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It actually doesn't grow on trees.

Don't you hate it when you realize your parents were right?

An opinion from David Farmer | CEO of Ad Giants

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Starting any business is hard, especially if you've never done it before. Saving up or getting investors to begin your dream is pretty tough already, but what happens when the spending starts? Operations begin to eat quickly away at the spreadsheet and you start to feel the pressure to succeed. Every entrepreneur has to deal with this reality, and it's hard. So you're not alone!

Here's just a few rules of thumb that might help you predict and plan better:

  • It ALWAYS takes twice as long and costs twice as much as you planned.

  • Before doing ANY spending, really do your homework, get referrals and interview every company and vendor you will rely on to do your job. Negotiate really hard up front because that sets the stage for your relationship with this vendor. Be fair.

  • Cash flow is King. Everything you do should protect how your money comes and goes from your business.

  • If you have big expenses for things you need immediately, try to set up a payment plan to pay over time. Don't take the hit all at once!

  • Seek any and all opportunities for grants, loans or any special offerings for your particular industry or business.

  • For every dollar you make, discipline yourself to take a small portion of it and stuff it in savings. Rainy days happen, a lot.

  • For every dollar you make, set aside 10% for marketing. It may seem like a lot, but it's harder than ever for your voice to be heard today, and it will take capital to break out. Smart capital.

Carrots work better.

Carrots

I mention the 10% to put towards marketing. That's just a number most use, you can come up with your own percentage that your business can live with. It can change over time too. The point is, besides budgeting and saving, getting seen and acquiring new customers is hands down the most important thing.

New customers can also come from your current customer base. I like to call it "the disciple effect." There's nothing better than a happy customer willing to tell others about you. And guess what? It's actually not that hard. Referral programs, promotions, rewards, these all contribute to helping empower your customers and make them feel even more special.

Marketing gets a bad reputation for good reason, but if you can get past the stereotypes, there are clear methods to market your business more efficiently and smarter. It should always start with a strategy, just like a strategy for your budgeting. You just need smart people to work with and guide you through this. What? Too expensive? Yeah, we know that, that's why we started our deal here. Our goal is to make you a success...PERIOD. Because if you succeed, then so do we. Kinda' nice how that works huh?

Remember, “Fortune befriends the bold.” And my personal favorite quote, "The greatest risk is never taking one."