If you plan on opening a business that requires outside investment, you'll need to learn about securities laws. This website will get you started:
Small Business and the SEC
If you're in my boat, i.e. you want to privately raise a small amount of money (relative to Microsoft), you'll probably be exempt from having to register your investment offering. If that's the case, you should have around $10,000 on-hand for a lawyer to translate the government regulations into a human language, write your offering documents and prepare any required forms. If that's not the case, you should expect to pay around $40,000 for a non-abridged version of the same services. Just so you know.
Investing is for rich people. No conspiracy theories here - I believe it's a natural consequence of laws that are intended to protect investors - but that doesn't make it any less frustrating for me. Logistics aside, Jane and I would love to raise money from everyday people like ourselves. Unfortunately, exemptions from securities registration (which we can't afford to not qualify for) exist primarily for these types of scenarios:
-Unlimited number of accredited investors. For the most part, accredited investors are people with net worths over $1M and/or who earn over $200K a year.
-X or fewer non-accredited investors. X = 25 for Wisconsin, which (and this is total BS) includes out-of-state investors. This means that if you need to raise $750K, each investor would need to contribute an average of $30K.
-Private offerings only. If this post implied that I was offering you a share of RePublic equity, I'd already be disqualified from this type of exemption.
Now you know something that most introductory business guides don't tell you.