Making good ideas into good things is an enterprise that tends to require large sums of money, and short of extortion, fraud or a trust fund*, large sums of money can be hard to find.
But fear not! We have relentlessly compiled a list of ways and means to gather together the cash to make your much-beloved dreams come true. So hold out your hot little hands, and read on…
(A picture of some Scrabble letters that say “MONEY”. You cannot actually pay for things with Scrabble letters)
(*If you’re independently wealthy, probably this list isn’t for you- though funding your business yourself also has its drawbacks, in this blog post we’re assuming starting from relative financial scratch. Money comes in all shapes and sizes, like ideas, and this list isn’t by any means exhaustive.)
The classic; the big daddy of crowd-funded endeavours, especially for creative types. If people like you, they will give you their money; if enough people like you, you get to keep their money. And if they don’t, you can dust yourself off and try again. Or, alternatively, you could be spotted by a Kickstarter-prowling investor and be given two hundred thousand dollars to do with as you please.
The Good: Everybody knows Kickstarter; everybody loves Kickstarter; it’s clean, inviting, and everybody you’re asking for money already has an account. Even if you fail, the publicity the platform gives you might be the thing that gets your beautiful idea off the ground.
The Bad: Ten per cent of your total raised goes to Kickstarter. Ten per cent is quite a lot of per cent. Ten per cent of your money is quite a lot of money. Also, you can’t play if you want to start a business. And we like businesses.
You want Kickstarter if: either your idea is wonderful, or you have an enormous amount of willing and rich friends. And it’s easier if you’re American.
Like Kickstarter, only Indie. And gogo-ing, if by gogo you mean “lets you keep [almost] all the money you raise even if you don’t make target”, and “even if you’re a small business or a charity”.
The Good: Rewards success- taking 4% from all fully-funded projects- and you get your funds immediately, no matter whether you’re the arty sort or the techy sort.
The Bad: Demands9% from projects that don’t meet target. Very, very, very many less people, which means very, very, very much less money. And less incentive to donate- none of your cut-throat all-or-nothing business here, thank you very much.
You want Indiegogo if: Getting some money is as important as getting all your money; if your small business isn’t artsy enough for Kickstarter; you have lots of friends. And it’s easier if you’re British.
Like a tiny but very well structured Kickstarter, which targets a personalised but not necessarily personal group of your contacts, Sponsorcraft is a crowdfunding site that takes student projects and matches their funding demands with willing alumni. Still a Wayra-accelerated start-up itself, Sponsorcraft knows what it takes to make a good project.
The Good: Takes only 5% of fully funded projects; uses your real-life contacts to set you up with investors; those investors are more personally invested than those on Kickstarter and less financially invested than those of Crowdcube. Personalised sites for individual education institutions means targeted demands for money.
The Bad: No entry for non-students; they still take a 5% cut; the site is very small and young (but growing).
You want Sponsorcraft if: you’re a student.
4. Seedrs, Fundable and other Equity-based Crowdfunders
Britain has Seedrs, America has Fundable; they both do basically the same thing, which is to let you sell equity in your soon-to-be-launched business. Despite operating on the same all-or-nothing principles as Kickstarter, where Kickstarter asks for consumers, Seedrs asks for investors.
The Good: They promise “like-minded investors”; as with the start-up accelerator and business angels, this sort of funding allows you to pick the brains of people who think like you, and also think what you’re doing is great.
The Bad: If you’ve not got a clear plan to grow your business, nobody will want to give you any money; your investors own your business, and may have a say in the way you run it- and if you’re American, Fundable claims a monthly fee.
You want equity-based crowdfunding if: your business is a business, as opposed to a project; your business is a serious business, with suitably serious investors.
5. Bank Loan
Most businesses start with a bank loan. Nobody is going to give you a bank loan just because you have a good idea; bank loans want security. Probably, if you’re starting from scratch, you haven’t got a lot of security.
The Good: Tried and tested. If it worked for [insert almost any successful business here], it might work for you.
The Bad: Even if you’re lucky enough to proffer security, you’re putting all of it on the line for your one big beautiful idea. Sounds romantic; probably isn’t.
You want a Bank Loan if: You’ve got some sort of security, a plan, and you want to be beholden only to your own credit score.
Where: Oh, come on. At the bank. At your bank. Go to the bank. (https://www.gov.uk/business-finance-support-finder)
6. Startup Loans
Go to http://www.startuploans.co.uk/category/success-stories/, and look! Look at all these happy people, with their beautiful ideas and their beautiful things! Simple and structured especially for young people, this government scheme walks you through from germ of idea to fully grown, sky-scraping business tree.
The Good: ‘Delivery partners” to help you plan, mentors to help you make, money to make it all possible, an awful lot of very influential potential corporate partners, and a very, very structured repayment plan.
The Bad: It may be a sensible, government-funded loan, but it is still a loan, and you still have to pay it back, whether you succeed or not.
You want a Startup Loan if: you’re between 18-30, and a UK resident with right to work and an idea that you’re pretty sure will be a raging success.
7. Angel investors
Originally a musical theatre term (and who doesn’t love a bit of jazz hands?), angel investors are single investors, or a single network of investors, who want to privately give you a large sum of money. (If angel investors sound like your sort of thing, you may also want to look into SEIS- a seed enterprise investment scheme, where full-on full-risk shares of your company are sold for actual money: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/seedeis/index.htm)
The Good: Probably, angels will want a say in your business (a seat on the board, and/or equity), which, given that most angels are entrepreneurs themselves, means that they are almost certainly quite wise in the ways of successful start-upping.
The Bad: Probably, angels will want a say in your business (a seat on the board, and/or equity), which, given that most angels are entrepreneurs themselves, means that they may well have different ideas from you on how best to run your business.
You want angel investors if: you’re happy to relinquish some control in return for cash. Not one for the artistic mavericks amongst you.
8. Accelerators, Incubators
Accelerators (or incubators) cherry-pick the best of the start-up pitches and give them money/space/support, in return for a bit of the equity of your infant company. Support varies from accelerator to accelerator (there are quite a few, even including some corporately sponsored): our favourite Wayra gives its babies space, money, legal help and when they’re done, helps them to access other kinds of financial aid- and excellent Enternships graduate recruits.
The Good: Clever people who have been doing this a long time will help you; nurture you; let you live in a lovely start-uppy incubator full of other just-hatched chicks selling other beautiful ideas.
The Bad: It may mean relinquishing some control.
You want an accelerator or an incubator if: you have a really, really good and marketable idea at an early stage of development. And if you can get it.
Can’t get a loan? Don’t want to relinquish control of your precious idea? You may find that grants- or, more likely, a combination of grants are your answer.
The Good: Free money! Literally, free money.
The Bad: If there’s no such thing as a free lunch, there’s definitely no such thing as free money- most grants come with some strings attached, and it’s important to go in being aware of all the conditions.
You want a grant if: you need money, and you find a grant that works well with your idea. Not all grants will work with all super-exciting plans.
10. The Triple-F
And if all else fails, you might not have any money yourself, but you probably know someone who does. The Triple-F is Friends, Family and Fools- do you have a rich aunt? a rich best friend? a rich and strange distant cousin in Outer Mongolia? Would they like to listen to your crazy idea? Would they give you money for your crazy idea? It’s always worth asking, and worth asking anyone you know.
The Good: You’re turning your family and friends to a profit, which is handy- why waste time with strangers when the people you love, and who love you/your idea can help?
The Bad: You’re turning your family and friends to a profit, which is…sort of murky, actually. If things go well, mixing business and pleasure can be a beautiful Cosmopolitan of delicious success; if they go badly, a Molotov cocktail of total despair.
You Want the Triple-F if: You’re very secure in your idea- and you have very trusting family and friends.
Where: They’re your family and friends- and your fools, you tell us. Pitch yourself and your big idea to everyone you can think of- and you might just pull it off.