Running your own small business is hard enough, but when you don’t have the capital to hire a proper team to help run everything and make important decisions, it can make everything you do feel like a big risk. That’s a major advantage that established businesses have over startups, which is often overlooked.
At the same time, though, learning to manage your own business isn’t so scary online and you’ll quickly learn what it takes to grow your business from a “good idea” to a successful brand with a loyal customer base. Let’s look at how you can start running online right out of the gate. Here are tips for running a small business on a shoestring budget.
Launch your Website on a Budget
By doing a bit of legwork before hiring a web designer, you can avoid a lot of the scammers and “business builders” online who make their living off of their attractive all-in-one packages. All you need to do is purchase your own domain name, preferably something short with your brand’s name, and a web host where your website’s files will be hosted. It’s a good idea to do this first, not just to save money, but to also avoid being forced with overpriced hosts that compromise on security and bandwidth to handle your traffic.
Next, when it comes to finding a reliable web developer, you won’t find a better place than the freelance community for price of entry, reliable track history, and overall value for repeat business. If you know of any family or friends that have experience building websites, you could ask them for a favor, just don’t get caught up in that awkward family/friend business relationship where you’re both unhappy with the agreement, but because it’s done for a discount, you have to just go with what you have.
Online Marketing and Social Media for a Small Business
Luckily, this aspect of running a small business has reached the point where you don’t need a lot of capital to level the playing field online. It used to be the biggest obstacle for entrepreneurs from ever being able to get past the initial local marketing stage of traditional business models. These days, you don’t need a massive marketing and advertising budget to get the exposure you need to grow your business.
Building your brand online is all a matter of being savvy enough to invest your dollars in the right ways. For example, buying ads on Facebook or Google might be the easiest way to advertise online with little planning involved, but it isn’t necessarily the smartest use of ad dollars. Google Places, however, can bring in major traffic and conversion gains, just off of the fact that you get more ad-space for your dollar, and your positioning within the natural search rankings will be much more impactful.
All online marketing strategies hinge on a strong social media marketing campaign. That means being engaged on all the major social platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and don’t forget Pinterest, still the reigning champ for the highest median income, with the average user browsing pictures on a six-figure income. It’s the proverbial goldmine if your business is well-suited for it.
Paper Advertising not Dead
While having a strong digital and social media presence is crucial to your business’ success, printed mediums in the form of posters and business cards are still highly effective. It also makes sense financially. A poster in a high-traffic area can get you hundreds of views a week, or even a day, depending on the type of space you’re able to secure, and the only investment you need is the cost for a strong template, which you should easily get with a reputable web designer working on your website, and the pocket change it would cost to print up the posters, in comparison to what it would cost to place an ad in the paper, magazines, or a major website with high PR.