The world of work for millennials is a completely different ballgame than it was for our parents and predecessors a decade ago.
And though that brings with it a series of challenges and obstacles, it’s also a time of excitement, career diversification, and evolving office environments that reflect the way we think about our jobs.
As more and more young professionals and entrepreneurs are starting their own businesses across a whole spectrum of industries, we’re beginning to see a culture of bright, inspiring individuals who love what they do and have a passion to make it a reality.
But these people also need money to make their dreams come true.
And more often than not, a huge hurdle in the way of going it alone is a lack of funding. It’s not always a viable option for us to back our own projects, and asking for handouts from family members or bank managers isn’t always an appealing way to kick-start our careers.
So here are just a few alternatives for millennials hoping to grow their small businesses and startups.
You don’t have to go on Dragons’ Den in order to ply your trade. This March, TELUS and the Globe and Mail will launch their 6th annual $100,000 Small Business Challenge, an annual competition that celebrates Canadian entrepreneurs and helps one deserving business overcome any financial hurdles. All 69 finalists get a profile in The Globe and Mail, so even if you don’t win it could give your company some much needed exposure.
Last year, young professionals and entrepreneurs from across Canada battled it out in an Amazing Race meets the Apprentice style format to win $10,000 to make their startup dreams come true, in the Ford Fusion Startup Lab.
There are now a plethora of options for this method of raising some cash, and it’s a great way to go about things when you have a fantastic idea but very little capital to get things off the ground. It’s also been around long enough now that there are a ton of success stories; restaurants funded by Indiegogo, as well as tech companies and products that all started from Kickstarter or GoFundMe.
Borrowing a loan from the bank is going to rack up a lot of interest over time, and if you don’t want to part with any of your equity a small business grant can be a great way to launch your company. Of course it won’t be easy – you’ll have to provide an in-depth project plan with full costs explained and there may be a lot of paperwork. Check out the Government website for information about grants, including the Futurpreneur initiative, which gives loans of $15,000 to eligible 18-39 year olds.
This is a company that helps startups to develop by providing services like management training or office space. These hubs, which often cater to technology type enterprises, offer networking, mentorship, legal advice and sometimes seed money (normally in exchange for equity once the company is making money). One of the most powerful incubators, Y combinator, spawned successful alumni’s like Airbnb and Dropbox; but there are plenty locally too. In Toronto, for instance, you’ll find both Creative Destruction Lab and The Next 36.
This type of funding comes during the early stage of startup companies, whereby an affluent individual provides capital in exchange for ownership equity or convertible debt. Big players like WhatsApp, Facebook and Uber have all encouraged angel investors to take a gamble on them, with the promise of making far more than they put in. It’s a tricky business for start-ups since angels have to be entirely convinced as they may lose all of their investment in the process. LinkedIn or personal contacts are a great way to find them, or try looking for a Toronto based one on Angel List.