How do women entrepreneurs finance their small businesses in 2019? According to the 650 female small business owners surveyed in Visa’s State of Female Entrepreneurship study, 61% chose to self-fund their own startup.
The decision to self-fund, according to the report, is one that the majority of women in business often make out of necessity. Those surveyed reported it was difficult to obtain the funding they needed for their companies—only 25% of female entrepreneurs received any type of funding from investors. And in some cases, their funding efforts weren’t even provided in full: 8% received only partial funding from investors.
The good news for female entrepreneurs unable to get outside financing? There are several financing options available for self-funding. Women who are having difficulty obtaining capital through traditional investors should consider these funding methods instead.
Nearly two-thirds of the women surveyed by Visa self-funded their businesses. While the numbers do not specifically point to bootstrapping as an option, I like to think many opt for this financing route.
Bootstrapping, if you’re not familiar with the term, is practically the definition of self-funding. You use your existing finances to fund your small business. Some entrepreneurs utilize their savings, dip into retirement accounts, and/or use personal credit cards.
One requirement of bootstrapping? You must be able to stick to a budget to make it work for you and your business. Be mindful of where every dollar is going and the return on any investments. It may take a bit of time for your business to create a steady cash flow and to get back the money you’ve spent, so examine your existing finances carefully first. If you do not have enough money to self-fund your company, you may need to seek out other financial options.
Grants are a hugely popular self-funding method. After all, who doesn’t want free money for their business? If you apply for and receive a grant, you can put that funding towards your business and are under no obligation to repay it back.
Since grants are highly competitive, don’t think your business will be the only one applying. Most grant applications come with a list of requirements that must be followed in order to be eligible to apply and be a recipient of said grant, so it’s important to be honest when applying.
Remember to research the reputation of the funding source, too. It is very easy to Google “small business grants” to find them, but due diligence must be conducted to separate real grants from scams. According to the Federal Trade Commission, nearly 23,000 people have lost money to scammers posing as “free government grants.” The FTC advises that individuals seeking grants avoid giving out their bank account information to people they do not know, watch out for government grants that require a payment, and be mindful of phone calls that may appear to come from Washington, DC, that could be scams.
You may want to consider skipping search engines altogether and going straight to a reputable source. Check in with a source like grants.gov for a list of federal grant-making agencies and funding opportunities.