Let’s face it, part of the reason so many new businesses exist today is because capital is no longer a major issue. You can start a small business on literally a shoestring budget and get to work within a week.
The problem is that running a business still costs plenty, and that’s either going to come out of your wallet or out of your time bank because time is precious to entrepreneurs.
Statistics show that waiting for venture capital is often not worth the time investment and the SBA states that of all 600,000 new businesses started each year, only 300 receive VC funding. In percentage terms, that’s only .0005, which aren’t exactly good odds for the patient businessperson.
While there are VC success stories, most notably major brands like Google, Apple, and Microsoft, they are rare exceptions and most people will never receive venture capital.
According to other studies, hasty scaling is the most common reason why businesses fail; a case of the owner moving too fast, too soon, figuring his vision of success will match the market reality.
Since a large percentage of all businesses are going to fail, this emphasizes the need for slower scaling and fewer expenses at the outset.
The good news is, growing your business on a shoestring budget can actually be to your benefit and help you build a stronger foundation in your target market. Here are four unique ways to save money and grow without the need for huge upfront investments.
Related Article: 7 Ways to Market Your New Business on a Miniscule Budget
1. Give Away the Farm... Kinda
Contrary to popular belief, going viral isn’t going to make or break your business. What’s more indicative of long term success is consistently producing valuable content, to foster relationships with new and existing customers. Giving away something of value, whether it’s information-filled blog posts, videos, infographics or webinars helps with branding and also instills loyalty among your audience.
Petar Sisko, Director of an award-winning online options trading platform says, “Many businesses make the mistake of guarding all of their information and expertise, instead of sharing it with potential customers and clients. If you give them a little bit for free, they’re a lot more willing to pay for premium services.
2. Master the Art of Influencer Marketing
Having an article or story about your business published at a high authority site or well-known news outlet with industry credibility is ten times better than paying for a front page advertisement, just ask Richard Branson. Establishing relationships with influencers in your niche, be it reporters, social media celebrities or high visibility bloggers is an important part of any modern marketing plan.
The key here is to build real relationships, and avoid mass pitching or spamming anyone. Think about it, is it more effective to try and reach 10,000 potential customers on your own, or to build relationships with three or four influencers who have an audience 10 times that size?
Related Article: Bang for Your Buck: 4 Online Marketing Tips for Startups on a Budget
3. Learn to Schmooze
Local networking events in your home city are still a good way to reach new customers, powerful people, investors and political figures. This may be where you can meet tomorrow’s VIP connection that will help you expand your market.
Having an online presence is important, no doubt, but there’s still something about a handshake and eye contact that goes a long way. Better yet, it will set you apart from all the other startups who only focus their marketing efforts online.
4. Face Your Fears
If you have a fear of public speaking, now is a good opportunity to get over it. People love free information, and frankly, using your expertise as a way to connect with your target market should be a no brainer. This is the perfect opportunity for you to establish yourself as a thought leader and give away the gift of free advice, which costs nothing but your time. You can build good word of mouth while also showing authority in your industry.
Lars Pederson, an international businessman, and spokesperson for Binary Options says that the secret to marketing on a shoestring budget is to think in terms of value. “Offer something special to a customer that involves time, creativity and expertise that only you can offer. In many cases, the unique content you offer will be better than a blatant ad because they will appreciate the free information.
You don’t have to be wealthy or connected to venture capitalists to make a business excel. The key to growing a successful, healthy business is tenacity, a willingness to learn and to consistently provide something of value to your target audience.