It's worth exploring non-traditional financing to fund your dream.

By Jillian Kramer
April 08, 2020
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Have you ever wondered how to turn your dreams of owning your own business into a reality? We can help. Each week, as part of our Self Made series, we showcase female entrepreneurs—as well as their quality, handmade goods—and share their best advice related to starting, maintaining, and growing your own business.

It's not a smart strategy to go into debt for your business. As financial advisor and founder of LexION Capital Elle Kaplan explains, "Debt increases the cost of being in business by requiring the business to generate cash to pay interest on the debt—and that cash would be better served investing in the build-out and growth of your business. In addition, your creditors will own your business until you pay off the debt, and creditors can limit your creative freedom in running the business according to your vision. Instead, it is best to maintain control over your business by avoiding creditors who will own a portion of your business for as long as you are indebted."

Of course, it's not always easy to avoid debt, especially when you're just starting out. The costs associated with launching a business can be considerable. But with these expert strategies, you might be able to avoid taking on debt for your business—all while growing it into the company you dream of.

Have a cash mindset.

Before you launch, "create and commit to a realistic operating budget," Kaplan recommends. In your budget, you should "prioritize spending your cash on opportunities that will generate the most return to your business," Kaplan says. "But first, be sure to pay business taxes and payroll."

Set clear boundaries.

Leanne Jacobs, holistic money expert and author of Beautiful Money: The 4-Week Total Wealth Makeover, says that having clear boundaries with your suppliers, consultants, contractors, and employees can help you stick to the budget you've set. "I am getting better with time, but I am learning to set clear boundaries, especially for legal costs, web costs, and digital costs," she says.

Use non-traditional financing to fund your business.

Don't head to the bank if you need business funding, says Kaplan. Instead, she recommends you tap non-traditional sources first. "For example, crowdfunding is a quick way to generate funds while marketing your new business," Kaplan suggests. "A crowdfunding campaign will give your business free exposure and provide a platform for feedback that may help you enhance your offerings." Just be sure to do you due diligence: "Crowdfunding platforms, while easy to access, have specific regulations so research to find the one that best suits your business," Kaplan explains.

Don't overspend on outsourcing.

Jacobs says that "outsourcing is overly promoted," and it's one way to end up in debt. "While it may feel cozier to outsource in the beginning because there are so many things to be done, we often end up with a load of debt because of it," she explains. "We can also neglect key areas that it is important to at least have a general handle on—such as financials and spending."

Instead, at least at first, Jacobs recommends "selecting one or two areas that you are comfortable spending on to hire an expert—such as legal, accounting, or digital marketing—but remember to ensure that a return on your investment is clearly there," she says. "If you do prefer to outsource on more than two areas, take time each week to review the numbers and stay on top of the returns."

Use low or no-cost marketing options to acquire new customers.

It's important to get the word out about your business—but Kaplan says there are ways to do it that won't require a lot of money. "Use social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat to market your business for free," she says. "Most consumers use some form of social media, and seek product and service recommendations through social networks."

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