Being a small business owner or starting a new business is never easy, especially if you're on a budget. You need to spend money for your company while making sure that you spend it wisely and for the right purpose. This will ensure that you maximize your money to grow your business fast without being wasteful with funds.
You might be surprised to know that you can do lots of things on a small budget. The key to growing your business is knowing how to spend your money. And if you're wondering how to grow your small business on a budget, here are 9 valuable tips on ways for you to achieve this goal.
1. Regularly Review Your Budget
We can't say this enough. Creating financial dates with yourself is crucial to assess how you're spending and maximizing your ROI. Go through each area of your business with a fine-tooth comb to assess any returns on investment. For example, did your most recent marketing campaign yield you any positive results? How much did you spend? Should you spend more or less? Test everything you do and run it through data metrics to ensure that you're using the funds appropriately.
Review your marketing costs, take a thorough look at your operations expenses, recent purchases, and any software you're spending money on. Is everything doing its job? Do you even need any of these things anymore? Could you switch to something else that costs less?
Is what you're spending money on impacting your overall revenue? Don't be afraid to cut expenses. First, assign a percentage to what you're using and if that percentage is low and not impacting your revenue, then get rid of it. By doing this regularly, it'll allow you to re-allocate funds to where you need them most.
2. Outsource To 1099 Contractors
It might seem expensive at first to hire specialized contractors, and you might want to hire full or part-time employees immediately, but in the long run, this is a saving, not a huge cost. Hiring full or part-time employees means you have to source, train, onboard, provide benefits is costly. You might only need specialized contractors to work on specific projects or seasonal work when you're starting. This might be all you need to get started and to keep going. These contractors have specialized skills that could be a temporary asset to your needs.
3. Bootstrap Your Marketing Efforts
Hiring a marketing firm is costly. When you're starting, there are plenty of free tools and strategies that you can use to gain the exposure and reach you need. Some of these might be a bit time-consuming but super effective when you're trying bootstrapping.
Some entrepreneurs shy away from video marketing, but a video is a powerful trust factor. According to Wyzowl, 80% of marketers confirmed that video helped increase sales. Connecting with your customer base through video improves your relationship with them, shows how your product works and what it does. With technology, you can upload a video from your phone, post it on social media or YouTube for free99. It doesn't need to be perfect; it only needs to be consistent.
Social media can seem daunting because of how labor-intensive it is. However, this is another clever way to extend your reach, connect with your audience, and engage with them. Head over to YouTube university, sign up for a free Canva account and start posting. Again, it doesn't need to be perfect. Commit to a frequency and execute.
Another popular and free way to engage with your audience is to do a giveaway. Get your audience buzzing by offering a freebie. Have them tag five of their friends, do an Instastory or post, and all you need to do is engage them in the giveaway process. Make it fun, exciting, and an easy lift for them.
Encourage referrals by asking your audience for them. Far too often, entrepreneurs forget to ask if their customers have anyone in their network that could benefit from their product or service. If appropriate, you can also create an affiliate service for those referrals. You'll be surprised by how your audience wants to help you, especially if they've had a positive experience with your brand.
4. Develop Strategic Partnerships
Collaborations are great ways to get in front of audiences that you might not have been able to get in front of before. Find someone that complements your niche or is in the same industry and do a project together. Whether that be a webinar, an Instagram live, or a product or service giveaway. This cross-promotion will expand your email list, which you can share. As with all relationships, make sure it's a good fit, and your values and missions align before proceeding.
5. Take Advantage of Free Business Development
One of our Black Girl Ventures alumni Christa Clarke, Founder of Cubicles to Cocktails, spoke about how she took advantage of every free business development opportunity that she could. This expanded her knowledge base and provided her with much-needed business acumen to build and grow her business. It also helps to join ecosystems (like BGV) in your niche to gain access to business development opportunities.
For instance, SCORE Business Mentors is a vital organization helping entrepreneurs and small business owners: The US Small Business Administration (SBA) resource partner. SCORE is a nationwide network of volunteer business mentors. It provides mentors, workshops, webinars, and educational resources in starting and operating a small business.
6. Don't Forget Google
Some businesses forget that they can list their businesses on Google Business. You can do this for free, although you do need a business address and have to go through Google's verification process. You'll need a phone number and your website URL. Then, choose your category and list your services. The best part about this is, you can ask your customers to leave a review. This will help with SEO (search engine optimization) and credibility.
7. Participate In Pitch Competitions
Many Black and Brown women entrepreneurs shy away from pitching their businesses. They often feel they're not ready, don't have the resources or the knowledge to perfect their pitch decks, and so forth. You shouldn't have to pay to enter a pitch competition. Although there might be application fees associated with the process, many organizations provide them for free. Pitching not only gives you funds that you don't have to pay back, but it also gives you resources and opportunities to develop your business. Most importantly, some ecosystems give you a community to connect, build, and learn from.
8. Become A Trusted Advisor In Your Industry
You know your business better than anyone. You know your why deeper than anyone. Show your expertise by doing speaking engagements, sitting on panels, offering to do webinars, etc. Be willing to share your knowledge and expertise freely through online forums, blog posts, and so much more. Becoming a trusted advisor in your niche topic will create credibility while also providing you with more exposure. Much of this you can do for free, and if you do enough of them, someone might pay you to speak at their event.
9. Be Customer-Centric
Your customers are the bread and butter of your business. Without them, there would not be a product or service to offer. Developing genuine relationships with your customers will ensure that they become repeat customers. This is something that you can do for free. Once you establish relationships with them, you can ask them to provide you with feedback by conducting surveys. This gives you free insights and metrics that you can use in various areas of your business. Once there's a relationship, fans can turn into loyal ones. Loyal fans will happily advertise your business for free.
As you can see, there are many ways to get creative in growing your business with a budget. Many businesses assume that expanding a business automatically means having a huge marketing budget or an entire team of employees. While those things are nice, they're not necessary to grow your business and can be very expensive. Build genuine relationships with your customer base, be visible, and don't forget to take advantage of any free resources available to small business owners. But most importantly, be a part of a community that will support you.