It’s a circular dance. You want your company to make more money, so you need to grow your business, but how can you do it without sinking more money into it?
With many small businesses, you can attribute hard work with business growth. Invest your time in your business, and the money will follow.
Some articles will give you lame advice like “choose a winning idea,” but we want to give you some actionable advice, based on our own experience renting temporary and shared office space to small-business owners. We’ve also incorporated some advice from top marketing professionals.
Network — Networking is so important, and it’s free. Get out there and join associations and clubs that are relevant to your business. Even if you live in a small town, there likely is a Chamber of Commerce or a Rotary Club. It takes time and effort, but you meet important people and form relationships — something you can’t do cooped up in your office.
Participate in seminars and webinars — Regularly taking part in these helps you establish yourself as an expert. In the beginning, you won’t get paid, but the benefits you derive from being seen by peers and potential customers is worth the time it takes you to ferret out these opportunities and prepare for them properly.
Plan and start a marketing campaign — Sure, it would be nice if you could hire a major marketing firm, but in the beginning, you can’t afford it. Make no mistake — we’re not saying you can do just as good a job as a marketing agency, but you can do something. Start Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts for your business, and post regularly. Compile an email list and use it. Fill out your Google My Business profile. Start a blog, and post regularly. All this helps.
Send emails that people want to get — This is a constant challenge. The marketing gurus say the same thing. Don’t just ask your customers for their time, tell them what you can do for them. If you’re an accountant, tell them you can save them money. If you’re an estate planner, tell people you can help them grow their retirement savings. It only makes sense that people will agree to meet with you because you can help them, not because they want to do you a favor.
Concentrate on the customers you have — Lots of businesses, big and small, pour tons of effort into acquiring new customers. New customers are good, but some of your efforts should be directed at the customers you already have. It’s much easier to leave an impression on them because they already know you. Too many businesses ignore their current customers in favor of phantom new customers. It’s much harder to get a new customer than to keep a current customer, and it’s harder still to win back a previous client to whom you didn’t pay enough attention.
Use interns (wisely) — Interns aren’t indentured servants, at least not anymore. There are rules you have to follow. If you’re a for-profit business, you must pay your interns, at least minimum wage. The key here is to get a good one. Students are notoriously fickle and unreliable, and some just aren’t that clever. Spend extra time interviewing to make sure you’re getting a good one, and plan to put in the hours necessary to train them to do what you want.
There are a lot of other tips and tricks you can use to promote your business with a low budget — giveaways, car wraps, sponsorship of a Little League team, etc. As you grow, you will be able to put more money into your marketing budget and by then, you’ll know what’s working for you and what isn’t.
Running a small business is challenging. You only have so much revenue to work with, and you must decide carefully where to allocate your profits.
One great way for new and small businesses to save money is to rent temporary or shared professional office space. It’s much more economical and flexible than leasing. You also present a more professional appearance by running your business from commercial office space instead of your living room or a coffee shop.