You can start a business for very little budget — and then see it grow big, as Tory Johnson has done.
In 1999, Johnson started Woman for Hire, an online recruiting site targeted at college-educated women on a shoestring budget. She started the business after serving in corporate communications positions at ABC News, NBC News and Nickelodeon.
Through creative marketing strategies, business savvy and networking, the business that she started for less than $100 eventually flourished. She attributes the success of Women for Hire to her focus on quality and customer satisfaction. As Johnson said,
My focus from Day 1 has remained the same: provide a top-notch service, get the word out to the target audience and sell it. If you’re thinking of starting a business, that’s what you should do too.
Here are tips Johnson offers for shoestring entrepreneurs looking to start a business on a limited budget:
- Put it in writing. Nothing formal like a business plan (unless you’re going to apply for a loan or get an investor), but it is important to write a brief plan outlining your goals.
- Don’t assume the best-case scenario because it is more likely that you won’t meet those projections. Keep your numbers realistic.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel, but know your competition.
- Create marketing materials, but think free and inexpensive.
- Put up your own website. Read “How I Created an Effective Web Site for Under $100”
- Print business cards and flyers
- Consider a virtual phone system
- Use free social and business networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and others.
- Establish mutually beneficial partnerships.
- Generate free media coverage, using sites such as Help a Reporter Out
- Find free helping hands
- Tap free expert resources such as SCORE or Chamber of Commerce
- Just dive right in and start your business.
Today, Women for Hire produce recruiting events connecting professional women and leading employers throughout the country. Johnson is also a workplace contributor in Good Morning America and a business and career coach at AOL Coaches.
She is also an author, having co-written “Women for Hire: The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Job” in 2002, “Women for Hire’s Get Ahead Guide to Career Success” in 2004, and “Take This Book to Work: How to Ask for (and Get) Money, Fulfillment and Advancement” in 2006. She is a frequent speaker to audiences nationwide, ranging from college campuses to Fortune 500 companies, where she shares advice and inspiration on navigating a successful career.
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