If you have money to invest, chances are you’ve already considered stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other common opportunities. All of these options have their place as potentially profitable, and each one allows you to assess and control how much risk you want to take with your money. However, buying, selling, and trading can be a tiresome game with little reward. That’s why many investors have begun turning to start-up funding as a source of both profits and personal satisfaction.

investing plans
Wirawat Lian-udom via Compfight

While it’s true that funding a startup can be a tremendous financial risk, it can also lead to huge profit margins. What’s more, you will have the pride and pleasure of knowing that you played a critical role in producing an innovative new product, financing someone’s dream charity, and using your wealth to assist in helping another person to achieve his or her life goals.

In recent years, crowd-funding investment sites like Kickstarter.com and Indiegogo.com have become extremely popular ways for “ideas people” like inventors, artists, and business professionals to connect with others who believe that their projects are intriguing and worthwhile. In some cases, startups are using sites like these to find long-term investors or venture capitalists to back them financially. In other cases, they’re receiving contributions from hundreds or even thousands of individuals in the hope that they will reach the amount needed in order to launch their businesses.

Naturally, choosing to invest in a startup corporation is a serious decision. While you can certainly use the sites mentioned above to network with individuals who are working on funding their projects, to get the maximum return on your investment, you will want to establish a functional relationship with the owner of the idea you choose to fund. By opening up a discussion, you can get a feel for the person’s character, dedication, and drive, as well as a better understanding of how he or she plans to make the business a successful one. An straight-forward talk will also help you determine what sort of role you will play in the company as an investor.

That’s right, one of the main benefits of a start up investment is that you can seek out opportunities that allow you to participate in the business rather than just turning over your money and watching from the sidelines. If you want to serve on the board, help make critical business decisions, or otherwise play an active role in the corporation, you can do that. Just make sure to be upfront with the entrepreneur by explaining the sort of involvement you prefer and any boundaries you might have.

As you begin to evaluate investment opportunities, you’re sure to find several that appeal to you. Perhaps you find the founder’s ideas intriguing. Maybe she is aiming to solve a problem that you noticed when you were in business. Maybe he has come up with an invention that could improve the lives of thousands of people. Maybe you just know a winning idea when you hear one! Whatever drives you to contribute, be it passion or practicality, you will surely be inspired by the men and women who are marketing their big dreams to investors like yourself.

No matter how you play the stock market, the powerful sense of inspiration you get from funding a small business is something you simply can’t get on Wall Street.

Jessica DelBalzo is a writer living and working in Flemington, New Jersey.

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