If you’ve got the entrepreneurial bug, you may be wondering how exactly you can get funding for the next big idea. Where on earth will you get the money you need to finance your startup?
There’s the most obvious route of course: use your own money. Other well worn methods include getting a bank loan or a loan from family.
But what if you don’t make much money right now and you don’t have the family resources to fund you.
Three Bank Alternatives To Finance Your Startup
The benefits of crowdfunding are plenty. For one, raising sufficient funds via a crowdfunding site like Kickstarter or Peerbackers is a quick low-cost way to start up.
In addition, it’s a great market research tool and a test of your own commitment to getting the word out. If your project is popular and raises significant funds, you’ve got social proof. This is also a way to build momentum even before you launch your prototype or beta version.
On many of these sites, if you don’t reach your target, you don’t get any seed money at all. Most crowdfunding projects never get off the ground. Anywhere from 2 out of 5 to 1 out of 10 projects actually meet their goal on some of the most popular sites. So if this is the only way you have to raise seed funding you’ve got to make it count.
Entrepreneurial and Startup Competitions
There are dozens of small business startup competitions each year. Many are provided via local business incubators and many have the backing of their respective state.
Startup competitions are another great way to test your idea before you even take it to market. You’ve got to have a solid business plan in place before you can even enter many competitions.
Some competitions require you to already have a small customer base and business income before you’re permitted to enter.
If you’ve got a kick-ass idea, a solid elevator pitch, a killer slide deck and a few early adopters and customers, it might make sense to try to get an angel investor. You could get anywhere from $25,000 to $100,000 to finance your startup. Even better, angel investors understand that most startups fail so they’re more likely to be risk tolerant than your cousin or a local bank.
To find angel investors your best bet is usually going to be through a personal connection. Look through your LinkedIn and Facebook networks to see who you know who knows someone. If you have a business lawyer or accountant she or he may have contacts. Other entrepreneurs you know may have ideas about who to get in touch with or you might reach out to your local small business incubator. If you don’t have the contacts you can also try AngelList or an angel investor aggregator.
Remember that an angel investor is buying a stake in your business either through debt or equity. Keep that in mind if you’re not sure that you want to share the wealth.
Every so often I get a little weary of hearing the same old advice for saving money. So I’ve been wondering what, if any, innovative money saving solutions others have been implementing to save money in the long or short term.
I’m not sure whether I’m brave or committed enough to give any of these methods a try, but it does make me think that maybe it’s time for me to step outside of the financial box. Either way, here are some of the cooler ideas.
Innovative Money Saving Ideas
- Personal Finance Shocker. One company plans to release Fitbit like bands that will give you increasingly worsening shocks as you approach and then cross your spending threshold using the attached credit or debit card. Finally a way to make spending with plastic hurt as much as cash.
- Downsize. If you haven’t heard, over the last few years tiny house living has become all the rage. Some of the ways that people have configured their tiny houses to minimize the need for space are downright astounding. The house can cost as little as $20,000 if you build it yourself. In addition, you save money on all kinds of things like utilities for one.
- There She Blows. Apparently you can get a residential windmill installed right on top of your house. These babies can generate nearly half of a household’s energy needs drastically cutting down on energy costs and providing much needed back ups in areas that frequently experience losses of power due to weather. Yes, it will probably take you nearly a decade to make your money back, but tell me this isn’t a cool idea.
- Live in an RV full time. Just imagine! The fun would never end. Actually, the fun would probably end really quickly depending on how many people you try to stuff into that RV. But if you’re able to set things up just so and find the right locations to park in you can substantially cut your cost of living. You would eliminate car payments, most utilities and a whole lot more!
- Make Your Own Soda. Have you seen those soda streams? You can save about $700 a year for a family of four AND reduce your carbon footprint since you won’t be buying all of those individual bottles and cans. Double benefit!
- Find a Wedding Sponsor. If you play your cards right, you could have everything from the gown, to the lodging to the rings covered by a company. Many young couples are doing it these days. They say that the marriage is what they make it. Since weddings have already become insanely expensive thanks to the wedding industrial complex is it really so wrong to want to have that same complex chip in a bit? I think not!
- Shop With Headphones On. It’s amazing the amount of time and money that goes into creating the perfect spending atmosphere in your favorite retailers. Take back your power by blocking out one of the many ways that they get into your head: the music. Studies have shown that classical music (versus top 4) played in a wine store often leads to purchasing higher priced items. Loud music and slow music can both influence you to spend more money depending on the store. Don’t let the store tell you how much to spend.
Have you given some or all of these innovative money saving solutions? Or even thought about them? Let us know in the comments!
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. That may not seem like something to talk about on a personal finance blog, but it’s more important to discuss than ever.
Here at EYF we have three core values: optimization, education and security. We want to use education to help you build security even if you’re working with a mental illness. Ignorance shouldn’t be a barrier to your financial security and success.
Who Is Working With A Mental Illness?
One in five adults in the United States experience mental illness in a given year. Most of those adults will experience major depression or an anxiety disorder.
Mental illness often leads to significant losses. Employers waste money by paying for absenteeism and presenteeism (employees who are there, but aren’t really there). Employees are forced to cut back their hours, take more menial jobs or drop out of the workforce altogether.
Mental illness costs upward of $193 million in earnings each year.
It is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States and the number one cause in the world.
Mental Health Stigma Costs Us Big
You don’t need me to tell you that there’s significant stigma around mental illness. People are discriminated against, thought of as weak and expected to suck it up. Because mental illness is invisible, many people simply don’t believe that it’s real. If you struggle with mental illness learn your rights.
You have options.
For instance, many employees pay for short-term disability benefits without even realizing it.
Learn Your Rights: There Are Protections
Having a mental illness does not mean that you will be fired. In the United States, the law protects many employees from discrimination on the basis of their illness. Companies with 50 or more employees are required to attempt to provide reasonable accommodations. If, for example, you need time off to see your psychiatrist the company should be able to accommodate you.
Before telling anyone about your condition, it’s important to ask yourself why you want to disclose. Read the company culture. Is your direct supervisor someone you trust? Will he gossip? If not, maybe talking with someone in human resources would make more sense. Your direct supervisor may not know the rules about proper accommodation.
Human resources is probably the best source to learn your rights and options.
Benefits: Get What You’ve Paid For
If you have been with your company for some time — generally a year in the United States — check to see whether your company provides short-term disability coverage. Trying to work when you’re not well could do more harm than good. You may be able to get a temporary leave or partial reduction in hours to help you get better. You may also be able to receive partial reimbursement for lost wages. If you are having a tough time, strongly consider whether you can find a way to work with your company.
Don’t give up just because the first accommodation doesn’t work out. Leaving may cost you your health coverage. Without it you may struggle to treat and manage your illness.
Consider All Of Your Options
Once you are doing better, it may be time to ask yourself whether you need to pursue alternative forms of employment.
Maybe you should consider temporary work, freelancing gigs or starting your own business.
You might want to pursue a job in an environment that is less triggering to you.
Or change fields entirely.
Working with a mental illness often provides a sense of purpose and is empowering. So if you can continue working, it’s definitely recommended.
That said, it isn’t your only option. If you simply cannot work, consider disability. If you have a support system, lean on them to help you make the difficult decision to withdraw from the workforce.
Most importantly, take care of yourself.
Here on EYF, the goal is optimization, simplification and efficiency. We recommend that you optimize your savings long before trouble comes.
Why? Because we are often our own worst enemy when it comes to maintaining our financial health.
A common fallacy is the assumption that we’ll be better people in the future. We think, “Oh I can eat this whole pizza. It’s fine! Tomorrow I’m starting a diet anyway.” But tomorrow never comes. Or if it does, we are shocked by how much we underestimated the damage we did to our fitness goals.
The same is true of your finances. To improve your finances you’ve got to remember that your future self likely won’t have any more self-control than you do today. Once you’ve taken the time to decide what your most important goals are, do what you can to make it easier to stick with those goals in the future. Besides, don’t you like your future self?
Optimize Your Savings in Advance Because…
1. When You’re Tired You May Forget Your Goals
You’ve had a long day. Maybe you’re working a second gig to bring in extra cash. You look at your watch and see that it’s 8:00 PM, you have a 45 minute commute and you still haven’t eaten. In that moment when you’re exhausted your first thought is often going to be, “don’t I deserve a break?”
When you’re tired it’s easy to forget all about how every dollar helps get you closer to your dream of paying off your mortgage. The immediate reward can be quite difficult to resist. To prevent that, set up your finances to protect you in your weakest moments. Plan ahead of splurges, set up your funds to go into savings automatically so that the money isn’t even there to tempt you.
2. Small Purchases Really Do Add Up
Sometimes it’s just a burger; sometimes it starts as sushi then turns into buying rounds of sake for everyone. Depending on where you are in your financial journey, those little convenience splurges can really start to add up. If you’re not paying attention you could end up shelling out big bucks for things that you won’t even remember. You’ll find yourself looking at your bank balance wondering why you’ve got nothing to show for the $1000 you spent without even realizing it over the last quarter.
3. Winging It Is Risky Business
If you decide that you want to save for a specific goal, it’s a whole lot easier to set your funds to automatically transfer to your savings account now. Don’t give yourself the chance to renege. Make it easy to keep your promises to yourself.
Remember that no matter what, life keeps happening. What will you do when a friend you haven’t seen in a while invites you out to a steakhouse or to go on a weekend trip to the Caribbean? Will you have to pull out a pen and paper to figure out what expenses you have left this month? Will you be clueless about whether you have free cash? Or will you be ready with a spending plan that lets you say “yay” or “nay” almost immediately. If you have the money, you go to Aruba. If you don’t, you talk your friend down to something a little more enjoyable.
Give Your Future Self A Break
Take the time to sit down and think about your long term personal, professional and financial goals. Then, give your future self a break! Once you set your goals and then make it easy to stick to your plans. Optimize your savings today to set yourself up a healthier financial future.