Finding Your Funding: My Shiny New Business Idea, Part IV

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Hopefully by this final installment in our series on when, who, and why of branding your new business. Like we’ve said, taking seriously the rich, deep visual appeal of your brand will make your investment in the product far more likely to pay off and feel like a worthwhile project. Now it’s time to get down to the how.

What options are available for financing the early stages of new business branding & marketing?

The good news: there are likely more funding opportunities than you think.

We’ve been working with small businesses for over a dozen years, many of them new or expanding, and a little creativity and tenacity will go along way. Our experience in Washington, DC runs deep, but plenty of these opportunities are not restricted to the area. No matter where you’re setting up shop, with a little elbow grease (generally applied to paperwork and applications), there is support to be had.

All funding options involve their own mix of investment and risk. This can seem daunting, particularly for women, who may be less likely to seek funding and face lower rates of loan approval. Take heart! It takes some soul searching to figure out what you have available to invest, but this list is designed to highlight where there may be more support than first glance suggests. Each of the options below offers a unique form of personal investment and potential payoff for your business.

Small Business Grants

Starting a business is a huge investment of time and energy. Many cities and counties offer support to make it a little easier.

Businesses in historically underserved areas and historic commercial corridors can get help from their local Main Street America program. DC’s rapidly-expanding Main Street program offers targeted, local support for businesses in 16 corridors around the District. The annual Great Streets program also provides reimbursement grants for improvements to a brick and mortar presence, including branding services.

The DC government also funds multiple channels for funding small business technical assistance based on geography and need. Find providers for the business support you need. (Bonus: we’ve worked directly with several of these organizations over the years and can make a connection!)

Supportive Lending

Of course, grants can be limited, and substantial growth often requires a little bit more risk. Several local banks run small business programs to increase accessibility of capital. The Small Business Administration guarantees loans designed specifically for small enterprises.

For those who are not ready to borrow from a bank, community lenders such as Wacif offer smaller loans and lots of support for business owners. Connect with a Community Development Financial Institution near you for more information.

Peer-to-Peer and Crowdfunding

Meeting your capital needs are also an opportunity to grow a following before you even have a product available. Peer-to-peer lending opportunities such as Kiva and Street Shares create connections with small investors who want to support you and your work.

Conventional crowdsourcing takes an investment of time, energy, and planning, but you now have plenty of options to use this method to tap into your network to raise funds and momentum for your launch. Learn from the experts: do your research and dedicate the time and energy it demands.  

While they are not a direct source for business funding, participation in a local, industry-specific incubator or accelerator program will grow your network and provide access to people and institutions that care about supporting work like yours. Finding the right one for you may be more complicated than online dating, but there are plenty of options out there.

Hopefully this list helps dispel the myth that options are limited for funding your new business idea. No one path will work for everyone, but finding yours is part of the joy of entrepreneurship.

Ready to get started? We’d love to chat about crafting a brand strategy and visual identity to get your shiny new idea out there. Let’s talk.