For many, one of the biggest deterrents to starting a business is finding the funds for startup. While some may chose to start a business based solely on private investment, there may be additional state and federal programs that can help.
One of the ways the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides short-term loans to small businesses is through their Micro-Loan Program. The SBA does not loan money, however, they guarantee it through intermediary lenders. Microloans can be used for inventory, supplies, furniture and fixtures, but not real estate purchases or to pay off existing debt.
For businesses in California, you can find additional information at the California Business Portal; or to find grant info or other funding outside of California, check this List of economic development websites by State. Grants may also come from educational or research institutions, or from monies set aside specifically for women and minority owned businesses.
For those that are in the following sectors: Information Technology, Childcare or Renewable Energy, many states has specific programs for entrepreneurs or small business owners that have a proven history in these areas.