It’s no secret that the global banking world is in the middle of a crisis. Many banks in the United States, for example, received government bailouts that were supposed to help stimulate more loans to small businesses as one objective.
But unfortunately, the money doesn’t seem to be making its way to enough small businesses yet – at least not from my perspective. I’m sure there are cases where the bailout money has actually helped small business growth and accomplished some of the other objectives.
But I’m personally not impressed. Here’s why.
Nearly every small business owner that I know has either had their business lines of credit called in, or the loans renewed at terms that seem totally unfair.
And these are good people who have never been late on their payments. Now they are being faced with the option of either paying off a line of credit in full, or having their monthly loan payment go up 2-4 times over the previous payment amount due to increased interest rates and shorter repayment periods. I’ve talked with several different business owners in this same position, and their stories all seem to be the same.
Despite these banking challenges, small businesses continue to play a critical role in the global economy. Some of the best innovations that this world has ever experienced originated in the home or garage of the person who developed the idea.
So what is a startup or small business owner supposed to do for funding if banks are so difficult to deal with?
The answer: use other creative funding sources.
The good news is that there are countless ways for small business owners and individuals to find sources of funding in today’s world without having to rely on banks.
One such way is through crowd funding. Through crowd funding, business owners and individuals can basically ask for financial contributions from people all over the world.
Here’s how it generally works. You post your idea or mission on a crowd funding web site. People from all over the world can contribute small amounts of money toward that purpose if they believe in what you are trying to accomplish, or are interested in what you are offering in return.
For example, instead of going to a bank for a million dollars, you could use crowd funding to ask a million people to each contribute a dollar. Or you could ask 5,000 people to each contribute $100, depending on what level of funding you need.
This may sound like an impossible task. But it’s not. Crowd funding is becoming the primary source of funding for so many people and businesses today thanks to the popular crowd funding sites that seem to be popping up every day.
In fact, you would be shocked at the types of projects that have been funded in this way. Some examples include art projects, creation of a book on a certain topic, development of software programs, and practically everything else you can think of.
Just check out some of the most popular crowd funding sites and you will be amazed by what you see being funded through crowd funding. I’ll bet your idea is just as good as most of the other projects that you will see.
Here are some examples:
1. Kickstarter.com – This is one of the most popular crowd funding sites.
2. Quirky.com – For inventors.
3. Indiegogo.com – For any type of funding project.
4. Rockethub.com – For artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists.
5. WeFunder.com – For business startups (but waiting on the new investing law to take effect, as described below).
It’s important to mention that starting in early 2013, new laws are scheduled to take effect in the United States that will allow people to actually take stock ownership in a company through a crowd funding site.
The new J.O.B.S. act that was signed by President Obama authorizes this, but the S.E.C. still has to implement and enforce this in the U.S. The government officials are currently reporting that they expect this to be completed in January or February 2013.
Once small businesses are allowed to award stock ownership to investors through crowd funding sites like KickStarter and WeFunder, it will become even easier to get funding through such sites.
In the meantime, you still don’t even need the greatest idea in the world to benefit from crowd funding. You just need to convey your idea in a way that makes a lot of other people want to help you in some small increment.
And in return, you can offer people something other than company ownership in return for their help, such as shipping them the product once you get it finished, giving them some other benefit, or just asking for their kindness for nothing in return.
In fact, even after the new law allows stocks to be issued to people who contribute to your projects, I would challenge you to find other enticing ways to get people interested in helping you. Why give up any share of your business ownership if you don’t need to?
So here’s the bottom line. If money is the only thing stopping you pursuing something that would help a lot of people, then stop putting it off. Why not take a chance and see if crowd funding could be the funding solution you’ve been looking for?
If you want more creative funding ideas for your business, then make sure you sign up for the special Business Mastery Training webinar that I’m hosting. You will receive a free copy of our Funding Secrets Revealed report as a bonus for attending.
We also cover funding and other business strategies in more detail in our free business startup and growth training program.
*Originally published as Issue # 134 – October 23, 2012