Startup Funding and Beyond: A Guide for SMBs


Business funding is a critical aspect of every business’s lifecycle, evolving significantly as a company grows. From the initial idea to scaling operations, understanding the different funding stages and appropriate financing options available can help ensure sustained growth and success. This guide will walk you through the various startup funding stages and explore financing options for mature-stage businesses.

In this article:

Startup Funding for Early-Stage Businesses

The first stage of any business is the startup phase. This stage includes the launch of the company, and its growth in sales, staff, and operations until stability is reached.

For small businesses, this phase might be relatively short. For example, the period between conceiving of your initial idea for a restaurant, doctor’s office, or landscaping company, through the first couple of years of growth until you finally have enough repeat clients and stability in your staffing that you’re profitable and not worried about making ends meet.

Pre-Seed Funding

This is the initial capital injection a company receives to develop their idea. The money can come from personal savings, friends, family, or early investors. Companies raising pre-seed funding often have an idea and proof of concept but don’t have a product in the market yet.  Pre-seed funding is more commonly known as “bootstrapping.”

Companies that rely on bootstrapping rely on their personal savings, revenue generated by their business, and their own hard work rather than seeking external investors or loans. By bootstrapping, small business owners retain full control over their ventures and can grow at their own pace, fostering strong financial management practices, independence, and resilience.

Seed Funding

This funding helps startups develop their product and begin market entry. It marks the transition from concept to initial operations. When you’re raising seed funding, you can show product market fit and you’re making some sales, you have a strong leadership team, and you’re getting interest from angel and institutional investors.

Seed funding is used to cover significant expenses such as further product development, hiring key team members, and launching early marketing efforts. This stage is critical for transitioning from a concept to a fully operational business.

 Angel investors, seed venture capital funds, and crowdfunding platforms. Entrepreneurs might also participate in startup incubators and accelerators that provide seed funding alongside mentorship and business resources.

Series Financing

Series financing involves multiple rounds of funding, designated as Series A, Series B, Series C, and beyond. Here’s how they differ:

  • Series A: This stage focuses on optimizing product and market fit. Companies raising Series A funding have a proven product and a solid user base but need additional capital to scale operations and improve their offerings. At this stage, the business has demonstrated substantial growth potential and is beginning to generate consistent revenue.
  • Series B: This funding aims at business expansion and scaling. Companies raising Series B funding have already proven their business model and demonstrated significant revenue growth. At this stage, the business is ready to scale operations, enter new markets, and enhance its technology or infrastructure. The primary goal of Series B funding is to take the business to the next level by expanding its market presence and operational capabilities.
  • Series C and Beyond: These stages are used for major expansions, acquisitions, or preparing for an IPO. Companies raising Series C funding have already established themselves in the market with substantial revenue and a strong business model. The business is looking to scale exponentially, enter new markets, or acquire other companies to strengthen its market position. The primary goal of Series C and subsequent funding rounds is to enable significant growth and prepare the company for public offerings or large-scale mergers.

Initial Public Offering (IPO)

Initial Public Offering (IPO) is when a private company offers its shares to the public for the first time in a new stock issuance. Companies pursuing an IPO have typically demonstrated substantial growth, consistent revenue, and a strong business model. The primary goal of an IPO is to transition from a privately held company to a publicly traded one, opening new opportunities for growth and investment.

While it’s less common for small businesses to go public through an IPO compared to larger corporations, it’s not unheard of. Some small businesses with significant growth potential or unique market positions may choose to pursue an IPO to raise capital for expansion or to provide liquidity to early investors. However, the process can be complex and costly, involving regulatory requirements, financial disclosures, and significant scrutiny from investors. Many small businesses opt for alternative funding methods like private equity or venture capital to fuel growth before considering an IPO.

Startup funding options from early to growth stage: Seed and series, bootstrapping, small business loans, traditional bank loans, online funding, revenue based financing.Financing Options for Mature-Stage Businesses

As businesses grow and mature, their funding needs and options evolve significantly. Mature-stage businesses have typically moved beyond the initial phases of development and have established a stable customer base, consistent revenue streams, and a clear market presence.

Unlike startups that require capital for product development and market entry, mature-stage businesses often seek funding to sustain growth, expand operations, invest in new technologies, or enter new markets. Their financial needs are more complex and may involve larger amounts of capital, necessitating diverse financing options.

Related: Top 8 Financial Calculators for Small Business Owners

Traditional Bank Loans

Traditional term loans are a reliable and often preferred source of funding for mature businesses. Banks offer various loan products tailored to the needs of established companies, including term loans, lines of credit, and equipment financing. These loans typically require a strong credit history, collateral, and a solid business plan.

SBA Loans

Small Business Administration (SBA) loans are an excellent option for mature businesses seeking favorable terms and lower interest rates. SBA loans are partially guaranteed by the government, making them less risky for lenders. They are ideal for businesses looking to expand operations, purchase real estate, or invest in long-term assets.

Revenue Based Financing

Revenue-Based Financing (RBF) is a unique form of funding where businesses receive capital in exchange for a percentage of future revenues. Unlike traditional loans, RBF does not require fixed monthly payments; instead, repayments are tied directly to the company’s incoming revenue. This flexible structure allows businesses to manage cash flow more effectively, as payments fluctuate with revenue performance. Additionally, RBF often appeals to startups and small businesses that may not qualify for traditional loans or prefer to avoid giving up equity.

Online Funding Providers

Online funding providers offer flexible and quick financing solutions for mature businesses. These platforms provide various funding options, including short-term loans, merchant cash advances, and invoice financing. Online lenders often have more flexible requirements than traditional banks, making them accessible to businesses with diverse financial needs.

How to Get Business Funding at Every Stage of Business

Securing business funding involves several key steps. Here’s a brief guide:

  1. Assess Your Needs: Begin by thoroughly evaluating the financial requirements of your business, determining precisely how much funding is necessary and delineating its allocation.
  2. Research Options: Delve into a comprehensive investigation of the myriad funding sources available, tailoring your search to match your business’s stage of development and specific needs.
  3. Prepare Documentation: Compile a comprehensive array of essential documents such as detailed business plans, meticulously prepared financial statements, and thorough credit reports to strengthen your funding application.
  4. Apply: Present your application to the selected funding source, ensuring it is meticulously crafted and encompasses all necessary information required for evaluation.
  5. Review Offers: Scrutinize any funding offers received with meticulous care, paying close attention to details such as interest rates, repayment terms, and any additional conditions attached to the funding.
  6. Accept Funding: Upon selecting the most suitable offer, finalize the requisite paperwork and proceed to secure the funds necessary for the advancement of your business


Understanding the different stages of business funding and the options available at each stage is essential for sustaining growth and achieving long-term success. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to expand your established business, having the right funding strategy can make all the difference. For personalized advice and tailored financing solutions, consider partnering with Biz2Credit. Our expertise can help you navigate the complex landscape of business financing and secure the resources you need to thrive.

Learn about the Biz2Credit financing process

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