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8 Tips Game Developers Can Teach Startups About Crowdfunding

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You are about to learn the power of game developers and the principles they live by which can cause any startup to thrive if followed correctly. Never have I met two guys who are more passionate about what they do than Trent Kusters and Blake Mizzi who are two of four directors from game development collective League Of Geeks (LoG for short). To date, LoG have spent about $800k AUD on creating their game Armello and have crowdfunded nearly half of that through Kickstarter.

In Trent and Blake’s mind LoG is a collective of artists trying to create experiences, build amazing games and wow their users, but what I don’t think they realise is that their business plan, techniques and execution is probably better than most Fortune 500 companies. They have taken gaming concepts and applied them to their business with overwhelming success. When you couple that with a supportive government in Victoria (Australia) who understand how important the gaming industry is to the local economy, you have a Master Chef recipe for success. (GET EXCITED!!!)

 

***The Secret Sauce of Armello***

League Of Geeks is a game development collective that is structured so that they can work and collaborate with developers all around the world. They have created a world first model that works by gamifying the development of their game.

One of the directors had worked for a large game studio before joining League Of Geeks, and after he had left a company that he helped create into a world-class brand, he was left with nothing. This studio had tried their own version of a profit-share model, but it left the hourly rate of developers at something that was less than the industry average. After a failed attempt at starting a studio with a profit share model and the experience of leaving a big studio with nothing, the guys thought there had to be a better way to remunerate their team members.

Instead of using a numerical share the guys pivoted their new studio to have a gamified points based system. The points are earned based on a successfully, completed and approved task within their project. As all the tasks are being completed, they are accumulating into a pool of finished points. The total profits of the game are then sliced up between the company (League Of Geeks) and all the contributors.

The more tasks you do, the more points you earn and the more your percentage is of the games profits. The most important part when coming up with this point system is to understand how many hours your project will take, how many points will be needed and what the projected profits are of the project.

When you know this you can mathematically work out if the hourly rate is fair for the work your contributors need to do. It is unfair if someone spends fifty hours doing work for you and gets $5. The system must be honest, and a contributor should be able to earn more money from points than being paid hourly by the company.

To manage all of this the guys use the Pivotal Tracker software that helps them to see the velocity of their project and at what date certain milestones of the game will be completed – they can even see real time distractions like this interview affect their output. How can you implement the world-class technology that League Of Geeks has come up within your startup?

 

Below are Trent and Blake’s top eight tips to creating a textbook crowdfunding campaign for your startup.

 

1. Talk with other highly successful crowdfunding campaigns

Before the Armello guys did their campaign, they spoke with the top Video Game success stories from Kickstarter to see what they did to be successful at raising lots of money. It’s a great idea to hit them with questions and find out from them what worked, what didn’t work and what they would do again. You could even take it one level above that and send them a copy of your draft crowdfunding campaign and ask them for feedback.

The guys spent months researching Kickstarter and they describe it as a bit of a dark art where you hear legends that something might work if you say it in a certain tone or if the moon hits a certain position then a different strategy could work. Even though you can talk with other successful campaign founders, and their campaign could do everything right, just remember that their success is for that point in time – another point in time might yield completely different results even if you mirror the campaign with your own story. Some of the techniques though are timeless and can work at any point in time.

One lesson that the guys learnt from speaking with these other video game developers was that they had backers that had paid for the $10k tier, but in the end they just couldn’t afford it. If you can’t make your goal without having big tiers, then you’re in trouble anyway. Not all, your pledges will come through, and you have to expect a 15% drop off when you come to collect your pledges. The most common pledges that fall off are the larger ones. You can also get some users doing crazy pledge amounts just to troll your project.

Armello Gameplay

Armello Gameplay

Other backers from successful campaigns received a reward to come and spend a day at the game developers studio and the whole experience was an awkward interaction where it didn’t feel like there was a fair exchange of value. In these situations, you can feel like your time is not worth $10k and that that person could have just called up, and you would have let them come down and check out the studio for free. The Armello guys learnt from this advice, and from a responsibility point of view, they decided not to have monster high pledge tiers.

Kickstarter has 200-300 categories, and there is no precedence for this type of economic model ever before crowdfunding arose. Every single one of those categories has different purchaser and backer behaviours, so it’s worth studying your campaign’s niche thoroughly.

 

2. Communicate your why correctly

Kickstarter provides what’s known as good money, which means that there is no real legal obligation and no interest on the money to be paid. A lot of the campaign owners and backers work on a trust system and are trying to fill a need, so it’s very important to communicate your why correctly. You have to have a good product and not just one that anybody can get anywhere. It’s always good to come to Kickstarter when you really need the money because this will come through in your pledge, and it did for the Armello game.

Putting up a campaign where you say, “we have made the product already but we thought we would raise money anyway,” won’t work. In this scenario, there is no reason for someone to jump on board. A crowd of people will usually jump onboard your campaign because of compassion for your cause or early access to your product. Early access is appealing when you make the person feel like they are guiding the development and helping the developer finish the final product not just early access to something.

“People want to feel like they are the savior and that your boat is filling with water and they have jumped on with buckets to stop you sinking”

 

3. Create a rally and cry

When your startup is told by the industry that there isn’t a market for what you’re doing, your campaign can help create a call to arms that there is a need and for people to show their interest. Campaigns that demonstrate that the only way for something to be done is via crowdfunding, seem to work best. A great example is a game called Star Citizen where the gaming publishers of the world thought PC Games were dead and these guys proved through their campaign that they’re not.

Your campaign needs to be something that can only be achieved through crowdfunding and is the last hope to get the project off the ground.

Sell the dream of crowdfunding that people can come on board and make the game or project better. Give the users a sense that they will get one hundred times the value in return for their $15 pledge. When creating this rally make sure the page flows in the best possible way it can. For example, if you have beautiful music that accompanies your project you could tell the user to click play on the music as they are reading your story. Once your final story is up on the site consider cutting out sections that you don’t need and editing each section down to half of its length – only keep the critical content.

 

4. Implement a multi-stage campaign that is well timed

You shouldn’t bring your product to crowdfunding until you have a demo, and in the case of a game, something that can be played in some way, otherwise you are raising money too early. Part of LoG’s success with crowdfunding was to implement a three-stage campaign. They, first of all, ran their 30-day Kickstarter campaign that made them $305k. They then followed this up with a two and a half month Slacker Backer campaign that allowed them to keep collecting pledges on their website after the campaign was over.

The final step was to follow all of this up with an automated Backer Kit service one month after the Slacker Backer campaign. Backer Kit has been specifically designed to import all your data from other campaigns and merge it with your Kickstarter campaign.

On a platform like Kickstarter, you don’t have access to your backers contact details or their location. Backer Kit brings in a lot more details about your backers although the users must volunteer that information to you. This databasing of your backers allows you to generate CSV files and reports in case you want to email them or find out the geography of the backers (great for working out your tax bill).

Once Backer Kit has all your data in one place, it then sends out a customer service / survey email to your backers to manage the after campaign experience. The primary function it does though is to allow backers to increase their pledge tier from the one they originally selected, say $35, up a level to something like the $55 tier. Backers can also add add-ons, update their shipping address and details, which allows you to not have to deal with the customer service end of your campaign and tie everything in together.

 

5. Video – lights, camera, action

A high number of people that go to your page will watch the video, so this is crucial. Only a small number of projects that don’t have a video actually get funded. For the video to resonate it’s a good idea to have you or one of the other founders talking to the backers and to get your team on camera as well. A good closing line to your video could be “we want to bring this product to life, and we need you to make this happen!”

Your video should sell the dream, have a call to arms, be short and succinct, no longer than 3 minutes and ideally have some juicy animation if you can. Videos that are longer than 5 minutes typically have a rough drop off rate of 90% so make sure you follow the 3-5 minute format.

 

Watch Trent show you how a good video should be presented

 

6. Try some of these promotion techniques

The first four days of your campaign are the most important and you shouldn’t intend on sleeping at all, only promoting your campaign like crazy in every possible way you can. 40% of your funds will be raised during this time so if you only get 10% of your total pledge, then your campaign is usually over. What you raise in the first four days of your campaign is what you will do in the last four days. Thirty-five days is the best length for a campaign so try and set this as the length if you want to be successful.

A technique that can work well on Kickstarter is to cross-promote other campaigns in your updates. This cross-pollination is well received and will see some mutually beneficial promotion occur early on – campaigns speak to each other. Outside of the Kickstarter platform the next biggest attributer to funds for Armello was Twitter and then Facebook. The Armello guys saw that as soon as they put out a tweet or a post, they would see an injection of cash into their Kickstarter campaign – you have to be there stroking those oars on the rowboat.

Thirty Days of Despair

A crowdfunding campaign typically has a spike of funds in the beginning, a spike at the end and a trench in the middle where no matter what you do you can’t seem to raise a lot of funds.

To prove that crowdfunding is a bit of a dark art, Blake and Trent said that during one part of the Armello campaign the guys got IGN (one of the largest gaming sites in the world) to tweet a gameplay reveal to millions of people on their Youtube and Twitter accounts, and they didn’t see a single bump to pledges at all. Three days later a smaller site called Kotaku posted another gameplay video, and this then caught the tail end of their campaign that helped them raise $150k. You never know which marketing campaign is going to deliver.

The engagement with your campaign is really important as to whether your marketing will work, and people will pledge. The projects that typically get funded have a high amount of comments, so it’s important for you to stimulate the conversation on your crowdfunding page and get people talking. The more comments you have, the better your curation will be within Kickstarter’s platform.

During Armello’s 30-day Kickstarter campaign, the guys were on shifts managing their page 24/7 and replying to people’s questions. If a user reaches out and then you reply back straight away and then someone else sees you answering questions then they will ask a question. To create this natural viral loop, you must be 100% committed during the whole campaign to be there no matter what. The Armello page even had some of the users calling themselves the champion of the game so Trent and Blake would answer their questions and address them as the champion to make them feel inclusive of a community.

Most of your pledges will be International – UK and USA are typically the highest. This means that you shouldn’t concentrate your marketing in one country and try and target a few of the places where you see pledges coming from. Three days after the start of the Armello Kickstarter campaign, Trent jumped on a plane to the USA to start promoting what they were doing at a convention – don’t be afraid to do the media circuit in person in conjunction with your online marketing.

The Bitly secret weapon

When you’re posting links to your crowdfunding campaign on social media you should always try and use something like a custom Bitly links so that you don’t have some giant URL that won’t fit in a tweet. These links are typically more memorable, easier for people to share and will give you greater analytics as to who’s clicking the link.

 

7. Structure your rewards strategy

You must have clear, well-defined goals that are easy to read and understand aren’t convoluted, and that offer people real value every time they step up. To achieve this, you will need to have a focused strategy with your rewards. For the Armello game, the main goal was to funnel everyone into the $55 tier and then if they got a chance, they would encourage backers to go to a higher rewards tier from there.

One of the secrets is not to necessarily have lots of backers, but to have a high amount of money raised at the end. Due to the strategy with Armello’s rewards, the game raised more than $300k with a very low number of backers, because the average pledge was $49, which is quite high for a crowdfunding campaign.

The Armello guys were able to get people up to the next tier because as soon as a backer purchased the game at the base tier, immediately they created something new that came out which communicated that it was better value to go up another tier. Then a backer moves up again because something new has been added into another one of the higher tiers, etc.

Against each tier, you should profile a buyer type. For example, on one tier the Armello guys based the tier around someone who would love the audio, on another it was a buyer that might like the story books, or someone that wants to be the collector, or someone that wants to be the hardcore gamer to get in early. Different buyer types could then correspond to different pledge amounts, which you need to estimate to work out how much someone might pay. People that like the physicality of collector items might be willing to pay more than someone that just likes the audio of the game.

When offering physical rewards like figurines, books or t-shirts it can be very easy to get a quote from a manufacturer, set the pledge amount and then find that when you come to fulfil that order the price to manufacture and ship can be a lot more expensive. The way to overcome this is to build in a large buffer in case the cost of your rewards are more than expected.

 

8. Community is everything with crowdfunding

Kickstarter allows you to build a community, and the core community are coming onboard for the ride. The platform allows you to make your biggest fans even bigger fans, and you’re making them champions to go out and promote your product.

You’re also making your product better because this community is then getting early access to try it out and help shape the direction of the product build better. The community helps to make you more accountable because when you hear the bad feedback you instantly want to fix the issues they are facing.

The majority of your funding from Kickstarter will come from people browsing Kickstarter. These people that browse Kickstarter are almost like nomadic tribes that go from project to project. When a backer puts in $15, they get to go on a roller coaster ride, and it can be quite addictive because of this.

 

Trent and Blake’s favourite books are:

1. Good Strategy, Bad Strategy – Richard Rumelt

2. Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart – Gordon Livingston

League Of Geeks Directors: Tyshan Carey, Blake Mizzi, Trent Kusters and Jacek Tuschewski

League Of Geeks Directors: Tyshan Carey, Blake Mizzi, Trent Kusters and Jacek Tuschewski

If you would like to play the League Of Geeks very popular Armello game, it is now available on STEAM early access here.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Armello games success wouldn’t have been possible without the support from The Arcade Melbourne (game developer co-working space), The Game Developers Association of Australia, Film Victoria, Screen Australia and Creative Victoria.

Tim is best known as a long-time contributor on Addicted2Success. Tim's content has been shared millions of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around personal development and entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Sebastian Klassman

    Sep 1, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    Great overview Tim and very useful information for anyone looking to start crowdfunding. Structuring rewards in the right way, is also quite important. I think people need to be enticed, sometimes there are creative ways to do this within a campaign. You campaign will rely on it heavily. Thank you, wonderful read.

  2. Academic Papers

    Jun 8, 2015 at 6:53 am

    Wonderful articles in this post it’s very beneficial for me. Thanks to share this post.

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Startups

Why You Should Use Pinterest to Grow Your Business

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pinterest for business

Raise your hand if you’ve been snubbing Pinterest. If your hand is raised, know that you’re not alone because also I used to. Mind you, about two years ago I did actually take the time to set up an account, yet that’s where my Pinterest relationship began and ended. I took a few minutes to look around and checked out. I felt like a squirrel on acid. Too chaotic, too many recipes and so much mom and baby stuff!

This isn’t for me. I’m a personal development blogger and an inspirational/motivational Facebook page owner. I thought Pinterest was no place for me because I post quotes and self help blogs. Due to this, I closed my mind off to it until December 27, 2017.

With the constant urging of a friend, I cautiously opened the Pinterest door again, almost like I was expecting some casserole to come out and smack me upside the head.

I looked around and much to my surprise and delight, there were other bloggers and business peeps just like me on Pinterest. I was instantly hooked. With a new appreciation for this beast, I dove in and got to work. I had 15 followers and no boards. After a few weeks of burning the midnight oil, getting Pin ready images for my blogs, resizing quote images from my Facebook page, creating boards, and joining tribes and other group boards, this happened.

Pinterest statistics

It’s not just babies and crafts

If you are a blogger or business owner, Pinterest has a place for you. Let’s talk a bit about what it is and isn’t.

First and foremost, Pinterest is not a social media platform, it’s a search engine like Google but more colorful and fun. The great thing about Pinterest is that it has its own search engine within it. You can see what your people are searching for. 

Another thing to note is people buy things on Pinterest. Lots of things! Check out this link for Pinterest stats! Now that you know what it’s not, let me tell you what it is. It’s a powerhouse traffic driver.

There’s power behind using Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog. Just take a look at these astounding facts:

  • A pin is 100 times more spreadable than your average tweet
  • Each pin can drive up to 2 page visits and 6 pageviews
  • Ecommerce sites benefit from pinning as each pin can generate 78 cents
  • The life of a pin is one week! Compare that to 24 minutes for Twitter and 90 minutes for Facebook. (source bloggingwizard.com)

In February of this year, my organic reach was just over 1.2 mil views! Remember, I started working it at the end of December with nothing.

pinterest business

It’s not as hard as you think!

It’s time consuming but definitely not hard. Take a minute to think about this, you work hard on your business. You want to reach people, sell things, inspire others, and teach through Pinterest. Don’t you think it would be worth your time and effort to work at something that will actually produce mind blowing results? Of course it would be!

Here are a few tips to get you started on Pinterest:

  • Create a business account. 
  • Have a look around to see what other people in your niche are pinning. Take a look to see what pins attract your attention. 
  • Head over to Picmonkey or Canva and create some pins for your blog or your products. Images are everything! Take extra time on these, you want them to be engaging and you definitely want repins.
  • Create boards and keep them secret until you have enough pins in them to go public. I usually wait until I have about 15 (as I’m creating new boards).
  • Find groups to join so you can share your stuff and repin others. Groups and Tailwind tribes (you should join Tailwind-tons of my traffic comes from there) are key! Think of them as an online networking/marketing event. You need them. I checked out big pinners in my niche, had a look at the group boards they belonged to and then asked to join. 
  • Get active. Pin from other people’s boards, connect with others, join Facebook groups for pinners. Aim to pin 20–50 times a day. It’s really up to you how often you want to, I’ve settled for 30 a day. Don’t let those numbers frighten you. Tailwind takes care of that for you!
  • Keyword your descriptions, boards, pins, everything! Remember, search engine.

Now get going!

Obviously there’s a tad more to it than that but once you get set up and get going, you will quickly become addicted to Pinterest (as I have) and be blown away at the growth of your business.

When you think about it, how much time are you spending (wasting) on social media platforms that just aren’t doing it for you? You’re pulling your hair out wondering why things aren’t working. Stop running the hamster wheel and head on over to Pinterest. It’s not just home decor, breastfeeding pumps and tuna salad recipes. There’s a whole other world you need to explore. If you discount it, you are leaving precious clients and money on the table.

“Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology” Brian Solis

Have you used Pinterest for your business before? If so, did you like it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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5 Steps to Turn Your Business Into a Well Oiled Machine

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how to automate your business
Image Credit: Unsplash

A lot of online business owners that I interact with run “one man” operations. They spend most of their time delivering to their clients, leaving little room to bring in new ones, and generally grow their business. I’ve been there myself, and it’s incredibly easy to get stuck on solopreneur island, because in order to get off you have to jump into the unknown water and swim.

There are a two main problems with being a solopreneur, and if you are one these it may seem very familiar to you. First of all, as mentioned above, it’s easy to get busy delivering to clients, but that doesn’t actually grow your business, getting NEW clients does. The other big problem is that everything depends on you. You can’t get sick, tired, or go on a holiday, because as soon as you take your foot off the gas pedal, everything stops. Funnily enough, many of us start our own businesses in order to get freedom, yet many just end up creating another job for themselves.

The good news is that you can get off solopreneur island. I’ve done it, and here’s how to do it yourself:

Step #1 – Get clarity & package your offers

A lot of solopreneurs offer a wide range of services. They talk to prospects from all angles, and tailor make their services to fit each unique client’s needs. Sounds like a noble thing to do, but it’s not sustainable. A better approach is to look at the common denominator of the clients you’ve already worked with, and see if you can turn that into a front end offer.

I used to talk to prospects, listen to their needs, and then create a proposal, which usually got rejected. Since we sell video production, I told myself that every video is different, and you can’t turn that into a package. That was simply a limiting belief, and we eventually started offering 30, 60, and 90 second videos with either template or custom graphics.

Look at all the things you’re offering, and see if you can turn your offers into a menu, just like at a restaurant.

“Time = life; therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.” – Alan Lakein

Step #2 – Start treating your website like the asset it could be

Your website can get you new clients on autopilot. Don’t hold your website back by having 3 portfolio items and a contact form. Turn it into a salesman.

We get anywhere from 5-20 new clients every single month through our website. The way to accomplish this is to first and foremost realize that people cannot make a purchase if they have unanswered questions. Put all the information they need to make a decision right there on your website. If your prices are less than $1,000 for what you offer, I believe you can make the sale right there on the website. If it’s higher than $1,000 I generally recommend to get people on a phone call first.

These are some things you should do to your website: describe the problem your audience has, describe your solution, show lots of previous work, and tons of testimonials. You should also answer all the frequently asked questions, offer a guarantee, show pictures of your team and most importantly, go for the sale/phone call, not a contact form. Don’t hold your website back, let it work for you.

Step #3 – Build a high quality team

People freak out about hiring. They think hiring means you have to be able to pay someone $60,000 a year, but that’s not true. Like anything else, you can and should, start small. I hired my Project Manager for 3 hours per week when we started.

You’ll also note I wrote “high quality” above. This is crucial. When you hire a $3/hour graphics designer from India, I promise you’ll get $3 quality work. The problem with being cheap when you hire is that you get people that aren’t good at what they do, and can’t solve their own problems. When people can’t solve their own problems it’ll be up to you to do that. You’ll end up working just as much as if you didn’t hire them in the first place, therefore you are effectively paying money to give yourself stress. Does that sound like a good deal to you?

It’s better to hire a $25/h person for 3 hours than a $5/h person for a month. Once I decided to try hiring a high quality freelancer instead of a cheap one, I instantly saw the benefits and have never gone back.

Step #4 – Build systems and procedures

You should have a process in place for everything that is done in your business, especially the stuff that is done repeatedly. Use project management software so that your client facing work always follows the same structure. Use Trello for internal processes. Create documents and checklists showing how to do things.

If you’re training a new employee, record a video rather than doing the training live as you should expect to have to train another person on the same exact thing in the future.  This way a ton of the training will already be ready to go if your employee quits on you (this happened to me and I was able to successfully replace a project manager and have the new one up and running within one week!)

“To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others.” – Albert Camus

Step #5 – Automate when possible

Make a list of every task that happens in your business from when a prospect finds you to when your product is delivered to them. Then, look at how many of those things can actually be done by a computer, and get to work using Zapier and all your other tools. I even recorded a video series where I educate the client along the way.

If you find yourself having the same conversations over and over again, just record a video and save yourself the time! Every automation you put in place is going to save you minutes and eventually hours every single week. This frees up your time so that you can focus on growing your business, instead of just delivering to your clients.

Summary

Getting off solopreneur island is not rocket science. You’ll need to get clear on what your packages are, put your client acquisition on autopilot, get a high quality team in place, document and checklist everything, and finally automate what you can.

Once you actually go through with this you’ll find that your business can run without you, but more importantly you’ll be able to spend your time on growing the business, and not being forced to do the day-to-day operations.

What’s your main takeaway from this article? Comment below!

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Why Your Business Should Focus on Effectively Outwitting Competitors

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business competition
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

It shouldn’t be a case of getting out of the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat, it should rather be the case of not venturing into the kitchen. Any brand which was set up with the outlook that there won’t be competitors was started on the wrong premise and will be plummeted into oblivion.

Any road to success is thorny but paved with advantages, which may be fair or unfair. It borders on putting in personal sacrifices which are prone to constant uncertainty, existential threats, and taking a headlong plunge into making terrifying decisions. It’s definitely not a place for the Lilly-minded and nitwits because you are setting out to engage in a fierce competition with the best minds in the business world.

What you should work tenaciously upon is your competitive advantages. Ensure the things you have going for you are brought to the forefront. You will require the right mix of guts, tactics, timing, and the knack for hitting the rod when it’s red hot because opportunities coming your way should be quickly utilized.

Dilly-dallying will be highly disastrous and very devastating. Your brand may not be a pacesetter and you don’t have a carte blanche to do whatever you fancy, yet it behoves on you to gear up to face competition from the onset.

Amazingly, however, you can effectively outwit your competitors in the global market. You just need leveraging on the following steps:

1. Research other winning brands

A lot of people may consider this to be absurd but that is the joker you have. What you do must be entirely different from other brands in the same industry as your brand. When you concentrate on researching your rivals in the same industry, you may only come up with something akin to what they do.

You, however, need to come up with something completely new and stunning, a whole set of nouveau innovations and the only way to get that is by going out of your industry completely. Your ideas must be mind-blowing and eye-opening not minding that you are possibly a newbie in the industry.

It’s of utmost importance that you build with the future in mind, before launching your product into the market. This singular action of yours will quadruple and ironclad your chances of surviving the onslaught in the market.

“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” – Otto van Bismark

2. Spin your obvious weakness into your strong point

You definitely will have some weak points and your competitors will seek those out to backstab and whip you silly in the market. You shouldn’t, however, be deterred by this. You can swivel this supposedly bad fortune into a huge arsenal for your brand with the attendant result of leaving your competitors on the turf.

A brand’s weak point could be the price. It’s possible your price is on the high side in comparison with others in the market. This is an opportunity to showcase your ingenuity by adding domestic customer service, home delivery, extended warranty, or any other incentive which you know your competitors will chicken out on.

The initial venture will definitely pummel your finances but by the time your prospective customers come to identify these advantages which were supposedly weak points with you, your ROI will skyrocket sensationally. Your competitors who had set out to tailspin you will be wondering what hit them.

3. Stay glued to your clients

The customer is the king and this must be your brand’s watchword. Your taste may be the best in the world but it’s absolute balderdash if it doesn’t resonate with the customer. You must learn to maximize the values your customers hold high and play down other money-grubbing wastes.

To effect this you must stay glued to your customers. Find out what they have going for your products and how you can enhance them. This effort may be a time suck and you may be required to put in odd hours tracking down your customers but it will pay off handsomely.

John C. Maxwell, aptly described this situation when he said “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” Make your customers off-limits to your competitors. You can enhance this by making sure you are constantly in contact with your customers.

“When a customer enters my store, forget me. He is king.” – John Wanamaker

You should be in tune with those things that can make or break your business as well as having the metrics to measure how well you are doing. It’s absolutely necessary that you know your brand’s fundamental metrics like the average customer value (ACV), cost per acquisition (CPA), return on investment (ROI), and break even.

Business is like the art of war and the best form of defence is to attack.

How to you make sure people stay loyal to your brand? Let us know some tips and advice below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Enough With The Word ‘Startup’

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The word ‘startup’ has created a false reality.

When we think of startups we now think of the following:

  • Cool kids wearing their startup t-shirts
  • Co-working spaces
  • Lots of lattes with a picture drawn in the froth
  • San Francisco and how perfect it is (I’ve been there and it’s not perfect:  #HomelessPeopleEverywhere)
  • Unicorns (not the ones you see on kid’s shows)
  • Made up valuations (a GFC fixes this problem nicely)
  • Accelerators (an overload of opinions that are just that)
  • Pitch nights where investors are made to look like Fortune Tellers and experts when the reality is nothing more than this: they’re guessing

 

It’s time to bin the word startup.

The word has no meaning. Day one is the start and then everything after that is just business. By continually using the word startup we’re implying we’re still at the start when we’re not.

“The word startup makes us feel crappy because it puts us in the amateur, early stage, “I’m still learning” category which never expires”

We never know what we’re doing in business completely and that’s a good thing.

Everything is constantly changing and so we’re going to be lifelong learners in the business world whether we like it or acknowledge it.

 

The word ‘Startup” means business so let’s call it that.

Just like a penis, big or small, it’s a fucking penis. Let’s call it what it is.

Maybe you’re a small business with one employee.

Maybe you’re a large corporation with 35,000 employees

Maybe you work one day a week on a side hustle.

Maybe you have two freelancers working for you one day a month.

It’s all just business. Sorry cool kids, the word ‘startup’ doesn’t make business any easier, different, simpler, funkier or any other description you can give.

 

Can everyone really be an entrepreneur?

I’ll give it to you straight amigo: no, they can’t.

“Some of you suck at entrepreneurship even though Instagram sells you on the dream that you can sit on the beach with your laptop, sip a cocktail, take a selfie and do one hour of work a day”

This is all a lie designed to mess with your head and force you to suffer FOMO thus resulting in social media engagement for someone with a landing page that leads to a digital product where there’s a payment wall for you to insert your credit card number and add money to a bank account that’s not yours.

Many of you can’t handle:

  • Risk
  • Stupid amount of stress
  • 12-hour days
  • Managing other people
  • Having to be creative
  • Customers whose demands never stop
  • The game of money
  • Soul crushing failure

The list could go on forever. There are so many components to entrepreneurship.

Only about 1% of people are truly cut out for it. Just like not everyone can be a leader - otherwise there would be no followers - not everyone can be an entrepreneur. And that’s okay.

You’re human - you’ll be okay.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try entrepreneurship. Sometimes giving it a shot and doing it is the only way to find out.

Life is not all about startups and entrepreneurship - there’s more to it than that.

 

When does the ‘Startup Phase’ end?

It doesn’t.

Some people say Stripe is a startup even though they do billions in revenue now. Some people call my side-hustle a startup even though it’s just me.

The word ‘startup’ keeps getting used because somehow it puts you in a different league where growth hackers (I call it sales), dev-ops, UX designers and a whole bunch of other words that describe a team that does sales or builds software exists.

 

A startup is not a startup; it’s called a business.

No more buzz words.

No more unicorns.

No more thinking you’re smarter than your competitors.

No more BS valuations.

No more naming and shaming people who don’t want to be a founder of a startup like you.

Not everyone is in love with startups and not all of us want to be founders. Some people want to be stay-at-home dads or stay-at-home moms.

Some people want to raise their kids instead of being on the front of Startup Daily with a bunch of cool kids.

There’s more to life than fucking startups and #StartupLife.

 

Business is business. 

  1. You build a product or service with you or a co-founder.
  2. You attempt to see whether it solves a problem
  3. You continue validating the idea beyond your mom & dad, friends and work colleagues
  4. You make some money - $1, $100, $100k - it doesn’t matter
  5. You continuously improve the product to make your customers happier
  6. You make them happy and the business makes more money
  7. You build out a team so you can grow the business to be bigger
  8. Then you either stop at where you are and be bloody happy, or you raise money in some form - VC, bank, angels, parents, ICO (insert trendy way to borrow more money)
  9. You hi-five everyone, sell the business and sit on a beach or you keep going because it becomes about more than money

THE END.

 

Final Word On Startups. 

If you want to create a business, then do it. If you don’t then that’s fine too.

Find a problem, solve it and be humble as hell about it if you succeed. There’s more to this world than the ridiculous label that is startup.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Motivation

7 Powerful and Inspiring Words of Encouragement to Help Lift You Up

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encouragement
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

When you’re going through tough times, all you need is sympathy. You just need someone to tell you how strong you are and how you can cope with the situation. Essentially, you’re waiting for a soothing voice that can calm your inner storm and genuinely help with your troubles. (more…)

I am Eliana Jags, Co-Founder & Author at beinginsightful.com. I'm passionate about writing motivational and inspirational articles. Before I became a full-time blogger, I was a Software Engineer but left the job to fulfill my dream of becoming a writer and thus I've committed myself completely to my passion of writing. You can connect with me on my Facebook page here.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Sebastian Klassman

    Sep 1, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    Great overview Tim and very useful information for anyone looking to start crowdfunding. Structuring rewards in the right way, is also quite important. I think people need to be enticed, sometimes there are creative ways to do this within a campaign. You campaign will rely on it heavily. Thank you, wonderful read.

  2. Academic Papers

    Jun 8, 2015 at 6:53 am

    Wonderful articles in this post it’s very beneficial for me. Thanks to share this post.

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Startups

Why You Should Use Pinterest to Grow Your Business

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pinterest for business

Raise your hand if you’ve been snubbing Pinterest. If your hand is raised, know that you’re not alone because also I used to. Mind you, about two years ago I did actually take the time to set up an account, yet that’s where my Pinterest relationship began and ended. I took a few minutes to look around and checked out. I felt like a squirrel on acid. Too chaotic, too many recipes and so much mom and baby stuff!

This isn’t for me. I’m a personal development blogger and an inspirational/motivational Facebook page owner. I thought Pinterest was no place for me because I post quotes and self help blogs. Due to this, I closed my mind off to it until December 27, 2017.

With the constant urging of a friend, I cautiously opened the Pinterest door again, almost like I was expecting some casserole to come out and smack me upside the head.

I looked around and much to my surprise and delight, there were other bloggers and business peeps just like me on Pinterest. I was instantly hooked. With a new appreciation for this beast, I dove in and got to work. I had 15 followers and no boards. After a few weeks of burning the midnight oil, getting Pin ready images for my blogs, resizing quote images from my Facebook page, creating boards, and joining tribes and other group boards, this happened.

Pinterest statistics

It’s not just babies and crafts

If you are a blogger or business owner, Pinterest has a place for you. Let’s talk a bit about what it is and isn’t.

First and foremost, Pinterest is not a social media platform, it’s a search engine like Google but more colorful and fun. The great thing about Pinterest is that it has its own search engine within it. You can see what your people are searching for. 

Another thing to note is people buy things on Pinterest. Lots of things! Check out this link for Pinterest stats! Now that you know what it’s not, let me tell you what it is. It’s a powerhouse traffic driver.

There’s power behind using Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog. Just take a look at these astounding facts:

  • A pin is 100 times more spreadable than your average tweet
  • Each pin can drive up to 2 page visits and 6 pageviews
  • Ecommerce sites benefit from pinning as each pin can generate 78 cents
  • The life of a pin is one week! Compare that to 24 minutes for Twitter and 90 minutes for Facebook. (source bloggingwizard.com)

In February of this year, my organic reach was just over 1.2 mil views! Remember, I started working it at the end of December with nothing.

pinterest business

It’s not as hard as you think!

It’s time consuming but definitely not hard. Take a minute to think about this, you work hard on your business. You want to reach people, sell things, inspire others, and teach through Pinterest. Don’t you think it would be worth your time and effort to work at something that will actually produce mind blowing results? Of course it would be!

Here are a few tips to get you started on Pinterest:

  • Create a business account. 
  • Have a look around to see what other people in your niche are pinning. Take a look to see what pins attract your attention. 
  • Head over to Picmonkey or Canva and create some pins for your blog or your products. Images are everything! Take extra time on these, you want them to be engaging and you definitely want repins.
  • Create boards and keep them secret until you have enough pins in them to go public. I usually wait until I have about 15 (as I’m creating new boards).
  • Find groups to join so you can share your stuff and repin others. Groups and Tailwind tribes (you should join Tailwind-tons of my traffic comes from there) are key! Think of them as an online networking/marketing event. You need them. I checked out big pinners in my niche, had a look at the group boards they belonged to and then asked to join. 
  • Get active. Pin from other people’s boards, connect with others, join Facebook groups for pinners. Aim to pin 20–50 times a day. It’s really up to you how often you want to, I’ve settled for 30 a day. Don’t let those numbers frighten you. Tailwind takes care of that for you!
  • Keyword your descriptions, boards, pins, everything! Remember, search engine.

Now get going!

Obviously there’s a tad more to it than that but once you get set up and get going, you will quickly become addicted to Pinterest (as I have) and be blown away at the growth of your business.

When you think about it, how much time are you spending (wasting) on social media platforms that just aren’t doing it for you? You’re pulling your hair out wondering why things aren’t working. Stop running the hamster wheel and head on over to Pinterest. It’s not just home decor, breastfeeding pumps and tuna salad recipes. There’s a whole other world you need to explore. If you discount it, you are leaving precious clients and money on the table.

“Social media is about sociology and psychology more than technology” Brian Solis

Have you used Pinterest for your business before? If so, did you like it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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Startups

5 Steps to Turn Your Business Into a Well Oiled Machine

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how to automate your business
Image Credit: Unsplash

A lot of online business owners that I interact with run “one man” operations. They spend most of their time delivering to their clients, leaving little room to bring in new ones, and generally grow their business. I’ve been there myself, and it’s incredibly easy to get stuck on solopreneur island, because in order to get off you have to jump into the unknown water and swim.

There are a two main problems with being a solopreneur, and if you are one these it may seem very familiar to you. First of all, as mentioned above, it’s easy to get busy delivering to clients, but that doesn’t actually grow your business, getting NEW clients does. The other big problem is that everything depends on you. You can’t get sick, tired, or go on a holiday, because as soon as you take your foot off the gas pedal, everything stops. Funnily enough, many of us start our own businesses in order to get freedom, yet many just end up creating another job for themselves.

The good news is that you can get off solopreneur island. I’ve done it, and here’s how to do it yourself:

Step #1 – Get clarity & package your offers

A lot of solopreneurs offer a wide range of services. They talk to prospects from all angles, and tailor make their services to fit each unique client’s needs. Sounds like a noble thing to do, but it’s not sustainable. A better approach is to look at the common denominator of the clients you’ve already worked with, and see if you can turn that into a front end offer.

I used to talk to prospects, listen to their needs, and then create a proposal, which usually got rejected. Since we sell video production, I told myself that every video is different, and you can’t turn that into a package. That was simply a limiting belief, and we eventually started offering 30, 60, and 90 second videos with either template or custom graphics.

Look at all the things you’re offering, and see if you can turn your offers into a menu, just like at a restaurant.

“Time = life; therefore, waste your time and waste your life, or master your time and master your life.” – Alan Lakein

Step #2 – Start treating your website like the asset it could be

Your website can get you new clients on autopilot. Don’t hold your website back by having 3 portfolio items and a contact form. Turn it into a salesman.

We get anywhere from 5-20 new clients every single month through our website. The way to accomplish this is to first and foremost realize that people cannot make a purchase if they have unanswered questions. Put all the information they need to make a decision right there on your website. If your prices are less than $1,000 for what you offer, I believe you can make the sale right there on the website. If it’s higher than $1,000 I generally recommend to get people on a phone call first.

These are some things you should do to your website: describe the problem your audience has, describe your solution, show lots of previous work, and tons of testimonials. You should also answer all the frequently asked questions, offer a guarantee, show pictures of your team and most importantly, go for the sale/phone call, not a contact form. Don’t hold your website back, let it work for you.

Step #3 – Build a high quality team

People freak out about hiring. They think hiring means you have to be able to pay someone $60,000 a year, but that’s not true. Like anything else, you can and should, start small. I hired my Project Manager for 3 hours per week when we started.

You’ll also note I wrote “high quality” above. This is crucial. When you hire a $3/hour graphics designer from India, I promise you’ll get $3 quality work. The problem with being cheap when you hire is that you get people that aren’t good at what they do, and can’t solve their own problems. When people can’t solve their own problems it’ll be up to you to do that. You’ll end up working just as much as if you didn’t hire them in the first place, therefore you are effectively paying money to give yourself stress. Does that sound like a good deal to you?

It’s better to hire a $25/h person for 3 hours than a $5/h person for a month. Once I decided to try hiring a high quality freelancer instead of a cheap one, I instantly saw the benefits and have never gone back.

Step #4 – Build systems and procedures

You should have a process in place for everything that is done in your business, especially the stuff that is done repeatedly. Use project management software so that your client facing work always follows the same structure. Use Trello for internal processes. Create documents and checklists showing how to do things.

If you’re training a new employee, record a video rather than doing the training live as you should expect to have to train another person on the same exact thing in the future.  This way a ton of the training will already be ready to go if your employee quits on you (this happened to me and I was able to successfully replace a project manager and have the new one up and running within one week!)

“To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others.” – Albert Camus

Step #5 – Automate when possible

Make a list of every task that happens in your business from when a prospect finds you to when your product is delivered to them. Then, look at how many of those things can actually be done by a computer, and get to work using Zapier and all your other tools. I even recorded a video series where I educate the client along the way.

If you find yourself having the same conversations over and over again, just record a video and save yourself the time! Every automation you put in place is going to save you minutes and eventually hours every single week. This frees up your time so that you can focus on growing your business, instead of just delivering to your clients.

Summary

Getting off solopreneur island is not rocket science. You’ll need to get clear on what your packages are, put your client acquisition on autopilot, get a high quality team in place, document and checklist everything, and finally automate what you can.

Once you actually go through with this you’ll find that your business can run without you, but more importantly you’ll be able to spend your time on growing the business, and not being forced to do the day-to-day operations.

What’s your main takeaway from this article? Comment below!

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Why Your Business Should Focus on Effectively Outwitting Competitors

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business competition
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

It shouldn’t be a case of getting out of the kitchen if you can’t stand the heat, it should rather be the case of not venturing into the kitchen. Any brand which was set up with the outlook that there won’t be competitors was started on the wrong premise and will be plummeted into oblivion.

Any road to success is thorny but paved with advantages, which may be fair or unfair. It borders on putting in personal sacrifices which are prone to constant uncertainty, existential threats, and taking a headlong plunge into making terrifying decisions. It’s definitely not a place for the Lilly-minded and nitwits because you are setting out to engage in a fierce competition with the best minds in the business world.

What you should work tenaciously upon is your competitive advantages. Ensure the things you have going for you are brought to the forefront. You will require the right mix of guts, tactics, timing, and the knack for hitting the rod when it’s red hot because opportunities coming your way should be quickly utilized.

Dilly-dallying will be highly disastrous and very devastating. Your brand may not be a pacesetter and you don’t have a carte blanche to do whatever you fancy, yet it behoves on you to gear up to face competition from the onset.

Amazingly, however, you can effectively outwit your competitors in the global market. You just need leveraging on the following steps:

1. Research other winning brands

A lot of people may consider this to be absurd but that is the joker you have. What you do must be entirely different from other brands in the same industry as your brand. When you concentrate on researching your rivals in the same industry, you may only come up with something akin to what they do.

You, however, need to come up with something completely new and stunning, a whole set of nouveau innovations and the only way to get that is by going out of your industry completely. Your ideas must be mind-blowing and eye-opening not minding that you are possibly a newbie in the industry.

It’s of utmost importance that you build with the future in mind, before launching your product into the market. This singular action of yours will quadruple and ironclad your chances of surviving the onslaught in the market.

“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” – Otto van Bismark

2. Spin your obvious weakness into your strong point

You definitely will have some weak points and your competitors will seek those out to backstab and whip you silly in the market. You shouldn’t, however, be deterred by this. You can swivel this supposedly bad fortune into a huge arsenal for your brand with the attendant result of leaving your competitors on the turf.

A brand’s weak point could be the price. It’s possible your price is on the high side in comparison with others in the market. This is an opportunity to showcase your ingenuity by adding domestic customer service, home delivery, extended warranty, or any other incentive which you know your competitors will chicken out on.

The initial venture will definitely pummel your finances but by the time your prospective customers come to identify these advantages which were supposedly weak points with you, your ROI will skyrocket sensationally. Your competitors who had set out to tailspin you will be wondering what hit them.

3. Stay glued to your clients

The customer is the king and this must be your brand’s watchword. Your taste may be the best in the world but it’s absolute balderdash if it doesn’t resonate with the customer. You must learn to maximize the values your customers hold high and play down other money-grubbing wastes.

To effect this you must stay glued to your customers. Find out what they have going for your products and how you can enhance them. This effort may be a time suck and you may be required to put in odd hours tracking down your customers but it will pay off handsomely.

John C. Maxwell, aptly described this situation when he said “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” Make your customers off-limits to your competitors. You can enhance this by making sure you are constantly in contact with your customers.

“When a customer enters my store, forget me. He is king.” – John Wanamaker

You should be in tune with those things that can make or break your business as well as having the metrics to measure how well you are doing. It’s absolutely necessary that you know your brand’s fundamental metrics like the average customer value (ACV), cost per acquisition (CPA), return on investment (ROI), and break even.

Business is like the art of war and the best form of defence is to attack.

How to you make sure people stay loyal to your brand? Let us know some tips and advice below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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Startups

Enough With The Word ‘Startup’

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The word ‘startup’ has created a false reality.

When we think of startups we now think of the following:

  • Cool kids wearing their startup t-shirts
  • Co-working spaces
  • Lots of lattes with a picture drawn in the froth
  • San Francisco and how perfect it is (I’ve been there and it’s not perfect:  #HomelessPeopleEverywhere)
  • Unicorns (not the ones you see on kid’s shows)
  • Made up valuations (a GFC fixes this problem nicely)
  • Accelerators (an overload of opinions that are just that)
  • Pitch nights where investors are made to look like Fortune Tellers and experts when the reality is nothing more than this: they’re guessing

 

It’s time to bin the word startup.

The word has no meaning. Day one is the start and then everything after that is just business. By continually using the word startup we’re implying we’re still at the start when we’re not.

“The word startup makes us feel crappy because it puts us in the amateur, early stage, “I’m still learning” category which never expires”

We never know what we’re doing in business completely and that’s a good thing.

Everything is constantly changing and so we’re going to be lifelong learners in the business world whether we like it or acknowledge it.

 

The word ‘Startup” means business so let’s call it that.

Just like a penis, big or small, it’s a fucking penis. Let’s call it what it is.

Maybe you’re a small business with one employee.

Maybe you’re a large corporation with 35,000 employees

Maybe you work one day a week on a side hustle.

Maybe you have two freelancers working for you one day a month.

It’s all just business. Sorry cool kids, the word ‘startup’ doesn’t make business any easier, different, simpler, funkier or any other description you can give.

 

Can everyone really be an entrepreneur?

I’ll give it to you straight amigo: no, they can’t.

“Some of you suck at entrepreneurship even though Instagram sells you on the dream that you can sit on the beach with your laptop, sip a cocktail, take a selfie and do one hour of work a day”

This is all a lie designed to mess with your head and force you to suffer FOMO thus resulting in social media engagement for someone with a landing page that leads to a digital product where there’s a payment wall for you to insert your credit card number and add money to a bank account that’s not yours.

Many of you can’t handle:

  • Risk
  • Stupid amount of stress
  • 12-hour days
  • Managing other people
  • Having to be creative
  • Customers whose demands never stop
  • The game of money
  • Soul crushing failure

The list could go on forever. There are so many components to entrepreneurship.

Only about 1% of people are truly cut out for it. Just like not everyone can be a leader - otherwise there would be no followers - not everyone can be an entrepreneur. And that’s okay.

You’re human - you’ll be okay.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try entrepreneurship. Sometimes giving it a shot and doing it is the only way to find out.

Life is not all about startups and entrepreneurship - there’s more to it than that.

 

When does the ‘Startup Phase’ end?

It doesn’t.

Some people say Stripe is a startup even though they do billions in revenue now. Some people call my side-hustle a startup even though it’s just me.

The word ‘startup’ keeps getting used because somehow it puts you in a different league where growth hackers (I call it sales), dev-ops, UX designers and a whole bunch of other words that describe a team that does sales or builds software exists.

 

A startup is not a startup; it’s called a business.

No more buzz words.

No more unicorns.

No more thinking you’re smarter than your competitors.

No more BS valuations.

No more naming and shaming people who don’t want to be a founder of a startup like you.

Not everyone is in love with startups and not all of us want to be founders. Some people want to be stay-at-home dads or stay-at-home moms.

Some people want to raise their kids instead of being on the front of Startup Daily with a bunch of cool kids.

There’s more to life than fucking startups and #StartupLife.

 

Business is business. 

  1. You build a product or service with you or a co-founder.
  2. You attempt to see whether it solves a problem
  3. You continue validating the idea beyond your mom & dad, friends and work colleagues
  4. You make some money - $1, $100, $100k - it doesn’t matter
  5. You continuously improve the product to make your customers happier
  6. You make them happy and the business makes more money
  7. You build out a team so you can grow the business to be bigger
  8. Then you either stop at where you are and be bloody happy, or you raise money in some form - VC, bank, angels, parents, ICO (insert trendy way to borrow more money)
  9. You hi-five everyone, sell the business and sit on a beach or you keep going because it becomes about more than money

THE END.

 

Final Word On Startups. 

If you want to create a business, then do it. If you don’t then that’s fine too.

Find a problem, solve it and be humble as hell about it if you succeed. There’s more to this world than the ridiculous label that is startup.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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