Week 3 ENT 650: Small Fish-Little Pond and Fear

Yesterday was the 7th annual Stiletto Sprint held in Charlotte, North Carolina, to raise funds for ovarian cancer research and support programs sponsored by the Carolinas Healthcare Foundation. Today by 11 a.m., we raised $95,000 and usually another $2,000-$5,000 will roll in after the event.  For the last six years I have assembled a team and raised a minimum of $5000 one year to more than $21,0000 last year.  In those six years my team has raised over $60,000 with help from a real “angel-silent partner,” as well as many small donations from all over this country.  What pray tell does that have to do with this class?

Let me tell you. When I do the fundraising for the Sprint, I have no problem asking anyone, anywhere, anytime for a donation as we fight to find a cure or even a test for this cancer.  When I start thinking about opening my own business, a fear creeps into my soul and I have no idea where it comes from.  I know asking for money for anything can be challenging, embarrassing, even filled with shame.  But why does even the thought of asking for money for a business strike such fear into my heart. As I learned from one of my SMEs, business is business, keep the personal feelings out of it and keep it professional.  Perhaps it is because I’ve been told “I don’t see you in business,” “You know food service businesses always fail,” “Banks will never give you any money,” or just straight out laughing at the idea.

I am very curious to see how others have handled the ask.  I realize the numbers I may be talking about based on my financials are like tadpoles in a lake when compared to other industries. The risk for me and my future possible investors still represents hard earned dollars that I will be entrusted with.  I have borrowed money before and I’ve paid it back: education, mortgage, and car loans.  It feels different this time.  It is a direct investment in my idea, my passion, my goals. Fear keeps me wondering about what might happen if it doesn’t work out.

I did find an article written by Rebecca Fishman Lipsey for the Huffington Post about asking for money when it comes to fundraising and I believe her four tips might be helpful in dealing with my fears as I work toward asking for funds for a business.

  1. Embrace my fear:  I think I did this by putting it on social media.  What Lipsey means is I need to understand what gets me so wound up about asking for money and then show compassion to myself and embrace it.  Very Oprahesque! Let’s try! They might say no.  They think it is a stupid idea.  No one will support it. Who need’s cookies? Grandma’s recipes are you kidding me, how about a gluten free cookie.
  2. Reframe my attitude: Lipsey gives me a mantra, “I am not bothering anyone by asking them for money.” Instead I will offer people an opportunity to be part of something I am passionate about which is helping others while adding a little sweetness to the world. I like this one and I could practice her mantra.
  3. Shake my nerves: She has lots of advice on this one. “Fail and fail often, be a proud advocate, build relationships, don’t judge those who can’t give, find the positive in an ask that does not yield funds, it is my job to lead my company and asking for funds is part of leadership.” I might need to listen to Shake It Off by Taylor Swift and Mariah Carey to get all those nerves shaken off and follow all her advice.
  4. Lastly, and in Lipsey’s view most important, realize I am giving potential funders a chance to make a difference. Potential funders can learn about my company’s mission and be a part of leading the change to empower others through baking.

I now ask my fellow students to tell me what are your fears about funding?  Do you have any?  Do you have any tips for helping me get over mine?  What have you learned about asking for funds today you wish someone had told you before your first ask?

Resources:

Lipsey, Rebecca Fishman. “Do you Hate Asking for Money?  Here’s a New Way to Look at Fundraising.” 

The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 17 Feb. 2015,

www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-fishman-lipsey/do=you-hate-asking-for-mo_b_6665564.html

www.tealheals.org

9 thoughts on “Week 3 ENT 650: Small Fish-Little Pond and Fear

  1. Great Post!! First of all fundraising is a lot of work, so congratulations for raising so much money and awareness! You wrote a great and honest blog with great tips about facing our fears and asking for money. I think I struggle in this area too. I have (had) no problem asking for money for my personal life, cars, bills, mortgage, etc. I’ve never officially asked anyone for money for my business, but I may have to in the future. I’d like to expand and offer online services.
    So, here’s my thoughts on asking for money for my business:
    1) Believe: Believe in yourself and what your company/business does and is. You have to be passionate about what you believe in and people will know that they can invest in something worth while. Be passionate about your business and others will too.
    2) Be Prepared: Going in and asking a lender for money is scary, but if I’m prepared and confident in my business and thoughts, then I won’t be nervous. Be prepared with materials and exact answers, do your homework to see what they may ask of you.

    I never felt guilty about asking for money for my personal life, so why should I act that way towards my business? My business is my passion and will help my personal life too. So, go in there and get that money! 🙂

  2. I’ll repeat the advice that I recently heard at a conference I attended on entrepreneurship. The entrepreneur said that instead of asking for money directly he says “what will it take for you to _____”. In other words, “what will it take for you to be a part of my company as an employee?” or “what would it take for you to give me $5,000 to help launch my company?”. Or “what would it take for you to be on my board of advisors and assist me in the launch of my company?”. He found that an investor who might not be able to find $5,000 would be able to assist with being on the board. Plus even if someone tells you that there is no way that they would participate, there still is a likely chance that they give you information that helps you improve your pitch or change the offer so that it is more appealing to another investor or person.

  3. Cece,
    Great post! I feel the same way and have all the same fears that you mentioned. I don’t feel right about asking money for MY company versus for a good cause. I also think people would think my idea is stupid and how it doesn’t show a ton of return on a spreadsheet like a big corporation idea. I feel like my company would be too small to ask for money, also I don’t want to bother anyone or have to pay them back, and I don’t have a salesman type personality. So I feel like the best way for me is to just try to do it on my own without help from investors. It helps to know that I am not the only one that feels this way though, thank you for being so open.
    -Mackensie

  4. CeCe, I agree with your SME , you must always keep business, business. I am the most passionate person in the world when it comes to my business, but I keep those feelings between me and my partner, which just so happens to be my wife. When I reach out for events and business deal I sometimes can come across very cold and direct. I also believe it depends on your audience when you broker a deal.

  5. I recently visited a new little tea shop set up in a local town and it is the cutest thing. They specialize in tea and even have tea parties. They have made it unique and I see you doing the same thing with the cookies. It will have your designs, passion, and creativity folded into each bite. Plus handmade cookies taste better than store-bought cookies. Keep in mind you cannot use anything similar to Krispy Creams Donuts Hot sign but you could look at putting up a sign that says “Fresh out of the Oven” or “Warm Cookies are Ready with Fresh Cold Milk”. Okay, I am getting hungry.

  6. Hi Cece,
    I love the four tips. I think embracing the fear of failure is one of the first things entrepreneurs need to learn.
    I appreciate the challenge to put your asks out in public. That’s really hard to do and I can relate. One of the hardest things I had to do in one of my earlier businesses was to raise money. I hated to ask for investment dollars. I had to overcome the feeling that the rejection was not of me personally, but of the offer, I brought to the table. Sometimes, it’s just not a fit.

    One of the things I’ve learned to do to help get over this fear is to regularly ask for things I want. For example, if I’m making a big purchase, I’ll ask for a discount. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t. But, practicing makes it easier to ask in the first place and lessens the fear of rejection when it comes.

  7. Hi Cece!

    Very practical and well-written post. You are not alone in feeling shame when asking for money. All though I haven’t had the opportunity or need to ask for money yet, the thought of shame is still very much alive. I especially liked this quote of yours: “Reframe my attitude: Lipsey gives me a mantra, “I am not bothering anyone by asking them for money.” Instead I will offer people an opportunity to be part of something I am passionate about which is helping others while adding a little sweetness to the world. I like this one and I could practice her mantra.”

    Best,
    Austin

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