Basics of Funding a Business
Click here for an introduction to various financing options for a business. Includes a brief description of each, and things to consider before pursuing specific types of financing. Click here to see a chart comparing different types of funding for new, emerging or existing businesses.
Small Business Administration
7(a) Loan Program - The SBA’s 7(a) Loan Program includes financial help for businesses with special requirements such as exports to foreign countries, rural businesses, or businesses in distressed or underserved communities. You must work with your traditional lender to secure a 7(a) loan, but if awarded, loan proceeds may be used to establish a new business or to assist in the acquisition, operation or expansion of an existing business. For more information go to http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grants/small-business-loans/sba-loan-programs.
SBA CDC/504 Loan Program - The SBA 504 loan program, administered in this region by Lakeshore 504, provides healthy small and medium-sized businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing for the acquisition or construction of fixed assets (i.e. buildings, equipment). Qualified loan recipients may be eligible to finance up to 90% of fixed assets at or below market interest rates. The administrator for Lakeshore 504 is David Miller. He can be reached at 616-846-3153 or
. For more information go to www.lakeshore504.org.
USDA Rural Development
Businesses can access USDA funding two ways; either through the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Grant fund or the Business and Industry Loan Guarantee program. The Renewable Energy fund is for agricultural producers and small businesses in rural areas. Money is provided in the form of a grant, a loan or a combination of both, and can be used for things like equipment, construction, permit and professional fees, and retrofitting. The Business and Industry Loan Guarantee is for businesses that create rural employment (agricultural production is not an eligible use), and loans are secured through federal or state-chartered banks, credit unions or savings and loan associations. Loans can be used for business acquisitions, start-ups or expansion. For more information contact Lisa Epple at 269-463-8030 or
, or go to http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/mi/bp/bpproginfo.htm.
Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund and Microloan Program
The Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund supports high-tech start-up companies as they near commercial viability by providing access to early-stage capital investment to accelerate company growth. Qualifying companies can access anywhere from $50,000 - $250,000 with a minimum 1:1 match from an outside investment partner. Other requirements include a business plan (30 pages max.), a 5-year pro-forma, proof of matching funds and proof that the company does/will operate in Michigan. Applicants must also be prepared to make a presentation.
In addition, companies applying for Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Funds must be located in one of 15 Michigan SmartZones, two of which are in West Michigan; the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC) in Muskegon and the West Michigan Science and Technology Initiative in Grand Rapids.
The fund targets companies throughout the state that are creating the newest technologies in the following competitive areas:
For more information on the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund, go to http://www.annarborusa.org/business-accelerator/funding-incentives/pre-seed-fund.
Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund Microloans range from $10,000 to $50,000, and companies applying for this type of microloan must do so through a sponsoring SmartZone. Companies must also meet the following criteria:
Be located in Michigan.
Have the rights (ownership or license) to innovative technology, or be seeking a strong IP position.
Funding is to be used for the development of a business that is focused on the commercialization of technology of interest to the 21st Century Jobs Fund.
Loans may not be made into a publicly held company, but may be utilized to spin technology out of a public company and establish a new private entity.
Have potential for rapid growth and sales over $10 million annually in five years.
For more information on the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund Microloan program, go to http://www.annarborusa.org/business-accelerator/funding-incentives/michigan-pre-seed-capital-fund-microloan-program.
For more information on Michigan’s Smart Zones and a map of locations click here.
Michigan Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)/Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR)
This program is a way for Michigan's emerging technology companies to access federal funds to help pay for research and development. SBIR/STTR is administered nationally by the Small Business Administration (SBA), but companies in Michigan work through BBC Entrepreneurial Training & Consulting, a third party consulting firm that has been contracted to train and advise companies interested in applying for these funds. Some training programs are required prior to application. R&D funds are awarded in two stages - up to $150,000 for 6 months for a feasibility study/proof of concept, and up to $1 million for 12 months for a full R&D effort. Third party matching funds are also required. Lean more at www.bbcetc.com.
Michigan Emerging Technologies Fund - State Matching $ for SBIR/STTR Projects
There are state matching grant monies available through the Michigan Emerging Technologies Fund (ETF) for companies that are successful in securing SBIR/STTR funds (see above). BUT, there are a few things you should know before you begin the application process:
The ETF will match 25% of phase I SBIR/STTR awards up to $25,000, and 25% of phase II SBIR/STTR awards up to $125,000.
ETF Funds must be used to help bring Michigan SBIR/STTR projects to commercialization in at least one of the Four Technology Sectors supported by the ETF. These sectors are:
Advanced Automotive, Manufacturing, Materials, Information, and Agricultural Processing
Homeland Security and Defense
Companies must leverage Third Party Funding to be eligible for ETF Funds. Third Party Funding cannot be cash from the company or an officer or an employee of the company. It may be a loan from a bank, or family and friends, but the lender may not be an officer, employee, or have a financial interest in the company.
The company must be headquartered or plan to locate its headquarters in Michigan to be eligible for any funds. The move must take place before any funds are released.
The company must first apply for ETF funds and receive a commitment letter BEFORE submitting their SBIR/STTR proposal to the federal government.
ETF funds are managed by the Michigan Small Business and Technology Center (Mi-SBTDC), and since it's important that you work through the application process correctly, we recommend your first step should be to contact them at 734-462-4629 or email
BuBusiness Accelerator Fund
The Business Accelerator Fund (BAF) is a new $3.5 million statewide resource for early stage companies ready to commercialize advanced technology. Companies can access up to $50,000 to help pay for consulting and services related to things like patents, prototypes, certain types of legal fees, market research and marketing plans, or web site development. These are just some of the things that BAF monies can be used for, so be sure to visit the link below to see the full list of what's eligible. You also need to know that BAF funds are paid directly to the consultants or outside companies that provide these eligible services; they are not paid to the early stage business itself. Other criteria for BAF applicants are:
Funds must go toward the commercialization of advanced technology.
The business may not have any more than $1 million in private investment.
The business may not have any more than $2.5 million in sales.
The business must be sponsored and endorsed by a participating accelerator (business incubator), and in our area the participating accelerator is the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC) in Muskegon.
To learn more about the BAF, visit http://gvsu.edu/marec/business-accelerator-fund-102.htm or contact Jim Edmonson, BAF Project Manager at 231-557-8543 or email
Funding Sources - Public/Private //
The Michigan Angel Fund
The Michigan Angel Fund is an new investment fund for companies in Michigan that are either in the start-up phase or just beginning to generate revenue. This fund is looking for companies in I.T., cleantech, advanced manufacturing and life sciences (their website says specifically that they will not consider funding a business in either gaming or real estate). They will invest anywhere from $100,000 - $1 million, but the business must show that they need less than $2 million total to break even or become sustainable. The application and review process for this fund takes about 4 months, and you must first complete their questionnaire and submit a a concise, 3-4 page executive summary of your business. If your company gets through the initial review, you must then submit a business plan (20 pages max), and 5-year pro forma income statements, cash flow and balance sheets. At that point, they will also want to know more about your management team. For more information, visit www.michiganangelfund.com.
The Michigan Accelerator Fund
Michigan Accelerator Fund I (MAF-1) is an investment partnership headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The purpose of this venture capital fund is to drive forward the new economy of Michigan, providing a path to funding and partnerships for the commercialization of new, regionally-developed opportunities.
The Fund will invest in early stage companies that fall into one of the four categories:
Life sciences technology
Advanced automotive, manufacturing and materials technology
Homeland security and defense technology
Alternative energy technology
Companies must be based in Michigan. The Fund will focus on seed and early stage venture capital investments in life science and technology companies. MAF-1 at present is the only venture capital fund in the greater Grand Rapids area that invests in early-stage, start-up companies.
For more information, including steps in the MAF-1 investment process, go to www.maf-1.com.
Other Sites Related to Funding Your Small Business