Creating Complex, Adaptive Local Economies Using Investment Crowdfunding

Bill HustonAlternative Finance, Community Capital, Crowd Investing, Real Estate Crowdfunding


I recently completed the Strong Towns 101 training to learn more about the Strong Towns movement that is taking North American cities by storm as its bottom-up approach to economic development is starting to resonate with cities large and small across the country as we all face the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our economy. The Pandemic has had an immensely negative and devastating impact on small local businesses that are struggling to simply survive in this new normal, with very little time to think about how to thrive in the Post-COVID-19 economy. This is where the Strong Towns complex, adaptive local ecosystems with feedback loops began to illuminate investment crowdfunding as the perfect fit with this bottom-up community-led economic development model. Investment crowdfunding requires that the business use digital marketing to engage the investor/customer base directly. 

Small Businesses Need for Adaptive Feedback Marketing Loop

To thrive in the modern business world it’s important to understand how to market your small independent business and this is going to be even harder in the post COVID-19 crisis small business environment. A recent survey shows establishing customer relationships through marketing and promotion is the second largest concern among independent business owners after securing access to capital. In the current COVID-19 crisis and its aftermath both of these immense small business issues can be solved by using seed and investment crowdfunding to build deeper relationships with and to raise capital directly from customers, suppliers, and community stakeholders. These are going to be the people that generate revenue for these small local  businesses, so making them backers, investors and ultimately stakeholders in your business and the larger ecosystem makes sense for Main Street businesses. So, the question is how do these small businesses achieve this task moving forward. 

The Power of Local Digital Marketing

Digital marketing for Main Street small businesses does not need to be difficult. Many of the companies I have worked with in the past see it as a daunting task that is going to take too much time, money, and a team of people to get it done. The majority of the time they are just trying to do too much at once. Digital marketing as a whole encompasses a broad set of activities, but local  small businesses do not need to do all of them at one time. They need to find specific strategies that work for them and capitalize on those specific marketing channels. Understanding that Main Street businesses and local stakeholders are in this together so developing a strategy that builds community is the first step.

Creating Local Crowdfunding Ecosystems

How do we create a local crowdfunding ecosystem that is virtual in nature that provides a space for Main Street businesses and community stakeholders to build community. This community must be able to bridge the gap between buyers, sellers, backers, and investors in essence creating a locally integrated economy. The first step is to provide education to all parties that are involved. Using webinars to reach and educate community stakeholders about the benefits of having a strong local economy and why that strong local economy needs well trained and financed local businesses that are able to serve the needs of the community while being good community members. 

The Local Social Marketing Strategy

I have felt your pain and created our social local program to help small independent businesses grow their online brand, increase their brand reach, and increase their revenue from online marketing and promotion. You carefully select at least four (4) non-­competing businesses that could, under normal circumstances, be referral partners to each other. These businesses then become an internal co-operative group, who will act as Social Media stewards to each other. This Local Social Media Business Alliance then becomes a powerful resource for social media engagement, but also for SEO and backlinking. The best part: we train you to do all of the work! We train you in how to create online content to develop offline connections,and how to create, coordinate, post and analyze each part of the social media management process for the clients so you can continue to do what you do best serve your customers, nurture client relationships, and run your agency.

A More Technology Driven Main Street Business Environment 

Small local businesses must be well trained in the business skills necessary for operating a business as well as being good at the technical aspects of the product or service they are providing for their customers. Using virtual training models that are scalable and low-cost, and self-paced are a vital component to building this ecosystem especially in this COVID-19 driven environment that will drive the business environment for an unspecified amount of time. This new COVID-19 business environment will require social distancing and the use of virtual technology to accomplish. Today, many of the people that are searching for solutions to how Main Street businesses will pivot and move forward using these digital technologies. Learning and adapting to the new normal of a more virtual Main Street business environment will again require scalable virtual training for the business owners.  

Key Takeaways

Both seed and investment crowdfunding have been driven by the virtual technologies that are now vital business tools as a response to the COVID-19 crisis that make doing business scalable. Using these high demand technologies moving forward to create and host virtual business showcases for local businesses to present to local investors at scale is one example of the brave new virtual business ecosystem that we will be using for the foreseeable future. Innovating around these virtual technologies to create new business solutions for Main Street businesses presents many new and exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs that will drive the development and growth of new industries that help build sustainable local small business ecosystems. If you want to know more about how to market and fund your small business using crowdfunding please visit