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10 Things You Should Know about Crowdfunding to Start Your Business

10 Things You Should Know about Crowdfunding to Start Your Business

After yelling expletive after expletive because you stubbed your toe on a chair you failed to push under your desk before going to bed (because who knew you were going to leap from the blankets with the best idea you’ve ever had at 2AM?), you settle into said evil chair to validate said best idea ever.

Site after site, email after email, your idea has claws. It will work! YOU can do this!

Only… you can’t… because you have no money.

Your brain feels like it’s playing ping pong in your skull. Idea after idea about how to fund this Best Idea Ever. Finally, it dawns on you.

CROWDFUNDING!

YES! That’s it!

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Except, it’s not that easy. It’s not until you know more about crowdfunding, and you’ve panhandled to every person you know and haven’t met yet.

1. Crowdfunding can fail very easily

According to Crowdlifted, over 71,000 Kickstarter campaigns have failed as of January, 2014. IndieGogo campaigns fare far worse with a 91% failure rate, according to Crowdfund Insider.

Those are abysmally horrible numbers. Especially considering that of those 71,000 fails, over 51,000 fail to make it through the friends and family round. Add that all up and it’s a whole lot of zeroes.

Even start-ups like Simplifit, and their co-founder Kevin Packer, know that you can’t just ask for money. You have to know when to crowdfund and when to approach other resources. As a weight loss brand, they couldn’t just take to the streets to ask for cash to get their software funded. He also says creating a crowdfunding campaign is a huge effort and distracts from the actual building out of ideas. Lastly, Packer says crowdfunding best serves products that are unique and stand out quickly.

It’s clear that not ALL businesses are suited for crowdfunding. Let’s take a look at what you need to do before hitting the streets.

2. Make sure you know who you are serving

Businesses that are aiming to serve the greater good by producing a product or service that fills deep needs, fare the best when asking for money from strangers. Unless you’re a video game developer. Then you leave everyone in the dust. By in the dust, I mean you walk away with 65 million dollars. The next highest earner stands in shame with 18 million dollars (as reported by Wikipedia).

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Don’t post some self-serving campaign just because you need a website. Understand?

3. Presentation is everything

You’ve heard the phrase, “You eat with your eyes”, right? Well, it’s the same with your presentation. Throw up any old whatever-you-can and your earnings will suffer. Trust me.

Carefully consider your presentation because you  don’t want your prospective funders to be on the fence about how serious you are. They’ll not give you a dime if they don’t feel like they can trust you.

Invest in a quality video. If all you have access to is your iPhone, watch this vid. Follow their tips to create vivid images that pull people in (along with their donations).

4. The language you use matter a lot

No matter what you do, don’t say the wrong words. If you do, people who are considering donating, will cross your name off their list of charities. You have to know the people you want to appeal to, intimately. You have to say the things that make their hearts sit up and take notice. Because if you don’t? You’re lost… just like Gilligan.

Do the legwork to understand how your potential think. Use the language they use. Use the words that open their hearts.

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Saying “Invest in US” will never earn you anything. But saying, “You want to own the world, and we want to help you do it,” just might.

5. Create early interest

When you present your crowdfunding campaign, it creates credibility and speaks to that, “Oh, Sally’s backing this, so it must be valid” mentality. It’s also known as social proof. If you already have some backing from outside sources, let your prospective funders know. If people who have already invested in the public round are excited about your project, they’ll also be good candidates to share their good intentions with their inner circle and extended contacts; thereby extending your public reach even sooner.

6. Be prepared to present your business plan

Some platforms, like IndieGogo and MicroVentures, want to see some semblance of your business plan. You don’t need to have every detail mapped out for them, they just want the highlights. That said, it’s always great to have your actual business plan on hand so you can present it if asked. You can even elude to it in your video for your campaign, adding a little more “oomph” to your “street cred.”

7. Know which platform will serve you best

Crowdfunding has been an ever-evolving industry since its inception back in 1997 and it’s come a long way. GoFundMe.com has raised over 580 million dollars for personal fundraisers, making it a leader in the field. But, as a business, you might want to look to campaign backers through sites like Kickstarter or Crowdrise for your creative ventures.

Or maybe you just want to launch a t-shirt line? If so, check into TeeSpring.

Be aware, each has fees attached. Some as low as 5% and some as high as 10% (like TeeSpring).

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8. Layout a strategy for marketing

You’ve got a Facebook account, but your BFFs are only going to share your campaign once or twice before they move on to the latest cat video. You need a marketing plan that will allow you to reach far beyond your circles.

This is where intimately knowing the people whose hearts will be touched by your pleas for help comes into play. If you know them well, you know where to find them online and off.

  1. Create flyers to post in those real world spots.
  2. Create ads for Google and Facebook. You can even buy Twitter ads, too.
  3. Create eye-catching and heart-grabbing images to post on Pinterest using Canva and Pixabay.
  4. Don’t rely solely on Facebook ads. Use your blog to talk about what your campaign. This will generate interest in a more heartfelt fashion. More than once.
  5. Reach out to people via email, but be careful not to spam. Engage them in conversation first, then ask if they’d like to contribute. Even better, add something catchy (not sales-y) to your email signature on your phone and your desktop. This way, no matter where you’re sending from, you’re covered.

9. Influencers can be your friends

Reaching out to influencers during your campaign is a good idea. Let them know you’re raising money for this cause that their audience will truly benefit from. However, do NOT wait until said campaign starts to start conversations with said influencers. Bad, bad idea. Do it early.

Start warming those fires. Try and be seen by them long before you need help. Create genuine relationships and don’t be a beggar. No one wants to feel like they’ve been used.

10. Remember it’s hearts that power wallets

No matter what you do, don’t forget the cardinal rule of crowdfunding: It’s hearts that power wallets.

There’s a trifecta that you cannot ignore if you want people to tear open their wallets for you: Story, authenticity, and credibility. Bake these things into your campaign and you’ll pull people into it. Let them see the passion that powers the idea. This will power the business. Let them feel how much you’ll put into creating “Awesome” for them. Let them experience just how important this campaign really  is. There’s a good chance they will reciprocate with genuine excitement and willingness to give and share.

That’s how you create a successful crowdfunding campaign. And that’s how you’ll get your idea from notion to motion.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

Identifying All of Your Debts

The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

1. Own Your Debt

Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

2. Make a Debt Tracker

It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

3. Get Your Debt Number

Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

Prioritizing Your Debts

All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

There are three main types of bad debt:

  • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
  • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
  • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

  • Student Loan Debt
  • Mortgage Loan
  • Business Loans

2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

“If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

2. Hide Your Credit Cards

If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

3. Automate Everything

Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

4. Plan Ahead

Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

5. Live Cheaply

The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

  • Live with roommates
  • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
  • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
  • Take public transit or bike to work

Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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1. Maintain a High Credit Score

Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

  • Never miss a payment
  • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
  • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
  • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
  • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

2. Earn More Money

There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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Talk to Your Boss

Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

Start a Side Hustle

This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

Build an Online Business

There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

3. Celebrate Your Wins

As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

4. Set New Financial Goals

Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

Conclusion

Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

More Tips on Getting out of Debt

Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

Reference

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