For six years, David Axler, Chief Strategy Officer at Wave, has been defining the vision and the path for Wave’s plan to help small business owners from starting a business to managing and thriving.
David shares, “Wave itself is a business management platform for small business owners, and small business owners can be defined in many ways, but for Wave, we really look at it as the micro businesses. The business owner who is the whole business themselves.”
Recently, Wave announced its partnership with The Shorty Awards to launch the Elevate Creatives Fund to support creators working diligently to turn their passion into a sustainable business.
Challenges Faced by Creators
Creators often manage everything from admin work, content creation, marketing, brand deals,
accounting, and more on their own.
David explains that while many creators work like this, it isn’t always ideal because many creators are not experts at accounting or running the business side of things.
On top of this, many creators cannot grow their businesses into sustainable incomes without the right tools or financial assets.
David explains, “It’s increasingly a growing part of the economy. More and more businesses are extremely small businesses, and more and more are in the creative economy and creator economy. Something that we’ve found with our customers is they often don’t necessarily see themselves as a business yet. It starts as a hobby, or it’s a side hustle.”
Providing financial tools and one-step money management solutions is one way to support creator businesses. Another is removing financial barriers often caused by fluctuations in income that creators and freelancers face, which is how the Elevate Creatives Fund was inspired.
The Elevate Creatives Fund
The Elevate Creatives Fund addresses common creator challenges by providing access to funding and financial expertise.
David notes, “You need a little or a lot of capital to make your dreams a reality, so that’s one part of the equation. The second is connections with expertise around running a business. It may be some of the things that you ordinarily wouldn’t think of as something that a creative business would need, but when you talk to financial experts and you get some of the toolsets available to you, it starts to unlock different avenues.”
Five recipients will receive $20,000 each and free personalized bookkeeping and financial coaching from Wave’s team of experts.
Wave’s team of experts includes business coaches, tax experts, and bookkeepers who will be at the winners’ disposal to use to grow their businesses and pursue their creative endeavors.
Independent creatives, freelance creatives, and consultants in the US or Canada can apply to the Elevate Creatives Fund between now and September 15, 2023. The early deadline is Jun 29, 2023.
David’s message to aspiring creatives interested in applying for this fund is, “We’d love to see your applications, and we’d love to hear your stories. Please apply any time between now and September 15th on the website. If you’re wondering, am I really a success story or a small business owner – what we find with our small business owner customers is they’re often not the first ones to consider themselves a business.”
He adds that the affirmation from others about your business and story being a success is powerful. Wave’s clients are often surprised by the feedback they receive about their business’ success, so don’t let nerves get in the way of applying for this opportunity.
The Selection Process
The judging criteria for the Elevate Creatives Fund is as follows:
- The creativity and originality of the content, creative project, or entrepreneurial endeavor
- Quality, effectiveness, and engagement of submitted samples
- Demonstrable use of the applicant’s creative platform to positively impact and influence others
- The applicant’s plans for using the funds to accelerate their growth
Applications will be assessed by a special judging panel from the Shorty Awards’ judging community, the Real Time Academy.
David adds, “We want also to understand where their ambition is. Not just what it is today, but do we understand the vision of where this can go as well. The judges collectively will be able to weigh in on these merits.”
The Wave team also hopes to equip and enable a smaller group of creators by uplifting them with the necessary tools, financial resources, and the opportunity to do something truly
The Current Digital Landscape
One of the biggest opportunities right now is the many alternatives to the typical nine-to-five that the creator economy offers.
David explains, “We’ve seen a rise in digital-based jobs where you don’t actually have to be working in the same place as your client or even the rest of your team in order to be successful. We see ourselves playing a role in some of the tools that make that possible in terms of getting paid online, managing your business online, and paying your employees online.”
As for the future, David predicts that the start of creator-centric tools is just becoming a part of the business landscape and the widespread nature of influencer marketing.
He says, “That’s the way [influencer marketing] businesses get things done today. We’re seeing it particularly as Gen Z and Millennials become more business owners. It is more the norm than the exception, so we believe this is certainly growing.”
The Wave team continues to support growing numbers of creators with their all-in-one financial management software and a massive amount of free content aimed explicitly at creators.
David shares, “We showcase our customers, small business owners, in most of the content that we produce. Most of it is written by small business creatives, our customers so it’s their voices, not ours. If we can give them a platform beyond their own, that’s really where we see ourselves playing a part.”
Wave also has a free option for users that want to send invoices and access basic accounting management tools, further supporting creative businesses as they get off the ground.
At this point, David shares that Wave doesn’t have plans to expand the Elevate Creatives Fund, but they will keep us posted on future updates. However, David and the Wave team can’t wait to see how the winners of this year’s Elevate Creatives Fund are propelled forward and what they can accomplish with the funding and financial expertise.
He concludes, “A program that is enabling creatives through access and storytelling and funding is really perfectly aligned with our strategy to be there for small business owners where others aren’t. We do it with software, resources, and access, and this is doing it through funding and expertise, and storytelling. It’s a really nice marriage of what our strategy lives for and what the fund is meant to do.”