You know it when you feel it – that first spark of inspiration that comes with having a great creative idea. There’s nothing more motivating than realising you have the seed of something that could grow from a passion – be it a love of design, creative writing, photography – into a solid business idea. Who doesn’t want to be able to say that their job isn’t really a job, because they are pursuing what they love?
The tricky part is finding your way from A to B – from that first flush of inspiration, realising that your talent could actually make you money, to setting up in business. Bridging the gap can be hard, especially when it comes to finance. How do you secure the funds to turn your dream into an everyday reality?
Go Part Time
Many of us think of the approach as being all or nothing – we’ll quit our day jobs and rely solely on the income we can make from our creative endeavours. Only that is a high-risk strategy that doesn’t always pay off. Far better to ease yourself in gradually by pursuing your creative talents part-time. Look at a financial plan for gradually reducing the hours you put into your existing job while ramping up your business on the side, with the aim of growing it to the point where you can become self-supporting. This gives you much more security, and also has the added bonus of removing some of the huge amount of pressure for your new venture to be a success – pressure that can easily stifle the creativity you need! If you’re making something, ease into selling on a storefront like Etsy with low overheads to test the market. If it’s a service such as design or photography, aim to take on projects which you can service in a day or two a week while you build up a portfolio. Slow and steady wins the race.
Find Some Funding
If you’re really determined to take the plunge, then you need to find funding. Some projects have conditions which mean that they can’t wait and if something is time-dependent, it may not be suitable for the slow-burn approach. Your plan here will really depend on how much you need to get started, and your personal situation. Many fledgling creative businesses are supported by family and friends.
If you only need a small amount of start-up cash, consider approaching your contacts to raise the money. They may be more willing than you think, especially if they believe in your talent. However, it’s always a good idea to have a professional repayment contract drawn up – it can avoid a whole lot of heartbreak in the future by making sure that everyone is clear on the terms and keeping the whole transaction business-like. If people are interested but unwilling to hand over the cash, you could look into guarantor loans, where you receive financing from a company with their backing.
Another route to try is crowdfunding. This works best if you have a relatively simple, visual concept with a good ‘story’ which you can easily communicate to people. Again, be clear from the start about what supporters can expect to receive. If you have started to make money from your creative venture, you could look at the forms of business funding your bank may offer, or even angel networks of investors, although you tend to need to have a more established business before you will be considered for funding of this sort, and it can be harder to come by for creative business than for ones operating in sectors of government focus, such as renewable energy.
Another great route to generating income from your passion project is considering supporting your new business by giving lessons in what you do. If you are a photographer, could you teach it? A creative writer? Plenty of hobbyists want to learn the basics, so work out if there is a market for you to teach what you love. Not only will you be putting more time and practice into it, but you’ll be concentrating on what you love to do, coming into contact with new people who are also passionate about it, and making an income to finance your own projects.
You could also look at setting up a blog to create opportunities, advertise your business and become known as an authority on your subject – this has the added bonus of being a great showcase for your work, and can sometimes generate an income if optimised with relevant advertising and if your traffic numbers are decent.