Running a small business is not for the faint hearted. Business owners, who are experts in their particular field, often find themselves in unfamiliar territory when it comes to topics like financing, accounting, and taxes.

This resource guide, from our friends at OnDeck, outlines the tools and resources every business owner can reference to help them organize and manage the financial side of their businesses.

I. Financing

Accessing capital is one of the biggest challenges faced by a small business owner—from startups looking for seed money to more established companies that want to take advantage of an opportunity. With that in mind, be aware that options will vary depending on how long you’ve been in business.

Borrowing can be confusing, time-intensive and the landscape is changing all the time. The following includes things you need to know at every stage of business development:

Startup Financing

Acquiring capital for a new business can be tricky. In fact, it can be one of the most challenging stages for a business owner to borrow money. Even great ideas often require extra cash to pull them off, and many traditional lenders are hesitant to help a fledgling business. However, there are financing options available, even if you’re just finding your footing.

  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides a wealth of resources to help you finance your new business, from estimating startup costs to determining whether or not your business will break even—and eventually turn a profit. Read more here. Wondering if your business is eligible for assistance from the SBA? Read the guidelines here.
  • Many new businesses turn to crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Fundable to raise money to get off the ground. This shares three things every entrepreneur should know about crowdfunding to help you determine if this might be an option for you and your business.
  • Many small business owners choose to bootstrap (or invest their own money) their new venture. Although that could be a good option, before investing your own money, make sure you fully understand the risks involved.

Financing for Existing Businesses

There are times when established businesses also need access to additional capital. There may be a need for investment to grow the business or handle variable cash flow cycles. For large businesses, this is often achieved through traditional bank financing, but for smaller businesses looking for less than $250,000, the traditional loan process can be a challenge, with many banks unwilling to lend to smaller businesses.     

  • Non-bank lenders (including OnDeck) take a different approach to evaluating a potential small business owner looking for a loan. In addition to some of the traditional metrics a bank might look at to evaluate the creditworthiness of a potential borrower, some online lenders look at dozens of other data points in an algorithmic approach to loan approval that can offer new options to fund a small businesses that a bank can’t. Online lenders are a very popular alternative for small business owners that looking for a bank alternative.
  • Factoring is another approach to overcoming a cash flow squeeze. Read about it here.
  • SBA Loans are also available to existing businesses, ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 in their small business lending program. Follow this link for info on the types of loans available for expansion and investment help.

II. Accounting and Payroll

For any business, a critical part of its success is how profits are managed and accounted for. While you can easily hire an accountant to manage your company’s finances, it’s important that you understand the accounting process yourself in order to ensure that your business runs smoothly.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, half of all new small businesses fail within the first five years. What is the chief cause of small business failure? Poor financial management.

Following are a few simple resources that can help ease the management process:

  • Handling payroll can be a challenge for a business owner who has never done it before. How often are you going to pay your employees? How are you handling taxes? There are many payroll-related decisions to make when running a small business. Check out this article for a lesson in Payroll 101.
  • Fortunately, there are software tools to make payroll a little easier. Read this article for software solutions to help manage accounting.  
  • How well your company manages its accounts payable strategies can directly impact profitability. Read more here.
  • Optimizing your accounts receivable management process can often make the difference between being profitable and struggling to stay afloat, this article includes 101 ideas.

III. Taxes

The National Small Business Association’s 2014 survey of small businesses shows, among other things, how big a time burden dealing with the administrative requirements associated with business taxes can be for a small business. More than 40 percent of businesses report 80-plus hours spent annually on taxes alone. A minimum of 10 business days! However, small businesses can potentially save thousands of dollars each year if they know how to navigate the system.

  • Wondering when to start your taxes? The IRS offers a guide to scheduling out all tax-related tasks.
  • From standard deductions to withholding to charitable deductions, this article includes 10 tax tips for small businesses.
  • Withholding laws differ from state to state. Find out the rules for different states here.
  • The more tax deductions your business can take, the better off it will be. This article looks at some of the top deductions available for small businesses.  
  • Many businesses turn to professionals to help them with their tax returns. This Kiplinger post outlines five steps for choosing a tax pro. 
  • Reference this toolkit for navigating payroll taxes for small businesses.

Running a small business is a constant learning experience and an exhilarating adventure. With so many resources available to help a small business owner understand and manage their company finances, your potential for success is as high as you want it to be.

About the Author(s)

Ty Kiisel headhot

Ty is the author of "Getting a Business Loan: Financing Your Main Street Business" as well as a contributing editor for OnDeck, an online platform where millions of small businesses can obtain affordable loans with a fraction of the time and effort that it takes through traditional channels.

Contributing Editor, OnDeck
woman looking at receipts