crowdfunding: the basics

Last week the apprentice contestants were tasked with helping two entrepreneurs launch their new cycling product and getting the public to invest through crowdfunding.

But what is crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is an alternative way of financing your project or business -allowing you to talk to thousands, maybe millions of potential investors online.

You ask a lot of people to invest a small amount of money, and give them something of value in return.

It’s a great way for start-ups or early stage companies ready to take it to the next level -- such as rolling out a product or service.

A successful crowdfunding round not only provides your business with needed cash, but creates a base of customers who feel as though they have a stake in the business' success.

Typically, those seeking funds will set up a profile of their project on a website like gofundme or crowdfunder but it’s also worth looking at sites for specific sectors and topics like Kickstarter, a site for people looking to fund creative projects.

It’s also good to use social media, alongside traditional networks of friends, family and work acquaintances, to boost awareness of your campaign and raise money.

Want to start crowdfunding? Here’s some things to consider...

have at least a small network to help get the ball rolling

Friends and family or a small group of supporters can help kick start your funding.

It’s okay to start with a small crowd because eventually, these people will help you build community by inviting others to join them.

giving something back

If you're giving out perks in return for money, make sure the perks are worthwhile, and include different rewards for different levels of giving.

If you wanted to open a coffee shop, maybe a £10 donation would be a free coffee and snack when the shop opens, or a £100 could be a 10% discount for a year?

serious business

Show potential investors that you’re serious about your campaign.

Write up a business plan and an explanation of why the money will help you get to the next level.

let donors know they’re making an impact

Down to earth, tangible goals are more likely to lead people to believe they’re making a real difference.

Show where the money’s going by breaking down the campaign into smaller parts: stages of construction, the cost of a piece of equipment or the number of stoves provided. This might make people more likely to give than if you were to give a broad, end goal.

live online

You’ll need to spend a lot of time online, keeping your page up to date, speaking with people interested in your campaign and staying active on social media to promote what you’re doing.

It might take a lot of time and effort, but will worth it when you can open your new shop, expand your business or launch your new product.

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