Approximately 20-30% of the Fortune 100 company workforce is made up of contract workers. Dana Shaw, senior vice president at Staffing Industry Analysts, believes that percentage is expected to escalate to 50% by 2020.
These statistics offer big opportunities to small business owners. More importantly, entrepreneurs must be willing to adjust how they think to experience success in a 21st century global economy.
“Ideas don’t really count until you can demonstrate relevance, engagement, and momentum,” insists Brian Solis, principal analyst at Altimeter Group. “Entrepreneurs who have a purpose will succeed, as opposed to entrepreneurs who have a product. If you don’t understand this, you’re destined to be irrelevant.”
“Business is moving from products to services to experiences. If you think about the next five years, it’s going to get harder to make money in transactional businesses,” agrees Bob Johansen, distinguished fellow at the Institute for the Future. He explains that the future of small business is about mutual-benefit partnering on a global scale or, as he calls it, “the reciprocity advantage.” Johansen believes this advantage invites innovation, partnerships, and experimentation.
Many small business owners are both the president and custodian within their organizations – and wear many of the hats within their own hierarchies. Marketing their products and services to a global audience often feels overwhelming, especially if your small business operates on a small budget.
“The good news is that marketing doesn’t have to cost thousands or even hundreds of dollars,” explains Kim Garst, marketing and social media expert and CEO of Boom! Social. She reveals these tips from 20 Remarkable Ways You Can Market Your Business on a Shoestring Budget:
- Post amazing content on a blog. Garst insists a blog offers opportunities to direct visitors to your website, nurture relationships and capture leads. Regularly post content that meets the needs and interests of your audience.
- Comment on other people’s blog posts. Remember to add thoughtful comments on blogs you follow. This is a great way to get noticed by both the blog owners and their visitors.
- Guest post on popular niche sites. Guest posting can be a great way to reach a whole new audience. Don’t forget to include a link back to your site in your bio.
- Create a Google My Business account. If you want your business to show up in local search, a Google My Business account is a necessity. This will make sure your business is not only visible on search, but on Google Maps and Google+ as well.
- Build a free (or inexpensive) email list. Every business owner should have an email list. But when you are just starting out, you likely don’t want to commit to the monthly fee that many email management services charge. Garst explains that their are free options for businesses with smaller lists.MailChimp offers its service for free for businesses with fewer than 2,000 subscribers. And when you are ready to take expand your email list, aWeber offers services at $19/month.
- Contribute an article to an industry magazine. Advertising in trade magazines can run you thousands of dollars. But contributing an article? Absolutely free. Many magazines accept guest contributions, and let you promote your business in your bio.
- Attend local networking events. Check out local business events on Meetup.com. Find out where the Chamber of Commerce or small business associations host events.
- Host webinars on your site. Hosting webinars can be costly; however, some companies offer free or low-cost options for small business owners. Some cheap options are Webinars OnAir (starting at $19.97/month) or MeetCheap (starting at $9.97/month). If you are looking for an even cheaper option, Google Hangouts On Air is free.
- Become a valued member of other people’s communities. Join Facebook and LinkedIn groups in your industry and offer valuable advice and information. As members see the value you are providing, they will want to find out more about you and what you offer.
- Create a Facebook group. Create a Facebook group that your prospects would be eager to join. Center it around a topic or theme, not around your business. For instance, a marketer could create a group called “Marketing Tips For Small Business Owners.”
- Offer a free info-product on your site. Create an ebook or other digital product to give away on your site. This is a great way to get visitors on to your list and into your funnel.
- Take advantage of Facebook’s and Google’s free ad credits. Facebook and Google give away free ad credit vouchers. When you sign up for services like web hosting or AdWords, take advantage of free vouchers and take PPC advertising for a test drive.
- Create eye-catching business cards. Making your business cards stand out from the pack can get you noticed at live business events. MOO offers unique designs. like square and mini cards, starting at just $19.99.
- Offer amazing free info on social media. Share valuable information with your social media fans and followers, and become a trusted expert in your industry.
- Become an affiliate member of businesses who offer services and products you would recommend to others. As an affiliate, you have opportunities to earn commissions by placing ads on your website. Every ad on my website represents quality services I use and recommend. I earn a small stipend every time someone purchases a product through the affiliate links.
“The future of small business is very bright, because you’ve got this potential to create new business models and partner with very small or very large organizations, and then to scale much more quickly than before,” adds Johansen. “This is entrepreneurial heaven we’re approaching here. If you’ve got a great idea and the ability to pull together a company, there’s no better time in history to do it.”
“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition,” agreed entrepreneurial giant, Steve Jobs. “They somehow know what you truly want to become.”
Trust your inner voice. It is speaking to you for a reason. If you can find the courage to listen to it, you will find the courage to do something about it.
I learned a lot about building a keynote speaker from my students when I was a teacher. Children aren’t afraid to fail. They fearlessly experiment and try new ways of doing things until they figure it out. They’re not afraid to climb into the sandbox and break stuff.
You are positioned at the ideal time to build your small business. Climb into the entrepreneurial sandbox. And don’t be afraid to break stuff.
What inexpensive ways do you use to market your business?
Use these tips to Write a Personal Purpose Statement.
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