This isn't an exhaustive list, but these are 7 different ways to fund a creative business:
I listed this option first because I believe it's the truest and cleanest form of funding. By taking the time to create a plan for your business, you can remove excess costs (like the interest paid on debt) and keep full control over your business.
I started Piertree back in 2020 and saved $800/month for two years starting in 2018 to make it happen. I knew my expected business costs and I knew exactly how long it would take to reach my goal because I laid everything out & built a savings plan that gave me enough money to get started.
Depending on who you ask, debt can either be god's greatest gift or a menace to society.
What I mean by this is that debt itself isn't good or bad - it's how you use it. Some of the biggest & best businesses in the world were fueled by debt, but millions of Americans are struggling financially because of easy access to it (credit cards, car loans, pay day loans, etc.).
If used correctly, debt can be a viable way to fund a business. SBA loans are issued to small businesses in America and while they can be used for many different things, a common purpose is funding a startup idea.
Further reading: How to Get an SBA Startup Loan
These can be difficult to qualify for, but there are also some banks out there that focus on creative businesses that may be able to offer more friendly rates and funding options.
These might be the "easiest" and cheapest way to get funding. For example, Shaan Puri (creator of The Milk Road) offered $25,000 to people building cool things in Web3. All you had to do was apply, explain why you need/deserve funding, and if you're chosen, you get the money. No expectation of repayment, just cash in hand to go build your idea.
This guy held a contest on TikTok and Venmo'd a creator $200 to build a rocket with an on-board camera. He took the idea even further and launched Tiny Grants, a website where young creators can apply for - wait for it - tiny grants.
Another option is the Creatorbread Creative Grant Program, a movement to remove the financial limitations & anxiety from pursuing a creative career. Anyone with a creative idea, project, or business can apply for funding to assist with their journey. After going through the application process and receiving approval, funds are dispersed with a promise to provide updates & results of the grant usage.
If you've been creating for awhile and you've built a core following, you may be able to use your connections to help fund a new idea.
Since Patreon allows you to set your own membership pricing and benefits, it can almost be treated like social venture capital. If you're transparent and you say that you're using the membership revenue to build XYZ, you may get more support than a regular paid community 🤷🏻♂️
This would be difficult to do without an existing following, but using something like KickStarter or GoFundMe would fall into the same "social funding" category.
If you own a home, the equity that you've built up from making your mortgage payments can be tapped into. HELOC stands for a "Home Equity Line of Credit" and it works similar to a credit card.
Let's say you have $200,000 worth of equity in your home and you want to access $50,000. You'd be issued a $50k line of credit that only needs to be repaid if you spend money from it, just like a credit card. The interest rates are relatively low compared to other forms of debt so it can be a worthwhile option, but HELOCs must be used extremely carefully.
Because if you use the line of credit and don't make payments, you could lose your home..
Funds from a HELOC are typically used to increase the value of your home, such as making renovations or building add-ons, but if used thoughtfully and with intention, it can be a last resort to fund a creative business idea.
Further reading: Investopedia's Guide to Home Equity & HELOCs
Similar to planning & saving, picking up a side hustle while you're still working your 9-5 (or after you've launched your business) can be a great way to keep the dream alive.
I've used this strategy as well because my $20k in savings didn't last as long as expected, so I had to do DoorDash for about 8 months while I was starting the business. It was tough, but I didn't want to take on debt and I needed money so a part-time gig was one of my only few options.
You may be able to take on some freelance work, pick up an overnight shift, or work during the day and create throughout the night.
Most financial planners wouldn't recommend this, but if you're able to use a 0% credit card to cover expenses for a few months and you have a strategy to pay it off, it's worth considering.
While these aren't the only ways to fund a creative business, they're some of the most popular and most practical.
By taking the time to think about what you need the money for and how it's going to be used, you can narrow down your options and choose a strategy that makes sense for you and your situation.