Learning & Insights
Inexpensive ways to build a small business
Like most small business owners, you want to grow your business—but you may not have the funds to do so. Check out eight ways to help your business grow without going into the "red."
1. Use social media
Do you have a social media presence? If so, what are you doing with it? One of the most inexpensive ways to enhance your business is to post regularly on social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest.
But don't just post to post—share relevant information about your products or services, or give tips that will help others see you as an expert in your business (or industry). Posts lead to followers, and followers mean more people talking about you and your business.
In fact, you may want to create a group on Facebook or LinkedIn where you can ask questions and get customer feedback in real time. Be authentic with your users—if they make comments or have questions, answer them quickly and honestly.
2. Publish a quality blog
If you have a company website (you really should), it's a great idea to blog about different things that relate to your business.
For example, if you own a local bike shop, write about road biking or bike care. Talk about the importance of hydration while riding.
You might also consider using outside sources or your own experience to create your content. Then, spread the word about your blog through social media—and direct readers back to your site.
3. Improve your online search priority
In today's market, most people search online to find what they need. Where do you fall in the results of a Google search for your business? Where does your listing appear—first page? Second? If you take advantage of sources like "Google My Business," you can elevate your ranking with any given search—and that can lead to more or repeat customers.
4. Build a solid email list
Gather email addresses and obtain permission to send messages from customers and social media inquiries. Then create your email list and send out a regular newsletter with company information, including sales, new offerings, interesting articles about your business and more. There are many different email services you can use to get started—some are even free!
5. Ask for referrals
Ask your customers to share their experiences with your business, whether it's on your website, through social media, by phone or in person. You may even consider implementing a referral program that awards a discount for every referral.
More importantly, post those referrals wherever and whenever you can—testimonials are an amazing public relations tool—but be sure to get permission before you post.
6. Open a Yelp account
A great way to get your business out there is through Yelp—people search for your business and then leave reviews or comments. Respond to reviews and thank people for their thoughts. Stay engaged, as this is a great way to build your customer base.
7. Network with others
Find activities held by your local chamber of commerce or other small business associations, and get involved. Maybe you can organize an event or host a workshop. The more you know others (and are visible) in your community, the more referrals you may get in the long run.
8. Host free webinars and seminars
Offer a free webinar about important topics related to your business. Or host a free seminar at your office or at the local library.
Extending free classes in your community will help build a positive reputation for your business and help you connect with people who might be interested in doing business with you.
The bottom line
You don't have to pay thousands of dollars to an advertising agency to get your business on the map in your community. Implementing these ideas will help your business grow—at a fraction of what you might spend otherwise.