4 Alternative Funding Ideas for an Early Startup
Johnny Collins

When you’re ready to launch a new startup, funding is one of the first challenges you face. And as you likely know if you’re reading an article like this, there are a number of standard approaches to funding the early stages of development. You might dig into your own savings or go to friends or family for small investments; you might seek out a small business loan or take an online crowdfunding approach; and at some point you might begin preparing an investor pitch. These are all common, viable means to fundraising in the early stages, and anyone of them might pay off for your startup. However, there are also some alternative options as well.

Generally, these are bolder ideas that might involve a little bit more risk, or which might require more time and effort on your part. But if you’re trying to consider all of your options, they’re at least worth considering.

Document Your Progress

Documenting your progress can be a job unto itself. But with startup culture still so prominent and popular in 2020, there is an audience for a sort of ongoing journal from a company founder. Furthermore, you have various avenues to try out in an effort like this. First and foremost, you can simply try blogging, and perhaps do some cross-promotion with other websites and blogs that focus on small business and entrepreneurism. It’s unlikely to generate a ton of income, but $50 here and $100 there to supply articles can go a long way toward helping with those early business costs.

Beyond writing, you can also try documenting your startup journey through something like a podcast or a YouTube channel. These are fairly bold ideas. With a podcast you either need a subscriber base or a large enough audience to attract advertisers in order to generate income; with YouTube, payment really starts at 10,000 views, meaning you’ll need to find a large, interested audience. If you’re engaging and you have some marketing savvy and a story to tell though, they may still be worthwhile ideas.

Invest Early Earnings

If it’s just you in the early stages, you also have the option of investing a portion of any early earnings you generate — not back into the business, but into actual financial assets. As with any kind of investment, this carries some risk, so it’s a fairly bold idea. However, if a small portion of your early earnings can actually grow over time, you’ll essentially have created a little fund for your business (or a big one if you get lucky).

That said, responsible stock investment requires a lot of studying, constant analysis, and a great deal of day-to-day attention. So, while investing is worth considering, we’d suggest looking for less hands-on ways of doing it. One option would be to buy into a mutual fund, where your funds are essentially traded alongside others’ by an expert for a fee. Another option would be to look to the forex exchange, which is simpler than the stock market and offers some risk-mitigating perks. As an example, advanced forex trading tools can help you to protect profits and limit losses without needing to monitor your account 24/7. This doesn’t guarantee profits, but it can be another more feasible solution for a startup founder looking to grow funds.

Fund Via Side Hustle

To some extent this idea encompasses the suggestions above, in that one could call blogging, podcasting, or investing a “side hustle.” However, you might also consider taking the time to figure out a few additional ways to make money with your skills and free time, such that you can fund a greater portion of your startup effort on your own.

Which side hustle makes the most sense depends entirely on who you are and what you’re capable of. If you have a photography hobby, you might consider trying to sell stock photos; if you speak multiple languages, you might find tutoring and translating opportunities online; if you’re a regular at a local coffee shop, you can consider seeing if a few weekend shifts are available. The list of possibilities is virtually endless, but a side hustle — if you can justify the time — can certainly give your startup a funding boost.


Last but not least, you may also be able to fund your startup by relocating to build your company! Believe it or not, some cities and states will pay you to move, whether by generous relocation reimbursement, tax credits, grants, or student loan contributions. These arrangements aren’t particularly common, and naturally they require a serious commitment. But they exist to help bring businesses to certain areas, and as such they can actually offer significant financial assistance to early-stage startup founders.

Again, these methods aren’t usually the first ones people look to, and they can involve some risks and effort that won’t always appeal. They are viable options however, and anyone of them might prove to be the right choice for a given entrepreneur.