The Small Business Movement (Week 4)

It’s now week four and reality is starting to set in more deeply. Not that I didn’t have a realistic outlook to begin with, but that the difficulty of getting adoption of a new product was becoming more real. My thinking was because I’d made the process extremely simple and the bar of entry low, that it was a no-brainer. 

This was clearly not the case. It seems I will have to deal with the same issues that everyone else does. The problem for me is that our product is only $25.00 per month. The only way we can maintain such a low entry price is to not need a sales team. If we have to hire a sales team, we’d have to significantly increase the monthly dues. If we increase the monthly dues, we might not be able to help the businesses we most wanted to help, the ones with barely two pennies to rub together.

To make this challenge even greater, I’ve bootstrapped this entire project. The short runway that I had after launching, has run out. I can’t walk away, because I have a little traction and I’ve barely gotten started. I don’t have a wealthy family nor friends from whom I could raise additional capital. In truth, there’s part of me that doesn’t want to, but capital is necessary. 

I try to think of ways to come up with funding for a pre-revenue company. 1. You have friends and family, which has already been ruled out. Next you have angel investors or VCs. The time and meetings required to get this funding can be insurmountable. The challenge with banks is that the funds they lend you are based on your income, which Galt doesn’t have much of yet. 

I began to think of all the entrepreneurial minds that I’d met over the years and all the books that I’ve read about those who made it and those who didn’t. I came up with the pyramid below that fairly accurately depicts the weeding out process. I identified the stage that I’m currently in and told myself that this couldn’t be where the story ends. I had to find a way to push through to the next level.

After feeling a bit discouraged for a while, my own words came back to me, “Don’t focus on what you don’t have; use the resources you do have.” What are those resources? 1. I have a functional product. 2. My wife can create marketing materials that won’t cost me anything. 3. I have time to attend networking events. 4. I know a lot of people who have very creative marketing brains. 

I’d already been using these resources, but began to think how I could start using them better. At networking events, I could become a bit more assertive and ask those interested to download the app right then and there. Those who said my product was a no-brainer, could be asked to become members. Why wait? I needed to move them from understanding to action. The other conclusion I came to was that I needed my posts to be more effective. Because I didn’t have the funds to boost them, I needed to make them more difficult to ignore.

I began scrolling down facebook and linkedin to see the posts that received the most attention. I ruled out any posts that originated from celebrities, because those numbers are usually greatly shrewd due to the fame effect. I was careful to pay attention to the posts that grabbed my attention while scrolling. I looked for the images chosen, the position of those images, right or left, top or bottom. I looked for the amount of words used as well as how dramatic the words appeared. I observed color choices, font size and overall ad size. 

One person, whom I met with during the week suggested that I make the engagement more fun. People love to be entertained. Fun doesn’t come naturally to me, so I had to do some thinking. One thing suggested to me was to create a barcode for the app, then put next to it, “Do Not Scan,” The thinking was that curiosity would be aroused and that people would be more likely to scan it, resulting in more potential app downloads. 

Whilst I admit it’s a fun idea, I also didn’t want pointless downloads that wouldn’t result in new customers for the businesses we served. Therefore, I decided to mix it up a bit. I did the barcode, but said “WARNING”, in big red letters, followed by, “Scanning this image could save a small business.” After all, the people who care about this are the people we’re after.

The ad received immediate attention, which I felt was a good sign. I still didn’t have the funds to promote it, but figured I could share it in several places. Also, I’ve noticed that we’re gaining somewhat of a tribe in that people are starting to share our posts. I’m careful to thank each one because there is untold value in it. 

Another thing I decided to do was to look for business partners. I wanted someone to help with new member acquisition and social media. I began reaching out to the people I knew. Most were working on projects of their own. Others didn’t want to take the risk. Of the four people I approached, only one felt up to the challenge. We’re now in negotiations, so I don’t have much more to share at this time.

I attended a couple networking events this week that left me thinking, “I can do a better job at this.” Therefore, after two years, I’m ready to move on to doing another event. Why host networking events? Networking events are a way to draw out the people we want to serve. They get to benefit by meeting other business owners. We get to benefit from them being exposed to our business and product. 

I’d done many events in the past, so I wasn’t worried much about the logistics. I’d already negotiated a venue in the heart of downtown Denver. All I needed to do was provide food, drinks and people. I knew how to do those things, so I was off to the races. I had approximately three weeks to pull off our best event until the next event.

p.s. The app is available on Android and iOS. If you want to add your business to the app, you can easily do so by visiting JoinGalt.com. Otherwise, we hope you’ll use the app to support other small businesses.