I'm having a hard time finding a source of funding for a growing business, here's the background:
I have a small business in Florida, I began working from home as a tech consultant / doing onsite work for businesses after the company I was with went under, and within the first year picked up a couple businesses on monthly contracts. After the second year things were looking optimistic, and although my personal credit was poor my parents were willing to help me get started with finding a storefront and moving into the next stage for the business. All together we had about 25,000 between cash, credit cards and a 15,000 personal line of credit my Mother opened to help get started. With this we found a small storefront in a good location, got starting inventory, and did the legal work to make the business work, changing to an LLC, doing all the city and county business taxes, the state sales tax certificate, registering on the state business site, and getting setup with a few major vendors including ingram micro, and synnex.
Things went fairly well with the storefront, continued steady growth, while mostly seasonal (like most towns in Florida our business is nearly tripled while the northerners are down for winter) all around things were going OK, I admittedly made several mistakes in the first 2 years that were learning experiences for me, things like I tried to test the pc gaming market with a small amount of gaming accessories / video cards, etc but pretty quickly realized that most of the people interested in pc gaming would opt to order anything online much cheaper than I could offer it. I also spent a lot of these 2 years fine tuning our service plans, adding a residential service plan, and fine tuning what I was including and how much I charged.
This last year is where we have ran into a road block, my mother wanted to move and needed better access to her credit to look for a new house and car. At this point things were going ok with the business so while I knew that loosing access to the line of credit would be painful especially during the summer, I understood she needed her credit back to go on with her life. So we paid off one of the larger credit cards that we had opened jointly under the business name, and paid off the line of credit so that she could show better marks on her credit.
at this point things were still ok, but within about 3 months I began running into situations were I was needing access to more capital, both for larger customer orders, and for looking forward into getting through the oncoming summer. my first reaction was to go back to the bank that we had opened the business credit card with. I thought that having opened the card under the business name with both myself and my mother on it, having the card for about 2 years and then paying the card off in full should have left me with some good standing, so I went to try to re-open or get a new business credit card, but had no success, my personal credit was still poor and even with the history i had there they wouldn't do anything.
after some frustrating other attempts to get some small amount of capital and a couple months of very very conservative inventory orders I began having half empty shelves and bills that were struggling to get paid on time, so I began going the other route and looking for what things I could cut that would save money, the biggest of which was my location, while it had seemed like an amazing location when I moved in the poor parking, poor road access had become evident that simply being in the right area was not enough to justify the price, so I moved recently into a location this time in a nearly equally busy area, with amazing road access and parking and I had a friend with a cell phone business that moved in with me to help fill out the location and split the bills, this has saved me a large amount monthly, and combined with some other cuts, has really made an great difference in my month to month costs, however I am still left with poorly stocked shelves and no access to capital for the things I really need to do such as better advertise our changed locations, and prepare for this years season.
I've looked into a multitude of options over the last couple months, angel investors look great but seem to be an impossibility to get unless you can promise a cure for cancer, grants seem to be the same. and pretty much every other option wants to look at my personal credit instead of the business record or taxes, in 5 years the business has nearly doubled gross profits each year.
Having read my situation (sorry for the long explanation), do you have any suggestions for getting a second round of funding to get us back on track with inventory and advertising? I really dont think much would be required on the low side 10,000 would get us resupplied and moving into the season.
There was a lot of great advice posted here. The only thing I would add is make it your plan. It seems like you`re trying to fit your unique plan into all of these traditional boxes. I`ve seen lots of business plans and by far the best ones are the ones where the author used their own creativity and experience to get across an idea.
All these plans that you are reading and learning about are most likely good ideas. But one size does not fit all. Mix and match, change it up, use what works and toss what doesn`t. There`s three keys to a successful business plan 1. does it communicate what you`re trying to say 2. does it convey passion, profit and success and 3. does it get funded.If you have those three keys in your business plan you it will be successful. It doesn`t matter if you`re using one style or another as long as you are communicating effectively. Look in that direction and you will be ok.I hope this helps.stevens6/15/2009 1:40 PM
My first inclination would be to say separate. But you also have to look at risk vs expense. Are the websites very different in risk of exposure to legal action? Are you giving any type of professional advice or offering services on these sites that might subject you to legal action?
I would create a risk scale on a sheet of paper and rate them by level of risk. Each website should stand on its own as to if it should be incorporated, put in an umbrella, or sole prop. Also, remember you will need to keep each corporation very separate and keep really good records for each corporation you create. If you don`t keep proper records and documentation then you may be exposed even with a corporation.Just my .02I hope this helps.
Are you looking for a sales person to sell to individuals or a manufacturers sales rep. If its the latter you should look at sites like http://www.manufacturers-representatives.com But like what was said before. Just because you are not paying them a salary does not mean their are not cost involved. You still have to pay for all of the marketing, sales material, promotions, etc.