By Adam Rowe
How are your local organizations helping provide capital to entrepreneurs and small business owners in underserved markets? What challenges do startups face when seeking loans? How can the hidden barriers be overcome? At Dallas Startup Week powered by Chase for Business, one panel addressed these issues head-on, packing countless advice and words of wisdom into an hour-long discussion.
The panel, “Access to Flexible Capital,” was hosted by Pete Nardo of Chase, who spoke with panelists Sarah Meister of Indiegogo, Tom Chapman of Chapman & Company, Jud McGehee of LiftFund US, and Erika Hersh of PeopleFund.
Here are a few tips that these experts offered to small business owners’ to assist with financial decisions.
Entrepreneurs Must Plan Ahead
Jud McGehee spoke on how his team at the 501(c)(3)nonprofit-organization LiftFund U.S. helps potential business owners work through their financials and projections. The important part is not to turn anyone away without offering them advice.
“We really try to walk them through the business plan,” he says, “and maybe point out some things they could change, some things they could improve on. We never want to ‘lend them into a problem’. We don’t want to give them more money than they’re capable of handling.”
When It Comes to Equity, Less Is More
Tom Chapman supports McGehee’s statement that a large amount of capital could do more harm than good, and offers his personal advice on the subject.
“A lot of times,” he explains, “the biggest regret entrepreneurs have is that they took too much money too fast. They’ll say ‘Oh man, I only had 11 percent of the company by the time we sold, so even though we sold for 100 million dollars, I still have to keep working.’”
If you have no customers or limited revenue, opt for a smaller amount of capital in order to boost your valuation and retain more equity when you eventually ask for a larger amount. Chapman hopes to be your partner, not someone who “suddenly owns you.”
Crowdfunding? Know Your Timeline
When startup consider crowdfunding Sarah Meister’s at Indiegogo said there are many options. The biggest concern for an entrepreneur hoping to launch their campaign through the site can be summed up in a word, “timeline.” Campaigns that don’t have well-defined dates at which to follow through on their promises won’t see the same success as those that do, Meister explained.
“Give yourself a full year to prepare for a crowdfunding campaign,” she says. “Running ads, doing A/B testing, going out there with boots on the ground — unless you’ve done that, it’s going to land nowhere. I’ve seen some incredible products that didn’t sing because they didn’t do that lifting before the campaign launched.”
If you build it, they won’t necessarily come. They need a timeline before they’ll commit.
Consider a Loan From the Get Go
If you arrive at the decision to seek a small business loan after investing your own funds and running out of them, you’ll face a far greater uphill battle than if you turn to the deeper pockets of a business investor from the start. The ultimate issue is whether your project is in the red or black, Erika Hersh explains.
“When you come to me, and you’re in the red, it’s almost impossible to get a loan at that point. But try in the beginning to get a startup loan — $100,000 or under — or go to a bank like Chase.”
Thankfully, panels like this one exist in order to raise awareness of the options available to small business owners and entrepreneurs of all types. Check out the entire video, available on Tech.Co’s Facebook page, embedded below.
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This article is part of a Startup Week content series brought to you by CHASE for BUSINESS. Startup Week is celebration of entrepreneurs in cities around the globe. CHASE for BUSINESS is everything a business needs in one place, from expert advice to valuable products and services. Find business news, stories, insights and expert tips all in one place at Chase.com/forbusiness. Read the rest of our Startup Week series.