#33 - Crowdfunding for small business: The what, the why and the how

This week's podcast guest is Eden Spodek. Eden owns her own company that provides digital communications services including content development and execution, coaching and assistance with crowdfunding campaigns.

What is crowdfunding?

According to Google, crowdfunding is: “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.”

Together Tales – A Crowdfunding Success Story

Eden Spodek crowdfunding

Eden has worked with quite a few companies to help them raise funds with crowdfunding bit Together Tales was the first one and it was a resounding success.

The founder of a new product approached Eden about six months before the product’s launch looking for someone who was interested in working with him to get the word out about his product: a personalized interactive print book that incorporates real world activities and gaming.

Eden helped him with every aspect of the product promotion. He had done research on crowdfunding and knew exactly what he needed in terms of building the right team and sought out different people whose skill sets would work well together. So, they had a web developer, graphic designer, etc.  and everyone had a stake in the success of this product.

By crowdfunding and setting up a campaign that was well planned out, he was able to get the funds to produce his product: Together Tales!

Ways to use crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding does not only have to be for the production of a physical product. If you are a small business owner, you may need crowdfunding for cause marketing or to bring a community together to raise funds for a family going through a difficult time and may need financial assistance. 

You can also use crowdfunding for “backers” so filmmakers and artists can find financial support to create a film or to sustain them while they finish a novel. The Veronica Mars movie is a great example of this.

If you are a writer or podcaster look at a platform like Patreon, which helps artists find funds so they can keep working on a project. You can commit certain funds to a specific project i.e., if I continue to create a podcast you will give me $10 each time I do so, etc. You can subscribe to these services, so for example I used to subscribe to Walk on the Earth so every time they released a new song I would donate one dollar to them.

Crowdfunding is not all about raising funds to see your passion product become a reality, but sometimes it’s about raising awareness about a product or service. Either a business needs the funds or they need the public relations – and sometimes they need both.

You may even see a crowdfunding project on a product that is already on store shelves, if so it is definitely a part of a public relations campaign.

How to get started crowdfunding

As the founder and heart and soul of the project, you need to be completely dedicated, for the funding and follow through of the project. It takes a lot of planning and time – you should start building your community about six months before launching your crowdfunding campaign.

Your ideal target is to raise 30% of your funding target within the first 48 hours of the campaign launch. You have to make an effort to be present and engaged during the campaign. You need to make those relationships happen and nourish them in order for your campaign to be successful.

You will also need an email list that complies with CASL or the anti-spam laws in your country because in the first 72 hours these contacts will be the bread and butter of your campaign.

How important is video?

You have 10-15 seconds in your video to engage the viewer in a video and this video is what can capture people’s attention, so make it great! The video should be polished to build people’s confidence in you. Show as much as your product or service as much as possible in order to make it more tangible for viewers. And again, this needs to be planned and created well before the launch.

Crowdfunding Basics

Have a plan, a realistic goal, and have 1/3 of your funding accounted for before you launch your campaign – meaning you have engaged with these people in some way and got as close to a guarantee as possible prior to launching. The quicker you can raise those funds the more people you will reach organically through the platform you are using. The campaigns most likely to succeed typically have raised a lot of money in the 48-72 hours.

You can also use perks or rewards to encourage funding; incentives that will encourage people to contribute and build momentum. A print of artwork, t-shirts, etc. that speak to the cause, service or product that money is being raised for.

It doesn’t have to be a tangible item, but it could be the promise of keeping them informed throughout the campaign, etc. Sometimes this will give people the chance to increase their contribution, which is important for campaigns like Kickstarter where you have to raise your entire goal or you get nothing. You can also offer rewards based on contribution levels, including offering only one of something special for a large contribution you set before you launch i.e., a signed something or tickets to something, etc.

Crowdfunding, with proper planning and execution, can be a great way to raise money in or for your business. Would you consider it?