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Be Mused by Susan M. Brackney
Be Mused : Just Keep Pushing Already

Be Mused

Just Keep Pushing Already

Dear Muse,

I have created an educational product that is both artistic and fun. Professionals like museum personnel and teachers all think it's great, but a lack of money is keeping me from producing, marketing, and distributing it.

Borrowing money from my family is out of the question, and I can't get a personal loan for the amount I need, around $50,000. For the most part, grant money goes to nonprofits, not individuals, and venture capitalists are not interested because the project won't bring them the high return they need for investing in my idea.

I'm very frustrated with my situation, and running out of energy after pursuing this dream for so many years. Do you have any creative ideas that will help me obtain the funds I need, or do you advise that I just give up and move on to something else? — Dream Chaser

Dream Chaser, it's awfully, awfully rare that I would recommend that a person just give up on something — especially something they'd already spent "many years" pursuing. So you need a mere $50,000. Have you considered selling illegal drugs or becoming a stripper? Better yet, if you are a female in your childbearing years, why not donate some of your eggs? A few years ago a fashion photographer named Ron Harris auctioned off the eggs of some of his supermodels via the Internet. The bids started at $15,000. More average women can net between $5,000 and $50,000 this way. Of course if that's out of the question, why not sell a kidney? They fetch up to $10,000 a piece in some countries. I guess all that does seem a bit unreasonable. But if any of those seemed like viable options to you — even if for just a second — then I can't doubt your devotion to this project.

I think we can find some ways around your difficulties. Right away I wonder if you have created a business plan for this venture. Forming a business plan will sharpen your focus, and you may discover that you don't need as much money to accomplish your goals as you originally thought. You say you need $50,000, but what if you had just half that? What and how much could you accomplish with $25,000? Or $10,000. Keep an open mind and consider every possibility. Also, carefully consider exactly what it is that you hope to accomplish. Rather than turning a huge profit within the first year, it is much more reasonable for you to hope to break even instead.

Have you created a prototype? This, coupled with your slick business plan, might turn some venture capitalists' heads. Have you approached companies specializing in educational products? It is much easier to convince investors to support you if you have something tangible to show off. But let's say your project really won't bring the kind of return that most venture capitalists require. Then what?

If your project is as great as you say it is, then you really should be able to find grant money to help get it off the ground. It's true that lots of grant money goes to nonprofits, but have you even tried looking into grants to individuals? Most public libraries have copies of the fantastic reference book called Foundation Grants to Individuals. Start there.

After you get production out of the way, remember that marketing doesn't have to be as costly as you think. There are a slew of on-line educational products shops and catalogs that you may be able to hook up with. And there are plenty of educational trades show venues to explore too.

I know a project of this magnitude can be exhausting — especially if you feel that you don't have much to show for all of the time you've invested. If you've spent one or two hours per week for the last several years, well, that's really not much. If, on the other hand, you've spent twenty hours or more for the last several years, you may need to rethink your project and/or your methods. •

© 2001 Susan M. Brackney. All rights reserved.

Susan M. Brackney Need a little help finding your way on the road less traveled? Susan M. Brackney, author of The Lost Soul Companion will try to solve your creative quandaries. More »