Money Matters: Saving for a large expense? Raise money like an entrepreneur
If you are starting a business or are simply in the business of running your life, here’s some advice for you: “Don’t wait to turn your business idea into a reality.”
That advice comes from Pete Ord, founder of client onboarding software company GuideCX. His recent article in the Daily Herald, “How Bootstrapping Can Help Get Your Business Idea Off the Ground,” shares how to start a business basically from scratch. Reading it, I realized that his advice could apply to anyone!
So if you have a big expense coming up — like a vacation, a downpayment on a car or even a new appliance — keep reading for some gold-standard advice on how to raise money as the entrepreneur of your own life. As you start early, research and prioritize, figure out how much you can afford and do what you can with what you have, you’re well on your way to confidently making that big purchase.
For startups, “securing funding takes a lot longer than you think it will,” said Jamie Johnson at http://uschamber.com. “On average, it can take 14 to 19 months between funding rounds. For that reason, you need to start networking with investors and looking for funding before you feel ready.”
Let’s say you are a parent of a young family of five with a four-month-old who will soon be eating solids. Your small fridge is starting to get a little overfull, but it’s doing okay for now. Looking ahead, you realize that jars of baby food will definitely make your shelves overcrowded, so you will need a bigger refrigerator in a few months.
Before you make purchases (like a bigger refrigerator) that are outside of your regular monthly budget, wait at least three months before, recommends family finance guru Jordan Page at http://funcheaporfree.com. This gives you time to set money aside, allows you to take advantage of holiday sales, eliminates impulse buys and gives you time to do your research. Waiting just three months means you’ll have the best refrigerator at the best price once that little one is joining you at the dinner table!
Research and prioritize
To prepare to receive business funding, entrepreneurs need to “research [their] industry, competitors and the market, define [their] products, prepare financial projections and determine how much money to raise, plus decide whether to tap into debt or equity,” said Thomas Smale, an expert in small business funding, at http://entreprenur.com.
As an individual making a big purchase, it’s important that you conduct research, too. Research the refrigerators on the market, determine how much money you need for the type of fridge you want and decide if you can pay for it in cash or if you will need to get some help, like from a zero percent APR credit card.
Also, determine where this purchase falls on your priority list. Here is a suggested priority order for expenses and savings from Bank of America:
- Emergency fund
- High-interest debt
- Short-term goals
Figure out how much you need and can afford
Entrepreneurs figuring out how much money they need should answer these three questions, according to http://capitalism.com:
- What stage is your business in now: startup or growth?
- What is the purpose for the funding you need?
- How much capital do you already have?
Similarly, in our scenario with the fridge, these questions can help you figure out how much you need and can afford. You’re in the “growth stage,” with a higher income than you had last time you bought a fridge, and you need a fridge that will last a few years as your young children grow. You have enough money saved to pay for about half of what the average large fridge on the market is worth, so you know how much you will need to save to buy a more expensive or more affordable brand.
Do what you can with what you have
In the world of entrepreneurship, “bootstrapping” is the term for starting a business using only the money you already have – no outside funding. It might sound impossible to get a business up and running this way, but in some cases, it can actually be more effective.
Ord, the founder of GuideCX, shared an illustrative example in his article about bootstrapping: “I once went to a networking event for startups: Instead of supporting me, some people began writing me off for bootstrapping. But when I asked how many customers they had, the answer was often ‘None.’ Some people there had raised as much as $6 million but were still prerevenue.”
Ord, on the other hand, got customers quickly, and soon enough, he was generating revenue and raising money from venture capitalists.
Looking back to your new refrigerator, it’s important to apply principles of financial prudence. Your food doesn’t need to chill out in the fanciest refrigerator money can buy — any fridge big enough will probably do. That doesn’t mean you need to go cheap. It just means that once you’ve saved enough money for the fridge you need and want, go ahead and buy it!
Whether you’re saving for a double oven, orthodontic treatment or a trip to Australia, business funding principles are great tools to add to your tool belt. As you start early, research, figure out how much you can afford and do what you can with what you have, you’ll be ready to make that big purchase in no time!