3 Crowdfunding Ways to Improve Your Business Prospects

Crowdfunding is often regarded as a solution to a problem, and that problem is usually attributed to lack of funds. It is often regarded as the end outcome. A lot of us forget that crowdfunding can be more than simply the end. It can be a process in itself, that produces value and goodwill for your company before your idea even takes off.

Crowdfunding is a journey which barely gets the limelight, often the end outcome in dollars outshines the whole process. This is a pity because the whole journey of crowdfunding is filled with a scope and lots of potentials. There are steps throughout the journey that helps one with launching their business and it is not just limited to financial means. Let’s look at three ways in which crowdfunding helps your business even before the end outcome materializes.

1- Create a brand for your idea

It is important to have a unique identity and a strong brand, even before your idea ventures into the business environment. While you may wonder about how can brand building happen before your dream comes to life, it is often forgotten that the appeal to crowdfund is in itself a pitch. Pitch is commonly used in a marketing context wherein an idea is conveyed to the target audience factoring in the maximum level of appeal and reliability.

When a campaigner puts up a fundraiser, he’s essentially marketing his idea to his prospective investors. This helps in building and fostering a strong connection with your target audience irrespective of whether your idea is termed as a success or not. The tone of your message, your engagement, your interactions, your online presence and your pitching skills are all essential components of your yet- to- be brand. While engaging in this process, one unconsciously builds a brand before anything else even takes off.

2- Elevate your online visibility

Crowdfunding happens online, needless to say. It is common knowledge that business needs an online strategy to survive these days. Regardless of the type of business they engage in, it is mandatory to build to build an online presence in order to reach every nook and corner of the world. With the help of crowdfunding campaign, one can be sure that they are building an online presence without their product/ service even being launched.

When someone chooses to share their campaign or their idea through various social networking platforms that in turn induces more sharing. If person X shares their campaign, then the extended circle of friends and professional acquaintances will also be able to view it. Other than word of mouth or referrals, visibility forms an important part of online strategy these days. Instead of paying money and sharing it with a lot of people, a clever hack is to share it with your friends and acquaintances, after which you can incentivize them to share it with their respective external circles.

3- Build a community of backers

Visibility is not just limited to friends, it also extends beyond. By sharing your campaign continuously, you never know when it might be picked up by a media house or a newspaper. It can also enable in building a community rather than building a database of donors. This can happen by fumbling upon someone who has a genuine interest in what you do or finding passionate people who do rather than reaching out to people while just keeping finance at the center of it.

Building a community is very different from building a database of investors or donors. Building a community means endless resources, referrals, genuine interest and more importantly, having a group of people who are ready to back you up, come what may.

Crowdfunding is not just limited to being an alternative to raising funds. While finance is just a facet of crowdfunding, a lot of good things happen as a by-product of crowdfunding which does wonders for your business.

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Tips on Lawn Care Business Advertising Methods

In this article we will discuss advertising methods most commonly used in commercial lawn care businesses. Though this is just a partial list as the possibilities are almost limitless, we will try to touch on the most common methods of advertising used by new lawn care business start-ups.

YELLOW PAGES | PHONE BOOK ADVERTISING:

We will discuss advertising in the yellow pages first, as I consider this to be the biggest return on investment when it comes to advertising, as well as the most costly. Even with the internet age, the phone book is still the place were the majority of individuals turn to first when looking for a local business. Having your company listed in the phone books yellow pages is by far the best return on initial investment in my opinion. With the cost of advertising in the yellow pages increasing each year, most phone book publishers have begun offering monthly payments as a means of paying for your company’s ad. With prices ranging from a couple of hundred dollars annually to several thousand dollars depending on the size and location of your ad.

When we first started out, we basically had a small display ad (the smallest they offered), instead of running just a text listing. Display ads capture a potential customer’s attention easier and it offers a quick way of letting your potential customer know of the services that you offer. Though you can create your own yellow page ad yourself if you are adept with software such as Adobe Photo Shop. Most phone book publishers have graphic artist on staff that can create your ad based on your company’s criteria.

Text ads, though cheaper to purchase, may not be the most cost effective if your rate of return off the ad doesn’t justify the initial publication cost. Try to remember the last time you looked up a company in the yellow pages. If you knew the business name that you were searching for, you probably quickly scanned down the text listings till you found the one that you were hunting for. More than likely though, if you did not know the name of an individual business, and were just looking for say a plumbing business, the display ads probably caught your eye first. Text ads do serve a purpose though, and will help an individual find your business phone number when looking for your name, as well as those individuals who are looking for just a random lawn care company.
Considerably cheaper to purchase, having your company listed only by a text ad is definitely better than not have your company listed at all. I would recommend though that if your finances will only allow you to invest in a text ad that you try to at least spend the money and have the listing in bold. This will help in making your text ad stand out from the others somewhat. Most larger cities now days have more than one phone book available. Check with each one regarding pricing and distribution to determine which book will offer you the biggest bang for your buck.

FLYERS:

As we have discussed above what I consider to be the biggest return on your advertising investment, flyers would fall into my least return on initial investment and effort scale.
Though you may read on the many different forums on the internet regarding the use of flyers as a means of advertising, the rate of return is generally less than 2%. That means for every 1,000 flyers that you stuff under someone’s windshield wiper blade, or hand out as they are coming out of a grocery store, you will get roughly 20 phone calls requesting quotes. This may seem like a good deal of business on the surface, but let’s put a few numbers to it.

First off most copy businesses charge generally a minimum of $.05 per sheet for copy service. At a 1,000 copies, you’ve already spent $50.00. Then you must calculate in at least a day to walk around and pass out the flyers. I remember when I first started out I put a dollar value on my time of $35.00 per hour. Not knowing any better, I estimated this is what it would take to pay myself a decent salary as well as pay for my equipment. This figure was low, but we will discuss that in another section. But just to have something to work with, we will use the $35.00 per hour fee that I estimated my time to be valued at.

Well if you consider it will take a good portion of a day to pass out a 1,000 flyers to individuals, at $35.00 per hour that comes to $280.00 for an 8 hour day. Combine that with the $50.00 you spent at the copy center, and your now into your CHEAP method of advertising to the tune of $330.00. That is close to what you would have spent for a text ad in the local telephone book yellow pages.

Yes, as we have discussed, you stand the potential of getting 20 new customers so let’s put some numbers to it. When first starting out, and unless the properties are extremely small, you will probably average somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 cuttings a day for residential. Less than that if they are larger properties, or less than that if you short cut and do sub standard work. At 6 yards a day, it will take you roughly 3.3 days to finish mowing your 20 new customers. But to keep the math simple, let’s just assume that you can complete mowing the 20 properties in an even 3 days working 8 hour days. At your $35.00 an hour rate in an 8 hour day, minus the cost of printing and handing out the flyers, you’ve made $370.00.

Now if you divide the $370.00 into 3 eight hour days, you’ve actually earned only $15.41 per hour. I can tell you from experience that isn’t enough to pay for your equipment, much less your salary. Now I am not totally against the use of flyers as a means of advertising, as I feel they do serve a purpose and can be a quick way to pick up some new clients. I would not advise stepping off into the green industry business with the idea that all you have to do is go pass out some flyers in order to strike it rich. Also please note, just as a reminder, placing flyers inside a homeowner’s mail box is illegal. Federal Law prohibits an individual from tampering with the mail,and although your only placing a flyer inside a mail box it is still considered a felony.

FREE CLASSIFIEDS | PENNY RECORDS

Just about any time you enter a convenience store, you’re bound to see a rack with free local classified ads. Though generally nothing fancy, as they are usually in a news paper style format, they do offer a way to promote your business for a reasonable amount. For generally $30 – $40 you can have your business ad run for several days or weeks. These free classifieds newspapers reach a very large audience, and though probably not the first place someone would look to in searching for a lawn care company, you can pick up the occasional individual who might not have been actually looking for a lawn maintenance company but after seeing your ad remembered that their own yard needed to be mowed.

LOCAL INTERNET CLASSIFIEDS

If you happen to live in an area that is lucky enough to have a local online classifieds website, this can be used as another source of affordable advertising. Having done both print and internet advertising, you seem to pick up a different class of customer through internet advertising than you do print advertising. Not to try and stereotype anyone, in my experience the customers we have picked up from internet advertising tend to be a little better off financially, a little more up to date on landscaping trends, but generally will not be as tolerant of sub standard work.

DOOR HANGERS

I really like door hangers, although I have not personally gone door to door hanging them on homeowner’s door knobs. Our technique was that we had door hangers printed up which stated that we were in their neighborhood servicing their neighbors yard and would like to extend our services to their home as well. Our flyers also stated that we had briefly looked at their yard and could offer our services for $xx.xx dollars per cut. The bottom of the door hanger was a detachable business card that they could remove and keep with them. We had our door hangers custom printed by online printing company for around $80.00.

MAGNETIC SIGNS | YARD SIGNS

I really like this particular lawn care advertising method personally. Having good magnetic signs on the sides of your truck is an invaluable method of free advertising. Not only are you advertising your company as you drive around town from job to job, but it also makes it easy for individuals to see who it is servicing their neighbors lawn. A good set of magnetic door signs will run you around $100.00 for a set, but it ranks second on my list of must dos. Yard signs are also excellent when it comes to prime advertising. Though you will spend probably $150.00 on a set of signs, these can be placed in customer’s yards (with their prior approval), making it again easy for neighbors to see who it is servicing the lawn.

In Closing

Regardless of the landscape advertising method you choose to promote your company, a good marketing scheme is critical as word of mouth advertising will only reach so many individuals.
I understand that at first your advertising budget will be extremely limited, which is why I have attempted to list several of the most common forms of advertising methods above. To try and sum up the above though, in my personal opinion, I believe the two most valuable forms of advertising a new start up lawn maintenance company can do is:

Yellow Page Advertising (display ad)
Magnetic Truck Signs – Yard Signs
I recommend budgeting the most you can afford towards good quality advertising, perform quality work, and watch your business grow!
Evergreen Lawns is a free information website offering tips and suggestions to both homeowners interested in Do-It-Yourself projects, as well as information for those individuals interested in starting their own commercial lawn maintenance business.

Small Business Investments

State laws have been relaxed to make it easier for small business to raise start-up and growth financing from the public. Many investors view this as an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of an emerging business and to hit it big as the small businesses grow into large ones.

Statistically, most small businesses fail within the first few years. Small business investments are among the most risky that investors can make. This guide suggests factors to consider for determining whether you should make a small business investment.

Risks and investment strategy

A basic principle of investing in a small business is: Never make small business investments that you cannot afford to lose! Never use funds that may be needed for other purposes, such as college education, retirement, loan repayment, or medical expenses.

Instead, use funds that would otherwise be used for a consumer purchase, such as a vacation or a down payment on a boat or a new car.

Above all, never let a commissioned securities salesperson or office or directors of a company convince you that the investment is not risky. Small business investments are generally hard to convert to cash (illiquid), even though the securities may technically be freely transferable. Thus, you will usually be unable to sell your securities if the company takes a turn for the worse.

In addition, just because the state has registered the offering does not mean that the particular investment will be successful. The state does not evaluate or endorse any investments. If anyone suggests otherwise, they are breaking the law.

If you plan to invest a large amount of money in a small business, you should consider investing smaller amounts in several small businesses. A few highly successful investments can offset the unsuccessful ones. However, even when using this strategy, only invest money you can afford to lose.

Analyzing the investment
Although there is no magic formula for making successful investment decisions, certain factors are considered important by professional venture investors. Some questions to consider are:

– How long has the company been in business? If it is a start-up or has only a brief operating history, are you being asked to pay more than the shares are worth?
– Consider whether management is dealing unfairly with investors by taking salaries or other benefits that are too large in view of the company’s stage of development, or by retaining an inordinate amount of equity stock of the company compared with the amount investors will receive. For example, is the public putting up 80 percent of the money but only receiving 10 percent of the company shares?
– How much experience does management have in the industry and in a small business? How successful were the managers in previous businesses?
– Do you know enough about the industry to be able to evaluate the company and to make a wise investment?
– Does the company have a realistic marketing plan and do they have the resources to market the product or service successfully?
– How or when will you get a return on your investment?

Making money on your investment
The two classic methods of making money on an investment in a small business are resale of stock in the public securities markets following a public offering, and receiving cash or marketable securities in a merger or other acquisition of the company.

If the company is not likely to go public or be sold out within a reasonable time (i.e., a family-owned or closely held corporation), it may not be a good investment for you despite its prospects for success because of the lack of opportunity to cash in on the investment. Management of a successful private company may receive a good return indefinitely through salaries and bonuses, but it is unlikely that there will be profits sufficient to pay dividends in proportion with the risk of the investment.

Other suggestions
Investors must be provided with a disclosure document – a prospectus – before making a final decision to invest. You need to read this material before investing.

Even the best small business venture offerings are highly risky. If you have a nagging sense of doubt, there is probably a good reason for it. Good investments are based on sound business criteria and not emotions. If you are not entirely comfortable, the best approach is usually not to invest. There will be many other opportunities. Do not let a securities salesperson pressure you into making a decision.

It is generally a good idea to see management of the company face-to-face to size them up. Focus on experience and record of accomplishment rather than a smooth sales presentation. If possible, take a sophisticated businessperson with you to help in your analysis. Beware of any information that differs from, or is not included in the disclosure document. All significant information is required by law to be in the disclosure document. Immediately report any problems to your state Office of the Commissioner of Securities.

Conclusion
Greater numbers of public investors are getting on the ground floor by investing in small businesses. When successful, these enterprises enhance the economy and provide jobs. They can also provide new investment opportunities, but the advantages must be balanced against the risky nature of small business investments.