Starting a small business is a dream for many, particularly those who want more control over their schedule and the amount of income they can generate over the years. While business ownership comes with perks, it is not without its obstacles.
One of the most pressing issues among small business owners is the ongoing need for financing for various business expenses. Covering working capital, purchasing equipment or inventory, and funding research and development efforts all require access to money above and beyond what most small businesses have on hand.
In Florida, you’ll find some of the best cities for small businesses. Even more good news is that businesses in Florida have opportunities through several outlets to secure financing when they need it most. Small business grants, loans, and outside investments are all possibilities for Florida small businesses, albeit in different scenarios.
Here is a brief guide to small business financing in Florida, including small business loans, top grants, and investor firms able to lend a necessary hand.
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Small Business Loans in Florida
Small Companies may benefit from conventional Florida small business loans. With a loan, a fixed sum of money is provided to an eligible business that is then repaid over time, with interest.
Florida small business loans are often available in greater dollar amounts than personal loans directly paid to a small business owner, but qualification requirements for businesses may be strict. Here are several banks that offer small business loans to companies operating in Florida.
Florida Credit Union
Through Florida Credit Union, members may qualify for a small business loan to help with expansion, equipment financing, or cash flow needs. Commercial loans with Florida Credit Union are available in partnership with the Small Business Administration (SBA), meaning lending requirements may be less stringent than comparable business loans. Small companies received a fixed interest rate loan with predictable repayment terms, with total loan amounts dependent on the borrower’s credit history and ability to repay. Applicationscan be submitted online, but the credit union may also require an in-person visit with a business banker before approving a new commercial loan.
Florida Capital Bank
Small businesses may receive financing in the form of a loan from Florida Capital Bank. The financial institution provides both SBA loans as well as conventional commercial loans, all which may be used for a myriad of financing needs. Loan amounts vary based on the type of commercial loan applied for, as do interest rates and repayment terms. Business owners must have a strong financial track record in order to qualify.
Florida First Capital Finance Corporation
Companies in Florida also have the option to secure a small business loan through the Florida First Capital Finance Corporation. The organization provides several programs for small businesses in need of funding, from SBA loans to state and federal lenders focused on small business applicants. Loan proceeds for most programs can be used for the purchase of equipment, fixed assets, real estate, and working capital needs. Applications and business credit requirements may be found online.
Small Business Grants in Florida
Certain businesses operating in Florida may have access to grant fundingfrom state and local sources, as well as community organizations with deep pockets. Florida small business grants can be invaluable in financing business needs as the funds do not need to be repaid, unlike small business loans and some business investments. Grants often require specific work to be done by the business in order to qualify for and maintain funding from the source.
The following represent several Florida small business grants to help in covering the costs doing business in the state.
African Women’s Development Fund
The state of Florida has partnered with the African Women’s Development Fund to provide grants to eligible businesses throughout the state. Grants to small businesses are available to companies working in diverse ways to help improve the lives of women and African society as a whole. Small businesses in Florida may receive up to several hundred thousand dollars when working in body and health rights, women’s economic security and justice, or leadership, participation, and peace initiatives. Applications for AWDF are submitted online and accepted on a rolling basis throughout each year.
Visit Florida Small Business Grants
The tourism arm of Florida also offers grants to eligible small businesses as a reimbursement grant program. Small businesses that publicize tourism advantages in the state may qualify for a grant up to $5,000, so long as gross revenue of the company does not exceed $1.25 million per year. All companies that apply must be able to describe the economic impact their efforts have on the community, offer a detailed marketing strategy, and provide details on how the project or program is linked to tourism in Florida. Applications are submitted online and are due in February each year.
Federal Research Grants
Companies operating in the state of Florida also have access to federal grant funding through specific agencies, including the Department of Defense, Education, Energy, and the National Science Foundation. Two research grants, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs, award eligible small businesses financing for work toward development objectives in technology that have a high potential for commercial use. Applications and deadline information for each program are available online.
Enterprise Florida Grants
Through the economic development organization for Florida, grants may be awarded to qualifying small businesses for a wide range of financing needs. One example is the Capital Investment Tax Credit, which is used to attract capital-intensive businesses in particular industries to Florida. As an annual credit used to offset corporate tax liability, this grant is available to small businesses that operate in advanced manufacturing, clean energy, biomedical technology, financial services, and transportation. Application deadlines for grants vary based on the program used, as do amounts and qualification requirements.
Florida High Tech Corridor
The Florida High Tech Corridor is an organization working to foster research efforts in partnership with Florida universities and technology industry companies. Matching grant programs are available to help leverage research and development budgets for businesses working toward creating and implementing emerging technologies. Grant funds may be awarded in any amount but typically range from $10,000 to $150,000 per qualifying business. Applications may be submitted through the program director on a participating university campus in the state.
Small Business Investors in Florida
Some small businesses in Florida may benefit from outside investment, not in the form of a loan or a grant. Investors in the venture capital, angel, and seed funding arenas use available capital to invest in businesses that have a high potential to grow into a publicly-traded company.
Investors come in many different shapes and sizes, and not all small businesses will be a strong match for an investment firm. Here are the top Florida-based investors focused on Florida small business.
Based in Winter Park, Advantage Capital is an influential investment firm focused on helping small businesses positioned for rapid growth. The investment company offers capital through equity and debt financing, government-guaranteed lending, and state tax credits to qualified small businesses. Advantage Capital does not limit its investment to specific industries or verticals, but it does focus heavily on technology-driven companies. Small businesses interested in capital from Advantage may reach out through its online platform.
Another Florida-based investment firm is Krillion Ventures. This organization uses strategic investment in early-stage technology companies that operate in healthcare, financial services, and real estate markets. Krillion Ventures is a Miami-first company, meaning investment opportunities in South Florida come with higher priorities than other companies in the state. Businesses can reach out to Krillion Ventures through its online contact form.
Emergent Growth Fund
As a member-managed angel investment firm, Emergent Growth Fund offers investments to early-stage companies in Florida. Companies that are selected by the firm are focused on developing leading-edge products and proprietary technology that have the potential for rapid growth. Small businesses interested in investment capital from Emergent Growth Fund may connect online.
Getting Your Business Ready for Financing
While small businesses in Florida have several options for financing through loans, grants, and investments, securing funds is not a walk in a park. Companies need to have a strong history of financial success, documented in profit and loss statements, income statements, and tax returns for both the business and business owners.
In addition, qualifying for grants and investment requires specific focus within the business, which may be laid out in a business plan or pitch deck presented to grantees or investors. For Florida small business loans, companies need to have organized financial documents, including bank account statements, accounts receivable details, and a listing of business assets and debts at the time of application.
Small businesses that are the most likely to get approved for loans will be able to show a steady stream of revenue, as well as business assets on hand. Companies awarded grant funding will be able to show the impact of their work clearly and confidently. Investors are more likely to work with small businesses that have a plan for rapid growth based on promising, widely anticipated technology products and services.
What Kind of Financing Do You Need?
Small business financing for Florida companies is beneficial but only when the right form of funding is used from the start. Small companies that qualify for grants need to be aware of the requirements of each award, including the scope of the work performed and reporting requirements necessary for staying compliant with the granting organization.
Companies that qualify for small business loans in Florida must recognize that repayment is necessary over time, and if they happen to default, the lender may have access to business assets like equipment and real estate to offset any financial losses. However, small business loans come with fewer restrictions on how funds are used than small business grants.
Small companies using investment capital should consider the influence an investment firm will have on their operations before signing on the dotted line. Many investors not only want a financial stake in the future growth of the business but they also require an outside party to take part in business decisions and day-to-day operations. If a small business is not willing to give up some control over how the business functions or the direction it is headed, grants and loans will be a better option.