By Paola Girotti
Paola is the founder and owner of SUGARMOON, a sugaring business with three salons, take-home sugaring and organic body care lines, and the SUGARMOON training academy. In this instalment of her Women of Influence web series, The Truth About Entrepreneurship: My Life on the Moon, she shares her experience and advice on financing your business.
As an entrepreneur, I have often heard the advice: “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.” But how does that work? We are often left holding our bootstraps and searching for someone to help us get them a little higher when we start a business. In running SUGARMOON, I have learned a lot about how my bootstraps alone aren’t going to cut it when it comes to financing, supporting, and growing my business.
My financing journey began with a $10,000 loan from my mother to open the first SUGARMOON salon. How many of us have relied on family (or personal savings) to take the risk of turning our dreams into reality?
A few years later I was able to secure a line of credit from a bank to move and expand that salon. My home equity and good credit history allowed me to secure that funding—a luxury many of us don’t have as entrepreneurs.
A few years after that success, I accessed funds from a merchant lending group, Thinking Capital funded by CIBC, to fund further expansion and product development. These funds came with a large interest rate but I was lucky to generate the profits required to take that financing risk.
The next stage of my journey came with financing from the Business Development Bank of Canada to launch store number three. They supported SUGARMOON with expansion dollars for consulting and technology.
Throughout my journey, I have faced many challenges, and learned a lot about entrepreneurial financing in the process. My financing roadmap has been less than straightforward; it has been filled with potholes, uphill climbs, and enough smooth sailing to make the ride worth the effort. My chief regret: not accessing enough money to make a capital investment in SUGARMOON’s product in order to maximize profits.
Here’s what I learned from my experiences that can help you with financing your own business:
In order to secure financing from banks, entrepreneurs are assessed on their personal credit. How are we supposed to access the funds we need to establish and grow successful businesses if our personal credit is less than stellar? What do we do if we don’t have enough equity in our homes? What happens if we don’t have a guarantor/cosigner? Many of us are left without financing when faced with the banking lending rules.
I was lucky enough to have good credit, but I could not rely on banks to access enough capital to finance SUGARMOON’s growth. For those of us with cash flow-based retail and product development businesses, we may need to look for alternatives when financing our entrepreneurial dreams.
These lenders are a decent option for cash-flow based businesses with established profitability. Although I paid hefty interest rates on the funds, SUGARMOON’s profits offset some of the losses. If you use this financing option, bank on smaller profits. Do your research before taking this financing road.
Business Development Bank of Canada
The BDC really focused on helping us move from planning, to execution, to long-term success. They helped to calibrate my entrepreneurial GPS and to keep my business vision crystal clear while accessing the capital I needed to succeed. This is a great option I wish I had accessed sooner!
If these options don’t work for your unique situation, there are alternatives. These may include putting in personal savings, or approaching family members (I was lucky to have a supportive mother at the start of my business). You can also seek a cash infusion from a venture capitalist or angel investors, but be prepared to prove your business case.
Whatever option you choose, stay focused on your business vision and financials to guide you along the way. When you find the right financing, you’ll be pulling up your bootstraps to keep your feet comfortable along the path to success.
During her fourteen years as the owner of SUGARMOON, Paola has experienced both the triumphs and the trials of being a female entrepreneur. In her Women of Influence web series, The Truth About Entrepreneurship: My Life on the Moon, she’s sharing stories and lessons from her journey as a business founder and owner. From financing, to expanding, to balancing motherhood, Paola offers a candid view and valuable insights for aspiring and fellow entrepreneurs.