A lot of fans of Addicted2Success have shown interest recently in using crowdfunding for their startup. I thought I would make your life easy and bring you some tips from Rick Chen of Pozible, which is the largest crowdfunding platform in the Asia Pacific region and the 3rd largest globally. They have hosted more than 8000 projects and raised around $25 million dollars to date. The platform started out more for the creative arts industry, but now they have branched out into all sorts of different industries.
Pozible uses the reward based crowdfunding model, which is essentially pre-purchasing goods or services. The campaigns on the site must have an outcome so Pozible knows where the money is being spent. You must hit your funding target otherwise the project doesn’t go ahead, and you don’t get any of the pledges. Of course, you can always run the campaign again, but you have to get the pledges from scratch. The reason Pozible uses the all or nothing model is that they ask their users to only put the minimum amount they need. Anything you get on top of your target still gets to go towards you project. This way of thinking works well because if you know the minimum amount you need to do the project is $13k and you don’t get it, then logically speaking, you won’t proceed.
The idea came when Rick and his business partner were trying to figure out how they could help some of their creative friends raise money. One of those friends was brewing his own beer and having people prepurchase it. Rick and his business partner thought that a crowdfunding platform would be the best way for him to do that, and so, Pozible was created.
The most popular pledge amounts in order are $50, then $25 and then $175. In terms of the largest campaign so far, the award goes to a Chinese Smart Watch startup that raised $800k using Pozible.
Below are Rick Chens 7 tips for running a successful crowdfunding campaign.
1. Know the benefits of crowdfunding
One massive takeaway that I got from interviewing Rick Chen was that I always thought the whole point of crowdfunding was about raising money. While raising money is important, the main benefit you get is that it helps you build an audience for your startup and engage with your community. Even if you only raise a small amount, the raving fans you get on the platform are far more valuable, and you can build a business around them. A few Melbourne cafes have used the platform to sell coupons to their surrounding neighborhoods before they open. When the doors finally open they have had people lining up to use their coupon who now know their brand and live locally to their café – what a great way to gain exposure for your startup. As these people sit down, they can see their faces on the wall as part of their reward.
In general, technology projects tend to raise a bit more than art projects, so keep this in mind.
“If you have a product, that is based on some form of technology, you can use the platform to build your product and get real life feedback from your prospective customers”
2. Tell a great story
To be successful with crowdfunding, you must be personal, genuine and be a person with a real life story that is relatable. If your idea is airy-fairy, your chances of success are very low.
Use the format of a video to tell your story as it’s very convincing and very efficient to get your message across in the quickest amount of time. The video should be under 3 and a half minutes maximum. The one thing that should be in your video is a face, and it should be presented like you are telling your story to a friend. The questions you need to answer in the video are why you’re doing this, why your story is important and what people get out of supporting you.
Show evidence about your project like a prototype or what you have already achieved. This makes your story come across as legitimate. You do not need to do a lot of fancy things in the video otherwise it will come across as a branding video, not a pitch video. The video doesn’t have to be very professional and can just be done on your iPhone or webcam, although better quality is always a good thing, even though, the audience are not that picky. Make sure your video is trying to convince the audience and not Pozible of your story.
Don’t forget to include plenty of photos with your campaign. Rick says that photos displayed in a portrait layout work better than landscape because of the page layout of Pozible. Most campaigns on Pozible don’t have enough photos so try and put some really high-quality ones alongside the story. While it’s important to have text, a lot of people, don’t read it so make sure you have a good contrast between photos, video and text to cater for everybody’s needs.
3. Set the right minimum for your pledge
Knowing what target to set for your pledge depends on the actual project itself. Setting the target is a double edge sword because the higher you set it, the harder it is to reach. At the same time, you want to make sure you are asking for enough money to complete your project.
Once you have hit 100% of your target, there are other ways to get more pledges later on. There has been a lot of success on Pozible where campaigns have been reached and then later, a follow-up campaign is launched. An example of this is Adore Home Magazine, which has successfully funded three issues of their magazine on Pozible.
“Ask yourself, if the target of your project is $10k and someone offered you $7k to do it, would you still go ahead. If the answer is yes, then your target is too high”
4. Supporter’s care about the rewards
A good reward system combines tangible products, an experience and recognition together to attract supporters. Often people focus too much on the tangible products and discount the experience and recognition rewards.
A great experience might be if you were a musician you could have people pay $250 and you will come to their home and sing – you can’t buy this in a store. If you’re a startup and you’re trying to start a café, you could have one of your rewards as recognition where if someone pledges a certain amount, you put their name on the wall of the café.
The other thing you should think about when designing your rewards is that if your idea doesn’t work, are the rewards something that you can still deliver regardless?
5. Pre-launch and market your campaign
The maximum length of a campaign is on Pozible is 60 days. 30-50 days is usually a good place to start so that it doesn’t get too long and tedious. Before you even put your campaign up you should make sure that you have already launched it on social media to gather early stage supporters. Don’t make the mistake of launching your campaign with no marketing or traction beforehand. Most of the traction will be built from social media, not from the Pozible site – money won’t just fall out of the sky you must market it. As with any business idea or startup, you also need to have a social media strategy that involves your audience in the form of a content plan.
Rick says you should ask for pledges to your campaign around one to two times per day along with some content for your audience. Make sure you don’t ask for a pledge the same way every day and try and change it up.
One idea is to use the campaign update function on Pozible to tell your audience how far your campaign has come and what you’re working on for the campaign right now. For example, posting on social media the day the prototype becomes ready and then the next day you could say you just went to visit the manufacturer. As you approach the deadline for your project you should let people know and include some visuals, as this has been seen to be very effective in getting those last minute pledges.
6. Don’t be afraid to be quirky
There was a musician in Melbourne that wanted to raise a very small amount of money to buy a pint of beer and a chicken parmigiana at his local pub. His reason for starting the campaign was that it was hard to enjoy some of these simple pleasures being a musician, so he made the decision to turn on crowdfunding. The rewards he had on offer were anything from pledging a dollar so he will think about you when he drinks his beer, all the way up to $40 which allows you to join him in the pub to have a beer and chicken parma with him. As simple as this may sound, this campaign got a lot of media attention, and he got to have dinner with quite a few strangers after his campaign was complete.
While he didn’t make any money from the campaign, this story is very much a form of social engagement and could even be considered art. Could this be a clever way for your startup to test an idea or express your brand?
7. Take your startup overseas
On a platform like Pozible you can accept pledges from all around the world and they currently receive pledges from over 100 countries including China. Having launched in China last year, Pozible have already noticed that a lot of Chinese projects get pledges from overseas. This is a great way to gain overseas attention and money for your idea that could be the difference between success and failure.
If your campaign is not successful the most important thing to do is find out why, before considering to do another one. There is no exact timeframe for relaunching again, just make sure you understand why your idea is not selling. This will help you save money later on because you will have valuable market data around your idea. If you’re thinking of launching the campaign on a multiple crowdfunding platforms at the same time, this is a bad idea because people will support your idea no matter what platform it’s on. If you have two destinations for your prospects to go on and pledge, you will confuse them. Also, if you target is $50k and you set up a campaign on both platforms and only raise $25k on each, you end up having two failed attempts. If you setup on one platform you could potentially hit the $50k target instead of raising zero.
When I asked Rick what his favorite book was, he said that he enjoys content from the website “The School of Life.” This site helps educate people on the skill sets for life such as dealing with stress, managing relationships and staying emotionally healthy.
The future of crowdfunding is bright, and we will see more and more ways for it to be used. Already, Pozible are testing if research projects can be funded by their platform. They are also seeing farming being reinvigorated through crowdfunding, and having rewards be delivered in the form of fresh food from local farmers. Traditionally farmers relied on the big supermarket chains to sell and market their produce; now crowdfunding has helped to level the playing field.
If you want to try your own crowdfunding campaign, then visit Ricks website Pozible to get started and become a game changer.
You Are The Problem With Your Business
A great way to screw up your company is to get into the habit of blaming your suppliers, the market, your staff or your product for your failures.
I recently heard a story of a business that had set up a website. They sold various products and services focusing on helping people with psychological issues. The business owner was smart. The product solved a problem.
Unfortunately, the company was making almost no money. They’d hired someone to help them with their digital marketing and it wasn’t working.
Plenty of traffic was coming to the site, users were having a look around and then not buying a single thing. Who’s fault was this?
Well, according to the business owner it was the person running their digital marketing. As a result, they wasted approximately eight months marketing a website that couldn’t make any sales. The reason the business was failing according to the owner was because of the keywords that were being targeted in the marketing campaign. This is a horrible excuse.
The reason your business fails is because you’re blaming someone other than yourself. It’s the quickest way to bankruptcy. Don’t do that.
Your company is a reflection of you.
It took me a long time to figure out that a company is a reflection of its founder.
One of the businesses I had, had a toxic culture and a bunch of people that were rude to customers, arrogant and not nice people. That was a reflection of exactly who I was at the time.
The company was reflecting the flaws of my own life and what I refused to admit.
In the case of the business owner above, what was obvious is that they were good at telling lies to themselves. It was easy not to change as a business owner and insist that the change needed was nothing to do with their vision.
The issue of their company was not the digital marketing strategy but their lack of understanding around what their customer wanted.
The thought that their products were too complicated, not solving a real problem or priced incorrectly was an admission of guilt they wanted no part in. Hence the eventual demise of their company.
Take responsibility and it will change.
When you own the business, everything is your fault.
You have the power to solve any problem you choose. It starts with you being brave enough to admit that there’s a problem, and then secondly, being bold enough to insist it’s your fault and that you can change it.
The problems in your business can all be solved. That’s what it took me a very long time to understand. When I changed as a person and faced up to my hidden battle with mental illness that I didn’t want to talk about, the odds turned in my favor.
Had I have not taken responsibility for my mental illness, I would have never become a leader in a business or started another side hustle. I would have been crippled by the big, bad world that I thought I could control.
Control came from responsibility, and responsibility solved the major problem in my business: me.
Change is a must.
Not with your digital marketing strategy.
Not with hiring new people.
Not with developing a new product.
“Changing yourself is the *must* because YOU attract the problems and the solutions into your business”
You can’t find the solutions or stop the never-ending problems until you stop the cause of it all: you. You’re the problem with your business. The good news is that it’s entirely within your control to fix.
Not the business.
The Different Ways of Measuring the Success of Your Start-Up
You’ve probably heard people use the term “unicorn” in a business context. This means a privately held start-up whose value has grown to at least one billion American dollars. Think Airbnb, Uber, and so forth. There is no doubt that some start-ups have been major financial successes. And many smaller-scale start-ups are doing great as well, working hard and turning a steady profit. But that begs the question of whether finances are the only way to measure the success of a start-up. As it turns out, they might not be. At least, not always and not on their own.
How to Evaluate Success
As anyone who’s been involved with start-ups knows, you need a fair amount of flexibility to do well in this environment. Take the division of labour for example – rather than strict roles, you’ll often see everyone do a bit of everything. The same principle extends to measuring success. It can be vague and mean different things to different people, and it can change over time.
But amongst all that vagueness, one thing has become clear. Predicting the success of a start-up is very difficult for external observers. As a matter of fact, it’s often impossible. Therefore, in order to evaluate how successful a start-up has truly been, we need to know the goals of its founder(s).
“Success means we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others.” – Marianne Williamson
When people think about business, it’s common to boil matters down to the finances. And it certainly is possible to use numbers to measure and predict the performance of a start-up business. Net worth, gross margin, customer acquisition cost – these can all be indicators of success. But, a start-up can post impressive numbers for a while, perhaps even attract large investors, and still shut down in the end. So does this make it a failure?
The answer to this depends. If the founders wanted to start a lasting business, then yes, they failed to meet their goal. However, that isn’t always the case. If they were looking for a short-term solution and came out with more money than they had coming in, a closed-down start-up needn’t be unsuccessful. It can actually be the opposite of that.
So, looking at the figures isn’t enough, and there are different perspectives to consider. When they start planning their business venture, start-up founders may not have any particular numbers in mind when it comes to profit. Instead, they can judge their success according to some of the following criteria.
1. Happy Customers and Solving Problems
The story of a start-up often begins with a problem. The desire to help people overcome a specific issue can be the spark which ignites the creation of an entire business. And in the end, that may be all that matters to the founders.
This is closely connected to the happiness of the customers. If the resulting product or service has made people happy by helping them solve a problem, that is all that may be required for a start-up to be a success. Now, no business wants unsatisfied customers. But in cases like this, happy customers aren’t the way toward the ultimate goal – they are that goal.
In other words, some start-up founders don’t just use financial reports to measure how much they’ve achieved. To them, the one metric which stands above all others is the quantity of positive feedback they’ve received. The main area of focus is customers who use the start-up’s products or services to solve a problem they were having.
Every start-up founder likes doing well in terms of revenue. But for some of these entrepreneurs, the profit is merely a side effect of what they actually set out to do – impact the world in a positive manner. You can see an example of this line of thought with Elon Musk. He said that back in college, he had wanted to be a part of things that could end up changing the world. The continuation of this philosophy is evident in his electric cars (which aim to reduce pollution) and the SpaceX program (which strives to break down some of the barriers of space exploration).
In both cases, the furthering of mankind is the ultimate goal. Many other start-up founders feel the same, even if they have smaller goals in mind. To these people, there is no greater proof of success than if their company has had a positive impact on society or even a small segment of it. In their view, to make a difference is to succeed.
“The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment.” – Tony Robbins
For some, starting up their own business is less about getting rich and more about gaining the freedom to conduct their business the way they want to. In this case, financial success is just a means to an end. The endgame is to be your own boss.
The fact is, some people don’t do well when they’re constantly receiving orders. They are simply hardwired to be free thinkers and they require an environment that allows them to do things in their own way.
Being in a position where you hold all the cards can be exhilarating. The knowledge that your decisions are final is very empowering, and many strive for such freedom. If a start-up can allow such people to go from being a regular employee to being in charge of making all the decisions, then it has already achieved all the success that it needs to.
4. Time for Friends and Family
As many people know all too well, a job can easily turn into the focal point of your daily life. Instead of being a way to support your lifestyle, your work dominates your time. And when that happens, the time you have to dedicate to your loved ones becomes scarce. Combating this is precisely what some have in mind when they decide to take the leap and start their own business.
Now, running your own company is no mean feat and it will require a lot of effort. But the beginning is the most time-consuming part of the process. Later on, it can be possible to create a system which leaves you with a lot more time on your hands. You can spend this time with your significant other, your children, or your friends. A start-up which gives you this opportunity is perhaps the greatest success of all.
A start-up is an extension of its founders and so are that company’s goals. Some entrepreneurs are in it for the profit, but not all of them. In the end, there is no single way to measure the success of a start-up. It all comes down to the specific aims of those who established it. But if the founders can end their day on a happy note, then the venture is a success even if it doesn’t fit some standard definition of the term.
The Problem Is Not Your Website Or Your Product.
I spend a lot of my time talking to business owners. They focus on their product, their marketing channels and trying to make more profit.
I met one such business owner who was in the plastic surgery business. Their product (boob jobs and nose jobs) was not working. Their website sucked and people clicked off as soon as they visited it.
People would call their office, get put on hold, listen to the on hold message and hang up.
This business didn’t seem all that special. I’ve talked to many businesses and didn’t think for a microsecond that a plastic surgery clinic could ever teach me anything valuable.
I’ve been to Hollywood on holidays and the issues of body image are all too apparent to me. Anyway, this post is not about body image.
I ended up losing this business as a customer — not that I would ever have sold anything to them if it were up to me. I sat down one afternoon and thought about why we no longer did business with them.
That’s when I realized it’s not about your product or your website. All the issues with this plastic surgery clinic and a lot of other businesses I’ve dealt with stem from one thing. Let me explain in more detail.
Your Google Reviews say you’re an piece of work.
I looked up their Google Reviews and their customers said they were assholes.
They spoke down to clients, they didn’t deliver their clients what they wanted, they argued with their staff in front of customers and they treated people like they were nothing more than a dollar sign.
All I had to do was read their Google reviews to see that the problem wasn’t their product or their website.
Your clients tell you every day that you suck.
I asked the plastic surgery what their clients said.
Many of their clients told them that their services sucked and they would prefer to go to places like Thailand where they could get a better product at a much lower price.
The business owner made the mistake of thinking it was their product that was the problem and that a new website will tell clients a different message.
That wasn’t it.
You abuse your staff and they consistently leave.
I spoke with many staff that worked for this business.
Every single one of them hated the company and were not afraid to say what they thought of the business owner.
The business owner would sit outside on a nice sunny day and look across the street at all the yachts and the people boarding them.
They’d sit there and think that every lead they got was going to take them one step closer to owning their very own yacht.
“If only I could deliver more boob jobs, maybe I could have one of those,” they thought quietly to themselves hoping that no one else could hear how ridiculous this sounded.
I can remember multiple times being on the phone to the business owner and having one of their staff burst into tears halfway through the call.
The first time it happened I didn’t think much. After the third time, I got the message. During the short time I dealt with this business, people consistently left. If you made it to the six-month mark, you were some sort of hero and would probably be given a free surgery to say thank you for your work and make you feel worse about your own body at the same time.
It was free noses and boobs in return for daily abuse.
The problem still wasn’t the website all the product.
You don’t solve real problems; you solve your own problem.
A good business solves a problem.
That problem typically affects human beings and solving it is how you make money in business. Solving problems can start out with a problem that affects you, but at some point, you’ve got to start solving that same problem for other people/businesses.
This owner of this plastic surgery clinic was only trying to solve their own problem which was making more money to buy fancy items like yachts.
Only solving your own problem is not just selfish but bad business.
Good business is solving a big problem or lots of small problems for entire strangers who you don’t know thus doing something valuable for the human race.
Solving only your problem will make you poor.
The problem still wasn’t their website or product.
Creating more problems.
Everything this business owner sold created more problems.
They’d film videos to purposely make people feel like their body wasn’t perfect.
They’d write articles suggesting that everyone needs botox to feel young.
They’d take photos of men and women who were supposed to be perfect so that young people would dream of looking like them.
Not only was their business not solving a real problem; it was also creating more problems every day that it existed.
If your business creates more problems than it solves, you’re in real trouble.You need to take a long hard look at the business and become obsessed with doing everything you can to change it — and do so damn fast to limit the whirlwind of problems you’re creating behind you.
The heart of the problem.
It’s the business owner.
The business I mentioned will fail. That part is certain. The problem with the business is not the website or the product.
The problem is the business has no heart because the business owner has no heart.
You cannot focus on your own selfish desires, create really bad problems in the world, treat other human beings like garbage and expect to go buy a yacht and live happily ever after. It just doesn’t happen like that.
Whether you are a plastic surgery clinic like the one I described or a solo entrepreneur, the problem with your business is you.
Fix the problem of YOU. You can’t get away with being horrible forever.
Being horrible is bad business.
Being respectful, kind and valuable is the final answer to the problem with your business.
18 Must Read Business Books for Emerging Entrepreneurs and Startups
Reading is both relaxation and training for the mind. Who reads, dives into another world. Learning, entertaining and breaking out of everyday life for a short moment. One could go even so far as to say reading is the second most beautiful thing in the world! Whether it is non-fiction or a novel of all the world’s man has created, the book is the most powerful tool. That is also, why we wanted to find out which business book you should undertake in the new year. (more…)
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