If you want to start a small business, or have already started one and need some extra money to keep it going, you are probably searching for creative funding ideas.  While mom and dad might support your decision to become an entrepreneur, they’re probably not ready to risk their retirement on your success.  Luckily, there are plenty of options, out there, and not all of them require a perfect credit score.

Small Business Loans

The first and most obvious source of business funding is a loan.  This is also the most difficult type of funding to get.  Most banks will want to see years of experience in the industry, a perfect credit rating and a winning business plan.  If you don’t have all three of these things, you may go through a lot of disappointing loan meetings.  In some cases, you can find more flexibility on these terms through peer-to-peer or microloans, which you can find online.

Business Plan Competitions

Since you already have a business plan (you do, don’t you?), why not use it to get some money?  Universities across the country host business plan competitions in which you present your idea and prove your plan is solid.  If you win, you could receive valuable start-up money to get your business off the ground.

Business Incubators

Much like a business plan competition, business incubators can be found in cities across the country.  These are hosted by groups of organizations that want to invest in their community.  If you can prove your business is a good idea and that it will bring new life to the area (and will be better than all of the other applicants’), incubators can be a great resource.  They provide things like cheap or even free office space, administrative help, tax and accounting services, and angel investors.  Not many business owners know about them, so you might be able to get some much-needed incubating without much competition.

Merchant Cash Advances

Another lesser-known option is the merchant cash advance.  These are fairly easy to get, because they take their fee from future profits.  Essentially, you promise to give a percentage of your profits to the lender until the loan is paid off.  This can go on for a fairly extended period of time, or you can pay it off quickly.  It’s up to you.  The best part is, since they work by percentages, if you don’t make much in your first couple of years, your cash advance fees will not be crippling.

Government Grants

If all else fails, there are always government grants to consider.  Like small business loans, these are not easy to get.  They will also look at your experience and credit history.  Most importantly, they’ll look at how your business will improve the nation.  If your business is good for the environment, education, national defense, or some other particularly needy government concern, you are more likely to be a candidate for a government grant.  You won’t have to pay it back, either, but you will have to keep careful records and prove the good you’re doing.