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Small Business Financing: A Resource Guide

This research guide provides online resources and links to print materials on the topic of finding capital for entrepreneurs and small businesses through local, state and federal government funds, bank loans, venture capital, and grants.

Introduction

[General store shopkeeper displays carton of eggs to a customer]. 1931. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Small business and entrepreneurship form an integral part of a healthy national economy. The valuable contributions of small businesses are widely recognized by all sectors of society, as can be seen by the many efforts to aid small businesses taking place at the federal, state, and local level. Yet, in spite of this increased awareness access to capital continues to be the most difficult challenge for small business owners. Banks, by the very nature of their business, are resistant to the high-risk loans which many small businesses represent; potential entrepreneurs may lack the network to access private investors; and inexperienced business owners may find themselves needing to cover unplanned contingencies.

Regardless of the specific financing techniques discussed, certain themes are repeated throughout many of the publications listed in this guide:

  • Understanding entrepreneurial risk involved and effort required in starting a new business;
  • Developing business and/or finance plans;
  • Placing one's existing business in the best financial position possible by effective financial management in the day-to-day operations of the company;
  • Considering network contacts and nontraditional sources for funding;
  • Obtaining competent legal and financial counsel.

Acquiring seed money and initial capital for start-up is likely to be only the beginning of an on-going process of financing one's business; the need to acquire financing becomes especially critical for the survival of existing and growing companies as they move beyond seed money and start-up, and seek other types of financing. Moreover, while some businesses may go through only one or two phases in their search for financing, others may go through multiple phases of the process more than once as the company grows.

While this guide aims to provide accurate information regarding sources of information about obtaining financing for small business, it is not intended as a substitute for professional legal, accounting, or other services, and users of this guide are encouraged to obtain the services of competent professionals in these fields as needed.

About Business Reference Services

Part of the Science, Technology & Business Division at the Library of Congress, Business Reference Services is the starting point for conducting research at the Library of Congress in the subject areas of business and economics. Here, reference specialists in specific subject areas of business assist patrons in formulating search strategies and gaining access to the information and materials contained in the Library's rich collections of business and economics materials.