8 Inexpensive Ways to Build a Client Base

Perhaps the most daunting aspect of starting a new small service based business is building a client base.  On the other hand, there is nothing quite so exciting as getting those first few clients. 

When trying to generate new business, it is important to cast a wide net as you never know where potential clients may be lurking.  There are many ways to build a client base, even with limited resources.  I have outlined some below:

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24 Cost Effective Ways to Promote Your Small Business

 After thinking long and hard you have decided that is time to launch your own business.  You have a great product or service, you’ve come up with a compelling business name, all the paperwork has been filed and you have picked out the perfect location (or setup a snazzy new home office).  Everything seems to be set for your new independent life as a business owner.  And then you realize that nobody except your spouse and cat knows about your new venture.   So, how do you bring your fabulous new product to your target market's attention?  One way is to use the “build it and they will come” approach.  This is usually not particularly effective (even Google, who historically launches products with little fanfare, could benefit from a little more marketing).  The other, more effective approach is to get out there and promote your business.  Of course in the initial stages, marketing budgets tend to be miniscule.  On the other hand, many new business owners have time on their hands, while they wait to be deluged by orders.  Below is a list of 24 cost effective ways to promote your small business:

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The William Shatner Guide to Business Diversification


I recently spent “an evening with William Shatner” in Montreal , courtesy of a Groupon deal which offered tickets at less than half of the face price. Not being a trekkie or a rabid fan, I was not intimately familiar with his body of work.  I had however seen enough of him to know that he was a funny and charismatic man, so I was interested to see what an “evening” with him would entail. 

The show, which was 3 hours long (far exceeding my expectations) had the 80 year old Shatner recounting carefully selected stories about his past, while an interviewer occasionally prodded and guided him.  Mr. Shatner did not disappoint – he was self-deprecating, eloquent and entertaining.  And, while the stories were meant to reflect positively on his life, his career and choices were also indicative of an extremely ambitious individual who had spent a lifetime seizing opportunities.  The results of his attitude of saying “Yes”, which he is trying to inspire in others through his show and latest book "Shatner Rules", have contributed to a fascinating, multi-faceted career and, perhaps unexpectedly, have led to a very diverse set of properties and holdings, some of which include: 

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The Parable of the Toy Soldier: How a Small Gaming Business Became a Victim of their Own Success.

This story has all the ingredients of a great novel - drama, intrigue, the Chinese, hostile takeovers and a guy named Lonnie.   It has shaken the world of miniature gaming, where excitement is usually imagined rather than real.  And, although the details are murky, it is an excellent case study that demonstrates how mistakes made by business owners can result in severe and unintended consequences.

On January 17th, the founder of Wargames Factory, Tony Reidy issued an open letter:

Wai Kee Hui - if your true intention is to salvage this company and pay back the debts - you have started down the absolutely wrong path.

I understand that this is so far beneath you because you run so many multi-yuan millions businesses - but if you want to salvage anything, you are proceeding in the absolutely worst direction right now.

Your faith in Lonnie Mullins is incredibly misguided. You're trusting a guy who threw me under the bus in order to save his own skin. A guy who has no honor whatsoever.

Read full letter Open letter from Tony Reidy

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Daily Spiel: Starbucks Logo, Duplicate Quickbooks Invoices, Promote your Small Biz Website

It's Not About the Starbucks Logo, Stupid

It seems that this picture is worth a lot more than a thousand words.  Starbucks removes Starbucks from it's logo and makes it more minimalist thereby joining the ranks of Nike, Apple and McDonald (explainersunnecessary).  This should allow them to change direction and pursue greater expansion opportunities.

Duplicating Invoices in Quickbooks

If you've ever wondered about how to duplicate an invoice in Quickbooks either because it is similar to another invoice or you want to create a recurring invoice :

There are actually two ways to do this:

1. Select the invoice you want to duplicate and click on Edit on your menu (or right click) on the invoice and select "duplicate invoice". Voila - you have a duplicate invoice.

2. Same as above, but instead of duplicate invoice select "memorize" invoice. A dialog box will come up asking you (among other things) "how often" to which you can select the appropriate time period (in your case it would be annually). You can then choose to either remind you when the invoice comes due or QB can automatically enter the invoice.

(Answered on Quora)

How to Promote a New Small Biz Website

Some great ideas for promoting your smalll business website.  Free options include signing up for Google analytics, setting up a business blog (search engines tend to rank websites with blogs higher) as well as Twitter and Facebook accounts.  Additionally, commenting on other blogs in your niche and answering questions on Yahoo answers and I would add on Quora and Business.com are other free and effective ways to improve your website exposure and establish yourself as an authority. 


5 Ways to Be More Like Howard Stern

When Howard Stern talks, people listen.  They may not always agree with what he says.  In fact they often vehemently disagree, but it can be difficult to turn him off.  The first time I actually heard him (after hearing so much about him), I found his routine to be obnoxious and shallow, yet I was inextricably drawn and unable to change the station.  Fast forward to about a year ago (As a Canadian I didn’t really have access) I heard him again on Sirius (in our Ford rental equipped with satellite radio) interviewing Francis Ford Coppola.  Coppola spoke about with total candour about Apocalypse Now and his family and his sex life.  And it was among the best interviews I had ever heard.  Sterns questions were incisive and provocative.  He listened when Coppola spoke (Jon Stewart take note) and asked questions that no other interviewer would dare ask.  Most importantly, it was all about Coppola.  And that is perhaps what raises Stern above the fray – he has the rare ability, especially for a celebrity of his calibre, to eschew his ego. 
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Noteworthy: August27, 2010 - Email Signature, Best Investment Advice, Client Referral Incentives and Questions for Small Business

Do: company, website and business twitter account

Dont: personal details, random quote

To increase your net worth - pay off debt that carries an interest rate greater than 5%, don't be afraid to not invest in times of uncertainty and take advantage of cash discounts.

Discounts, gift certificates and a simple thank you are examples of incentives to get existing clients to provide referrals.

For maximum effectiveness of online marketing strategies, owners of small businesses should (among other things) be checking search engine placement for their business, examine their sources of revenue (are you diversified?), and use social  media to their greatest advantage.