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How to Raise Money for Your Business or Creative Project

By Edited Sep 9, 2016 6 9

How to Raise Money for your Business or Creative Project


By: J. Marlando


Perhaps you are like me?

I was born without a rich uncle, my Dad was a coal miner so he was a lot of miles from being rich and none of my other relatives had money either. I didn't have any money when I grew up but I did have a wealth of ambitions and dreams.

For one thing I always wanted my own theater...not a movie theater but a live stage theater. I was a graduate of the famed Pasadena Playhouse you see and that educated me in acting, directing and even writing but they never told me how to get a job in the real world or raise any money to turn those dreams and ambitions into realities.

I did get one big break. When I started my first theater, an Equity waver house, all I had in the world was an old, wreck of a Volkswagen with no job and so no income. Being ignorant of money matters at the time, I brazenly walked into a Union bank and asked for a loan of $5,000.00. The VP told me that there was no way for the bank to okay a loan for me.  I pleaded with him to at least submit the paper work and he told me that he would. His name is Don Hageman, incidentally. We are still friends to this day and that was nearly a half century ago.

After a few days I returned to the bank and Don told me that, as he suspected, my paperwork was rejected. I sunk in my chair. Then he said, but I have talked to the president of this bank and if you will give me your handshake to pay the loan off we will open an account for you within the next five minutes for the five thousand you've asked for. (At that time, that branch was extremely community orientated so...I got lucky).

Yes, I know that the above story sounds like a fairytale, as I do not think there's a bank or banker in the world today that would do that again for me or anyone else. But I swear that happened to me. And so:

Lesson one: Ask everyone. (The worst that can happen is that they say no).

We'll be talking about this topic again and other ways of raising the funds that you need to launch your business and/or creative project weather you qualify for a institutional loan or not.

Money Honey



I was fortunate because I used to work directly for an entrepreneur who raised millions of dollars through private investors. I wrote his business plans so that was an education in itself. One of his enterprises was in the energy drink category. He ran it with a partner for three years and then sold it for 25 million dollars. He was not at all like me or perhaps you in that he was never emotionally involved in any of his businesses. All he cared about was the bottom line. Much of the world operates in this way and so as the old song from Cabaret goes, money makes the world go round, the world go round ...and this is true. At bottom line profit and acquisitions is why we human being have been warring against each other since the advent of so-called civilization.

In any case, I was never that way. Every business I've ever started I had my heart into. My businesses have always been deeply rooted in emotion. I was in the theater business for ten years directing and producing; I started two magazines along my way. Remember the bank loan I spoke of earlier. Every business advisor told me that I was too far undercapitalized to make a go of it. $5,000 was worth more than it is today but not that much more. In any case, I fooled them all and stayed in the theater business for ten years producing many of the giant shows like, Fiddler on the Roof...Camelot...Sound of Music and many others. I had to find "angels" all along my way. Well, that's show biz at least more often than not. Would I do it again? No, the pressure to make things work when undercapitalized is draining. You simply need to know how much money you REALLY need and obtain it. And, don't forget YOU in your projections since you will need some money honey all along your way.

There was another great lesson that I learned over those years and I will pass it on to you:

Every business costs more money than you anticipate that it will and takes two or three time longer to open than you believe that it will.

That's a vital rule of thumb for you to put in your mental notebook. And, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) right around 80 thousand small businesses fold each and every year. One of the first reasons is under capitalization. In fact, when I first started out I lost many a potential investor because I didn't ask for enough money.

Lesson Two: Do your homework.


Most investors want to see a business plan at least in most situations but even if you are not asked for one, it is essential that you do one for yourself. You need to know EVERYTHING about your future business as you can. Especially information such as what's your competition doing and why you will triumph in the marketplace and how much will marketing cost.

If you do not have a strong marketing plan I can all but guarantee that your business will fail. In fact, a business without a marketing plan is not really a business at all, it’s a hobby.

Incidentally, I have the name of a most wonderful book that tells you clearly what investors, lenders and buyers want to see that you can buy on Amazon. I used this book a number of times over the ten years that I worked for the entrepreneur mentioned earlier and still use it to this day. (See the end of this article).

Once you are armed with the answers to investor questions and if you are not just a bottom-line guy or gal, you need to be passionate about your desires to open the business that you want to open. That passion needs to be sincere because most investors have, as said, been around the block many times and know when a person is feigning their enthusiasm.

However, as the old saying goes, zest without knowledge is a runaway horse. For example say you are asked about how you will repay your investors. I promise you an enthusiastic howl that you will, won't fly. You have to have your numbers and projection as close to accurate as you can have them. Remember few investors will be as excited about your plan as you are. All they want to know is when they will get theirs and how much. If you are not ready to tell them, you will never get yours. At bottom line, business is strictly about money honey especially for investors. They don't care how much you love your new widget, all they want to know is, will it make money or won't it.

Raising Funds


Remember lesson one?

If you lack collateral the chances of you acquiring an institutional loan are slim to none. Remember that old saying, A banker is a man who lends you an umbrella when the weather is fair, and takes it away from you when it rains. And so, you will probably end up raising your capital through private investors, friends, relatives and strangers.

Lesson one absolutely applies so tell your story to everyone that you meet. I remember raising money for a new magazine and knowing some people who lived a few miles from us. I remember telling my wife I was going to ask them about investing and she scoffed. "Those people don't have two dimes to rub together," she said and they did live extremely moderately. I asked anyway (what did I have to lose) and guess what, they funded the entire magazine. You just never know and you can't second guess how others will respond or who has money and who doesn't.  You simply have to network and network and network and network some more.

Networking takes energy, devotion and...determination. However, if a few rejections bother you, the chances are that you will NEVER raise your money anyway. Raising money is all about overcoming objections and getting past obstacles.  And, by the way beware of those who make false claims and phony excuses for NOT investing with you. Here are some stock responses that you will probably hear more then once.

Gosh. if you'd only told me a week ago, I had the money!

I really want to invest with you but my wife says no...

Call me in two weeks, I've got a big deal going...

These types of excuses are common so don't waste your time on those who give them to you just keep networking and don't slow down on ANYONE'S promises.

You will also meet many sincere people who really would invest but truly don't have the money. Don't let that discourage you. Ask them to help you network. Those who are truly sincere will.

Lesson Three: Network daily.


People who have good ideas and still fail at obtaining needed investors or angels istypically because they give up even before they are half way through the race. That is.after a few rejections they walk away with a shrug and a disappointed look. While there are no guarantees that you will attract investors to a project you must maintain or end up with an empty wallet.


five qualities while you're trying to raise money.

1. Energy

2. Tenacity

3. Conviction

4. Passion

5. Sincerity

If you don't believe in your project, no one else will. Most investors want to feel at least some passion for what they invest in. Remember this, no matter how "hot" your service or product is, the investor is first investing in you. This is a major reason why youmust be prepared by having all your homework done. The basic list follows:

A. You've got to have a good idea what EVERYTHING will cost including employees if you have them.

B.   You need an educated guess of how much time it will take to open your future business. Give yourself plenty of room.

C.   You need to know as much as you can about your competition.

D.   You need to have a marketing plan.

E.   You need a sales strategy.

F.    You should have a mission statement giving your potential investors an overview of your future company (or company changes) and whythey should invest.

G.    You have to also give your investors an intelligent list of risk factors. Afterall, every business has them.

H.     You need to have all your financial data in place.

I.       Many investors will want to know what your exit strategy is.

Unless your investor is your Aunt Mary who just wants to see you get ahead becauseyou're cute, you need to be prepared to address all the issues in the above in order to appeal to the average investor.

These days, however, I've just recently discovered Kickstarter. This is a website thatactually gives you a way of raising funds for your creative project. If you have never heard of it,  I'll talk about it next.


I only heard of Kickstarter a couple of months ago. In fact, at the time I was thinking about raising money for my own project; a project very close to my heart. I was astonished at the opportunity Kickstarter provides for guys and gals, like me, who hasa dream or ambition to launch their creative business.

Instead of giving you a long explanation of how Kickstarter works, I will show you byshowing you my own page on the site. I believe that if you are seeking funds you'll be as excited as I am about the program and how easy it works. Just click below:


Assuming you have now visited the Kickstarter site, you can see what a great way there is for you to reach a great number of potential "angels" to forward your own package. (I of course hope you tossed in a buck or so to move my dream forward but if you did or didn't, I think you will have recognized how positive and productive the Kickstarter system can be. (Incidentally, I have no connection with the owners of the site beyond my own program. I am merely enthusiastic about Kickstarter's program).

With all the above said, I wish you all the luck in the world for your next business venture.




Raising money has never been an easy task. Yet, entrepreneurial investments are beingmade everyday. If you have a business that you want to launch but don't have the capital that you need, you now know the fundamental rules of raising money...from strangers.

As for raising money from your loving relatives--sometimes crying, kicking andscreaming will be all you need to do. In fact, here's a short list of tricks to use on your parents, aunts grandmother and other relatives.


1. Walk around with a long face.

2. Often call out to the heavens...Why doesn't anything go my way. Always add loud enough for others to hear, I’m a good person!

3.  Push your dinner plate away from you, look too depressed to eat.

4.  As a last resort, mention that you heard they are paying well to work in Somalia.

5.  If none of this works....put a real package together and go for it.










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Nov 13, 2013 3:22am
Thumbs up! I like your "style" in this article, and I love your 5 funny examples, of which I have used all but your tip #2.
Well that is maybe not completely true, because:
There is no-way that I can do #1 "Walk around with the long face", because my face is simply too round.
Maybe my face is round because #3 is hard for me to do as I will never be too depressed to eat.
And regarding #4. Well, I did work for some years in Africa, AND I earned a lot of money!
Conclusion: So I believe that your best tip is #5: "Go for it with a real package".
Nov 13, 2013 9:41am
Thanks You askformore: And I enjoyed your reply greatly. Incidentally, I almost
worked in Africa once but my boss sent me to Asia instead. I always had a great time doing the little travel that I have and always wish I'd had more of it as you have. Anyway,
thanks again.
Nov 14, 2013 1:54am
Good practical advice and worth following, point by point.

(Also been there, done it with many a small business.) Now my husband and I have our own small health product company. It all began with a calcium supplement. Our company policy is based on : LOVE AND SERVICE. After 15 years the side effect is the blessing of being cash flush. but you are right - we needed a lot of cash to get atarted.
Nov 14, 2013 8:43am
Thank you, Yindee--always nice to hear from you. Yes, the entire secret of success is
loving service. Some years ago I used to lecture that. Anyway, once again thanks.
Dec 4, 2013 6:48am
I will allow that I've had some luck with fake-crying, but a long face won't get you far in the real world. Good tips though. If the big banks won't talk to you no matter how much you beg, keep looking. There are some legit stuff out there that can help. Kickstarter seems to be the favorite but there's also places like Gofundme and even a peer-to-peer lending site called Prosper.com.
Dec 4, 2013 6:49am
Whoops. I swear my mouse is way too touchy.
Dec 18, 2013 1:54am
Very nicely written article.. thanks.
Mar 27, 2014 2:37pm
@Marlando -

I've been on both sides of the fence - having to raise funds for a a couple of local businesses and also trying my hand at being an "angel" investor.

It's funny how when your own personal money is on the line, your questions evolve to be about risk and less about enthusiasm.

A couple major (expensive) lessons I learned from being on the investor side of the table.

1. Invest in two stages. An initial small investment to become better acquainted with the owners behavior and also to learn more about how they handle themselves during a crisis. A second round as they start to accelerate their growth.

2. If it's a small company, ask for a seat on the Board or help them develop a "Board of Advisors". If the company succeeds, these "Board of Advisors" will have local connections that if the advisors like what they see, will put the owners in touch with deeper pockets.

3. Invest in products you understand. I was in the software industry and got the bright idea once to invest in a gluten-free healthy line of bakery products. Software industry I knew. Shelf-life, distribution, and packaging I didn't. Big mistake.

4. If a company needs equipment, buy the equipment yourself and lease it to them for a monthly rate rather than give the company the money and let them buy it. Why? Because if the company fails YOU own the equipment and can sell it off to recoup some of your money. However, if you give the company the money, they buy the equipment, and go under. Their other creditors (or landlord) owns the equipment as you get stiffed.

I also think the Kickstarter concept is terrific as it allows an investor to diversify their portfolio with a variety of mini-investments. At the same time, for someone raising funds, it helps get the word out (marketing wise) about your product/service as the investors share through social media their enthusiasm for their investment (and also your product).

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