Seriously, how lucky are we that we live in a time that we can generate attention, validate an idea, and perhaps most importantly raise capital without going into debt for our business ideas and projects?
I’m talking about the power of crowdfunding.
I know this because I’ve done it – and I was successful at it.
First off, let’s just say it’s not easy being a brand new stay-at-home mom that just left the security of her full-time job to raise a child and start something life changing. But even harder then that is getting a business loan without an income or a proven business model that’s already generating sales.
This is where the existence of crowdfunding sites makes dreams possible. If you are not familiar with the concept of crowdfunding, it’s where you raise small amounts of money from a large group of people – mainly through family, friends, and the power of social media.
So for me, when I finally decided that now would be the time to turn my dream of launching my own handbag company with the purpose of doing good in the world into reality, I knew crowdfunding would be the way to go!
But running a successful campaign is no walk in the park. I raised $33,899.00 in just two weeks and I don’t think I’ve ever hustled so hard in my life, actually I know for a fact I’ve never hustled so hard. I am feeling exhausted just writing about it.
The Internet is full of tips on how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign and I would suggest if you are considering crowdfunding you do your research and read as many as you can.
There is a ton of information that you will need to consider like, which crowdfunding platform to use and calculating how much money you actually need to launch your business idea or project. All these topics are covered in just about every article you will find online so I won’t get into all of that. What I would like to share are a few things I learned along the way that I didn’t necessarily read about and what I feel best helped me in achieving my funding goal.
So let’s get to it!
- Have a compelling product or story, and if you have both that’s even better. My business, BARRI HANDBAGS is built around the belief that people matter and has a strong “why” at its core. It’s a combination of what I know how to do – which is design and manufacture a great handbag and my passion to help rescue children from sex trafficking, which we do through donating 10% of every sale to Operation Underground Railroad, a non-profit that rescues these children from a life of slavery.
- Invest. Having a well thought out campaign video and great product photography goes a long way.
- Start early! Months and I mean months before you launch, start working on getting a following for your business or idea. Start social media accounts for it. Contact bloggers, News outlets and influencers in your industry and see who would be willing to collaborate with you and help spread the word about your project. You may not have money to pay people or product to give them just yet so get creative with your value proposition to them. The more people you know and network with, the bigger the impact on the success of your campaign.
- Longer campaigns are not always best. You’ll read in your research that the most successful campaigns are the ones that last between 30-35 days. However, I decided to make mine even shorter then that. I went with a two-week long campaign. For one, I knew for me I couldn’t draw this out an entire month, after months of planning I was just too excited and eager to make it happen as quickly as possible (and truthfully I knew I wouldn’t be able to the stress of a month long campaign). I also felt like the shorter time frame showed people I had confidence in what I was doing and probably the biggest reason was I believed this gave my campaign a sense of urgency and made people act sooner rather then later. I do advise if you don’t already have a large network of contacts in place that you stick with the recommended 30-day or longer campaign.
- Have a launch party! Not only are parties fun but it’s also a great way to capture your audience and speak to them directly about what you are trying to do. Most likely if they come to your party they will back your campaign. I had a lot of supporters that lived out of state so to make them feel included in my launch party I utilized Facebook Live during important parts of my event to keep people that couldn’t attend engaged and excited. I raised $10k of my $32k funding goal in less then 12 hours!
- Engage. Engage. This is probably the most important tip I have. I posted multiple times a day on all my social media accounts. I posted so much that I annoyed myself but it was worth it. With over half of my supporters coming form Facebook, I knew these posts were important. Trust me when I say people will be excited for you and they want to feel part of what you are doing. Be creative, engaging, and motivating with your posts. Have small daily funding goals and have a giveaway for when you hit each small milestone. You would be surprised how motivating a $10 gift card can be!
I hope you will find these tips helpful!
A final tip: be prepared for a whirlwind of emotions during this process. It was one of the most exciting, exhilarating, stressful, and tiresome times of my life, but it paid off. Oh and remember to take a breather from time to time. Halfway through my campaign I needed to step away and take an entire day off from everything. Hitting refresh every few minutes on your campaign page is a sure fire way to make you go crazy.
Just as I was finishing up this article I came across an interesting statistic.
When it comes to raising money, women are better off using a crowdfunding platform: 37% of successful campaigns are run by female founders, while only 5% of VC investments go to female founders. Huh? Definitely gives you something to think about as a woman.
But seriously, with a resource like crowdfunding being available, what’s holding you back from achieving your dreams?
You can check out my crowdfunding project on Kickstarter by searching for BARRI Handbags.
Good luck and happy funding!