Women Entrepreneurs: Securing Early/Mid Stage Business Financing

According to statistics, women entrepreneurs are starting businesses at a rate two times that of men. Though more businesses are being started by women, they generally have a harder time growing their businesses and accessing the financing they need.

Recently, in response to the current economic downturn, banks and other lending institutions have begun to increase the restrictions and requirements needed to secure a business loan. This means that getting a business loan has become harder these days. For those women who are not inclined to woo angel investors or venture capitalists, securing the capital necessary to grow their businesses can be a challenge.

What many women may not know is that financing goes beyond traditional bank loans, angel investors, or venture capitalists.

If you are a woman small business owner, and you are looking for capital to expand your business, here are a few financing alternatives to consider:

Grants for women entrepreneurs. There are many grants available through the local and federal government as well as women’s organizations that are set up specifically for women entrepreneurs. Since grants do not have to be repaid, they are a more attractive option to a loan. This money is given to entrepreneurs who fit certain criteria in order to help them achieve their financial goals

Business line of credit. Business credit can come in the form of an overdraft at the bank or a business credit card. Though both options can lead to a quick source of capital, they should be used with caution. Both methods of finance come with high interest rates, and debts can easily spiral out of control, leaving you with a bad credit history.

Tap into personal assets. Home equity lines of credit or the value of your life insurance policy can be used to secure financing for your business. Though these are popular financing methods, you should also use thse with caution since you stand to lose tremendously if your business is not profitable.

Ask family or friends. Use your connections. If you personally know people who have the funds to help your business, then ask them. But, you should be careful who you ask and only request loans for the short-term. In genral, money tends to put a strain on relationships.

Equipment leasing. This is an attractive option for women business owners who do not have enough capital to pay for the expenses of operating and expanding their company. By leasing their equipment, instead of purchasing it, women business owners can free up their working capital and thereby take advantage of opportunities to expand or improve operations.

Taking on a partner. You can alternatively acquire funds by having someone invest in your company and become a partner. The investor can be either an active parter or a “silent” one who is not involved in the business’ daily operations.

Invoice factoring. If you are looking for a way to free up capital that is tied to customer invoices, then invoice factoring is a viable option. In this case, a business sells its accounts receivable at a discount to another company. This company then provides instant payment.

Merchant or business cash advances. A cash advance is a good finance option for those businesses that process credit card sales. The cash advance company purchases your future credit card sales at a discount and provides your business with an instant cash advance. Repayment is then based on sales volume. This means, when sales are slow, a smaller payment is made during that period.

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