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How to fund your great business idea

By By Caroline Mcmillan

The Charlotte Observer (MCT)

Published: Thursday, Sept. 19 2013 9:57 a.m. MDT

“I want to know how well you know who your customers are going to be,” Hipp said. “How are you going to be able to market to them? How are they going to find what you’re offering?”

But keep that business plan concise, he added.

“It’s less about the volume of pages than it is about substance,” Hipp said.

A 10- to 15-page plan with all the necessary details is preferable to a 100-page plan with lots of graphs and charts.

‘SOME SKIN IN THE GAME’: Bill Gibson, small business banking manager for Bank of America’s North Carolina market, had some tips for entrepreneurs working with a lender.

For one, he said, “make sure you’re getting financial advice that’s covering your business and you, personally.”

And be realistic with your pitch, Gibson added. Show numbers. Study your competitors. Show how you’ll compete.

As for operating a 100 percent bank-financed venture? Don’t count on it, Gibson said.

“You have to have some skin in the game,” Gibson said, because when an entrepreneur has a personal investment in a business, it’s all the more motivation to succeed. And, to a bank, that increases “the probability of being repaid.”

HAVE ‘A PRIVATE CABINET’: Bob Marshall, Wells Fargo’s business banking manager for northern Virginia, Washington and Maryland, said aspiring entrepreneurs should be looking for more than just financing. “You’re also choosing a banker you feel comfortable with, who you understand and who understands you,” Marshall said. “The banker isn’t just interviewing you; you’re interviewing them.”

Marshall also suggests entrepreneurs seek out a group of mentors (“a private cabinet”) who aren’t afraid “to tell you things nobody else will.”

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©2013 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)

Visit The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) at www.charlotteobserver.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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PHOTOS (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): SMALLBIZ-FUNDING

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