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Alternative Funding Options To Get Your Dream Business Off The Ground

Securing the necessary funding can be the hardest part of pursuing any type of dream business. Without initial capital, you might not even have good enough credit to take out a business loan from your bank. The good news is that there are a number of alternative paths you can take to launch your business.


Microlending/Microloaning Programs

As bank requirements make it increasingly difficult to secure loans for business purposes, microlending programs are becoming increasingly popular for entrepreneurs. Case in point, at the start of the year, a microlending program in Illinois announced expansion plans in order to reach out to more lower-income people who either want to start their own business or stabilize their finances. Microlending programs can be found all over the country and are usually run by non-profit organizations who offer flexible and low to zero-interest terms if they know that the loan is for business.

Crowdfunding

Apart from getting you the money you need to get your business going, crowdfunding also doubles as an early way to reach out to and build trust among potential customers/clients. The Muse details how crowdfunding websites are all about getting the right people involved. The popular Kickstarter for instance allows you to create and offer certain perks for donors, depending on how quickly they follow you or how much they 'donate' to your fund. And since crowdfunding happens online where it's easy for anyone to get involved, it also makes sharing your vision for your dream business easier.

Angel Investors

These are the high net-worth individuals who might want to be part of the development and growth of your potentially successful business. By investing anywhere from $10,000 to millions of dollars — depending on the current scope of your strategy— angel investors are hoping to rake in much more than what they invested later down the line. Apart from approaching established entrepreneurs and tapping personal contacts, you can also use the Angel Capital Association to find and meet angels that are amenable to doing business with you. As long as you can present a business plan that's more profitable than it is risky, you're bound to get an angel's attention.

Title Loans

This increasingly popular loan option is named such because their providers require just the title of a borrower's car —and not the car itself— as collateral. It's an option that's especially useful if you need to acquire capital fast for your dream company. Every city and state will have their own terms for title loans, so it is best to be thorough in your research to find a loan that best suits your requirements. Often cities will also offer special deals for citizens of a specific location with residents in Columbus, Ohio able to receive their title loan funds within one business day. Many other cities will offer a similar deal for locals, which is why it would pay to search close to home first. This is a valid option for those who need to inject some immediate cash into their venture. Just remember to always read the fine print before you sign any loan contracts, especially for new loan types that you're not already familiar with.

Friends & Family

While it's not always ideal, there are healthy and potentially productive ways to mix money with friendship. "Take a hard look at the history of your friendship. Have you had a conflict before? If so, how did you resolve it?" Our own Jodi Meltzer Darter asks the hard questions that need to be answered if you're going down this path. "Differences of opinion are inevitable when dealing with money and business partnerships. Is your friendship strong enough to overcome challenges and weather storms while remaining intact? Do you really trust her or are you taking a leap of faith?" If you're going to source seed funding from friends and/or family, weigh these questions well before making any decisions.

Starting any business is a risky venture and it can be hard to raise the funds you need through traditional loans. Hopefully the above tips will help you find the cash you need to develop your dream business.

3 Min Read
Health

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.