|Web News & Tips - Issue #246
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10 Ways to Expand Your Business with Little Cash
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10 Ways to Expand Your Business with Little Cash
By Isabel Isidro
Lack of money and cash flow problems commonly plague small businesses. Businesses are in desperate need of cash! Small entrepreneurs likewise face significant difficulties when it comes to find outside funds to support their company's growth strategies. With limited financial help available, small money-hungry businesses must think of creative ways to push their business forward.
1. Get on the Internet. The Internet has allowed the small entrepreneurs to reach a significantly huge market and serve their customers 24 hours a day. For just a few dollars per month, you can market your services worldwide. Who can beat that? But the greatest plus of the Internet is its ability to "level the playing field" between big business and small enterprises. A well-designed web site can extend the range, size and scope of your services, even projecting an image of a well-oiled and established corporation, instead of a small business ran by a solo operator. Develop a good website, and compete side-by-side with the big boys.
2. Hire cheaply but effectively. If you cannot afford to hire full-time employees, you can do two things: hire commission-only sales reps and/or hire interns. With commission-only sales reps, you only need to pay them what they earn. Interns from colleges and universities often work for free or next-to-nothing, and get college credit in return. The drawback, though, is their short-term availability, mostly during summer and spring breaks only. Or you can hire dedicated people who are willing to work for nothing in exchange for equity, should your company succeed. There are a lot of talented people who are willing to work for less in exchange for assurance of a slice of the corporate pie once the company succeeds. This is particularly true for Internet start-ups.
3. Maximize networking potentials by participating in business organizations. Business and trade organizations are rich sources of contacts - from potential investors, customers, partners or mentors. Moreover, it would help you keep yourself updated of the latest industry news and developments. For home-based workers, participation in business and trade organizations is your perfect excuse to step out of the house!
4. Partner and join forces with a complementary business, allowing a win-win situation for you. Work out a deal where you help each other promote and market your products. If your business is Internet-based, you can exchange links with your partner organization, driving traffic to each other's sites. Or you can do ad swaps regularly - he can advertise for free in your classified ads page in exchange for free ad space in their newsletter or website.
5. Trade services with a franchisee prospect. You could work a deal, where a potential franchisee's buy-in fee would be cut if they helped produce the operations manual; this way, you use one franchisee to get more franchisees. The payoff comes later.
6. Find inexpensive ways to advertise your company on a regular basis (such as asking all family members with a car to sport your company logo). Sending out press releases is an effective way to give you publicity and free media mileage - without the high costs of buying media advertisements. Maximize your business cards as an advertising vehicle.
7. Capitalize on anything and everything that's free! Get the word out about your business by utilizing free resources on the Internet. Participate in banner exchange programs. Check the possibility of swapping ads with other newsletter or e-zine publishers. Post in newsgroups; submit free classifieds, and use free-for-all-links.
8. Make full use of your expertise. If you have successfully established a reputation based on your name, you can capitalize on your reputation as a solo practitioner and use it to organize seminars, charging a fee for teaching others your own skills. You can also expand your business by accepting consultancy projects or speaking engagements. The better known you are in your field, the greater the chances to capitalize on your fame.
9. Develop a program or system for your business that can be marketed and sold to others. If you have written several high-quality articles, you could write a book. Book publishing has become more affordable with the advent of e-books. Instead of finding a publisher, you can develop and market the book yourself as an e-book. Another way is to develop a software program for mass production, or compilation of your articles in a CD-ROM.
10. Sponsor trade shows or other events in your community. The major focus of the tradeshow is to provide a familiar venue for business professionals to research business products and services in an environment focused on a specific vertical market. Expositions such as trade shows allow your business to exhibit and demonstrate your products to other businesses, but sponsoring one can enhance your image as a market leader or a trendsetter. On a lower scale, you can participate in your community's activities, providing support to projects on fund- raising for the poor. Both of these activities can enhance your business' credibility, and entrench your role in the community and industry.
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Internet users are finding that they no longer have to stand still to log on through a variety of devices that allow access from anywhere. Research from In-Stat/MDR reveals that the market for Internet access devices (IADs) is expected to increase by nearly 30 percent over the next year, and is predicted to rise from roughly 427 million units in 2002 to about 880 million units in 2007.
The research firm defines the IAD market as personal computing devices, such as PCs, laptops, Tablet PCs, PDAs, Internet capable mobile phones, set top boxes (including digital cable boxes and video game consoles), and smart appliances, which include Internet-enabled white goods and consumer electronics such as picture frames, televisions, home audio and e-mail devices.
Nielsen//NetRatings reports that 28 percent more visitors went to online retail sites on Black Friday than the previous Friday, November 21st, and 19 percent more at-home visitors shopped online than the average over the previous four days.
"Retailers recognize the Friday after Thanksgiving as the official start of the holiday shopping season, and this year online retail Websites saw similarly brisk Internet activity on Friday," said Robert Leathern, director of commerce analytics, Nielsen//NetRatings. "Online sellers can look forward to many more consumers shopping and buying online in the coming weeks: 'Black Friday' may be the biggest day so far, but from past years' data we expect even more consumers to flock online in the coming days and weeks."
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