What does a 5,000-dollar loan from your grandma get you? A company worth 2.1 million dollars.

Starting a business is never the same for anyone, and neither is the process in which it is funded. For Andrea Heuston, she never planned on starting her own company 22 years ago. She was working as a technical illustrator at an engineering firm when it was bought out by a different company, resulting in the dismissal of several employees, including herself. Fortunately for Heuston this dismissal turned out to be a really good thing, because soon the company that had let her go realized their error and asked for her to come back. But Heuston no longer liked the idea of working for a firm again, so instead she got her business license, started her own graphic design company called Artitudes Designs, and then contracted her services back to her old firm as an independent contractor.

To fund her new business, she got a loan from her grandma for $5,000 with 8% interest. With a little seed money for her new company she bought a Macintosh computer and her newly printed business cards. It was a start, though this was never really her plan and the timing of it scared her. She was newly married and her husband was still going to school. Soon the company was proving to be a financial burden she hadn’t been prepared for, but she considers herself “one of those people who likes to leap off the building and grow wings before [she] hits the ground.” She continued to work hard at it for years, first as a sole proprietor, then eventually incorporating, and eventually her business began to grow and become profitable.

However, disaster struck in 2008 when Heuston was placed into a medically induced coma for about 3 weeks due to complications from a surgery and ended up with a condition called Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. When she awoke and finally felt healthy enough to go back to work, she had been out of the business for eight months. Her company essentially remained stagnant during this time. Heuston explains that it was harder to start her business back up after her medical problems, than it was initially starting it. However, she learned from this experience the importance of delegation and allowing her team to rise to the occasion and take the lead. She relied on her team like never before to get the business back in the game, and afterwards it gave her a new-found freedom she didn’t have before. She was able to get involved in other parts of the business and focus on growth because she trusted her team members to oversee various projects and other sectors of the company.

Through hard work, determination, trust in her employees and a 5,000-dollar loan from grandma, Artitudes Designs has grown into a 2.1-million-dollar company today. And to ensure that number keeps increasing, Heuston anticipates needing additional funding in the future. She’s unsure if she’ll go a traditional or non-traditional route, and the thought of bringing on investors has crossed her mind. One thing is for sure, she knows she can do a lot with just a little.

There are numerous alternative or nontraditional routes to funding and investing money for emerging businesses that are often unknown to the greater business community. Leading Retirement Solutions is proud to bring you these unique stories of prosperous business ventures that find success despite the financial obstacles laid before them.

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