Every business will experience a lack of cash at some point regardless of its size or the industry in which it operates, but for SMEs, start-ups or home-based companies, growing your business with very little cash flow can be nearly impossible. If you’re a small company, securing outside funding isn’t always easy. There are ways, however, to grow your business without having to spend lots of money. First off you can open up a business savings account.
Every business’ biggest tool has to be the internet, so make sure you have a good web presence from the outset. Being able to put yourself in front of your customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week is absolutely invaluable, especially now that most consumers turn to the internet first to find services or products. Essentially, a good web presence lets you market yourself worldwide and helps you compete with your larger contemporaries. You could try getting a small business loan.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and be part of the local business scene. Joining anything from business and trade organisations to working mums’ groups and freelance forums will help you meet a number of business allies and hopefully provide more opportunities to develop sales. Get involved in client-run focus groups or look to partner like-minded freelancers in your industry who offer slightly different skills from you. The likelihood is you can promote each other’s talents and services and secure more business together.
Go for inexpensive advertising opportunities, such as having car decals with your business details on family vehicles, regularly sending out press releases or contributing to trade magazines or websites. Take advantage of free classifieds and leave your business cards in strategic places, where potential customers may be passing by.
Take on help if you need it
Don’t assume that you can’t take on staff. OK, so you may not have the spare cash to pay an extra salary right now, but consider taking on a commission-only salesperson instead. This way, you only pay him what he earns. Alternatively, look for an intern or someone wanting work experience in your field. College and university students are a great choice as they want experience, although they may only be with you for short periods such as holidays or weekends.
Try to make the most of your reputation by holding seminars or training sessions to share your skills and techniques with others. Make sure you charge a small fee for attending and then get networking. Alternatively, write and publish white papers on your own industry area. Whether it’s ‘Writing for the Web’ or’ accountancy for oil contractors, others in your industry will want to know the latest developments and knowledge and will help make you an expert on the subject in your sector. Ask your potential audience to sign up with their business details to learn more or receive further articles, that way you can expand your contact list at the same time.
Finally, consider becoming a big part of the local community, from sponsoring local trade shows and high-profile events to getting involved with local activities. Every time your name is mentioned you’ll be getting great press, raising your profile and enhancing your company’s credibility.