Opening up bank accounts, getting lines of credit (if needed), and managing your finances are crucial aspects to running a small business. Sure, you'd rather devote all your time and energy to actually running your business and following your passion -- but without adequate resources and smart cash-flow management, it won't last very long. Whether you're about to start your first business or you're a serial entrepreneur looking for new angles, the following information will help you find the right finance and banking resources for your business.
Financing Your Business: Resources
There are many ways to finance your business and no one method is right for everyone. Most businesses start out small, perhaps with loans from friends and family and a simple home office, while others need more substantial resources just to get off the ground (whether it's a bank loan or equity investments). Your business plan will help you determine what you'll need to reach your goals. The following resources correspond to the most common forms of business financing:
- Business Loan Application Checklist - Checklist of which information and documents you may want to include in your business loan application, such as the financial history of your business and projections of future earnings.
- Real-Life Loan Agreements - Collection of loan agreements with well-known corporate entities to help you get familiar with such agreements.
- Business Loan Application Checklist (Small Business Administration) - SBA's guide on how to apply for a business loan, covering such important considerations as the application form, your business plan, credit report, income tax returns, collateral, and more.
- SBA Loan Application Checklist (SBA) - A helpful checklist of the various elements and considerations pertaining to a 7(a) loan, offered indirectly through (and guaranteed by) the agency.
- Small Business Grants - Overview of the various grants -- which do not need to repaid -- available to small businesses, including state programs to retrain workers and programs meant to reinvigorate depressed regions.
- Research Grants for Small Businesses (SBA) - Explanation of research and development grants available to certain small businesses, with links to various government agencies through which the grants are offered.
- Search Federal Grants (Grants.gov) - Searchable database of all federal grants available to U.S. businesses, with various filters and search options to help you hone in on those that may be a good fit.
Equity and Venture Capital
- Debt vs. Equity: Advantages and Disadvantages - A guide to help you make an informed decision as to whether debt (loans) or equity is right for your small business.
- What is Equity Crowdfunding? - The basics of equity crowdfunding, in which ordinary, non-wealthy individuals have the opportunity to invest just a few hundred dollars in your business in exchange for a small equity stake.
- Venture Capital (SBA) - SBA's overview of venture capital, angel investors (individuals who invest smaller sums of money as limited partners), and equity capital in general.
Miscellaneous Small Business Finance and Banking Resources
- Business Banking and Securities Forms - A collection of checklists, sample forms, real-life financing agreements, and other resources pertaining to business banking and financing
- Sample Business Balance Sheet - Brief explanation of the layout and purpose of a balance sheet, in addition to a sample balance sheet that your business can use as a template.
- Is Your Business Fiscally Fit? (SBA) - SBA's guide to determining whether your business is properly funded and healthy from a fiscal perspective, with suggestions and how-to guides to help improve your financials.
Consider Getting Professional Legal Help for Your Business
If you run your own business, you're probably what many would call a "Jack or Jill of all trades," since you do everything from managing staff and paying taxes to ordering printer ink and answering the phones. But you shouldn't be expected to know the law inside and out. If you have questions or concerns, consider contacting a business attorney in your area for assistance.