Go Local with Funding - Success Stories to Inspire Growth

Leveraging Local: How to Grow Your Business with Community Resources and Creativity

graphic about creative funding for a small business

Key Takeaways:

Discover where to start with creative funding for your small business.

Get inspired by three clients’ success stories with local org SkillsRI.

Learn some qualities necessary for a successful partnership as you expand your brand.

Everyone wants to grow their business. But not everyone knows all of the places to look for small business funding. While many turn to conventional routes like bank loans, business credit cards, and Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, it’s easy to overlook some alternative funding sources. Join us as we share some creative funding options and highlight 3 of our clients in Rhode Island that found success with it. 

Venturing Off the Beaten Path for Business Funding

According to research from the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs (ASE), 64.4% of business owners surveyed used personal and family savings to start a business. The next most popular source of capital was a business loan from a bank or financial institution, followed by personal credit cards and personal family assets besides the owner’s personal savings. 

Significance, resourcefulness, and networking are three top qualities to have when seeking and securing more creative venues for small business funding. During TTG’s early days, founder Jennifer Shaheen turned to bootstrapping to finance the business. She leveraged credit cards and used her bartending job to build her network. Our company has also found success in bartering services with home improvement professionals in the past. 

Today’s entrepreneurs have a wider pool of funding options than ever before. Business owners no longer have to rely on private funding to launch their startup. And while our team is proud of the gumption and resourcefulness of these early funding decisions, it makes us appreciate the variety of unconventional resources available for small business leaders today.

“64.4% of entrepreneurs reported that they used personal and family savings to start their business. Of those surveyed, 16.5% used a business loan from a bank or financial institution, while 9.1% used personal credit cards.”

Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs 2016, US Census Bureau

Where to Start Your Search for Creative Funding Options 

Local chambers of commerce and organizations are often untapped resources for small business financing. Skills for Rhode Island’s Future (aka, SkillsRI) is just one of the regional small business support organizations we have here in Little Rhody. 

You can also participate in a small business funding contest in your area. Some entrepreneurs attend the Hatch Pitch Competition, the Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition, and the New Venture Challenge. For undergrad and grad students seeking funding for a startup, check with your university and other academic institutions in your state. 

If you want a “cheat sheet” of small business grants, simply Google databases for grants that you might be eligible for. For female or non-binary entrepreneurs, browse the funding opportunities available through Ladies Who Launch. For veterans planning their startup, check out educational and grant resource organizations such as Founders FirstSCORE is another resource to explore to connect with funding resources that match your startup’s unique needs and circumstances. 

Small business incubators and accelerators are another resource to search for as you broaden your funding options. While incubators and accelerators are both business support processes that help fund new companies’ development, they differ in some key areas. The former tends to focus on connecting the entrepreneur with resources and services, while the latter involves financial investment given over a short timeframe.

3 Success Stories of Creative Funding Through Skills for Rhode Island’s Future

Sometimes all it takes is just one local partnership to push your business into the next phase of growth. We’d like to take a moment to highlight the success stories of three local Technology Therapy® Group clients who partnered with SkillsRI to fund their development. 

Before client Sharon Lupo with Lilly’s Bone to Pick crossed paths with SkillsRI, she had a self-made GoDaddy site. After a partnership with this local org, she joined forces with TTG to migrate her site to Shopify. This “after” image shows her business’s enhanced online presence and fine-tuned user experience. We also provided her with video tutorials to help her manage and maintain the new site as she continues to evolve her brand. 

Margaret Carleton with Craftland came to SkillsRI with dreams of re-doing her website. The original site had outdated copy and visuals, and a painfully slow load speed. It didn’t reflect the fun, personal, and client-first feel that she’d cultivated in her physical store over the years. Through SkillsRI, Margaret collaborated with TTG for a website makeover. The new site embodies the heart and soul of her brand while offering a faster and more seamless experience for current and potential customers. 

Erin MacIntyre with Shrine Tattoo is another client partnership that began when SkillsRI matched her with us. When we first started working with Shrine, the tattoo parlor had only its socials and no website to promote itself. Now, they have a beautiful new website with visuals and content that capture the Shrine spirit. Erin is beyond thrilled with the finished site and looks forward to this new phase of her brand’s evolution. 

“We first met TTG through Skills for Rhode Island’s Future’s RI Rebounds Program. One thing that stands out to me is that every TTG staff we’ve talked to ‘gets it’. They get our vibe and understand what we’re trying to present out there. You could search all over the place and try to find the right people to collaborate with and might not find it. (We got really lucky!)”

Erin MacIntyre, Owner, Shrine Tattoo

The Importance of Partnership and Desire to Succeed

Working with a local incubator or accelerator like SkillsRI is a rewarding type of creative funding option. Before beginning a partnership with one of these orgs, however, it’s worth taking a moment to highlight certain qualities you’ll want to bring to the collaboration to ensure its success. 

All three of the clients mentioned above had the drive to succeed. They cared so passionately about their businesses that they accepted the suggestions and welcomed each new change the web design project brought. 

These clients also showcased the importance of listening to and learning from the experienced partner you choose to advance your business. The new sites wouldn’t have been possible without this adaptability and openness. 

Trust is another ingredient necessary for a positive relationship with the marketing pros and creative funding resources you pick. Lilly’s Bone to Pick, Shrine Tattoo, and Craftland trusted the process and the expertise of TTG to take their online presence to new heights.

Guidance as You Grow

Need help finding the right creative funding source for your small business? Contact TTG; we’ll be happy to help!

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