Now that your company is up and running, it's time to expand. Growth is every business owner's goal, but expanding your business is not always easy. Luckily, building your business doesn't necessarily have to break your budget.
According to Steve Smith, business coach at GrowthSource Consulting, growth starts with a discovery process.
"Sit down and look at the three primary areas where growth will occur. There are a lot of things you can do on a one-time basis, but before they can work, you need to ask yourself what you want this business to be. Have a vision that's real," Smith said.
Here are five ways to grow your business – inexpensively.
Give something away. — No matter what kind of business you're operating, take a look at your competitors and see how you are unique. Jessica Swanson, founder of Shoestring Marketing, encourages small business owners to tap into your unique selling propositions.
"It's very important that you begin to grow an email list, so offer an incentive. If you sign up, you get a freebie. That way, you also give readers information about what your company is all about," Swanson said.
Giving away a freebie, even from your website, is a great way to reach out to prospects.
"If you're not marketing-savvy, your best bet is to make sure the freebie is of interest to your prospects. Then, you can also upsell inside of that freebie by offering related items," Swanson said.
Get smart about your online presence. — It's time to take a serious look at your business website. Laura Posey, small business growth expert at Dancing Elephants Achievement Group, encourages small business to go beyond a basic page.
"It's not enough in today's market to be lazy about your website. You need a way for people to bring their business to you," Posey said.
Posey encourages business owners to entice their site visitors with a call to action.
"Whether visitors can purchase online, download something or contact you, it's important that every page on the website has an action to take," Posey said.
Consider a joint venture partnership. — Once you've established the ideal client you want to go after, the next thing to do is find other business that are trying to serve the same end user.
"First, you'll have a partner to share your marketing costs with. If you can find two or three partners, you have expanded your network for prospects," Smith said.
Looking for a collaborative relationship will also help you hone in on your niche market.
"As you expand your network, figure out your niche and market to that. Make sure that your message is consistent and is going to people who need it," Smith said.
Reach out to your target market. — Social media is a huge component of marketing, but what about the basics? According to Jim Hunter, founder of Foursight Consulting, you can spend a lot of time on social media and not get the results that you need.
"Most people rely on passive word of mouth — hoping that the message will get across. Small business owners need to be proactive by getting out and meeting prospects, learning about them and creating relationships," Hunter said.
Hunter recommends going to places where your target market is, such as conferences or networking events.
"The only reason to go out and market is to get a return. Get clear on who is most likely to buy from you right now," Hunter said.
For example, Hunter worked with an insurance agent that was trying to reach a minority group. He researched the neighborhood, purchased inexpensive door hangers and hired high school students to leave the hangers.
"That's how he launched into his target market. Now, he's very successful in that area," Hunter said.
Ask for referrals. — Set up an incentive program to offer current customers a reward, cash or gift for any customer they can refer.
"Offer the program in a postcard or direct mail piece, a flyer that is handed to the customer when they make a purchase, as a link on your website, or in your invoices," Hunter said.
This is a positive cash flow way of investing in that no money is spent on marketing until the customer is sold and a sale is created.
"It's a great way to grow if you have existing customers," Hunter said.