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11 unique ways to raise funding for your startup

Young Entrepreneur Council
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Question: I only need a small amount of funding. What is one nontraditional method or resource I can use to raise a little bit of cash?

Microfinance

A lot of people jump into Kickstarter a little too quickly -- I believe this should only be kept in your back pocket as an emergency plan. I prefer microfunding: getting a loan between $5,000 and $50,000. You have to have been in business for longer than two years with a credit score of at least 550, so there are limitations. But in my opinion, this is still the best. -- Rob Fulton| AudioLumin

Charge cards

Charge cards are different than credit cards. There is no pre-set spending limit, giving entrepreneurs the freedom to spend more when business needs arise. Unlike credit cards, charge card balances have to be paid back in a shorter period of time (typically 60 days or less), but they are a great tool for expanding your short-term cash flow. ZinePaks favorite charge card is the Plum from AMEX. -- Brittany Hodak| ZinePak

An educational fundraising event

Host a class to share your experiences. This will educate others in your network, and turning it into a fundraising event will provide an extra boost of funding for your company. -- Kevin Xu| Mebo International

Friends or family

If you tell your friends and family about your business idea, you might be surprised with who wants to invest. Many companies actually find their first round of funding from these types of sources. However, make sure you set clear expectations from the beginning because if it goes south, it can affect your relationship. Be open, honest and respect their money -- dont squander it. -- Andy Karuza| brandbuddee

School contests and alumni grants

A lot of colleges and universities host business competitions with cash prizes of more than $10,000 as well as the exposure needed to jumpstart a business. Many of those competitions are open to young entrepreneurs within the community, not just the specific school. Check out these kinds of opportunities to get the small startup capital you need in the early phase of your business. -- Doreen Bloch| Poshly Inc.

Credit card balance transfers

If you have good credit and can get a decent limit on a credit card, open several credit cards at once. Then, transfer balances between the cards when your balance is at $0.00. Youll have a credit and can request a refund via check for the balance. VoilĂ ! You have a small fixed rate loan and can use the cash to fund your business. -- Mark Cenicola| BannerView.com

The local chamber of commerce

One frequently ignored source of microfunding is your local Chamber of Commerce. Chambers work with local and State Government to establish low-interest loan programs of all sizes. Youll need to be a member of the chamber, but aside from low-interest loans youll also be able to network old school. -- Kristopher Jones| LSEO.com

Kiva Zip

Kiva Zip is a program that provides small business owners in the US with easier access to capital through person-to-person lending. Kiva Zip loans are crowdfunded by a community of lenders from around the world, who can also serve as brand ambassadors and potential customers for your business. -- Jason Grill| JGrill Media| Sock 101

Sponsorships

You dont need to be running across the country or doing charity work to look for sponsors. As long as you have a product or service that can draw attention to your sponsors, youre in the game. Perhaps it can be through advertising, media appearances or having their name appended to yours for some time. Many big companies like to be seen helping the little guy. -- Nicolas Gremion| Free-eBooks.net

Strategic partnerships

For some companies looking for a little extra cash, it can be a good option to seek out complementary businesses to partner with. Look for businesses that offer products or services that could be a value-add to your own offerings. These types of partnerships can yield the additional capital you need. -- David Ehrenberg| Early Growth Financial Services

Cash flow businesses

When I started my cleaning company in 2008, it was with the long-term goal of starting other companies. We used the extra cash to help finance other business ideas we had. The cleaning business was an easy entry field and took little money to start. Within the first year, we had excess funds to begin starting other companies. Today, its helped start three other businesses and is still in operation. -- Kyle Clayton| Set Jet