5 steps to an awesome crowdfunding campaign for Australian entrepreneurs

5 steps to an awesome crowdfunding campaign for Australian entrepreneurs

Crowdfunding for business in Australia is starting to gain momentum and being added into the mix of options available for founders as a source of funding.

In January 2018, crowd-sourced equity funding became available for public unlisted companies and it is expected that it will be opened up to proprietary companies later in the year.

Reward-based crowdfunding has been used for a while to help to all types of projects in music and the arts but it now starting to be used to help start-ups get their operations up and running and to help existing businesses expand a product or service line.

It is recognised that reward based crowdfunding is about more than raising funds. It can be helpful to generate your first customers and brand advocates, to generate feedback for your new offering, to test your minimum viable project and establish minimum orders for production.

Indeed, for crowdfunding campaign creators can expect with no exception that by the end of their campaign they will have had a great learning experience, uncovering real market needs and moving forward with the funds raised, or getting back to the drawing board and trying again with a different approach if they find there is not the level of interest they expected in their new product.

Frankly, there is no magic formula to make crowdfunding campaigns successful every time. Projects, ideas, and target audiences are so unique that there is always something to be unexpected and to be a success at most things in life it takes hard work.

Having said that, after working with many Australian start-ups and entrepreneurs preparing reward-based crowdfunding campaigns, we have singled out five ingredients which contribute significantly to crowdfunding success. These ingredients should also be highly applicable to equity crowdfunding campaigns too.

Plan your campaign for success

Since the early days of crowdfunding, there is this unfounded hope that awesome ideas or prototypes are enough to raise funds. It’s time to dispel the myth once for all. There’s a lot of work involved in creating and running a successful crowdfunding campaign. It starts with good preparation and planning –  reaching out to the media and influencers, generating signups on a landing page, through to building a tribe of followers and raving fans. Bottom line: funds do not arrive by magic.

Fine-tune a compelling message in your video

Did you know that people and goldfishes now have a similar attention span? You don’t have much time to convince potential backers to support your project. Because of that, videos are an ideal channel to communicate a lot of information quickly — with 55% of consumers paying close attention to them.

Whilst videos are not essential, crowdfunding campaigns with videos are significantly more successful. You do not need a Hollywood blockbuster, so start planning what will go into your project’s video as soon as possible. Try keeping it short – 60 seconds should be enough – and tell your main message within the first 15 seconds.

Get backers to pledge from day one

Some crowdfunding campaign creators do not always distinguish between Facebook “likes” and people who actually want to back your project. It is important to recognise that social media engagements and followers do not automatically convert into pledges and backers.

I am often told by campaign creators eager to launch:

Oh it will not be a problem for us to hit our campaign target, we have 4,000 Facebook likes” or “no worries, I have sent a message to my contacts, so they know that we will be live soon.

It is essential that you get your campaign off to a good start by proactively encouraging a crowd of serious backers to pledge from day one otherwise it is likely to be very tough to get steam up to hit your goal.

Seeing initial commitment is a critical decision-making factor for potential crowd members to fund a project, and you have got only one chance to make a first good impression.

Think carefully about your funding goal

You might be tempted to raise as much money as possible, and set an ambitious target but this is often counter-productive. It is often best to seek less and exceed expectations to generate more buzz and make things more manageable.

There is nothing to stop you exceeding your target. A target that looks possible is likely to encourage backers whereas one that looks impossible is likely to be off putting.

Have the right team members in place

Planning for crowdfunding success takes time and effort, and it might just be too much to do it on your own. If it makes sense for your project, try assembling a team with a mix of skills so you can develop a better product or service as well as manage your campaign more effectively.

To create a crowdfunding campaign several skills are required and it is unusual for all those skills to rest in one person. By creating a team not only will you be able to better cover off the skills required but everyone will come to the party with different contacts leading to an immediate expansion of your network.

We hope that these 5 tips will get you thinking about whether a crowdfunding campaign is right for your business.

At ReadyFundGo, Australia’s crowdfunding platform for business, we think it is a privilege to hear about so many amazing ideas. We truly enjoy supporting innovators to launch their campaign and raise the funds to get their idea off the ground or expand their existing business.


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Jill Storey is the CEO of ReadyFundGo, Australia’s crowdfunding platform for businesses and a board member of the Crowd Funding Institute of Australia (CFIA). She has extensive experience in helping campaigners achieve their crowdfunding goals. Visit www.readyfundgo.com today to get your campaign started or get in touch at info@readyfundgo.com if you have a question about starting a crowdfunding campaign for your business.

 

 

From an Industry Outsider to an (award-winning) Industry Leader

From an Industry Outsider to an (award-winning) Industry Leader

Real estate entrepreneur Bernadette Hayes switched gears from the hospitality sector to establish a leading agency focused on strong customer relationships.

Just over seven years ago, Bernadette Hayes moved to the ever-dynamic real estate industry – by accident. Today, as Principal at Harbourline Real Estate which specialises in residential sales and property management, she and her team are committed to building lasting relationships through a high standard of personal service at an affordable price.

Their focus on achieving the right outcome for every client has earned them prestigious nods, including ‘Best Outstanding Real Estate Agency’ on the North Shore, in 2016 and 2017.

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You’ve moved from a career in hotel management and your own catering business to start a venture in real estate. What attracted you to the industry?

I was never attracted to the industry, but found myself trip and land in it! I had a property manager looking after my investment property, but over time I felt that I could do a better job – so I started managing it myself. Not long after, one of my friends also found herself in a similar position and handed me the management of her property. My accountant noticed the extra income from managing the two properties and suggested I get a real estate licence. That was when I took the plunge.

I’ve always been in charge of what I do. Having found success in my previous ventures, I wasn’t prepared to compromise and join an agency. This meant starting from scratch and never having worked in real estate before it was a steep learning curve. The main challenges were not to be swayed by making quick turnarounds, but to look at the long-term goals and establish a reputation in the market.

What would you advise those venturing real estate?

It’s a fast-moving industry, and one can never be complacent. You have to be in the vanguard of the business. The service side of the industry will continue to be a growth area and an agile business approach offered by a small business will meet the market. With a boutique rent roll, you will never compromise on the quality of service. Keep up to date with the latest laws and legislation.

The market is in an adjustment phase, and the biggest challenge is to know when to adjust and what needs adjusting. You need to be in touch with your customer base and listen to buyers and sellers. Pick up on the market sentiment.

How do you balance between “making the sale” and nurturing long-term relationships with your clients?

My business has been built on building long-term relationships. Most of my business comes from recommendations so I will never put this before a quick turnover mentality.

I get great satisfaction securing the desired result for clients. I love building a strong business. I love the opportunity I can give to my staff to grow their careers and be part of the journey with me and to be a mentor.

What is the toughest decision you’ve made and how did you handle it?

The toughest decision was to bring my partner and husband on board into the business. We have a great marriage but working together was going to be a huge risk as we are both different thinkers. We received some valuable independent advice on how to manage working together and we have been able to do this successfully. So far, it has worked!

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Bernadette and her team at Harbourline Real Estate have received prestigious nods, including ‘Best Outstanding Real Estate Agency’ on the North Shore, in 2016 and 2017.

BERNADETTE’S TIPS FOR REAL ESTATE SUCCESS

  • Always have excellence in mind: From day one, do things professionally. Seek advice from people and organisations who know what they are doing, such as the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales (REINSW).
  • Live your brand: Have a clear direction, know what your brand stands for and live that in everything you do from the very beginning.
  • Build long-lasting relationships: Building and maintaining strong relationships is important to business success. Word of mouth is vital.
  • See the big picture: If you want to be successful in the long run, see the big picture and build your success organically. There will be ups and downs as nothing worthwhile comes easily, so you need to be very motivated and be prepared to work hard.
  • Teamwork: Surround yourself with a great team. Find people with talents you don’t have, and once you find good people, look after them.
  • Get a mentor: Find a good mentor and be prepared to work hard. Be realistic about what you want to achieve and be 100% committed.
  • Introduce the best systems: Be efficient and profitable by introducing the best systems in Customer Resource Management, property management, and of course, your website.

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For more information, visit www.harbourline.com.au.

French and Hamptons style that doesn’t break your wallet

French and Hamptons style that doesn’t break your wallet

High-end furniture and homeware doesn’t have to be beyond one’s reach, believes Lavender Hill Interiors’ Co-Director Mary McManus.

Bringing a piece of classic-contemporary elegance to your home can come at a price. However, online retailers Mary McManus and Gina Courtenay – also twin sisters – are changing that.

Lavender Hill Interiors (LHI), an online boutique store that went live in 2012, is reshaping the way customers buy French and Hamptons style furniture by cutting prices considerably without compromising on design and quality. They work with designers and makers to bring the furniture directly from the factory to their customers’ homes.

With quality and price being crucial to their customers, LHI offers professionally curated packages – featuring classic French and Hamptons furniture and homewares – as cost and time effective solutions.

Mary McManus shares the challenges and opportunities of operating in the digital space as a small business while consistently delivering high quality at low prices.

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What are some of the challenges LHI faces in the online retail space and how is it overcoming them?

The online furniture space was only coming of age when we began in 2012. However, now every furniture retailer has an online presence. Our point of difference is a combination of our beautiful range, quality and price and the fact that we offer completely styled furniture packages. We also hold most of our furniture in our warehouse in Alexandria, so our customers rarely need to wait more than a week for their order to arrive.

We are a small business without any investors, so we don’t have the funds behind us to undertake traditional or print media marketing.  We rely heavily on digital marketing including online shopping, paid campaigns using Google AdWords, social media marketing, re-marketing, content marketing and automated emails, such as cart abandonment reminders and order follow-ups.

LHI has built an immense community of followers on social media. How has this contributed to the overall business growth?

 We do have a strong social media presence with a combined followership of over 120K users across Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Houzz. We invest a lot of time and energy in daily posts on all these social platforms, interacting with our followers, in addition to consistent advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Social media conversions constitute about 10% of our total annual conversions.

You’ve moved from a career in public relations to starting your own venture. What inspired you to take the leap?

I had my own public relations company for 12 years, but I wanted to raise my two young sons (a 1-year old and other only a few months old) at the time I left.  Besides a two-year stint in a public relations company when I left university, I have always worked for myself. When my boys were a little older, I was ready to enter the workforce again. My sister – who comes from a Law background – and I discussed the idea of opening our own business based on our shared passion for French and Hamptons interiors. I wanted to work for myself again which allowed me flexibility with my sons. While this means that I am working very long hours including weekends and nights, I absolutely love what I do!

Having started the business with your twin sister, how does it impact the professional and personal synergy you share?

We have always had a good friendship and now have a great working relationship. We complement each other, and our roles have developed organically over the years.  As my background is in public relations, I look after marketing as well as IT while my sister deals with our factories in China, stock orders and managing our staff. We both love the creative side too and develop new product lines together.

What is the toughest decision you have made and how did you handle it?

One of the toughest decision we made was to move to larger premises, i.e. office, showroom and warehouse. Our rent more than doubled, but we really believed in our business and took the leap and have not looked back since!

What are the three things you’re most excited about for the business in 2018?

  1. Our new collection of navy linen furniture
  2. Introducing an e-decorating service for our customers
  3. Releasing new dining tables and Malawi chairs

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Check out their latest collection at www.lavenderhillinteriors.com.au.