business resources


Your business plan will help you figure out how much money you’ll need to start your business. If you don’t have that amount on hand, you’ll need to either raise or borrow the capital. Fortunately, there are more ways than ever to find the capital you need.

Types of Funding

Fund your business yourself with self-funding

Otherwise known as bootstrapping, self-funding lets you leverage your own financial resources to support your business. Self-funding can come in the form of turning to family and friends for capital, using your savings accounts, or even tapping into your 401k. With self-funding, you retain complete control over the business but you also take on all the risk yourself. Be careful not to spend more than you can afford, and be especially careful if you choose to use tap into retirement accounts early. You might face expensive fees or penalties, or damage your ability to retire on time — so you should check with your plan’s administrator and a personal financial advisor first.

Get venture capital from investors

Investors can give you funding to start your business in the form of venture capital investments. Venture capital is normally offered in exchange for an ownership share and active role in the company. Almost all venture capitalists will, at a minimum, want a seat on the board of directors. So be prepared to give up some portion of both control and ownership of your company in exchange for funding. Venture capital differs from traditional financing in a number of important ways. Venture capital typically:

  • Focuses high-growth companies
  • Invests capital in return for equity, rather than debt (it’s not a loan)
  • Takes higher risks in exchange for potential higher returns
  • Has a longer investment horizon than traditional financing

​Use crowdfunding to fund your business

Crowdfunding raises funds for a business from a large number of people, called crowdfunders. Crowdfunders aren’t technically investors, because they don’t receive a share of ownership in the business and don’t expect a financial return on their money. Instead, crowdfunders expect to get a “gift” from your company as thanks for their contribution. Often, that gift is the product you plan to sell or other special perks, like meeting the business owner or getting their name in the credits. This makes crowdfunding a popular option for people who want to produce creative works (like a documentary), or a physical product (like a high-tech cooler). Crowdfunding is also popular because it’s very low risk for business owners. Not only do you get to retain full control of your company, but if your plan fails, you’re typically under no obligation to repay your crowdfunders. Every crowdfunding platform is different, so make sure to read the fine print and understand your full financial and legal obligations.

Get a small business loan

If you want to retain complete control of your business, but don’t have enough funds to start, consider a small business loan. To increase your chances of securing a loan, you should have a business plan, expense sheet, and financial projections for the next five years. These tools will give you an idea of how much you’ll need to ask for, and will help the bank know they’re making a smart choice by giving you a loan. Once you have your materials ready, contact banks and credit unions to request a loan. You’ll want to compare offers to get the best possible terms for your loan.

How much money will it take to start your small business? Calculate the startup costs for your small business so you can request funding, attract investors, and estimate when you’ll turn a profit.

The key to a successful business is preparation. Before your business opens its doors, you’ll have bills to pay. Understanding your expenses will help you launch successfully.

Calculating startup costs helps you:

  • Estimate profits
  • Do a break even analysis
  • Secure loans
  • Attract investors
  • Save money with tax deductions

Look through this list, and make sure to add any other expenses that are unique to your business:

  • Office space
  • Equipment and supplies
  • Communications
  • Utilities
  • Licenses and permits
  • Insurance
  • Lawyer and accountant
  • Inventory
  • Employee salaries
  • Advertising and marketing
  • Market research
  • Printed marketing materials
  • Making a website

Fiverr–pay $5 (or a bit more) for tasks ranging from logo design to copywriting
99designs–crowdsource design tasks (especially logos) for a few hundred dollars
elance–various freelancers (assume you’ll hire several for trial projects before finding good ones)–pay-by-the-minute advice from various startup specialists
Dribbble–browse designer portfolios, many of whom also freelance

Paul Graham’s Essays–read the whole archive
Tropical MBA–250 podcast episodes comprising the best source of knowledge on location independence and manufacturing businesses
Seth Godin’s Startup School–15 audio episodes covering a Seth’s take on getting entrepreneurial
Moz Learn–solid knowledge base on inbound marketing
Hacker News–daily news for startup folks and hackers
Product Hunt–daily new products

Quick Sprout: Ecommerce Best Practices
HubSpot: Guide to Ecommerce
Squarespace: Website Best Practices
Floship: User Experience Best PracticesLean Domain Search–suggests all available .coms with a given keyword somewhere in the name
Instant Domain Search–quickly check specific domain availability
Namecheap–register your domains
Square (US) or iZettle (elsewhere)–accept credit card payments with your phone, e.g. for market stalls and contractors
Stripe–best payment processing online
GoCardless (UK)–accept direct debit payments
Gumroad–easily sell digital files like PDFs, videos, and links
Squarespace–visual site builder with good themes and integrations with stores, payments, newsletters, etc
Strikingly–easy site builder for nice single-page sites like manifestos, personal/company pages, or landing pages
Shopify–for ecommerce and online stores
Themeforest–if you need something custom, start by buying a $30 theme and editing it
Google Analytics–free and good enough for all your analytics needs
Google Keyword Planner–see how many people are searching relevant terms
Facebook Ads–use the targeting options to compare the approximate size and location of various interests and demographics
Glyphicons–icon set
500px–non-cheesy stock photography
Flickr Creative commons–search for photos with the appropriate usage rights
Subtle Patterns–pretty much what it says on the tin; for backgrounds and textures
TextIt–create SMS applications without programming (e.g. for the developing world)
Twilio–makes phone calls and SMS as easy to program as websites

Intercom–tasteful chat and help widgets for your site, plus good automated email triggers
Drip–email courses and signup widgets for your site
Mailchimp–newsletters and decent signup widgets
Buffer–easier way to run your twitter and facebook accounts Team collaboration
Slack–chat and messaging to reduce internal email load, with one room per major project
Github–repository for your source code plus task lists and collaboration with your developers
Dropbox–all company files should be here, not on email attachments or personal folders
Streak–simple CRM plugin for Gmail to manage and share your sales leads
Trello–digital kanban board for project management
Basecamp–I use it for project management with external teams who don’t know our Trello workflow
Stormboard–digital sticky notes for remote brainstorming and workshops
Meldium–team password sharing and management

Createspace–upload a PDF, sell a printed book via Amazon
Newspaper Club–ever wanted your own newspaper?
The Game Crafter–prototype and sell your board and card games
Shapeways–high quality 3d printing in a wide range of materials including gold and silver (for jewelry) and ceramics (for household goods); great for prototyping and market-testing physical products
Alibaba–cut out the middle man and buy anything you want directly from the manufacturer; if you’ve ever wanted a 40′ shipping container full of go karts, this is the place for you