Lack of money and cash flow problems commonly plague small businesses. Often, small and home-based businesses find themselves in desperate need of cash!
Small entrepreneurs likewise face significant difficulties when it comes to finding outside funds to support their company’s growth strategies. With limited financial help available, small money-hungry businesses must think of creative ways to push their business forward.
1. Get on the Internet.
The Internet has allowed the small entrepreneurs to reach a significantly huge market and serve their customers 24 hours a day. For just a few dollars per month, you can market your services worldwide. Who can beat that? But the greatest plus of the Internet is its ability to “level the playing field” between big business and small enterprises. A well-designed web site can extend the range, size and scope of your services, even projecting an image of a well-oiled and established corporation, instead of a small business ran by a solo operator. Develop a good website, and compete side-by-side with the big boys.
2. Hire cheaply but effectively.
If you cannot afford to hire full-time employees, you can do two things: hire commission-only sales reps and/or hire interns. With commission-only sales reps, you only need to pay them what they earn. Interns from colleges and universities often work for free or next-to-nothing, and get college credit in return. The drawback, though, is their short-term availability, mostly during summer and spring breaks only. Or you can hire dedicated people who are willing to work for nothing in exchange for equity, should your company succeed. There are a lot of talented people who are willing to work for less in exchange for assurance of a slice of the corporate pie once the company succeeds. This is particularly true for Internet start-ups.
3. Maximize networking potentials by participating in business organizations.
Business and trade organizations are rich sources of contacts – from potential investors, customers, partners or mentors. Moreover, it would help you keep yourself updated of the latest industry news and developments. For home-based workers, participation in business and trade organizations is your perfect excuse to step out of the house!
4. Partner and join forces with a complementary business, allowing a win-win situation for you.
Work out a deal where you help each other promote and market your products. If your business is Internet-based, you can exchange links with your partner organization, driving traffic to each other’s sites. Or you can do ad swaps regularly – he can advertise for free in your classified ads page in exchange for free ad space in their newsletter or website.
5. Trade services with a franchisee prospect.
You could work a deal, where a potential franchisee’s buy-in fee would be cut if they helped produce the operations manual; this way, you use one franchisee to get more franchisees. The payoff comes later.
6. Find inexpensive ways to advertise your company on a regular basis
One example is to ask all family members with cars to sport your company logo or removable decals or stickers. Sending out press releases is an effective way to give you publicity and free media mileage – without the high costs of buying media advertisements. Maximize your business cards as an advertising vehicle.
7. Capitalize on anything and everything that’s free!
Get the word out about your business by utilizing free resources on the Internet. Participate in banner exchange programs. Check the possibility of swapping ads with other newsletter or e-zine publishers. Post in newsgroups; submit free classifieds, and use free-for-all-links.
8. Make full use of your expertise.
If you have successfully established a reputation based on your name, you can capitalize on your reputation as a solo practitioner and use it to organize seminars, charging a fee for teaching others your own skills. You can also expand your business by accepting consultancy projects or speaking engagements. The better known you are in your field, the greater the chances to capitalize on your fame.
9. Develop a program or system for your business that can be marketed and sold to others.
If you have written several high-quality articles, you could write a book. Book publishing has become more affordable with the advent of e-books. Instead of finding a publisher, you can develop and market the book yourself as an e-book. Another way is to develop a software program for mass production, or compilation of your articles in a CD-ROM.
10. Sponsor trade shows or other events in your community.
The major focus of the tradeshow is to provide a familiar venue for business professionals to research business products and services in an environment focused on a specific vertical market. Expositions such as trade shows allow your business to exhibit and demonstrate your products to other businesses, but sponsoring one can enhance your image as a market leader or a trendsetter. On a lower scale, you can participate in your community’s activities, providing support to projects on fund-raising for the poor. Both of these activities can enhance your business’ credibility, and entrench your role in the community and industry.
Recommended Books on How to Expand Your Business:
- Entrepreneur’s Toolkit: Tools and Techniques to Launch and Grow Your New Business (Harvard Business Essentials)
- Streetwise eCommerce: Establish Your Online Business, Expand Your Reach, and Watch Your Profits Soar! (Adams Streetwise Series)
- Beyond the Core: Expand Your Market Without Abandoning Your Roots
- Starting on a Shoestring: Building a Business Without a Bankroll
- Powerful Marketing On A Shoestring Budget: For Small Businesses