Most of the successful therapists that I know in private practice have at least one or two passion projects that they want to get out of their heads and into production.
Truthfully, they often have dozens of ideas swirling around their heads in various stages of development.
And, . . . true confession . . . some of us have a bazillion!
When I’m helping counselors bring their brilliance to life, the most common reason I hear for not moving forward is . . . “I don’t have the money I need to invest in my project right now.”
You’re not surprised, right?
After all, many of us have gone through periods where we felt financially strapped in the early years of our practices.
I know I did.
That’s why I’ve invited my colleague and friend, Rob Reinhardt, LPC-S, M.Ed., NCC of Tame Your Practice fame to join us today.
He has created a cool little tool for mental health and coaching professionals – a little deck of cards called Describe – and he financed the production of this project with crowdfunding!
If you’ve ever needed a chunk of money to invest in a service or a product or some other project that might allow you to support your clients or to grow your private practice, then this is the guy with answers!
Rob is sharing his experience and answering your questions about crowdfunding today so please make him feel welcome in our community here at Private Practice from the Inside Out!
A Guest Post by Rob Reinhardt, LPC-S, M.Ed., NCC
Do you have an idea for a tool, book, project, application or another item that you feel would be incredibly helpful to other mental health clinicians?
Do you believe that the only barrier to producing this item is money?
Are you ready to step outside your comfort zone and make this amazing thing a reality?
In my experience, mental health clinicians are both creative and giving.
They often create and share wonderful tools with one another.
But some tools are either too expensive to produce, too valuable to share for free, or both.
Perhaps you have even conceived of this tool as an option while reading about generating passive income.
Since our private practices aren’t Fortune 500 companies, we tend to not have a lot of spare capital lying around to invest in new projects.
Or, perhaps it’s already earmarked for office or staff expansion.
The result is that some really fantastic ideas are languishing on drawing boards across the country!
An Intro to Crowdfunding
There are many ways to address this dilemma, including small business loans.
One method, in particular, stands out as a way to prove that your concept fills a need, while also providing you the capital you need to produce it, at a fairly low level of risk.
That method is crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding consists of having the people who want the item you are manufacturing fund its production.
It’s a slightly more complex form of “pre-sale” if you will.
However, it is not a new concept, having been used to fund things as interesting as the Statue of Liberty.
Not to worry.
Your idea doesn’t have to be as grand as Lady Liberty.
It just has to be something that others will value.
Which brings us to . . . .
It’s Called CROWDFunding for a Reason
You might think that the first step in this process would be to have a great idea.
While the idea will be important, it’s of little value unless there is a crowd of people who value it.
It’s worthless without execution.
You may even find that your idea is improved or even replaced by a better idea once you know what it is that the crowd wants.
For this reason, it’s important that you identify and gather, if you haven’t already, the crowd that will support your idea.
Pro Tip – You’ll want to ensure you have some friends and family on board early as they are likely to be some of your biggest supporters.
Develop A Product That Meets the Need of a Crowd
If you already have an idea, then development may consist of market research.
If you have a book, have some select friends or colleagues read it and provide you feedback.
A therapy game?
Have people playtest it.
If you’re starting from scratch, ask your target crowd what their needs are in order to generate ideas.
Then, you need to research feasibility.
How and where will this product be manufactured?
What will it cost?
What is your crowd willing to pay for it?
Is your goal to make a profit or break even?
You need to understand what your crowd needs, how your product will meet that need, and what it will cost to make it all happen.
You’ll need that information in order to tell your story properly.
Developing Your Story
People backing crowdfunding projects don’t want to just “buy a thing.”
They can do that on Amazon.
They want the story that goes along with it.
How did you come up with this idea?
What makes it special to you?
And, what will it mean to them?
How will it change / improve things for them?
It’s not enough that you think this is something they will enjoy.
They need to understand how it satisfies that well-researched need you are trying to meet.
Telling Your Story And Growing Your Crowd
You’ve got your idea that satisfies a need, you’ve got your crowd and your story.
Time to launch, right?
This is your time to grow your crowd larger.
Now that you have more details and a story, use that information to attract even more people to your idea.
Create an atmosphere where people are eager to benefit from your creation.
This will also give you the opportunity to build your timeline.
Developing Your Pre-Launch Timeline for Crowdfunding Success
Most successful crowdfunding projects have a timeline in place well before launch.
Experienced crowd funders even include the items above in their pre-launch timeline.
This will become most important as you approach launch because once you’ve started, you will be too busy to stop and adjust.
It’s time to do things like . . . strategically planning your launch date, choosing your platform, and setting your rewards.
Does your item coincide well with a holiday or special occasion?
Or, do you need to avoid launching on certain days when your crowd might pre-occupied?
Since crowdfunding projects are time-limited, you need to consider the same factors for your end date.
What things will you be doing each day to support your project?
When will you post to social media?
When will you post a general project update?
When will you write a timely guest post on someone’s blog?
Everything you do should be targeted toward building to a successful launch and then keeping the momentum going.
When You’re Ready to Launch Your Crowdfunding
You’ll need to have that momentum going into your launch since most successful crowdfunding projects receive at least 50% of their funding in the first few days.
Your launch should be a big deal with several tangential efforts aligned with that, bringing the attention and focus to your project.
This all starts during the crowd-building phase when you let your audience know the scheduled launch date and ask for their support in spreading the word.
When launch day comes, you press the magic button, sit back and watch the pledges roll in . . . if you want to completely flop.
Work, Work, Work It!
You’ve just worked your tail off for weeks, months, or even years to develop this wonderful thing that an entire crowd has expressed interest in.
You’d think the hard work was over but . . . the hardest work is right in front of you.
For the next 30 days (or whatever length you choose), you will be taking on what may feel like a second full-time job.
In addition to your timeline full of activities to draw attention to your project, you’ll have additional tasks like answering questions from potential backers.
(The product doesn’t even exist yet and you’re already providing customer service and sales support!)
You persist . . . pouring your heart and soul into the project.
You (hopefully) meet your funding goal and people share in your excitement over this thing you’ve created finally being a real thing!
Okay, But How Does Crowdfunding Work in Real Life?
The nuts and bolts of these steps may vary depending on the project. Many of the crucial parts will translate well from a successful
Many of the crucial parts will translate well from a successful
However, many of the crucial parts will translate well from a successful project like my Kickstarter project for Describe Cards. Here’s how it all played out for me…
Here’s how it all played out for me . . . .
During the eight years I had been in private practice, I had also been developing Describe.
I spent those years refining it, adding activities, and gathering feedback from clients and colleagues.
Over the course of several years, I had already built an appropriate audience of mental health professionals through my company Tame Your Practice.
However, I didn’t rest on those laurels.
I sent out advanced copies to other people with audiences, seeking their feedback on whether this fit a need and would be valued.
This provided me with valuable feedback on things like pricing and also grew my crowd.
During that time I also:
- Looked at what other successful crowdfunding projects had in common,
- Researched manufacturing costs,
- Researched pricing of similar products,
- Investigated possible launch dates and fleshed out the entire timeline,
- Set up a pre-launch website, complete with countdown and connected mailing lists and social media accounts dedicated solely to this project,
- Connected with close colleagues, family, and friends (and got their feedback, buy-in and support),
- Crafted the video that told my story – a solid project video is a MUST,
- Chose the crowdfunding platform (Kickstarter) and finalized the pricing and rewards structure of the project, including the creation of a Deluxe version of Describe (which was based on feedback I’d received from others),
- Created the copy for press releases and guest blog posts, and
- Completed the entire timeline all the way through the close of the project.
There was also plenty of minutiae at each of those steps.
(i.e. What quality of card stock would my cards be printed on? Did I want a matte or glossy finish? and so on . . . .)
For example, what quality of card stock would my cards be printed on?
Did I want a matte or glossy finish? and so on . . . .
All of my hard work ultimately paid off with a lot of help from the supportive crowd I had built.
Describe was 20% funded in the first 24 hours and eventually received 156% of the required pledges.
How might you leverage crowdfunding to establish additional streams of revenue?
Or, perhaps you have a dream product that you want to see come to life?
Maybe brainstorming with peers will birth an entirely new concept ripe for crowdfunding.
It’s up to you to take it from here!
About this Author: Rob Reinhardt, LPC-S, M.Ed., NCC is a leading expert on cloud-based EHR / practice management systems in private practice. He is dedicated to helping mental health professionals tame the business and technology side of their practice so that they can spend more time with clients.