Business Spending Dos and Don’t on a tight budget.

If you have a dollar and a dream, this one is for you!

person holding bank card
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This post is for my friends with a dollar and a dream. For the person who really wants to start, promote, or elevate their business on a tight budget. To be clear, I DO think you need to spend money to make money. If you are spending money that leads to growth though, what you’re really doing is investing in your business. Depending on how much money you have to invest, there are certain things you can do on your own or do without.

With that being said, the first step is creating an expense budget for your business. I’d recommend using the Profit First model (this model says you should only spend 30% of your revenue on expenses). For example if your revenue is $1,000/month then your expense budget should be $300/month. Now if you still aren’t making revenue, then use your targeted revenue to make your budget, for example, if you’d like to be making $300/month, budget your expenses at $90/month. I like this method because it’s simple and it helps keep expenses low.

What categories should you include in your expense budget?!

There are 3 major areas that entrepreneur and star of The Profit, Marcus Lemonis, says he focuses on in his businesses — people, product, process. I’m going to add two more— marketing and branding. Again, your budget will determine how much can go towards each of these 5 categories (if anything at all)).

Dos and Don’t when the budget is tight.

People

Hiring people could speed up your progress and free up some of your time to do more important tasks than the task at hand (e.g admin work, social media posts). The problem is that the budget might not allow for additional staff or even consultants. For this category DO use contracted workers for special projects when necessary. For example, occasionally hiring a photographer for professional pictures of a new product could be worth the one time expense. DON’T hire additional staff or ongoing consultants until your budget allows.

Process

Process refers to all the administrative tasks and tools you use to make your business run well. This includes things like your scheduling system (if your business is service based) or your website. DON’T just sell your products or services for free on social media without purchasing a website. You don’t own anything on social media and you could lose all your followers (and sales) without notice. DO create your own website to protect yourself from losing your potential clients and revenue streams. DON’T use a free website. The free version will not let you use a unique domain and will likely include a watermark on your website. This gives your brand an amateur look and decreases credibility. Besides, websites are relatively inexpensive— you could sign up for a Shopify store right now for as little as $9/month. DO use other free tools, such as email marketing subscriptions and scheduling systems, when you are first starting out. DO upgrade once your income increases.

Product

If you are a new business owner, you need to make sure your products are good quality and something that your customers would recommend to their friends and loved one. DO research supply costs for your specific product and compare that to the market value and your budget. DON’T select cheaper materials that will cheapen the look, feel and application of your product and disappoint your customers. DON’T be afraid to spend a little extra making a really great product, especially since word of mouth, reviews and recommendations are still the best ways to sell products and services.

Marketing

Since we are talking about spending in this post, marketing in this context is paid promotions i.e ads. It is important to be strategic and intentional about your marketing strategy, especially on a tight budget. The U.S Small Business Administration recommends spending between 7-8 percent of gross revenue on marketing, however, most of the available research shows that small businesses spend just around 1%. No matter what your marketing budget is, you want to make sure each dollar is working hard to make you a sale. DO take your time learning about ads management. DO make sure you understand how to read your ads data and how to adjust your ads for maximum return on investment. If you’d rather not learn how to manage ads, DO hire an ads specialist. If you don’t have the budget to hire a specialist, DON’T run ads. Ads are dynamic and their effectiveness can change over time, so it is very important to learn how to set up and interpret your ads or hire someone who can.

Branding

Branding refers to your graphics, your designs, your business’ overall esthetic. There are several tools that offer free templates for creating an appealing and cohesive brand. DO start off using free tools like Canva to create your graphics and other designs. If you have some funds, DO use services like Fiverr or 99Designs to hire a one time, inexpensive designer that can create a brand kit for you to use in all your graphics. DON’T hire ongoing designers until your budget allows.

Summary

In the end, you can run a successful business with very few expenses— just keep in mind that if it doesn’t cost you money, it will likely cost you time. From the five categories mentioned, you can save the most money on people and branding. I’d recommend spending a little bit of money on process, especially on creating a professional looking website and an email capturing system. And finally, you should spend the bulk of your money on making a phenomenal product and on making effective ads that will convert.

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Cat Marte is a Small Business Coach + Social Media Strategist who helps success driven people launch and grow their small businesses using online marketing strategies. Book your free introductory call today.

How to juggle your 9-5 and your side hustle.

silver macbook on white table
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So you’ve decided to start a business (or maybe you’re calling it a side hustle, passion project— other income generating activity), and now you realize it takes A LOT more work than you’d expected. You’ve found yourself wondering how in the world you are suppose to manage your full time job, your new business and your social/personal life without burning out?!

Honestly, I’m not going to sugar coat it, the struggle is real!

This is something I’ve had to grapple with since I started my blog in 2018, and even more so once it morphed into a small business at the start of 2020. At first I completely overwhelmed myself with unending to-do lists, self-inflicting pressure, and unnerving anxiety about the future. I asked myself, “What if all this work is for nothing?” or “What if I’m not doing enough?” or “How much do other entrepreneurs do?” It was just a constant stream of questions that only added to my stress and burnout.

Over the last year, I’ve tried a bunch of different techniques to reduce my workload and increase my productivity. Everything from batching content to hiring an assistant, I’ve tried it all. I quickly learned there really aren’t any shortcuts— if you want results, you have to put in the work— but, there are definitely ways to reduce stress and work more efficiently.

How to get it all done

Let someone else do it

The number one thing I recommend is to delegate! Get someone else to do the nitty gritty or the things you aren’t particularly good at and don’t have the time/desire to learn. Things like social media posts, email copy, and marketing ads can all be handed to someone else who would probably get better results than you anyways (if that’s not your thing). I tried this method for a couple of months and was absolutely thrilled with the results.

Considerations

If you go this route you do need to invest money and time (but not as much time as doing it yourself). When I hired a social media assistant, I met with them every week to make sure we were on the same page about the content strategy. During these meetings I worked closely with my assistant to make sure they understood my niche and my messaging. I also spent time reviewing all the content and adding notes to help them understand why certain things wouldn’t work for my audience. Essentially, an outside source can only learn your niche and your personal preferences overtime, so make sure you have the budget and the longterm mindset before signing anyone on.

Find the right time

Whether you’ve hired help or not, you need to have solid time management skills in order to be successful at juggling your full time job and your business. To maximize my time, I first figured out when I had the most energy and enthusiasm to work on my business, and then set my schedule around that time. Before this, I thought I’d work on my business after my 9-5, thinking there were more waking hours after work than before work. This ended up backfiring when I realized I was too tired to get anything done after work. Things drastically change when I switched to working before my 9-5. Even though I only had an hour and a half to two hours to get work done, I found myself getting so much more done because I was alert and energized.

Considerations

If you aren’t sure when you have the most energy, try working at different times around your 9-5 and see when you feel most energized and how much you can get done in that time. One very important note is to remember to prioritize your 9-5 job and be fully committed to getting work done for your employer. This is super important because (perhaps temporarily) your 9-5 is your main source of income and you don’t want to jeopardize your main source of income before you are ready to fully transition into your business full time or without having something else lined up.

Set longer deadlines

It’s so tempting to look at someone else’s business and think, “How are they so far ahead of me?!” Believe me, I’ve been there, done that, but honestly, no two people have the same situation and no two businesses have the same trajectory. It’s really important to manage expectations in any case, but especially if you are juggling a full time job and a side business. A good rule of thumb is to give yourself twice as much time than you would like to complete your goals. For example, if you’d like to start profiting $100/day in the next 6 months, give yourself a year to reach that goal. The reason why I recommend this is because you are essentially running your business on a part-time basis so it will likely take you twice as long to reach your goal.

Considerations

You don’t always have to push back your deadlines and prolong your goals, but you do need to be realistic and understand your capacity so that you do not burnout trying to accomplish unrealistic goals. One way to speed up the process is to delegate. Hiring professionals to help you market, for example, will help you achieve your goals with more efficiency. Another way to speed up the process is by hiring a business coach. A coach can help you set SMART goals and keep you accountable every week so that you don’t fall off the deep end one week and lose weeks and weeks of progress.

Get the right things done

I firmly believe it is possible to get all the things done— just not all at once. When you are working full time and trying to build a profitable business on the side, time is of the essence. I am not going to go in depth on this point because I wrote an entire blog post on this topic which you can find here: 3 Tips for getting EVERYTHING done on your To-Do list. In summary though, you have to make a decision on what is absolutely necessary to get done and what will move your business forward.

The Bottom Line

There are notable success stories from people who work full time jobs and have profitable side businesses. With the right set up, you can eventually transition from your full time job to a full time business owner, like Jade from WeSideHustle and countless others, OR you can continue to grow your side business and keep your full time job, like Leo from @Leo.jeanloius and countless others. There are so many ways you can leverage multi income streams, but FIRST, use these tips to set up your foundation and master the art of juggling your job and your side business.

Enjoyed this post? I’m a small business entrepreneur looking to spread the love! Please Like, Comment & Share with friends!


Cat Marte is a Small Business Coach + Social Media Strategist who helps success driven people launch and grow their small businesses using social media marketing strategies. Book your free introductory call today.

You can’t sell on social media without being social.

liking a photo on instagram
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I’m just going to say it— It’s a myth that you need to have a large following to convert followers into customers on social media. In fact, as of today I have 570 followers on Instagram and I’ve converted followers to customers on my social media! Another fact, large accounts don’t necessarily convert. You could spend your days posting inspirational quotes or catchy content that attracts followers but does NOT convert those followers to customers.

Engagement is the name of the game

Instagram’s goal is to have users spend as much time on the app as possible. To do this it pushes content that the algorithm predicts the user will like. In other words, if a user constantly liking cat memes, Instagram’s algorithm will show them more cat memes. But it doesn’t stop at likes! Instagram is monitoring all the the user’s activity on the app— likes, comments, swipes, saves, shares, and even engagement time (the amount of time they spend looking at a post).

Okay great, Instagram is literally big brother, so what? So, you can use this information to increase your reach and visibility. The more engagement you can get, the more Instagram will push your content to your audience. Keep reading for tips on increasing your engagement levels.

But first, things to keep in mind

If you are using social media to sell products and services then your main objective is not just to increase engagement, but to convert followers into customers. This means going beyond the like button and creating content that is valuable and entices your followers to comment, DM you, share and save. WHY? Getting lots of likes is great but it is also a passive way to engage with content while commenting, DMing, shares and saves are active ways of engaging with content. Think about it, if someone likes your content so much that they decide to share it, isn’t that more engaging than casually passing by and liking?

Also keep in mind that Instagram is not only tracking what your audience is doing, it is also tracking what YOU are doing on the app. This means you need to be mindful of your activities and how that will impact your feed— the last thing you want is to have a feed full of cat memes and no potential customers.

Tips for increasing engagement

  1. To start things off on the right foot, you need to post engaging content! “But I don’t know what’s engaging content” Well that’s a bigger problem, but don’t worry, I got you, just message me if you need help.
  2. It’s not just about the bottom line: engage with all followers regardless of whether you believe they are a potential customer or not. First of all, you never know, do you? Second of all, they may never be customers themselves but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t share your content with someone who would be a client.
  3. Be strategic: the best times to engage with your audience are up to an hour before and an hour after you post on your feed. Engaging with your followers’ posts before you post will signal to the algorithm that you and those followers enjoy each other’s content, in turn pushing your content to their feed. After you post you’ll want to quickly respond to anyone who engages with your post. This is a good customer service practice that increases trust with you and your followers.

What do you think?

Did you find this post useful? I’d love to know your feedback. You can also check out more tips in my Ultimate Guide for growing your online business using social media.


Cat Marte is the founder of TheGoodLife Co, a lifestyle brand for new entrepreneurs who want to work smarter, not harder while building their online businesses. TheGoodLife Co offers business coaching, digital resources and more.