The reason why marketing is essential to your success is simple—without it, your entrepreneurial efforts could all be for naught. Your prospective customers would be out there, unaware of how much they need your products and services. Steve Wozniak, a co-founder of Apple, said in 2013, “It’s a lot easier to think of an app and write it than it is to convince people to want it… Marketing is the most important thing.” An effective first-time marketing campaign sets the tone for your company and builds your reputation. It helps brand you, keeps you competitive and spurs customer loyalty. Ultimately, it is what will increase your sales.
The U.S. Small Business Administration suggests that as a general rule, small businesses should allocate 7 to 8 percent of their sales to marketing. In addition to an adequate budget, it is important to create a marketing plan that ensures you are spending your money wisely and maximizing its impact. The SBA blog offers some tips for how to frame a marketing plan.
So how do you come up with the money to fund your first big marketing push? We have some ideas:
Consolidate Your Future Cash Flow
If you have a stream of future payments from a lawsuit settlement or another type of annuity, you may be able to channel them into your business. Contact a company like J.G. Wentworth to see if you qualify to sell your future payments for a lump sum of cash now. You could then use the money to help fund your initial marketing campaign.
Depending on how you position your company, you could be able to raise money by tapping the Internet. While some crowdfunding sites primarily support creative endeavors, there are an increasing number of sites that support small businesses. These fall into two categories—ones that require selling small amounts of equity in your company to many investors, or ones that are open fundraising for a small fee.
Keep in mind that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is currently contemplating changes to Regulation A+, a provision in the JOBS Act (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) that was signed into law in 2012. The proposed changes could allow a company to raise up to $50 million using online fundraising.
Some popular crowdfunding sites include GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Crowdfunder and Indiegogo.
Grants and Business Loans
The government offers a variety of financing programs to help small businesses grow. Grants are less common and are mostly available for nonprofit organizations, companies focused on energy-efficient technology or tourism.
Business loans, on the other hand, are available through local banks. The SBA can help you if you have trouble qualifying for a traditional bank loan; they even have a guarantee to help repay a portion of your loan if you default on your payments. The Fox Small Business Center features a comprehensive guide about SBA loans.