So, you’ve got “the idea of the century”, but you’re wondering how to finance it. Then you’ve come to the right place because this article lists most of the ways you can fund your project.
The scenario is classic: You are there, strolling in the street under a beautiful spring sky, slumped on the sofa watching TV, or dabbling with your little plastic ducks in a warm bath, when suddenly a bright idea crosses your mind. And the more you think about it, the more awesome it seems. But now, after quickly developing a plan and settling some technical details, almost invariably comes the moment when this so crucial but thorny question almost bursts into your head: ’But damn, how am I going to finance this fantastic project?’
How many projects whose potential was so immense remained in the drawers because of this question, which remained unanswered or without solution? It’s true that when one looks for funding, the choice at first glance seems quite limited: We imagine our banker exploding with a bold and cynical laugh at the announcement of this request, or we turn to our dear aunt Simone, to whom we have not given signs of life for ages, which implies the establishment of a strategic reconciliation plan, like, “nonchalantly”. Well, it’s true—I caricature a little, but sometimes we are not far from that.
There are, however, some other solutions that we do not necessarily think about and that are sometimes much simpler. But before listing them, let me just give you some advice. I mean, if you agree?
OK, so let’s get started.
A Few Tips First
First of all, if you already have debts, pay them back! Accumulating debts is finding yourself in quicksand (you get the metaphor, right?). Therefore, avoid it at all costs.
Then, you have to quantify as much as possible the amount you need. This is important, especially if you intend to apply for a loan from your bank or one of your relatives. It is work that requires reflection because it is about not omitting anything. Then ask yourself the right questions:
- What equipment, tool, or machine will I have to buy or rent?
- Will I need the services of an agency or freelancer to create a website, take photos, or launch a marketing campaign?
- Will I have to create a company and hire staff?
- Do I need a commercial space, storage space, or an office, and should I make some adjustments or changes?
- Do I need a vehicle?
- What will it cost to develop and manufacture the product, to purchase a stock of goods or raw materials?
- How long will I have to keep up with this money before the project is profitable?
Also provide a safety margin of 10% or 20% in addition to this amount to cover any contingencies.
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll not only have a clearer idea of what the project is about and what you’re getting into, but you’ll be much more credible if you ask for a specific, substantiated amount, rather than a round number straight out of thin air.
The easiest money to collect is the money you do not need to ask for! What I mean here is that there are so many ways to do it without money. So, once you have made a detailed list of the different costs, review each point, and ask yourself if there is a way to do otherwise. How? By exchanging services, lending equipment, self-learning or simply eliminating certain costs, you will be surprised at how much you can save. Some have even started their project with only a few dollars in their pockets.
If you have been denied, first try to understand the exact reasons. So, ask the question openly and ask your interlocutor for the utmost frankness. This information will be of great help because it will open your eyes to any potential flaws that could affect your project. Then pull out the necessary lessons and apply the necessary modifications. It is important to keep an open mind, to accept criticism when it is constructive, not to be afraid to question yourself, to review your strategy, or even to rework part of the project. You can then continue, confidently, looking for funding.
Anyway, persevere, go back to the same person who refused you the loan, and if the answer is again negative, contact other banks, test other solutions, ask for advice… Toughness pays often. Be careful, however, not to confuse perseverance and obstinacy. After all, it’s also possible that your idea is simply dull.
Do not wait to start your project even if you do not have money. Think about it, but there are certainly a lot of things you can do concretely to start your project right now. For example, you can use your skills (or ask for help from your loved ones) to create a logo or website, make a video presentation, or research people’s interest in your idea. You can also order or build yourself a prototype or a model of your product, test the service you want to offer to volunteers, find the different providers with whom you may be working… Each case is unique, so it’s up to you to see what you can start with.
By moving forward in stages, you will boost your motivation, you will have a much more precise idea of the challenges that await you and possible problems that could arise, but most importantly, you will gain credibility with the people you want to seek for help (financial or other). Indeed, if you go, for example, to see your banker and you say, “Hello sir, could you lend me a million dollars because I had the idea last night to launch a chain of hotels for dogs… or for cats… even for goldfish? I do not know much yet…” All that slumping in your seat with your hands in the pockets, not sure that the welcome will be the most cordial… You will probably even be entitled to the famous laughing and cynical guy mentioned above. No, show them that you have already spent time and energy, in short, that you have already invested well in this project and believe in it firmly.
Finding Funds to Launch Your Project
Here we are finally! Here is a list that includes all the ways to find money to finance a project, from the most classic to the wackiest. This list is obviously not exhaustive, so feel free to comment on this article if you know others (or even if you have anything else to say).
1Apply for a loan with your banker
This is usually the first idea that comes to the mind of anyone who has ever needed to find money. However, in my opinion, this is the worst… First of all, because I do not like to owe money to anyone, but especially because if your project ends in failure (it can happen even if your plan is “foolproof”), you will find yourself stuck with having to repay this loan for several years, and then it will be more difficult to bounce back on a new project with a debt on the back. Only use this card if you have no other options.
If you are determined to go see your banker, he will ask you, first of all, to provide a business plan (and also a financing plan, probably). This is a document that you will have to write and contains all the financial details of your project. Needless to say, this document is important because it is largely on it that the bank will base on to grant you the loan or not. So, work on it and try not to omit any details.
Another point that will be examined carefully is your skill level. Thus, if he decides that your professional experience or that the training you have followed is too far from the project in which you embark, your banker will be less inclined to grant you the loan. If you think that may be the case, show him the opposite or say your intention is to call on collaborators who have the required skills.
Finally, you should know that banks rarely pay the entire amount requested and will therefore ask you for a personal contribution that varies depending on the bank and the country where you live. In general, they will lend you only the equivalent of what you bring yourself unless you detect a glow emanating from shooting stars in the eyes of your banker when you present your project to him.
- Good solution for large amounts provided you protect yourself in case of failure (limited risk company).
- You will be indebted (and that’s not cool).
- Risk of being banned from banking in case of non-payment or even to see the untimely visit of a bailiff coming to confiscate all your property.
2Ask for money to lend from a friend or family
I told you earlier that asking for a loan at your bank was for me the worst of ideas… I lied. The worst idea is actually this one. Because in addition to being in debt, you take the risk of scrambling for a long time with your loved ones. Nothing better than money to rot a beautiful story of friendship or family relationships. Imagine that you find yourself unable to repay or that the lender suddenly finds himself in financial difficulty and asks you for a full and immediate refund…
Well, it’s my opinion. Therefore, it is left to you to see.
Called “Love Money”, this type of loan is generally easier to obtain than at a bank, especially if the amount requested is not too high. It is important here to explain your project and how you intend to repay. I advise you to establish a written agreement in order to clearly define the terms of this agreement and thus avoid any risk of future conflict. By offering guarantees, you will increase your chances of seeing your request accepted.
Here is what to remember in this written agreement:
- First, the names, surnames and complete addresses of both parties (You and the lender).
- The total amount lent written in numbers and letters.
- The reason for the loan (Project description).
- The duration of the loan and possibly the number and the amount of the monthly payments if your agreement implies a payment every month.
- The interest rate or late interest if it is part of your agreement.
- Location, date, and signature of both parties and the number of written or printed copies.
Anyway, try to meet your commitments and avoid putting your family or friends in trouble. And if you find yourself unable to repay, do not hesitate to explain the situation to them as soon as possible. A solution is always easier to find when it is done quickly enough and all the parties concerned are aware of it.
- more easily completed and more flexible than with a bank.
- Amounts are often lower compared to a bank.
- Risk to scramble with your loved ones.
3Use your credit card
I decided to start with the solutions I like the least, and you will have certainly guessed, this one is part of it. By withdrawing from your credit card, you will also find yourself in a debt situation. The advantage or disadvantage is that you will only be entitled to what your card allows you to take, no more. Perfect for small investments such as buying a stock of goods for resale quickly or acquiring equipment or tools needed to offer a service, for example.
- Amount capped so not too much problem to repay.
- Amount capped so limited investment.
4Work and save
Here we enter the category of the “wisest” solutions. If you already have a job, work hard and save as much as you can to get the money you need. Work overtime, ask for an increase in pay from your boss, or if you have the courage and possibility, find a second job in the evening or during the weekend. You can even completely decide to leave your current job to find another one more profitable even if it is harder.
At the same time, think about reducing your various costs as much as possible. Make a list of everything you spend money on every month (use your bank statement) and analyze each of these amounts to see if you can reduce or even eliminate it (food, travel, clothing, various subscriptions, Friday card party with buddies at the local bistro). By doing it well, you will be able to reduce these costs drastically.
Well, you will tell me that this will delay your project for a while, but in return, you will have the satisfaction of investing your own money and will not take the risk of finding yourself in debt. In addition, if you have no savings and are not eligible for any loan for any reason, you do not have much choice. This solution is then obvious. And besides that, nothing prevents you from starting your project if you have enough energy, at least the phases that do not require a financial investment (see above: Do not wait to start your project).
- No debt.
- The satisfaction of having managed on your own.
- You will have to work.
- Probably delay your project.
5Sell what you own
Here is an idea that can perfectly be combined with the previous one. Make an inventory of what you have, decide what you want to sell, and then sell it all on a website or newspaper with classified ads. Talk about it on your social networks too. Some even sell their property. Well, it’s up to you, but keep in mind that the risk of losing everything is real. And try not to sell any living thing (your mother-in-law, the neighbor’s cat…).
- Easy and fast
- The total amount raised is relatively small (unless you decide to sell a real estate).
- Risk of losing everything if you decide to sell real estate.
6Launch another idea, which requires less investment
If your project requires a significant investment of time and money, it may be better to start with something less ambitious. Look for an idea that has more modest funding but can generate profit quite quickly. You can, for example, offer your services by doing gardening, babysitting, walking the neighbor’s dog, etc. Or buy and resell objects or goods that you have found on eBay, AliExpress, classified ads, auction rooms, etc. Ideas are not lacking, and it is also for this reason that this site exists. And once the necessary money has been collected, you are free to continue this activity in parallel (if it is not too time consuming).
- Can be relatively simple and quick to set up, so it quickly generates potentially significant revenue.
- Difficult to determine how long it will take to reach the goal.
This type of financing, which appeared only a few years ago, is gaining popularity because it allows entrepreneurs, artists and associations to raise funds from private individuals and to do without the services of a bank (at least, for the first time). Concretely, you propose your project on a platform for crowdfunding and indicate the amount which you need to be able to launch. Each internet user who will be seduced by this project will then have the opportunity to deposit a certain amount of money that will be paid to you as soon as the amount requested will be reached.
Well, it seems simple, but before you head down to ask for your million dollars, I urge you to read our article on the subject. To be a success, a crowdfunding campaign is prepared in a careful and thoughtful way. I will explain the different types of crowdfunding to help you decide which is the most suitable for your project and, in this one, I give 32 valuable pieces of advice to put all the chances of success on your side.
- Many platforms
- Great chance to raise funds if you manage to convince others to join the cause.
- Quick enough to set up.
- No need to pay back in case of failure (depending on the crowdfunding platform chosen).
- Requires you to have a good network of people to create the buzz.
No, they are not angels from the sky and who with a magic arrow would do all the work for you and instantly turn your project into a phenomenal success. A “business angel” is an investor, usually a former entrepreneur or someone with solid entrepreneurial experience who is willing to devote some of their time and money to an innovative project at the seed phase and in which they believe. Unlike micro-investors (crowdfunding), a business angel will accompany you during the time necessary for the activity to be on track, and you will benefit from their skills, experience, and relational networks. They are not there to take control and decide anything for you, but rather to bring you an outside look, a help for reflection and advice. You remain the sole master of your ship, so you can see them rather as a coach who will contribute to the success of the trip. If you are considering this option, I advise you to read our article on the subject.
- A truly effective accompaniment by an experienced person.
- Not always easy to find (depending on where you are in the world).
- This angel will wait for a financial return (which makes sense after all).
9Incubators and accelerators
These are supporting structures that aim to transform an innovative idea into a successful company by offering various services such as coworking, training, coaching, hosting, etc. for startups during their design phase (incubation) or growth (acceleration).
The subject is vast, and the differences between incubators and accelerators are numerous (sometimes even contradictory) and therefore, in order to keep this page digestible (OMG! More than 2,700 words already!), I wrote an article on this topic that I invite you to read if you are interested. But concretely, if your project is still at an embryonic stage (perhaps you have just come up with a great idea thanks to our site?), I advise you to contact an incubator. There are nearly 10,000 (public and private) around the globe, and although most are in the US, China, and Europe, there must be at least one not too far from your home. And if you live in a remote area of the world, there is always the phone and internet to contact them.
Anyway, now that “Google is your friend”, when you go to a public incubator, you will have a better chance of finding someone who is selfless and caring and who will give you sound advice and, most importantly, will not look at you, wondering how he can benefit from your idea.
- More chance of success.
- You are not alone.
- You will learn a lot.
- Potential nice encounters in perspective.
- You will be accountable.
- It’s sometimes long.
- Sometimes obliged to follow trainings or internships.
- Your idea must be innovative.
- In some cases, it will be necessary to assign shares of your project.
10Contest to help the creation of innovative companies
Contests are both at international and local level and are open to all those who have an idea or an innovative concept to offer: beginner or experienced entrepreneur, students, business, etc. and whatever your age, social background, or location. The principle is (relatively) simple. If you have a project already well thought out and whose concept is clearly established, you must first introduce a file containing all the information related to this project and then make a pitch as clear and convincing as possible in front of a jury composed mainly of business leaders. Needless to say, the competition is often tough, and so it’s a question of preparing a reinforced concrete file. So, think carefully before you decide because it is a lot of time and energy spent for sometimes few results. Maybe there are other faster ways to reach your goals?
These contests can be a very good way to publicize your project and sometimes even find investors who will be seduced by your idea. You will also meet inspiring people with whom you will often have exciting exchanges. And if you lose, see this rather as a crash test. This does not necessarily mean that your project is bad but maybe it’s just badly presented.
Finally, be aware that each contest often targets a particular sector, so inquire and do not forget again that “Google is your friend”.
- A solid boost to publicize your project even if you do not win.
- Often stimulating encounters.
- Your idea has to be really innovative because the competition is tough.
- May require a lot of time and energy.
If you happen to follow some famous Youtubers (No, not in the street, on YouTube!), they sometimes offer you at the end of the video to support their chain by going to a site like Tipeee, Patreon or uTip? They are in fact crowdfunding platforms based on the principle of tipping and that allows to give a sum of money once or reoccurring to an artist or creator of content that you particularly appreciate. This is not a way to find funds to finance your project but rather to receive money every month, a bit like a salary (except that in this case the amount is variable), while living your passion. This option is thus very interesting if you want to earn a living with your blog, create a YouTube channel, share your own music online, etc. and provided, of course, that your content is interesting enough to gather a community that can support you financially.
- You can start right away.
- Very easy to set up.
- Limited at the project level.
- Random revenue.
Well, it’s true. I told you that I will explore all the possibilities that exist to finance your project, but here we enter the category of wacky solutions. With millions of chances to win the jackpot, your project will have all the time to be forgotten or to be launched by someone else. OK, let’s go to the last solution… or not.
- You are rich, so you don’t need any more ideas or projects. The yacht and the turquoise seas wait for you.
- The waiting time can be very long (several centuries, sometimes).
Great idea if you need time to think about what you will do to build your future. The cells of a prison are exactly made for that. No, finally, it’s a very bad idea. And if you want to know more (no, I did not write an article on the subject), so ask your “Google friend”.
- It’s a joke! Don’t do that!
- You will be an unsavory person, just like your new friends in prison.
Voilà! Again, this list is not exhaustive, so if you know some other ways, I encourage you to share them in the comments below.
If you really cannot find the total amount needed to complete your project, then go step by step. Small amounts are often easier to find. For example, start by collecting enough money to start the first phase of your project (via a small loan, savings…). Then create a crowdfunding campaign for Phase 2, etc.
Whichever option you choose, be sure to ALWAYS stay in control of your project. Carefully read ALL you are asked to sign and be alert to private sector professionals who offer to accompany you.
Alright. It all depends on you now. So let’s play on!
Warning: The relevance of the information in this article may vary depending on the country or region of the world in which you live but also on the scale of the project you wish to undertake.