What are some creative ways to gain financing for my business?
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I have a very strong business plan that's borderline commercial-residential. I'm driving myself crazy with lenders who think they are intersted but can't quite seem to commit.Having a strong business plan is important but it is only one step in the process of starting a business. I'm sure the lenders that you have reached out to have shown interest because there is a strong need for the business.
But, lenders don't just look at a business plan and an idea. They also look at the financial position and credit history of the founder or founding team and any related past experiences.
If you have a great concept but have poor credit and don't have previous experience, you will be hard-pressed to find a suitable lender. I would strongly suggest that you find out exactly what you need to encourage the lenders to grant you a loan. You may be able to make some adjustments to obtain the loan.
I don't think that it makes much sense to create a private investment offering for locals to invest in the company since these potential investors are not sophisticated investors and won't be adding any operational value to your company. Also, structuring several loans as you mentioned would be an administrative nightmare and also doesn't seem practical.
As for exploring other alternatives, there are a couple of options for you to think about.
Option 1: Seek Strategic Financial Investors
This can be a tough decision to make but it is an option worth exploring if you can find an investor (i.e. angel investor) or group of investors (i.e. venture capital fund) that are interested.
In this instance, you will be giving up some equity but these financial investors are generally very helpful. They offer industry expertise and a strong network of contacts which will allow you to grow internally as well as having the opportunity to form strategic partnerships with larger companies.
Keep in mind that it can be very difficult to obtain financing from these investors but if you succeed, it can be very helpful. Again, you will have to give up some ownership, but you will also have the ability to grow with fresh capital.
Option 2: Seek Further Financing Options with Banks
You may have to go to several regional and community banks to find a lender with favorable terms but it is an option worth exploring. The Small Business Administration also sometimes offers attractive opportunities to obtain financing.
In working with the bank, be as forthcoming as possible regarding your history and your needs. Your banker, in turn, will tell you exactly the information he or she needs to present your "best case" to the bank's credit committee. If possible, use your past success or strengths as a way to market yourself which will help give the bank assurance.