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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 June 6, 2019

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

Are you on track for retirement?

If not, don’t worry, I’m not sure either. I save each month and hope for the best.

Fortunately, I’m at an age where most people don’t save so I’m ahead of the curve.

But, what if you aren’t in your 20s? What if you’re near retirement and are looking to gauge where you stand?

If so, keep reading. Here’s how to prepare for retirement and save wisely during the process.

What Does the Average American Have Saved for Retirement?

Saving for retirement is tricky.

Tell someone straight out of college to save $10k a year for retirement and it’ll be next to impossible.

Make the same request to someone decades older and they’d be more likely to be able to save this amount. But, a 20-year old college student can be “financially ahead” of someone saving more than them. Why?

Age matters in your financial journey. The younger you are, the more time you have to save and put compound interest to work. As you get older and have more saving power, you’d have less time to put compound interest to work.

Here are the average savings Americans hold by age bracket:

20’s – $16,000

During this stage, most people are paying loans and moving up the corporate ladder. Your best bet during this stage is to focus on eliminating debt and increasing your income. Don’t focus only on getting a high-paying job neither.

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Instead, focus on learning via Podcasts, reading books, and taking specialized courses. Doing this will make you more valuable and give you more career options.

30’s – $45,000

At this stage, you’ve hopefully escaped your entry-level salary and work at a career you enjoy. Your earning power has increased but you now have more obligations. For example, marriage, kids, and a mortgage.

Set a plan to pay off all your debt and focus on eliminating unnecessary expenses. Leverage financial tools like Personal Capital to ensure you’re on track for retirement.

40’s – $63,000

This is the stage where you’re at the prime of your career. Top financial institutions recommend you have at least 2 to 4 times your salary saved up. If you’re falling behind, start maxing out your 401K and Roth IRA accounts.

50’s – $115,000

During your fifties, you’re close to retirement but still, have time to save. You may be helping your kids pay college tuition and other expenses. Since you’re at the peak of your earning power, max out all your retirement accounts.

60’s – $172,000

By this point, you should have about eight times your salary saved up. If not, you’ll depend primarily on social security benefits averaging $1400 per month. Max out all your retirement options as much as possible before retiring.

Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

The sad reality is that most Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement.

Even high-earning power isn’t enough to secure one’s financial future. You need to have the discipline to save for retirement while time is in your favor. Don’t wait for you to have a high salary to save, start with having a small budget.

First, get a clear picture of where you stand. Write down a list of “needs” and “wants.” For example, Netflix and Amazon Prime are “wants” and a “cell-phone” is a need.

Use tools like Personal Capital to analyze your spending patterns. Personal Capital allows you to add all your financial data in one place–making it a powerful option to gauge where you stand.

Once you know all your expenses, organize them from highest to lowest expense. When you can’t cut more expenses, call your service providers to negotiate a lower price. If you’re not good at negotiating, use services like Trimm to lower your monthly expenses.

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How to Save Money Each Month

By this point, you know the average amount of money you should have saved for retirement based on your age.

But, breaking this down into monthly goals can be challenging. Here are some rule of thumbs to follow:

Aim to contribute 10%–15% of your salary each paycheck. Review your progress each week.

Why so often? The reality is that life gets in our way and you will have many financial setbacks. Your goal isn’t to be perfect but to get back on track instead.

Reviewing your finances weekly lets you know where you stand with your retirement. This doesn’t have to be a long process either. All it takes is login in Personal Capital to view your net worth and check how much you have saved for retirement.

Turn saving into a game and aim to save more each month. It will get challenging but you’ll get creative and find more ways to save.

Top Money Saving Challenge Tips

To prepare for your financial future and not be another statistic you need to be different.

How?

By adopting new habits that’ll help you become a saving machine. Here are some ways you can save more:

Automatically Contribute Towards Retirement

If you’re working for a company, you can automatically contribute towards your 401k. If you’re not currently contributing more than 10%, make this your goal. Contribute 1% more today and automatically increase this amount a year from now.

Odds are that you’re not going to be negatively affected by contributing 1% more. Many times we spend our money on things we don’t need. Contributing more towards retirement is a great way to secure your financial future.

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Use the Right Tools to Know Where You Stand

Once you’re contributing more towards your retirement accounts, gauge your progress. Make use of finance tracking apps to help you view the big picture of your retirement.

When I’d first signed up for the app Personal Capital, I didn’t know I had a negative net worth. Despite saving thousands of dollars, my debt brought my net worth to the negative. Knowing this motivated me to save more and spend less.

Now, I have a positive net worth. But, it was because I was able to view the big picture using the app. Find out what your net worth is using a finance tracking app and you may surprise yourself.

Bring in Experts to View Your Blind Spots

If you have too little or too much money saved, you should consider hiring financial experts.

Why?

You may need someone to hold you accountable to help you reach your financial goals. Or, you may need help managing your money as effective as possible.

Regardless of the reason, getting help may help improve your financial situation.

Before you hire an expert, find out which areas you need help the most. For example, if you’re constantly overspending, find a debt counselor. If you’re struggling with choosing the best investment options, hire a financial advisor.

Speed up Your Retirement Contribution

After learning how to manage your money well, the next best thing is to earn a higher income.

You’re capped at how much you can save but not much you can earn. Even if your employer isn’t giving you a promotion, you can still take charge of your financial future. How?

By starting a side-business.

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This will be something you’d work on after you’ve finished your day job. Once you start earning income from your side-business, you’ll be financially better off.

The best part is the more work you put into your side-business,[1] the more potential it has to earn more money.

So start a side-business in an area you’re familiar with. For example, if you enjoy writing, do freelance writing for small e-commerce businesses.

Once you’re earning a higher income, you can contribute more towards your retirement. Don’t wait for the right opportunity to secure your financial future, create one.

Reach Financial Freedom with Confidence

What if you were able to retire tomorrow with no problem, all because you’d have enough money saved up and little to no debt left to pay off? How would you feel?

My guess is that you’d feel happy and relieved.

Most Americans are falling behind their retirement goals for many reasons. They’re not prepared, they carry bad money-habits and are thinking short-term.

For you to retire successfully, you need to work backward and adopt better habits. Contribute more towards your 401K and focus on growing your income.

If you do, you’ll save money and pay debt faster.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re behind your retirement goals. Take the first step today towards a brighter financial future. Isn’t retirement worth the hard work and sacrifice to be at peace?

Featured photo credit: Huy Phan via unsplash.com

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