5 Creative Ways to Bankroll Your Dream Gig
To start a business, you need two things: an idea and money.
For many people, coming up with a concept is the easy part, especially if it's something you've been thinking about for years.
These days, 25 million people are thinking about starting a business or nonprofit venture in the next five to 10 years -- or roughly one in four Americans between 44 and 70, according to a new study from Civic Ventures, the Bay Area think tank on encore careers.
Money, on the other hand, isn't so easy to come by.
But you don't have to impress an angel investor to bankroll your dream gig. Here are some some new possibilities for funding:
1. Starbucks and Create Jobs for USA
The details: This month, Starbucks began encouraging patrons of its 7,000 U.S. coffee shops to chip in $5 each to support a jobs creation initiative. Starbucks, in turn, says it plans to donate $5 million to community-based lenders to provide money to small businesses operating in under-served areas. The coffee chain's partner in the program, Opportunity Finance Network, will share all the proceeds with community financial institutions that will make loans to small-business owners, who are expected to use the money to create jobs.
What's available: Small-business owners can use the Opportunity Finance Network website to find an affiliated bank, credit union, venture fund or other lender and then apply for a loan.
Find out more: Create Jobs for USA: How it Works
2. Crowdfunding Websites
The details: Kickstarter, 40billion and other crowdfunding sites let anyone solicit donations for pet projects, whether it's a startup, book, movie or nonprofit cause. Sites get plenty of people asking for help with obscure ventures. But the crowdfunding sites also are tools for businesses, charities and individuals launching startup enterprises. For example, as of Nov. 11, noted surf historian Matt Warshaw had collected close to $14,000 from 134 donors to create a digital version of his seminal 2003 book, Encyclopedia of Surfing.
What's available: Crowdfunding sites let entrepreneurs create funding pitches, collect donations, email potential donors and set up online presentations about their projects.
Find out more: Kickstarter, 40billion, Rockethub, IndiGoGo
3. Funding Competitions
The details: Private, civic and nonprofit groups hold annual competitions to give away thousands in prize money to startups and other business innovators. Some contests specifically focus on people in their 40s and older.
What's available: Between April 2011 and March 2012, software maker Intuit is giving away $1 million to small businesses through its Love a Local Business contest. In Pittsburgh, government and community agencies are funding a $100,000 prize to find an "experienced dreamer" of 45 or older willing to relocate to the city to start a business. Hatch Detroit, a nonprofit started to spur business in the Motor City, just awarded $50,000 to a local startup.
Find out more: Love a Local Business, Experienced Dreamers, Hatch Detroit
4. Prizes for Social Entrepreneurship
The details: Each year, Civic Ventures sponsors three competitions that pay cash grants to people involved in encore careers that better their communities or the world.
What's available: The annual Purpose Prize awards $100,000 each to five entrepreneurs over 60 who've launched noteworthy nonprofits. LaunchPad is a similar contest that awards $5,000 each to five social entrepreneurs over 45. Each year, Civic Ventures also selects 30 to 50 Purpose Prize fellows who don't get cash but do get training, resources and the ability to connect with each other to exchange ideas and support.
Find out more: Purpose Prize, LaunchPad, Purpose Prize Fellows
5. Startup Incubators
The details: Business incubators aren't just for Silicon Valley tech companies. Cities and other groups around the country have opened work spaces where fledgling business owners share desks, meeting rooms and an internet connection. They also get advice from experts and fellow startups and, in some cases, cash or loans.
What's available: TechTown, a Detroit incubator whose former executive director, Randal Charlton, won a 2011 Purpose Prize, offers funding to minorities and women business owners who start companies in southeastern Michigan. The Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE), bankrolled by advertising giant Wieden+Kennedy, gives handpicked startups $18,000, three months' free rent and access to ad agency personnel, corporate mentors and incubator alumni.
Find out more: TechTown; PIE; find other business incubators through a database at the National Business Incubator Association.
Read more: Boomers Lead With Business Startups
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