It is a real struggle for many entrepreneurs to get enough capital to fund a small local business. There are even more challenges that come in opening the business in today’s competitive market. For one, it’s highly unlikely to see an increase in the margins almost instantly or return the capital you spent. Despite these challenges, growing a local business even with a bootstrap budget is still possible. In fact, there are tons of low-cost ways to do that.
All you need is to put on more effort, creativity, and time, and you can make your local business thrive with a less-than-ideal budget. Here’s a guide on how you can do just that.
Focus on personal customer service
It should be a local business’ priority to get to know and understand their customers and provide them with personal service. This powerful bootstrap marketing strategy can give you the chance to earn loyal customers and eventually increase your sales. Make it a habit to ask for customer feedback and utilize it on your ad materials.
You can also send free samples and holiday gifts to your existing loyal customers so that they can always be reminded of your business and encourage them to make another purchase. Other strategies to try include creating a frequent buyer rewards program or sending special offers or coupons to birthday celebrants.
Treat employees as walking advertisements
Having a limited budget to spend on marketing your business means using all the resources you have on hand, such ass your employees. Establishing a good relationship with your staff will earn you ambassadors for your local brand. An employee who responds positively to questions about your business will already allow you to build a good reputation in your local community market. Keep in mind that your employee’s opinion matters as their satisfaction can also translate to how reliable or trustworthy your business is. Treat your staff the way you treat your customers, and you can watch your local business market itself.
One effective way to broaden your reach is through partnership. Team up with another local business to acquire complementary or new products and services for your current target market. This can also help you enter a new niche or double your manpower. You can collaborate to organize an arts and crafts festival to help promote your local artists and craftsmen or host a talent show for everyone. Or you can both sponsor community beneficial projects such as well drilling and building or road reconstruction. Such projects will help the two of you establish a reputation in your own community and easily earn the citizens’ trust.
Prior to partnering, be sure to research the potential partner and ensure they can fully commit to the agreement. It’ll be a smart move to have a lawyer write a contract that includes the partnership’s terms and conditions.
Use social media
You’re totally missing out on an excellent and affordable marketing opportunity if you’re business is still not on social media. This online marketing tool will allow you to connect to your customers much easier and get your word out about your new offerings. You can start a blog on your business and share your content on Facebook or Instagram. Or produce promotional videos and upload them to a branded YouTube channel.
While almost all social media channels offer flexible pricing and fantastic advertising features, be sure to invest only in the ones used by the majority of your customers. Take time to research your local customers’ social media platforms and create a marketing plan before diving in.
Invest in small business apps
Another cost-effective method to streamline your business accounting tasks and inventory management is using business software and apps. Such tools can help simplify your operations even with limited staff and budget. There are accounting systems that allow you to automate staff duties, payroll, and employee schedules. Other features and functions of these tools include rebuilding time sheets, generating financial reports, sending invoices, tracking income and expenses, and more.
You can also invest in business management software to help you with task and project management. Some platforms offer amazing features such as automatic time tracking, focused and real-time communication, online contract signing, personalized business workflows, and so on.
Growing a small local business with a shoestring budget does come with a lot more struggles. But with a clear goal and focus, you can guarantee your business’ consistent growth until you reach a point where cash flow can readily fund product development or improvement. Be creative, be proactive, follow our tips above, and learn to operate even with the smallest budget possible.