8 Marketing Strategies for a Small Budget

Business woman working in office.“There are no magic wands, no hidden tricks, and no secret handshakes that can bring you immediate success, but with time, energy, and determination you can get there.” – Darren Rowse, founder of ProBlogger

Everyone knows that building a business takes time and persistence, but it also takes effective marketing. However, most of us don’t have the luxury of starting a business with a six figure budget. So how do you throw yourself into a solid marketing plan with a teeny marketing budget? Here are some strategies we’ve found work for our Growth Coach clients. Just remember that when you’re spending less money on marketing, you’re likely looking at spending more time to achieve great results.

1) Leverage Relationships: You certainly have people in your life who will benefit from the success of your business, like your banker, your CPA, your suppliers, your vendors, etc. Determine who would make good informal sales agents for your business by considering who will benefit most from your growth. Once you have that figured out, go to your contacts and ask those people to support your growth efforts through leads, referrals, testimonials, etc.

2) Work with Current Customers: Your current customers know that you have a great product or service to offer to the community – and they know people who can benefit from what you’re offering. Ask them for introductions and referrals to other potential buyers or ask them to provide endorsements or testimonials, or see if they’d serve as references. Also, every time you work with customers, ask if there are any needs you haven’t met. There is always more you can do (and charge for.)

3) Build your Referral Sources: Take a look at your best referral sources in the last year. Where has most of your business come from? First of all, make sure you thank those people or service providers for helping to build your businesses and then create a strategy to stay in touch with these sources as often as possible. Now consider how you can copy these results. If you’re an estate sale company and your best referrals have come from realtors, how can you meet more realtors?

4) Make Working with You Easy: If you’re asking someone to do business with you, consider offering a money-back guarantee. A credible and specific guarantee will bring in much more business than it costs you. If you’re uncomfortable providing a guarantee, consider why. Is there something you need to improve in your system to make your business less risky for customers?

5) Reach More at Once: There are only so many hours in the day, so situations where you can influence multiple people at once will serve you well. Consider hosting special events or seminars for customers, referral sources, and prospects. If you can combine your event with people who would make strong strategic partners, you can tap into their networks as well.

6) Spread the Word: Even in the internet age, having a public relations strategy is important. Get to know your local media outlets and reporters and be sure to share stories about changes in your business, especially expansions in staff or services. Developing a relationship with your local reporters is a give and take relationship, so next time there is a fire in your community or a car crash down the street, take a quick photo with your smart phone and send it to the reporter to use. That will help you build rapport.

7) Use Social Media: Building social media pages is a slow process, but it’s important to be able to connect with any potential customers on any platform. If you don’t have a Facebook page and a potential customer searches for you on Facebook, how will that look? If you have loyal customers, ask them to write reviews for your Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn pages. Those are powerful messages to potential customers! You can also use LinkedIn to build your personal referral network by leveraging groups. There’s plenty of free training out there for exactly how to make that work.

8) Leverage Indirect Competitors: Are there competitors in your market you wouldn’t necessarily go head-to-head against when looking for customers? Maybe you are in slightly different markets or you serve different populations with a similar service? If you’re a residential painter, can you build a relationship with a commercial painter to let leads flow both ways?

Do you have low-cost marketing strategies that have worked for you? Tell us in the comments!

If you’re struggling to make strides in marketing – or any aspect of your business – it’s time to see what working with your local Growth Coach can do. Find your local coach here: http://www.thegrowthcoach.com/locator.aspx.

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Are you great at time management – or priority management?

 When a recent college grad puts together his or her first resume for the real world, it can be tough. For most people, it means finding ways to fill a page with relevant work and school experience coupled with those all-important skills lists. If you take a look at any resume – fresh out of college or not – you’ll likely find some sort of reference to proficiency in time management. Everyone wants to believe they can manage their time effectively, and being able to stay on task certainly makes you an attractive job candidate.

But honestly, what does great time management even mean? Are you saying that you can tackle tasks quickly and still have time to check your Twitter feed? Can you squeeze your work into 35 hours and take leisurely lunches? Are you able to step out to that doctor’s appointment without an issue?

Whether you’re seeking new employment – or running your own business – it’s time to change the way we think about time management. What if, instead, we said we were great at priority management? Having excellent priority management skills likely says what you actually mean anyway: When you are charged with a certain list of needs, you can prioritize the most important tasks, accomplish those first and then manage the following priorities.

If you are a business owner or leader, having a priority management mindset also will help you to find the time to work ON your business instead of just IN your business. Once you’re able to manage your priorities and put them in the order you need to, you’ll easily be able to identify those low level tasks that probably don’t need your direct attention. Rather than trying to take care of everything on your own, try delegating those lower level tasks to your staff or find a way to systematize the business so those tasks don’t come to you in the first place.

Essentially practicing excellent priority management can help you better manage the hours you work each day, find ways to remove lower level tasks from your plate and free up time to work on developing your business! If you had even five extra hours per week, what could you do to make your business stronger? We bet you could find ways to improve your systems, beef up your marketing efforts, learn new business trends and more.

If you are having trouble identifying your priorities or developing your business, it’s time to reach out to your local Growth Coach: http://www.thegrowthcoach.com/locator.aspx.

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Appreciating – and Managing – Your Employees

Gary FurrWhen business owners think about their business, what do they say is their most important aspect? For many, the answer is easy: the people. But as important as great employees are to every business, many owners also say their people are their biggest headache. But why? And how can that be fixed?

Our guest blog come from Gary Furr, The Growth Coach of Portland, who recently shared some great insight on people and employee management. Gary partners with business owners, executives, non-profits and sales teams to achieve greater success in business and meet business and personal goals. His clients come from many different industries, including manufacturing, service, retail establishments, non-profits, medical professionals, start-ups, wine and nursery industries.

People Management

When you look at the various components, assets and structure of your company, organization or department, it’s important to know your company’s greatest assets. Without a doubt, your people are your greatest assets and regardless of the knowledge or experience you possess as a leader and business owner, those traits are not worth much if you are not able to achieve results through other people. The focus for the next few weeks will be on people management. Why not employee management? The reason is simple: We never want to forget that our employees are people, not property.

All humans are complex and unique. We must appreciate that every one of our employees is a unique person with different wants, needs and desires. However, there are common needs all employees have from their leader. Whether you have one employee or 10,000 employees, they are craving for strong leadership.

All too frequently, many business owners and managers complain that employees cause a majority of their headaches. So what are the reasons?

Read the rest on Gary’s website: http://thegrowthcoachportland.com/people-management/.

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Five Ways to Fall In Love With Your Business All Over Again

For many companies, the end of June signals the end of the fiscal year. For others, it’s the halfway point of the year. Either way, it’s a great time to step back and evaluate your business. Is the way you’ve been operating your business really the best way? Are there changes you can make over the next year to improve your numbers for this time next year? If you need some inspiration to get started, The Growth Coach has some suggestions on becoming a better business owner and leader.

Improve Yourself

To continue to grow as a leader and business owner, you have to be committed to improving yourself. Consider seeking professional development, attending local workshops or picking up a book or two about business. In fact, you can download ours for free: http://www.thegrowthcoach.com/free-business-owner-e-book.aspx.

Separate Yourself and Your Business

To be the best business owner you can be, you need to be free to work ON the business instead of just IN the business. To do this, you have to have systems. What systems do you need to incorporate into your business to free up your time? You also need to consider that you might have to lessen your grip on certain elements of the business. You can’t be the one everyone comes to for answers for every question.

Find the Love

Did you open a business just because you wanted to work long days doing something you hate? Probably not. Of course there will be tasks throughout the day that you don’t love, but do you get to do the things you enjoy too? And, if owning or leading the business has meant that you’ve seriously sacrificed on time with your family and friends, something has to change. You can’t lead a successful life without balance. Find ways to step back from your business so you can run it successfully and still have a happy life. This will also help you love your business again.

Set Goals

When was the last time you set a real goal for your business? Something that’s achievable, but still challenging? It’s important to set goals for a variety of aspects within your business and then take action to reach those goals. When you are able to meet those goals, no matter how small, remember to celebrate and take note of what worked and what didn’t work. Then set new goals.


If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking about ways these five suggestions apply to you and your business. You’re probably reflecting on where things are with your business – and where you would have liked them to be at this point. This type of reflection is important, but you need to do it more often. Create a schedule for yourself that will allow you to sit down and truly consider where your business stands and where you stand within that business. Thinks of ways you can improve over the next quarter, make an effort to step back from you business and find that passion again, and evaluate and set new goals. And when you’re reflecting, think about what you want to change over the next week, month, quarter and year.

Improving yourself and your business is all about thinking strategically. Hopefully these five suggestions will get you off to a solid start. For more tips on evaluating yourself and your business, check out this free white paper: http://www.thegrowthcoach.com/Member/thegrowthcoach2/Images/ImageGallery/15-Question-Business-Owner-Quiz-Do-You-Own-a-Real-Business-or-a-Demanding-Job.pdf.

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Overcoming Your Limiting Beliefs

Limiting BeliefsA few years ago, we posted a blog about busting through your limiting beliefs. Now that the economy seems to be back on track and entrepreneurs are growing in number every day, we thought it was time to give that idea a revamp.

Whether you’re considering opening a new business, expanding your current business or even just changing jobs, you probably have some limiting beliefs. Is there a little voice in your head saying you can’t do it? If you have limiting beliefs, can you identify where they came from? What facts do you have to back up those beliefs? If you can’t substantiate those beliefs, then what’s really holding you back?

At this point you have two choices: you can dig in your heels and fight to prove yourself right on those beliefs OR you can be open to challenging your beliefs so you can be more effective and successful. Ask yourself, which would make you happier and more successful? At The Growth Coach, we are willing to bet your answer is #2.

If you’re open to challenging your limiting beliefs, then you have to ask yourself the following:

  • What are those limiting beliefs?
  • Should you be working every night and weekend?
  • Do you have to be involved in every decision at your business?
  • Are you the only one who can run your business properly?
  • Could bringing on someone to manage your business actually free up your time and help you build the company to be more successful?
  • If you’re thinking about changing jobs, what’s keeping you at your current job and are those good reasons to stay?
  • Do you hold yourself accountable for the failures in your job or business?
  • Would you be happier and more successful if you made a change?

Now think about how you’ve answered each of those questions. Just because you’ve operated your business as if you have to be intimately involved in every aspect doesn’t mean that’s how it SHOULD be, right? Isn’t it true that your business could be more successful if you had more time?

If you’re ready to embrace change, here are 9 simple questions to help you get on the path to confronting your limiting beliefs and taking the next step:

State your belief. What is it that you want to address?

  1. Think about that belief – do you honestly think it’s true? If not, let it go right now.
  2. If you do believe it, why?  Where did this belief come from?  Who or what influenced you?  Did you form it based on only a few experiences?
  3. What facts back up this belief?  Would other successful people and business owners challenge such a belief?
  4. Is this belief helping you or hurting you?  Moving you toward or away from your goals?
  5. If this belief is hurting you, holding you back, and challenged by facts and other successful owners, are you ready to let go of this self-limiting belief?
  6. If you eliminated this belief, what could be the substantial benefits to you, your business and your career?
  7. If fully committed to change, what steps will you take to modify this disempowering belief?  When?
  8. Who can help hold you accountable for changing this self-sabotaging belief? Share your desire with them.

Any negative and limiting belief can be dispelled if you confront it with truth and logic. Remember that to expect changes in your life, you have to make changes! To help open your eyes to what is possible, please download our free e-book, Becoming a Strategic Business Owner and take our free, confidential on-line business assessment.

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Strive for Better – Not Perfect

 We all know it’s impossible to be perfect. Or it would be impossible if we could even agree on what perfect meant in the business world. And yet, even if it’s secretly, most of us want to be perfect and we want our businesses to be perfect too.

Here’s a Growth Coach challenge for your summer: stop trying to measure yourself and your business against the impossible measuring stick of being perfect. Stop facing the daily frustration of feeling less than perfect (especially since we’re ALL less than perfect) and instead create a path to improvement so you can celebrate your journey later.

Before the official start of summer on June 21, sit down and think about where you want your business to be by the end of the year. Don’t worry about being perfect – just focus on improving. Where do you want your sales to be? What do you want your team to accomplish? Is there a profit number you’d like to meet? Be reasonable about what you want to be able to do in the next six months and then write those goals down.

Once you’ve set those maybe challenging – but reachable – goals, think about what you need to do to meet each one. Maybe you need to look at rearranging your schedule or delegating tasks to find more time to get out and sell or meet with your best clients. Or maybe you need to have a company retreat to explain the goals company-wide and refocus each member of your team. Could it be that you need to find ways to cut costs to help reach that profit goal? If you find yourself struggling with how you can meet your goals, set up a free consultation with your local Growth Coach here: http://www.thegrowthcoach.com/talk-with-a-coach.aspx.

But wait – the challenge doesn’t end there. Once you’ve decided where you want to take the business, you need to take time to reflect on the progress you’ve already made. Whether you’ve been open for sixteen years or six months, you’ve made it through certain struggles, you’ve learned to adapt to changing needs and you’ve grown as a business owner. With that experience, evaluate what’s worked, what hasn’t worked and how far you’ve already come. Also be sure to take note of where you are today. If you stick to your improvement plan and meet those goals you’ve set, you’ll want a starting place for comparison.

As you’re facing the beginning of this challenge over the next few weeks, remember that part of being able to be successful in business is having balance in life. Don’t forget that being successful isn’t all about making money – it’s also about building a business that allows you to spend time with your friends and family doing the things you love. Once you’re able to meet those goals and find balance, you’ll see that perfect isn’t so important after all. Or maybe we just need a new definition for the word.

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Giving Bad News: 9 Tips

Fred Kusch

Fred Kusch

Whether you’re a doctor, a mom, a business owner or a corporate leader, bad news is always hard – especially when you’re the one who has to break that bad news. But handling bad news can be less painful if you follow a few key tips, including preparing yourself, seeking support and writing down what you need to say.

Our guest blog comes from Fred Kusch, The Growth Coach of La Crosse, who shared nine great ideas and tips for how to get through breaking bad news as easily as possible for everyone involved. Fred provides expert, practical counsel to organizations and audiences around the globe. He offers big-picture views of how to build morale and teams, develop people and leaders and enhance life and work.  Fred was named Coach of the year in 2012 by The Growth Coach and you can learn more about him here: www.jfkassociates.com.

Giving Bad News

It happens every day, from negative performance reviews, to massive employee layoffs to budget cuts, bad news is almost a daily phenomenon across all industries and sectors. Unfortunately, the delivery of bad news remains one of the most difficult tasks facing leaders, moreover it is often caused by emotional reactions or undeveloped skill sets.

Sometime in your career you will be faced with delivering bad news. When you are put in this circumstance, consider these nine ideas. They may very well help you as you confront the inevitable challenges.

1. Be Prepared: Unlike a good Boy Scout, most leaders tend to stumble in this first step. Because our tendency is to avoid or to put off the task, this step is tough. However, when it has been determined that bad news must be delivered, managers have to work to compartmentalize emotions and prepare themselves with the skills needed to deliver bad news in the best and most humane manner possible.

2. Send out “smoke signals”: Like Native Americans once did, today’s bad news messengers have to provide advance warning that bad news is coming. Too often leaders give lip service to transparency and therefore when it’s really needed, they are not believed.  However, transparency and periodic updates on sensitive matters help signal the possibility of bad news. Cardinal Rule: Bad news should never come as a surprise.

Read the rest on Fred’s blog here: http://www.jfkassociates.com/2014/04/giving-bad-news/.



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Starting Your Day Off Right: 5 Tips

UpEarlyMornings are important. Whether or not you’re a morning person, waking up on the right side of the bed and getting off to a great start definitely shapes your day. And, with the exception of things like getting a flat tire on the way to work, having a great day often starts usually starts with you. There are a slew of articles out there about what successful do, especially in the morning. We thought we’d share a few of our favorite things we know successful people do with a Growth Coach twist…

Wake Up Early: Waking up early is an important thing for successful people. Time is just too precious to spend your morning in bed hitting the snooze button. If you’re not a morning person, the next item on the list might help…

Get Moving: Before your day starts, get your exercise in. This is really two-fold because it not only gets your blood moving and helps you get moving, but it also frees up that time later in your day. If you find yourself unmotivated, try laying out your workout clothes the night before so it’s ready to go. Or look for someone you enjoy more than going to the gym – with all of the variety of exercise videos and games out there, there’s bound to be something you can bring yourself to try.

Tackle an Important Task: After you’ve gone for that morning run and enjoyed a healthy breakfast, tackle an important task. Whether it’s professional or personal, there’s bound to a pending job that’s been weighing on your mind. Now that you’re awake and ready to take on the world, that task might look a bit less daunting and, if you’re able to finish it, will take some of the stress out of your day.

Connect with Family: Mornings can be hectic, but if you’re able to spend a little time reconnecting with your spouse or eating breakfast with your family, you should. With after-school activities, work meetings, grocery shopping, chores and errands, finding those few moments can be tough some days. Spending that morning time to spend with the people you love can help you start the day with a smile.

Create a Plan: Whether it’s for the day or for the week, creating a strategy, plan or to-do list for how to spend your time can make a real difference in your day. In our workshops, we ask people to create 90 day goals. While those goals are important to work toward, it all starts with small, daily or weekly steps. Before you start work tomorrow, sit down and think about what you want to accomplish, what you absolutely need to get done for the day and what tasks you might be able to delegate or complete on a less busy week. Having a plan will help you stay on task and be more productive.

If you’re having trouble taking on any of these morning tasks, maybe it’s time to talk to your local Growth Coach. Whether you’re interested in group workshops or individual training, our Strategic Mindset Process can help you win your days back while being a successful at work. Request your free consultation here: http://www.thegrowthcoach.com/talk-with-a-coach.aspx.

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Sales Mapping to Improve Your Business

George Maabadi

George Maabadi

At The Growth Coach, we talk a lot about systems. We educate our clients on how having strong business systems creates a company that can run without the owner and builds a more valuable business asset. What some may not know is that having systems for SALES is important too!

Every sales person has an individual sales style, but every company still has a general sales process each person is meant to follow. But are you sure your sales people are following that process or system? Have you even defined what that system should be? The Growth Coach has recently developed a new sales mapping tool our individual franchise owners can use to help clients create a sales process to help improve selling, communication and employee management.

This week’s blog features a post written by George Maabadi, The Growth Coach in San Diego , CA. George’s passion is to help business owners, managers, and self-employed professionals develop and execute a proven, process-driven plan- a plan with a personalized strategy that will make a huge difference between significant success and disappointing or even devastating failure and a plan that includes a balance between business and personal life. George has been coaching and mentoring individuals and channel partners for over thirty years; spending most of his career in sales and marketing.

See George’s blog post: http://www.thegrowthcoachsandiego.com/2014/business/do-you-have-a-sales-process-or-a-sales-map-for-your-company/.

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Spring Cleaning Challenge: Declutter Your Business

ClutterSpring is officially underway and that means it time to do a little spring cleaning in your business. We’re not talking about breaking out the mop and bucket – we’re talking about looking at your business and cleaning out the clutter. Take a few minutes to think about your business. What junk is clogging up the flow of your business? What useless clutter is keeping you from being as effective as you could be?

But before we can do any cleaning, what is clutter? Are we talking about the coats and snow boots that have made their home in your entryway? Or the piles of papers you have sitting on your desk? At The Growth Coach, we see clutter as the trivial and unimportant tasks we embark on each and every day. It’s all those things that scream for your attention and keep you from thinking strategically. Clutter defines all the low-value jobs that an owner and business leader should be delegating to someone else.

Look at your day and think about where you’re spending your time. What is YOUR clutter? Here’s some of the common clutter we come across at The Growth Coach: excessively checking emails, playing on your smart phone, doing hourly administrative types of tasks, doing other people’s jobs, solving the problems other created, doing mindless trips or chores, surfing the web, roaming the office and spending the day putting out fires. Are these tasks helping you achieve your goals? Or are they just habits that are cluttering your days and your business?

Here’s a Spring Cleaning Challenge for you – Embrace the 80/20 reality.

Did you know that 80 percent of your results come from only 20 percent of your talents and activities? That means 80 percent of the things you do every day qualifies as clutter. You’re wasting your time, energy, talents and money. Stop spending your time on the wrong kind of work! If you delegated those unimportant, non-owner tasks, you could focus your time on strategic opportunities like leading, marketing, selling, systematizing, planning and more. And it would certainly give you more time to spend with your family!

Once a month, spend 15 minutes writing down all the clutter in your professional and personal life. What is wasting your time and talents? What work should you NOT be doing? What diversions are keeping you from being your most productive? Look honestly at that list and accept the truth. If you were to eliminate that clutter, what could you accomplish? How successful could you and your business be?

When you’ve identified the clutter you can eliminate, create yourself a “not-to-do list.” There will be tasks on that list that need completed, but you shouldn’t wear every hat in your business. Delete those tasks or delegate them to others. If that’s not possible, at least commit to spending less time on those tasks.

If you find that you’re having trouble letting go, delegating tasks and figuring out which tasks are VITAL to your business, it’s time to set up a free consultation with your local Growth Coach. Spring cleaning is the perfect way to set you up for a more successful 2014.

Find a coach here: http://www.thegrowthcoach.com/locator.aspx.

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