The JOBS Act

Gosia is a former intern at Social Enterprise Associates. Now based in India, she works at VOICE 4 Girls on moving the organization to a more sustainable model. She can be reached

Access to finance is one of the most important factors in starting a business, as failure to raise appropriate funds often translates into failure of the entire venture.

We should praise the risk takers, who, facing huge challenges and difficult odds, want to start a business. In this economy, their risk can take on outsize benefits by combatting sluggish growth and long-term unemployment. However, companies with limited trading history, or new ventures, are unlikely to have access to affordable finance, which often hinders their start-up phase and growth.

The rise of social media has allowed raising money on the internet through the increasingly popular crowd funding websites. Portals such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo or StartSomeGood have flourished in recent years, enabling aspiring entrepreneurs to realize their ideas by generating philanthropic donations from the general public.

Now, it's time for yet another era - one where a member of the internet community, wishing to help an enterprise, can become an investor. In this way, he/she can not only give money, but also expect a return on his/her investment if the venture is successful. This is what the new Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act is all about!

The JOBS Act eases some of the securities regulations, making it viable that a number of unaccredited investors become shareholders of a business, thereby encouraging the internet community to invest in ideas that can potentially make money and generate employment. Almost everyone in the country qualifies as an "unaccredited investor", opening up a huge, untapped source of capital.

The JOBS Act will also likely stimulate growth of new enterprises. This long-awaited bill has generated a lot of excitement among entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs-to-be who now can access finance without regulatory obstacles in their way. The only thing to think about now is an exciting idea, a viable business model and a well written business plan.

Easier said than done - internet investors are no less strict with parting with their money than accredited investors. Due diligence and solid business plans will always be necessary. Fortunately, aspiring entrepreneurs can draw upon a number of fantastic resources online.

Some of Social Enterprise Associates' publications on various topics surrounding starting and growing a business include, among others:

Paper on capital sources to help choose how to finance a business
Tip sheets, which helps guide an entrepreneur through setting up, promoting and growing an enterprise
• Business planning is also thoroughly covered both at the Social Enterprise Associates website and elsewhere, e.g., the US Small Business Association and the Harvard Business School website

Thus, with a little bit of research and thorough work, the financial potential of the masses can be tapped, making many new and exciting enterprises possible in this economy.

For more information on the JOBS Act, see this one page brief.

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