So you have a business idea or you want to venture into an existing sector, you have mapped out your strategy and drawn the projections. You are confident this is the next big thing; it is burning inside of you and you just can’t wait to kick start that business. But what is holding you back?

Capital. This is perhaps the greatest challenge to many business-minded people and has succeeded in killing many businesses even before they start.

Here are 10 guaranteed tested and trusted ways you can raise capital for your business.

Good luck on your business venture and see you on the league of success!

1. INVEST FROM YOUR PERSONAL SAVINGS: if your idea is as brilliant as you claim it is, then you should have no issues committing your personal savings into it. It is true that this would work best for people who are (or were) in paid employment and have been able to save up some funds over time. It is easier for people to support your business when they see something on the ground already. Something you have already started on your own.

2. APPROACH CLOSE FRIENDS AND FAMILY: this cannot be emphasized enough; your close friends and family are the next point of call in raising funds for a small business. You need to talk to people who know, love, trust and believe in you. It is true that this may sometimes be two-ways because friends and family sometimes tend to ‘commonize‘ your concepts and allow familiarity cloud their judgment on issues such as this, but it is worth a try, isn’t it?

3. FINANCIAL PARTNERSHIP: sometimes, to achieve your dreams, you may have to give up sole control of it and bring in someone who is willing to support you financially in return for some stake in the business venture. Do not be scared to explore this option because it is a good way to get the financial backing you seek. However, before you explore this option, make sure you have all partnership agreements, stakes, benefits, etc. clearly stated out through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by all parties involved.

4. ANGEL INVESTORS: Yes, angels are real! Angel investors are usually informal business people or high net-worth professionals who are looking for high return investments. Don’t be deceived though, some of them are very experienced entrepreneurs and business moguls who will critically bisect your business idea and unveil loopholes in your ‘perfect idea’. Although funding from Angel investors is great, they often demand a high stake from the business in return from their funding. Every wealthy person you know is a potential angel investor; do not be scared to approach them.

5. APPLY FOR SMALL BUSINESS GRANTS: Grants are non-repayable funds or products disbursed by one party (grant-makers), often a government department, corporation, foundation or trust, to a recipient, often (but not always) a non-profit entity, educational institution, business or an individual. You must have a good business plan and must have done your homework thoroughly to enable you to earn a grant. There are a lot of grant opportunities for small businesses available online.

6. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR ASSETS: Assets refer to properties or things of value that you own. Many of us own high-value assets which we can actually do without (at least for the main time). Assets like expensive jewelry, extra cars, houses, lands, etc can be taken advantage of when in need of capital for a small business. It is true that emotional attachments often serve as stumbling blocks in using assets as collateral for loans or exchange for capital, but if you truly believe in your business dream, you would make the move.

7. GET ADVANCE FROM CUSTOMERS: This is one of the ways of starting a business on zero capital, but it is most times only possible in the case of buying and selling or supply. Customers who are urgently in need of a product are sometimes willing to pay upfront before the supply is made. However, this is mostly possible when they are people you know and can vouch for your credibility. Again, approach customers from your circle when exploring this option.

8. APPLY FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP COMPETITIONS: there are a lot of African entrepreneurs who have been able to raise funds for the businesses by applying for and winning entrepreneurship competitions. Local and international organizations put these competitions together to encourage and boost small businesses. You will find loads of such opportunities on the internet. In exploring this option, do not be scared or feel discouraged when you do not win, keep trying….

9. CROWDFUNDING: Crowdfunding is a new and fast-growing way of raising finance for businesses, it is also referred to as crowd financing. Although this is not a new approach, it has been greatly enhanced by the internet. It involves raising money (although in small bits) from a large number of people who believe in your concept. There is another version of crowdfunding which allows interested investors to offer you capital for which you will pay back with interest. Search the internet for crowdfunding opportunities.

10. APPROACH YOUR BANK: Banks have become notorious for saying ‘NO’ and giving the weirdest excuses why they cannot support loan application and funding for small businesses. However, you must understand that banks are very interested in giving loans because that is often where the bulk of their profit comes from. So, do not get tired of approaching them! It is often advisable to try and raise some funds on your own and start something before approaching the banks because they may be more interested in growing a business venture with potentials and good returns rather than support one that has not started.

So, do not be discouraged! Explore one, two or all of the above options and start your business today!