One cold call to a dealer can start word-of-mouth advertising and get your product into stores.

Lynn Gordon, proprietor of French Meadow Bakery in Minneapolis, started her bread-making business in her kitchen, producing 40 loaves a week for local co-ops. One day she made a cold call to a local gourmet shop, which started a word-of-mouth snowball. As luck would have it, the buyer was on a special diet, and Gordon's bread was just what she was looking for. Soon other grocery stores signed up. Meanwhile, customers sent loaves to friends around the country, who called to order more.

Under pressure from stores, distributors started asking for French Meadow bread. Next, Diane Sawyer and the 60 Minutes crew showed up to do a story about the Women's Economic Development Corp., a program for women entrepreneurs in which Gordon was involved. Sawyer highlighted Gordon and her gourmet bread on the show. Then the state helped subsidize a trip to the International Fancy Food & Confection Show in Chicago, where 300 stores placed orders. Will Steger, the tundra explorer, ordered Gordon's bread for the international trip he was leading across the Antarctic. Even Neiman Marcus bought French Meadow bread to include in a $5,000 Ultimate Cocktail Buffet.

As a result of that first cold call, Gordon moved her operation into a 13,500-square-foot storefront bakery in Minneapolis, where she eventually employed 15 people.