No one can doubt that the economy is tough, many arguing that it is not merely a rut we are in, but this is the “new reality”. If this is indeed the case, we must get more creative with the way which we conduct and finance small business.
Small businesses usually suffer from a lack of depth of resources when compared to “big business”. They do not have marketing departments, IT departments, and all of the specialised services they require to contend with global competition. To overcome this, they often outsource, but the luxury of outsourcing is one of the first things to go when belt tightening starts. Without the knowledge of the specific requirements for marketing, accounting, or whatever the small business chooses to bring “in house”, the small business decreases the quality of their work in these areas, compounding the effects of tough economic times.
Even professionals who, til recently, provided their services to small business are finding that their phones are ringing less than before, and the work is not coming in, largely because their former client base can no longer afford to outsource.
And so it goes, downward and downward, and the talk of a tough economy becomes self fulfilling.
Savvy professionals are breaking the cycle with the help of crowd funding. They are now able to offer their services and offer their prospective clients a source of funding from “the crowd”. Being able to afford outsourced professional services, to have it paid for, and to engage a broader audience is a dream to many in small business at present, but professionals are able to offer all of this when they package their services with crowd funding with iPledg.
iPledg offers crowd funding for project-based initiatives. And many of the needs of small business are related to projects that they endeavour to undertake to maintain and grow their business, if not survive. Writing a business plan or marketing plan is a project. Undertaking a promotional campaign or to develop a new brand image is a project. These are the sorts of things that businesses can use crowd funding to capitalise their initiatives.
Professionals who provide services in these areas can now go to their clients, and along with quoting to do the work, guide their clients to and through the process of crowd funding to raise the costs of affording their assistance. They are not just telling their prospective clients what they can offer, but giving their clients a way for them to afford their services.
The (client) business can then engage their friends, followers and networks to pledge their support to funding the initiative. As inducements, the business can offer products at discounted rates in appreciation for each pledge. For example, if a clothing business wanted a marketing plan written, they could fund the outsourcing to a specialist by running a crowd funding campaign. They could offer a $40 item of clothing to supporters who pledged $30 or more, and then offer a $100 item of clothing to people who pledge $65 or more, and so on. This gives prospective project supporters a reason to get involved (everyone loves a bargain), and the business gets a band of engaged customers who keenly watch what the business is doing and how they are progressing (remembering that if the business doesn’t hit their funding target, the supporter doesn’t get their bargain, so they have a vested interest in helping the business get there).
With crowd funding being relatively new, businesses using this form of e-commerce have the ability to really stand out from the crowd. They can sell their products by way of offering them as the rewards for people who pledge. They can get their name out there as doing something unique and showing initiative. They have something “newsworthy” about which they can Tweet and make Facebook mentions. And best of all, if they hit their funding target, they can bring in the services and the professionalism that may not exist in their business.
So those in professional services, be they accountants, marketing experts, business coaches, accountants, or whatever, now have at their fingertips a tool to stimulate not only their own business, but that of their (prospective) clients, and the economy as a whole. The answer is crowd funding.