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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Resources To Help You Understand Your Ideal Customer

“Know thyself” is one of the most important pieces of advice for artrepreneurs who are starting to build their creative business and brand. But advice I think is just as important — “Know thy customer.”

Photo by Zane Aveton

“Know thyself” is one of the most important pieces of advice for artrepreneurs who are starting to build their creative business and brand. But advice I think is just as important — “Know thy customer.” Your customer is the heart of your business and the one who will recognize and pay for your value. So, it’s time to learn about thy customers!

Before starting your research, jot down some ideas or hypotheses you might have about who your ideal customer is. Include demographics (age, gender, location, family size, etc.) and psychographics (interests, hobbies, buying preferences, etc.). These hypotheses will help guide your research.

So where can you go to research your potential customers?

Census data

The United States Census Bureau has tons of demographic information that can be crucial for your research. Want to market to individuals who make over a certain amount of money? This data source can tell you which zip codes have the most of this type of consumers. Want to market to families? This data source can tell you about households that report having kids. There’s a lot of information here, so just take some time to browse around and make sure to copy and paste information helpful information into your own research document.

Free services from America’s SBDC

I might be a bit biased here, considering that I work for the organization, but the nationwide Small Business Development Center is such an amazing, free resource. Not only can you work with counselors on every aspects of your business, but some centers also help with research work. For example, in my office at the Nevada SBDC in Reno, we have access to databases that provide us specialized, in-depth information that could be crucial for developing your business model. We receive access to reports from hundreds of databases that provide information that would normally costs a pretty penny to obtain. There are SBDCs all around the country, so visit this page to find one near you!

Free market reports

Mintel is a highly respected data source that provides research on all kinds of markets and people. Single reports can cost up to $5,000, but Mintel offers some reports for free. Check out this page to see if they have free information that might be helpful for you. For example, Mintel is currently featuring two free reports titled GLOBAL BEAUTY AND PERSONAL CARE TRENDS and THE AUSTRALIAN CONSCIOUS CONSUMER. These titles might seem quite specific, but if you’re targeting these particular industries or markets, these reports could be a huge win for you. There are more reports and resources, so go check it out for yourself!

You can also use sites like Quora to get a better idea of trending topics and opinions of those who you think are your target market. This kind of research is less structured and takes a bit more digging, but can be helpful nonetheless.

Surveys

If you have an idea about who your target market is and want to learn more about their preferences, surveys are a good way to collect that information. Of course, you have to actually get your survey to your potential customers, so think about how you are able to reach them. SurveyMonkey is a popular service that can be used to deliver surveys, along with Google Forms (which is free!).

If your survey is going out to people you do not know the age, gender, location, etc. of, it can be helpful to collect this information as part of the survey. You want to make sure you understand the demographics of your potential target market. Other important questions to ask might be: “How do you access ____?” or “How much would you pay for ____? or even “When do you think about/buy ____?” Try using scales and multiple choice options to get more clear and concise answers. The goal of this survey should be to understand the habits and preferences of your customers. From this exercise, you want to learn how and when to reach them.

Google’s Consumer Barometer

Google provides some free resources that can help you understand your ideal customer, such as the Consumer Barometer. This tool helps you learn about how your potential target market behaves online. Understanding how your potential customers use the internet is critical for tailoring your marketing strategies and business model around their habits and preferences.


Once you feel like you have a good grasp on who your potential target markets might be, consider creating a customer profile for each type of person you want to market/sell to. An example might look like this:

Tonya: Tonya is a stay at home mom who is apart of a household that makes over $100K per year. Her average age is 38 years old. She loves fashion and is drawn to exclusive purchases. She likes to show off her purchases to friends and family. She loves her kids and even spoils them. She exercises often and engages in repeated purchases. Once she finds a brand she likes, she sticks with it. She is very active on Pinterest and Facebook, but doesn’t seem to bother with other social media platforms. She acts as the decision maker in her house when it comes to travel decisions, household products, and purchases for the kids. She likes to online shop, but often engages in weekend shopping trips with friends.

As a mural creator, Tonya might be a great target customer for you. Knowing as much as you can about her helps you to understand where to reach her and how to express your value to her in a way that will convince her to buy.


Do some research of your own and then try creating a customer profile for your potential customer type(s)!

NOTE: Some businesses might have multiple target markets. For example, as a mural creator, you might offer high-end home murals to well-off families and fun, funky murals to small businesses. Learn about each and understand how your value and marketing shifts between them.

Research might not be your favorite, but try challenging yourself to find new ways to understand your potential customers. The more you know about them, the better you’ll be able to communicate and work with them. You’ve got this!

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to make your artrepreneurial journey easier!

3 Misperceptions About Entrepreneurship That Every Artrepreneur Needs to Consider

How many times have you heard the phrase: “I want to be my own boss,” and thought, “Yup, that sounds pretty great!”?

Here at Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet, I’m dedicated to sharing straight-to-the-point information that’s critical for any artrepreneur’s success. That’s why I think it’s important to discuss 3 of the most common misperceptions about the entrepreneurial world.

Photo by Tim Sao Koo

No bosses

How many times have you heard the phrase: “I want to be my own boss,” and thought, “Yup, that sounds pretty great!”? I’m betting lots. Me too. But what I’ve learned in my time counseling entrepreneurs and small business owners at the Nevada Small Business Development Center is that even as a business owner, you will have a boss–the customer. As an entrepreneur, you work for your paying customers and clients. Might sound cheesy, but it’s true. You have to keep the customer happy, because without them, you don’t have a job. Their preferences will decide a lot of what you do, so be ready to work your hardest for them.

Even further than that, when companies become large enough to “go public,” shareholders and board members become the boss, and CEOs must still report to someone. So if being boss-less is your goal, entrepreneurship only gets you so far. My suggestion is to remove this hope from your mind and focus on how you can be the best employee in your company. After all, you are the first employee of your own creative business!

More vacations, Less daily work

Social media and word-of-mouth have somehow engrained in the public the idea that entrepreneurs enjoy a 4-day work week and take vacations whenever they want. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, especially in the first few years of starting your own business. In fact, most micro-business owners are working an average of 52 hours a week, and Gallup found that 39% of owners work over 60 hours a week. Even further, many millionaire entrepreneurs suggest working 12-16 hours a day in the first few years of building your business.

Obviously, it’s up to the entrepreneur how much they can, and want to work. But most who are successful choose to work at least the typical 40 hours a week that many people think entrepreneurship will help them to escape. If you’re looking to work less, consider designing a lifestyle company that can provide you enough income to cover your expenses, without guaranteeing potential growth. If you’re looking to become the next big name entrepreneur, work on developing a growth company business model that is scalable, and be ready to work hard to grow it!

Entrepreneurs are millionaires

Due to the popularity of a few well-known entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, some people assume that all entrepreneurs are rich. What isn’t so popular is the fact that most entrepreneurs are small business owners, and don’t actually make millions of dollars every year (99% of business are small businesses!). In fact, Sokanu claims that entrepreneur salaries usually range from $10,400 to $129,200. And according to Fox Business, the average is around $68,000 a year. Obviously, the range of entrepreneur salaries is broad–some become millionaires, but some go bankrupt.

This is why it’s important to create a killer business model before embarking on your artrepreneurial journey, and to truly understand whether you are trying to build a lifestyle company or a growth company. Keeping your expectations realistic can help you build the creative business you dream of.

NOTE: I don’t say any of this to discourage you. But I do want you to have a realistic perception of entrepreneurship before deciding to embark on your own artrepreneurial journey. Being an entrepreneur, especially an artrepreneur, is not easy. But for the right people, it can be the perfect fit. Let your WHY drive you, and follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to get more straight-up information that will help you along your artrepreneurial journey!

Peace, Kayla

Why do you want to become an artrepreneur?

In your journey of bringing real value to the world, don’t overlook the importance of your WHY.

I want to work for myself. 

I want to share my message with the world. 

I want to be in control of my own art. 

These are all common, yet simply unfinished reasons of why you should become an artrepreneur. Becoming an entrepreneur is hard work, and you’ll need a unique and passionate WHY to help you overcome hard times. But here’s what’s wrong with these WHYs: they’re focused on ME. Myself, my message, my art.

When times get hard, it can be easy to throw in the towel when you don’t feel the motivation anymore. After all, if this is about ME, why should I continue when things aren’t making ME feel good? BUT, if you refocus your WHY on OTHERS, you’ll be more motivated to continue through tough times even when YOU aren’t feeling it. More so, customers are drawn to companies and individuals who they feel are benevolent and trustworthy.

So, why do you want to become an artrepreneur? 

Others deserve to have their voices be heard. 

Others need the freedom I can help provide. 

Others want more beauty in their lives and don’t know where to find it. 

If you refocus your WHY on others, it’s harder to give up, because someone is relying on you. Someone is relying on your creativity, your content, your art. 

So, what’s your WHY? Simon Sinek, best-seller and inspirer of millions, has an amazing TED Talk about the importance of finding your WHY. Watch for some artrepreneurship inspiration: 

Follow Simon on Twitter @simonsinek

Simon talks about how your WHY is crucial for inspiring action from your potential customers. By understanding your WHY and relating it to your WHAT, customers have a better reason to purchase your services. Not only that, but with the proper WHY, you have a motivator in the good and bad times along your artrepreneurial journey. When things are going great, a WHY helps keep you grounded and focused. When things aren’t going so well, a WHY helps keep you inspired and motivated.

Your WHY should be at the core of your value and messaging. It’s often disguised as the problem you help solve for your customers. If you’re having a hard time figuring out what your WHY is, take some time to think about the problem you’re helping to solve for others. Check out this article for some help.

By now, the importance of discovering your WHY should be obvious. Don’t fret; finding a WHY might take time, and that’s okay. Take the time to build a solid foundation for your dream brand and business. Artrepreneurship is a journey, not a one-stop destination. In your journey of bringing real value to the world, don’t overlook the importance of your WHY.

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Follow Artrepreneurship – where ‘art’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ meet to stay up-to-date on all the information you need on your artrepreneurial journey!

The Easiest Way to Create a Killer Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch should help you clearly and concisely state your value — here’s an easy way to create one.

The elevator pitch. It’s mystified and old school… so what’s its real purpose? It’s all about being able to clearly and concisely state your value to potential customers, partners, and/or funders. It’s about sharing your value in a way that leaves people wanting more. There’s all kinds of advice out there on creating elevator pitches, but I want to share with you an easier way to develop your perfect pitch. 

NOTE: Your pitch shouldn’t actually sound like a pitch at all. Instead, it should sound like you clearly and passionately understand the value you bring to others. 

Today I attended the International Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium and learned a new, easy approach to the dreaded elevator pitch from two amazing marketing wizards, Kay and Shi! Here’s a basic version of the super helpful template they shared: 

When TARGET CUSTOMERS want/need THIS THING, I help provide them a solution by DOING THIS.

Before creating your own elevator pitch, I hope you’ve worked through your value and messaging. If not, please revisit this article

Here’s the elevator pitch I created for myself during the Symposium

When creatives and artists want to become entrepreneurs, I help them by sharing helpful and straight-to-the-point information about how to build their brands and business models.

Here’s why I LOVE this template: It’s one sentence! Two tops. This makes your elevator pitch easy to create and natural in conversation. Ever tried developing a pitch that sounds too much like a pitch? Or one that seems impossible to remember? Me too. This strategy will solve those problems and help you feel confident about sharing your value with anyone who asks!

Try developing your own quick and easy elevator pitch and comment what you come up with below!

Peace, Kayla

P.S. Here are some more examples to get you started:

When business owners need help growing, I help them by creating tailored video content they can use to share their brands and reach new customers.

When authors and publishers need to make their work stand out on the shelves, I help them by creating eye-catching covers and graphics that perfectly capture their stories.

When restaurant-owners need the perfect atmosphere for their new locations, I help them by creating murals that transport and entertain their customers.

Your turn. Let’s see what you’ve got!