Recently I attended a women’s entrepreneurship workshop sponsored by the Small Business Majority. It was held on the 26th floor of the historic Los Angeles City Hall. It was a half-day conference that brought women (and some men) together to learn and share from one another.
One of the biggest learning experiences for me was the panel on “Alternative Capital Sources”. This panel of phenomenal women discussed the various sources of funding and how each differed in purpose and intent. They also discussed the “5 Cs” of funding:
- Cash flow
I personally had never heard of them, but now understand how important they are to the overall financial health of any company. The take-away message from the conference was that if you are considering becoming an entrepreneur, don’t got at it alone. Reach out! At minimum contact the Small Business Association’s SCORE program. This non-profit program is made up of industry leaders who have committed themselves to helping entrepreneurs learn, grow, and succeed in their endeavors. The service is absolutely free. Please contact them either through your local SBA office, or directly through their website.
Another lesson I learned happened during the discussion on crowdsourcing. One of the presenters said a very insightful and poignant thing:
“If people don’t know they can help you, they won’t. If they don’t have a way to help you, they can’t.”
This really struck home because we often forget that those closest to us do want to support us, but often don’t know how. If you just need a few dollars, then they can do that for you. You just need to create a way for them to help you. You also cannot underestimate the generosity of strangers who are willing to give you a few dollars to help you reach your goal. Be mindful of the platform as well. For example, GoFundMe is usually saved for those in need of financial assistance for personal emergencies (i.e.; funerals, medical expenses, etc.). This would not be a good platform for you to do fundraising for your company. Before you use crowdfunding, research what the different platforms specialize in. This will help get your campaign in front of the right people.
In the end, being an entrepreneur can be a lonely endeavor. It is your attempt to bring something that has only lived in your dreams to life in the world. Know that there are people and organizations out there who are ready to help you for free. Let me repeat that…free! The apprehension you may be feeling is that no one will care as much as you about your idea. That may be true, but you need help getting this idea out to the world. Reach out, ask for help, do your research, and then go for it!
This blog post is part of a newsletter I publish weekly called The Gigster 'Zine. It is a production of the Colégas Group, an organization that seeks to offer new opportunities for anyone with a college degree. To learn more about us, to receive valuable strategies for improvement, and to find innovative employment opportunities, sign up for the complete newsletter at colegasgroup.com.