Growing any business is a challenge. Growing a new business--which usually also means limited resources to invest--is many times more difficult.
Here are seven tips and tricks to help grow your new venture with no money.
Build relationships. Relationships matter and good ones may be the most important things to your new business. So go get some. Go to meetings, meetups, panel discussions at colleges and universities, drop by your chamber of commerce or industry association. These events and opportunities are almost always free and the people there are usually as eager to meet you as you are to meet them.
"Every new person you meet is a potential relationship that can last a life long. Think about how this person can be of value to other in your network and watch you network grow. The more deposits you make the greater the return." Barry Saltzman, Founder Saltzman Enterprise Group.
Be valuable. Exchanging business cards isn't enough. Don't think about how someone you meet can help you--think first about how you can help them. Who do you already know that your new contact should meet? Do you know another event that could interest them? Giving value is valuable. Everyone wants to help people who help them and being valuable is the best, fastest and most genuine way to get value in return.
"To be truly considered valuable, it's important to be known as a relationship broker and thought leader. This happens through actions not promises. If you are consistently connecting people to relevant contacts and information on a weekly basis to help them achieve their goals, especially when they don't ask for help, then you will receive similar value from the right individuals in your network in due time." Sean Piket, Founder & CEO, Sales Integrity LLC
Think out loud. Thought leadership (sharing your ideas about your business, market, trends or most anything) helps spread your name and makes it easier for the public to understand you and what you do. You don't need a column in Inc Magazine to share your thoughts--you can post in comment sections on industry publications, for example. If you read an interesting news or opinion article, draft a response and send it in--many publications will share your well-reasoned and well-written views. And you can always start your own blog or get a free blogging site on places such as Medium.
Make something free. People love free stuff. If you have a blog, offer free publicity. If you're a consultant, offer a free initial review. Give away a free trial on your business software site. Meeting people, regardless of how or why they come to you, is an opportunity to build relationships. And giving away free things can, if done right, spark a good marketing and press opportunity.
"Customers tend to gravitate towards companies that are generous with information and support up front," Cory Schneider, President of Gizmogul.com told me. "Pre-customer service can be a valuable asset to any business."
Keep stats. As your business grows, if you count it, record it. You never know what information in your hands today will be important to your decision-making tomorrow. If you're scoring website hits when you post to an industry blog, that's good to know.
"Identify the numbers actually matter and becoming intimate with what drives those metrics north or south."--Leo Friedman, CEO & Founder of iPromo.com
Be patient. Rome, as they used to say, wasn't built in a day. If you decide to invest your time in a tactic--thought leadership for example--don't change course immediately if you don't see results. These things take time and build on one another. Once you've made a decision, make sure you give it more than enough time to work before you go in another direction.
Search, copy, paste. Find out what other leaders and businesses have done to be successful. Then copy and paste. You don't need to be a detective--often times, you can simply ask. As long as they are not a competitor, people are usually happy to share successes and advice. And when you find a trick or tactic that seems to have worked, try it.
Don't be too proud to adapt a good idea to your businesses.
That's seven. What else do you suggest? Follow tip number three and leave your ideas in the comments section.