In House - The FindLaw Corporate Counsel Blog

Tips for Shoestring Startups With No Investors

'Shoestring budgets,' according to American Heritage, came from British prisoners who lowered shoes by their laces from windows to collect money from passers-by.

Fact or fiction, everybody who starts a company knows the meaning of a shoestring budget. It means they don't have a lot of money to run the business.

Still, the British tale works because to start a business you may have to beg, borrow, but not steal -- unless you want to join the prisoners in the story. Here are some tips for startups that don't want traditional investors:

Ask Family

Donald Trump started his empire with a "small loan" from his father. Whether it was $1 million or $9 million, the point is that even billionaires borrow money to get started. So can you.

"Often one of the first places new business owners turn for money is family," says CBS Los Angeles. "Loans from family members are a good idea when you need flexible repayment terms and when your personal credit history is lackluster."

Ask Government

Every entrepreneur knows about loans from the Small Business Administration. The terms are strict, but often better than what private lenders require.

Contrary to popular belief, the SBA does not offer grants to start or expand a business. Some state and local programs, however, offer grants, such as funds for child care services, energy efficient technologies and marketing tourism.

Ask the Bank

If you have money in the bank, like a retirement fund, it is easier to borrow. You can borrow against a retirement plan without credit approval.

But if you want to borrow the bank's money, you need good credit. You will likely need collateral as well.

Ask the Crowd

Crowdfunding sites have raised billions of dollars for people and their businesses. Each site has its rules, and they are not for traditional investments.

KickStarter, for example, helps people raise money for creative enterprises. Funders may receive products or perks for donations, but not equity.

Ask Your Computer

It seems everything these days starts with an internet search. Asking your smart device for guidance may lead to savings for your startup, too.

Todd Saunders, writing for Forbes, comes up to offer budget-saving hacks for startups. For example, he says you can create free a chatbot to handle customer inquiries on your website.

Like lowering shoes by their laces, maybe you could craft a chatbot to direct donations to Kickstarter, too.

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