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When starting a business it is difficult to put aside an amount for marketing and it’s hard to justify how much should be spent.

When I started my business Rentabuggy.co.uk in 2008 I spent a couple of thousand pounds on marketing within the first six months but was surprised to find that I didn’t get many results from it. Here are my top five tips for advertising on a low budget.

  1. Network. Networking is free and many businesses are becoming more involved. Networking is a great way to work with like minded businesses on a like for like basis. Shortly after setting up my own company, I set up another company with my business partner called Networking Mummies Dorset and we now have over 150 businesses involved. We share knowledge, advice and advertising and I now use this as my main stream for advertising my own business.
  2. Press release. If you have a newsworthy story involving your business then write a press release. Press releases are a great way to showcase some exciting information you may have with the media. Make a list of local newspapers, radio stations and magazines within your sector and email them. Always write the press release in the body of the email as well as attaching it as a document. For great tips on writing a press release check out www.mumsclub.co.uk.
  3. Reciprocal links. Research businesses on the internet that are in the same sector as you and email them to ask if they would like to do a ‘reciprocal’ link. This means you add a link to your website with their information and vice versa. This is a good way to try increasing traffic to your website.
  4. Facebook. Facebook was originally launched as a social media portal for friends to stay in touch but has since become a great way to advertise your business. Set up a fan page and invite all your friends. Hopefully, they will then request their friends to join and so on.
  5. Blog. Blogging is a great way to keep your customers updated with news, offers and more. You don’t have to be a great writer to write a blog and this can be kept simple. Linking with other companies will help your search engine results too.

Laura Morris, Rentabuggy.co.uk

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Dear aspiring mumpreneur,

I’m writing this open letter to you to outline some crucial points that I wish someone had laid out for me. I’ll keep it as short as possible because I know your time is precious but I’m sure that if you read this through, you’ll save a ton of time in the long run.

If you are truly serious about becoming a part of the wonderful world of mumpreneurialism, read carefully what I have written below, you’ll gain the information you need to act now and get in the right mindset.

Here are, not necessarily in the best order, my top tips to set you on your way:

  • You don’t need a university education to start a business… but you do need passion. If you have enough passion for what you are about to embark on then your chances of success are already sky high.
  • Market research ― please do your market research before you steam ahead with any product or idea. Just because you think it’s good – doesn’t mean it is and on the flip side, if someone tells you it sucks ― it doesn’t mean that it does. You need to get out there and research your target market, then and only then can you move forward.
  • Do your best to start your business on a shoe string, and then start to invest the revenue you make back in. You won’t turn a ‘profit’ for some time but your business asset will be growing substantially.
  • You have an array of skills at your disposal because you are a resourceful woman but it never hurts to brush up or learn new skills as you go. Unless you are hiring professionals you will need to know about marketing, social media, basic technical skills (if you don’t have a web designer), search engines, advertising, networking, blogging… but before you panic, there are resources out there to make this process painless and you don’t need to be an expert, you just need to know the basics and get a little bit of experience and training.
  • Find a mentor or a few people that you admire and have a good connection with. If they are knowledgeable and willing to help you, then grab it with both hands and learn from them. It’s far better to connect, follow and utilise a small number of people rather than hopping from site to site trying to find answers.
  • Be strict with your time – time management is an art and one that you would do well to master. Some of the key areas to running a successful business are self-discipline, focus and managing your time effectively. Procrastination is an entrepreneur’s worst enemy and very common downfall. My best piece of advice here is to get yourself a simple kitchen timer and work in solid chunks of thirty minutes at a time. Within that period you focus on the task at hand – no email, no calls no Twitter (gasp!) or Facebook ― unless of course networking is your thirty minute task.
  • Fail fast – I suggested you do your research and work on some skills but ultimately put something out there, get going, don’t drag your heels waiting for perfection. If your project isn’t going to work then fail fast and move on to the next venture.
  • Set yourself up with a blog – preferably a self-hosted WordPress blog. Start talking about your business with the passion that you have for it. Draw your niche market in to your blog with insightful posts about you, your business, your plans and anything else that will interest THEM.
  • Network and revel in the strong support of the Mumpreneur community that is already out there. You’ll never be judged, you’ll always receive encouragement, opinions, advice and you will have the opportunity to create partnerships and life-long friends. Remember that these Mumpreneurs know exactly the struggles, hopes, fears and aspirations you have, because they have them too. Whilst it’s really important to get your family and friends behind you, the Mumpreneurs you meet online will understand your business goals and any problems you face far better than any of your offline friends. So don’t be afraid to reach out to them.
  • Learn the way of the Web 2.0 world of marketing and build relationships with your customers. Be completely transparent and react quickly to any queries, complaints or mentions of your business. Times have changed and the playing field has been leveled – you have the same social tools to market your business as the big guns, so utilise them well.
  • Suppress your whiny inner voice – the one that tells you you’re useless and makes you doubt every move that you make. Have faith in yourself and believe that you will succeed. If you can get yourself into the right mindset then half your battle is won. Never lose sight of your goals, always tackle everything with a passion and drive that feels like fuel running through you ― if it doesn’t feel like that ― something isn’t right!
  • Finally – be happy! Make time for yourself and your family because without them it will all be for nothing. You will need to work hard, you’ll likely be up to the early hours of the morning day in, day out to make this really work, but the passion you have for it will see you through, the love for your family will keep you going and the time and patience you allow yourself on this journey of discovery will make you feel proud, enlightened and like you’ve scaled the highest mountain.

So there you have it, the open advice that I wish I could have received when I first started out. I hope that it serves you well and that you go on to be truly successful and accomplish all that you set out to achieve. Maybe you could look me up in the Mumpreneur community and let me know how you’re getting on sometime ― I’d love to hear all about it.

So, from one Mumpreneur to another – good luck, stay focused and live each day to the max!

Nikki Backshall, WebMums.com

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Create a professional looking site in under 30 minutes: Easy things to install on your web hosting

If you need to create a presence on the Internet and you already have web hosting, then there are a few things that you can do to create a professional looking site in under 30 minutes.

Blogging – WordPress
Using a blog is one of the most effective ways to build a following and create a professional web presence with little fuss. The results won’t be immediate, but with continued blogging, you’ll soon start dominating your key search terms. Blog frequently, with no less than 300 words on topics related to the words that you’ve discovered people use when searching for your products or services.

WordPress is software that is completely customisable and can be used for practically anything you need. There is both a downloadable version, suitable for parking at your web host (e.g. http://www.myblog.com), as well as more limited online version (e.g. myblog.wordpress.com).

Due to the flexibility of WordPress, you can tailor the look of your blog accordingly by downloading hundreds of free WordPress themes, or by purchasing one that better suits your needs. You can also engage WordPress designers to create bespoke themes at a later stage if you wish to add to the unique nature of your blog.

These days, it’s possible to use specially designed software to convert or transform your WordPress blog into a Joomla Site so that if you want to give your blog greater functionality and potential later, then it’s possible.

CMS – Joomla
Joomla is a powerful Content Management System, or CMS, which easily allows you to build your own website. Many successful businesses that do not want to spend a fortune on designers fees and wish to retain complete control of their website choose Joomla software. Joomla is easy to use, flexible and can be tailored to your precise needs. It’s completely free to download and there’s a great deal of help and support both on Joomla’s website and across the Internet.

A content management system will help you to get found on the Internet. The CMS organises and maintains all of the content on your website and presents it to you in a way that makes it very easy for you to create, edit and publish your content to the website. With Joomla you can add music, text, photos, video – whatever you need, it’s all very simple. The main advantage of using Joomla is that CMS systems like this do not require you to have any programming skills, so once you’ve mastered the basics of Joomla, you can quickly create great looking pages without the need for technical expertise or experience.

Forums/Community Site – SimpleMachines
A great way to create interest in your site, build online credibility and drive traffic towards your products or services is to create a forum or community site. You can add an online community to your website using Simple Machines Forum. They offer a professional software that’s completely free and only takes a few minutes to setup and get running. It has a completely customisable layout and unique technology allowing your website and the forum software to work together seamlessly.

A forum is the perfect tool for bringing people to your site. There they can express their opinions on a range of subjects, all under your watchful eye, and every comment or question they add helps you to attract more people to your site.

So what are you waiting for?

Peter Gradwell, Gradwell

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