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Top 10 Brilliant Ways to Find Recession Startup Funding

June 12, 2020
Recession Startup Funding Credit Suite

The COVID-19 pandemic caught the world by surprise and turned the economy on its head.  If you are a business trying to stay afloat during this time, we can help.  The Federal government has approved funding through  The CARES Act, including the Paycheck Protection Plan.  In addition, many states and local organizations are offering their own unique funding options.  If you are thinking of starting a business during this time, keep reading for recession startup funding options.

It is Possible to Find Recession Startup Funding, but You Have to Get Creative

During a recession, prices go up, employment goes down, and lenders tend to hold on to funds much tighter. This can make funding a startup very difficult.  The truth is, startup funding during a recession is not easy to come by.  In fact, many of the traditional option will not work for the majority.  Recession startup funding takes a little more creativity.

You may even wonder why anyone would start a new business during a recession.  It’s all in your perspective.  The fact is, a recession could be the perfect opportunity to start your own business.

For example, if you are one of the many who find themselves unemployed during a recession, you are no longer tied down.  You have nothing to lose, and you can use that freedom to start brainstorming ways to find startup funding. The recession can actually be a catalyst! 

Despite the fact that there are many, many ways to get startup funding, it is still one of the greatest roadblocks to business ownership. It the first stumbling block most come across, and a recession makes it even bigger.  Recession startup funding can even seem like a mirage to some, but it is a real thing.  It just takes a little creativity to bring it out of hiding.

Some sources of funding for your startup will not work during a recession.  You need to know what your options are, what works for startup funding, and what will work best in your situation.  Then you can start looking.

Why Small Business Loans Do Not Always Work, Especially for Recession Startup Funding

With this startup funding source, recession is a huge issue.  It can work for some, but the traditional lenders tend to really hold on to their funds tighter during an economic downturn.  Since this is the source that most people immediately look to when they want to start a business, you can see why they get discouraged early on.

They get turned down for traditional financing and just give up.  It can look like that is the end of the line.

Note as well: business lending tends to reduce if not dry up altogether during economic downturns.

There is more than one place to get a business loan however, and some people do not realize that.

SBA loans

These loans are still offered through traditional lenders such as banks and credit unions, but the federal government guarantees them. Since they are not completely reliant on the credit score of the borrower to reduce risk, the required credit score is slightly lower to qualify.

There is a lot of red tape related to applying for SBA loans however, and it does take a significant amount of time. If you do not qualify for traditional loans and do qualify for SBA loans however, it is definitely worth the time it takes.

If you are looking to traditional lenders for small business loans as recession startup funding, you will most likely need to consider SBA Loans. 

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Alternative Lenders: The Super Heroes of Recession Startup Funding

These are lenders that, as a general rule, operate online. Most of the time borrowers can apply online or over the phone and know about approval within minutes. Funds usually only take 24 to 48 hours to hit their account. Though this timeline does vary among lenders, the point is the process is fast and easy.

They also will sometimes take other factors into consideration if the credit score isn’t fabulous. Length of time in business and annual revenue can play a role as well. This makes it a more accessible source of funding for startups than traditional lenders for many. In addition, repayment terms are often more flexible and manageable.

These types of lenders are easier to work with even during a recession, though an economic downturn may slow them down some, recession startup funds from these lenders will still be more accessible to most than those from traditional banks and credit unions.

Downfall of Small Business Loans for Small Business Funding

Any small business loan is going to require strict repayment and interest.  This is harder to manage for anyone during a recession, so keep that in mind when forming your plan of action.

Credit Line Hybrid

A credit line hybrid is basically revolving, unsecured financing.  It allows you to fund your business without putting up collateral, and you only pay back what you use.

What are the Qualifications?

How hard is it to qualify?  Not as hard as you may think.  You do need good personal credit.  That is, your personal credit score should be at least 685.  In addition, you can’t have any liens, judgments, bankruptcies or late payments.  Also, in the past 6 months, you should have less than 5 credit inquiries, and you should have less than a 45% balance on all business and personal credit cards.

It’s also preferred that you have established business credit as well as personal credit.

If you do not meet all of the requirements, all is not lost. You can take on a credit partner that meets each of these requirements.  Many business owners work with a friend or relative to fund their business. If a relative or a friend meets all of these requirements, they can partner with you to allow you to tap into their credit to access funding.

The Downside?

If you don’t have a decent personal credit score, you’ll need to take on a credit partner.

Bootstrapping: The Ultimate in Recession Startup Funding

You know what bootstrapping is right? Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and all of that. Basically, it’s when you figure out how to use what you already have as startup funding. This could include a number of options:

  • · Savings
  • · Retirement
  • · Credit cards
  • · Additional mortgage on a home
  • · Home equity line of credit

If you use retirement or savings, then you can rest easy knowing you don’t have to pay anyone back but yourself.  

The Downside to Using Your Own Funds for Recession Startup Funding

The downside to this option is either the loss of retirement or savings, or significant personal debt. If your business is successful, it is not a problem.  However, if your business does not do well, you could find yourself with some pretty major financial issues.

If you happen to have access to the amount of personal funds it would take to fund a startup during a recession, you are likely going to struggle with letting go of those funds.  It is a definite risk, especially in economically tough times.  However, it may be less of a risk than extensive debt.  It could also be the only option available.

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Crowdfunding is a much more viable option during economically stable times.  People that do not normally have disposable income may find that they have a little, and would like to help support a startup in return for a piece of the action.

This is still a possible source of recession startup funding, but much less likely.  There is simply less “extra” money in the pockets of consumers.  It is still worth a shot however.  

Popular Crowdfunding Platforms

There are a lot of crowdfunding platforms, but the two most popular are Kickstarter and Indiegogo. While they are very similar in most ways, they do differ in one major way.

For each, you have to set a funding goal. Kickstarter requires the campaign to reach the goal before you can access any of the funds. Indiegogo allows you to choose whether you want to receive funds as they come in, or wait until you reach the goal.

Indiegogo also offers an option to keep accepting funds on the same campaign even after you reach the original goal, rather than having to launch a new campaign to raise more funds.

The Downside of Crowdfunding

A very small percentage of crowdfunding campaigns are successful during the best of times. This shouldn’t deter anyone from trying, but there needs to be a realistic realization that a backup plan may be necessary, especially during a recession.

Small Business Grants

There are small business grants available if you qualify. Most often these are available to certain demographics including:

  • · Women
  • · Minorities
  • · Veterans
  • · Businesses in low-income areas

If you fall into one of these categories, a quick search could be very fruitful. There are grants available to those that do not fall into these categories, but they are not as common.

There are some grants offered by the government, but most often they are not awarded directly to businesses. Rather local governments and nonprofits disburse the funds. This may involve nothing more than accepting applications and awarding funds based on eligibility until money is gone.

Corporations and professional organizations also sometimes offer private grants as well based on their own application criteria and eligibility requirements.

During a recession there may actually be more options like this available, as the government is looking to help shore up the economy and increase circulation.

The Downside

Grants are an awesome source of recession startup funding if you can get one. However, they are highly competitive and therefore not guaranteed.

Do the Hustle: A Side Hustle Could Be the Answer to Recession Startup Funding

This one is a personal favorite. It could fall under bootstrapping, but in my opinion, it deserves its own category. While you are technically self-funding, this option requires you to work to raise funds rather than using funds you already have available or taking on more debt.

It also, in most cases, requires keeping your day job. When you use a side-hustle to create your own recession startup funding, the process is pretty slow. This is why most do not care to use this option. There are many benefits however.

Benefits of the Side Hustle

The first is that you can gauge the market a little. If you use your business idea as your side hustle, you can get a feel for what kind of demand might be out there. For example, if you want to open a bakery, you could bake breads, cookies, cupcakes, or whatever your specialty may be on the side and sell it.

As you do so, you can save any funds you earn to go toward growing your business, and in the meantime, you are gaining a following and making a name for yourself and your product.

Your side hustle does not have to be your business idea at all. It can be as simple as cleaning or babysitting around your day job hours. The point is that you put every penny you earn back for funding your startup.

The Downside

This is a slower option, and some people do not want to wait that long. In addition, with unemployment down during a recession, it may be hard to find one job, let alone a second to use as a side hustle. Even simply things like cleaning houses and cutting grass may be hard, because a lot of people will be trying to save money by doing these things themselves.

Investors: One of the Oldest Forms of Startup Funding

One of the most obvious options, other than small business loans, is to find investors. This would be significant investment from one or a few different people, rather than small investments from a large number of people like in crowdfunding. In addition, investors most definitely invest in exchange for profit sharing, usually in proportion to their investment or a percentage they agree upon from the beginning.

The Downside

You give up some of your earnings. That’s not fun, but it could be worth it for the right investor.  Also, during a recession, investors tend to hold on to funds similar to the way lenders do.  It is a much greater risk to invest during a recession because of the economic uncertainty that exists.

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Partner Up: Two Heads are Better Than One 

You could also take on a partner. Sometimes the power of two is way stronger when it comes to startup funding. Where your credit score lacks, your partner’s may be strong. In most cases in life in general, two are better than one.

The Downside

Depending on how the partnership is structured, you may give up some of the managerial control.  Just like with investors, you will definitely give up a portion of the profits.

Contests: The Longest Shot Option for Recession Startup Funding

There are contests out there that offer startup funding as a prize. Think “Shark Tank.” You could try to get in on that specific contest, but there are smaller scale contests out there also. Similar to crowdfunding and grants, they are not guaranteed. They are certainly worth a shot however.

Some of them simply award prize money, while others, like “Shark Tank,” award investment funds. Either way, it is money you can use for startup funding that you do not have to pay back.

The Downside

Like grants and crowdfunding, winning a contest is not guaranteed.  It could end up being a lot of work for little to no payoff. During a recession, it is likely even fewer contests are available.  If you find one however, definitely take advantage.


 It is difficult to fund a whole business by bartering, but in conjunction with one or more other sources of startup funding, it could be just the burst of energy you need to get you over the hurdle. Basically, it can make the funds you already have from other sources go further.  

What does this look like? Maybe you are great at keeping books, and you have a friend that is great at social media. You may offer to do his books in exchange for his creating and managing your online presence.

Maybe your buddy is adept at designing websites, or has a space that will work as a location for your business. You could offer equity in the business in exchange for a website or use of the space.

This is one source of recession startup funding that may actually help be more of a possibility during a recession than in a booming economy.  With people holding to funds tightly, they may be more likely to help you out for something in return other than money, as it will help them keep more money in their own pockets as well.

The Downside

There isn’t really a downside to this.  It may not fully fund a business, but it could definitely reduce the financial need and help you stretch the funds you do have further.  If you can find someone willing, this is a great option.

You Might Have to Get Creative, but You Can Find Recession Startup Funding

Sometimes the traditional ways work, and sometimes they do not. In a recession, the traditional ideas are sometimes even less useful. Creativity can be your best friend. You may have to use a few different sources of startup funding, recession or not. It can take longer than you originally anticipated, but slow and steady wins the race as they say.

If you work on winning grants or running a side hustle, it may feel like you will never finish the race, let alone win. Maybe you applied for loans but could not get approval. Now you are shaking yourself off and wondering if it is worth it. It is. Just keep trying.

Consider the recession, though a challenge, to be an opportunity to do something not only different, but bigger and better in the long term.  The rain doesn’t last forever, and neither does a recession.  By starting your business now, you can be positioned for ultimate growth when the clouds finally roll away.

About the author 

Faith Stewart

Faith has a BBA with a major in Accounting, and a combined 20 years of experience in the fields of finance and account.

Before switching to writing, she spent 10 years working in various areas of small business and personal finance and accounting, including working as a public auditor at BKD, LLP, Financial Director at Central Arkansas Development Council, and Commercial Credit Analyst at Farmer's Bank and Trust.

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