I recently read an article in the online e-zine Business of Fashion (BOF) about Bec Astley Clarke, a young British woman who has successfully built a luxury brand online. Recently, Ms Clark was honoured as a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, for developing an online company that is now worth more than $15 million.
Ms Clarke's journey began as a multi-brand e-tailer and has grown into the independent luxury jeweller Astley Clarke. Her story is one that will give you the inspiration to keep going with your dream. So how does one woman take her e-business, founded in 2006, from nothing to a $15 million venture today?
Most small businesses need some funding to get the job started, and later to expand and grow. So if you're an entrepreneur needing some capital for your business, we'll explore how right here:
1. Look at local opportunities
Go local and explore the opportunities in your country. Seek parties who are interested to expand and grow the talent of a home-known brand or individual. Photographers across the UAE, for example, have the option of entering the HIPA Photography Award, offering a grand prize of $120,000 for the winning entry.
2. Examine government-wide resources
Grants from the Government may also be available. Grants are not like a loan - the money you receive to fund your small business never needs to be paid back.
In 2009, twofour54, an Abu Dhabi government company launched twofour54 ibtikar. This was a grant-funding project aimed at helping young Arabs get their media production ideas off the ground.
Ibtikar offers funding and business support to Arab individuals from the UAE and across the Middle East & North Africa (Mena) region, helping what they see as great ideas that would benefit from seed funding, development guidance and other planning.
3. Learn about venture capital
Venture capital (VC) is capital provided to early-stage, high-potential, high risk, start-up companies. The VC fund makes money by owning equity in the companies it invests in. Investors will also require a portion of the profits you receive.
4. Find an angel investor
Angel investors are a similar option to VC lenders, although they tend to have less money to throw around because they generally invest their own money. They often provide financial help to start-ups not just for profit, but also for personal reasons, such as to keep a hand in the business community, or even to give back to a new generation of entrepreneurs.
5. You can get a loan
What the majority of most small businesses end up doing is funding their business themselves with a small amount of debt. Lines of credit and small business loans through banks often come with stringent policies. Because of this, loan-seekers commonly receive personal lines of credit and loans. Before you accept a loan, make sure to take the interest into mind.
So how did Ms Clarke do it?
Before she started her online luxury brand, she worked in e-commerce, with experience in both fashion and technology.
Ms Clarke was smart with identifying a gap in the market, but even smarter with the people she surrounds herself with. Probably the best decision she made was hiring a professional managing director, Scott Thomson. Mr Thomson is partly responsible for the FitFlop success story, achieving £150m in annual turnover.
When BOF asked Ms Clarke how she chose her investors, she said the first investor came on board and "he brought some other people with him".
Then the contacts she made from her previous employer Tesco (a large supermarket chain in the UK) invested. During the time Ms Clarke was at Tesco she did a deal with a guy who experienced great success from the online e-dieting industry and made a lot of money. So when she rang him and said: "I'm setting up [Astley Clarke]" he also invested.
And this is just the beginning of a long list of businessmen, women and entrepreneurs that Ms Clarke has contacted to make her dream become a reality. Each and every investor bought new talents, networks and money to her project. Today she has a whole new family of people involved in her business.
Ms Clarke is clearly a woman who smartly sought out her contacts and never gave up on her dream. They say that in every generation, there are more millionaires to be made. The question is: do you believe you are one of them? Well, you now have five ways to fund your dreams. So if you're ready, go for it.
Janelle Malone is a wealth commentator, writer and author. You can read her blog at www.womenmoneyandstyle.com