How Startups Can Take Advantage of Netflix’s Early-Release Strategy

Founder of Astrsk

August 18, 2015

Netflix in June made a calculated decision to release the entire third season ofOrange Is the New Black early. Not only did this thrill the OITNB fan base and generate a ton of press coverage on the new season, but it also sent a powerful message: Netflix aims to please.

Entrepreneurs can enjoy these same advantages by making strategic decisions to announce or release products before the originally promised dates. Vital “go live” dates, including new website releases, product updates and even a company’s initial release are all prime opportunities for startups to excite customers, grab press attention and earn valuable feedback.

The trick is to release early, but wisely.

Related: Eliminate These 5 Words From Your PR Messaging

Netflix faces disadvantages in trying to reach large markets of potential viewers. So similar to a startup, it’s always searching for new ways to find the target audience.

By releasing the newest season early, Netflix advertised the show while reminding people that the company has a history of doing things differently, proving to customers that it doesn’t blindly follow tradition. Netflix gives fans the power to watch when and how they wish, which builds goodwill and makes customers feel special.

In the same vein, startups can grant certain customers early access to products. The opportunity to see what a company is working on behind the scenes builds excitement and is often perceived as a reward.

In the public-relations game, the brand that comes out first often makes the biggest splash, but how can a startup carry that momentum forward? To make the most of an early release, follow these four tips:

1. Target the right customers.

Always keep the type of customer you want to attract in mind. Customers may view early-release products as half-baked, so it’s a good idea to target a specific audience with the highest potential for conversion. If conversion doesn’t occur, a strategy shift has to follow quickly.

A clear focus is critical. Who do you want to give this to, and what kind of feedback do you want from them?

2. Request feedback.

Let people in early to play around through a direct invitation. Reach out to certain individuals, and tell them, “You’ve been invited to join our VIP beta-testing group prior to the official launch.”

Related: 5 Tools Every PR Pro Should Be Using to Measure Storytelling Efforts

Also consider creating a waitlist or another way for people to sign up. Engaging early adopters offers significant benefits because these test customers using the product in the real world can provide priceless feedback. Even when a firm is more interested in testing server load time than receiving feedback, asking for it every step of the way makes participants feel valued.

3. Don’t fight expert opinion.

If people feel like they’re part of the platform, they’ll be more forgiving of its flaws and will put more effort into improving it. Don’t fight their opinions. Practice strategic vulnerability. Even if the experts are wrong, simply thank them. This will build trust with early customers and can enhance potential press.

4. Connect with the media.

Attracting press isn’t always the goal of an early release, but it’s a good way to get the media interested in the platform sooner. Don’t try to emulate successful early releases launched by other companies such as Mint or Mailbox – a newsworthy early release must be unique.

Of course, an early release isn’t appropriate in some situations. Physical products that require testing should be released to the press first to ensure adequate coverage. If the product is new and innovative, it’s counterproductive to alert competitors. And finally, an early release is too risky for any project with uncertain development timelines.

For the right product or announcement, however, a strategic early release can work wonders.

If the success of the OITNB release has proven anything, it’s that startups don’t have to cling to traditional release structures. In fact, breaking those norms can result in more press, buzz, feedback and, most important, happy customers.

Related: 4 PR Strategies You Should Be Using Right Now

Smart Startups Learn How to Create and Manage Hype

Smart Startups Learn How to Create and Manage Hype

Veteran startup mentor, executive, blogger, author, tech professional, and Angel investor.
Image credit:

Creating a successful startup is all about marketing these days, no matter how compelling your solution. Technologists have long believed that marketing is only required when selling the next pet rock, but in this age of information overload, even the most exciting solutions will be lost from view or assumed to have no value unless they are surrounded by hype.

According to Urban Dictionary, hype is “a clever marketing strategy where a product is advertised as the thing everyone must have, to the point where people begin to feel they need to consume it.”

Even technology solutions with a large intuitive value, such as a cure for cancer, need hype for visibility, education, side-effect considerations and to avoid a scam label. What most entrepreneurs fail to appreciate is that even the most basic marketing takes time, money and creativity, and even the best still may not succeed in winning over competitive approaches or the status quo.

Related: 4 Secrets to a Successful Product Launch

Marketing acceptance, especially for new technologies, actually goes through several predictable stages, called the hype cycle, as outlined by Gartner research. This cycle is actually an evolution to total acceptance of a specific solution or technology, based on the effectiveness of the marketing and hype and on the feedback of early users.

Progress through these phases is unpredictable in time, often takes many years, and can only be measured by customer surveys and market penetration analyses. Here are the five key phases:

1. Innovation trigger

Every new startup rolling out an innovative solution is the start of a new cycle. Early hype actually should precede the final product, and consists of proof-of-concept stories, media events and industry exposure. Every entrepreneur in stealth mode who insists on waiting for their product runs the risk of being a non-starter.

2. Peak of inflated expectations

This is the phase where the marketing hype has fully kicked in, often creating unrealistic expectations which the solution can’t yet deliver. Many startup solutions flame out at this point. According to Gartner’s Hype Cycle Special Report for 2014, wearable user interfaces such as Google Glass are now in this stage.

3. Trough of disillusionment

Solutions and startups that stumble under inflated expectations quickly lose their allure, and enter a long period of slow growth or even a big downturn. Technologies used in these solutions are then seen as red flags by investors. Examples include mobile health monitoring, NFC (near field communication) and virtual-reality systems.

Related: 6 Steps to a Successful Product Launch

4. Slope of enlightenment

Over time, with more marketing, and with further enhancements, customers begin to understand and accept the practical benefits of a given solution. This is the phase where strategic partnerships and new markets are key. Investors seek out startups at this point that are well positioned for rapid scaling.

5. Plateau of productivity

This phase more specifically applies to technologies that have evolved through multiple generations and are widely accepted. Multiple startups can now spawn solutions from the technology, and position themselves for rapid customer growth and early seed-stage support from investors.

I have intentionally broadened the hype-cycle definitions from their traditional hard-technology application to include soft technologies, such as social networks and entertainment. The rules for technology startups are no longer unique — marketing and hype are now as critical for business-to-business solutions as for business-to-consumer solutions.

There is evidence that the elapsed time of each phase is getting shorter, which just means that every entrepreneur needs to start earlier, and measure feedback more carefully, or risk failure by working on the wrong problem. As an angel investor, I often hear startups touting inflated expectations, or refusing to pivot in the face of disillusionment for their technologies.

The days are gone for those who believe that “If we build it, they will come!” Growing a business in this highly connected and information-intensive world requires a total focus on marketing and evolving customer perceptions. The best startups start early, and put as much focus on the hype as they do on the product. Where is your solution in the hype cycle?

Related: A Blueprint for a Killer Product Launch (Infographic)

The 4 Principles Needed to Achieve, or Deliver, Happiness

The 4 Principles Needed to Achieve, or Deliver, Happiness

Image credit: Eric | Flickr

Entrepreneur and CultureIQ are searching for the top high-performing cultures to be featured on our annual list. Think your company has what it takes? Click here to get started.

It may be a cliche, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true: Beyond a certain

Entrepreneur and CultureIQ are searching for the top high-performing cultures to be featured on our annual list. Think your company has what it takes? Click here to get started.

It may be a cliche, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true: Beyond a certain pointmoney can’t buy happiness, at least not reliably or sustainably.

The key insight into the nature of happiness for us came when we realized that the quest for happiness was not only the reason that people pursued careers and started families, but was also what guided many of their decisions in day-to-day life. In 2007, we started really looking into the science of happiness to help guide our decision-making for in a more rational way — after all, if happiness was the goal, wasn’t it worth seeing what we really understood about the concept?

Related: How to Hardwire Your Brain for Happiness

By 2009, understanding and delivering happiness had become the centerpiece of both our personal and professional strategies, which is reflected in the mission statement we adopted that year: “Zappos is about delivering happiness to the world.”

Delivering happiness sounds good, but to be effective, you need to know what that actually entails. What makes you happy? What makes people around you happy? Different people have different ideas about what might make them happy, and it’s important to note that people aren’t always on the right track about what they think will make them happy.

Fortunately, psychology has taken up the case of applying scientific principles to understanding what really governs happiness. Psychology used to be primarily interested in figuring out what was wrong with people and making them “normal,” which was used as a proxy for “healthy.” But in the late 1990s, psychologists began exploring what’s now known as “positive psychology” to get a better understanding of how otherwise average people might become happier.

It turns out, there are four key principles that drive happiness across the board. Whatever the specifics of how an individual derives happiness might be, these four key principles remain common:

1. A sense of control

Having a sense of control over your own destiny is paramount to lasting happiness. When this is lacking, people tend to easily give up and feel despair and helplessness, but with purpose and control over their own destinies, people become energized and unlock their talents and ambitions.

A good entrepreneur gives employees, partners and customers clearly apparent control over their own destinies in managing interactions with the company.

2. Perceived progress

It’s no fun feeling like you’re stuck in neutral. The perception of progress is a cornerstone of the path to developing sustainable happiness.

This is why the most successful video games offer unlockable content, achievements and badges and allow for “leveling up.” These elements function to keep people interested and motivated, and to feel as though they’re experiencing a sense of progression.

Related: If You’re Not Happy, Stop Complaining and Make a Change

Good companies will do the same, offering clear and attainable promotional paths for employees and intuitive paths to satisfaction for customers and clients.

3. Connectedness

Humans are social animals. We thrive on connections to other people. In fact, we depend on those connections emotionally as well as physically. Engaged, connected employees work harder and report greater happiness than those isolated in offices or cubes. This is also why it’s important to build a real rapport with customers and vendors.

We have evolved to care about the success of the tribe — make your colleagues and clients part of your tribe.

4. Vision and meaning

There’s nothing wrong with making money, but as we’ve learned all too well, making money is simply not enough. In fact, research indicates that once you reach a certain compensation threshold, your salary becomes significantly less indicative of your overall happiness.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs demonstrates how human motivation evolves rapidly once basic physiological needs are met, leading people to be more concerned with freedom of expression, social status, a sense of achievement, a sense of belonging and other intangibles.

If you’re counting on money to generate your happiness, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Being a part of something bigger and really committing to a vision brings deep satisfaction on a fundamental level. If you can find that sort of vision and meaning and offer it to the people in your life, you’re laying a firm foundation for genuine, long-term happiness that transcends financial considerations.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what it is that you want to do with your life. But taking the time to truly understand what drives happiness will equip you to act effectively when pursuing it — and when delivering it.

Related: 3 Simple Ways to Feel Happy

How Positivity Makes You Healthy and Successful

How Positivity Makes You Healthy and Successful

Image credit: Eli DeFaria |

Co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and President at TalentSmart

When faced with setbacks and challenges, we’ve all received the well-meaning advice to “stay positive.” The greater the challenge, the more this glass-half-full wisdom can come across as Pollyannaish and unrealistic. It’s hard to find the motivation to focus on the positive when positivity seems like nothing more than wishful thinking.

The real obstacle to positivity is that our brains are hard-wired to look for and focus on threats. This survival mechanism served humankind well back when we were hunters and gatherers, living each day with the very real threat of being killed by someone or something in our immediate surroundings.

That was eons ago. Today, this mechanism breeds pessimism and negativity through the mind’s tendency to wander until it finds a threat. These “threats” magnify the perceived likelihood that things are going—and/or are going to go—poorly. When the threat is real and lurking in the bushes down the path, this mechanism serves you well. When the threat is imagined and you spend two months convinced the project you’re working on is going to flop, this mechanism leaves you with a soured view of reality that wreaks havoc in your life.

Related: 7 Challenges Successful People Overcome

Positivity and Your Health

Pessimism is trouble because it’s bad for your health. Numerous studies have shown that optimists are physically and psychologically healthier than pessimists.

Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania has conducted extensive research on the topic. Seligman finds much higher rates of depression in people who pessimistically attribute their failures to personal deficits. Optimists, however, treat failure as a learning experience and believe they can do better in the future.

To examine physical health, Seligman worked with researchers from Dartmouth and the University of Michigan on a study that followed people from age 25 to 65 to see how their levels of pessimism or optimism influenced or correlated with their overall health. The researchers found that pessimists’ health deteriorated far more rapidly as they aged.

Seligman’s findings are similar to research conducted by the Mayo Clinic that found optimists have lower levels of cardiovascular disease and longer life-spans. Although the exact mechanism through which pessimism affects health hasn’t been identified, researchers at Yale and the University of Colorado found that pessimism is associated with a weakened immune response to tumors and infection.

Researchers from the Universities of Kentucky and Louisville went so far as to inject optimists and pessimists with a virus to measure their immune response. The researchers found optimists had a significantly stronger immune response than pessimists.

Positivity and Performance

Keeping a positive attitude isn’t just good for your health. Martin Seligman has also studied the connection between positivity and performance. In one study in particular, he measured the degree to which insurance salespeople were optimistic or pessimistic in their work, including whether they attributed failed sales to personal deficits beyond their control or circumstances they could improve with effort. Optimistic salespeople sold 37% more policies than pessimists, who were twice as likely to leave the company during their first year of employment.

Seligman has studied positivity more than anyone, and he believes in the ability to turn pessimistic thoughts and tendencies around with simple effort and know-how. But Seligman doesn’t just believe this. His research shows that people can transform a tendency toward pessimistic thinking into positive thinking through simple techniques that create lasting changes in behavior long after they are discovered.

Your brain just needs a little help to defeat its negative inner voice. Here are two simple steps you can take that will train your brain to focus on the positive.

Step 1. Separate Fact from Fiction

The first step in learning to focus on the positive requires knowing how to stop negative self-talk in its tracks. The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them. Most of our negative thoughts are just that—thoughts, not facts.

When you find yourself believing the negative and pessimistic things your inner voice says, it’s time to stop and write them down. Literally stop what you’re doing and write down what you’re thinking. Once you’ve taken a moment to slow down the negative momentum of your thoughts, you will be more rational and clear-headed in evaluating their veracity. Evaluate these statements to see if they’re factual. You can bet the statements aren’t true any time you see words like never, always, worst, ever, etc.

Related: 15 Habits of Mentally Tough People

Do you really always lose your keys? Of course not. Perhaps you forget them frequently, but most days you do remember them. Are you never going to find a solution to your problem? If you really are that stuck, maybe you’ve been resisting asking for help. Or if it really is an intractable problem, then why are you wasting your time beating your head against the wall? If your statements still look like facts once they’re on paper, take them to a friend or colleague you can trust, and see if he or she agrees with you. Then the truth will surely come out.

When it feels like something always or never happens, this is just your brain’s natural threat tendency inflating the perceived frequency or severity of an event. Identifying and labeling your thoughts asthoughts by separating them from the facts will help you escape the cycle of negativity and move toward a positive new outlook.

Step 2. Identify a Positive

Now that you have a tool to snap yourself out of self-defeating, negative thoughts, it’s time to help your brain learn what you want it to focus on—the positive.

This will come naturally after some practice, but first you have to give your wandering brain a little help by consciously selecting something positive to think about. Any positive thought will do to refocus your brain’s attention. When things are going well, and your mood is good, this is relatively easy. When things are going poorly, and your mind is flooded with negative thoughts, this can be a challenge. In these moments, think about your day and identify one positive thing that happened, no matter how small. If you can’t think of something from the current day, reflect on the previous day or even the previous week. Or perhaps there is an exciting event you are looking forward to that you can focus your attention on.

The point here is you must have something positive that you’re ready to shift your attention to when your thoughts turn negative. In step one, you learned how to strip the power from negative thoughts by separating fact from fiction. Step two is to replace the negative with a positive. Once you have identified a positive thought, draw your attention to that thought each time you find yourself dwelling on the negative. If that proves difficult, you can repeat the process of writing down the negative thoughts to discredit their validity, and then allow yourself to freely enjoy positive thoughts.

Bringing It All Together

I realize these two steps sound incredibly basic, but they have tremendous power because they retrain your brain to have a positive focus. These steps break old habits, if you force yourself to use them. Given the mind’s natural tendency to wander toward negative thoughts, we can all use a little help with staying positive. Put these steps to use, and you’ll reap the physical, mental, and performance benefits that come with a positive frame of mind.

A version of this article first appeared on

Related: 11 Things Ultra-Productive People Do Differently (Infographic)

10 Ways Even Introverts Can Make Friends at Work

10 Ways Even Introverts Can Make Friends at Work

Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor

Entrepreneur and CultureIQ are searching for the top high-performing cultures to be featured on our annual list. Think your company has what it takes? Click here to get started.

For some, making friends isn’t easy. Being social isn’t easy. Some of us are more introverted than extroverted. Myself, I have driven both Uber and Lyft, and I’ve found that one suited me better because I tend to be more introverted.

This is all fine. Most introverts “get” that they live in an extroverted world and have to cater to extroverts a little at times to fit in and get along with others. This is the same whether you work at a giant corporation or a small, fast-paced tech startup. Making friends at the office can be intimidating because you’re all working to impress your superiors, as well as make the company more successful. Whether you’re in a close-knit office where everyone has been friends for years or you’re shyer than the average Joe, these steps can help you create good friendships with your work mates.

1. Say hello first.

This is an easy one, but much of the time people forget (or are afraid) to do it. Often, if you reach out to someone that’s all the effort it’ll really take to open a line of communication and begin a friendship. Just start by saying “hi” or “goodbye” and you’ll often find a coworker is happy to do the same to you the next time .

2. Create a group text.

Whether your coworkers are tech savvy or not, we are in an age where everyone sends emails and texts. I lament the loss of phone conversations, but such is life. You might as well try to take advantage of peoples’ dependence upon texting then. If you chat with people in messages during the day about work-related topics, it might be feasible to send out a group text when the workday is over.

3. Ask about them.

Ask how they are doing, how long have they worked there and other open-ended questions. People love talking about themselves and nine-times-out-of-ten they will return the favor and ask about you. You may then find that you like talking about your own experiences and slip out of your introversion for a minute.

Related: 7 Ways Introverts Can Become Master Minglers

4. Add them on social media.

One of the first steps to making friends is to know what the other person likes. Social media makes this easier than it has been in the past. Once you have befriended a co-worker on Facebook or Twitter, watch your timeline for his or her updates. Don’t be afraid to make a comment, or even re-share or re-tweet if appropriate. Talk to them in person about a picture you saw on their feed and you can immediately create a connection.

5. Be confident.

People can tell when you’re nervous. A lot of times, they don’t like it. When you’re uncomfortable, so are they. Make eye contact with a coworker when either of you is speaking. This is one way to let them realize that you are “present” and don’t find them boring or intimidating. This is all part of showing your coworkers that you care about them and like them. More often than not, they will like you more if you make this effort, and your confidence will grow.

6. Find things you have in common.

Once you know what to talk to someone about, conversation will flow more freely. It may take just one common interest to build the basis for a strong friendship. Before long, your common interests may also have you bonding over workplace issues. You may work better together and your work may flourish because of it.

Related: The Benefits of Having Friends in the Office (Infographic)

7. Go to work events.

It’s not uncommon for groups of employees to gather at the end of the week at a nearby coffee shop or restaurant. Some companies treat their employees to movie night. Make sure to attend at least some of these get-togethers. It may be just like going to work, except no one will be as serious and there should be very little actual work. There might also be some alcohol involved and that can help make getting to know coworkers easier.

8. Ask for help.

Everyone has weaknesses, even you. If you show these weaknesses instead of trying to hide them, people will usually respect you more for asking for their help. It’ll open the lines of communication and show a different side of yourself.

9. Don’t compare yourself to others.

Don’t compare your contributions to the company to what you perceive your coworkers are contributing. Remember, it’s a team and everyone is different and has their own skill set. Also, don’t worry if you’re “too” short or tall or have no hair. If someone doesn’t want to be your friend simply for those reasons they aren’t worth it in the first place.

10. Don’t fear rejection.

My father always told me, “People will meet you, and some will like you right away. Others will decide right away that they don’t like you. There’s very little you can do about that.” I’ve always found him to be right. For whatever reason, some people will never take a shining to you. That’s life. If someone doesn’t want to be your friend, it isn’t the end of the world. People get rejected every day all over the place but if you don’t get out there and try again you’re just hurting yourself.

For some of us, making friends at work is harder than doing the actual work we’ve been hired for. Even if you think you would do better work without the distraction of having to make friends, a job without them can be lonely and boring. Who will join you in discussing favorite TV shows or poking fun at the new, aggravating work assignment? Bonding over work experiences is often what makes the whole thing tolerable. So before you write it off, turn to the person next to you and say hello.

Crowdfunding or a Small-Business Loan: What’s Best for Your Company?

Crowdfunding or a Small-Business Loan: What's Best for Your Company?

Image credit: Tax Credits | Flickr

The crowdfunding site Kickstarter might be best known for funding films, games and products — like Pebble, the Palo Alto-based smartwatch whose maker raised more than $20.3 million in March, making it the most-backed product in the site’s history.

But occasionally, small Main Street businesses get their start through crowdfunding. One example is Portico Latin Bistro & Cantina in Langley, Wash., on rural Whidbey Island near Seattle, which raised $16,000 in seed money late last year.

Owner Graham Gori was skeptical about his chances for success, and he was right to be: Although Kickstarter has raised $1.8 billion for projects since 2009, most campaigns — about three of every five — fail to launch. Chances on Indiegogo, another crowdfunding site, are even slimmer; about 1 in 10 fundraising projects reach their goal. And small businesses have the toughest time: Only 3.1 percent of small-business projects out of 20,000 reached their goal on Indiegogo last year, according to reports.

Related: 4 Tips to Set You Up for Crowdfunding Success

Is crowdfunding right for you?

At NerdWallet, we examine complex financial situations that could affect small businesses. We then try to reduce them to a few key drivers to help bring clarity to the financial decisions people may make.

We found that successful crowdfunded projects or businesses depend on two main drivers:

  1. You must have a sexy, marketable project or product.
  2. It’s crucial to have a large number of backers — friends, family, local community, existing online followers — who are willing to drum up support for you. These people are your funders, but they are also your promoters.

It’s not enough to satisfy these drivers, however; you must also have a high risk tolerance. It’s an all-or-nothing mode for Kickstarterl: If you fail to reach the fundraising target you’ve set, you get nothing. In other words, you could spend weeks raising money on Kickstarter and lose it all if you don’t meet your minimum threshold.

Other crowdfunding sites are not all or nothing, but they can still leave business owners facing considerable uncertainty.

How a small-town business succeeded

Gori built a successful Kickstarter campaign by:

Testing the market. While Gori was “no expert on Kickstarter,” he did need to figure out if a campaign would even have legs, so he had to determine if there was a need in the market for his kind of restaurant.

Related: Cash Crunch: What’s the Best Loan for Your Small Business?

“I set up a stand at a holiday bazaar over Thanksgiving weekend at a local farmers market. We prepared blue corn pozole and vegan pipian rojo, put up a little stand and hung up our shingle,” he says. People lined up for his fare. “There was clearly an opening in the market for what people here would call ‘ethnic food.”

Mobilizing friends and family. With 17 days to run his campaign during the busy holiday season last year, the first step was getting help with a promotional video.

“I called a friend who was a photographer. He said, ‘I’m booked for the next two weeks, but I’m free tonight.’ We borrowed a friend’s house with an enormous kitchen, invited a bunch of friends to take part. We did it in two takes.”

Doing some old-school marketing. While Gori took advantage of a cutting-edge funding platform and all the social-media tools at his disposal, he also used one of the world’s oldest marketing techniques: He put on a sandwich board and walked in a parade and at a school festival, passing out fliers.

“A local magazine and newspaper did articles on our campaign. Folks at the library helped me create fliers with tags, like you see for garage sales,” Gori says.

In small communities, especially places like Whidbey Island, where one in five residents is above the age of 65, you can’t expect your market to be glued to social media for outreach.

The alternatives to crowdfunding

If you’re a startup business — say, a franchise — you may have easier access to credit on manageable terms than you realize. Your franchisor is one possible source, and small-business loans may be available from other lenders if the brand you’re franchising has a strong track record. Another place to try is online lender Funding Circle, which has agreeable terms for franchises.

If you’re opening a business with low overhead costs — like a consultancy or graphic design company — and all you need to start your business from home is a computer and an Internet connection, business credit cards may be all the capital you need.

If you have good credit, another alternative to crowdfunding might be a personal loan or, if you own a home, a home equity line of credit.

Small companies in business-to-business industries with invoices and low revenue — essentially a cash flow problem — may want to consider selling accounts receivable, a small-business financing technique known as“factoring.” BlueVine, Lighter Capital and Fundbox all have products that can help.

If you have no invoices, low business revenue or low business credit, online lenders like OnDeck and Kabbage may be good alternatives to crowdsourcing and traditional bank loans.

Related: Applying for a Short Term Business Loan Online? These 4 Steps Can Protect Your Startup.

Small businesses that have been around for longer than two years have more options. If you have a high credit score and are picky about what kind of debt you take on, you should investigate SBA loans from traditional lenders or new lenders. These government-backed small-business loans have significantly lower rates than many other lenders offer. Alternatively, you can check out online lenders such as Funding Circle, Lending Club and Fundation (if you have two or more employees).

Have a backup plan

Even Gori didn’t rely on his Kickstarter campaign alone to succeed. As a backstop, he applied and received a $15,000 loan from Whidbey Island Local Lending (WILL), a group that matches local investors with local small businesses in search of funding.

The Portico Latin Bistro & Cantina campaign defied the odds, but it was a nail biter. Gori — a former correspondent for The New York Times and Associated Press in Mexico and Central America, whose love of Latin food turned him into a chef — only succeeded in meeting his goal in the last hours of the campaign.

“There was a sense of relief, just my wife and I in an empty bedroom looking at the computer screen,” he recalls.

Crowdfunding can be a fun and successful way to fund your small business and generate buzz even before you open your doors. But it’s important to explore every available option as you look for the small-business funding. Although the crowdfunding route isn’t easy, you may find success and blow past your intended goal. But just remember to have a backup plan.

Related: Why Now Is the Best Time to Start Your Own Business