If you want to keep your business afloat, you need to understand how to meet the needs it has. Unfortunately, for a startup, it can be difficult to figure out how to come up with capital needed to meet all of your needs.
Some of the top needs of a business can be expensive. Consider the following five business requirements:
- Customer Service
Fundraising is probably the most important requirement for a growing business since without capital it's difficult to pay for the other things your business needs. The good news is that new tools are emerging that can help you grow your business without breaking the bank. One of the best new tools is crowdsourcing.
Crowdsourcing is using collective wisdom and efforts of a large group of people to get what you need. Whether you are looking for the right words to boost the visibility of your business, whether you need workers to perform basic tasks or whether you are looking for the money to fund it all, crowdsourcing can make a big difference. Here's how to use crowdsourcing to meet each of the 5 biggest needs your business has:
Crowdsourcing - or crowdfunding - is a rapidly growing, grassroots fundraising method with incredible results. With crowdfunding, you raise money from scores, or even hundreds, of individuals. Websites like Indiegogo, GoFundMe and Kickstarter allow you to reach people who are willing to give you money in exchange for a sample of your product or with some other perk. Running a crowdfunding campaign takes planning and work, though. You have to create a good strategy in order to effectively raise money this way.
Another growing source of crowdsourced funding is investment, or securities, crowdfunding. Over the past few years, since the passage of the JOBS Act of 2012, investment crowdfunding has been phasing in. At some point, business owners will be able to offer actual shares in their companies through this mechanism, attracting investors interested in more than "perks" and "thank yous." This could provide small business owners with needed funding without the need to try to attract venture capital or angel investors (or go through the process of applying for a loan through a bank, only to be rejected).
If you are looking for someone to perform tasks for your small business, and you don't have a lot of ready cash available, you can look to skill swapping websites. Skill swapping websites bring together large groups of people offering and looking for work in exchange. Sites like Swapaskill make it easy for businesses to exchange their specialties.
For more technical labor, a business can seek out the assistance of Amazon Mechanical Turk, an online crowdsourcing marketplace that connects businesses with freelancers to perform computer-like tasks, such as transcribing videos, article writing and research.
For the small and odd task, there's a wide spectrum of websites to choose from to find affordable individuals that will adeptly accomplish the rudimentary task at hand. You can also find help at a website like Fiverr, if you are looking for work that requires a little more skill, but is still affordable.
If you struggle with writing, a professional can produce copywriting projects, branding campaigns and messaging materials. Professional writers can also edit and repurpose existing content that may be underperforming or underutilized. Your business content team needs to be able to catch attention, drive traffic, and do it in a professional manner. You can turn to content creation websites, which draw on a stable of writers to fill your needs. Tools like MyBlogU provide interviews and the ability to brainstorm with others on niche topics.
Another area that often requires special attention is design. Whether you are designing an ad, or whether your website needs an overhaul, it's difficult to make sure you are on top of the latest best practices. It can also be difficult to find royalty-free artwork to use on your site, and it can be prohibitively expensive to create your own custom artwork.
Sites like GuruShots host daily photo contests, allowing users submit and then vote in a whole host of categories. This is one way for sites to build a deep collection of licensed art for themselves -- and you.
You can get help identifying problems with your site through tools like Conceptfeedback and BrandsOfTheWorld. These sites offer feedback and help for ideas, symbols, typography and colors from professional designers.
Finally, you need to be able to keep your customers happy and get feedback without breaking the bank. Companies like Get Satisfaction offer a host of tools to help you build an engaged online community whose main function is to support one another and solve their shared problems.
You can also provide online forums, or a place for discussion on your company Facebook page. By allowing your audience to not only post but answer common questions, you can keep your finger on the pulse of your audience. The point is to create a collection point on your website or Facebook page that connects your customers and prospective customers with each other. On top of making your customers happy, this kind of "social proof" is one of the most powerful tools of persuasion.
It's also possible to create online surveys using tools like Survey Monkey and Questback. This allows your small business the opportunity to get insight into what customers, employees and the market wants. It collects feedback in real time and offers real-time, actionable reports that provide the opportunity to make profitable changes to your business.
No matter what your business needs, there is a good chance you can get it - and for a price that won't break your (shoestring) budget - with the help of crowdsourcing.