One thing that plagues every tiny startup business I have ever seen is money – or rather, the lack of same. After all, it takes money to make money, and I have never yet encountered a business in its early years which would say it had “enough” money. Equipment, license fees of various sorts, supply stockpiles, more equipment, rent if you have a separate workspace or storefront, advertising costs, administrative overhead of multiple flavors, etc. – and after the business expenses finally come to an end, even if the startup doesn’t have any employees beyond the initial entrepreneur to pay, she still has to pay her mortgage, and eat occasionally, and deal with the electric bill.
This is why most new startups are run in evenings, weekends, and lunch breaks by people who still have day jobs, of course, but even so, sometimes a growing business finds itself in need of an injection of capital to step up to the next level.
Quite a few funding options are not available to the smallest businesses for assorted regulatory reasons, and small business loans were not, when I turned to them for help, small enough – and also not particularly easy to get, especially if one has been running a business hand-to-mouth for a couple of years by the point at which one goes looking. Fortunately, in recent years there has been an upswelling of crowdfunding as a means of raising capital for all manner of things, and so, when our business ran solidly into a fiscal crunch last month, it was there that we turned to solve it.
We put together a funding campaign at IndieGoGo, explaining why we needed a cash infusion, how much we were looking for, and what we would do with it (as well as the list of goodies contributors could receive in exchange for their donations), published it, and started to promote it. The response was absolutely overwhelming, and we met our $2,500 goal early in the afternoon of the Tuesday after starting the campaign on Saturday evening.
This is far from a predictable result of crowdfunding, of course – the unbelievable generosity of our contributors left me stunned and speechless for some time – but even a more moderate response can go a very long way to helping a growing business get the leg up it needs. We spent the very first $20 that came in on something that had been on our supply wish list for months!
What does all this mean? Well, if you’re a tiny business struggling to become a little less tiny, consider setting up a campaign. It’s intimidating – no, actually, it’s terrifying – but it could well pay off for you. If you’re a customer or a fan of a business that’s running one of these campaigns, consider tossing them $5 or so. You’d be surprised how far a little business can make five bucks stretch!
…oh, and one more thing – the campaign linked above is still active, until May 8. We’ve met our goal, as I said above, but there’s never any shortage of other things around the workplace that could use a bit of money tossed at them. I love my little business, but she certainly is thirsty when it comes to cash! So if you feel inclined, we would most definitely not turn down any additional contributions that come in over the next week.
But we’re incredibly happy with the result of our campaign, even if no more contributions come along. Several of the new and exciting things we’ll be talking about here in months to come will only be possible due to the generous contributions to the campaign, and we are very conscious of the responsibility of living up to the confidence that people placed in us by making them.
P.S. I’ll be sending out everyone’s perks-for-contributing next week!