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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

No Money? No Worries!

With the market in a precarious position, most small businesses have been divided into two camps: the shell-shocked and the over-eager. The shell-shocked are those who have watched large chunks of their profits and savings vanish into thin air (or Bernie Madoff's pocket) and are terrified of losing more. The over-eager are enthusiastically, and often blindly, pouring money into the market and even beginning their foray into new ventures. Obviously most businesses could be categorized as the former but there is a valuable lesson for both to learn: effort is better at driving results than cash.

Hustle is always a worthy investment in any economic environment, so here are 3 simple strategies to grow your small business without spending a dime:

1. Networking- You've spent your life building a network whether you realize it or not, so why not utilize your personal and professional contacts? Don't be concerned about imposing, as everyone is probably in a similar position and would benefit from a new opportunity. Unsure of how either party can benefit? Take a chance and allow the conversation to run its course. They may need your assistance with something you never would've considered. Take a few minutes and setup a meeting with someone in your field ASAP.

2. Adapt your message and spread it - Every single business, from a brand-new start up to the top of the Fortune 500, is laser-focused on their margins... now even more so than usual. Refining your pitch is a great way to appeal to a new audience. Make your brain work overtime to focus your pitch on how your product or service will lower their costs and/or increase their profits. Money talks, especially when it's scarce. But getting the word out about your message will require a lot of legwork. Don't let this discourage you from being proactive.

3. Scour the internet- While not a traditional medium that requires sweat equity, it's time to roll your sleeves up and dig deeper. Instead of just checking your email, find out how social networking like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn can benefit your organization. Research your competitors to find an upper-hand or look for potential partners to share resources. You're already paying for access, be sure to make the most of it!

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