Financing Your Startup with Credit Cards. A writer emailed me the other day and said she is having difficulty getting a loan to pay for her startup and working capital and she wondered if she should finance with credit cards. My answer would be, “Only as a last resort and keep it to a minimum.” Here is what I’d suggest:
§ Get vendor financing for big items like your computer and printer. For example, This financing is more texpens
§ Try to get a 0% introductory rate card with the lowest post-introductory rate. Make sure the 0% also applies to ATM withdrawals. Then WATCH to see when the intro rate stops and try to pay off the card before this happens. Pay this card off FIRST if possible.
§ Go minimal, and I mean MINIMAL. Buy only what you absolutely need. Don’t get carried away with sales. Have someone go with you when you are buying, if you have trouble with this. You must keep your credit card balance as low as possible.
§ Look for used equipment and furniture. If possible, use your credit card for this stuff. You may have to use the ATM if it’s a direct purchase from an individual; that’s why you need the 0% on the ATM withdrawals too.
§ After you start, use the card for working capital. Work out a bill payment schedule for your business expenses. And be sure to pay the minimum on the credit card each month.
§ Live simply. Take out as little as possible for living expenses. You did it for three plus years while you were in school; you can do it for a little longer.
§ Show positive cash flow as soon as possible. Work to get to a position where you are consistently bringing in more in income than you are paying, every single month.
After six months or a year, re-work your cash flow statement and take it to the bank to show them that you are consistently bringing in more money than you’re spending. See if you can get them to give you a loan before your 0% introductory rate stops.
If you can discipline yourself in the short term with this method, you’ll be in great shape in the long term, because you won’t have a huge amount of bank debt to pay back, and you can take your profits and plow them back into new furniture and other neat stuff as you go.
Entrepreneur Magazine has a good article with some additional advice on this subject. Here is the link: http://www.entrepreneur.com/money/financing/financingcolumnistdavidnewton/article41520.html