It is easier than ever, or so it seems, to open a new business, especially an ecommerce or tech business. But getting money to fund your startup, especially with so many new businesses competing for the same pool of seed money, can be tough. So which methods, or sources, are the most likely to get or give you the money you need to grow your business? Following are nine of the best, according to entrepreneurs and investors.\n[ Related: 8 keys to ecommerce success ]\n1. Start saving\/Bootstrap.\n\u201cMy top tip for raising money is: use your own money first,\u201d says Brandon Ackroyd, director, TigerMobiles, who has invested in a number of companies as an angel investor. \u201cFar too many startups expect others to invest when they've injected zero of their own money into a business.\u201d\nThat doesn\u2019t necessarily mean selling your home or hocking your car, but if you are serious about your business and plan on approaching investors at some point, you need to invest your own money first. So it\u2019s important to start saving early.\n\u201cI want to see founders who have the confidence to put their money where their mouth is,\u201d he says. \u201cSweat equity is all well and good, but if you don't know how to bootstrap and keep costs to a minimum, you're going to turn off a lot of serious investors.\u201d\n2. Join an accelerator, incubator or mentoring program.\n\u201cFirst time tech or ecommerce founders can realize enormous benefits by joining an accelerator, incubator or business mentoring program,\u201d says Ron Flavin, a funding specialist. Tech-focused startup accelerators (e.g.,\u00a0Cleantech Open) can be found in nearly every state, and a growing number of cities are also home to startup incubators. There are even online accelerators.\u201d\nAn additional advantage of joining an accelerator, incubator or mentoring program is that \u201cthese programs provide tech and ecommerce founders with access to valuable tools, resources, connections and expertise that can help them place their startups in a strong position to get funded,\u201d he continues. And \u201cthere are also several excellent no-cost mentoring programs (e.g., BusinessAdvising.org) that provide expert guidance that help founders build a strong, fundable business model.\u201d\u00a0\n3. Use crowdfunding.\n\u201cThe best way for a new tech company to raise funds for their startup is crowdfunding,\u201d says Tamar Huggins, a serial entrepreneur. \u201cCrowdfunding allows the startup to have more financial freedom (when compared to VC and other investor funds). It immediately validates or invalidates the need the company is trying to solve. And crowdfunding can be an impactful marketing tool when used correctly.\u201d\u00a0\nTop crowdfunding sites include Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe. There is also StartEngine.\n\u201cStartEngine is an\u00a0equity\u00a0crowdfunding platform that allows companies to raise capital from the crowd by\u00a0exchanging equity in return,\u201d explains Howard Marks, founder, StartEngline. \u201cWith the recent passing of the JOBS Act, the opportunity to invest, which was originally reserved for accredited investors, is now open to [everyone]. Moreover, companies can raise up to $50 million within a 12-month period.\u201d\n[ Related: 6 ecommerce categories that will take off in 2017 ]\n4. Take pre-orders.\n\u201cPre-orders can bring cash in before you make or distribute a product, and help you plan production,\u201d says Andrew Haller, founder & co-CEO, AirDev. \u201cTesla built a wait list of nearly 200,000 customers just a day after announcing the Model 3, [with] each [paying] a deposit of $1,000 toward their purchase.\u201d\n5. Enter a pitch contest.\n\u201cEntering a [pitch] competition [is] a great way to connect to the right people and secure funding for [your] startup,\u201d says Sagi Gidali, cofounder & CPO,\u00a0SaferVPN.\u00a0\u201cWhile we were in university, my cofounder and I entered the Microsoft Imagine Cup competition. At the time we were seeking seed funding. We won second place and afterwards received many inquiries from potential VCs and investors. In the end, we built a long-term relationship with one of them, and this relationship led us to establish the company we have today, which is very successful, profitable and sustainable.\u201d\n\u201cIn the first six months of building my startup, Humblee, we participated and won the Make It in Brooklyn pitch competition,\u201d says Zuley Clarke, cofounder, Humblee. \u201cIn addition to the prize money, we received valuable feedback from influential judges, made connections with investors and generated a buzz surrounding our business. Winning the pitch competition was incredible, but the benefits of simply entering [a pitch competition] are great too.\u201d\n6. Ask your employer for help.\nIf you currently have a job, and have a good relationship with the company and\/or senior management, \u201capproach your current boss for an in-kind contribution to your new business venture in exchange for equity or future re-payment,\u201d suggests Roy Tal, cofounder, Homenova.\n\u201cOffice space, internet, utilities, chairs, computers, phones, IT support can all add up to tens of thousands of dollars a year, which can be a fair amount for a business that is just getting on its feet,\u201d he notes. \u201cYour current employer is already paying for the above. And if [the company] is already aware that you are pursuing a new business venture and likes the idea, [it] may be open to allowing you to use [your] current office facilities or even better, contribute some funds.\u201d\n7. Take out a small business loan.\n\u201cMost people assume they're going to get angel or venture capital investment when starting an Internet-based business,\u201d says David Nilssen, cofounder & CEO, Guidant Financial. \u201cBut the reality is very few ever get funded [that way].\u201d So he advises would-be entrepreneurs to take out a loan.\n\u201cUnsecured loans\u00a0can provide up to $150,000 in small business financing without personal collateral required from the business owner,\u201d he explains. \u201cWhat\u2019s more, the funding process is fast \u2014 most deals close\u00a0within three weeks\u00a0or less.\u201d\nYou can also apply for an SBA loan. \u201cSBA loans\u00a0offer a bevy of benefits for entrepreneurs, including low interest rates, long repayment terms and no ballooning costs, so you can focus on what\u2019s really important: building your business.\u201d\n8. Ask friends and family (for a loan or investment).\n\u201cObtain loans from friends and family,\u201d suggests Darren Hill, cofounder & CEO, WebLinc. An advantage \u201cof borrowing from friends or family is the repayment plan can be tailor-made, unlike bank loans. [Just] never forget this is a business [arrangement], which can alter the relationship you have with your financier [i.e., friend or family member].\u201d So be sure to have a small business attorney draw up a formal agreement, stating the loan and other terms, for all parties to sign.\n9. Use some of your retirement savings.\nIf you can\u2019t raise cash by another means, consider dipping into your retirement savings. \u201cA retirement rollover, also known as ROBS (rollover as business startup), allows individuals to roll money from their IRA or 401(k) into a new business venture, penalty free,\u201d says Nilssen.