5 Financial Tips for Grads Looking to Start a Small Business in Pittsburgh
*This post was contributed by a financial expert.
Starting a Business as a Recent Grad
Pittsburgh is a great city to start a small business. It's no wonder as a recent graduate, you would be looking to get your entrepreneurial start here. However, starting a small business is quite the process, and for recent grads, there are some important considerations to take note of, with one of those being your finances. Consider the following five tips to help you get your finances in order and launch your business.
1. Consider Refinancing Your Student Loans
Chances are, you have taken out some student loans to finance your education. You may want to consider refinancing your student loans in order to better tackle repaying them. This process could potentially lower your monthly payment and help you to better balance your budget when managing all your expenses. With lower rates, you will have more money in your pocket and be more empowered to take charge of your personal finances as well.
When looking to start your small business in Pittsburgh as a recent grad, it is important that you understand the financial costs that come with living and working here. If you have been living in student housing for the past year, you may need to do some research on what neighborhoods of Pittsburgh would provide you with an affordable living and working experience for the future. There are many excellent neighborhoods in Pittsburgh that are appealing for young professionals. Once you have pinpointed a few areas, you should also educate yourself on what the mortgage preapproval process entails to give you a better idea of how much a home in a particular neighborhood could break down to in costs month-to-month. This way, you can better understand living costs. Be sure to also evaluate various personal expenses such as transportation, food, and utilities, in relation to your business to help you hold yourself accountable and improve your financial competency.
Grants are a great way to receive funds to start your business upon graduation. There are many different types of grants available for starting a business in Pennsylvania. There may be a grant that you could apply for that would be very fitting for you; from opportunities to open a small business in an economic opportunity zone, funds for women entrepreneurs and minority business leaders, and more, you may qualify if you take the time to apply. If you do your research and stay up to date with opportunities, whether it be at the state or federal level, there is most likely a grant you can take advantage of. Stay in the loop and be on the lookout for grants available through The Office of Business Financing.
Any funds you can acquire to get your business up and running is critical. Sometimes grants, loans, and contributions from family may not be enough—you may be left looking for additional cash. Many entrepreneurs find themselves in this position when starting out. However, there are alternative funding options that can help, which are especially beneficial for recent grads who may not be able to secure funding otherwise. One option is to consider taking on a partner or investor to gain capital in exchange for a stake in the business. However, if giving away a percentage of ownership is less than ideal for you, another way to obtain funding can be through developing a crowdfunding campaign. You can obtain contributions from community members who are passionate about helping spark innovation and support entrepreneurs in Pittsburgh.
Networking with local organizations and experts can help you better understand how to get your finances in order for your business. Check with Duquesne University’s Small Business Development Center office to consult with faculty who can help you to better understand the costs and how to develop your business plan. You can also network with more established entrepreneurs to help mentor you. A small business mentor can relate to your unique experience as a graduate and help guide you and steer you in the right direction.
Having financial wellness strategies in place as a recent grad and entrepreneur is critical for success. Knowing where to start can be stressful. However, by taking your time to educate yourself and connect with the greater Pittsburgh community, you will be on your way to becoming a successful small business owner in no time.