By: Mariya Shynlova
Starting a small business is a proposition that’s frightening and exciting in equal measures. If you can source adequate capital while juggling the logistics of establishing a new company, you’ll stand a much better chance of surviving and thriving. The old adage about spending money to earn money isn’t strictly true, but the more money you have, the more you’re likely to be leant—especially in tough economic times.
Create a Web Presence
Even if it is tremendously basic, you need a website, especially if you don’t have a physical location. Providing a website to potential business partners and investors lends an air of credibility. Additionally, you can start to define your brand identity. A basic mission statement and contact information should suffice for starters. Be sure to be clear that you’re still in the startup phase and that exciting things are coming. Don’t forget to leverage social media sites like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter. Keep your brand identity intact across networks with consistent colors, fonts, imaging and messaging.
Manage Your Cash Flow
You’ll likely never have as much cash as you’d like floating through the business, especially at the start-up phase. Be frugal and limit purchases and infrastructure to items that are absolute necessities. Apply for a small business credit card to use as necessary. Do your research because, like consumer cards, benefits vary widely. The Business Gold Rewards Card at American Express, for example, provides up to 55 interest free days to maximize your cash flow. Don’t be afraid to ask vendors if they have flexible payment options or can offer discounts for bulk purchases.
Fine Tune Your Business Plan
Presumably you’ve created a business plan that is well thought out and based on research and common sense. Now, take a good look at that business plan and shine it up for investors. No matter how good the framework for your business is, it probably includes information your potential investors don’t need. Creating a presentation complete with graphs and visuals can go a long way in creating authority with investors.
Invest in Investors
Finding the right investors takes a lot of time and energy. Do an extensive amount of research, create custom pitches if necessary and work to develop relationships with your best leads. Bootstrap funding, or self-funding, shows potential investors that you believe in the viability of your business and garners confidence that their money will be used wisely to eventually return a profit.
Alternative funding sources like crowdfunding, through Kickstarter and other platforms, is potentially lucrative. Still in the early stages, though, it can be confusing and results are far from guaranteed.
Don’t forget to look into small business grants and opportunities. The Canada Small Business Financing Program is a great resource for local and national opportunities. Grants and government-backed loans are a great way to get off the ground and create confidence for on-the-fence investors.
Be sure you’re keeping accurate records and keeping in touch with potential and confirmed investors. You must be transparent about your finances and keep your accounting above reproach. You may have a lot on your plate, but you cannot get lazy with accounting!
Mariya is a graduate student pursuing her final year in the Master of Biotechnology program at the University of Toronto Mississauga. She is currently the Communications Officer for Altitude Accelerator, a role in which she manages the organization’s web and digital communications, marketing, event promotion, and social media platforms. In her future endeavors, Mariya hopes to pursue a career which merges the fields of science and business.
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