Crafting a mini business plan for a crowdfunding campaign

From Kickstarter and Indiegogo to GoFundMe and everything in between, crowdfunding platforms offer alternative ways to raise money for your small business. Successful campaigns require you to not only reach a certain funding goal but also present the underlying business idea in ways that attract angel investors and other backers.

When creating your crowdfunding campaign, it’s important to share both your vision and your strategy. This information shows potential investors what the business offers and helps them understand its value.

Consider crafting your crowdfunding campaign as a mini business plan, using specific aspects of a full business plan. Here’s how to approach it:

Start with a bullet-point executive summary

Business owners should focus on highlighting the problem their business idea solves, the value it adds, and what makes it different than any other possible solution. Since you’ll lead with an executive summary, use that to capture investor attention immediately and persuade them to continue reading.

Tell a compelling story about what led you to your idea

This section of the crowdfunding project may be more personal than your business plan, because your goal is to engage potential investors. You can touch on some of the elements from the background section of your business plan as they relate to the idea itself or your company’s origin story. This information helps potential investors understand you better, both personally and professionally.

Consider including a brief video in which you share a compelling story about what led to your new product or service. A well-crafted, authentic video like this will help your audience invest emotionally in what you’re creating.

If you can’t use video, make sure the content is in first person (“I”) so it helps your audience connect with you as the founder.

Summarize your business idea with key pain points and value propositions

Identify audience members who want your product or service and help them connect emotionally with your business idea. You can do this by discussing their pain points and how your business could alleviate those specific problems. Use bullet points to keep this section succinct and focused on what your business model can do for target customers.

Provide marketing and strategic direction about how you plan to launch and grow

Crowdfunding investors most often want to know how their financial support will pay off and help you assist others. Include the main points from the roadmap in your business plan that show how you’ll get your product or service into the right hands. Explain how you’ll differentiate yourself and build the company into a sustainable enterprise.

Describe the marketing strategy and any social media channels or tools you plan to use. This demonstrates to your crowdfunding investors how you’ll build brand awareness. Also, share how you plan to generate leads and convert them into revenue.

Highlight the background and expertise you and your team bring to the table

Crowdfunding investors want to meet you and the rest of your team. Build on the biographical information in your business plan by adding pictures. This enhances credibility with your crowdfunding audience and lets them get to know the talent behind the business idea.

Alternatively, add another brief video to the page where key team members introduce themselves. Potential investors can put a face and personality to the expertise, knowledge, and experience shared in the mini-plan.

Offer a time line for launch

Your business plan should include a time line with important dates, including your product or service launch. Like your business plan for other investors, key deadlines on your crowdfunding page show that you have a strategic plan for the marketing and launch processes.

Your crowdfunding fans are anxious to know when they can expect to experience your offer for themselves. Always keep them in the loop about your progress.

Don’t forget the perks for investors

The perks you offer investors are the one aspect of your crowdfunding campaign mini-plan that won’t be in your business plan. To create these incentives for different funding rates, look through other campaigns to see what companies offer. Consider how you can create a similar “ladder of perks” that fits your startup budget while still engaging the crowdfunding community.

Align with the crowdfunding platform’s requirements

You may need to make more than one version of this mini-plan, especially if you plan more than one campaign. Each platform has its own requirements, including content limits. Check out these requirements so you can adapt your mini-plan to fit each platform.

A plan within a plan

You’ve most likely spent hours putting together your business plan. It’s the comprehensive guide and roadmap for your business idea. Make it do double duty by leveraging relevant components for a crowdfunding campaign.

Not only does using your business plan save you from creating the campaign from scratch, but it also maintains consistent messaging to potential investors across fundraising environments. In this way, you can get a bigger return for all that business plan work.

A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked for TV, newspapers, radio, and Internet companies for 25 years. He’s written for Inc.com, Fast Company, NBC, Entrepreneur, USA Today, and Business Insider, among others.

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