Does Your Creative Business REALLY Need Financing?

Quick heads-up: Before you dive in, let’s get one thing straight…I’m NOT a finance expert, and this is not financial advice. Nope, I’m just like you—a fellow creative on a mission to turn creative dreams into tangible success. That’s why I’m here to nudge you in the right direction, from analysis paralysis to confident action. Before you take any financial action, be sure to consult a qualified finance expert.

Are you itching to elevate your side hustle or dream business to a full-time gig but feeling utterly lost in the murky waters of financing? 

You’re not alone, my friend. 

Countless aspiring entrepreneurs grapple with the daunting question of whether they need funding to kick their venture into high gear or where on earth to even start. 

It’s that pesky uncertainty that keeps you stuck on the sidelines, watching others make waves while you’re left treading water.

As a creative, I bet you have a knack for viewing the world through a unique lens, but let’s face it, diving into numbers might not be your cup of tea.

You wonder…

  • What will it take to get my creative business off the ground or make it work?
  • Do I really need a loan or investor to make my creative business a reality?
  • How can I handle financing without losing control of my creative vision?
  • Are there simpler ways to fund my creative business that fit better with my goals?
  • Will bringing investors on board jeopardize the soul of my creative vision?

It feels like you’re at a crossroads, staring into a confusing world of finance lingo and lots of unknowns.

Now, let’s flip the script.

Imagine a different path where your business blooms from a tiny seed, watered by your creativity and passion, not drowned in borrowed cash. 

How good would it feel to grow at your own pace, with the freedom to pivot, experiment, and let your creative spirit truly thrive? 

This isn’t a fantasy. 

It’s the reality for countless creatives who have found their way, sometimes with traditional financing, and sometimes without. It’s about striking the right balance that fits your unique creative journey.

And it doesn’t have to be so scary.

In this post, we’re going to push past those financial fears and step into the light of a better future so you can stop postponing your business goals. A future where ‘financing’ isn’t a dirty word, but it’s not your only hope either. 

You’ll see how being resourceful can be your greatest asset and how, sometimes, the best investment is in your creativity and vision. 

Let’s talk about taming that beast, turning what seems like a financial maze into a clear, navigable path to your dream.

The 3 Financing Needs

In my experience, most creatives fall into one of three groups:

  1. No financing needed: I know it might sound too good to be true, but many creative businesses are perfectly positioned to take flight without formal financing. This is especially true for creatives whose work allows them to start small. By harnessing resourcefulness and leveraging a bit of scrappiness these entrepreneurs can get up and running without a lot of overhead costs. 
  1. Funding is a nice-to-have: For some, funding isn’t a necessity, but it sure can help kick things up a notch. These are typically the creatives who could benefit from a little financial cushion to enhance their projects or streamline processes, making their journey a bit smoother without being entirely dependent on outside funds.
  1. Financing is a must: Then, there are businesses where financing isn’t just a “nice-to-have”, it’s absolutely crucial. This often applies to projects that demand significant initial investment for equipment, materials, or space – the kind of creative work where bootstrapping isn’t a viable option, and external financial support becomes a key ingredient for getting off the ground.

Got a handle on your funding needs? 

Great! Let’s switch gears. 

It’s time to check out the financing options available for your creative business. 

Think of this as the “choose your own adventure” part of the story – where you get to pick the path that best suits your business and preferences. 

We’re going to keep it simple and straightforward, so you can focus on the right fit without the headache.

Financing Options To Explore For Your Creative Business

Navigating financing options for your creative business can often feel overwhelming, intimidating, and sometimes, downright paralyzing. 

There’s a sea of options out there, and finding the right one for your creative business might seem like searching for a needle in a haystack. 

But don’t worry, I’m here to help simplify it for you and help you weigh your options.

There are different ways to get money for your business, but they usually fit into these categories:

  1. Borrowing money that you’ll need to pay back with extra (interest).
  2. Getting money by giving away equity (a part of your business), which means you’ll also share control.
  3. Sometimes, you might get money as a gift without any hidden terms or expectations, but this doesn’t happen often. Even when it seems like a gift, there might be some subtle conditions.

Each one comes with pros and cons. It’s up to you to decide what’s more important to you and if you can live with the associated “strings attached.”

Let’s explore a range of financing options that might suit your creative business, considering everything from minimal to significant startup costs. I’ll lay out your options clearly, so you can research and pursue what feels best for you and your business.

Bootstrap Funding: Start Small, Grow Steadily

Starting your business with bootstrap funding means you’re using your own money. It’s about starting small, using your earnings to grow, and keeping full control. 

This is typically my preference and what I recommend my clients do whenever possible. Even if you can’t bootstrap your entire business, I encourage you to bootstrap at least a proven product or system before you take on any debt or outside commitments.

This method is great for testing your idea without much risk, but it can limit your growth and often means you’ll grow slower.

While bootstrapping is often the least risky option, it definitely does not work for every business. How much money you need at the beginning really depends on the nature of your creative work.

For instance, businesses such as copywriting or graphic design typically require less capital to start. These fields often need just a computer and software, making it easier to launch on a shoestring budget. 

On the other hand, businesses like a photography studio or a pottery business involve heftier initial investments

Photographers often need high-quality cameras, lenses, and editing software, while potters require kilns, clay, and studio space. These types of businesses might need more substantial funds upfront to kickstart operations and bootstrapping everything with your personal funds may be unrealistic and out of reach.

To sum it up, here are the high-level pros and cons!


  • Keep complete ownership and decision-making power in your business.
  • Allows you time to test your business idea with minimal financial risk.
  • By using your own funds, you avoid the pressure and risks that come with debt or investors.
  • No loans or repayments to worry about (aka no debt), keeping your finances simpler and stress-free.


  • You’re using your own money, which means personal savings are at stake.
  • Limited funds might mean slower expansion and missed opportunities.
  • Without significant capital, it might take longer to reach your business milestones.
  • You might lack the resources that could propel faster growth.

COO Tip: If you choose to bootstrap your business, I highly recommend you consistently reinvest funds back into your business as you earn. 

Family and Friends Support: A Familiar Funding Source

Getting financial support from family and friends can be flexible. You might not need to pay back immediately (or at all if it’s a gift) or give away part of your business. 

But remember, mixing money and personal relationships can be tricky and it could affect your relationships (as any exchange of money can do). So, use your discretion, think it through, and set clear boundaries and expectations from the get-go!

When weighing the benefits and risks, consider…


  • Often low or no interest rates, which makes repayment easier.
  • Flexible repayment terms – friends and family may be more understanding if you need more time.
  • Less formal process – usually, there’s no need for detailed business plans or credit checks.


  • Can put relationships at risk if things don’t go as planned.
  • May include strings attached, even if they are not initially stated (this is why clear upfront terms are essential).
  • Limited funding amount – friends and family might not be able to provide all the funds you need.
  • Pressure to succeed – failing to make the business work might cause guilt and strain in relationships.

COO Tip: Often monetary gifts from family and friends can have tax implications (for both you and them), so be sure to consult with an accountant before accepting any funding of this kind!

Debt Financing: Borrowing with a Plan

Debt financing involves borrowing money and paying it back over time. You can go for a small business loan, personal credit lines, or business credit lines. Each has its own advantages and risks, so choose what best suits your situation and comfort level.

Small business loans such as 7 (a) loans, 504 loans, and Microloans, are often a great place to start. SBA-guaranteed loans often offer lower down payments, flexible requirements, and sometimes even provide ongoing support to help you start and run your business. 

While each loan and lender is different, here are some pros and cons to consider as you explore different options:


  • You can often access a significant amount of money to start or grow your business.
  • Timely repayment can help build your business credit, making future financing easier.
  • Interest on business loans is often tax-deductible.
  • Unlike equity financing, you don’t give up any control or ownership of your business.


  • You’re committed to regular repayments regardless of business performance.
  • Over time, the cost of borrowing can add up, especially if interest rates are high.
  • It may be difficult to qualify for a loan, especially if you’re a new business without an established credit history.
  • Some loans require collateral, putting your personal or business assets at risk if you can’t repay.

COO Tip: The U.S. Small Business Administration website offers tons of valuable information and resources. I highly encourage you to check it out as a first step if you’re looking into taking out a loan for your creative business. 

Equity Financing: Share Your Business, Gain Resources

Equity financing means getting money from investors like venture capitalists or angel investors. In return, they own a part of your business. 

This can bring in a lot of valuable resources (not only financial) but it also means sharing decision-making and control.  Without sole control, you may not be able to execute the vision or direction of the company and you’ll likely need to answer to a board or an investor. 

Don’t get me wrong – equity financing can be a GREAT option in the right scenarios. Just make sure you go in with eyes wide open.

Let’s break it down:

Venture Capital

Venture capitalists invest large sums into high-potential startups, providing not just money, but also expertise and networking opportunities. In return, they receive a substantial share of your company and often have a say in major decisions, sometimes including a seat on your board. Their goal is to get a high return on their investment (ROI), typically through a sale or IPO (Initial Public Offering which is like a company’s big debut on the stock market).

Angel Investors

Angel investors are individuals who fund startups, usually in earlier stages than venture capitalists. They provide capital, mentorship, and industry connections in exchange for equity. Their investment is typically smaller than venture capital, and while they expect growth, they might be less involved in daily operations.


Partners can be active in the business or silent, contributing financially without getting involved in daily operations. Both types of partners result in shared ownership and profits. Active partners participate in decision-making, while silent partners typically do not.

The Trade-Off

Choosing equity financing means sharing your company’s ownership, and therefore, some level of control. While it can bring necessary funds and valuable expertise, it requires aligning with partners or investors who can impact your business’s direction. It’s a powerful approach for growth, but it’s important to understand the implications of shared decision-making and control.

Here are some high-level pros and cons to consider if you’re thinking about equity financing:


  • You can get significant funding without the need for repayment or interest.
  • Investors may bring valuable industry knowledge, mentorship, and connections.
  • Since you’re not repaying a loan, there’s less financial pressure in the short term (although it often involves a trade-off as the pressure to perform increases).
  • You can more rapidly scale your business, especially with the backing of venture capitalists or experienced angel investors.


  • You give up a portion of your business, which can mean less personal profit in the long run.
  • Investors may have a say in business decisions, potentially affecting the direction of your company.
  • As more investors come on board, your percentage of ownership decreases.
  • Investors seek a return on their investment, which can create pressure to rapidly grow and succeed.

Crowdfunding: Community Support

Today, there are some unconventional avenues for fundraising beyond bootstrapping, bringing on investors,  or accumulating debt, thanks to the influential combination of social networking and technology!

Crowdfunding is a popular option for many creatives! This funding avenue lets people who believe in your idea contribute financially. 

Sometimes, they get tiny parts of your business in return – that’s equity-based crowdfunding. Other times, it’s more like a donation or gift, and in return, they might get a small thank-you gift, early access to what you’re making, or some other special perk.

Platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are popular for reward-based crowdfunding, while equity-based platforms include SeedInvest and Crowdfunder. Many creatives are finding success through platforms like Patreon (not to be confused with “patron”), although this is more of a subscription model where people subscribe for special perks or access.

No matter which variation you choose, crowdfunding can be a great way to build a community around your product or service, but you’ll need a large reach or audience willing to invest and a solid marketing strategy to work.

Let’s break it down:


  • Engage a dedicated audience who supports your vision.
  • Demonstrates real interest in your product or service (sooo validating!).
  • The funds you raise typically don’t need to be paid back, reducing financial pressure.
  • You can maintain control and ownership of your business.


  • Requires a large audience or effective marketing to succeed.
  • Setting up and managing a campaign can be a big time and energy commitment.
  • There’s no guarantee you’ll reach your funding goal.
  • If you’re offering rewards, managing and delivering them can be complex on top of your other business responsibilities. 

Grants: Funding without Repayment

Grants are like giftsyou don’t need to repay them. They’re great if you can find one that fits your business, but they’re often competitive and have requirements. 

Grants often come with specific eligibility criteria, typically supporting particular groups or causes. 

These may include businesses in certain locations, those owned by women or minorities, or enterprises aligned with specific religious beliefs, LGBTQIA+ communities, veterans, and more.

Grants for artists and creatives do exist, but they’re highly sought after.

Why are grants often so tough to get? 

Because everyone loves free money!

Research is key to finding the right grant for you, so keep your eyes peeled!

Once you find a grant that’s a good fit, dig deep, do your homework, and make sure your application hits every point they’re looking for. It’s all about nailing those details.

Consider these pros and cons when deciding if you want to focus your fund-hunting on grants:


  • It’s funding you don’t need to return!
  • Many grants aim to empower businesses from specific demographics.
  • Receiving a grant can provide prestige and credibility to your business.


  • The demand for grant money often far exceeds the supply.
  • Even with a top-notch application, there’s no guarantee – grants are competitive.
  • Grants typically have narrow criteria, which might not align with your business.
  • It takes a good chunk of time to research and customize your applications.
  • Grants are often for specific purposes and may not cover all aspects of your business needs.

Incubators and Accelerators: Nurturing Startups, Fueling Business Growth

Incubators and accelerators help businesses grow. 

Incubators nurture early-stage startups with resources and support over a longer period (typically 1-5 years), while accelerators focus on rapidly growing existing businesses through intensive mentorship and funding within a shorter time frame (often around 2-6 months).

Both incubators and accelerators sometimes offer funding, but their main benefit is providing mentorship, resources, and networking opportunities. If you find one that fits your business and you are accepted to join, it can be a great boost and may offer some financing options. 

Here’s the low down on incubators and accelerators:


  • Access to experienced mentors who can provide invaluable guidance and insights.
  • Opportunities to network with other entrepreneurs, investors, and industry experts.
  • Access to tools, technology, and possibly even workspaces, helping reduce your overhead costs.


  • Getting into these programs can be tough – they’re highly sought after.
  • They often require a significant time investment, which might detract from other business activities.
  • Some may require a share of your business in exchange for their services and funding. This is more common for accelerators, so if funding is your primary goal, an incubator may not be the best fit for you. 

Choosing the Right-For-You Financing

Now it’s time to help you make some decisions!

Before we dive in, it’s important to remember that I’m a business coach, not a finance expert. Every business is as unique as its owner, with its own set of nuances, goals, resources, and circumstances. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution in finance, and advice should always be tailored to your specific situation. Always consult a finance professional before making any money decisions for your business.

That being said, there are several things you can do now to set yourself up for success and prep you for making those decisions with your financial expert. 

First, you need to get clear on your financing needs and goals.

Ask yourself the tough questions: 

  • Do you truly need this financing? 
  • Is it a fundamental requirement, a strong desire, or just a nice-to-have? 
  • What’s your realistic timeline for needing financial support?

Once you’ve answered these questions you can decide the level of funding you need which can help you narrow down your options and focus your attention where it counts! 

No matter if you decide to pursue equity financing, an SBA loan, or bootstrap your business finances yourself, EVERY creative business should consider the following 3 steps. 

Step #1: Craft a Solid Business Plan

Don’t skip this step!

Your business plan is your roadmap. Without it- it’s easy to get lost or end up with an accidental business. 

It’s your company’s pulse check. It spells out your goals, your strategy, your numbers. 

But it’s not set in stone. 

It’s a living, breathing guide that helps you make decisions that stay true to your vision.

Every time you glance at it, it’s like asking, ‘Are we on track?’ It keeps everyone, from your team to investors, aligned and moving forward in lock-step.

When it comes to finances, specifically, your business plan should detail your projected revenue and expenses – basically, what you expect to earn and what it’ll cost to make that happen. 

This isn’t just scribbles on a napkin – it’s your crystal clear blueprint for success. A robust business plan helps you and potential financiers see the viability of your business, offers, and the vision you have for the future.

COO Tip: If you’re just starting with a business plan or need to refresh yours, check out my blog post designed to help you with exactly that! Read: Your Basic Business Plan.

Step #2: Show Proof of Concept and Past Performance

Demonstrating a proven track record – a ‘proof of concept’ – is crucial. This means showing you have a market, knowing your pricing strategy, and understanding your audience

This is especially important for startups!  

Without much history, getting early funds can be tough. A good idea that’s been tried and tested means less risk for you and those putting in the money. 

Getting the money you need is important, but what really matters is staying on track with your plan and keeping your promises. You don’t want to be one of those entrepreneurs who are great at raising money but can’t follow through (not a good look).

Step #3 Align with Your Values and Vision

When selecting a financing option, you need to make sure it fits with both your personal values and business aspirations. This isn’t just a financial decision, it’s a reflection of your identity and dreams. 

Keep your values and vision at the forefront of your decisions, especially when choosing how to finance your business.

  1. First, think about your goals. What are you trying to achieve with your business in the short term and the long run? How does each financing option propel you toward these milestones? It’s like picking a road trip buddy. You want someone who sings along to the same tunes, agrees on snack choices, and doesn’t mind your detours. It’s all about having a partner who’s in sync with your journey’s rhythm and adventures.
  1. Next, consider your boundaries. Reflect on what you’re comfortable with and what’s a deal-breaker. What are you willing to compromise, and what are your non-negotiables? I like to call it a “not-to-do list.” For example, If the thought of sharing decision-making power keeps you up at night, equity financing might clash with your need for autonomy. 
  1. Preferences also play a vital role. Do you prefer a more hands-on approach from your financial backers, offering guidance and networking opportunities? Or do you thrive with more independence, making a loan or a crowdfunding route more suitable?
  1. Finally, always keep your long-term vision in focus. Each financing decision should be a stepping stone toward this larger picture. Imagine your business a few years down the line – which financing path seems like the foundation for that future success?

The right financing option is as individual as your business. By aligning it with your unique situation and vision, you set the stage for a journey that not only fuels growth but also stays true to your core values.

Finance Your Creative Dream

You’ve explored all sorts of ways to fund your business, and now you’ve got the know-how to start actively pursuing options. It’s time to move ahead with your business, making smart choices that fit your vision, dreams, and needs.

I’ve given you some ideas and options, but remember, I’m here to cheer you on and give you a push in your business journey, not to give money advice. Your path to financial clarity and empowerment might benefit from additional, specialized guidance.

If I were you, here’s where I’d start:

Seek Expert Financial Advice

Consider consulting with a financial advisor or planner who understands the unique challenges and opportunities in your creative field and who specializes in working with small businesses. They can provide tailored advice that aligns with your specific goals and circumstances.

Explore SBA Resources

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a wealth of information, tools, and loan programs designed to support small businesses. Visit their website for comprehensive resources and consider their loan options if that aligns with your needs.

Reflect and Plan

Grab a cup of coffee and think about what your business really needs, money-wise. A clear plan = a clear mind. Use the insights I’ve shared in this post to reflect on your business’s specific financial needs and goals.

Stay Connected

I’m here to support your entrepreneurial journey beyond just financing. Want to keep growing your creative business? Sign up for my emails! They’re full of easy ideas and inspiration to help you out as a creative entrepreneur. I can’t wait to see what you’ll do! 


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