Funding Sources for Artrepreneurs

Looking for funding as an artrepreneur can be overwhelming. Start by learning about your options.

Depending on your business model, you may or may not need a cash infusion to start up your art-based business. For example: If you need a certain machine to create your product, or you need a physical location, you might be looking for sources of funding to help you get started. Let’s talk about some options.

Remember: Successful funding is reliant on your ability to pay back the money you borrow, with interest. In order to do this, your business must make money–enough to pay back debts and still make a profit. That’s why its so important to understand your business model and ensure that you will make the amount of money you think you’ll make.

Note: The word DEBT is a four-letter word to many people. But, it’s not always bad. If you can make enough money to pay back what you’ve borrowed and still make a profit, debt is really a tool you can use to help build your business. However, if you don’t do your due diligence to ensure that you will be able to make the amount of money you think you’ll make, debt can become your worst enemy. Preparation is so important in artrepreneurship. Before taking funding of any kind, make sure you do the prep work needed to ensure it’s a good decision! (If you’d like to read about how to do this prep work, let me know in the comments section below!)

Types of Funding Sources

Banks
Most banks give out business loans. However, most banks only want to invest in “low-risk businesses” (cookie-cutter businesses that are part of secure industries and have proven business models). As an artrepreneur, your creative business, most likely, does not fall into this category. Visit your local Small Business Development Center to ask if your business might be considered a fit for bank loans.
Remember: Lenders are most concerned with your business model (is it sound, will it make money, is there room for growth?) and YOU. Lenders want to see that you have extensive knowledge in your field/industry, that you have good credit, and that you are personally financially stable. Banks want low-risk investments. If you’re credit is poor, or you have a hard time handling your personal finances, banks will be much less likely to invest in your business. It’s important to take the time to improve your personal situation so that funders will be more willing to work with you.

Investors
Investors are usually interested in tech/software/medical companies who have high growth potential. As an artrepreneur, your creative business, most likely, does not fall into this category. However, there are investors of all kinds out there. If you can prove that your creative business has potential for high profits and growth, this could be a good path for you. You’ll need to look for investors who have an interest in the arts. A personal connection between yourself and them is always helpful. Again, these investors will be looking at both your business model and YOU. When talking with investors, you must be able to sell your ability to execute the business plan and create a profitable business. Practicing your elevator pitch and understanding your business model will be VERY important.

Crowdfunding
Many artrepreneurs take to crowdfunding sources to help raise money. Crowdfunding platforms allow individual people to donate small to large amounts of money to businesses. Kickstarter is a popular crowdfunding platform. On Kickstarter, those who donate are guaranteed a gift of some sort in return for their investment, with larger donations resulting in larger gifts.
This funding source is usually most successful when the business already has a strong online following, or their offering is so innovative that people are drawn to it and want to be part of its development.

FFF
FFF stands for Friends, Family, and Fools. This kind of funding source draws from your existing network and requires that you convince those you know to join you in your artrepreneurial journey. Like the other sources of funding, those investing will want some kind of return for their investment. They might ask for a percentage of the business, interest on a time-specific loan, or unlimited use of the product or service in the future. Whatever it is, it’s important that you treat these investors like any other… Create a contract! Let them know exactly what you’re asking for and exactly what they’ll get out of the relationship.
This funding source can be tricky because you are involving friends and family (and maybe some fools) in your business affairs. Only work with those you trust–people who can act professionally and take on the role of an investor, not just a friend.

Grants
As an artrepreneur, you may have some opportunities to receive grants that are created just for entrepreneurs in the arts. You’ll have to do research to find them. Remember: Just like every other funding source, the money you receive isn’t “free.” In the case of grants, you might have certain limitations on how the money can be spent, or there might be goals you need to accomplish with the money. Make sure to read the fine print to understand what you’re agreeing to before accepting any grant money.

The Business
Depending on your business model, you might not need to look for outside sources of funding. If you’re able to start making profits for a relatively low amount of cash, you can use those profits to fund the next round of your business plan. Think about how you can strategically launch your business so that it can pay for itself. If your business model fits this strategy well, you’ll be happy that you took the time to develop your business in a way that allowed it to become its own source of funding.


We’ve only scraped the surface of each of these funding sources. Hopefully, you’ve identified one or two that might be a good fit for your creative business. If so, now is the time to do more research. Before you approach any of these funding sources, you’ll need to confirm that your business model is well thought out and has potential for profitability.

If you would like to read more about how to approach each kind of funding source, leave a comment down below!

Peace, Kayla

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The Importance of Execution

You know the famous Nike slogan – Just Do It! Execution is all about just doing it, and doing it strategically.

You know the famous Nike slogan – Just Do It! Execution is all about just doing it, and doing it strategically. Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Business plans? Crucial. Marketing research? SO helpful. Financial projections? Yes!

But in order to accomplish the things you plan, or to put that research to use, or to meet those sales projections, you must be able to execute. Sounds obvious, but execution can be one of the hardest parts of artrepreneurship.

Businessmen Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan co-wrote an entire book about execution. Let me paraphrase some of the most helpful tidbits of information below, so that you can spend your time executing instead of reading! Much of what they discuss revolves around two common execution struggles:

#1 – You don’t have the necessary time, resources, or partners to execute what you’ve planned.
#2 – You don’t have the habits or system in place to help you execute timely and well.

So how do you overcome these struggles?

#1 Robust conversation: You must be willing to have conversations with your partners (or friends, or yourself) that revolve around digging deeper into what the situation is and how it should be approached. Honesty is key here–you must be able to face reality. In order to set goals that are achievable, you must truly understand what your capabilities and resources are. 

#2 Set clear goals and prioritize: Be explicit in what you want to accomplish. Create deadlines for yourself. Think about what actions will result in a successful project and prioritize those actions. Try thinking both long-term and short-term here. And by short-term, I mean even one day. What will you execute today?

Some other things to think about:

To-do lists
Writing down your tasks for today, or even for the entirety of phase one of your plans, can be so helpful in helping you get past slumps and lazy days. Don’t get me wrong, rest is important. But on those days when you’re feeling lazy but really want or need to get something done, to-do lists can make it easier to choose where to start. Plus, it feels great to cross something off your to-do list, which can give you motivation to tackle the next item!

When’s the most productive time for you?
You should also think about when and where you work best. Although at its core, execution is really all about doing things even when you don’t feel like it, it’s also important to know when you do feel like it. These are the times to take advantage of. Remember, these aren’t necessarily the times when you are used to working, but rather when you are truly most productive. For example: I’m used to working in the evenings, but I really get more done in the late morning. In accordance with #2 above, execution is really all about knowing yourself.

Align your planned tasks with your strengths and interests
Often, we have to do things we don’t want to do, and this can cause us to procrastinate. There’s no real way around this aside from will-power. However, you can plan your tasks around what you know you like and dislike. For example: I plan to do things I like on the weekends. Otherwise, I’ll procrastinate, cram my least-favorite tasks in on Sunday night, and dread it the whole time. If I plan to do things I like on the weekends, I’m way more likely to wake up in the morning and be excited to get to work on a Saturday or Sunday.

My husband and business partner always says: Eat the frog for breakfast. For him, doing his least-favorite things in the morning gets them out of the way and sets him up for a productive afternoon of executing tasks he really likes doing. Again, it’s all about knowing yourself. 

Remember:
– To truly execute a larger vision, sometimes we have to do things we don’t love doing. Do them anyway.
– You must know yourself in order to set goals that are achievable. That means we can’t shy away from the reality of things.
Direction is more important than speed. Having a plan makes your time working worthwhile, because you’re working on things that are truly going to help your plan come to life. It might take you a while to reach your goal, but all that matters is that you reach it.

Challenge: Make a plan for today or tomorrow. List one or more things that you’ll accomplish, and make a note about why those things are going to help you reach your larger goal of becoming an artrepreneur. Then, execute!

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to get straight-up information on how to make your artrepreneurial journey a success!

Your Artrepreneurial Journey Isn’t Going How You Planned… What Now?

It’s time to step back and evaluate.

Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile from Pexels

It’s been a month, 6 months, maybe even a year, and your new career as an artrepreneur isn’t working out how you thought it would. What do you do now?

It’s time for rest and reflection. If you’ve already said goodbye to your other sources of income, you might not have time to rest, but you MUST make time to reflect.

#1 What’s going RIGHT?
#2 What’s going WRONG?

Because every artrepreneur’s situation is different, I’ve listed a few possible scenarios below. These scenarios are meant to be an example of how you might go about evaluating what’s going right, and what’s going wrong, with your creative business.

NOTE: Throughout this article, you’ll see many links to this article (and others). Revisiting your business model is one of the most helpful ways to evaluate your situation and make necessary changes. I would suggest that you visit this article and conduct an evaluation of each part of your business model. This will give you a comprehensive view of your art-based business.

Scenario 1

Maybe you’ve secured a few customers, but not as many as you hoped for. Where did these customers come from? Did you already know them? Did they find you via social media? Through word of mouth? Think about the communication you’ve had with them to understand whether or not the channels you’re using to advertise are actually working.

Secondly, who are these customers? Do they match the target market profile you created when you first started out? You might find that your real customers are totally different from the ones you assumed you’d have. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers about how they found you, why they chose you, and how their experience was when working with you.

Scenario 2

Maybe you’ve gotten lots of engagement online. That’s great! Look at the kind of content you’re posting and see who’s interacting with it. By doing this, you’ll be able to tell what kind of content is of interest to whom, and that will help you better focus your time as you continue on.

But perhaps you still aren’t booking customers, despite your positive engagement rate online. Are potential customers reaching out to you, then backing out once they learn about your prices? This might be a sign that you need to restructure your pricing model. Are people not reaching out at all? This might be a sign that although you post engaging content, your value or the service you offer isn’t clear enough. Or maybe customers don’t know how they should contact you if they’re interested. You might need to revisit how you’ve written or worded your messages to understand if your value is clear.

Scenario 3

Maybe you’ve developed a solid business plan and have created a cool brand, but you’re getting no interest at all. This could be a sign of a few issues:

1) The market doesn’t exist. Maybe the need that you believe you’re filling just isn’t really there, or maybe it doesn’t exist on a large enough premise to sustain a sustainable creative business. Consider conducting more research to understand if this might be the case.

2) You’re way off target in regards to who your target customer is. You might be sharing your awesome value with all the wrong people.

3) The way you’re sharing your value isn’t resinating with people. Your branding might be fogging up the true value you provide, leaving people disinterested or unsure about what you’re offering.

4) You’re missing the strategic partners you need to make your business model complete. Maybe you’ve created a product and have been trying to sell it online through your own website, but what you really need is a retail partner to help sell your product at the rates you want. Or maybe you don’t have enough credibility to secure the customers you want, so you need a strategic partner who will back you.


There are all kinds of potential factors that might be contributing to the slow growth of your creative business. It’s your job to take some time to reflect about all you’ve done so that you can identify these factors and make adjustments to fix them.

Whatever you do, don’t give up... UNLESS:
If you find that there might not be a big enough market for you to serve, or that you’re value is already being provided in the same way somewhere else, or that you don’t have the passion to push past your slow beginning… it might be the right decision for you to throw in the towel and start pursuing something else. In today’s world, people are chastised for “quitting.” But sometimes, quitting is exactly what you need to do to find success elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to move along in your artrepreneurial journey by dropping an unsuccessful business model and picking up a successful one. Your artrepreneurial journey is not limited by a single business idea, but by how you evaluate that business idea and ultimately find a successful way to share your art with the world.

Now is the time to take a step back and evaluate. If you run into questions during your reflection, please leave a comment below so that I and other artrepreneurs can help you work through it! Good luck!

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to get more straight-up information that can help make your artrepreneurial journey easier!

How to Gain Life-long Customers and a Dedicated Creative Team

It takes trust.

Artwork by PLotulitStocker

There’s all kinds of literature out there that talks about the impact trust has on entrepreneurs and their businesses. The more people trust you, the more likely they are to do business with you. Sounds easy, but as most of us know, trust can be hard to build and even harder to regain once it’s lost. If you’re thinking about how you can ensure that you’re building trust with your customers and partners, focus on these three factors:

[Note: If you would like to read my full research paper on this topic, with citations included, please click here.]

Trust = Benevolence + Integrity + Ability

Some of the most respected researchers in leadership have identified three important factors in developing trust with others: perceived benevolence, integrity, and ability. Note the word perceived. Trust from others doesn’t depend on how well-meaning, honest, and competent you think you are. It depends on how well-meaning, honest, and competent they think you are.

Benevolence – Defined as: “well meaning and kindly.” Benevolence is present when others feel like you have their best interests in mind, when they feel like you mean well and don’t have a hidden agenda.

Integrity – Defined as: “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.” Integrity exists when a person acts in accordance with his or her beliefs and values, and when a person does what they say they’ll do.

Ability – Defined as: “possession of the means or skill to do something.” Ability is what allows you to do what you say you’ll do. Ability is a requirement for getting things done. Understanding your own abilities and promising accordingly is important in maintaining the trust of others.

The combination of these three characteristics is a perfect catalyst for building trust with others, and trust is one of the most important factors in gaining life-long customers and a dedicated team. In the research paper linked above, I looked at multiple studies that show how important trust is for encouraging people to share in your vision. A shared vision is at the core of successful relationships with both your customers and your team. When your vision is clear and when you, as a leader, are trusted, magic happens. Customers recognize your value and share it with others. Your partners work hard to push the common mission forward. All things work together in unison, and creative businesses thrive.

Think about how your customers and partners perceive you. You’ll have to ask them, and try picking up on social clues that can give you insight to the way you are viewed. Then think about how you can increase your benevolence, integrity, and ability. Oftentimes, just being aware of these characteristics can help you to improve them. How can you work toward increased trust between yourself and those who make your artrepreneurial success possible?

This week’s blog posts have been centered around integrity, relationships, and trust for a reason. Emotion is so deeply tied to the way business is done, that a successful artrepreneur must visit these topics in order to find the success they know they can accomplish. As you work on becoming a better leader for your art-based business, you’re gaining lifelong benefits that you’ll come to be grateful for down the road. Don’t worry, we’ll get back to the more technical side of building your creative business in the next few articles, so stay tuned!

Make your artrepreneurial journey easier by following Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet below!

Peace, Kayla

How to Strengthen Your Weaknesses to Become a More Successful Artrepreneur

The short answer? People!

The short answer? People! But we’ll get to that in a minute. First, you have to start by really understanding what your weaknesses actually are. For example, I have a weakness in operating technology. I can get by, but don’t excel in utilizing technology to it’s fullest potential. That’s why it’s so great to have a tech-savvy business partner! He teaches me new things and is responsible for the technological aspects of our work. We balance each other well in our strengths and weaknesses.

That’s what I mean by people. We can select creative partners in accordance to our relative strengths and weaknesses so that each person has a unique value to bring to the table. And it doesn’t have to be a permanent partner. Often artists must partner with others to get a project done, and once the project is over, each part of the team moves on. [Hollywood is notorious for utilizing this sort of collaboration. Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt refer to this kind of business structure as “nano corporations” in their book A World Gone Social. ] Together, nano corps create something awesome by allowing each member to contribute their unique strength. Plus, when the next project comes along, you already know who to call when a specific skill is necessary!

Photo by LivDeco

Building a (permanent or temporary) team around your weaknesses is helpful for many reasons:

  • Two heads are greater than one: These team members can help you find easier and more efficient ways to do things in their field of expertise.
  • Working with others gives you the opportunity to work on more projects, or to add more of your own value to a single project.
  • They can bring creativity to the table, and so can you. Having multiple perspectives not only breeds relatability for multiple potential target markets, but can help the creative process expand further than you could have originally imagined.
  • More hands on deck means more work in the queue. Again, working as a team increases efficiency, giving you the opportunity to work on more projects at a single time.

Start by thinking about your own strengths and weaknesses, and find trustworthy individuals who complement you. Look around your existing network and within your local community. But first, make sure you truly understand the value you can bring to them, because the benefits you’ll give each other will help to build a creative team that is efficient and perfectly interdependent.

Network effects

Yes, bringing in more people will help you to work on more projects faster, but it will also help you to reach more people faster. Creative partners are often some of the biggest promoters and evangelists for your work, because it’s really our work. If you’re trying to build a brand, the more people sharing your work, the better.

Remember: It’s important to be genuine when building your creative team. You want your potential partners to know that you have their best interests in mind, and that you are capable of executing your own responsibilities. Make sure your creative partners recognize your integrity when they work with you, and you’ll be one step closer to becoming a successful artrepreneur.

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to get fresh, new content delivered straight to your inbox!