People Want to Help You: How to Get Over Asking People for Loans
Certainly, though, when you want to make films, you need money. Raising money is part of being a filmmaker. It’s a central part. It’s essential. I’ve got no problem asking people for money. Because I believe. I believe in my talents, my storytelling abilities, and also the people I surround myself with on the projects that I make.
- Spike Lee
"But I don't know how to ask for money."
I hear this every time I recommend that someone get a Kiva loan. It is one of the biggest challenges in successfully funding a business -- whether through Kiva or through any other means.
Learning how and why to ask for things is one of the most important skills any entrepreneur can have. It will free you from the self-oppression of perceived inadequacy and get you out there into the world.
Your business deserves to have a leader who asks for things. And that leader is you.
The Art of Asking
A couple years ago, some friends recommended that I read Amanda Palmer's book The Art of Asking. I was having some issues asking for what I needed, and the book directly addressed this problem.
Though I disagreed with parts of the author’s approach (like sometimes asking for stuff she didn't need), it opened up my mind to a fundamental truth about asking for help:
Give your gift to the world, and people will be delighted to give their gifts to you.
Once you realize that by allowing people to help you, you're actually helping them help themselves -- whether they need the inspiration you are providing that eventually may encourage them to leave their jobs and start their own business, or whether your writing is entertaining, or whether you make something they desperately wanted and couldn't find anywhere else -- when people help you, it is an exchange.
In the case of Kiva, people are lending money and not receiving any interest in return, so their benefit comes in the form of this sometimes intangible exchange.
If you aren't confident you can provide your half of the bargain -- inspiration, entertainment, or product -- then it's only natural to feel uncomfortable asking.
You need to get mighty real with yourself about your role in this, since that will enable you to honor the exchange you have with the people who are helping you. And then you need to figure out a plan of action to make sure you can fulfill the commitments.
How do you plan to pay people who help you with intangible benefits? Will you keep a blog? Send out newsletters? Write thank-you updates on your loan page?
Believe In Yourself
Spike Lee tells stories. He makes movies. He believes in the things he makes. He knows they put more value into the world. His quote above is really what it’s about: believing in the value that you are providing.
For many of us makers, we struggle with the value we create. We struggle with confidence over the quality of our work or our contribution. We suffer from "imposter syndrome" and feel like if we expose ourselves too much, people will eventually find out that we are hacks.
STOP THAT RIGHT NOW.
You should know that nearly everyone feels that way. I'm not even kidding. I read in Stephen Pressfield's book Do the Work that Henry Fonda was still throwing up before every performance all the way until he was in his 70s.
Your feelings of inadequacy are just stupid lies your brain tells yourself to stop you from getting out there and being the awesome person you are. They aren't real.
As long as you are giving something back to the world, the world wants to give much more to you.
Give, and open up the opportunity for people to give back to you.