How is Funding For Small Business Changing?

In the startup world, funding is a prominent part of every day business. In the small business world, it is understood in a slightly different way. Small businesses tend to look for funding in more traditional ways but this is changing. By using a more entrepreneurial mindset, smaller organizations are developing products, targeting a particular customer and/or expanding into new markets. This leads to the conundrum of how to find enough capital to not only stay viable but to also fund expansion.

The global economy and many more localized economies are showing growth

You might say the entrepreneurial mindset is a response to the financial meltdown of 2008 which led to a severe international recession. Currently there are indicators that things are getting better, albeit at a very slow pace. The improvement seen in economies has been hard fought in many ways. For the Eurozone and the US, there is a great deal of damage leftover from the recession and a pervasive sense that nothing will ever be the same again. So, now small and large companies are starting to venture forth again to expand their operations. Just this past week, there was a blockbuster deal in the semiconductor industry between Applied Materials and Tokyo Electron. But what about smaller companies? How are they going to continue competing?

There is money to be made

Regardless of the economy, there is always a company recognizing an opportunity and acting on it. And…the company needs capital to act on this opportunity. However, one of the last results of the recession is that banks are more skittish to lend money.

What are the options?

Banks: Banks are still one of the primary sources of funding for smaller organizations. In a Businessweek article, the bigger US banks reported that lending is up. However, the European Central Bank continues to report shrinking lending to businesses.

Investors:  Pitching to angel investors or venture capitalists can be a way for small businesses to raise money for a product launch or other type of expansion.

Small Business Administration (SBA) and govermental agencies: There is always rhetoric about how small businesses are the backbone of a nation’s economy. Agencies like the SBA in the US and enterprise boards can be a good way for small companies to get both advice and funding at reasonable rates.

There is a growing need for alternative funding for established small businesses. Here are some of the other options:

Peer lending: This is a growing trend in investing and business lending. Rather than putting money in a mutual fund, stocks, bonds and the like, investors put small to larger amounts of money into a fund that becomes a loan for small businesses. The loan is managed just like any other loan with interest and a payment schedule.

Crowdfunding: Basically, it is similar to peer lending but it is more of an investment model than a loan model. The difference here is that contributors are looking for something in return. This can be early access to the product(s) and a return on the investment.

If not banks, who?

As small businesses seek ways to grow, they are going to need capital. Investors and lenders still want to know you are worth the money, no matter what. There is great frustration for those applying for bank loans and unfamiliarity with approaching the alternative funding sources. In some places, there are community based funding (like community development financial institutions in the US) that also support small business growth.

When we look at our own towns or visit other cities, we witness how small businesses are coping. Without making sure they have access to capital, we are creating an environment that cannot support the mom-and-pop stores, lawyers, dentists, specialty firms and the like. So, what options do they have for funding and how useful are they for growing companies?

What, if any, effect did the recession have on how small businesses seeking funding?

What types of funding do you see small business accessing in your locale?

Which funding sources are likely to provide the best financing for growing companes?

Which types of alternative funding do you see as becoming the norm?

What advantages does an established small company have in looking at less traditional forms of funding?




Will Crowdfunding Change How Venture Capitalists Operate?

crowdfunding, venure capitalists, startups, entreprneneurs, small businessesYou’ve got an idea that you’ve turned into a product. Your customers are happy and you’re on the brink of adding more. But your startup hit a major stumbling block. You need capital to expand so you don’t fail with your new customers. If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you make it a point to attend events and meet with angels and venture capitalists. And you start hearing “no.”

A few of the typical stumbling blocks of why angels and VC’s say no

  • There is no clear plan to attract more customers
  • They can’t see how your company will become of the Fortune 500
  • They don’t know you or your track record
  • Competition in that particular market is too high
  • There isn’t a clearly defined way that the startup is different from its competition

There are more reasons and sometimes it is a case of the entrepreneur just not telling the story in a compelling way. I have even heard stories of how investors couldn’t understand the concept of the company and/or product. But, it remains that there is a need for more capital if the startup is going to grow.

Enter crowdfunding

If you are familiar with the “friends and family” form of funding a startup, then crowdfunding can be seen as an extension of that idea. Basically, crowdfunding is “the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations.” It can be a useful tool for early stage and small business owners to fund a company or just a particular project. Often there is some sort of free offer or giveaway for investors. And although it has become quite popular in the US, a recent survey from Massolution shows how much it has grown worldwide over the last year.

Disruptive force

One potential area that crowdfunding could disrupt the traditional model is that some entrepreneurs want to raise money without giving up equity. Most investors seek a way to minimize risk by owning a percentage of the venture. In a VentureBeat post, it was noted that there are other ways that this could be a disruptive force. People who would normally not even get a first look from a VC (i.e. music bands raising money to record, social organizations, small to mid-sized companies, etc) can raise capital for their organizations or projects. It also uses a current social and professional network that may or may not include traditional investors to connect to interested people. This means the reasons why people invest change also. There is more emphasis on the personal connection, support for the mythology of do-it-yourself and community. Another way that crowdfunding can disrupt investing is that new startups can establish themselves because they have more than the bootstrapped funds. Then there is the startups in countries that either have difficulty accessing venture capitalists or are looking for microfinancing.

So, what do you think is coming next with crowdfunding? Will it change how venture capitalists invest? Join us Friday, July 12, 2013 at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT for the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz as we discuss crowdfunding

What makes crowdfunding so appealing to startups and small businesses?

How are crowdfunding investors different from more traditional investors?

What are the advantages of using crowdfunding as a way to raise money for your startup or small business?

What are the disadvantages of using crowdfunding as a way to raise money for your startup or small business?

What effect, if any, is crowdfunding having on venture capitalists, angels and other traditional investors?

What trends do you see emerging with crowdfunding?



Can a Global Mindset Position a Small Business for Growth?

Melissa Lamson, global mindset, small business growthThis is guest post is by Melissa Lamson,President of Lamson Consulting Please join us on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz, this Friday, March 8th at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT as we focus on Can a Global  Mindset Position a Small Business For Growth?

Global business facts

  • Qatar is the fastest growing global economy
  • Brazil has the most Twitter and Facebook users in the world
  • Last year, China’s GDP surpassed Japan’s

Developing global mindset is key for doing business successfully

Ernst & Young came out with a study last year that said the number one priority for leaders of multinational companies is to hire talent with a global mindset. A Global Mindset, as presented by Mansour Javidan’s research at The Global Mindset Institute at Thunderbird University, is:

  • Intellectual Capital Knowledge of business operations in other countries
  • Psychological Capital – The will to get to know or work with other cultures
  • Social Capital – The ability to negotiate and influence across cultures Continue reading