Your business is meant to make you money, but it likely won’t turn a profit for the first few months, or even years. Businesses need capital investment to pay the bills in the early going. This article will list many sources of business funding, then explain the common factors in winning over investors.
This article is part of a series inspired by the YouTube video, “7 Leverage Tools The Rich Use To Make Money,” by The Better Men Project. It covers Tool #3 listed in the video, leveraging other people’s money. Understanding how the very wealthy get to their positions can help common people prosper in ways that are fair and equitable.
Freelancer.com published an extensive list of ways to finance a business (“Funding Your Startup.”) Some of these methods have very strict standards, while others require the ability to pitch ideas and sell yourself.
Bank Loan/Line of Credit: This is borrowing money to fund your business, and paying it back later with interest. Loans require detailed business plans and regular payments. Lines of Credit are like credit cards; they give you a reserve of money to use as you need it, and only pay back what you spend. Both loans and credit lines usually require you to have been in business for a set length of time, and already making revenue.
Grant: A grant is a gift or subsidy that doesn’t need to be repaid, offered by governments, corporations, and other large institutions. They’re usually given to achieve a certain purpose, and are common for nonprofits and scientific research. It’s standard practice to write a grant proposal, and grant writing is a booming business in itself for freelance writers.
Peer To Peer (P2P) Loan: This is like a cross between a bank loan and crowdfunding, in which a group of investors pool their money to loan to a business. The Freelancer article mentions Upstart as the standout example of P2P Lending platforms.
Credit Card: Similar to a line of credit, having a credit card lets you spend what you need and only pay that amount back. It requires you to have a decent credit score.
Angel Investors: These are high net worth individuals who invest in a business. They then have equity in the company and are entitled to part of the profits.
Venture Capitalists: Whereas angel investors are individuals investing their own money, a venture capital firm is a business of its own representing its investor clients. Both venture capitalists and angels are very picky because of the huge numbers of startups pitching to them.
Crowdfunding: This is raising money from large groups of people. In some cases, it’s charitable giving; in others, investors get perks in your business or preorders of your product; in other cases, investors get equity in your business like angels and venture capitalists. Today it’s common to crowdfund on online platforms like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, and GoFundMe.
Friends and Family: Pitching to your social circle can be very informal, but it’s best to have a clear plan like in the other methods.
Draw On Retirement: In the United States, one can draw business funds from their 401(K) or IRA (Roth IRA’s are ineligible.) You must set up your business as a C-corp, be employed full time by it, and have $50,000 or more in your retirement plan.
Microloans: These are small loans, originally started for entrepreneurs in developing countries, but now available elsewhere. Microlenders are nonprofits and tend to serve disadvantaged groups and individuals.
Presell A Proof Of Concept: This is for when your business sells a product, and you get customers to pay for it before it’s made. This is different from crowdfunding in that it’s one-to-one selling. You must deliver your product on schedule and in good quality.
How To Pitch To Investors
Loans, lines of credit, credit cards, and drawing on retirement necessitate previous income history. To get funding from angels, vc’s, grants, and crowdfunding, you need to develop your pitch strategy.
Be to-the-point and clear on value: As I mentioned earlier, your business’ value is the focal point of the pitch. Experts differ on how much detail to give in your presentation, but it’s best to lead with value and have your other points support it. (Related: https://xiphoswebmarketing.com/value-the-edge-of-your-sword/)
Great content: While you must be clear on value, the way you express it should engage the investor. You’ll need to read the room; some investors are very serious, while others are personable, and others appreciate humor.
Social proof: Similar to marketing to the public, pitching to investors can benefit from social proof. This can take the form of experience in a related field, testimonials from earlier customers, and endorsements from influencers.
Know how big the market opportunity is: You need to research your potential market and find out how many customers you can sell to, and for what price. Market research happens to be a built in feature of crowdfunding, as a way to gauge the public’s interest.
Incentivize your audience: This should be obvious, because investors expect a return, but explore extra ways to sweeten the pot. This could be additional perks for sharing your business with others, partnerships with other businesses, etc.
This article will explain how to hire a freelancer for your business. Even if you’re a solopreneur working out of your spare bedroom, your business can benefit from outside freelance help. The nature of work is steadily moving to an on-demand model, away from the traditional employer-employee framework. Individuals like the flexibility of being in business for themselves, and businesses can save money hiring for projects rather than year-round work. Also, a freelancer has skills in a field that you may struggle with. Outsourcing troublesome tasks will enable you to concentrate on what you’re good at. Freelancers even work for other freelancers by subcontracting.
This article is the first in a series inspired by the YouTube video “7 Leverage Tools The Rich Use To Make Money,” by The Better Men Project. Hiring a freelancer can cover Tools 1 and 6 mentioned in the video. At first, I found the wording used in the video to be distasteful, but understanding how the wealthy get where they are can help other people prosper in more equitable ways.
Determine The Scope And Requirements Of The Work
The work you need done must be made clear. This includes the project’s goals, milestones, deliverables, and timeframe. Factors can change as the project progresses, so set some rules between you and the freelancer so neither of you get cheated out of time or money.
Assess What You Can Pay
No one likes a cheapskate. Because of the Internet, there are freelancers available in countries where the cost of living is cheaper, therefore their rates are lower. But often it’s beneficial to hire someone in your own country, because of shared culture or shared local community. In any case, if your freelancer feels your fees aren’t worth their time and effort, the project will suffer. Your business project is an investment, and you should treat it like that. Consider using credit to pay for the work. I wrote an article about funding sources for small business that you can read here.
Search Your Network And On Freelance Websites
Your first step in finding a freelancer should be asking for referrals. Ask people in your industry, community, and on social media who they recommend. Freelancers are in business for themselves, so they might have their own websites that you can find in Google search. If those options run out, that’s when you go to freelance websites and job boards.
The biggest freelance sites are Fiverr, Upwork, and TopTal, but there are many more. Hostinger.com lists the best for freelancers to find work in this article: “18 Best Freelance Websites To Find Work In 2020.” Generally, Fiverr is a budget site and good if you’re a solo businessperson with a limited budget. The rest are for small to medium-sized businesses with multiple members. When posting your project, go back to your notes from determining the scope and requirements of the project. The more clear and specific, the better.
You should narrow your search to 4 or 5 candidates. You can do this by reading their reviews on the job websites, reading their testimonials, or viewing their portfolios. If a freelancer is new to the business and wanting to prove themselves, they might put out a blog post or white paper demonstrating their knowledge.
Interview And Negotiate
Sometimes you can treat the candidate interview like you’re hiring an employee, but you should remember that freelancers are in business for themselves, and they’re interviewing you, too. It’s possible they see you as a prospect to sell their services to, and they’ve been in talks with you and other business owners for some time. Read my review of David A. Fields’ book to see the independent contractor’s point of view (“How To Get Clients: 6 Steps From An Expert.”)
It’s important that you and your freelancer are compatible, in more ways than one. Their qualifications are vital, but perhaps even more important is their personality and how well they work with others. Treat the interview like a conversation when you hash out all the project details.
When you decide on someone, the project scope, requirements, schedule, and fees must be put into writing. You and the freelancer should record this while you’re searching for each other and during the interview. Compromises can be made, as well as contingencies for the unexpected, but the terms of the deal need to be explicit and spelled out so there are no regrets (or lawsuits) later. If the project costs more than $600, you’ll need to provide a 1099 tax form to the freelancer.
You’ll be surprised by the variety of jobs freelancers can fill. Follow the affiliate link to Fiverr below, and browse around. You may even be inspired to start your own freelance career.
Zoom Video Conferencing is one of the rare success stories during the COVID 19 pandemic, when other businesses are hobbled and must rely on digital communication. This article goes over basic functions of the service, how it became so successful, how to use it safely, and ways your business can make money with it.
How To Use Zoom
This video by the YouTube channel “Every Bit Helps” is a great beginners’ lesson in using the service. Most users have some idea how it works, but there are important features one may have missed.
Why Zoom Is So Popular
This article by Drift explains that Zoom already had a solid business foundation before becoming the de facto video conferencing app during the pandemic (The 3 secrets behind Zoom’s triple-digit growth). The three factors are, a customer-first culture driving a positive user experience; making a product that can sell through word of mouth; and advertising the brand in areas with the most impact.
Customer experience is a lynchpin in business success, and Zoom continuously tracks data and collects reviews from users. This led to its adoption of the “freemium” business model. You can use Zoom for free, but for only 40 minutes at a time. If you want to hold longer meetings, you need to upgrade to one of its premium pricing tiers, based on the size of your business. Zoom’s developers strive to make the free version reliable and easy to use.
In the early days of Zoom’s business, they focused their advertising and brand awareness in the San Francisco Bay area. They ran billboards along Silicon Valley’s Route 101, and ran banner ads at Golden State Warrior games. Being a tech company, they wanted their fellow software developers to be early adopters, who could most effectively attest to the product’s quality.
But is Zoom high quality? We’ve all seen the backlash against it as Zoom meetings have been intruded upon, and the app’s security questioned. Facebook’s Messenger Rooms make a point of preventing this in its press releases.
Fortunately, Zoom can be made secure with some basic precautions. The Verge lays out a plan, and notes that Zoom themselves are modifying the app to make security easier (again with user feedback!) The first factor in Zoom meeting security is creating meeting passwords, and sharing them only with the people you invite. The Verge article lays out the steps:
From the main Zoom page, click on “My Account” in the upper-right corner, and then click “Schedule a meeting”
If you wish, you can enter a meeting topic and description. Put in the date, time, and duration of your meeting. (If you’re on the free plan, you’ve got 40 minutes.)
Look for “Meeting ID,” and select “Generate Automatically.” This will generate a unique ID for that meeting rather than use your usual meeting ID.
Make sure “Require a password” is checked. Zoom will generate a random password, but you can also create your own.
Below that, make sure “Enable waiting room” is checked (and it’s a good idea not to check “Enable join before host” since that would let participants wander into the meeting before you do).
Click on “Save”
You’ll be brought to the meetings page where you will see all of the options for that meeting. Halfway down, you can click “Copy the invitation” to put all of the info into your buffer so you can send it to your participants. When you’re ready, click on the blue “Start this Meeting” button.
If you’re using the Zoom app:
Click on “Schedule”
You will be offered essentially the same selections as in the web app. If you want to make sure the waiting room is enabled, click on “Advanced Options” at the bottom of the page.
Click on the blue “Schedule” button
You’ll be offered the chance to put the meeting into your calendar. After that, you’ll be brought back to the main window. The scheduled meeting will be on the right; if you want, you can click on the three dots to the right of your name to make changes or copy the invitation into buffer to send to your participants.
Another helpful feature is the Zoom’s virtual waiting room. You can require guests to wait to enter the meeting while you verify they were actually invited. Also, if you know that all the invited meeting participants have joined, you can “lock down” and prevent anyone else from joining.
How To Make Money With Zoom
How can you use Zoom in your business, besides running team meetings? How can a solopreneur use it to make money? Here are some ideas that combine Zoom with other tech solutions. Most of these methods can be used by hosting meetings on your business website. There is a WordPress plugin that lets you embed Zoom meetings on your web pages (Zoom WordPress plugin: https://wordpress.org/plugins/video-conferencing-with-zoom-api/)
Coaching/Consulting: An obvious use for video conferencing in business is holding coaching appointments with clients. You can send your client a link to the Zoom meeting, have your session, then invoice them later.
Sell tickets: You can host live video events on your website, and sell tickets to it with a WordPress plugin or Eventbrite. The Events Calendar WordPress plugin has a paid extension that enables you to sell online tickets, and announce them on your site’s calendar. This is useful for entertainment or fitness classes.
Paid membership: You can install a membership plugin on your WordPress site, such as MemberPress or Paid Memberships Pro, and host Zoom meetings among your site’s paid subscribers. This is useful if you run a blog with free content, and want to offer premium perks. Membership plugins work by blocking off certain pages to everyone except subscribers, and hosting your exclusive content on those pages. You can record your Zoom meetings, and keep them in an archive behind your paywall.
Webinars: Video conferencing apps like Zoom are ideal for webinars, which can be either paid ticket events, or a marketing tool. It’s common to host a free webinar in exchange for someone’s email address, then use email marketing to promote other products or services.
Messenger Rooms is Facebook’s new video conferencing tool, available now in its family of social media apps. It’s a response to extended COVID 19 lockdowns and the need for employees and business customers to communicate from home.
How to use Messenger Rooms
Forbes has probably the most succinct guide to using Messneger Rooms:
On both desktop and mobile, users who are logged into Facebook will see a Rooms section below the status bar.
Click Create to start your own room or click Join to add yourself to a friend’s video call.
You’ll be able to set a purpose for your room or choose one of Facebook’s examples, such as “Happy Hour” or “Here All Day.”
Users can control whether the room is public or private in the Who is Invited section.
Choosing to invite all your friends means everyone can see your room at the top of their homepage and join. Clicking the Invite Specific Friends button lets users choose which friends can see the room. An active public room for a graduation party, for example, lets friends or invitees pop in and out as they please by opening Facebook and clicking Join.
If you click Invite Specific Friends, the bottom right corner of the window has a Skip button that lets users forgo inviting anyone at all. Instead, users are given the option to turn on link sharing, meaning that anyone with the link, including people who aren’t your friends or don’t have Facebook, can join the room. After you turn on link sharing, the Create Room button will bring you to a window where you can copy the link.
In Facebook Groups or Events, users can create a room that will automatically appear as a post, giving group members or invitees the option to join.
Messenger Rooms, like other video conferencing platforms, has uses inside businesses and organizations for holding team meetings. Facebook already offers Workplace, a Slack competitor, for other forms of communication inside an employer’s account. We can expect Messenger Rooms to sync with Workplace if it hasn’t already.
How to Monetize Messenger Rooms
Facebook’s official Messenger Rooms web page lists some other features, either available now or in development, meant to help businesses and content creators make money with the service. These are best for businesses that host events, teach classes, offer coaching or consulting, or create content for entertainment or journalistic purposes. They’re also helpful for churches and other faith groups for broadcasting their services online and accepting collections.
We’re bringing back Live With so you can add another person into your live video, no matter where they are in the world. Bring on a guest speaker, interview an expert or perform with a friend.
You’ll be able to mark Facebook Events as online only and, in the coming weeks, integrate Facebook Live so you can broadcast to your guests. To support creators and small businesses, we plan to add the ability for Pages to charge for access to events with Live videos on Facebook – anything from online performances to classes to professional conferences.
To help you raise money for causes, you can now add the donate button to live videos wherever nonprofit fundraisers are available.
To help you support some of your favorite creators, we’re expanding Stars to more Pages and more countries. Once you buy Stars you can send them to creators while they’re streaming, and they’ll earn 1 cent for every Star.
Messenger Rooms has the benefit of being part of the Facebook environment, for good or bad. Facebook is the most used social network in the world, so Messenger Rooms’ potential users are already available. It is likely more secure from unwanted guests than Zoom, which has exploded since the COVID 19 pandemic reached the U.S.
On the other hand, Facebook has different security issues. Although the company has publicly committed to protecting users’ privacy, it’s likely that it collects user data indirectly. Facebook makes its money through advertisements, therefore it needs detailed information for efficient targeting. This is important for businesses of all sizes, who need to sell to their potential customers for the least amount of money.
There is also the concern of Facebook’s monopolistic ambitions. It’s not healthy for the economy if one or a few tech giants control the software app market. Facebook is great for marketing, but it’s my belief that a business should have its own website to carry out other work for customers. That way the business can control its messaging and be independent from Facebook’s ever-changing terms of service.
This week I will discuss other online meeting apps. If you follow my Xiphos Web Marketing Facebook page, you’ve probably seen my choice of service for both online meetings and membership websites.
Headlines are the first step in customers engaging with your marketing content. In this article, I’ll share 5 rules for writing them, and formulas in which to apply them. Effective headlines get viewers reading your blog posts, emails, or clicking on your ads. From there, it’s the job of your content to build trust and sell to your audience, but that won’t happen if they don’t click first.
Marketing Expert Neil Patel presents 5 guidelines to writing headlines in this video. They can be applied to the headline formulas presented later in this article.
Write and Test Multiple Headlines: If you’re running ads or sending emails, write multiple headlines for them and A/B test them. Track which headlines get better click-through rates, and use them as models for future headlines.
2. Be Specific: You’ll need to thoroughly research your target market beforehand and find out what specific problems they need solving. Also, be exact with your numbers and/or results. “How I saved $1,382 on Insurance” looks much more authoritative than “Save over $1000.”
3. Use Words That Drive Action: As a business, you want customers to buy from you. That means you need to motivate them, so solve their problems, make them excited, and give them a path to doing business.
4.Be Creative With Adjectives: This just means, don’t be boring. Use words that grab attention, show confidence, and are fresh and not overused.
5. Timely Information/Sense of Urgency: Headlines need to address the current circumstances of readers. This might be affected by current events or trends, but they can also be seasonal, or based on age or life events. Another way time impacts your headlines is urgency. People may have a fear of missing out, or they may not be motivated to act unless there is a time limit on your offer.
The following headline examples are offered by Dan Lok and Jason Whaling. Many of their formulas overlap, but they each have some unique ideas as well.
“How To___”: This is the most basic headline, and several other examples are variations of it. You’re addressing your audience’s pain points in this opener. Dan Lok notes that people are more often motivated to ease their pain than to pursue something positive.
“Mistakes So-And-So Make”: Continuing with the idea of relieving pain, this headline alerts readers to mistakes and pitfalls they would want to avoid. The way to avoid those mistakes, ideally, is by buying from you, hiring you, or reading your article and trusting you in the future.
“The Real Secret to ___”: A variation on “How To ___,” this is an example of creativity with your words. This headline entices readers with an exclusive benefit for reading your article or opting in to your emails. Alternatively, it may sound revolutionary, like making the secrets of the elites available to the masses.
“The Way To ___”: Again with the “How To___” example, this headline implies a process. There are further variations on this formula, such as “the fastest way, “the best way,” and “the new way.” These play on timeliness and urgency, and they drive action. You can also use, “Here’s a shortcut for ___”
“How I did ___”/ “Allowed me to ___”/ “How they did ___”: This is a powerful headline formula because it combines “How To” with social proof. If you or someone else has gotten positive, provable results from a business or product, that makes it easier to promote. If you’re new to your business, or otherwise don’t have personal experience with your process, you can point to other people who have. This headline also sets your content up for storytelling, which is a very effective strategy.
“I have a question about your ___”: This headline uses your own curiosity to spark curiosity in your reader. This is a good email subject line to a single prospect, perhaps someone you have studied or had contact with already. The headline can say, “I have a question about your website,” or “about your air conditioning.” You can offer to improve whatever your prospect has in the body content of the email.
Numbered Lists: This is a fun one because it promises content that’s easy to read. Your list can spell out a process, offer guidelines, or list products you want to sell. Some examples are, “3 strategies,” “5 steps to ___,” “9 hacks for ___,” “15 best apps.” This type of headline is great for blog articles and lead magnets for email opt-ins.
Benefit Builders: This is something Jason Whaling suggests in his video. These are modifiers for the previous examples that let you get more specific. They include, “in ___ minutes/days/weeks,” “even if/without,” “so you can___.” Your headline can read, “How to paint your living room in less than 3 hours,” or “The Secret To Texting Girls Without Being Creepy.” Benefit builders have a way of offering solutions while addressing people’s objections.
Amazon Advertising was launched in 2018 and is the updated version of Amazon Marketing. Amazon Advertising is a pay per click (PPC) ad platform similar to Google’s and Facebook’s systems. In this article, I’ll explain what Amazon’s platform is like, and what kinds of businesses can use it.
Amazon Advertising, which I’ll call “AA” for short, is a new venture to build up the ecommerce giant’s revenues. Amazon is notorious for operating at a loss, either underselling the competition or investing its income on projects to grow its reach. Now that the company has built up its database of consumer habits, brands and marketers can use it in their marketing.
AA can power PPC ads anywhere from Amazon’s website, to Kindle ebooks, to follow-up emails, to display ads on other websites, and video ads on Amazon, FireTV, and other sites. Online ad marketshare is currently dominated by Google and Facebook, but experts predict a time when Amazon will be a third contender (“‘It Will Be Google, Facebook and Amazon’: The Year In Amazon Advertising.”)
Amazon Advertising For Sellers
The first obvious type of business that can use AA are product brands that sell directly on Amazon. “Sponsored Ads” are paid spots that appear in the product search results. According to Hubspot, you can set either broad, phrase, or exact keywords, and your items will appear, with priority given to the highest bidders on those keywords.
“Sponsored Brand Campaigns” are ads for multiple products by a company that are displayed together in the search results. The product limit is three, so you should pick the ones that reflect your current promotion the best. Sponsored Brand Campaigns lead to a specially designed landing page for your Amazon store.
“Product Display Ads” appear in areas of Amazon’s page other than the search results. They can also appear in emails for abandoned carts, follow-ups, and recommendations. The idea with Display Ads is to cross-promote products, using “Interest Targeting,” and reach people searching for related-but-not-the-same items.
“Amazon Stores” are your brand’s own dedicated pages, hosted by Amazon. This is a direct competitor to Shopify and WooCommerce, in that you can design your own product pages and carts. Amazon will handle the web hosting and fulfillment. It would be your job to market the goods.
“Video Ads” and “Native Ads” can appear on Amazon’s website and devices, as well as 3rd party sites like news and blogs. For many years, Amazon has been Google’s top advertising client, and Amazon sellers have used Google and Facebook’s ads to reach customers outside the site. Amazon probably hopes AA will make the company independent.
Digiday theorizes that businesses who don’t directly sell on Amazon can also use Amazon Advertising. According to its article, “How Amazon Is Readying Its Blitz On The Ad Industry”,
Amazon is increasingly trying to pitch to what the company dubs “non-endemic” advertisers — brands that don’t sell on Amazon. Asked what he considers a challenge, [director of programmatic Saurabh] Sharma mentioned that push, adding that it’s not really a challenge, but an opportunity. Non-endemic advertisers would cover, for example, brands in categories like cable, wireless, airlines or restaurants. “There are opportunities to bring that value,” said Sharma.
Similar to the Product Display Ads that sell products that are indirectly related to product search terms, Video and Native Ads on outside websites can sell services like insurance or contractors. Using Amazon’s network of consumer data, a business can target web surfers based on what they’ve shopped for. For example, CNBC suggests if you’re a bathroom repairman, “You might like the information Amazon has to target people who are buying things like grout and hammers.”
Is Amazon Advertising Right For Your Business?
It’s easy to see large brands benefiting from AA as they have the war chests for large ad campaigns. What about smaller businesses and startups? As with other PPC advertising, it depends on your niche. Success in marketing requires finding the precise keywords your customers are searching with, or the right demographics and geography to match your buyer profile.
Businesses that sell products and want to utilize Amazon’s fulfillment services will get the most use from AA. If you’re a dropshipping or direct to consumer (D2C) business, you can use Amazon’s native and video ads, but Amazon will see you as a direct competitor otherwise. Your best bet would be Google, Facebook, or even Pinterest.
Until Amazon’s Native and Video ads appear on more 3rd party websites, a service-based business should stick to Google Ads. Google My Business is a great free service that will get you seen in your local area. Also, customers who are looking for a particular service are more likely to start their search on Google, meaning they’ll be more motivated to use you. The one advantage Amazon has right now is it’s not as competitive or expensive. However, there are other marketing strategies such as search engine optimization and social media citations.
The previously mentioned CNBC article says Amazon is expected to have 8.8% of the digital ad market share by the end of 2019. The Motley Fool says Amazon’s total revenue should be about $275 billion, with advertising making $9.8 billion of that, or less than 4 percent. Still, it’s advertising division is growing faster than that of any other company.