Lessons Learned from Crowdfunding
Hello! Sarah here. This blog is a place I’ve created to pay Tribute to women’s incredible stories. We all have them. Finding the courage to tell them is another thing. I like to think I help women find that courage. And in doing so — find their voice. I recently completed my first crowdfunding campaign. I have a lot of thoughts that I’ve struggled to voice, so I thought I’d come here and share my experience and lessons learned with all of you.
We’re all super busy so I’ll get to the point. Raising money for your idea is hard. It challenges every part of your being in ways you never could have imagined. The highs and lows are intense and if you don’t manage through them with the long-game in mind, you’ll quit before you begin. That said, it’s also an incredible time of personal transformation. Like anything in life, if you can focus on the lesson, you can transcend difficulty into opportunity. You can be the lotus. But not before feeling like shit (i.e. mud) sometimes.
Here are the Top 5 lessons I learned about myself through this experience.
I’m never going to feel ‘ready’.
Ugh, really?! But can’t I just study more, plan ahead, get that degree, find that mentor, practice a little harder? Nope. I’m here to tell you nothing prepares you like experience. The raw, awkward, and uncomfortable acts of doing are far better teachers. Are you going to feel like the star of Amateur Hour, the movie? Yep. Do it anyway. Humility is also a great teacher.
My self-worth can’t be measured in dollars raised.
Oh, but if only it could. I’d get a loan and pay that interest. This is a big one. All of us, whether we know it or not— tend to couple our worth with the money we make. The more we make, the more we’re worth. In some sense, like net worth - this is true. However, in terms of self-worth, this couldn’t be a more damaging false belief. I looked at that number daily. I had several moments, days even of self-doubt and worry. It took me two or three bouts of this intense feeling of lack to realize I was connecting the dollars raised to my personal worthiness. I’m not going to bullshit you and tell you I’m some kind of transformed being. I’m not. I still struggle with this, and know as I advance into later stages of funding, this will only get more difficult. The thing is, I’m aware this is a false belief now. And false beliefs dissolve in the light of awareness. Note to self: re-read this blog post anytime you feel like crap because an investor doesn’t get your idea.
Fundraising is an intense time. And not just from an emotional perspective. You literally have no time. Like none. For me, in between networking, social media planning, blogging, going to my actual day job, trying to have some sort of a life, sleep, eating and the basics, finding time for self-care was hard. I stopped running, meditating and having ‘quiet-time’ away from my phone. I noticed my own edginess and couldn’t figure out what was going on. I was at lunch with fellow female founder when she looked at me and said, “Stop. You need to prioritize your self care. Period.” In that moment, I realized why I had been feeling so off lately. It doesn’t matter how busy we get. Having a self-care routine is our foundation. Now that said, it’s okay if it evolves for your schedule. Today, I don’t run in the mornings like I used to — but I wake up about 45 mins before I start my day to meditate, journal, set my intention for the day, drink 16oz of lemon water and take a cold shower. Yes, you read that right. Cold showers are in incredible way to wake yourself up mentally. Try it. :)
I’ll always have a harder time raising money as a woman. But, I can be the change.
I could go on and on about why this is true. From external factors, like VCs investing more in men. A lot more - like 98% more. To internal factors, like how women feel ‘rude’ for asking for money. Or ‘pushy’ for following up with someone who said they’d support you. The reality is I have to operate in a world that is skewed towards men, white men. That said, if I folded up shop because of this fact, I’d short cut myself. I need to keep going. Supporting other female founders, both with this blog and with my money. I choose to raise money with IFundWomen because it’s a female-owned business, supporting female-founded businesses. I’m looking forward to joining The Riveter, a female co-working space in Seattle because it’s female founded. Ladies, listen up. You have a lot of spending power. We need to support one another better. We need to put our money where our mouth is and recognize that as women, we can be the change.
This is just the beginning.
Sarah is the Founder and CEO of Tribute. She’s is an advocate for women’s voices and believes we all have a story to tell. Find Sarah on social media or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org