There a several sources to consider when looking for funding. It is important that you explore all your options before making a decision. Included in these are the following:
Most new businesses are started with the primary source of capital coming from personal savings or other forms of personal equity.
Friends and relatives:
Many entrepreneurs look to private sources such as friends and family when starting out on a business venture. Oftentimes, money is loaned at no interest, which can be beneficial when getting started.
Banks and Credit Unions:
The most common source of funding, banks and credit unions will provide a loan if you can show that your business is sound and meets their lending criteria. Lending institutions require that you prepare a business plan. SCORE counselors are available to review and critique your business plan. See our Service Directory for a list of banks serving the small business community.
Small Business Administration:
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a wide variety of loan programs to start or expand small businesses. It does not offer grants for this purpose. It is important to note that in these loan programs, the SBA is primarily a guarantor of loans made by private and other institutions and does not offer loans to small businesses directly. Therefore when you work with the SBA you will also be working with Bank or Credit Union. The local office of the SBA can be reached at (412) 395-6560.
Pennsylvania State Government:
- See the PA Entrepreneur Guide for information about state sponsored financing programs.
- Find grants, loans, and initiatives offered through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development.
- Allegheny County Community Development Block Grants.
Venture Capital Firms:
- These firms provide start-up and other needed money for new companies in exchange for equity or part ownership. These are usually larger enterprises. The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance maintains a list of local Venture Capital Firms on their website.
- Other information on Venture Capital: Angel Investor News
- A limited number of grants exist for specific ventures, to see a list of organizations issuing grants go to the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance.
- There are over 1,000 grant programs offered by all Federal grant making agencies. Grants.gov allows organizations to electronically find and apply for more than $400 billion in Federal grants.
Personal Credit Cards:
A “last resort” source of funds due to high interest rates charged. It is sometimes possible to take advantage of short-term windows of low interest rates by switching to new cards but this tactic requires careful attention to timelines and credit limits. In general, SCORE does not recommend utilizing personal credit cards as a source of funds.