If you’re thinking of getting a business loan to start or help grow your business, there are several steps you should take first before making the commitment. Many people view business loans as a positive investment to make in their futures, but business loans can often be quite large and thus, lead you to incur a significant amount of debt. So, before you take the leap, try these things first:

1. Look for Investors

Depending on the type of business you can have, you might want to consider taking on an investor before taking on a loan. There are many different ways to contact investors, from asking friends, family members, and colleagues to approaching angel investors or entering competitions. The downside to taking on an investor is that you’ll have to give up part of your company’s equity, but the upside is that you’ll get an infusion of cash and not debt to be able to pursue your goals.

2. Work Alongside Your 9-5

Before quitting your job to work on your business full time, try to have your business a side business first. I’m not saying this is easy, but this is the route I took. With this model, you can scale your business slowly and on the side. You can put any extra cash towards your business and have enough money from your regular job to pay your bills, feed your family, and keep a roof over your head. At some point, the side business should overtake your day job income and at that point, you can evaluate whether or not it’s time to switch to running your business full time.

3. Save Up Cash

If you have good credit and a solid business plan, it’s not hard to get a business loan. However, what is hard is saving up cash ahead of time. Loans are so commonplace in our society that people naturally gravitate towards getting one. However, starting a business with debt is definitely a challenge, and it might be more prudent to save up cash ahead of time. Getting on a budget with your personal finances, selling belongings you don’t use anymore, and doing random side jobs can help you to build up enough cash to purchase equipment, hire help, or rent retail space depending on the type of business you want to start.

4. Barter

Growing a business doesn’t always have to involve money exchanging hands. If you network with other entrepreneurs, you can trade services to help build your business for free. For example, if you are a content creator but you need a logo, perhaps you can trade a few articles or blog posts with a grapher designer who can create your logo. Working with other young entrepreneurs can absolutely help your business grow without you having to borrow large sums of money to get things started.

Ultimately, although business loans can be helpful, don’t assume that you have to take one out in order to grow your business. Sometimes, scaling a business slowly over time allows you to learn more about how to run a business as time goes on. Take things slow and try to avoid debt so that you can have more cash and more success in the future.

Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions, earn more, reach their goals, and take on a more active financial role in their families. Named the Best Contributor/Freelancer for Personal Finance in 2014, her writing and expertise have been featured in dozens of notable publications and in national media.

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