3 Creative Ideas for Growing Your Business on a Budget
Whether a business-to-be’s launch pad is savings accumulated before quitting an unfulfilling job or small investments pooled together from well-wishing family and friends, most new business owners aren’t working with a lot of money when starting out. Starting a business, promoting its services, and building a client roster could cost a new founder a significant chunk of their seed funding, if they have it to begin with.
For a cash-strapped entrepreneur, growing without a base of money can seem like a huge challenge—but only when viewed in a limited way, according to Petya Edwards, the founder of Dallas Women Entrepreneurs, a Texas-based organization that brings businesswomen together to network, learn new skills, and grow professionally and personally as individuals.
In her native Bulgaria, Edwards learned a thing or two about working on a shoestring budget, having started a language school and then a real estate agency in her early 20s. She moved to the U.S. about eight years ago and founded DWE in 2016.
When Edwards started DWE, she says she didn’t have a website for a year. Instead, she relied on social media to drum up early interest in the group. “You have to think about what you should prioritize and what can wait for six months,” she explains. Today, a little more than two years later, DWE now has extensions in Houston, Austin, and San Antonio.
Here are three tips Edwards recommends for growing a business on a tight budget that have been successful for members of DWE:
1. Get exposure by creating useful content.
When starting out, one way to grow your business is to create content around your subject knowledge and services—something that should come at little to no cost for most entrepreneurs. The idea, of course, is that the content will attract prospects, convert them into customers, and then into repeat and loyal buyers.
For those worried that creating content isn’t their forte, Edwards suggests surrounding yourself with people who do those kinds of things and pick up their tips. One DWE member in the publishing industry, Rekesha Pittman, “helps people that are just starting out, or who have a story, get exposure through writing,” Edwards explains. “By sharing your personal experiences people will start relating to you and, in turn, your business.”
You can publish the content you create directly to your company’s site or share it with industry blogs or over social media. Edwards says she has used content on Facebook to reach new audiences. “I started with the content first, and then built my audience and network.” That backlog of recorded expertise can help introduce your business to first-time viewers, and hopefully turn them into potential customers.
2. Speak up.
Whether it’s about the content you’ve already created online, or some other topic related to your industry or personal experience, Edwards recommends putting yourself out there as a public speaker. Whether it’s a university seminar, a business network’s panel discussion, or a brand’s store event, there are numerous groups that bring in experts to speak about different topics, she says.
When Edwards first arrived in the U.S., she started a nonprofit that helped families take control of their finances and avoid homelessness. She started visiting different groups to speak about nonprofits and how you feel when you give back to the community.
“I went to rotary groups, I went to networking groups, I went to a variety of local events that were happening,” she says. “That’s how I discovered some people that got me on Good Morning Texas,” an opportunity that provided Edwards with plenty of growth potential.
“You have to reach out. That’s the way that you get exposure.”
DWE member Michelle May O’Neil has won numerous awards and is a professional speaker. As a distinguished “Super Lawyer,” O’Neil utilizes her unique voice and inspires people to take action in every area of their lives.
3. Join a group—and stick to it.
Once you’ve exposed your business to what’s out there, get a bit more selective and find a group or network that fits you and your business’s needs. “Understand the importance of slowing down and really building the foundation of relationships to give people the chance to know you and see your efforts,” Edwards says. “Find the right connections that will help you propel your business. You don’t develop this by chance.”
In other words, it’s all about consistency. Edwards sees that in Joanna James, a DWE inductee who owns a janitorial service company. “She has attended pretty much every event that we have. She has developed relationships—she knows who she’s targeting. Now she has business with several commercial buildings as a result.”
By consistently participating in DWE, Edwards posits that James has developed those business relationships “without spending any more money than the membership fee.”
Though money does have its perks when your business is in its infancy, it’s not going to buy you growth. By developing this strategy of content, speaking, and networking, Edwards says entrepreneurs can think differently about what it means to grow a business—flush bank accounts not necessarily required.
Businesswomen in Texas metropolitan areas can learn more about Edwards and Dallas Women Entrepreneurs by clicking here.