How crowdfunding can help launch your business

By Fodhla O'Connell-Grennell

Do you have a great business idea but little money to support your plan? One of life’s biggest paradoxes is needing money to start a business but needing your own business to make money. If you’re in this position, then crowdfunding might be the way for you to raise money to launch your business.

Jade Donnelly, a young woman living in Waterford, has recently set up a GoFundMe page to fundraise €10,000 in order to launch her very own sustainable, LGBTQ café. This café will be one of the few LGBTQ spaces in Ireland, which is safe for the community to meet likeminded people. A unique and innovative idea like this is the first step to becoming a success.

Jade shared her story on her GoFundMe profile which allows for funders, shareholders and consumers to know why they should support her. Having a distinctive story shows that your business is well thought out and it may emotionally connect your idea to a potential funder. Using a platform, such as, GoFundMe lets you join a community where funders are constantly watching for upcoming businesses who may just need a little bit of extra support.

After you have decided on your plan, designed your logo and social media templates, the next step is to promote your project. If you are stuck with organising your graphics or mailing lists, using simple sites, such as, Canva, MailChimp or the Adobe suite are the easy ways around this. Then, set up your social media pages and link them into your profile. Reach out to the media, whether you write the article yourself or they write the article for you and communicate why your business is unique. Engage with influencers and opinion leaders where you can send them free products and/or services when you are set up in exchange for a promotion to their vast number of followers.

Once you start to build a following and awareness on your social media, focus on driving interaction and engagement with your business, for example, create a poll asking your audience what products and/or services they would like to see your business providing. Interaction isn’t just important on social media, you must directly connect to your backers. At the end of the day, these are the people who have financially supported your business, therefore, with their permission, start an address book and make sure you are updating them directly on your progress. You need to make sure that you are transparent and that you are fulfilling the promises you made at the beginning of your crowdfunding campaign.

Once you have all of this groundwork done, it is time to research for your supply chain and manufacturer. It is absolutely vital that you stick to what your business’ morals and ethics are, for example, if you are a cruelty-free business, then you must know that all of your products from supply-chain to production and manufacturing are made with no animals being tested on. In this case, you should also work on becoming certified, for example, attaining a Leaping Bunny logo so that consumers, shareholders and funders can trust that your business is committed to its goals.

Finally, before you launch your business: Take a look at your feedback. For instance, if a funder believes that your business would do better as a cruelty-free and vegan business, look at what other changes you can make; they could be simple. This feedback must be taken seriously because it could just make your product and/or service that little bit better. It is not easy to crowdfund, however, with dedication you should reach your goals.

If you want to support Jade’s The Gay Café, here is a link to her exemplar GoFundMe page.