You’ve got a great business idea that you’ve been dreaming of for months and years. Let’s say you’ve identified which industries to go for, done your market research, and even roped in a few friends and business partners to-be, and are this close to quitting your job for good.
If there’s one thing holding you back that’s not fear, then it is probably money, or the lack of it. While some can empty their personal savings account for the start-up dream, others simply can’t. Thankfully, there are many ways to fund your start-up. Here are four ways to fund your dream without having to skip too many meals.
Crowdfunding is getting increasingly popular with start-ups and creative people who want to launch a product or project. Instead of approaching a select few angel investors for hundreds of thousands of dollars, crowdfunding is the complete opposite where you raise money through smaller contributions from the masses.
This is a good option if you require funds to launch a design or product idea but don’t want to give equity or knock down the doors of venture capitalists. Also, it serves as a great marketing tool for your new product by getting the word out internationally, even before you officially launch your product. Feedback and public interest in your product can also serve as a good gauge as to how attractive your idea really is to the market.
There are a number of popular crowdfunding websites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter, each having different sets of terms and conditions. For example, Kickstarter only accepts project creators from a limited number of countries and Singapore is not one of them. However, this should not be an issue if you have a business partner from one of their eligible countries.
One of the best ways to fund your business in Singapore will be get a grant. The Singapore government is supportive of SMEs and actually puts money where its mouth its.
The Spring Singapore ACE grant is something all first-time entrepreneurs should consider gunning for. Under this scheme, Spring Singapore (a government agency) will match S$7 to every S$3 raised by the entrepreneur for up to S$50,000. In other words, to receive the maximum grant of S$50,000, you will need to raise $21,429. Spring Singapore will not take equity in your company and the grant will be given over 2 – 3 tranches when you hit pre-determined milestones. An additional benefit for this scheme is that you will be matched with a mentor to support your start-up in the first year.
There are many other local grants that are available for your start-up, depending on the sector or industry. The ComCare enterprise fund supports social enterprises while Spring Singapore has additional funding schemes for clean and hi-tech companies.
Taking time to do a thorough research of grants that are available in Singapore is completely worth the while, and you can give your start-up dream a great financial boost.
Incubators and Accelerators
Consider getting into a business incubator or accelerator for seed funding, or at least an increased chance of obtaining it. One of the key differences between an accelerator and an incubator is that an accelerator usually has a set timeframe in which you spend either weeks or months working with mentors before graduating. On the other hand, an incubator begins with companies that may be at an earlier stage of the development process and they do not operate on a set schedule.
While only a few programs come with seed funding, such as the Angels Gate Advisory, joining an incubator or accelerator will bring your startup targeted resources and support. Mentorship from successful entrepreneurs is often invaluable to a fledgling startup.
There are many incubators and accelerators in Singapore for tech companies. Check out this list for a good overview.
In addition to loans from family, friends and fools, consider taking out a bank loan. A loan is a good option if you do not wish to give equity and want to retain full control over your company.
OCBC offers a collateral-free loan specially targeted at start-ups. Called the OCBC Business First Loan. This is available for companies as young as six-months old, with expedited access of up to $100,000. There is a catch though, as you need a guarantor. Hence, you may want to consider this carefully, especially if your business model is completely new and untested, and you are not expecting revenues in the short to medium term.
Taking a personal loan to fund your startup is another feasible and relatively quick option. Some banks offer attractive interest rates and a low minimum income requirement, such as the Standard Chartered CashOne. The ANZ MoneyLine Term Loan also offers interest rates from as low as 6.6% p.a and it comes with perks such as gifts (i.e. Polar A300 Fitness & Activity Tracker worth S$259 or ASUS PadFone S worth S$449) and a S$50 Harvey Norman shopping voucher!
With these funding options available to Singaporeans, the start-up dream may not be too far within your reach. While a ton of effort is required to research and apply for grants and seed money, the rigorous process serves as a way to check that your business plan is sound and profitable. In addition, the multitude of bank loans available today also means that you may well find one that suits your financing needs. With a little more financial homework, you may just be able to take the plunge!
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