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'Get in' on funding your future

Matt Morgan • May 2, 2013 at 3:00 PM

"I read this article a while back that said Microsoft employs more millionaire secretaries than any other company in the world. They took stock options over Christmas bonuses. It was a good move."

This is the start of a monologue by Seth Davis, the protagonist in 2000's excellent, gritty but witty crime thriller "Boiler Room." It is here that he begins the process of going from a small-time, circle-of-friends gambler to a big-time public one ... in the stock market. The allure of having a major income while being important put him on a path that, well, more on that later as the quote continues.

Hopefully you never have to be in the circumstances around this movie (on either side of the ABC phone call), especially if you are trying to start your own business. While not New York City, the Sandusky area offers plenty of opportunity to guide you through the process of applying for and receiving funding!

If you have the ideas, gumption, and willingness to put time and money on the line to pursue your business dream, a few of the first funding sources may come from close to home. Usually it is from saving up your paychecks, having a friend/family member who is willing to float you some cash, or perhaps you received some money in an inheritance (as was my case and though I enjoy what I do I don't think it is too selfish a thing to want my father back in trade on it all).

If these resources aren't available, are too risky, or don't adequately do what needs done, there are other traditional options. Seth's quote goes on.

"I remember there was this picture of one of the groundskeepers next to his Ferrari. Blew my mind. You see [cheese] like that, and it just plants seeds, makes you think it's possible, even easy. And then you turn on the TV, and there's just more of it! The $87 million lottery winner, that kid actor that just made $20 million on his last movie, that internet stock that shot through the roof. You could have made millions if you had just gotten in early, and that's exactly what I wanted to do: Get in."

Did you know Vin Diesel and Ben Affleck are in this movie? But moving along, what else can you do to try and secure the money you need? Start with your local bank. Talk to a loan officer and find out the process required. It will take a lot of homework, a business plan, and the ability to express yourself reasonably and professionally. A bank usually wants to loan you money should you prove to be a qualified investment as it makes money for itself, too, off the loan interest. Each bank may need certain requirements met, so you should shop your idea around some, pitch it, and see who is willing to compete for your literal business.

During this time your idea may very well change, grow, be trimmed, or possibly even come up unfit as it is. Tough questions may be asked of you and you may have to eat some humble pie. Don't give up! Continue learning about your idea and possible profession. Meet people, make contacts, and grow, especially if you are young or don't have much experience with this. It will be invaluable practice for when you finally get behind your own desk!

Grants may be available in some circumstances, but those are few and far between. The same with "angel investors" and other sources of entity-to-you funding. Don't be afraid to pursue them and/or even join mentoring programs such as SCORE nationally, the SBDC in Ohio, or RISE locally. Doing that is much, much better than what the character Seth negatively and unethically resigns himself to do as his quote concludes.

"I didn't want to be an innovator any more, I just wanted to make the quick and easy buck, I just wanted in. The Notorious B.I.G. said it best: 'Either you're slingin' crack-rock, or you've got a wicked jump-shot.' Nobody wants to work for it anymore. There's no honor in taking that after school job at Mickey D's. Honor's in the dollar, kid. So I went the white boy way of slinging crack-rock: I became a stock broker."

I sincerely hope you don't compare your business to being a drug dealer (nor your own investment adviser)! Without spoiling anything, Giovanni Ribisi's character Seth finds himself in a lifestyle he may not have intended with the consequences being what you could expect from his foreshadowing. If you want to succeed you WILL have to work for it AND be innovative! The process described so far entails a lot of work and even after it all if you don't find yourself with enough cash there are a two more options available: Non-traditional loans and "crowd funding."

Non-traditional loans are usually community-based in nature such as a Microenterprise Loan similar to what the City of Sandusky offers. They, too, will have requirements, but it is a good way to supplement yourself in getting things going or continuing what you have through a time of expansion or need. Some loans are made specifically available to certain people such as minorities, veterans, women, or just those with bad credit scores regardless of other distinction. All will of course have instructions on how to apply and what is necessary of you to do, as will be the way through which you can obtain crowd funding.

Kickstarter is one such resource. It takes creativity, communication, and commitment to be successful, but it has helped many people get the money they need to complete their project. You can also get funding by doing small jobs offered right to the community you wish to serve someday. For instance if you enjoy sewing and want to make custom car seat covers, hop on enthusiast forums and see if you can get a few customers there (follow forum rules!) to start and refine your process.

Whether from a close source such as a friend, a traditional source such as a bank, or through a new-generation source such as crowd funding, there are many opportunities for you to "get in" on starting or growing your business. Seth's decisions don't have to be yours, even if things seem bleak. Ethical opportunities are everywhere around you and success is at your fingertips.


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