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Ask Tamara: I Have a Great Idea, but No Money

Dear Tamara,

I have a great invention idea but a serious lack of funds. What do you suggest?

- Susan from Cleveland, OH

Dear Susan,

coinpilesSo many of the successful businesswomen I know started out with little or no money, so if you believe strongly in your invention -- and you've done your homework to ensure there's a market for it -- then you need to take a risk and find the money. The key is getting creative.

So where should you start? There are many ways to find the money you need. First, evaluate the income and expenses you already have, and figure out if you can cut corners elsewhere to fund your business. Can you spare this year's vacation? Cut the daily coffee run? Also, you may not want to give up your day job just yet -- if you can work at your business during your off hours and still collect a paycheck, there won't be as much financial pressure.

The next thing you'll need to consider is getting a loan. Fortunately, there are many ways you can do this -- and some are smarter than others. Before putting all your expenses on a high-interest credit card, for instance, you should explore some lower-interest options. Even a home equity loan will cost you less in the long run than funding by credit card, and there are also special loans available to women business owners. Innovative Bank make SOHO (small business/home office) loans. And although they can be difficult to find and  burdensome to apply for, you may also be eligible for a government grant.

A bank loan is another option, though sometimes challenging to find, especially in this current economic climate. Finally, you can also pursue outside investors in a number of ways: putting your pride aside and asking friends and family, or pursuing other angel or venture capital investors once you've demonstrated some success. Of course, keep in mind that with other people's money comes other peoples' opinions and decision-making input; if you take a loan from someone, be sure all parties involved know their roles in advance. Virgin Money is also an interesting site that can help you manage your loans from friends and family.

If you really want the money, it's out there. It's just a matter of finding it and taking that risk. There will be scary moments and it always takes longer than anticipated, but if you believe in your product and make the right decisions, the risk will be worthwhile. Good luck!

Do you have a question for Tamara? Send it to her or leave it in the comments.

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15 Responses »

  1. I have a few ideas that are not patented yet.
    One is vehicle safety(pretty big market I believe)
    The other is something to make construction workers lives a little easier.(Something they would like)
    The other is soemthing to make the owners of pets lives easier.(Everyone pet owner loves their pets but hates cleaning up atfer them)
    I need an investor or someone to buy the ideas...OR some advice on how and where to market my ideas.

  2. I have a few invention/innovation ideas that I know would be hits. I have even watched some of my ideas go mainstream because someone with money thought of them first. It's disheartening. I didn't put my full name because I don't want someone to google and see this and know it's me. We are really low income. Even use food stamps. I have a lot of health issues and my husband is legally blind, he's a dentist by trade but because of his vision works a terrible job. We both think my ideas are our ticket out. We don't need to make a killing but we don't know what to do to get started. We are both afraid we are going to tell one of our ideas to the wrong person and they are going to take it and run.

    I have one idea that is very simple. It's just a cereal idea that can be cross promoted but doesn't have to be... If I worked for a major cereal company I have no doubt they would use the idea, I just know if I waste anymore time it's going to be on the shelves because it's shocking to me that no one did it yet. It's such an obvious idea. But I have no clue how to present something to the major manufacturers with a guarantee I will get some sort of common (I mean, I don't need a ton of money for my idea but I don't want them stealing it, whatever is the norm) payment/bonus type of compensation. What fool goes to the company and says I have an idea but you have to sign forms that you will compensate me if you use it and then you can review the idea...Maybe I'm wrong but since I'm just a regular person with no experience...but I know it's a hit and I'm running out of time.

    Other ideas of mine were not so simple and would have probably made me a million but are already on the market. It really stinks when you see a commercial and were like I thought of that 3 years ago. I just think the cereal idea might be a good way to get started.

    Any advice??? Thanks.

    • Have you read the Mom Inventors Handbook? This will give you guidance about the process of bringing a product to market or licensing your product to another manufacturer.

      Warmest regards,


      • Thank you. I'll try that. I did find a site that listed all bad investment type companies and why, with a list of potential companies that help from start to finish. I'm going to read your handbook and research those companies...

  3. I have this little invention but have know idea how to start

    • Hi Erica,

      Thank you for your message. I recommend that your first read The Mom Inventors Handbook. Also, make sure that you sign up for our free newsletter which is packed with useful information.

      Don't worry. We all were where you are right now. Just try to do one thing each day to get the ball rolling. The most important thing is to educate yourself about the process.

      Warmest wishes,


  4. i have a great idea how so how do i go about getting it started?

  5. I have an idea, no job and I do not even have the money for a patent attorney to get my patent. What can I do?

    • I'm an entrepreneur with money to invest in a new cosmetic line. Also have resources to assist you with product development, manufacturing and marketing. Please contact me and let's talk.

  6. i believe i have a great idea however i would so much like it if you guys would take care of all of the business stuff and i just recieve gratuity i read something like this in the mom inventers handbook please help

    • I'm an entrepreneur with money to invest in a new cosmetic line. Also have resources to assist you with product development, manufacturing and marketing. Please contact me and let's talk.

  7. Sooo agree... don't give up! It's important to BELIEVE in your idea, practice tenacity and perseverance and then get creative in seeking capital as you build your business... also, be PATIENT. If you're consistent... something will happen.

    Note: stay plugged into Mom Invented. You'll be glad you did! =)

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