Not Just for Weddings: Set Up a Registry for Your New Business If you ask, your supporters may just buy you office equipment and supplies.
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Move over weddings and baby showers, some entrepreneurs are funding their startup needs through a business registry.
In the same way entrepreneurs create Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaigns to raise money, business owners can now launch registries that include all the office supplies and knick knacks they need to get going. Business registries are well suited for service businesses, home-based businesses and creative freelancers such as bloggers, crafters and designers. Most of these business owners don't require much startup capital and just have a few basic needs when starting out: office supplies, new furniture, a computer.
Setting up your registry. A few well-known companies offer simple business registry options. Amazon.com allows you to set up a wish list and edit the profile of that list to identify yourself as a business. You can also make your shipping address private so donors won't have your personal information. Target.com offers business "TargetLists," which are great for trendy office supplies and furniture, as well as software or craft supplies. MyRegistry.com allows you to add items from any website to your small business or nonprofit registry in a matter of moments.
Items to include in your small business registry. The same wisdom used on wedding registries should be applied to business registries as well: provide options at all price points and include gift cards. This means that all your supporters will be able to participate, even on a limited budget. Below are some items to consider:
Technology: computer, smart phone, tablet, external memory, software
Electronics: camera, paper shredder, printer, mobile internet device, router, HD webcam
Office furniture: file cabinet, comfortable chair, standing desk, book shelves
Office supplies: organizing trays, file folders, whiteboard, shipping envelopes
Decor: pictures, vases, bookends, desktop artwork
Other: business books, classes, electronics accessories/add-ons, web hosting, educational toys to keep your kids occupied
How to promote your business registry. Once you've planned out your registry, you'll want a few effective ways to promote it so that you can launch your fully funded dream business.
1. Tell your story: Use a page of your blog/website to tell your story and share your business goals. Make your story especially engaging by recording a video. Let people know who and what they will be funding and why it is important. Get creative; be your funny and charming self. Watch some Kickstarter campaign videos for inspiration -- I've been known to shed a tear or two at a good business video. Don't judge.
2. Create a short URL for your registry: Use a URL shortener or a forwarded domain (for example, JennysBusinessRegistry.com) to easily direct people to your registry.
3. Reach out to your personal network: Contact each person individually. Present your business and registry and show how passionate you are about your goals. Ask your contacts for their support by considering a donation and by spreading the word about your registry. Give people suggested wording to share via social media. Provide them with links to your site and registry. Make it easy for them to support you.
4. Consider offering donor rewards: Offer a discount code to your store, or send a thank you note or a copy of your first book. Find inexpensive ways to incentivize donors.
5. Find bloggers to share your message: Contact blogs in related niches that might be willing to feature your story.
6. Make supporters feel like part of your team: Post new video updates as you receive items and set up your office. Make donors feel informed and invested in your success and they'll likely continue to share your message.
7. Plan an outreach that includes social media: Consider launching a social press release. Create your own hashtag and promote the expletive out of it. This will help you reach people outside of your network.
Business registries can be used when you're launching, expanding or even rebranding your business. Most of your family, friends and extended network want to see you succeed, so why not give it a try?
Related: How to Finance a Startup Today