What do I do now??

So, you’ve started a business…

or decided that what you do for fun could actually make you a living if you got off your butt and pursued it.

Now what?

Well, from my experience, first you need some financial advice. You need someone to tell you exactly how to set up your systems to manage your income and expenses… so you’re not playing catchup later. Trust me.

Once you get that sorted out, you can breathe easy knowing that once money starts flowing you have a foundation to grow on.

So how do you get the money flowing?

Marketing.

But I don’t have a budget for marketing!!!!

Um. Yes. You do.

But newspaper ads cost a fortune!

Who’s talking about newspaper ads? There is SO MUCH MORE to marketing that buying an ad.

Marketing is always the first thing to be removed from the budget when there are shoestrings involved. It should always be the last. You cannot not tell people about your business if you expect to stay in business.  But Marketing doesn’t have to be stupid expensive, nor stupid complicated. It WILL take time, but often not as much as you expect. It WILL take some creativity and ingenuity, but you can often get that from friends. (Seriously, you have a friend who’ll be happy to tell you the best way to get the word out – then let them help you with it!) It doesn’t HAVE to take a bucket-load of cash.

Let’s start with some free & cheap stuff.

Word of Mouth: You tell your loudmouthed friends that you’ve got a new business, they tell a couple friends, who tell a couple friends, bingo! You’ve just done some marketing and it didn’t cost you a dime.

Persuasion: Have you invented the perfect low-fat, allergy-free, low-calorie doughnut? Deliver a dozen to your local radio station, with a note telling them how to get more. Got an investment plan that actually will grow your clients’ retirement income in an ethical, sustainable way? Host an open house at your favourite locally owned coffee shop and buy everyone coffee who will sit and listen – negotiate a per pot price with the coffee shop and maybe even buy a platter of goodies to share.

Website: You can get a simple website and domain name for FREE at www.yola.com – you have to do some work, so if you’re low on time & creativity, you might want to choose a different option, but if you need a website up FAST & CHEAP it’s a good solution. If you’re ready for something more robust or more customized, [intlink id=”94″ type=”page”]talk to us[/intlink] 😀 (Please note, although it’s possible to have a free website forever, we do recommend upgrading to something more custom once your business starts building – it’s more professional, and as you grow you’ll need better tools than the free options allow).

Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit… there are more than i can possibly mention here, but they’re free to use and can really get your word out far & wide. It helps to have a website to send people to for more info, but even just a Facebook PAGE will do in the immediate future.

Consumer Groups: If your new idea involves creating a product that lots of people can buy easily, rent a table at your next local craft fair, or business expo – heck even at the mall – and give away free samples in exchange for email addresses. Walk the beach and hand out well-labeled sample packs. Offer your local Chamber of Commerce a bunch of samples to hand out to new members. Give your doctor or dentist a bunch to give out at their office. There are myriad ways to get your samples or information into the hands of potential buyers. DO NOT PUT FLYERS ON WINDSHIELDS, please.

Mailing List Tool: Every business NEEDS a mailing list of some sort. A mailing list of your own, that is. Not the kind you buy from some clearing house in Antarctica (that’s down the road and not my department). There are all kinds of variations on the theme these days – the more you use, the more of a headache you’ll have keeping it all up to date, but it can have far-reaching effects to use multiple points of entry. An excellent mailing list management tool that I recommend to clients is MailChimp. The FREE version is great, and if you want to pay a little bit, you can add all sorts of other cool tools. We’ll talk later about WHY a mailing list can be a powerful marketing tool. A mailing list TOOL however is the thing you’ll use to MANAGE your mailing list, and in a perfect world will do a lot of the management for you. You do NOT want to get bogged down in using outlook or gmail for your mail management.

This is just the beginning.

There is so much more free & cheap marketing you can do. I hope this list spurs your imagination.

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