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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 hundreds of thousands of times and he has written multiple viral posts all around success, personal development, motivation, and entrepreneurship. During the day Tim works with the most iconic tech companies in the world, as an adviser, to assist them in expanding into Australia. By night, Tim coaches his students on the principles of personal development and the fundamentals of entrepreneurship. You can connect with Tim through his website www.timdenning.net or through his Facebook.

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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

The 5 Most Common Myths Associated With Starting a Business

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business myths

We live in a world of opportunities. I can remember growing up and always dreaming of wearing a suit and tie to work. It was my absolute dream. I was maybe 14 years old at the time and my grades in school were awful and I didn’t exactly have the brightest future ahead of me. I always had these misconceptions about success and what it took to achieve it.

After almost a decade of putting my head down and investing the time, I can finally say I have a profitable business. However, this isn’t about me and my business. This is about the myths that most people are allowing to rule their lives and hold them back from their greatness.

Running a business isn’t about making millions of dollars. When you own a business you’re making the world a better place. You’re providing a solution to a problem. You’re giving others an opportunity to earn money by becoming an employee. You’re doing so much more than making money. It’s good for the economy. So don’t let these common myths about starting a business fool you.

Here are 5 common myths you need to let go of once and for all:

1. You must be intelligent and good in school

Have you ever thought that it’s a basic requirement to graduate college with a business degree? It makes sense if you look at it from a distance. You go to school. You learn how to run a business. You start a business.

The flip side? Business school doesn’t teach you how to handle failure. School will never teach you how to adapt to the market place and make split second decisions that could impact millions of people’s daily lives. School can’t teach you to be you. Although school may not hurt, it’s 100% not required to run a successful business.

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

2. You need money

Almost everyone I’ve asked about starting a business has brought up the concept of needing money to get started. I’m here to tell you that you can start thousands of different businesses without money. The most practical piece of advice I can give here is to go out and sell your service, collect the money, then invest a portion or all of that money into the tools needed to complete the job.

If you’re dead set on a business model that requires a lot of cash upfront, use resources like kickstarter or angel investors to get going. You personally don’t need to have any money to start any business ever. You just have to be willing to get creative when it comes to finding the necessary money required.

3. You need experience

As entrepreneurs, we are actually innovators. A lot of the things we are doing have never been done before. We’re constantly experimenting with new ideas and that comes with a lot of failures. You gain the necessary experience needed to run a business while you run your business. You’ll never learn everything you need to know and not a single day will go by where you don’t gain more experience. So dive in, have fun, and don’t give up.

4. You need a following

With all of these mega influencers on social media, it can be challenging to believe you can do anything without a massive following. This isn’t true at all. Everyone on this planet starts with the same following. ZERO. No one knows who you are until you put yourself out there.

Sure you may not have thousands of subscribers, you may not even have ten subscribers. The point is that if you put out good content and provide a service or product that actually helps make the world a better place and solves a problem for your customer, you will win. Just keep putting in the time and energy.

“If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

5. There’s too much competition

Everyday you wait there will be more and more competition. If it was easy everyone would be doing it right? Your product or service is the difference. If you provide a better experience you will win. If you put in the work for the long haul and ignore the short term gains, you will win. Business is a massive competition and if you’re doing it right your competitors will become your friends, mentors, and possibly customers.

This article was written specifically for you. To help you overcome some of the fears of taking that leap of becoming an entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong, it’s challenging. However, if you truly believe in your idea, there should be nothing on this planet that can stop you from bringing it to life.

What tips have you used to start your business? Comment below!

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Startups

How I Started A Business And Defeated 5 Years Of Procrastination When It Came To Doing So.

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I finally started a business! So many people had asked me when I was going to start one again and for the last five years, I’ve procrastinated. There’s a whole bunch of statistics which I’m not going to recite that suggest that many people (including me) want to start their own business.

Before each of us leaves this world, there’s a very strong chance we will try to start our own business at least once.

I talk to so many wannabe entrepreneurs who have an idea or a passion that they want to turn into a business yet they never take action. It’s been five years since my last business venture. I know what this feeling of wanting to begin a business is like because it’s plagued my thoughts for so long.

I’ve always had that spark in my brain that says “Tim, you love this passion of yours. Go and start a business and earn a living from it!”

I have ignored this bright spark for so long. I’ve made excuses. I’ve procrastinated. I’ve told myself I wasn’t good enough.

Then finally, a couple of months ago, I said to myself “SCREW IT! I’M STARTING MY BUSINESS.”

If you’ve ever had similar thoughts, then I want you by the end of this article to take action once and for all. I am going to give you the exact steps and tips I used to defeat five years of procrastination, and finally start my coaching and social media consulting business.

Here’s what I did to start my business:

 

Make a loss if you have to in the beginning to get a free education.

The first client I brought on made a loss. At the end of the consulting, I figured out I didn’t charge enough. This is perfect because I basically bought my first client and got a free education at the same time. The lessons my first client taught me were what I used to base my entire business on.

Rather than overthink the idea of a business, I decided to experiment by actually creating one and attempting to find a business model. The truth is you don’t need to know anything to start a business. As long as you can charge money for what you’re going to do, you’ll learn the rest from experience.

 

If you have no ideas at all, then ask yourself “What can I coach people on?”

Not everyone has a business idea they want to pursue. Some people just know they want to start a business. This was the same for me. I knew I wanted a business, but I had no idea what it was going to do. Then I went to an event and the speaker said that all of us could coach somebody, on something.

So I asked myself the same question and the answer I got back was social media and life. They are the two things I can coach everybody on. They are also the two things I’m passionate about. For you, the seed to your business starts with this same question.

While you may not become a coach, knowing what you can teach people will lead to knowing what you’re passionate about and are motivated to do for free.

 

Float the idea of charging one person, for one product or service.

The way I got started once I knew what I wanted to focus my business on was to float the idea with people. One of the people I floated the idea with wanted to be a client except they wanted me to write very long blog articles for them.
While ghostwriting is a service I’m considering to add in the not too distant future, writing long blog posts about a topic I wasn’t passionate about was not something I was willing to do and I said no.

As I kept putting out into the universe what this business was (which didn’t exist yet), I had several people express interest in what I was doing. One of them turned into my first client without even realizing it. Telling people what you are thinking of doing is how you get those first few clients.

“Act as if the business exists already and you can offer your product or service right away. That’s been a key concept for me to take action and start a business again finally”

 

Your first client gives you the confidence.

Winning the first client gave me the confidence to pursue my business. Getting a client is the best way to back yourself and motivate yourself to avoid procrastination and keep going with your business venture.

“It’s harder to fail when you have a client depending on you”

 

Forget business cards and websites.

I meet so many entrepreneurs in the making who spend hours creating websites, designing logos and even printing business cards (maybe they haven’t heard of LinkedIn). None of these activities will get your business started or give you the motivation you need.

Having the skill to sell yourself and start charging for something, anything, is how you start a business. A business is only a business when it has money coming in the door.

 

Act as if you’ve been doing it for years.

I’ve never done consulting. I didn’t do any business degree. I’m no brainiac.

I read a few books and watched a few consultants that my current employer use. Then I just acted as if I had been consulting for years. In a way, I had. Blogging is kind of like consulting.

In fact, in almost any job, you consult to somebody about something. So, we can all do consulting if we choose too.

Acting as if your business has existed for years is how you give your early clients the confidence to try you out and see if your business can serve their needs.

 

Put together a rough plan on the back of an envelope.

Okay, don’t really use an envelope because that would make you a dinosaur. Jot your rough plan down on the notepad of your not so smartphone. My plan for my business was literally nine things I could teach a business about social media.

These nine things became the plan I was going to follow when I consulted to a business. It took fifteen minutes to write. I suggest having a rough plan, so you know where you are heading and what the business will look like. Please don’t overthink the plan or you’ll never get started!

 

Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

This question will help you mitigate the risks that are buzzing around in your head and preventing you from starting a business. When I asked this question during the startup of my business a few months back, I realized that the worst that could happen is I disappoint a few clients.

By asking this question, you figure out that there are no life-threatening consequences to giving a business a go.

 

Ask yourself, “What would this look like if it were insanely easy?”

The temptation with a new business idea is to make it complex and overthink it. This is what so many wannabe entrepreneurs do and it’s a disaster. Asking yourself “What would this look like if it were easy?” helps you to chunk down in your head what you want to do.

Making something easy by default makes it doable to get started. If something is really easy, then it’s pretty hard not to give it a go. With my new business, easy looked like this:

– No website
– One service
– One customer
– Using my existing services like Zoom to enable the business
– Only doing it part time for one hour a week

With these boundaries in place, there was no way I was not going to follow through. I knew that if I wouldn’t do one hour a week of my new business, then I’d never do it seriously, or even at all.

Making my business easy was the first test to see if I could ever do the run-my-own-business gig again. I use making things easy as my BS test for any new idea. Try it for yourself.

 

Add your business into conversations you have with everybody.

I get messages on social media and emails all the time asking how I’m doing and what I’m working on. In every conversation during the early weeks of my business, I added in one phrase: “I’ve started a business.”

I didn’t say what it was. It was only natural people would ask, and I’d politely answer them. By using this approach, you’re not selling and you get to test your idea with real people who could become customers. Some of these conversations ended up in them becoming clients.

 

Always do it as a side hustle to start with.

The reason we procrastinate on our business ideas is that we have heaps of fear about what we’re going to do. A lot of this fear comes from the misconception that you need to quit your job or primary income source to start. You don’t.

Giving up your primary income source is the worst thing you can do. You don’t even know if your business will work or whether you’ll like it. Plus 90% of businesses fail in the first five years. That’s why I committed to only one hour per week to put myself to the entrepreneur test yet again.

Starting your business as a side hustle lets you find your niche and learn what your business will become. In the early days, your business will change lots of times, so you don’t want to bet your life savings on it until you are solid in your approach.

Again, by making my business a side hustle to begin with, I removed the fear, gave myself room to explore and allowed myself to fail. I’d suggest this approach for anyone wanting to start a business.

It’s so much easier this way which means your chances of success are higher. The worst case is you end up with a part-time business which gives you a second income. That’s not a bad result either.

So why can’t you start a business and stop procrastinating again?

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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Startups

3 Questions to Ask Yourself for a Winning Business

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“My pleasure”. We’ve all heard this before right? It is probably not implemented more than in the culture at Chik-Fil-A. I can’t tell you how many times I go in there and like clockwork they respond to every request with my pleasure. This is something that, not only separates them from their competition but continues to make them a destination for people to seek out when they are hungry.

This attitude that every employee from the cook to the owner carries is something that we should all learn from and understand the importance of in our daily interactions with people, prospects, and customers.  

Are you conditioning yourself everyday to be in a position of service for your family, friends, clients, and anyone that you come into contact with? Too many times I see people not focused and aware of the potential opportunities walking around them every day. Do you want to know why they are missing them? It is because their attitude sucks and isn’t one ready to be of service.   

1. Are You Approachable?   

Are you presenting yourself to everyone with a smile? This is a simple tactic you can implement right now that will open up more conversation opportunities for you and will have others asking how your day is going and the most common question or response from others will be, what has you smiling today?  Nature guards humans and to break down the barriers they have up, you have to be someone they feel is there to help them or be of service. Smiling first is key to opening them up and start breaking down their defenses.  

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity” – Douglas Adams

2. Are You A Good Listener?

After you create the introduction and start the dialogue with your customer or prospect it is essential to be quiet and listen to them.They will begin to tell you what, how, and why they are looking for help and give you the opportunity to show them how your service will solve their problems and needs. Too many times I see salespeople or business individuals talk right through their prospect or customer and in essence, talk themselves right out of a sale.  

Listening is crucial to being in the customer service business. I mean how you can indeed solve a problem for someone if you first refuse to listen to them and find out their problem/problems in the first place?  

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth” – Muhammad Ali

3. Are You An Action Taker?  

The best of the best take action to service their customers, clients, or others for that matter. Talking points are great but it’s the activity and the action steps that people are looking for and out of you. If you really want to create an environment of service, this is non-negotiable. Don’t just communicate with your prospects how you are going to help them or service them, SHOW them through your commitments, actions, and abilities to solve their problems. This is a major part of the attitude of service framework that is necessary to separate you from the all the rest.   

You must first create an environment of service in your own daily habits everyday to create the atmosphere of service you want your colleagues, clients, and general surroundings to see from you as well. Your attitude is the first thing you have to check to get this mindset in alignment with your habits.  

Create a daily smile that others find welcoming.  Listen to everything going on around you so that you are sharp and aware of your surroundings, and then attack every day with actions of solving problems and elevating yourself as the solution others seek out when they need a product or service to better their situation and business.

What are some things you do that show your attitude of service? Comment Below!

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5 Simple Strategies for When You’ve Made a Business Mistake

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business mistakes

Anyone in business with years of experience will likely be able to cite a variety of past mistakes, whether they involve missing a meeting, not delivering content by a deadline or upsetting a client. The reality is, it’s impossible to be error-free in the demanding world of business, where deadlines and individual client preferences are numerous.

Ideally, businesses have a structure in place that helps prevent mistakes before they occur, even though they may still happen. As a result, businesses should realize that a mistake shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. A mistake can present an opportunity to solidify a client relationship, by giving you a chance to make up for it and more.

Here are five simple strategies to address mistakes in business, with integrity and honesty:

1. Provide Clients With Transparency

Businesses that make a mistake and refuse to tell a client about it until questioned will find themselves at the receiving end of an understandably irate client. Giving clients a heads-up shows integrity and a steadfast commitment to making it right, especially if they are not yet aware of the issue.

Ideally, you can address the issue with the client in person, or at least by phone. Showing an apologetic tone in an email is difficult. When apologizing, don’t beat around the bush. Directly clarify the mistake, why it happened and the resolution in progress. By telling a customer or client about a mistake before they realize it on their own, you enforce a willingness to take responsibility and right wrongs.

2. Offer Reassurance on Resolving the Issue

Being transparent about a business mistake is just the first step. It’s equally important to clarify with a client how you will resolve the issue. Since the last thing anyone wants is for the partnership to dissolve with a refund or termination of a contract, the best route is to offer a clear plan on how the project’s results will improve. You should also clarify what steps have been implemented to ensure the mistake does not occur again.

For example, if a PR agency sends out a press release for a client with erroneous content, it can immediately notify the client of the issue, while ensuring them that this round of pitching and its corrective follow-up round will be free of charge. This shows a business taking responsibility for its mistakes, while also offering a solid plan as to how it can resolve the issue without taking more resources or money from the client.

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” – Dalai Lama

3. Ask for Their Resolution Idea

After providing your own reassurance and strategy to amend the mistake, you should ask the client if there’s anything else you can do. If you proposed a firm plan for correcting the issue, then it’s likely they will simply say no — though the question provides room to make things right if they are not satisfied with your proposal.

If you intend on providing a discount due to your mistake, it’s better to ask the customer for their idea of a resolution before offering a discount, as their ideal discount may be less than what you initially intended on proposing. By accepting their idea for a resolution, the business is essentially admitting all wrongdoing while increasing the confidence of the client.

Additionally, for whatever the customer proposes as a solution, it’s a good idea to increase their desire slightly. For example, if a customer feels that a 10 percent discount is fair, counter with something like, “10 percent is very fair, and I’m very apologetic for our mistake. As a result, I will provide you with 15 percent off as a thank you for your understanding.”

4. Value the Power of Word-of-Mouth

Most clients are knowledgeable enough to know that mistakes happen. Their evaluation of a business incorporates how it responds to its errors. Especially in the digital age, reviews of a business are prevalent on social media and various review platforms.

A business that goes above and beyond to amend its mistake, by informing the customer of its error and offering a fair compensation, is likelier to be praised in reviews as taking charge of mistakes. Combined with other reviews from clients who ideally did not experience mistakes, a business will have an excellent review presence online.

“Free publicity and word of mouth is probably the best and cheapest form of advertising. Learn to use it to your advantage.” – Richard Branson

5. Don’t Stress That It Wasn’t Purposeful

If a client or consumer has spent time and money on your services, then they likely already know your mistake was just that, not some intentional sabotage. As a result, continually stressing that your mistake wasn’t on purpose is a waste of time, especially when you can be spending the dialogue on ideas for resolution and compensation. Taking the lead on amending a mistake is significantly more important than declaring its intent or lack thereof.

Mistakes happen in business, quite often. Eliminating these mistakes is ideal, but when they do occur, it’s possible for a business to salvage a client relationship with transparency, reassurance and a viable resolution.

How do you recover from a business mistake? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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10 “Brick-In-The-Head” Moments You’ll Encounter as an Entrepreneur

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entrepreneurship

The entrepreneurial life is one of the most challenging, stressful and risky avenues to success you could possibly choose. The issue with doing it alone in business ventures is exactly that; you’re alone. To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to be driven, thick-skinned, and ready for any curve balls. (more…)

Vladimir Yakimenko is a CEO, Investor and Founder of Kanbanchi, a popular project management add-on for G Suite. Kanbanchi is one of the fastest growing add-ons for G Suite and has over 80,000 active users. Our work has been featured on Today.com, Lifehacker, Lifehack and more.

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  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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The 5 Most Common Myths Associated With Starting a Business

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business myths

We live in a world of opportunities. I can remember growing up and always dreaming of wearing a suit and tie to work. It was my absolute dream. I was maybe 14 years old at the time and my grades in school were awful and I didn’t exactly have the brightest future ahead of me. I always had these misconceptions about success and what it took to achieve it.

After almost a decade of putting my head down and investing the time, I can finally say I have a profitable business. However, this isn’t about me and my business. This is about the myths that most people are allowing to rule their lives and hold them back from their greatness.

Running a business isn’t about making millions of dollars. When you own a business you’re making the world a better place. You’re providing a solution to a problem. You’re giving others an opportunity to earn money by becoming an employee. You’re doing so much more than making money. It’s good for the economy. So don’t let these common myths about starting a business fool you.

Here are 5 common myths you need to let go of once and for all:

1. You must be intelligent and good in school

Have you ever thought that it’s a basic requirement to graduate college with a business degree? It makes sense if you look at it from a distance. You go to school. You learn how to run a business. You start a business.

The flip side? Business school doesn’t teach you how to handle failure. School will never teach you how to adapt to the market place and make split second decisions that could impact millions of people’s daily lives. School can’t teach you to be you. Although school may not hurt, it’s 100% not required to run a successful business.

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

2. You need money

Almost everyone I’ve asked about starting a business has brought up the concept of needing money to get started. I’m here to tell you that you can start thousands of different businesses without money. The most practical piece of advice I can give here is to go out and sell your service, collect the money, then invest a portion or all of that money into the tools needed to complete the job.

If you’re dead set on a business model that requires a lot of cash upfront, use resources like kickstarter or angel investors to get going. You personally don’t need to have any money to start any business ever. You just have to be willing to get creative when it comes to finding the necessary money required.

3. You need experience

As entrepreneurs, we are actually innovators. A lot of the things we are doing have never been done before. We’re constantly experimenting with new ideas and that comes with a lot of failures. You gain the necessary experience needed to run a business while you run your business. You’ll never learn everything you need to know and not a single day will go by where you don’t gain more experience. So dive in, have fun, and don’t give up.

4. You need a following

With all of these mega influencers on social media, it can be challenging to believe you can do anything without a massive following. This isn’t true at all. Everyone on this planet starts with the same following. ZERO. No one knows who you are until you put yourself out there.

Sure you may not have thousands of subscribers, you may not even have ten subscribers. The point is that if you put out good content and provide a service or product that actually helps make the world a better place and solves a problem for your customer, you will win. Just keep putting in the time and energy.

“If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

5. There’s too much competition

Everyday you wait there will be more and more competition. If it was easy everyone would be doing it right? Your product or service is the difference. If you provide a better experience you will win. If you put in the work for the long haul and ignore the short term gains, you will win. Business is a massive competition and if you’re doing it right your competitors will become your friends, mentors, and possibly customers.

This article was written specifically for you. To help you overcome some of the fears of taking that leap of becoming an entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong, it’s challenging. However, if you truly believe in your idea, there should be nothing on this planet that can stop you from bringing it to life.

What tips have you used to start your business? Comment below!

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How I Started A Business And Defeated 5 Years Of Procrastination When It Came To Doing So.

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I finally started a business! So many people had asked me when I was going to start one again and for the last five years, I’ve procrastinated. There’s a whole bunch of statistics which I’m not going to recite that suggest that many people (including me) want to start their own business.

Before each of us leaves this world, there’s a very strong chance we will try to start our own business at least once.

I talk to so many wannabe entrepreneurs who have an idea or a passion that they want to turn into a business yet they never take action. It’s been five years since my last business venture. I know what this feeling of wanting to begin a business is like because it’s plagued my thoughts for so long.

I’ve always had that spark in my brain that says “Tim, you love this passion of yours. Go and start a business and earn a living from it!”

I have ignored this bright spark for so long. I’ve made excuses. I’ve procrastinated. I’ve told myself I wasn’t good enough.

Then finally, a couple of months ago, I said to myself “SCREW IT! I’M STARTING MY BUSINESS.”

If you’ve ever had similar thoughts, then I want you by the end of this article to take action once and for all. I am going to give you the exact steps and tips I used to defeat five years of procrastination, and finally start my coaching and social media consulting business.

Here’s what I did to start my business:

 

Make a loss if you have to in the beginning to get a free education.

The first client I brought on made a loss. At the end of the consulting, I figured out I didn’t charge enough. This is perfect because I basically bought my first client and got a free education at the same time. The lessons my first client taught me were what I used to base my entire business on.

Rather than overthink the idea of a business, I decided to experiment by actually creating one and attempting to find a business model. The truth is you don’t need to know anything to start a business. As long as you can charge money for what you’re going to do, you’ll learn the rest from experience.

 

If you have no ideas at all, then ask yourself “What can I coach people on?”

Not everyone has a business idea they want to pursue. Some people just know they want to start a business. This was the same for me. I knew I wanted a business, but I had no idea what it was going to do. Then I went to an event and the speaker said that all of us could coach somebody, on something.

So I asked myself the same question and the answer I got back was social media and life. They are the two things I can coach everybody on. They are also the two things I’m passionate about. For you, the seed to your business starts with this same question.

While you may not become a coach, knowing what you can teach people will lead to knowing what you’re passionate about and are motivated to do for free.

 

Float the idea of charging one person, for one product or service.

The way I got started once I knew what I wanted to focus my business on was to float the idea with people. One of the people I floated the idea with wanted to be a client except they wanted me to write very long blog articles for them.
While ghostwriting is a service I’m considering to add in the not too distant future, writing long blog posts about a topic I wasn’t passionate about was not something I was willing to do and I said no.

As I kept putting out into the universe what this business was (which didn’t exist yet), I had several people express interest in what I was doing. One of them turned into my first client without even realizing it. Telling people what you are thinking of doing is how you get those first few clients.

“Act as if the business exists already and you can offer your product or service right away. That’s been a key concept for me to take action and start a business again finally”

 

Your first client gives you the confidence.

Winning the first client gave me the confidence to pursue my business. Getting a client is the best way to back yourself and motivate yourself to avoid procrastination and keep going with your business venture.

“It’s harder to fail when you have a client depending on you”

 

Forget business cards and websites.

I meet so many entrepreneurs in the making who spend hours creating websites, designing logos and even printing business cards (maybe they haven’t heard of LinkedIn). None of these activities will get your business started or give you the motivation you need.

Having the skill to sell yourself and start charging for something, anything, is how you start a business. A business is only a business when it has money coming in the door.

 

Act as if you’ve been doing it for years.

I’ve never done consulting. I didn’t do any business degree. I’m no brainiac.

I read a few books and watched a few consultants that my current employer use. Then I just acted as if I had been consulting for years. In a way, I had. Blogging is kind of like consulting.

In fact, in almost any job, you consult to somebody about something. So, we can all do consulting if we choose too.

Acting as if your business has existed for years is how you give your early clients the confidence to try you out and see if your business can serve their needs.

 

Put together a rough plan on the back of an envelope.

Okay, don’t really use an envelope because that would make you a dinosaur. Jot your rough plan down on the notepad of your not so smartphone. My plan for my business was literally nine things I could teach a business about social media.

These nine things became the plan I was going to follow when I consulted to a business. It took fifteen minutes to write. I suggest having a rough plan, so you know where you are heading and what the business will look like. Please don’t overthink the plan or you’ll never get started!

 

Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?”

This question will help you mitigate the risks that are buzzing around in your head and preventing you from starting a business. When I asked this question during the startup of my business a few months back, I realized that the worst that could happen is I disappoint a few clients.

By asking this question, you figure out that there are no life-threatening consequences to giving a business a go.

 

Ask yourself, “What would this look like if it were insanely easy?”

The temptation with a new business idea is to make it complex and overthink it. This is what so many wannabe entrepreneurs do and it’s a disaster. Asking yourself “What would this look like if it were easy?” helps you to chunk down in your head what you want to do.

Making something easy by default makes it doable to get started. If something is really easy, then it’s pretty hard not to give it a go. With my new business, easy looked like this:

– No website
– One service
– One customer
– Using my existing services like Zoom to enable the business
– Only doing it part time for one hour a week

With these boundaries in place, there was no way I was not going to follow through. I knew that if I wouldn’t do one hour a week of my new business, then I’d never do it seriously, or even at all.

Making my business easy was the first test to see if I could ever do the run-my-own-business gig again. I use making things easy as my BS test for any new idea. Try it for yourself.

 

Add your business into conversations you have with everybody.

I get messages on social media and emails all the time asking how I’m doing and what I’m working on. In every conversation during the early weeks of my business, I added in one phrase: “I’ve started a business.”

I didn’t say what it was. It was only natural people would ask, and I’d politely answer them. By using this approach, you’re not selling and you get to test your idea with real people who could become customers. Some of these conversations ended up in them becoming clients.

 

Always do it as a side hustle to start with.

The reason we procrastinate on our business ideas is that we have heaps of fear about what we’re going to do. A lot of this fear comes from the misconception that you need to quit your job or primary income source to start. You don’t.

Giving up your primary income source is the worst thing you can do. You don’t even know if your business will work or whether you’ll like it. Plus 90% of businesses fail in the first five years. That’s why I committed to only one hour per week to put myself to the entrepreneur test yet again.

Starting your business as a side hustle lets you find your niche and learn what your business will become. In the early days, your business will change lots of times, so you don’t want to bet your life savings on it until you are solid in your approach.

Again, by making my business a side hustle to begin with, I removed the fear, gave myself room to explore and allowed myself to fail. I’d suggest this approach for anyone wanting to start a business.

It’s so much easier this way which means your chances of success are higher. The worst case is you end up with a part-time business which gives you a second income. That’s not a bad result either.

So why can’t you start a business and stop procrastinating again?

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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3 Questions to Ask Yourself for a Winning Business

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successful business

“My pleasure”. We’ve all heard this before right? It is probably not implemented more than in the culture at Chik-Fil-A. I can’t tell you how many times I go in there and like clockwork they respond to every request with my pleasure. This is something that, not only separates them from their competition but continues to make them a destination for people to seek out when they are hungry.

This attitude that every employee from the cook to the owner carries is something that we should all learn from and understand the importance of in our daily interactions with people, prospects, and customers.  

Are you conditioning yourself everyday to be in a position of service for your family, friends, clients, and anyone that you come into contact with? Too many times I see people not focused and aware of the potential opportunities walking around them every day. Do you want to know why they are missing them? It is because their attitude sucks and isn’t one ready to be of service.   

1. Are You Approachable?   

Are you presenting yourself to everyone with a smile? This is a simple tactic you can implement right now that will open up more conversation opportunities for you and will have others asking how your day is going and the most common question or response from others will be, what has you smiling today?  Nature guards humans and to break down the barriers they have up, you have to be someone they feel is there to help them or be of service. Smiling first is key to opening them up and start breaking down their defenses.  

“To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity” – Douglas Adams

2. Are You A Good Listener?

After you create the introduction and start the dialogue with your customer or prospect it is essential to be quiet and listen to them.They will begin to tell you what, how, and why they are looking for help and give you the opportunity to show them how your service will solve their problems and needs. Too many times I see salespeople or business individuals talk right through their prospect or customer and in essence, talk themselves right out of a sale.  

Listening is crucial to being in the customer service business. I mean how you can indeed solve a problem for someone if you first refuse to listen to them and find out their problem/problems in the first place?  

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth” – Muhammad Ali

3. Are You An Action Taker?  

The best of the best take action to service their customers, clients, or others for that matter. Talking points are great but it’s the activity and the action steps that people are looking for and out of you. If you really want to create an environment of service, this is non-negotiable. Don’t just communicate with your prospects how you are going to help them or service them, SHOW them through your commitments, actions, and abilities to solve their problems. This is a major part of the attitude of service framework that is necessary to separate you from the all the rest.   

You must first create an environment of service in your own daily habits everyday to create the atmosphere of service you want your colleagues, clients, and general surroundings to see from you as well. Your attitude is the first thing you have to check to get this mindset in alignment with your habits.  

Create a daily smile that others find welcoming.  Listen to everything going on around you so that you are sharp and aware of your surroundings, and then attack every day with actions of solving problems and elevating yourself as the solution others seek out when they need a product or service to better their situation and business.

What are some things you do that show your attitude of service? Comment Below!

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5 Simple Strategies for When You’ve Made a Business Mistake

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business mistakes

Anyone in business with years of experience will likely be able to cite a variety of past mistakes, whether they involve missing a meeting, not delivering content by a deadline or upsetting a client. The reality is, it’s impossible to be error-free in the demanding world of business, where deadlines and individual client preferences are numerous.

Ideally, businesses have a structure in place that helps prevent mistakes before they occur, even though they may still happen. As a result, businesses should realize that a mistake shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. A mistake can present an opportunity to solidify a client relationship, by giving you a chance to make up for it and more.

Here are five simple strategies to address mistakes in business, with integrity and honesty:

1. Provide Clients With Transparency

Businesses that make a mistake and refuse to tell a client about it until questioned will find themselves at the receiving end of an understandably irate client. Giving clients a heads-up shows integrity and a steadfast commitment to making it right, especially if they are not yet aware of the issue.

Ideally, you can address the issue with the client in person, or at least by phone. Showing an apologetic tone in an email is difficult. When apologizing, don’t beat around the bush. Directly clarify the mistake, why it happened and the resolution in progress. By telling a customer or client about a mistake before they realize it on their own, you enforce a willingness to take responsibility and right wrongs.

2. Offer Reassurance on Resolving the Issue

Being transparent about a business mistake is just the first step. It’s equally important to clarify with a client how you will resolve the issue. Since the last thing anyone wants is for the partnership to dissolve with a refund or termination of a contract, the best route is to offer a clear plan on how the project’s results will improve. You should also clarify what steps have been implemented to ensure the mistake does not occur again.

For example, if a PR agency sends out a press release for a client with erroneous content, it can immediately notify the client of the issue, while ensuring them that this round of pitching and its corrective follow-up round will be free of charge. This shows a business taking responsibility for its mistakes, while also offering a solid plan as to how it can resolve the issue without taking more resources or money from the client.

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” – Dalai Lama

3. Ask for Their Resolution Idea

After providing your own reassurance and strategy to amend the mistake, you should ask the client if there’s anything else you can do. If you proposed a firm plan for correcting the issue, then it’s likely they will simply say no — though the question provides room to make things right if they are not satisfied with your proposal.

If you intend on providing a discount due to your mistake, it’s better to ask the customer for their idea of a resolution before offering a discount, as their ideal discount may be less than what you initially intended on proposing. By accepting their idea for a resolution, the business is essentially admitting all wrongdoing while increasing the confidence of the client.

Additionally, for whatever the customer proposes as a solution, it’s a good idea to increase their desire slightly. For example, if a customer feels that a 10 percent discount is fair, counter with something like, “10 percent is very fair, and I’m very apologetic for our mistake. As a result, I will provide you with 15 percent off as a thank you for your understanding.”

4. Value the Power of Word-of-Mouth

Most clients are knowledgeable enough to know that mistakes happen. Their evaluation of a business incorporates how it responds to its errors. Especially in the digital age, reviews of a business are prevalent on social media and various review platforms.

A business that goes above and beyond to amend its mistake, by informing the customer of its error and offering a fair compensation, is likelier to be praised in reviews as taking charge of mistakes. Combined with other reviews from clients who ideally did not experience mistakes, a business will have an excellent review presence online.

“Free publicity and word of mouth is probably the best and cheapest form of advertising. Learn to use it to your advantage.” – Richard Branson

5. Don’t Stress That It Wasn’t Purposeful

If a client or consumer has spent time and money on your services, then they likely already know your mistake was just that, not some intentional sabotage. As a result, continually stressing that your mistake wasn’t on purpose is a waste of time, especially when you can be spending the dialogue on ideas for resolution and compensation. Taking the lead on amending a mistake is significantly more important than declaring its intent or lack thereof.

Mistakes happen in business, quite often. Eliminating these mistakes is ideal, but when they do occur, it’s possible for a business to salvage a client relationship with transparency, reassurance and a viable resolution.

How do you recover from a business mistake? Comment below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

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