Entrepreneurs need to realize that having a terrific idea for a small business turns out to be the easy part. Finding the money to make that idea a reality is where the real work gets underway.
One of the most common reasons that start-up-business clients reach out to us at the Illinois Small Business Development Center of McLean County at Illinois Wesleyan University (SBDC) is to discuss ways to secure financing to get their dream business off the ground.
Creating a detailed business plan is an important prerequisite. You need to do your research about the market and the potential competition. You need to plan your finances, including not only what you need to spend, and where, but, critically, how you are going to pay your monthly expenses on an ongoing basis (cash flow).
Whether you intend to try to finance your start-up yourself, seek investment partners, or borrow your initial capital, you will need a plan that projects expenses, income, and your complete financial picture for the first five years.
You also need to analyze your reasons for embarking on this adventure. And by that, I mean are you insistent upon retaining 100% control of your “baby” business: bringing it into the world, nurturing it, and growing it by yourself? Or is it possible that by considering sharing the rewards of success, you can mitigate your risk by taking on a partner, thereby gaining necessary funds to get going more quickly.
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Financial planners – and you need to have one – are going to urge extreme caution in self-funding your start-up using your savings or retirement funds. Every case is unique, and it’s not impossible, but I would want some sound professional advice suggesting that it is a good idea in your case.
So we finally come to financing by taking on some debt. It’s not a dirty word, debt. It’s a useful tool for maximizing your resources and really helping your idea take flight.
And this is where SBDC may really be a good resource for you. We can make sure you have the financial detail in hand when you make that approach to a bank. We may also be able to suggest some financial institutions that handle small business loans in conjunction with the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Want to have a serious discussion about your business and financing it? Reach out to SBDC and we’ll help you get ready to find some money. (www.mccleancosbdc.org)
Buy local. Please. Local small businesses are the backbone of our communities.
Karen Bussone is director of the Small Business Development Center, Illinois Wesleyan University.