Original post- Oct 2013 here
Its takes a lot of courage, passion, and perseverance not only to walk the entrepreneur path but also keep a start-up afloat. You may already know such a founder or a start up working its way up. Most founders would like to keep a job for income flow but many start ups need more than part-time efforts especially when resources, funds, mentors or good personnel are few. This means working alone, spending long hours researching to create a product or service, sacrificing time with family/friends and living on a compromised budget. Funding a start up could help it reach its goals quicker but helping a start up grow is not always about giving funds. There 10 non monetary ways can make a huge difference in the life of the start-up and help in marketing the small business.
1. Try their product and service Whether its a new technology product, new app, new service or a new product, do give the product or service a try. Many startups provide their products or services at cost prices or complimentary to understand the customers needs.
2. Follow them on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, Youtube et al
Everyone finds it easier and convenient to share news and other happenings on their social media pages. Social media has revolutionized the ways companies communicate these days and also increased transparency. Definitely follow your favorite start up or a small business on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and other social media sites if you find the value in their venture. You not only support them but also get regularly updated on progress and new products. You can often get quicker response from companies on Social media sites than through their website. In addition, companies are often judged by their social media followers and surprising many investors also make decisions based on the company's online presence.
3. "Like"their business Facebook page Another equally important way these days is to like the company's Facebook page to show your support, get interesting news, participate in contests and get opportunities to exclusive content. Facebook is the largest influencer from all the social media tools. Its costs nothing to "like" a page but it helps the brand value of the venture tremendously. I think If Pan American Airways, the principal and largest air carrier in United States in 1960s existed in this Digital Age, it could have possibly survived with a great online presence through the huge fan following it had!
4. Do read, and share their blogs with others It doesn't take longer than 7 minutes to read a blog post. If you find value in the content, do share to spread the word about the business but get other valuable learning insights from people's personal experiences.
5. Comment on their posts or provide feedback on their social media sites You have no idea how what feedback and authentic testimonials mean to a new venture. Good reviews definitely help the brand's reputation and help customers in making decisions. Customers want to know what value they will get from the price they are paying or for the service they are seeking.
6. Trade your expertise Small businesses and start ups need expertise in can be real tight on budget due to few customers and huge start up expenses. they may be willing to trade their product or service in exchange of an experience. When I started out my chocolate venture, I needed good quality pictures for my website and didn't have a professional camera. Food Photographers I selected quoted large fees and long waiting time. I remembered someone I met at an event who took fairly good professional pictures and contacted her. She got very excited about the project and we worked together on plating the chocolates and took interesting pictures. In return I gave her freshly made chocolate boxes. Her kids loved them.
7. Introduce them to people who could provide advice or mentorship. Back in India, fine chocolatier programs are few and getting information and some hands on training for my fine chocolate research was hard. Thanks to a friend, I met a Pastry Chef at a high end hotel who helped answer some of my questions, gave me some chocolate tempering tips and connected me with with few suppliers in the industry.
8. Tell your friends or refer to colleagues about the products or service One morning I opened my email, and there I saw a blog written about my chocolates! My aunt's guest who tried my chocolates at her lunch turned out to be a food writer and was looking to write about chocolates in her next issue. Chockriti Chocolates made it in her blog post! http://dinewithpat.com/tag/chockriti/ Do tell your friends- its the best marketing tool.
9. Give a hour or two of your time Another non monetary way to help a small business or its founder is volunteer your time if possible. Startup and new small businesses cannot afford lot of personnel and sometimes may need helpers for their event or require legal or financial advice. One way to relieve them from their burden is to give them your expertise or your time
10. Share inspiring articles of value. The journey on the path of entrepreneurship can be daunting and uncertain. Encourage fellow entrepreneurs and small business owners with stories or articles you can come across at work or other media.
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