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Small Business Center

Business Builders on a Budget

February 14, 2022

By Angel Cicerone, Tenant Mentorship

There are so many opportunities to build your business without spending a fortune. Here are some high-impact, low-spend freebies and cheapies to help.


Develop a Strategic Alliance
It costs nothing to work together with a neighborhood business or organization to double the power of your message and help drive traffic to each other’s business.

Start a Referral Program
For $25 or less, you can print business cards to hand to existing clients, offering them rewards to refer their friends. People love to help businesses they feel are providing them excellent products and services. Take advantage of your fiercely loyal customers.

Create a Sweet Spot Display
Just inside your entrance and to the right is the “sweet spot.” Here, a well-crafted display should produce excellent sales results. Keep changing and monitoring sales until you reach the perfect formula.

Improve Your Store’s Ambience
Declutter and clean. Add music and scent. It costs nothing to level up your customer experience!

Conduct a Customer Survey
Want to know more about your customers? Just ask them. A simple four-question customer survey will help you get a better understanding of your customer and help you with more effective targeted marketing.

Train Employees
Search the internet for some free sales training and set up a regular training schedule. The better your employees perform, the more sales you make. It’s that simple.

Work with Your Data
Mine your point-of-sale system for data that will help you better understand sales patterns — e.g., sales by time of day, items purchased together. Then, use that information to create promotions to capitalize on and improve customer habits.


Social Media
Social media has become increasingly sophisticated, and randomly posting without understanding how the what, where and why can actually decrease your exposure. So I put finding help with social media at the top of your spend list, especially if it’s your sole source of exposure and communication with the outside world. The good news is there are lots of options for your dollar. You can hire an individual or firm to develop the strategies and posts for you or invest in having a pro teach you and your staff how to do it.

New Menus
Restaurant owners, one of the best ways to put a fresh face on your establishment is a new menu: new design, new offerings and even some new pricing. You’d be amazed at how much buzz a new menu can generate, especially if your old ones are looking a little worse for the wear.

Email Marketing
Leveling up your email marketing is money well spent. You can hire a pro to work on strategy or improve graphics and copy with a goal of improving open rates and engagement.

Website Audit/Revisions
Websites need to be updated regularly, and as you probably know from your own surfing, the look and feel of today’s sites is different than it was several years ago. If your site is more than a year or so old, you may want to hire someone to do a search engine optimization audit and make recommendations to help achieve better organic search. In addition, you need to be sure your site is built on a mobile-responsive platform and if not, take care of that immediately. Is it time to add e-commerce to your site? Since the website is your digital front door, it’s important to keep it looking good and the content relevant.

Is your signage as pretty, new and effective as it needs to be? Time for a revamp?

Hire a Better Employee
If you have some extra money, maybe it’s a good idea to invest in a quality sales associate.

Training for Yourself
How about getting some training in one of those areas in which you’d like to be more proficient? What better way to invest money than in yourself?

Small Business Center

ICSC champions small and emerging businesses in getting from business plan to brick-and-mortar.

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