Advertising On A Budget For Startup Businesses

Advertising On A Budget For Startup BusinessesSo, you’ve finally decided to take a leap of faith and venture out into the world of entrepreneurship. Good for you. Now as you go through all of the rigmarole necessary to become a legitimate business, you will quickly find out one thing for sure. It’s expensive. As if you haven’t already put a lot of money into your dream already, one of the most critical and expensive areas in business ownership is waiting to be addressed.

Let’s face it; your business needs to grow. But, for that to happen, you must sow the seeds of familiarity. You may have the greatest product this side of the hemisphere, but without customers, it will just be your little secret. You must find an inexpensive way to advertise. Do something that can effectively get the message out, and bring the money in. Most of all, something that won’t put you in more debt than you already are. Here are a few tips to get you on the right track:

1. You’re a small business that is just starting to spread its wings, but that doesn’t mean that it’s ready to fly. The most inexpensive way to advertise is word of mouth. Take business cards wherever you go. If you don’t have any, make some. They’re not just to make you look business-like. Those are a form of advertising. Speak to those individuals you come across that may have a need for your services or product. If they don’t have a need, they may know someone who will. Give out two to three cards at a time. That way they can distribute your card to friends and keep one for themselves.
2. Just as you are a small business trying to make a living, there are others out there just like you. Maybe, just maybe the two or three of you can work out a deal that saves you all some cash. Pamphlets, business cards, and posters can be displayed at each other’s business. Viola! Instant advertisement. Most of all, it’s usually free.
3. If you have looked into posting an ad in the local yellow pages you have learned something of great value. It’s ridiculously expensive! If your business is not large enough to warrant that type of expensive advertising, I recommend this alternative. If you are a member of a church, organization, or know of someone else who is, it’s likely they have some sort of business directory. Usually, the cost is very minimal to post an add in something like this, and compared to your local phone directory its dirt cheap.
4. Finally, if you’ve looked into possibly getting a website you’ve found that this to may be expensive. If you are not computer savvy and wouldn’t know where to start, look into other small business startups like yours. A lot of times their fees and rates are much less expensive than businesses that have been overcharging its customers for years. Negotiate your costs. You will find that other small businesses will be willing to do that just to get your business. Online advertising is fastly becoming the overall choice of advertising by small and large businesses alike. Don’t be scared away by over priced bullies.

These are just a few tips that can get you started in the right direction. There are plenty more ways to save a dollar in this anti small business economy. For more tips on how to save money for your small business, subscribe to this blog and receive more helpful articles like this one.

Phishing Still Happens, Just With a Different Hook

Phishing Still Happens, Just With a Different HookThe internet has become our main source of information. OK, that first statement was for those of us that have been living in the pre-desktop era and refuse to venture off into the “New World Order” of free information. Not even Bill Gates thought the internet would be as popular and important as it is today. Every day there are millions of transactions that occur between people, families, and even businesses without even giving a second thought of doing it the old fashioned way. Besides, who ever heard of a face to face transaction anyway?

Truth is with all of this information being passed everywhere; there are those that would use these powers for evil. Phishing has long been a method that online predators and hackers use to gain access to valid important information. Phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information, by any means necessary. There have been millions of innocent people scammed by those who have no shame and pry on the unsuspecting. Here are a few ways to protect yourself against phishing:

  1. Ensure you have some form of anti-phishing software loaded on your PC. This will either disallow phishing emails or re-direct them to the “junk” folder in your email.
  2. Never offer any sensitive information to anyone you don’t know over the internet, over the telephone, or through email. That includes social security numbers, address, phone numbers, and banking information. Most legitimate businesses will not ask for such information outright, and require you to log-in to a secure website before requiring such information from you.
  3. Do your research. If you are being solicited by a “business” online or over the phone, do your due diligence and check their website. Ensure the website is secure. Look for the little padlock on the web page. Also check the Better Business Bureau for report on the history of the business.

Remember that a good scam requires that it sound legitimate. It wouldn’t be much of a scam if it weren’t. So protect yourself, your finances, your families and your businesses.

Dealing With The Uniformed Client

The life of an entrepreneur can be a rugged one, full of up and downs, twists and turns and before you know it your turning every which way but the way you thought you’d be turning at this stage of your business life. It can be difficult to say the least, but you wouldn’t trade it for the world. The freedom and joy you feel from a project done well. After all, that’s why you do it, right? To share your talents with clients in desperate needs of your skills and services (for a fee of course), what better feeling could a freelance have? Of course to get to that glorious point you must first traverse the field of uncertainty. What is this field that I speak of? Well, I sure there are a few people reading this that already know the answer. They’re the ones with the sly grin, reminiscing of the arch nemesis of all freelancers, the uninformed client.

Now, before we continue down this dark path, let me start by saying that this client is NOT a bad person; at least most of the time they are very kind-hearted people. The problem with these individuals is their lack knowledge. They’ve hired you, an SME (subject matter expert) to handle all the things that they don’t know about, and they usually kick it all off with something like, “I need you, to do what it is that you do, for me.” They have no idea what they want, but have every idea of what they don’t want. Well, fear not. Here are a few tips to get the information you need from the client without a clue.

1) Treat them like children. No, I don’t mean demoralize them buy insulting their intelligence. But, you just may have to hold their hand and walk them through this entire process. As a freelance professional, you already know that patience is a virtue. So, start by not asking what they want, but explain what they may need. This can be the water necessary to help sprout the ideas of an otherwise clueless client.

2) Be professional. At no time can you lose your cool and show your frustration. Remember, you are a professional, and you are being paid. That means somebody had enough confidence in you to hire you for your expertise, not your quick wit and sly side humor. Remember, this client could very well lead to either more clients, or the end of your freelancing days.

3) Think ahead. You should have already constructed a presentation for your client in their native language, clienteese. This could assist the entire project by giving the client a visual representation of what to expect and what will be needed from them. Don’t use a lot of terms that only someone in your field of expertise would know and understand. Not only will you lose their interest, you’ll more than likely make a bad situation worse. Your client’s time is precious, and so is yours. Make every minute count and get to the bottom line ASAP.

4) You’re an educator. Wait, you weren’t hired to teach anyone, right? The truth is although you were brought in to perform a certain task or service, it would be beneficial for you to “educate” them as you go through your scope of work. I’m not saying that they should be SME’s by the time that you leave, but there should be a better understanding of what you do and the work that you have completed. This will provide two things: 1) A greater respect for your craft by the client, and 2) A better understanding of what you are capable of. Remember, 40% of a small business’s customers are usually repeat customers. If they know what you do, they will call.

Remember, your skill is only one of many reasons that your client chose to roll the dice with you. Be understanding, patience, and professional; your mission demands it.

What do you think about the balance between creativity and the crazy demands of clients? Has any strategy worked well for you in your career?

Written By Anthony Chappell of Chappella Group (

Anthony Chappell is the President and Senior IT Consultant at Chappella Group, Inc.. Having over 20 years of experience in government technology instruction, security and implementation projects, he seeks compliance without sacrificing design. When he isn’t bogged down with work, you can find him spending quality family time. You can contact him directly at or follow him on Twitter as @chappellagroup, connect with him on LinkedIn, or visit the Chappella Group Incorporated website.

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