In my last post, I talked about LANTERN’s journey and what it took to get there. I told you that a key piece of my success was directly linked to the relationships I had built along the way. The value of that network cannot be understated—quite simply, LANTERN would not be where it is today without the supportive team around me. And so, today I want to expand more on what those relationships look like, how I cultivated them, and what they’ve meant for LANTERN.
Working with China
The nuances of working with China really do deserve their own post, so I’ll elaborate on that in full next time. For now, I’ll say that finding the right contact in China and working closely with manufacturing there is the pivotal reason that I could launch LANTERN at all. It is also imperative to find the right factory—there are many to choose from, but they are not all equal. My chosen factory and I forged a mutually beneficial relationship, each helping the other out with specific areas. For example, I helped them with some English translation for their instruction manuals, and they were instrumental in getting LANTERN’s mold operational. This cut start-up costs dramatically, as well as creating an invested interest to quality manufacturing from both sides.
Identify Your Opportunities, Then Find the Experts to Help
It’s kind of classic advice, and it works. When running any business from small start-up to large corporation, it works a whole lot better to enlist the help of experts for each business need. It can be tempting, especially budget-wise, to want to do everything yourself—but it almost never pays off in the long run.
I had the prototype for LANTERN and I needed help creating excitement around it. I knew how to construct great imagery as a photographer, but when it came to marketing strategy and social media approach, I wanted someone who knew that stuff inside and out. So I teamed up with small business marketing guru Jordan from BigSmall. His expertise really helped refine my marketing strategy and elevate my social media game. Follow us on Instagram or Facebook to see us in action!
I also knew I needed tell LANTERN’s story in addition to selling the physical product on my website. To help transform that story into powerful words, I hired Erin from Matters of Grammar to ghostwrite my blogs (including this one!). She takes my rambling thoughts and forms them into meaningful posts—saving me the headache of trying to get the words exactly right on my own.
And apart from creating excitement and telling my story, I also needed help with physically getting LANTERN into the country after it was manufactured, as well as fulfilling and shipping orders around the world. I found a customs broker to navigate getting my products into the country in a timely and issue-free manner, and partnered with quality shipping providers to deliver orders with much less stress.
Sit down and think about what things need to be done to get your business rolling. Marketing? Website content? Graphic design? Accounting? Decide what aspects you are genius at, and outsource the rest to other geniuses who live and breathe their niche. Find the people that believe in you and are excited about what you offer, and let them bring that passion to their respective areas of expertise. You’ll get better results in a shorter amount of time!
Engage Your Friends and Family
LANTERN started on Kickstarter, and by far my biggest advocates for that campaign were people already in my network. Your family and friends will be your biggest cheerleaders, so don’t be afraid to engage them! Ask them for help sharing your campaign, page, or product. Enlist them to be brand ambassadors and use your service or product themselves. Word of mouth is incredibly powerful stuff and the more people in your inner circle that share your message, the faster the word will spread. Making new relationships is fabulous, but leveraging the ones you’ve already built is priceless. In my opinion, the only way to truly succeed in crowdfunding is by engaging your inner circle.
The road to success is not paved by one person alone. Identify your gaps. Lean on those around you. Rely on others’ expertise to help elevate your own. It is those relationships that create the magic. Never underestimate the power that they hold.