impact ranking is user experience. And AI is one of the best ways to provide website visitors with a positive experience.

Let’s quickly look at six ways it can help boost your SEO.

AI SEO: 6 Ways to Use AI to Improve Your Website

Now that you understand what AI is and how AI SEO can impact your site, let’s look at a few ways you can use AI SEO to keep up with modern SEO tactics.

Opportunity Discovery With AI SEO

One of the most important aspects of SEO is discovering hidden ranking opportunities that haven’t been exploited.

That’s one of the areas artificial intelligence SEO is proving to be effective in helping boost your website’s rankings. Powerful AI-powered SEO tools have emerged in the last couple of years, giving you more in-depth insight into:

  • Keywords you should be targeting
  • Link building opportunities

These and other insights that you can get from AI-powered SEO software are crucial to crafting a content strategy that will exponentially boost your website’s SEO.

With the competition to rank becoming fiercer by the day, you need to find keywords, topic ideas, and other SEO opportunities that aren’t too common.

Find opportunities that your competition is not exploiting, and you’ll have a much better chance at ranking.

Granted, finding these opportunities manually takes a lot of creativity, time, and hard work.

However, with the help of AI-powered SEO software, like BrightEdge, you can uncover golden SEO opportunities faster.

This is one of the main reasons AI must be a part of your SEO strategy.

Content Creation With AI SEO

Discovering content opportunities is only a small part of the battle to dominate the SERPs.

You also have to create content that hits the mark.

This is where AI can help improve your SEO.

How?

Once you’ve used a tool like BrightEdge to find keywords, you can use AI to help you know what kind of content you should create.

Once fed with your target keyword, AI-powered tools scour the web for content created around that keyword. In a few seconds, you’ll find:

  • Content gaps to exploit
  • Trending topics
  • The average number of sections to include

With insights like these, it becomes easier to create content tailored to solve specific problems for your audience, in short, personalized content that satisfies user intent.

Not only that, but AI can help you ensure that the content you create is relevant for each stage of your funnel.

Content creation is no longer just about creating poor quality content that ranks. It’s about creating content that users will find helpful.

And that’s exactly what AI will help you do.

Content Optimization With AI SEO

For a long time, content optimization has been about keywords, internal links, backlinks, and other on-page SEO tactics.

Those things still matter.

But search engines now look at more than just those indicators. Search engines are getting better at figuring out precisely what searcher’s intent is while searching.

How can you optimize your content for user intent?

You guessed it – with the help of AI.

AI SEO tools help you:  

  • Create topic clusters that answer user questions and rank
  • Know the optimum length of content on your given topic
  • Use keywords and LSI keywords correctly

With AI, you can optimize your content to meet Google’s E.A.T standards found in their search quality raters, guidelines. You can create content that expertly answers user queries authoritatively. And that’s the kind of content Google loves to serve its users.

But AI doesn’t end at helping optimize content for search engines. AI-powered writing tools like Atomic Reach and Grammarly (among a slew of others) also help ensure your writing makes for a pleasant read.

AI seo example grammarly

This also helps increase dwell time, another factor that indicates to search engines that your content is useful.

The bottom line is AI can help you create better optimized content that your readers will love and engage with.

Optimizing for Voice Search

One of the fastest evolving areas of search is voice search.

With more people relying on their voice-activated devices to search the internet, voice SEO (VSEO) has become an aspect of SEO you can’t ignore anymore.

Just take a look at how fast the number of voice-activated assistants is rising:

ai seo voice assistants

Statista forecasts that the number of voice assistants globally will reach 8.4 billion in the next few years — which is more than the world’s population.

Most voice searches are in the form of questions, so one of the main ways to optimize for VSEO is by answering the questions people are asking.

This is where AI tools come into play.

For example, tools like Frase help you create VSEO optimized content by showing you the questions searchers are asking. You can then create content around these questions.

frase ai seo

Another aspect of voice search is that it’s conversational. This is where AI principles like NLP come into play.

AI-powered content tools like Grammarly and Hemmingway can help you create more conversational content by recommending tone changes and highlighting hard to read passages.

One thing to note about VSEO is that it is hyper-competitive. That’s because voice assistants only give one answer – the one right at the top of the SERPs.

This means you have to pull out all the stops to ensure you rank well for VSEO.

Scale Your SEO

A significant part of SEO is tedious manual labor that has made it difficult for marketers to achieve results quickly.

AI has changed that.

AI-powered tools have taken a lot of the grunt work out of SEO by gathering data, analyzing it, and translating it into actionable steps,

More than that, however, you’ll find that artificial intelligence SEO software, like Alli AI, can help with your technical SEO as well. For example, it can help you:

  • Conduct website audits
  • Automatically optimize content
  • Fix duplicate content issues

On the on-page SEO front, AI SEO software can help you scale your content creation by analyzing top-performing content. The software can then help you create content strategies and briefs for optimized content.

As a result, you can quickly scale your SEO efforts — without overworking your team.

AI can take over the laborious, mundane, and time-consuming (and sometimes soul-sucking) aspects of SEO. This will free up your team to do other things that need human attention.

User Experience

Remember – Google’s (and other search engines) primary focus is the user.

This means user experience (UX) is a crucial element of SEO.

That’s probably why, in a rare announcement, Google let people know that page experience will be a significant ranking factor starting from the year 2021.

But what is page experience?

According to Google, page experience is a set of signals that measure a user’s satisfaction (or lack of it) when interacting with a web page. This goes beyond the page’s informational value.

It takes into account the overall UX the page provides.

Of course, pages with negative user experience won’t rank and those that offer users a positive user experience.

Where does AI come into play here?

With search engines thinking more like real human users, they can determine whether your page will provide users a positive UX or not.

This means when a user inputs a search query, search engines want to make sure they serve up:

  • Relevant and authoritative content
  • Pages with proper structure
  • Pages with easy navigation
  • Pages that load fast
  • Mobile-friendly websites

If users can enjoy a personalized experience on your website, this will increase dwell time and encourage sharing your content. Both are signals to search engines that your content is worth ranking higher on SERPs.

Today’s AI-powered SEO tools, like Market Brew, can mimic search engines and give recommendations on what you can do to improve your website’s UX.

As a result, you don’t have to guess whether the SEO gods will smile on your website with favor or not. You can know what pleases them (to a greater degree) and implement that on your website.

Conclusion

Ready or not, the future of SEO is here.

And it’s just two words – artificial intelligence.

By marrying these two disciplines, you can create a robust SEO strategy that’s bound to get you noticed. More than that, it will help you build a loyal audience.

Of course, for every business, that translates to a healthier bottom line.

Have you embraced the power of AI SEO yet?

The post How to Use AI SEO to Improve Your Website appeared first on Neil Patel.

20 Sources of New Business Funding to Help You Get Started

If you own a new business, one that is less than two years old, you likely need funding.  Who are we kidding?  Everyone needs funding of some sort right now.  COVID-19 has made sure of that. It is also just as likely that you will have trouble finding funding that you qualify for.  Maybe your personal credit isn’t great. Maybe you are still working on building business credit.  While there are a ton of new initiatives to help businesses survive in these unprecedented times, they are mostly for existing businesses. Still, there are many options for new business funding as well. Here, we’ve broken them down in a list to help get you started.  They are divided into the categories of SBA loans, private lenders, grants, and crowdfunding.  

Need New Business Funding?  These 20 Sources Can Help

While it isn’t always wise to stack new business funding of the same type, it isn’t a bad idea to stack different types of funding.  For example, you could apply for a grant and take out a loan at the same time. You could even run a crowdfunding campaign simultaneously.  However, it is important to be careful of having too many loans out at once.

Establish business credit fast with our research-backed guide to 12 business credit cards and lines.

New Business Funding: SBA Loans

These are traditional bank loans, but they have a government guarantee. The Small Business Administration, or SBA, works with financial institutions, like banks, to offer small businesses funding solutions that businesses may not be able to get based on their own credit history. new biz funding Credit SuiteBecause of the guarantee from the government, lenders are able to relax a little on the personal credit score requirements. 

In fact, you can get an SBA microloan with a credit score between 620 and 640. They are small loans, only going up to $50,000.  Also, they may require personal collateral. 

The trade-off with SBA loans is that the application progress is lengthy. There is a ton of red tape connected with these types of loans. 

1. 7(a) Loans 

This is the Small Business Administration’s main program. It offers term loans up to $5 million. Funds can be used for expansion, purchasing equipment, working capital and more. Banks, credit unions, and other specialized institutions in partnership with the SBA process these loans and disburse the funds. 

The minimum credit score to qualify is 680, and there is also a required down payment of at least 10% for the purchase of a business, commercial real estate, or equipment. The minimum time in business is 2 years. In the case of startups, business experience of at least two years will work. 

2. 504 Loans 

These loans are also available up to $5 million and can buy machinery, facilities, or land. They are generally used for expansion, and private sector lenders or nonprofits process and disburse them. They work especially well for commercial real estate purchases. 

Terms for 504 Loans range from 10 to 20 years, and funding can take from 30 to 90 days. They require a minimum credit score of 680.  In addition, they use the asset being financed as collateral. There is also a down payment requirement of 10%, which can increase to 15% for a new business. 

The 2 years in business, or 2 years management experience in the case of startups, remains. 

3. Microloans are a Great Source of New Business Funding

As mentioned, microloans go up to $50,000. They are good for starting a business, purchasing equipment, buying inventory, or for working capital. Community non-profits handle the administration of microloan programs.  In contrast to their other programs, financing comes directly from the Small Business Administration. 

Interest rates on these loans are 7.75% to 8% above the lender’s cost to fund.  The terms go up to 6 years. They can take up to 90 days to fund. For these, the minimum credit score is 640.  Furthermore, collateral and down payment requirements vary by lender. 

New Business Funding: Alternative Lenders

Private business loans are loans from companies other than banks.  They are sometimes also called alternative lenders.  There are a few benefits to using private business loans over traditional loans.  

First, they often have more flexible credit score minimums.  Even though they still use your personal credit, they will usually accept a score much lower than traditional lenders. Also, they will often report to the business credit reporting agencies.  This helps build or improve business credit. 

Unfortunately, private business loans tend to have higher interest rates and less favorable terms.  Still, the ability to get funding and the potential increase in business credit score can make it well worth it.  Here are a few alternative, or private, lenders to consider.

 Establish business credit fast with our research-backed guide to 12 business credit cards and lines.

4. Fundation

Fundation offers loans for as little as $100 and as high as up to $100,000. The maximum first draw is $50,000.   They do have some products that go up to $500,000.  Though there is no minimum credit score requirement, they do require at least 3 months in business, $50,000 or more in annual revenue, and a business checking account with a minimum balance of $500.

One thing to remember is that you could have a repayment as high as 5 to 7% of the amount you have drawn, as the repayment period is comparatively short.   

Also, Fundation reports to Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax, SBFE, PayNet, and Experian, making them a great option if you are looking to build or improve business credit. 

5. BlueVine

The minimum loan amount available from BlueVine is $5,000 and the maximum is $100,000. Annual revenue must be $120,000 or more.  In addition, the borrower must be in business for at least 6 months. They require a personal credit score of at least 600. In addition, BlueVine does not offer a line of credit in all states.  

They report to Experian.  They are one of the few invoice factoring companies that will report any business credit bureau. 

6. OnDeck

With OnDeck, applying for financing is quick and easy. Apply online, and you will receive your decision once application processing is complete. Loan funds will go directly to your bank account. The minimum loan amount is $5,000 and the maximum is $500,000.

The personal credit score requirement is 600 or more.  In addition, you must be in business at least 3 years and have gross yearly earnings of at least $250,000.  Also, there can be no bankruptcy on file in the past 2 years and no unresolved liens or judgements. 

OnDeck reports to the standard business credit bureaus.

7. The Business Backer

The Business Backer offers a product they call FlexFund Line of Credit.  Funds range in amount from $5,000 to $240,000, and draws can be repaid on either a daily or weekly basis. 

They report to Dun & Bradstreet and Equifax.

8. StreetShares 

StreetShares started as a service to veterans, but now offers term loans, lines of credit, and contract financing. They also offer small business loan investment options. The maximum loan amount is $250,000, and preapproval only takes a few minutes. 

To be eligible for a StreetShares loan, you must be in business at least 12 months with annual revenue of $25,000. There have been cases where they made exceptions and made loans to companies in business at least 6 months with higher earnings. The borrower’s credit score must be at least 620.

9. Fundbox 

When Fundbox offers an automated process that is super-fast. Originally, they only had invoice financing.  However, now they offer a line of credit service as well. Repayments are automatic on a weekly basis, so be sure you have enough funds in whatever account you connect them to cover your payment each week. 

Fundbox loans come as low as $100 and as high as up to $100,000. There are no revenue or time in business requirements, but your accounting or invoice software must be compatible and must be in use for at least 3 months. Furthermore, there is also no specific credit score requirement. You simply have to be an established business with regular monthly revenue.

10. Fora Financial 

Founded in 2008 by college roommates, they now fund more than $1.3 million in working capital around the country. There is no minimum credit score, and there is an early repayment discount if you qualify. 

The minimum loan amount is $5,000 and the maximum is $500,000. The business must be at least 6 months in operation and the monthly revenue has to be $12,000 or more. There can be no open bankruptcies. 

11. Lendio 

The secret to Lendio’s success is customer service and a short, easy application process. This is due to its heavily vetted network of lenders. Sometimes, funding happens in as little as 24 hours. 

One easy application can result in offers from as many as 75 lenders to choose from. The minimum loan amount is $500 and the maximum is $5,000,000. You must operate your business in the US or Canada.  In addition, you must have a business bank account, and your personal credit score must be at least 560.

12. Credibly

Credibly’s specialty is unsecured business loans. The application process and funding can be completed in as little as two days.  Sometimes even less than that. They offer daily and weekly repayment options. 

The minimum loan amount is $5,000 and the maximum is $250,000. First, they require a personal credit score of at least 500.  Next, there is a 6 months or more in business requirement.  At least $15,000 plus in average monthly deposits is also required.

13. Kabbage 

Kabbage offers a small business line of credit that can help accomplish your business goals quickly. The minimum loan amount is $500 and the maximum is $250,000. They require you to be in business at least one year and have $50,000 or more in annual revenue or $4,200 or more in monthly revenue over the last 3 months. 

They are great if you need cash quickly. Also, their non-traditional approach puts less weight on your credit score.  

New Business Funding: Grants

New business funding in the form of grants are available from a number of sources. A lot of these are designed specifically to help those business owners that are minorities, females, or veterans.  Be sure to check out local organization options as well. 

Here are a couple of options that are open to everyone. 

14. FedEx Small Business Grant

FedEx uses this grant as a way to strengthen small business innovation.  The company awards 10 grants.  They range from $15,000 to $50,000 every year.

Establish business credit fast with our research-backed guide to 12 business credit cards and lines.

You have to submit an entry via the FedEx website.  There are a few questions about your business.  An elevator pitch about what makes your business stand out is also required.  In addition, you have to explain how you would use the grant funds. A 90-second video submission is optional.

15. NASE Growth Grants

The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) has small business Growth Grants that go up to $4,000. Grant recipients must be micro-businesses. Funds can be used for marketing, expansion, and to hire employees. These grants are open to everyone.  However, you have to be a NASE member to apply.  Cost of membership depends on the member level you choose.

This is not all that is out there.  Do your research, and remember additional grant options are available to women and minority business owners.

New Business Funding: Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding sites allow you to tell thousands of micro investors about your business. Anyone who wants to donate, or invest, can do so.

Investors offer amounts depending on the campaign and the platform you use. They may give $50, they may give $150, or they may give over $500. It might just be $5.  Truly, any amount helps, right?

Though not always necessary, most entrepreneurs offer rewards to investors for their generosity. Usually, this comes in the form of the product the business will be selling. Different levels of giving result in different rewards. For example, a $50 gift may get you product A, and a $150 gift will get you an upgraded version of product A.  

There are a lot of crowdfunding platforms out there.  Here are a few to consider. 

16. Kickstarter

They are the largest crowdfunding platform. They have over 14 million backers and over 130,000 funded projects. Campaigns are for products and services such as:

  • Publishing
  • The arts and film
  • Comics and illustration
  • Design and tech

A prototype is necessary. Projects cannot be for charity, although nonprofits can use Kickstarter. Equity cannot be offered as an incentive.

Taboo projects and perks include anything to do with:

  • Contests and raffles
  • Cures and medicines
  • Credit services
  • Live animals
  • Alcohol
  • Weapons

There is a 5% fee on all funds which creators collect. The payment processor also applies payment processing fees, which are roughly 3-5%. If your campaign is not successful you do not pay a fee. There are also fees of 3% + $0.20 per pledge. Pledges under $10 have to pay a discounted micro pledge fee of 5% + $0.05 per pledge.

17. Indiegogo

Indiegogo has over 9 million backers. Their minimum goal amount is $500. They charge 5% platform fees and 3% + 30¢ third-party credit card fees. Fees are deducted from the amount raised, not the goal you set. As a result, if you raise more than your goal, you will pay more in fees. They also offer a flexible funding option.  This allows campaigns to keep any money they receive even if they do not reach their goal.

18. RocketHub

RocketHub is more for entrepreneurs who want venture capital. They give you an ELEQUITY Funding Room. This is where you can pitch your idea and see if it stirs up any interest from potential investors.

The platform is specifically for business owners working on projects in these categories: 

  • Art
  • Business
  • Science
  • Social

If you reach your fundraising goal, there will be a 4% fee. In addition, you’ll pay a 4% credit card handling fee. But if you do not reach your goal, that fee jumps up to 8% plus the credit card handling fee. 

19. CircleUp

CircleUp aims to help emerging brands and companies raise capital to grow. However, companies must apply and show revenue of at least $1 million to get a listing on the site. Still, they will sometimes make exceptions.

Due to its more thorough process, CircleUp can be good for entrepreneurs who already have a somewhat established business. These are business owners who want both funding and guidance in order to take their businesses to the next level.

New Business Funding: Strong Overall Fundability

This really comes from yourself.  It’s not an outside source. Of course, there are many things that affect fundability, but one you can work on while you are using personal credit or investors for new business funding is business credit. 

20. Build Business Credit

Whichever type or types of new business funding you choose to use, be sure to work on building business credit at the same time.  This is a major part over overall fundability.  Without strong fundability, it is hard to get any type of funding really.  Personal credit will only get you so far when it comes to building and running a business.

The post 20 Sources of New Business Funding to Help You Get Started appeared first on Credit Suite.

How to Supplement Funding with Minority Business Grants

While it’s almost impossible to fully fund a business on grants alone, minority business grants are a great way to supplement other types of funding.  For example, if you win a grant, you can use it to reduce the amount of debt you need to take on. You could use the funds to reduce the amount of cash on hand you have to use.  In turn, this would reduce the need to take on debt in the future. Grants can be a great funding option for minority owned business.

Minority Business Grants are a Great Way to Supplement Funding

Of course, finding and winning minority business grants is easier said than done.  It takes considerable time and work to do so. First, you have to do the research to find the grants you qualify to apply for.  Then, you have to do the work of filing the grant application. In some cases, the application is just the first step in a long, competitive process. 

Why Bother with Minority Business Grants?

Some wonder what the point is in even bothering to try to get grants if they are so rare and competitive.  Is it worth it if they are so hard to get? The simple answer is, yes. Grants are free money. The funds never have to be repaid. If you win a grant, you get to keep the funds free and clear.  

However, there are sometimes compliance points that come into play.  There may be certain rules for the use of the funds you have to adhere to.  Still, when it comes to minority business grants, they are all designed to help you build a better business.  For free money, the compliance hassle is a small price to pay. 

Where Do Minority Business Grants Come From? 

They come from a variety of sources.  The government issues some grants from minority business owners.  Special agencies will sometimes have grant opportunities. Even private businesses will offer grants sometimes, including big names like FedEx. 

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Do You Qualify for Minority Business Grants?

Who knows?  Maybe? If your business is under more than 51% minority ownership, the answer is likely yes.  Other than the minority ownership piece, some minority business grants are designed for a specific minority group. It can take some time to seek out those grants for which you specifically qualify. 

Some Minority Business Grants to Try

Here are some minority grant options to consider.  There are certainly others out there however, and they are not always well advertised.  This means you need to be sure to do your own research also. 

Minority Business Grants: First Nations Development Institute Grants

The mission of this group is to offer grants that help Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Native Americans.  They offer assistance in the application process in addition to funds.

Not only that, but there are a wide range of opportunities from the First Nations Development Institute.  New ones initiate as old ones retire. There is a mailing list you can join to receive information about new opportunities as they become available.

Minority Business Grants:  National Black MBA Association Scale-Up Pitch Challenge

Also known as NBMBAA, the Scale-Up Pitch Challenge has cash prizes ranging from $1,000 to $50,000.  The associate states its purpose is to help newer businesses that have an African founder that maintains equal ownership.  

A business must be a member of the NBMBAA to compete.  There is a $10 monthly membership fee. After that, there is an online application.   If chosen, you must submit a three-minute pitch. Then, finalists go on to compete at the NBMBAA annual conference.

Non-Minority Specific Options

There are grants options that can work well even though they are not exclusively for minorities. Some examples include the following.

FedEx Small Business Grant

This grant is the company’s way of working to strengthen small business innovation.  There are 10 grants the company awards each year. They range from $15,000 to $50,000, and if you’re a minority owned business with a cutting-edge product, this could be the grant for you.

A business must use the FedEx website to submit entries. There are a few questions to answer about your business.  In addition, there is a requirement for an elevator pitch about what makes your business special.  Also, you have to explain how you would use the grant funds. A 90 second video submission is optional.

NASE Growth Grants

The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) has small business Growth Grants of up to $4,000. They are for micro-businesses, and proceeds can be used for a number of things.  They can be utilized for marketing, advertising, expansion, and even to hire employees. These grants are open to everyone. However, you do have to be an NASE member to apply. Membership fees vary based on the membership level chosen. 

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USDA Value Added Producer Grant

The USDA’s Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program offers grants for small businesses.  It includes minority owned business. Grants range up to $250,000. They are specifically to help agricultural producers with activities that add value to their products. As a result, grants are open to those in rural areas.  They must be operating as one of the following: 

  • Cooperative
  • Farmer
  • Rancher
  • an independent agricultural producer
  • or an agricultural producer group 

What About Loans? 

As I said above, you can’t fund a business on grants alone.  They work better as a supplemental funding source. Likely, you will need to seek out business loans.  There aren’t a ton of loans specifically for minorities, but some options do work better for minority business owners than others. 

Minority Specific Loans

Minority specific business loans are few and far between.  However, they do exist. Some only offer minority business loans to those in certain cities.  Some are only available if you are looking to land government contracts. Each have their own requirements, and it takes a ton of time and research to figure it all out.   With the information below though, you don’t have to start from scratch.

Business Consortium Fund, Inc.

This program is specifically for minority businesses.  It is certified by the US Department of the Treasury. Businesses can qualify for $75,000 to $500,000 after approval.  Also, amounts above $500,000 are available on a case by case basis.  

Allowable fund usage includes working capital, equipment financing, and contract financing. To apply, you have to certify your business through The National Minority Supplier Development Council. In addition, you must have a supplier relationship with the Council. 

National African American Small Business Loans

These loans are only available in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.  The NASBLF  provides capital to African American minority-owned businesses.  Specifically, those that are not eligible for more traditional forms of financing.  

Loans range from $35,000 to $250,000.  In addition, other services are available. These include technical assistance and financial consultation services. Business owners can use funds for expansion, equipment purchases, and cash flow. They only have $30 million total to loan out in a year, unless more grant funds become available to the program.

Accion

Accion offers loans in all states.  Funds are available to the following: 

  • minorities 
  • veterans
  • women
  • those with disabilities
  • and low to medium income business owners

Loan amounts start from $200,000 and go up to $300,000. Business owners can use them to help build businesses from the beginning.  Accion can also put owners in contact with other resources to help build a network of support.

The minimum credit score for these loans is 575.  In addition, you cannot be 30 days late on credit cards, loan payments, or bills.  Also, you will not qualify if you have any late rent or mortgage payments over the past year.

Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI)

This group lends to those communities that are traditionally underbanked, including business owners that are minorities.  Since the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, banks are required to offer funding in communities that find it hard to qualify for traditional funding.  Big banks often fund minority business owners indirectly through their CDFI partners.  

To locate a CDFI, contact the local business development center or your local Small Business Development Center office.  They can hook you up.  

While the application process can be long, they do offer assistance to prepare for future bank loans.  Another benefit is that their rates are competitive within the U.S. 

Union Bank Business Diversity Lending Program

This program from Union Bank assists minority business owners with loans and lines of credit. To qualify as a minority for this program you must be Hispanic, American Indian, Latino, Asian, Alaskan Native, African American, Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander.   

A business that has revenue of up to $20 million could qualify for a loan of up to $2.5 million.  However, you must be in business for at least 2 years, and the minority business owner must own at least 51 percent. 

Indian Affairs

Businesses owned by Native Americans can get financing from the federal government through the Indian Affairs branch. An individual can fill out an application for up to $500, 000, but business entities and tribal enterprises my apply for more.  

Potential borrowers can apply with any lending institution, they just have to use the application for Indian Affairs.  Additional requirements are in place if the funds are used for construction, renovation, or refinancing. In general, a list of collateral, a credit report, and an analysis of business operations are required.

Camino Financial 

Camino Financial is an online lender that offers minority-owned businesses loans.  They also offer business solutions. They are an easy and convenient option.  Mostly because they offer the entire application process online. Microloans range from $5,000 to $50,000.  Also, they offer small business loans between $10,000 to $400,000. 

There is no requirement for security.  In addition, you can pay off the loan any time with no penalties or fees. Pre-qualification comes within 24 hours.  Since all documents are submitted online, you do not have to make unnecessary trips to turn in or sign papers either. 

Other Loans that Are a Good Option for Minority Businesses

While not specifically for minority business owners, these loans often work well for them.

Fundbox

Surprisingly, there is no minimum credit score.  Consequently, if you have at least $50,000 in annual revenue, you can qualify for a line of credit from Fundbox.  Additionally, you need to be in business for at least 3 months.  Amounts range from $1,000 to $100,000 with rates from 10.1% to 79.8%.  Terms are for 12 weeks, and funds are available as quickly as the next business day.  

Kabbage

Kabbage is another lender that will make loans to borrowers with credit scores as low as 500.  Terms are for 6, 12, or 18 months and amounts range from $2,000 to $250,000. Interest rates are higher, at 24% to 99%.  Funding can take several days, but sometimes happens in just a few minutes. 

QuarterSpot

Another option is QuarterSpot.  In fact, some prefer it due to terms that go up to 18 months.  Loans range from $5,000 to $250,000. However, rates are pretty high at 30% to 70%.  Still, approval can come in as little as 24 hours. 

Credibility Capital

Credibility Capital loans range from $50,000 to $400,000.  Terms are for 1,2, or 3 years, with rates ranging from 10% to 25%.  Like most, funding usually takes around 7 days.  

SmartBiz

Lastly, SmartBiz offers low cost financing for expansion.  Unlike the others, these are SBA loans. However, with SmartBiz, funding happens a lot faster than with traditional financial institutions.  Truthfully, they can take as little as a few weeks instead of a few months. 

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Minority Business Grants and Loans Make a Winning Combination

A business with minority ownership has resources available to it that are not available to all business owners.  They come in the form of both loans and grants for minorities. Pursuing both allows you take advantage of as many resources as possible. 

If you still need more, you can apply for loans that are not specifically for minority owned businesses.  Even if you do not qualify for traditional financing due to a low credit score, there are options.  

Regardless of what combination of funding works best for you, remember to ensure your business is as fundable as possible.  Find out more about fundability and what affects it here

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