4 Essential Crowdfunding Tips by Black Entrepreneurs: 8 Myles and Bold Xchange
We had the chance to sit down with business owners Myles Powell and Danielle Deavens to have an insightful conversation about Black entrepreneurship and how to support it.
Myles is the founder of 8 Myles, a gourmet comfort food brand, and ran a successful Honeycomb campaign raising $36,200! Danielle is co-founder of Bold Xchange, an online marketplace that sells products made by Black-owned businesses.
Both Danielle and Myles have leveraged crowdfunding to grow their businesses immensely. As Danielle says, “Our growth begets the growth of other Black-owned businesses,” and both of our panelists are passionate about helping others along their business’s journey (as are we!).
Read on to find out their tips on crowdfunding and entrepreneurship for Black business owners.
1. Be open to nontraditional funding & growth opportunities
In the early days of any small business, it can be difficult to get access to the capital you need to make sales and make a name for yourself.
“If you Google ‘How to get access to capital,’ you’re going to get a million hits.” Says Myles. “But, not every one of these is going to be right for your business. It takes a lot of time to find the right fit, whether it’s an angel investor, line of credit, whatever it might be.”
“Cold-calling is tough, especially when asking for capital, but if you can leverage your networks, you can start that relationship early,” says Myles.
It also is worthwhile to take stock of all of your options, from investors to crowdfunding, as well as think about your priorities.
“When you bring on investors, you now have two stakeholders: your customers, and now your investors, who expect a return,” says Danielle. “It’s tough, in the start-up world, and certain parts of the small business world, venture capital seems like the thing, but I’d encourage people who are looking for funding and not really knowing where to start to look into pitch competitions and programs that offer you capital as well as mentorship and programming.”
“As much as possible, you need to make sure your customer is at the top of your list, and that gets harder and harder the more investors you have. But ultimately, your customers are who are going to help you grow. Investment is great, it’s what gets you there, but I’m a fan of non-traditional ways of getting capital because I think they can be fruitful in growing your business,” says Danielle.
2. Crowdfunding helps you learn about your own business
When you run a crowdfunding campaign, you’re telling a story about your business and telling potential supporters who you are, where you’re coming from, and why you’re the one they should put their money into. At the same time, you get an invaluable opportunity to learn about your own business in the process.
“While you’re trying to present your business, you’re finding out why your business is a strong one and why people should invest in it,” says Myles. “I have friends of mine who are starting out, and I’m finding that people are treating their businesses like it’s their baby, and they want to protect it from the world, from being judged. But you need to get out there and get feedback, which will be helpful for you down the road.”
3. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there
Crowdfunding may seem scary at first! You’re putting yourself out there, your reputation, your brand, and your business’s future. However, it is definitely worth it.
For one, crowdfunding can help strengthen your brand recognition. “You’re putting yourself out there, saying, ‘Hey, we’re a small business trying to grow and we need your help,’” says Myles. “It gives you a little more visibility. You’ve got to be willing to put yourself out there.”
Danielle says, “Crowdfunding was a stressful time, you’re asking for money, and it’s always on your mind but I realized that it’s only top of mind for us. It’s not going to annoy people if you post about it everyday, or mention it to somebody, or email it to your list.”
“It’s scary because you’re putting yourself out there, but if you don’t put yourself out there, you won’t know how much people actually love you! You’re pitching your business directly to consumers who’ll potentially use your product. The feedback that we’ve gotten from customers through our campaign has been transformational for our business.”
Danielle recommends businesses who are seriously looking to grow to dive in and make strategic bets.
“Just do it,” says Danielle. “If you’re thinking about doing something, starting a business, you just have to jump in. It is scary, but it’s absolutely worth it. Seeing people put their money into your passion, something that you’re about to build is so rewarding.”
4. Be proud of your - and your business’s - identity
“Don’t be afraid to call yourself a Black-owned business.” says Myles. “I feel like sometimes people think they’re taking advantage of the title. No, you should own it! People who want to support minority-owned businesses will do so.”
There are many ways you can get your business listed as a Black-owned business. You can get certified through the National Minority Supplier Development Council. This is important because it’ll lend your business credibility and open up opportunities for contracts from corporations and state and local governments who have commitments to supporting minority-owned businesses.
You also can register with a Black-owned business directory, or get in touch with businesses like Bold Xchange to sell your products through! “Supporting Black-owned businesses is one of the most powerful ways you can support the Black community without very much effort on your part,” says Danielle.
Another way of demonstrating your pride through your business is by sharing knowledge and networking. “There are people who say my name in rooms that I’ll never enter, and when they do that for my business, that’s just as important,” says Danielle.
On that note, Myles says, “The thing I think is key is sharing knowledge. There are things out there that you can’t just Google. The things I’ve learned, the mistakes I’ve made, can be used by another business to help save them time and effort in getting their business going.”
Be there for your community and it’ll be there for you through crowdfunding
If we’ve learned anything from Myles and Danielle, it’s that crowdfunding is a chance to be bold, go the extra mile (or eight!) with your business, and strengthen ties to your community.
At Honeycomb Credit, we believe in investing in Black-owned businesses every day of the year and bridging the racial wealth gap through entrepreneurship.
Learn more about Honeycomb’s community-minded crowdfunding platform here: www.honeycombcredit.com/grow