In early 2013, Charles Harris had an idea. He didn’t have a business, but he had an idea for a product that was designed to resolve a simple but pressing pain point: shoelace problems. He also had a design, a series of prototypes and a solid marketing plan.
The product was Lace Anchors, a small, basic device designed to keep shoelaces laced tight without tying. It was designed for individuals who are tired of bows coming untied, children who don’t yet know how to tie their laces and people who simply dislike the aesthetic of a bow on their shoes.
Start Your Business
Entrepreneurship isn’t instinctual for everyone. So whether you want to open a unique concept restaurant, launch a never-before seen product or have the makings for a highly-addictive app, a crowd funding site like KickStarter may be the answer — especially if you lack the funds to bring your idea to reality.
KickStarter is a great option for younger adults or less-seasoned entrepreneurs who may not possess the qualifications for a conventional business loan. Instead of contacting traditional investors, you’re soliciting donations from regular people. In return for their donations, you’ll provide them with perks, which could include anything from a personalized thank-you card to a sample of your new product when it launches.
Don’t start without a plan, though — which should include the following steps.
1. Set a Goal
When you begin your crowdfunding journey, you’re going to need to do a fair bit of math to figure out — realistically — how much money you will need to start your project. Donors will expect utmost transparency, so you should be able to clearly defend the amount of money you request, with a breakdown of how much each component will cost.
You don’t necessarily need to set an end goal to fund the entirety of your vision. It’s actually a much better idea to set a target for a smaller, more feasible goal, because you’ll run a much lower risk of falling short of an overestimated one. Funders will be more likely to trust in your idea if you’re being realistic, and if your project gains momentum, there’s a higher chance of exceeding your target.
2. Give People a Reason to Engage
Your KickStarter isn’t just about your product; it’s also about you. You — and your co-founders, if applicable — need to be the face of your campaign. People aren’t going to buy into an idea if they don’t understand the story behind it. A lot of funders are more interested in being a part of launching something great than they are in receiving a product.
3. Do the Grunt Work
It’s not enough to build it and believe they will come. You’ve got to do the dirty work as well, which includes:
- Promoting your KickStarter on social media, including Facebook and Twitter.
- Writing blog posts — especially on Tumblr, where content sharing is the name of the game.
- Keeping your KickStarter page updated. Post new videos and blog entries every few days or so, and show your gratitude to the backers with each update. When you hit major milestones in funding, such as your first $1,000, celebrate on the page. People are often more willing to fund ideas that they believe will become realized.
- Word-of-mouth. Tell family and friends. Reach out to your local newspaper. Tell anyone who will listen about your brilliant idea, and let them know you need their help to make it happen.
- Responding to feedback. Expect to spend an hour or two every day to respond to individual emails, as well as questions and comments on your page. As your project gains momentum, expect to spend more time engaging with individual users. You may even need to hire a team to help with reader engagement — and with shipping out rewards when funds have been raised.
Reap the Rewards
Charles Harris’ Lace Anchors KickStarter initially set a goal of $9,500. Not only did he meet this goal, but he exceeded it by 1,539 percent, raising almost $150,000 — and then he went on to create a series of similar products to solve other common pain points.
The hard work it takes to create and promote a KickStarter project is just a taste of what you’re in for when your business officially starts up, so get ready to put in the effort and maintain it for a high chance of success.
Knut Nylænde is the Chief Executive Officer of Moxie AS, an investments company which he also founded. With degrees from the best business schools in Norway, Knut is known today as one of the most efficient investments executive and business consultants.
Originally published at tech.co on March 20, 2015.