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Grow Your Business Finances

Where to Go When the Bank Says No: Ideas for Small Businesses

While President Barack Obama, the Small Business Administration (SBA) and banks including JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America have publicly stated their commitment to small business lending, the numbers show they’re not putting their money where their mouths are. The National Small Business Association’s 2010 Year-End Economic Report, for example, indicated that despite slight lifts in credit markets and lending, one-third of small-businesses cannot get the financing they need.

When a traditional lender can’t pull through for your small business financing needs, where do you turn? Here are some small business funding standouts that may help get your business off the ground.

Not all about credit

Small businesses usually do not have a strong credit history, an hindrance in obtaining working capital and financing. Formed in 2006, On Deck Capital is committed to providing funding to small businesses that are unable to secure financing from a traditional lender. To do so, On Deck Capital considers alternative lending criteria when determining the credit worthiness of a business, such as taking into account business performance in addition to credit history, according to the company website. The company is able to lend thanks to strong financial backing from leading venture capital investors, the company said.

Finding an angel

Are you looking for an angel investor but have no idea how to find legitimate parties? Angelsoft is essentially a Match.com for entrepreneurs looking for alternative funding sources. Its database includes thousands of investors and venture capital (VC) firms across the U.S. On the site, entrepreneurs can examine investors. Angelsoft also provides a venue for entrepreneurs to get their business idea in front of the appropriate groups to seek funding, and is a secure system to manage deal flow.

Commercial real-estate funding

To say that banks shy away from any kind of risky real estate funding nowadays is quite an understatement. But, if you’re an entrepreneur seeking financing for limited-use commercial properties that are notoriously deemed “unfundable” by traditional lenders, Remington Capital might be an alternative funding solution. The group currently has access to about 700 active capital sources, according to a recent statement released by the company. Remington has arranged more than $5 billion in financing since 1993.

Invoice factoring

Financial unpredictability from one month to the next is the ultimate conundrum, especially for those just starting out. Without cash flow you can’t access capital, and without capital, you can’t grow. Business to Business Capital is one alternative financing company specializing in a “workaround” using invoice factoring.

In this system, BtB Capital allows you to use current outstanding invoices to generate working capital. According to BTB, factoring is a great form of alternative financing for businesses, because it allows you to control cash flow by determining how much to factor, and when. In the process, you do not incur additional debts. Further, it eliminates the cash-flow uncertainty that many small businesses face, allowing some predictability in month-to-month financial outlook.

Business incubation

Business incubators exist to help a small business get started, by providing all the support needed to grow, including physical office space, financial advice and technical assistance.  They can be supported by entities ranging from economic development organizations, academic institutions and for-profit groups. Incubators also assist businesses with securing alternative financing by making in-house revolving loans available, and connecting companies with angel and VC investors.

A company will typically be incubated for two to three years. Resources and costs are attainable because they are generally shared by many start-ups that are incubated at the same time. To find a directory of business incubators in your state (there are about 900 across the country), visit the National Business Incubation Association.