Today was the last day for businesses to get votes on their Fed Ex Small Business Grant contest profile page and as of 6:22 pm CST we have made it to 1,203 votes. That's not a bad number considering that we were a little in the game getting our profile set up.
The contest asks you to tell FedEx what separates your business from the rest and by doing that you could win:
GRAND PRIZE = $25,000
1 of 4 FIRST-PLACE GRANTS of $5,000
1 of 5 SECOND-PLACE GRANTS of $1,000
Entering was pretty simple. You went to their website and submitted your business story and photos. Once your application is approved and the voting period begins, you were able to vote for your business once a day—and get your friends, customers, and associates to vote for your business every day.
The voting went from January 16 through February 23 and the number of votes you get boosts your visibility in the contest and is one factor FedEx will consider when selecting the 100 finalists and the ten winners. FedEx will also evaluate your business story.
We Couldn't Have Done it Without You
Scott and I want to express our most sincere thanks to everyone who has voted for us and shown their support. To our family, friends and coworkers, we are SO appreciative that you voted and put up with our daily voting reminders.
For a small business starting out knowing that we have such a supportive network out there helps us to stay motivated and drives us further. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
What We Learned
We won't know until February 26th if we made it into the 100 finalists, but we've learned a lot along the way. Here are a few of the things that we've learned from taking part.
- Be the Early Bird: We waited a bit before entering for no real good reason. If we had entered right away we would have had more lead time to promote and get votes.
- Keep up the Energy:- It took a decent amount of energy to get votes. Votes just don't come by themselves. You need to promote and remind people in order to keep the votes rolling in. You also want to be creative in the way you do that. There's a balance to be had between keeping up the visibility and being annoying. Here were a few techniques we used:
- Use all your social media platforms to advertise and make sure you're not just using one message for all platforms. We used our Facebook, Twitter, website and all our personal accounts as well. We varied the message and tried to use as many images as we could to help people see what our products are.
- We added a email signature encouraging people to vote, including how long it would take to do it. It's important for people to know how little time it takes to do what you're asking.
- Asking for help. If you don't ask you don't get. People like to help and even those with the best intentions will need to be reminded, they usually appreciate it.
- Our friend Renee Larson created a FaceBook event and used that as a way to generate votes for her business, The Bow Tie Shoppe.
- Clear Calls to Action: If you need someone to vote you had better tell them what they need to do and make it easy. If it's not easy people won't do it. Keep it Simple is the way to go and make sure to test your links. We discovered early on that one of the links that was generated from the Fed Ex website to share your page brought people to the main page instead of the profile page. From the main page people then had to search for your business and it just took too long. By testing the link we were able to save people aggregation and generate more votes.
Why We Want to Win
Having a grant would help us to take the business to the next level. We would invest the money on materials, equipment and labor. We met a lot of people in the Makers Coalition sewing program who expressed interest in working with leather. Scott and I would love to be able to invest in training people from the program as part of their internship or be able to offer a part-time job. The money would help us to invest in enough materials to create our full line of product and our desire is to buy the leather from a tannery in Wisconsin.