Ah, money. As a start-up owner, some days it can seem like you’re spending money faster than you can possibly hope to make it. You know you need to be strategic about how you allocate financial resources in order to get the biggest bang for each dollar. Unfortunately, all too often this ‘strategic allocation’ means you try to do it all in order to avoid paying a full time marketer, IT manager or sales rep.
I know it’s tempting to think that doing it all is the best way to save money. At the end of the day though, trying to manage everything means we end up being less efficient and effective – and our business suffers. As Marcus Lemonis says on The Profit, “Control your cash, stick to your core business, and know your numbers.”
Trying to do it all will kill your cash flow and detract from your core business: it’s a sure-fire way to end up in the bin of failed start-ups.
Related Article: Hiring a Financial Consultant Might Be the Best Thing You Ever Do
This year, I made a resolution to find the best free or low-cost solutions to five of my most pressing marketing, management and operation problems. While we’re barely a month into the year, these solutions are already making a big difference for my business.
Here are five ways startup owners can make their lives easier (and more profitable!) by taking advantage of free or low-cost solutions:
Problem 1: Your social media management content distribution program is a time-consuming mess.
The most effective way to build trust and credibility in the social community is to first engage prospective customers by taking part in industry-related discussions. As a B2B startup, your content needs to be where your clients are in order to generate quality leads. But creating and managing social media campaigns to promote content can be incredibly time consuming. As a one-person marketing team, you need a platform that effectively reaches relevant prospects but also requires minimal time and financial resource investment.
Solution: Oktopost is a low-cost B2B social media management tool that lets you schedule and publish content across multiple platforms. Most critically, Oktopost’s social media metrics help you determine which types of content perform best on which network so you can streamline large scale content distribution.
Problem 2: Despite paying a pretty penny for web hosting, your site still goes down sporadically, hurting your business’ credibility.
Free hosting generally means limited bandwidth, restricted root access and limited customer service support. While unlimited hosting means better bandwidth and customer service, the costs associated with unlimited hosting quickly add up.
Solution: Hostt is a free (yes, really free) unlimited web hosting service that includes free WordPress and Joomla hosting. You can host an unlimited number of domains through your hosting account, which includes unlimited bandwidth and data transfer. Plus, Hostt includes auto-installation for WordPress and Joomla sites, along with access to 5,000+ free templates.
Problem 3: You work remotely and need an affordable option for collaborating with teams, clients and partners regardless of location, operating system or time zone. Google Talk just isn’t cutting it.
Sure, Google Talk and Skype can be great for international conference calls or even the occasional video chat, but you need a reliable solution for shared presentations, applications, document sharing and desktop sharing.
Solution: ClickMeeting is a low-cost video conferencing platform that includes built-in presentation applications, desktop sharing, a virtual media room (that you can completely customize) and one-click meeting recording. ClickMeeting (and it’s more advanced big brother ClickWebinar) are on the cutting-edge of video conferencing for collaboration over the Internet regardless of location, time zone or software platform.
Related Article: Getting By Without a Business Loan
Problem 4: You’re an industry expert – but no one knows it.
Does your LinkedIn profile rank in the top for your industry or are you floundering somewhere near the middle of the pack? A year ago, I was in the same boat as you. Even though I’m a digital marketer, I spent most of my attention on Facebook and Twitter, leaving my LinkedIn profile to languish. I was missing out on business leads and I didn’t even know it.
Solution: Optimize your LinkedIn profile. All it takes is 20 minutes to complete your LinkedIn profile and optimize it for LinkedIn search. Seriously. Here’s a full primer on how to quickly optimize your LinkedIn profile. After I made these basic changes, I not only jumped in the rankings, but also started averaging 10 leads per month simply by ranking higher in the search results (no paid advertising necessary). I challenge you to do the same and tell me your results!
Problem 5: Your email branding is non-existent.
The average businessperson sends hundreds of emails each day. Sure, you may have your phone number and contact info in the bottom of your email, but what about your social media profiles or a link to your blog? The bottom of emails is the perfect spot for personal branding – and it’s also the most overlooked.
Solution: Setting up personal email branding doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, all it takes is a few clicks with WiseStamp to promote your social connections in your email. Include direct links to your LinkedIn profile, latest Tweets or Facebook status and company blog feed. WiseStamp is fully customizable and it’s entirely free.
While a "do-it-yourself" attitude is great, it's also important to recognize where your strengths lie – and where they don't. As a startup owner myself, this is the most valuable lesson I've learned over the years. The good news is that your weakness is likely someone else's strength. I challenge you to put these strengths to work for you by signing up for these free or low-cost business solutions today. Let me know how things change!