Forget Fear. Focus on Funding.
With all of the talk about what companies cannot do to promote their Small OPOs, it is no wonder companies are failing to promote and fund their campaigns. Leaders and players in the OPO space have noticed a discouraging lack of clarity on the subject. I feel the heat from my team and from the companies on StartEngine who ask for help and plead for more options. I can also tell you my suggestion is quite simple. Do not focus on what you cannot do, focus on what you can do. See — simple. Do not make excuses. Learn the rules, hustle and do whatever you can to get your campaign funded legally and compliantly. Period.
Educate Yourself. While I would like to brag about the Issuer Services team at StartEngine, I know we are not the only company to provide educational materials and marketing information to startups to help them make the most of their OPOs. My advice — do not stop there. Take initiative and educate yourself and your team. Crowdcheck issued a clear, in-depth memo on this topic. The Small OPO Rules (Regulation Crowdfunding) are also a quick read at 685 pages (!). Read anything you can on OPOs. Look at the most funded campaigns and figure out how they did it. Success in this industry is proven. The more you educate yourself and understand the industry, the better off you will be.
Remember What You CAN Do. Take the tools you can use and make it work. You may not be able to ramp up marketing efforts until your campaign is live; you may not be able to mix terms and non-terms communications; and you may not be able to make claims about your company that are exaggerated no matter how strongly you believe in them. What you can do should be your source of empowerment. You still have tools. There are 100s of compliant marketing techniques (Gleam campaigns, Social Media contests, etc.) and there are simple ways to get funding. Ever heard of friends and family?
Lead By Example. I would love to see every campaign, even on WeFunder, successfully fund. I urge any company conducting a Small or Large OPO to lead by example. Be the best. Be the most compliant. Set the standard. Companies engaging in OPOs are pioneers in the capital-raising space and that should not be discounted. Strive to create a successful and compliant campaign to set the industry standard and make an even bigger name for your company.
Do Not Stop. The restrictions on OPOs can be frustrating, but remember your passion and your mission. The week of campaign launch may be critical but every day after that counts. Forget Fear, and vacation for that matter, and keep pushing forward.
I realize this seems easy. Too easy? Nope. It’s hard. My takeaway is that for startups to be successful, they cannot make excuses, especially about compliance. Your company’s campaign to raise capital can be thought of as an extension of the company itself — you run your business to attain its mission in conjunction with all applicable industry and legal rules and regulations, and your campaign should take the same approach. Within these parameters you have ample opportunity to express your excitement about your company and its prospects. Thinking about what it is that separates your firm and what it does from the pack, and finding a way to express this within the confines of the investor outreach rules enables you to (you guessed it) — forget fear and focus on funding.