The most common reason for businesses to fail in the first year or so is problems with cash flow. Companies may have overestimated their incoming revenues and underestimated their outgoing business costs, or they may have overinvested in inventory, physical space, or equipment. Companies can improve their cash flow by reducing expenses, or making extra equipment or space available to rent, but that’s not always possible.

Ultimately, the way to build a business over time is to increase your sales. These five tips will help you increase your sales when your budget is low.

1. Build a Social Media Presence

More and more customers access the internet through their mobile devices, and many of them expect the companies they’re interacting with to have a social media presence. At the bare minimum, companies should have a Facebook page that lists their hours of operation, their phone number, and some general information about the company.

Even better, the company should create a regular schedule of social media posts and sharing that will be relevant to the community. Boosted posts aren’t necessary, though they can be helpful in the right situations. Basically, this shows your customers that you’re an active, engaged company that is looking to connect with its customers.

If you run a restaurant or similar business, make sure that your menu is available online. More and more customers choose what they want before they even leave the house; making your business tempting will help generate more sales.

2. Volunteer In The Community

More than ever before, customers want to see brands and companies stepping up to speak out on social justice and participate in the local community. By associating your brand with these positive actions, you will attract the attention of both local customers and customers who care about these issues. And volunteering at events doesn’t take much more than time.

To get involved, contact the organizers of a local event. Let them know that your company would be interested in participating in some way, and find out what opportunities might be available. Perhaps a sponsorship might be available; a table handing out event products might be useful. Make sure that your company name will be mentioned in some way, whether that be on programs and flyers as a sponsor or volunteer, or possibly that your volunteers can wear company t-shirts to connect your brand with the event.

3. Promotional Products

Companies sometimes pick promotional products almost at random, slap their logo on them, and then wonder why their sales aren’t improving. Promotional products, when chosen carefully, can really help boost your sales and be budget friendly – but you do need to choose them carefully.

Think about what your ideal customer might want. Do they need another tote bag? Will a high quality pen appeal to them, especially if it has a stylus tip on one end? Are travel mugs just the thing to fit your brand and interest your customers?

Promotional products can be given away for free, or be available for purchase. Sometimes, when a customer makes a particularly large purchase, you might choose to give an item as a free add-on. This can make the customer feel special and increase the chances that they’ll come back.

4. Invest In Your Staff

Few, if any, customers will return after a negative experience with your business; it makes sense, therefore, to ensure that their experiences are positive. Unless you are a solopreneur, your customers will sometimes be interacting with other staff members. You need to make sure those interactions are as fruitful as possible (without hovering over every single conversation). How do you do this?

  • Make sure your staff are properly trained on products, processes, and branding.
  • Keep staff up to date and regularly ensure that they know about new products or upcoming events.
  • Follow up on concerns or complaints raised by customers The customer isn’t always right, but it’s worth investigating what the customer says.

Sometimes businesses hire lower quality employees, figuring that they’ll find the best of the best as they grow. They don’t realize that if they don’t start with great employees, they may never get the chance to grow at all.

5. Raise Your Prices

This may seem counter-intuitive, but if your sales are struggling, look at why. You may be underselling your services and products. Customers operate by the saying “you get what you pay for;” this is commonly understood to mean that if you buy cheap goods, you’ll get something that doesn’t last. But this means, in reverse, that if customers see that your prices are significantly lower than the competition, they assume that you must be doing less work or lower quality work. Raising your prices can both increase your profit margin and improve the perception of what your company is offering.

If there’s a good reason your prices are lower – you manufacture something in house, for example, or don’t need to go through a traditional supplier and therefore have lower cost that you can pass along – let the customer know that will clear and decisive messaging. This will help them feel like they’re getting a bargain, instead of something cheap.