It is natural that when we first start out on any business venture, friends and family are the first ones who are asked to support them. I used this method of sourcing for money in my first media startup. However, it wasn’t like knocking on a door and saying, could I please have $5k. I wish life was that simple. Before you embark on taking money from anyone you have to be completely sure about what was talked about yesterday. We need to be completely sure where we are going with our idea, with whom and how. So when I approached an uncle of mine for a loan I prepared a detailed document outlining how the business is going to run. It was a basic executive summary which showed him:
- The market need
- Our value proposition
- The market size
- Our services
- My team
- Payback period
A lot of individuals overlook the fact that taking money from friends and family is risky business. We have a lot invested in our relationship with them and any sort of complication leads to friendships being lost and family ties strained. You have to make it absolutely clear to them from the very beginning what it is that you need the money for. I feel this gives them much needed relief, because from their perspective they will realize that you have put serious thought into the venture and that in itself is a good starting point.
Another factor that you have to take into account is whether they will be buying in to the business in return for equity or the funding will serve as a loan which will be paid back. I have a relatively strong preference for the latter. Involving family and friends is complicated as it is, if they buy into the company this further complicates matters and they may have completely radical ways of viewing your business model. If you take a loan from a friend or family member make sure that they are financially capable of withstanding the loan. If not you could get a call out of the blue one day requesting the loan money be returned straight away due to an emergency. That is another situation which can be the end of an early stage startup.
Whichever route you take be sure to do it professionally, with openness and honesty and get everything in writing. These will help safeguard both your relationships as well as your startup’s future.
p.s Source #0: Using savings that you may have. I have made the assumption that like most younger entrepreneurs you don’t have significant savings to initially fund the startup process. However if you have a some money saved up I would strongly suggest that you use that instead of venturing out to the next source.