Support from people you know can come in many forms other than financing. Here are a variety of alternatives for cash-poor friends and relatives who want to help:
- Cosigning. Sometimes you have to rely on someone else's credit, net worth or disposable income to get a loan. In those cases, a willing friend or relative could cosign a bank loan, knowing if you default, he or she is responsible to make good. It's risky for the cosigner and for your friendship if the business fails, but it saves the friend from having to give you cash upfront.
- Office equipment and furniture. You can often set up a rather spiffy office with a variety of hand-me-downs supplied by people who'd like to help you out. An uncle who owns a printing store might spring for your letterhead and business cards. A computer programmer friend might be able to get your computer system at below cost.
- Baby-sitting or child care. Just because you've decided to start your business from home doesn't mean you can rock the cradle at the same time you're at the computer. Having a parent or other relative watch your children while you tend to business can be invaluable.
- Clerical, administrative or professional help. Friends and relatives can do everything from stuffing envelopes for mailings and setting up a computer system to helping you organize your office and keeping your books.
- Contacts. Send a letter to your close acquaintances explaining your new business and asking whether they know anyone who could use your products or services. People are generally happy to provide their competent and trustworthy friends and relatives with leads.