I had a friend who loved to have given a dinner party.
No, there isn’t a grammatical error in that sentence. She loved it when it was over, basking in the afterglow of a wonderful evening. But she really didn’t enjoy the rush of prepping five dishes on a four burner stove, wondering if someone might be allergic to an exotic spice, or just fretting over whether or not certain individuals might come to blows over their political differences.
That’s exactly how I feel after having finished a successful crowdfunding campaign. It was like a fabulous dinner party, in that it brought a lot of good people together to accomplish something. But…unlike said dinner party, which would have concluded with pile of pots, dishes, and soiled table linens…our aftermath will be a new Teamability-powered product ready to hit the launch pad.
Crowdfunding was a steep, scary roller coaster ride, but we made it through! With more than a little help from our friends – and some strangers, too – we raised over $40,000 in 40 days on Indiegogo.com. The funds will enable us to connect the digital dots so that we can deliver Entrepreneurial Teamability™ reports: which incorporate a measure of something we’ve nicknamed ‘Trepability’. And when the technology is ready, we’ll be paying it forward by making $800,000 worth of these reports available, at no cost, to entrepreneurs and startup teams who are working to create jobs. (Wow, 20x ROI. Not bad.)
Crowdfunding has been getting a lot of press lately, but it’s still a new phenomenon, so people have been asking me about the lessons I learned from the experience. The answer would initially be “A lot!”, but I can put my finger on three specific things, which I think I knew before, but which I really know now.
Let’s call them the Three Laws of Treponomics.
1. The whole must be greater than the sum of its parts.
There is no way to successfully navigate a crowdfunding project (or a startup) without having a team that can do more as a unit than its members could ever do separately. If you have enough money to hire a film crew, editors, creative people, and someone to yell ‘makeup’ before a powder puff hits you in the face, you can make a great-looking ‘pitch’ video. But if you have that much money, you probably don’t need to crowdfund. Our team pulled it together on a shoestring, and I still don’t really know how. Whatever needed to be done, someone did it. If they didn’t know how to do it, they figured it out. And it all happened smoothly, timely, and togetherly.
2. Team members can work virtually, but there still needs to be something or somewhere that feels like home base.
During times of high stress, people have a greater need for sources of comfort. Notwithstanding the mashed potatoes/‘mac & cheese’ variety, the most effective kind of comfort comes from a sense of belonging. Organizations – especially young, fiscally-challenged organizations – need to incorporate activities that refresh and recharge team synergy. Daily huddles, lunch-and-laughs, Skype calls, forwarded funnies, and even gripe sessions, maintain the bonds that keep teams together despite disappointments, fears, frustrations, and even temporary defeats.
3. Sometimes the cheapest thing you can do is to spend some money.
When you are neck deep in rough water, whip out a card and charge a life raft – just for long enough to get you to safe harbor. There were times during this experience when we wrestled with decisions to spend money that wasn’t in the budget. But if we were really sure it was a sink-or-spend situation, we did what we had to do. As it turned out, these things are what made the difference between success and failure.
So…that’s it. No big book with charts and graphs. Just three simple laws. Obey them, and you still might not be successful, but at least you’ll be giving yourself and your team the benefit of the experience.
This blog was inspired by Stacey Kaye, who interviewed me for a blog that ran on Grasshopper.com. You can read her blog here: http://grasshopper.com/blog/2012/10/9-professional-assessment-tools/ But really, if you are an entrepreneur on a limited budget (hah, that’s an oxymoron!) you really should check them out. They sell a virtual phone system that lets you sound big and successful while you’re actually running your business off of your cell phones. And the cost fits right into my third point, above – starting at about the cost of three grande lattes.