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How to Build Your Business With “No Bucks!”

(Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Could your business use the bucks in the picture? How would you spend it? The oldest saying in the world is probably, “It takes money to make money.” While that may be true, the history books are filled with famous entrepreneurs who started with nothing, or next to nothing, and went on to great financial success. I have read about many of them, and for the most part they have one common trait in common. They were not afraid to — “risk it all.”

All decisions in life come down to one simple position — risk vs. reward. Is risking the money worth a possible “down the road” reward? When I make decisions like this, I translate the risk into book sales. If I invest these dollars, how many books do I have to sell before both breaking even, and making a profit? And, if I’m completely honest with myself, does it make good economic sense to make that move?

Money Saving Shortcuts

The biggest money saver I know is knowledge. When I started my business I bought a $60 web site creation program. Learned how to use it and put up a web site myself because the expense of paying a professional was out of my price range. The web site I created was, “junk yard dog ugly,” by even the most conservative evaluations.

But, to my amazement, people actually started coming and buying stuff. Doing my own site was extremely helpful when the time came to have it professionally upgraded. I had made tons of mistakes and knew the right questions to ask. And, over the years, I had compiled a wish list of things I wanted that my little cheap program was unable to do.

So the first money saving shortcut is — learn. If you spend just 20 minutes a day reading something about your business or industry, in one year you’ll know more than 75% of those in that industry.

Low Cost Ways to Get Your Name on The Map

In 2001 Costco Connection magazine wrote an article about my first book and me. It was a simple process, just a few dozen rejections before I convinced them to see the light. I wrote them a letter telling them all about the benefits of letting their readers know about my book. They wrote back — no thanks. I wrote again, could they use some business articles? They wrote back — no. But in the last letter they made the mistake of asking me to send them a copy of the book. Eight short months later they couldn’t wait to do a story on me. I reached 15 million readers in the US and Canada for the cost of a couple of stamps.

What if I had given up after the first couple of rejections? That article led to other national magazines wanting interviews. Those led to international magazines wanting interviews. I can tell you from personal experience that people are not always going to see, and appreciate, your idea after the first telling. Call newspapers, radio stations, TV stations, and beg for airtime or newspaper space. Proctor & Gamble, Motorola, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft all started as home-based businesses. They all had an idea and would simply not be denied.

The Very Best Low-Cost Way to Build Your Business

One of the very best business builders out there is word-of-mouth. One customer, telling another potential customer, about a positive experience they had dealing with you and your business. Nothing is more powerful than that. People do it all the time. Has anyone ever recommended a movie to you, or a good restaurant? They may not trust your ads, or the benefit of owning your product but they will trust their friends. That’s why every customer interaction is critical to your business success. There is even a Word-Of-Mouth Association to help you out.

Negative PR (Public Relations) spreads much faster than positive comments about you and your business. Make it easy for customers to complain. And when they do make good on what you said you would do. With automation, big box stores, customer care has taken a backseat in the minds of many buyers. Set yourself apart from other businesses.

Some Final Thoughts

No business starts or runs smoothly. There are always going to be bumps and potholes. Keep in mind that the more you know the easier it will be to traverse those bad experiences and keep the doors open. Knowledge is power. Talk to others in your industry in similar cities around the country. How do they acquire customers? Ask them to send you copies of ads that work, brochures, displays, sales, radio and TV ads, most people want to help others.

Tomorrow morning, when you open your store, or turn on your computer, or start your engine, say to yourself, “How can I make my business better today?”

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