Do you have some entrepreneurial spirit? Have some sales skills? Good with marketing? Are you interested in making some money by helping your community build a sounder foundation? Then Shire Silver has a plan you should check out.
Shire Silver Local Currency Promoter Plan
The Shire Silver model makes it easy to use as a local currency, with a couple of big advantages over other local, community, or alternative currencies. The fact that the cards contain gold or silver means that they will have universal value and thus be usable outside of their originating area. They will also retain significant value if the local promoter goes out of business, making your customers more accepting of their value.
We expect that the local brands will be interchangeable - with cards from one local promoter being accepted by businesses in the other promoters' networks. This will allow the general card usage to spread beyond their local areas while giving the promoters additional marketing ammunition. Card holders will know that they can use them outside their local promoter’s area, making them more valuable than other local currencies. There might also be opportunities for brokers to exchange one area's cards for another's.
To make this plan simple for you, Shire Silver will provide most of what you'll need to start up your own version of Shire Silver as a local currency business. You will, however, need to have the sales skills to build up your own local network of accepting businesses. No guarantee of success is given.
As a potential promoter you should show that you are capable of signing up businesses in your area, and that your area is large enough to support a local currency, by signing up at least 5 businesses before applying. These initial businesses might be persuaded to help fund the startup fees and become partners in your business, which would help in those cases where you don't have enough of your own capital. Getting the initial businesses to help pay the startup fees is an additional indicator that you are serious and capable of running a local currency business.
Another option for coming up with the funds to get started is to raise the capital in either a traditional manner or by utilizing a kickstarter type fundraiser. A kickstarter could have some cards and promotional material as gifts. In any case, the more starting funds made available the higher the likelihood of success.
A third option is to build a non-profit organization. This path might not lead to fortune for you, but it could lead to fame as well as making it easier to get seed financing from philanthropists or even government agencies. (See the linked picture on the right for one interesting vision.)
What promoters need to provide
Your local currency operation will need a suitable brand idea as well as a corresponding domain name for the website. Shire Silver desires that you own and control the domain name yourself, and that Shire Silver has no ownership in the brand or domain name. We can help technologically challenged owners with the process, but operating the website (processing web based orders, for example) is something that requires at least some skill. If you don’t have the skills necessary, you should at least have someone you can hire as needed to handle these things.
Additionally you, as the promoter, are expected to work with our designers to create appropriate card designs. The design fees are required before our designers begin work.
What Shire Silver Provides
Shire Silver can help you develop your brand idea into a reality by creating a logo for the operation that will also work as part of the design for the cards. We will work with you to develop a set of card designs for your brand. We will produce the first set of cards for your business, if so desired. We can also help you select a website host, install and configure the site software, and train you on running the operation.
We will also use all our marketing outlets, such as our newsletter and Facebook page, to help promote your business.
The Card Production Plans
You can either produce their cards locally yourself, or Shire Silver can serve as a wholesale manufacturer for you.
If you choose to produce your own cards, you will have complete control over the quality of the cards produced. Producing the cards locally can be more profitable if done right, but is also more work and management that needs to be done by you or your workers.
If you choose to have Shire Silver produce your cards, the cost will be well known but the profit will likely be a little lower. Your business would then also be depending on Shire Silver to fulfill bulk orders quickly.
You can start with one plan and change at any time. We’re happy to help you learn how to make your own cards as well as to make the cards for you. Just be aware that there is an initial fee when we first start making cards for you, so if you start with the self-producing plan and later want us to make your cards there will be a cost.
Options and Prices
These are some of the options and prices you'll need to consider when deciding if and how to build a local currency promoter business. There will be some communication back and forth while we work together to build your new business, including figuring out final prices and total costs before too much effort has been expended.
Starting at $50 for a simple logo based on your idea, this cost might go as high as $150 or $200.
Shire Silver can, through Ron Helwig's web development services, build a fully functional website for you for $750. This site would include:
- Integrated and easy to use blog
- Self-signup form for merchants to grow your network
- An automatically updated list and map of the merchants in your area
- Card prices automatically update at least hourly based on precious metal spot prices
- Full e-commerce capabilities including
- payment by credit card, debit card, or bitcoins via BitPay
- (bitcoins can be automatically converted to dollars in your bank the next day, if you want)
- fixed and low shipping costs
- full order tracking with a basic workflow
- ability to have special deals and discounts, applying automatically or with a coupon code
- Responsive mobile-first design that works well on anything from smartphones to desktops
- SEO ready
- payment by credit card, debit card, or bitcoins via BitPay
A non-standard design can be created for you at extra cost. A professionally created unique website design can cost $300 or more.
After your brand has been designed, we can create designs for your cards and produce a first batch for you at a cost of $250 plus the wholesale cost of the cards. If you wanted to start with a variety of cards totaling a value of $1,000, your cost would be $1,000 plus the one-time $250 card design fee minus your merchant and bulk discounts. You can do even better by paying with bitcoins and get an additional 3% off for a total cost of $1044.
Please keep in mind that after the initial run, the card design cost is never paid again (unless you want a new design made for your cards).
We will share with you any designs we have so that you can print them out or use them online in any manner you desire. We can also point you to marketing professionals who can work with you directly.
We have lots of instructions and advice on this website, our documentation site at ShireSilver.org, and in Google Documents. We will share all of this with you and will gladly answer questions asked through our contact form or via email freely. If you'd like to come out for a visit to get personalized training we can negotiate something reasonable and fair - just ask!
Since the sites we build are based on open source and use standard practices, you don't need to use our services to maintain your site. But if we build it for you, you can rest easy by having us keep your site updated with the latest security and functionality patches as well as adding new functionality we might develop for our site and others.
We usually only charge $40/month for security, bug, and functionality updates. There are typically updates applied almost weekly, mostly just for bug fixes. There are usually one or two security updates each month. Included in that $40/month is up to an hour's worth of email based technical support, if you need it. Further support is available on a negotiated basis.
If you are interested in this opportunity, please contact us so we can start telling you more and answering any questions you might have.
Q&A / FAQ
Q: Can I run a local currency promoter business part time? From my home?
A: Yes, you can run it from home and as a part time business. In fact, that is probably the best way to start. Don't quit your day job (if you have one) until you are confident that you can succeed and have proven that you've found a good marketing fit for your community.
Q: What is the minimum we'd have to pay Shire Silver to start a local currency promoter business?
A: Zero. Everything about this business is something you can do on your own if you'd like. We have basic instructions available on this very site explaining how to make your own version of our cards. But that would take a lot of time and effort, and we've got lots of experience and practice at much of the tasks you'd need to do. Paying us to handle the more mundane or esoteric tasks can get your business up and running faster.
Q: How much money should we expect is needed to get the business running?
A: We believe that a good minimum is in the $3,000 to $5,000 range. That will give you enough starting capital to build a website (or have us do it), get your first batch of cards, and create your first marketing campaign. Of course, more than that would be better, and focusing anything above the minimum towards advertising and other marketing would be helpful.
Q: How much money can I make with this business?
A: That totally depends on you, but like anything you'll get more out of it the more effort you put into it.
In more detail, the basics of the business are producing the cards and selling them for a profit. If you buy your cards from us yo can get them at a maximum of an 18% discount off of our MSRP. If you make them yourself you might be able to produce them at as great as a 25% discount below our MSRP. So each card you sell you'll likely get a 10% or so profit. Then it becomes a numbers game. If you can't run the numbers then you probably aren't meant to be running a business like this.
But roughly, each half gram silver card sold should net you about ten cents. The BerkShares regional currency claims to have circulated a million BerkShares in their first nine months, with 4.3 million entering circulation so far. So multiplying ten cents by a million implies that a well organized and skilled new business could potentially earn profits of $100,000 annually. Of course this is just a seat of the pants estimate based on wishing, and it will take a lot of hard work to get even half of that.
Q: Is this page and its contents a contract?
A: Nope. This page is written in plain English and is meant as a starting point for you to develop your own business. Other than any services you agree to pay us for, there is no need for a contract between you and Shire Silver.