If you’re looking for a way to start your own business, you’ve got a few options: Banks, rich dads, and Kickstarter. That’s really just about it.
Yeah, sure, there are “alternative investment” markets, people who have a little money to burn and are willing to invest it into a tech studio or an inventor’s studio or a niche publishing house without any concern for whether or not they ever see that money again. In theory, anyway. The truth is that getting your business going with one of these is like winning the lottery, and getting your money back through an alternative investment plan is like winning two lotteries in a row, and then getting hit by lightning, and then whatever movie star you have a crush on performs CPR to bring you back to life. Alternative investing has always been more of an expensive hobby and just a nice thing to do for people with neat ideas than an actual money making opportunity, and the mid-2010’s were a particularly rough time for this field for a number of reasons.
One of those reasons: Everyone has a business idea now. Nine to five employment opportunities are drying up, and working your way through college is, for one, taking on more debt than you can probably pay off in twenty years, and secondly, it’s not a guarantee at a great job. The best jobs start as internships, and internships go to people who are already so loaded that they can afford to take on a fulltime job that doesn’t pay anything.
So what the heck do you do these days if you look at the economy and see that it doesn’t have much room for you? You carve out your own little niche with a business.
And where do you go if you don’t have any real assets to put up for a conventional business loan, and if you’re not sure whether or not this idea is going to pay off anyway? Alternative investors.
So there are more small businesses than ever. Part-time freelancers are technically self-employed business owners. Everyone making a few bucks selling stuff on eBay and Etsy is a business owner. There are more business owners than ever before, and not all of them are on the yellow brick road to success. There are going to be a lot of bad ideas that seem appealing at first, and that’s going to be a black hole to dump your money into. There are going to be a lot of great ideas, but they’re coming from people with no business experience. There’ll be people who have a great idea, a great product, can run a great business, but they don’t have any idea how to market what they’re selling. Running a business is tough, especially in this economy. Multi-national brands go belly up at the drop of a hat. For small businesses, starting out from scratch or trying to expand from a shrinking market into the bigger world beyond, run by people who may have more heart than business savvy, failure is almost an inevitability. It takes a lot of smarts and some luck to turn a small business into a thriving one these days.
In other words; You almost wonder why anyone would invest in small businesses in the first place, and why any small business owner would put serious money on the line, theirs or someone else’s, in order to get their business going, rather than start as cheaply as possible and build from there.
Well here’s the thing: Having some funding to lean on may not guarantee success, but it can make a world of difference. Being able to put a few bucks towards marketing, not having to close the shop down today because you’re out of coffee cups, having the gas money to go to those conventions and meet potential business partners, investors and clients. It goes a very, very long way. Yes, it is entirely possible to spend that money on all the right things and still have trouble getting anywhere with your business, but having some money, some business credit, an investor, it really can be the tiebreaker, it can be what makes the difference between a thriving business and a going out of business sale.
Is This Where Bluevine Comes In?
Yes. Bluevine actually saw a banner year in 2016, while competing alternative investment companies were marking up losses. Bluevine is effectively a credit company for businesses. It seems obvious that the company is most useful for small businesses, but they offer lines of credit going all the way up to five million dollars, meaning that a medium or large business that needs to make certain acquisitions quickly can rely on Bluevine’s credit line in order to, for instance, secure a down payment on a new location so that they don’t get outbid.
The minimum line of credit is twenty thousand dollars. This is generally more than enough to get a typical small business going. It might not let you buy a building, but you can rent some space and fill it with inventory. You might need to spend a little more depending on your industry, of course. A restaurant can cost much more than twenty thousand dollars to get off the ground. Some businesses might cost a little more if they sell luxury goods, for instance. Others might cost less. Obviously twenty thousand is well more than what you need for many home-based businesses.
Is Bluevine Right For You?
If you’re going to lean on Bluevine to help get your business off the ground, you should meet a certain set of criteria. First, and most importantly, Bluevine is a credit company, they’re not angel investors. If you burn through the credit, they’re going to want their money back. This means that Bluevine is not for weird and untested ideas, it’s not the smartest way to finance your independent art film, it’s not the best way to fund a new invention that hasn’t been proven on the market.
But, Bluevine is a great way to finance an opportunity when it comes to something that’s more or less proven. Now, there are no sure things in any line of business, but obviously some investments are safer than others. If you try flipping houses, you might not make your money back right away, but in more markets than not, a house will eventually be worth more than what you paid for it as long as you didn’t buy a total money pit. Likewise, people will always support a gas station if it’s the last chance for fuel for a hundred miles. Web hosting is usually a safe bet. There are businesses that are, if not totally safe, at least safer than others.
If you’re starting a restaurant, you already know that more than half of them close in their first year, and it might be wiser to seek out investors who are okay with taking on the risk that that entails. If you’re starting a book store, you’re better off looking for people who are happy to lose money if it means aiding a new generation of readers. Bluevine is the smart choice if you already have your business plan laid out for you, if you know that your business is not going to be an improbable, unlikely success.
So what does this mean for established businesses?
What Does Bluevine Offer for Them?
If you’re taking out a five million dollar line of credit, chances are you’re not a down and out college student taking a shot at their dream, right?
Well, the other half of Bluevine’s line of credit is not business expenses, but invoicing. Bluevine advances you the money you are owed on invoices so that you can have the money right now, and then pay them back once the advance comes through Think of it like a payday loan or a cash advance but for businesses.
If you do have a chance to grow your business, you may be surprised to discover that having a lot of income doesn’t always mean having a lot of spending power. That money can be tied up in so many different things that to spend even a dime of it could wind up putting you in a courtroom. High finance is a lot trickier than lower finance, in part because there is so much riding on the money, so many people depending on it. This means that the money you have on hand isn’t always yours to spend. This means that the more money you have in the treasury, the better, and that’s where Bluevine comes in. When invoiced clients are taking a long time to pay out, when the money has to get through so many hands before it reaches yours, Bluevine connects point A to point B. This means that you don’t need to worry about what’s going to happen in the short term. You’re not going to watch time-sensitive opportunities dry up while you’re waiting for the money to go through. This might not be something that you need to rely on every single week, but it’s good to know that it’s there just in case.
This is, of course, in addition to the business funds credit line. Even a major company may, at times, need a little boost to get over a hump. When you have fourth quarter profits on the way, and first quarter paychecks to write, Bluevine can help you to make one end meet the other, so to speak. Again, it’s not just small businesses that have money trouble. A small business owner may have their personal savings on the line, and there may, in some ways, be more risk. But the risk doesn’t go away when you get big, it just scales out. A millionaire whose business goes bankrupt might not lose their home, but they are going to have a lot of investors who are very mad at them.
Bluevine is a solid credit company whether you’re a small business looking to sink your teeth into the industry, or a big business looking for a partner in a sometimes hostile market. Even if you don’t think you’ll ever need to call on them to help you out, it’s good to have Bluevine in your back pocket, so to speak, so that should something happen, should an opportunity arise, should an invoice take forever to pay out, should you have a bunch of angry employees asking where their checks are, and not wanting to hear about profits rolling in six months from now, Bluevine will be there to help you cover the difference. You want to use business credit wisely, precisely, sparingly, but when you need it, it’s good to have it there, no matter the size and scope of your business.