By Beau Peters
Special to the Financial Independence Hub
When you get an idea for a new business, it’s easy to want to launch it right away. It might seem like a “now or never” situation, and your eagerness makes it nearly impossible to think about waiting a year or two to get things running.
However, it’s not uncommon for small business start-ups to cost thousands of dollars. Applying for small business loans can take time, and if you’re worried about launching quickly, you might be tempted to bankroll your business and use your own money to finance it.
Unfortunately, that’s a risky move. While it might seem like an investment, it could be a bad idea for a small business looking to grow.
If you’ve got a great idea for a small business and you’re anxious to launch it, you already know the importance of funding. However, it’s just as important to recognize some of the risks of financing it on your own. Let’s talk about what that might look like, and some issues that often arise when you’re putting in your own money to get things off the ground.
Mixing Business and Personal Funds
One of the biggest problems that can arise when you finance your small business yourself is drawing a line between your personal funds and what you’re spending on the business. It might not seem like a big deal for the two to commingle, especially if you’re starting out as the only employee. Some of the most common ways of commingling funds include:
- Using one bank account for business and personal needs
- Moving money back and forth between accounts
- Depositing personal money to pay for business expenses
- Withdrawing from your business account to pay for personal expenses
Not only can commingling funds get confusing, but it could put both your business and your lifestyle at risk. First, if your business is listed as an LLC, you could end up being held personally responsible for any business debts or lawsuits. You’ll also risk your personal assets being exposed.
One of the easiest ways to keep yourself from commingling funds is to dedicate a separate bank account to your business. Even if you end up putting some of your personal money in there for funding, you’ll be less likely to tap into it for personal reasons, and it will be easier to keep things organized and easy to understand, especially when tax season rolls around.
Ignoring the Fine Print
Financing your small business yourself doesn’t always mean reaching into your own pocket. It could simply mean you’re taking other routes to fund your idea, rather than relying on a bank or small business loan.
One popular option nowadays is crowdfunding. In the United States, over $17 billion is generated each year through crowdfunding sites. If you need money quickly, setting up a crowdfunding campaign is a great way to get it while encouraging people to get excited about your new business. It can be a solid marketing tool if you invest some time into it.
However, don’t ignore the fine print when it comes to these campaigns.
There are several different sites and platforms that allow you to ask for money. Each of them has a different set of rules and regulations. Some might require a small percentage of whatever you make. Others will charge a fee. Even if you understand that part, make sure you know what you’re liable for if you reach your funding goal. Many platforms require you to offer incentives to people willing to donate or pledge. It’s important to follow through on those incentives. Not only could you end up getting reported and lose some of your funding, but it’s a bad look for your business if you don’t give the people helping you out what they deserve.
If you decide to go with a crowdfunding site, make sure you understand the rules and are willing to stand by them, whether you make your goal or not.
Not Building your Skills
When you’re starting a business, you have to wear many hats. You might have a great idea, but you’re going to have to learn how to market yourself, deal with accounting, work with technology, and even how to hire the right people. In addition to the hard skills you’ll need, there are plenty of soft skills small business owners should have, including:
- Strong communication
- Emotional intelligence
Not only are these skills important for running your business, but they’re necessary if you’re trying to work with angel investors or you want to secure venture capital. Refining your soft skills can make it easier to communicate with potential investors. By communicating clearly and effectively and showcasing your leadership skills, they’ll be more likely to trust your business plan and your projections.
It’s also a good idea to build your project management skills. In fact, if you look at financing your business as a project and yourself as a manager, it’ll be easier to clearly define your goals and work toward each one individually from initiation to closure. There are countless details within the phases of project management, from detailing your budget to determining the risks you’re willing to take.
If you don’t take the time to build those skills, you might not end up getting the funding you need from potential investors. You might also fail to set up your business plan as a project, which can leave holes in your funding needs and/or budget.
While financing your small business yourself isn’t impossible, it can be risky. Consider taking a step back and applying for a small business loan, or at the very least, building a solid business plan to present to investors. It takes most startups anywhere from 6 months to one year to launch. You’ll have plenty to do during that time, so don’t feel like you can’t get anything moving without all of your funding arriving at once. Break things down as you keep moving forward, and choose to secure funding in the safest way for your personal future and the success of your business.
Beau Peters is a creative professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he’s learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things.