Many individuals are looking for grants or "free money" to start their business. They may have read or heard that free money for business owners exists, and how easy it is to get hold of these monies. Some have read ads, in print or on the Web, offering them information as to where to get free grants. With these ads making it look like there is money out there for the taking, who wouldn't dream to get a part of it?
But, is there really free money out there for small and home-based businesses? The answer is "Yes" and "No."
There are hundreds of millions of dollars in grant funding available free to entrepreneurs and small business owners. These grant monies come from the government, non-governmental organizations, and private institutions. The grant amount ranges from $5,000 up to some in the six figures. Best of all, absolutely none of them requires a pay back. You, too may have seen or read advertising in this regard.
However, the myth of "free money" intended for starting or expanding a small business needs to be dispelled.
Most funding institutions do not provide grants or "free money" for starting or developing a business. The Small Business Administration, Bank of America Foundation, and other grant funding sources do not give capital to start a day care or clothing design business, etc.. Nor do they provide grants to individuals who will use the proceeds to start their own "for profit" small business.
Rather, funding organizations generally target their assistance towards specific groups, types of organizations or activities. The grants provided by SBA are normally given to nonprofits or educational institutions. The Bank of America Foundation considers charitable requests from nonprofit organizations in geographic areas where the company has a business presence. These funding institutions provide funds mostly in a "project" context, consistent with their organization's goals and objectives.
There are a few grant sources that provide money directly to individuals. However, the use of the grant proceeds must be consistent with the objectives of the funding institution. Since most grants are project-based, many funding organizations require that the applicant provide counterpart funding. Grants may cover only a fraction of the project cost; very rarely do grants cover 100% of the total cost.
Making Money Online
There are various ways to break free from the shackles of a 9 to 5 job. You can now earn from the comforts of your home office in simple ways. The major income providers are:
Selling your own service
If you donít have a service already, the most difficult part is to develop one. Now what you can develop depends entirely on your skills and budget. If the budget is pretty tight, you can still fall back on your skills. Here are a few popular Internet services:
- Web / Graphics Design
- Software Development
- Marketing Consultant
- Search Engine Optimization / Submissions
There are lots of people across the world, who are ready to pay for your services. All you have to do is advertise your service at the right place and see people flocking to you for support.
Selling your own product
Developing your own product to market on the Internet isnít as difficult as you may think. Everybody is good at something. You donít have to be a Rocket Scientist in order to create your own product. Maybe you have a special talent or some specialized knowledge. Use this knowledge to create a product.
Here are a few subjects to give you some ideas for creating a product
- Sewing Tips
- Makeup and Skin Care
- Weight Loss
- Self Improvement
- Health and Fitness
- Child Development
- Single Mothers
- Single Fathers
- Teenage Mothers
- Teenage Fathers
- Home Decorating
- Home Remodeling
- Home Maintenance
- Small Appliance Repair
- Home Buying
- Auto Mechanics
- Auto Buying
- Home Finances
- Home Business
Write a small book on the subject. Or, sell your knowledge to portals that need it.
Selling someone else's product / service
Also called as affiliate program, this is the easier way to earn cash on the net. Although it might not be as profitable as selling your own product/service, your marketing skills can surely do wonders. As an affiliate, you refer people or prospective buyers to the company you are affiliated to. When someone you referred buys, you get a commission. The catch lies in identifying a niche where you can be number 1 and selling products that are closely related to your niche.
Successful affiliate marketers have their own web sites, which they use effectively by generating ample traffic through innovative strategies. For more info on how you can make more money online, try browsing through these sites:
Selling advertising space
Once you have a web site that generates ample traffic, advertisers would pay you to display their banners on your site. This is probably one of the oldest and most hyped ways to make money. Although it might not be a great money making idea, itís till worth a try.
One of the keys to a successful business start-up and later expansion is your ability to obtain and secure appropriate financing. Raising money is the most basic of all business activities, but as many new entrepreneurs quickly discover, raising money may not be easy; in fact, it can be a complex and frustrating process.
However, if you are informed and have planned effectively, raising money for your business will not be a painful experience.
There is one simple piece of advice – borrow as little as possible. Do not take extra money just because you can because you may have to pay it back when things are not so good. Once you work out how much you need, try and reduce it, and then try again.
Think twice before borrowing. It would be ideal if you will not have to borrow money to start your business. After all, you want your own business to give you an additional source of income, if not the main paycheck. You do not need another bill to pay.
But sometimes, you really have to borrow money to keep going. A major reason why many small businesses fail is inadequate capital. If you really have to, you must be prepared to take on the right kind of debt. Not all debt is bad debt. You have to ensure that before taking on a debt, you must see a way to pay it back through your business.
As much as you want to be optimistic about your venture, there is always the possibility that your business can fail. Instead of fattening up your bank account, you could end up selling your house, your car and withdrawing your childrenís college tuition just to pay off the debts. Be a smart risk taker.
There are several sources to consider when looking for financing. It is important to explore all of your options before making a decision.
Personal savings: The primary source of capital for most new businesses comes from savings and other forms of personal resources. While credit cards are often used to finance business needs, there may be better options available, even for very small loans. A major word of caution – the re-mortgage. So many people start by re-mortgaging to take advantage of the increase in their equity value; it is free money!
Unless you are going to manage a business properly stay with your job, a re-mortgage leaves you financially exposed and without a job if you run the business badly and you now have a bigger mortgage.
If you have equity in your property, wait. Get the business running well with a small amount of finance and then re-mortgage – what a difference that will make.
Friends and relatives: Many entrepreneurs look to private sources such as friends and family when starting out in a business venture. Often, money is loaned interest-free or at a low interest rate, which can be beneficial when getting started. If you borrow from a friend or relative, in my experience you will pay it back. Of course there are horror stories, of course you know someone who ripped off a friend or relative, in my experience it normally gets sorted out eventually.
There is another advantage in that you will not borrow much, and you will plan better. Take a small loan, plan well and then release your own equity to pay your friend or relative back – we cannot over-emphasize how often this works.
Banks and credit unions: The most common source of funding. Banks and credit unions, will provide a loan if you can show that your business proposal is sound. By using one of our templates you are using a sound successful system. Replace the wording with your details, and you will have a plan that will work, dare them to say no.
Remember, just because they um and ah they may not be no, remember as well there is more than one bank. You have a plan, it will cost you nothing to tout it around. Also most consultants will say “don’t tout it around it looks like begging, I’ll sort it with a mate of mine” – ignore them, our experience is that there are few “mates” who will lend to you because their “mate” is your “mate”.
Do it yourself.
Venture capital firms: These firms help expanding companies grow in exchange for equity or partial ownership, but unless you want a six-figure sum they are usually not interested. We offer a service which will investigate who it is best to send your plan to, if you do not want to do the research yourself, use our service.
Choose your business carefully. Your choice of business will spell the difference between making your business a success on a shoestring budget or not. Some businesses, such as a file storage facility, require enormous capitalization. Other businesses, like a wedding coordination business or a computer consulting business can be started on a thin budget. Choose a business that can be started even with little capital.
If your dream business requires a significant investment to start, you may want to downsize your dreams first and start a business that you could afford to start. It may be a smaller version of your original vision, or another business interest altogether. This will allow you to acquire the needed entrepreneurial skills, learn how to start and run a business, and save enough capital for your dream business. Even if you are not able to save enough, your track record as a businessperson can make it easier to borrow loans from banks.
Your customers are your gold mine. You may not have the resources to aggressively seek out new customers. Nor do you have the deep wallet to offer grandiose customer loyalty programs. But if you take care of your customers really, really well, then your customers will take care of you. Customers go back to businesses that offer them quality and timely service, help them make informed choices and make their lives easier.
Every business owner knows that the customer is king. If you do not have the money to easily acquire new business, you will make sure that you always roll out the red carpet for those that you already have.
In a perfect world, no business would need a collections system, because everyone who owed money would pay their bills on time. For those of us living on this planet, however, a collection system must be a key component of our business operations.
Extending credit is a courtesy you offer to your customers, but extending it past the agreed-upon terms can severely strain your company, as it disrupts cash flow. Not only that, but it is a disservice to your clients and can also severely strain your relationship with them. As the business owner, you must create a collection system for your company that balances getting the money you're owed with maintaining the strong client connection.
When customers don't pay on time - when their accounts go from "current" to "aged" - an ideal accounts-receivable system would cue your collection system to kick into action. You need a consistent, orchestrated system that notes overdue accounts and prioritizes the action as appropriate to each client's situation. This is important because every aged account has its own back-story. Some customers may have misunderstood your original credit terms. Some clients may reveal themselves to be chronically slow payers, severely overextended, or saddled with unexpected or seasonal difficulties. When clients pay late, don't take it personally or overreact. Instead, think of yourself as a helpful partner -- a problem solver.
Teach your employees that the company has an obligation to work with the clients to help them meet their financial obligations. Create a reliable collection system designed to "hear" the client story. Train your employees to approach clients with an attitude of care, and to offer a set of multiple, pre-defined options and resolution strategies in response. Insist they use benchmarked "discovery and response" scripts, as appropriate to the circumstance. Every contact must be documented to track its progress and effectiveness.
As you and your team create your collection system, let diligence - the constant and earnest effort to do what you set out to do - and empathy - the understanding of your client's condition and the willingness to help them - be your guideposts. Give the customer a chance to explain, listen actively, and strive to help them.
- A sale isn't complete until the money is collected
- Past due accounts put the business and the client relationship at risk
- Develop an orchestrated system that responds to aging accounts
- Create a system that responds appropriately to each client's situation
A Great Business does not become a Great Business without money
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