Funding Your Hustle: 5 Ways to Build Your Brand & Help Find Investors For Your Business
ONE37pm and Squarespace have teamed up to create an editorial series that offers resource support and expert advice for entrepreneurs and small business owners in our community who want to start or grow their own business. You can try Squarespace for free to create your own website, then use code "ONE37pm" to get 10% off when you’re ready to go live.
If you’ve ever started your own business or dreamed of doing so, the question of finances has likely popped into your head. Owning a business can be exciting, but the prospect of funding can often be a little stressful. And while business loans and even personal savings are definitely helpful, partnerships with investors are equally as important. Partnering with an investor is a key part of your business regardless of what stage you’re at—it can mean lower loan rates or not having to pay anything out of pocket until your business starts generating revenue. Here are five ways to help fund your hustle and find the right partners as you go through your entrepreneurial journey.
1. Early Stage: Business Incubators
If you are early in your business journey, it may be wise to consider a business incubator program. Incubator programs are specifically geared towards helping founders in the beginning stages of their companies. They often provide entrepreneurs with a dedicated office space and a plethora of networking and mentoring opportunities for business growth.
The National Business Incubation Association is a directory for entrepreneurs to connect with potential incubators. Please note that business owners must do their research thoroughly as some incubators require a business percentage in exchange for funding. One incubator that does not take any equity and is worth a look for those in the early-stages is Day One, a fellowship for founders and future-founders who are looking to start, build and grow a new business together. By joining Day One, you'll tap into a cohort-based learning curriculum and receive access to expertise that has previously been reserved for Silicon Valley insiders.
2. Early Stage: Squarespace Website
One of your most important tasks as you grow a business is to build awareness of the brand. A website is your easiest and most effective tool here: A landing page that can create buzz and promote your company, as well as provide a venue for interested partners to contact you.
Nowadays you can create one in minutes with a website builder tool like Squarespace which offers beautiful templates that are equally easy to customize. In addition to increasing your sales and driving traffic to your business, a well-designed website can help entice investors by showcasing the potential of your company.
By using Squarespace, your website will also offer built-in SEO tools and analytics to track your success and help you learn on the go. If you happen to be in the website-creation phase (or have intentions of getting there soon), this is the way to go. (P.S. Make sure to take advantage of the discount code above.)
3. Early Stage: Startup Platforms
Feel like you still have a lot to learn? You may want to consider the possibility of joining an official startup organization. These are platforms that offer new business owners all the valuable information needed to start a business—including connections with investors. Organizations like Startups.co offer funding and classes that teach everything from the specifics of securing investments to acquiring your first customers. With a relatively simple registration processes and over 650 courses, it's a good place to start.
4. Mid Stage: Business Accelerators
Many people think that business incubators and business accelerators are the same thing. While the two do mix and mingle sometimes, they are actually very different things. As mentioned earlier, incubators are primarily for founders in the very early stages of their business. Business accelerators are programs for business owners who are slightly further along. In short, they help “accelerate” what is already there. Business owners typically apply to accelerator programs when they finish incubators. Accelerators programs are short (3-6 months) and offer deeper investments and mentorship. Some popular accelerator programs include Techstars, AngelPad, and 500 Startups.
5. Any Stage: Angel Investors
Regardless of what stage you are in, you may want to consider tapping into an angel investor. Angel investors are high net-worth individuals willing to provide financial backing in exchange for equity in your business. While an angel is normally an accredited investor, not all accredited investors are angels. Angel investors fill the gap between friends and family, and more formal venture capital funds. Some invest purely for profit. Others look to make an impact with their funds by investing in causes and industries they are really passionate about. In addition to financial support, angel investors may also provide mentorship, connections and valuable advice. Interested business owners should check out Angel Capital Association for further guidance.