Up until last month, crowdfunding was the only marketing service I offer that I had not applied in my own businesses. Social media, public relations, start-up marketing, grand openings, company rebrands were all skills I first experienced within my own investments; crowdfunding just followed as a well-rewarded necessity. I’ve learned a lot running a crowdfund for my own business, and have newfound respect for my crowdfunded clients who stuck out the agonizing weeks of a campaign.
Here are four “beyond the textbook”, “walk a mile in their shoes”, “revelations” I had crowdfunding for my business:
Laymen’s Terms Please!
My crowdfund campaign is very industry specific (farms are a thing of the past), and required a lot of “translation” before developing campaign material that would appeal to the masses. (Good) Crowdfund campaigns are transparent—exposing your company’s inner most details for all the world to see. Sometimes these “details” present quite the learning curve for the average supporter. Break down the lingo and make sure your vocab is “friendly” to those outside the industry.
Cultivate a Community
I have an expansive network of profession contacts; however, many of my established contacts from non-agriculture industries saw very little value in my campaigns’ perks and initiatives. When crowdfunding your business, you can’t simply rely on one founder’s professional network; your proposed business isn’t YOU, and its’ opportunities may not appeal to your contacts that like you. Building a community specific to your business is a necessity. When crowdfunding for a start-up, developing a community from scratch may seem overwhelming. Don’t be discouraged by the challenge; we all have to start from somewhere.
Lose the DIY
I’m a Do-It-Yourself kind a gal; I built my own barn, I funded my own business, I developed my own career. I don’t like (or as my husband says, “know how”) to ask for help. I’d rather simply do it myself. While such self-sufficiency may be rewarded in other arenas in life, crowdfunding isn’t one of them. You can’t successfully crowdfund alone—crowdfunding is a community initiative. Learn to ask others to help you promote your campaign, and seek out collaboration opportunities within your network.
Get Thick Skin
First time my campaign received a negative, derogatory comment, I cried.
First time an esteemed industry colleague called my campaign’s initiative “ridiculous”, I swore off crowdfunding forever.
First time a close friend stated my start-up’s need for funds made me look like failure as an entrepreneur, I hung my head in defeat.
Criticism hurts; especially when it’s directed towards something you care passionately about-- a business that defines your very essence as an entrepreneur and a deep-seated dream upon which your entire future hinges. Develop thick skin. Accept that everyone isn’t going to think your pioneering efforts are worthwhile, and that some individuals may even go out of their way to ensure you are publically criticized for your trailblazing efforts.
Crowdfunding makes dreams come true. I hope you’ll consider getting involved in this wonderful world of community-funded initiatives. Creating the American Dream has never been easier; crowdfunded companies are able to enhance their odds of success by minimizing financial risk, testing the market, and building a fan base prior to launch.
If interested, my crowdfund campaign is still up and running and would greatly appreciate your support and help in spreading the word (see, I am slowly learning how to ask for help). While I no longer cry when receiving dream-bashing comments, I always appreciate some positive ones to counter balance the outspoken vegetarians that interpret my business as “barbaric”, so feel free to drop me a line if you like beef. Here’s the link to my Indiegogo Campaign, “Young Farmer Wants to Feed America”.
About the Author
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