A Dozen Easy Ways to Increase Business

To help curb the effects of the downturning economy, here’s a helpful list of cash generating ideas for your small business.

1. Build a Website

Let’s face it, nobody under the age of 30 uses the yellow pages anymore. The internet has become the primary source of information for 80% of all adults. The World Wide Web can be a friend as opposed to your enemy. Building a website for your small business has never been cheaper or easier due to websites like myABCspace.com. You can have a website built in about 10 minutes regardless of your skill level. With a little more effort, you can even add pictures, video and a shopping cart to your website. It can also be a great place to get feedback from new and existing customers.

2. Get Connected

Depending on what your business provides, there are hundreds of free ways to promote your business in your community. Most towns have an annual parade which allows local business owners to participate. You don’t have to build a Gold Medal Rose Bowl float to do this. All you need is a car or a truck with a sign on the side and a large bag of candy to throw to the kids. There is also the local Chamber of Commerce, mother’s clubs, and numerous festivals. Again, depending on your business type, you can give talks or sponsor projects with local schools, scouting groups, seniors’ homes, park districts and at the local library.

3. Mine the Gold that Exists in Your Business

We tend to spend a lot of time chasing after new business while there are untapped opportunities within our existing customer base. Learn to mine the gold you already have in your business. What other products or services could you offer your existing customers? How could you increase the frequency with which people buy from you or the amount of their purchases? You already have gold within your business just waiting to be mined. Learn what your customers want by doing surveys. To motivate your customers to do a survey, offer a “one-time” discount for participating.

4. Avoid Mass Media Advertising

Unless you have very deep pockets, you cannot afford to use mass media to advertise: Daily newspapers, radio, TV and such can be very expensive ways to reach customers. You can usually find less expensive ways to reach customers. Business journals, parenting publications, shoppers and industry-specific magazines are generally less expensive and deliver a more targeted audience. Sales letters to a highly focused mailing list of your target audience and fliers placed in mailboxes by local teenagers can greatly increase business. A flier can be typed up in about 10 minutes. A local printer can typically print up 5,000 for about $300.00 and a couple of hard working kids can deliver them in a single weekend. The key is to define your customers and zero in on them with a focused message. Pizza places have been using methods like this for over 20 years.

5. Use Your Specialized Knowledge

Writing reports and articles is one of the best advertising methods and costs next to nothing. If you have knowledge that others find useful, you can write a special report and offer it to prospective customers. You can use this same report to generate a letter or article for your local newspaper. Local newspapers are always looking for stories with local interests. There are also hundreds of places to place this same article on the internet. They are called blogs. A blog is a free space on the internet to discuss a particular topic. A simple search will generate dozens of blogs and chat rooms related to your industry. You can even add a blog to your website as a means to communicate with your customers. If I owned a restaurant, I would use a blog to share recipes and secret ingredients. I would also talk about new items on my menu to generate a buzz.

6. Use Newsletters

Another inexpensive way to build your business is by using newsletters. A newsletter has a 400% better chance of being read than an ad. This is because newsletters address the needs of your customers. A good newsletter will be about the readers’ needs and deliver information that will help them. Newsletters can be inexpensively produced on your computer and need not be fancy. The key is that they are sent at regular intervals (quarterly at the very least) and help your customers solve a problem. You can even offer advertising to other (non-competing) local businesses as a way of sharing the costs. These can be printed and/or sent via electronic mail.

7. Ask, “What Else Can I Do for You?”

It always amazes me how people tend to overlook this simple question. If you ask it, you may be pleasantly surprised at the responses. There are needs your customers have right now that you could help them fill, building your business in the process. Make sure you get any employees to do the same. A large chain increased sales by a billion dollars by asking there customers if they would like to “super size their meal” after every order.

8. Use Classified Ads

Classifieds are a powerful, inexpensive method of reaching new customers. A well-written classified ad can do wonders for your business. They are also a great way to test an idea before you commit to a larger ad budget. Many highly successful businesses have been built using the lowly classified. Car dealerships claim that they make up to 50% of their sales by using this method.

9. Form a Mastermind Group

A powerful strategy, first defined by Napoleon Hill in his classic book, Think and Grow Rich, the mastermind group brings together like-minded people on a regular basis to help each other succeed. Find a small group of people whose ideals and aspirations are similar to yours and arrange to meet regularly. Ideally, your group would meet about twice a month, rotating breakfast, lunch or coffee between each others businesses. The power of the group consciousness can multiply your brain power many times and bring you new insights and ideas. For more about this, read Hill’s book.

10. Serve Your Customers

Continually look for ways to improve your service to your customers and add more value to your products and services and you will always have a steady supply of business. The more you can add value to doing business with your company and provide more service to your customers, the better success you will enjoy. Institute a practice of making small incremental improvements, each day, in every area of your life.

11. Become a Power Seller

Websites like eBay or uBid can be an inexpensive and easy way to expand your customer base. You can sell a hot product, old merchandise, or even items you have in your attic or garage. Carefully following a few simple instructions can help you to find some gold nuggets that already exist in your business or home. You will be surprised by the number of people interested in your old stuff. This past Christmas, the Internet was the shopping destination for more than 50% of all the gifts purchased. It’s hard to argue with those numbers.

12. Cut Your Costs

If you are not doing so already, make a list of every penny you spend on your business in a given month. Now, look at those expenses and tackle reducing them one at a time. Ask every single supplier for a reduction in pricing now that shipping prices are down. Take advantage of the discount programs offered by America’s Best Companies on your everyday expenses like insurance, payroll, office supplies and shipping. You can give yourself a 10% pay raise with just a few minutes of effort each day. Who else is going to get you a pay raise other than you?

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Reader Comments

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 5:47 PM
Teri Woods says:
Great advise...............Thank you very much!
Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 11:16 AM
Michael Mosby says:
These are all good ideas but everyone seems to forget who is pulling all the strings these days and how you can get some real Help Real Cheap or Free! I hate to say it but its the government and yes by all means stay away from the grants Junk! If you really want to look at what the government has to offer in the way of grants its simple www.grants.gov. Now just like me I am sure you will see how confusing it is and leave alone but at least you did not pay for it and can use it any time you want. Another way for small biz freebies SBA.gov Did you know even Foreclosure list are free just look up your state.gov When ever you do a search for small biz info include the word gov or your state Like this free grass seed wis if its out there and I am sure it is you will get it. There is free legal help advertising on local sites your state and more. I have more and will write them if ABC and you the small biz owner want but enough for now Thanks and Remember Think Cash not Crash we will Survive!!!

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