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How to Expand a Small Business with Little to No Money

You’ve opened your very own small business, but now you need to grow it. You can either pay someone to market your company for you, or you can start implementing certain low-cost ways to grow your small business.  Some of the most cost-effective ways to grow your business include self-marketing and advertising. It can be as simple as treating your employees well or posting frequently on social media. Certain businesses can do the hard work for you, but it’s going to cost a pretty penny. Lucky for you, expanding a company doesn’t have to be as difficult or expensive as many claim it is.

How much does it cost to market or advertise my small business?

If you hire someone to do it, it can cost thousands of dollars per month. It’s estimated that between one to 10 percent of a company’s annual gross sales should go toward marketing and advertising venture. Some businesses choose to sink more money into marketing and advertising in their early years, around 30 to 50 percent, to help increase their overall revenue. Doing the work yourself is guaranteed to save your small business money.

These low-cost ways to grow your small business will bring customers to your door without spending all of your hard-earned money. These cost-effective marketing and advertising techniques can be done on a tight budget. Just remember, there are unlimited ways to advertise or market your small business. These seven ways are meant to give you a taste of how simple small business growth can be.

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Get Social Media Accounts – And USE them!

Social media is vital in the digital world we live in. While most companies have accounts and post on them occasionally, it’s important for small business owners to consider social profiles as a cost-effective marketing technique. Posting high-quality content on networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is a simple way to market your business for free. Social media sites favor accounts that post frequently, highlighting content from regular users as opposed to those that barely use the platform.

For example, a local restaurant decides it’s going to utilize an Instagram account to try and grow their small business. If the restaurant posts one high-quality image of their special-of-the-day for a month straight, making sure to take advantage of Instagram’s location tool and popular hashtags, they will most likely see an upward trend in followers. That’s because Instagram is noticing the account is posting often and incorporating the platform’s signature tools. Instagram may then decide to feature the company’s account in the platform’s “Discover” feature or suggest the profile to other users that use the same hashtags or location.

It takes a bit of work to provide the right content for the social platform of your business’ choice, but social media is the perfect way to grow a small business on a bootstrap budget.  Pick the right platform, optimize your content to fit your audience and monitor your results.

Social media is also a great way to connect to your current and potential customers. Answer questions, interact with users and engage with other small businesses to further humanize your brand. Being involved shows your followers that your business cares.

Focus on Customer Service

Another way to expand your small business on a low budget is to focus on customer service. There are hundreds of businesses that provide the same product or service that your small business does. What can set your company apart from the industry giants is a welcoming environment, a joyful staff and personal customer service.

If you have a shoestring advertising budget, let your employees and customer service be your advertisement. Make your small business a place people want to visit. If you have a repeat customer, remember their name and their order if that’s applicable for your business. In a digital world of no contact, people appreciate personable human interaction.

People want to support small business. Go out of your way to make their experience with your company one they want to have again. If a customer presents an issue to you, resolve it quickly and without an attitude. One bad interaction at your small business could lead to them telling all of their friends that your company is sub-par. Word gets around fast.

If your customers have an excellent, personable experience at your small business, consider that low-cost advertising. Give your customer a reason to want to come back. If their experience at your business was stellar, they’ll tell all of their friends in-person and online about their business. They may even leave a positive review on Google or Yelp.

Consider Your Employees Walking Advertisements

Growing a business with little to no money means using resources you already pay for, such as your employees. A good reputation with employees is a free way to market your business.

Take this for example, someone asks one of your employees about working at your business and your employee responds negatively. That’s going to reflect on your company’s reputation poorly. Your employees are considered an authority on your business and their opinion of its operation matters.

However, if your employee instead praises your small business and the product or service it provides, your company’s reputation will become more positive. An employee talking about the business they work for in a positive light translates into more people associating your business with happiness and satisfaction. They’ll be more likely to patronize your company over one that has a poor reputation.

Happy employees can also drive more talent to your business. Those pleased with their job talk about it, attracting new talent to your small company that you might not engage with otherwise.

Treat your employees like you would your best customers and watch your business market itself.

Hire an Intern From Your Community

This is a more creative way to grow your small business, but it works. Many interns work unpaid internships in exchange for college credit. This may mean your small business has to fill out some extra paperwork to bring them onto the team, but it also means you are putting your name in front of professors and students in the collegiate community.

Treat your intern right and you have another free way to market your small business. When college students are interning, they usually have to report their trials, tribulations and successes to a professor in charge of an “internship class.” If your intern reports to the internship class that your small business is utilizing their talents, being kind to them and making them a part of the workplace, your business has just left a positive impression on a plethora of young minds.

An added bonus of hiring an intern is that you can have them invest their time in something your employees might not be able to. For example, a small bakery has its full-time employees working on baking bread and delivering their product. They can hire a design intern to revamp their website, design menus, business cards and low-cost advertising materials like bag clips or magnets. The bakery doesn’t have enough money in their bootstrap budget to hire a full-time design employee, but they can still get the work they need to be done by bringing an intern into the mix.

Show off Your Logo

Another low-cost idea to grow your small business: show off your logo! Your company should have spent a decent (if not the most) amount of time coming up with a perfect name and insignia to represent your small business. Now that you have it, place it everywhere.

Have your insignia on your business cards, on your t-shirts or uniforms, on pens, on your company’s door. A cheap marketing idea is to invest some money in creating stickers with your company’s logo on it. Give them away for free, people will stick them all over. Now your logo is being seen everywhere.

Say someone sees your logo stickers on light posts, then later stumbles across your business. They’ll probably be intrigued and want to see what your company is all about since they’ve been seeing its logo everywhere they go.

People love free stuff, so go to events and give it away. Have free samples, hand out flyers, be present in your community. Investing in logo merchandise is always an affordable way to market your small business.

Do Your Research

According to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 small businesses fail within the first 18 months of operating. But 20 percent still survive. If you want your small business to thrive, you need to find out what those 20 percent of businesses are doing and do it yourself.

A cheap business idea to keep your company afloat – research how other small businesses become successful. There are tons of resources for this, from books to podcasts to online articles.  Check out our resource center for startups to answer any questions you have about getting your business up and running.

There are also hundreds of small business blogs that will give you tips on growing your small business and marketing your business for free.

There is no such thing as being too educated on a topic. If you’re serious about running a successful company, learn how to grow your business from people that have done it before. The research is worth your time.

Get Help When You Need It

This is probably the most important aspect of growing your business. No matter how well you run your company, there may be a time where you run into a problem that you can’t fix on your own. Ask for help.

Asking for help can come in a variety of forms. Maybe you don’t understand how to craft a profit and loss statement, are having problems balancing a budget or want to grow your business but don’t have the funds. Whatever help you need, just ask for it. Struggling is not worth it when there are people and resources out there to help you. There are different resources out there for minority-owned small businesses, businesses that work with the government and everything in-between.

Many small businesses run into problems paying their employees. If invoices are out, but the money hasn’t started coming in, ask Factor Finders for help. Our small business factoring helps you get the capital you need fast without putting you in debt or asking you to pay off a loan.

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