Small Business Support For Those On A Tight Budget

by Stu McLaren

Nobody starts on top. You have to find ways to overcome the one obstacle that every entrepreneur has in the beginning.

If you’re looking to market yourself and your business on a tight budget, you’ve got to learn to be creative and you’ve got to learn to start asking creative questions.

Questions like:

1) How could I…

A different question to get started with:

2) Who could assist me with This is a great question. Who could assist me with

Here’s another one:

3) Who do I know that would exchange for ?

What about this one:

4) How can I do this faster, with less effort, cheaper? Could I do this for free?

Try and answer this question:

5) Could I substitute ‘X’ for ‘Y’? What could I substitute to get ‘ABC’ instead of ‘XYZ’? Just think of whatever you wanted to do, how could you substitute for ‘XYZ’?

This next one is a great one because it puts you in the shoes of other people, someone who is thinks completely different than you.

6) How would solve this problem?

Here is an example: How would my wife solve this problem? How would my mentor, child, neighbor solve this problem? By asking yourself this question you really have to look at things from a different perspective.

These questions amongst others have opened up all kinds of opportunities for me, and they’ve been the oxygen – the lifeblood – of my career and the success that I’m experiencing.

I’ll show you an example of how I used this method of creative questioning to help me.

I decided to become a professional speaker as soon as I was done University. My focus was speaking to college and high school students about the topic of creativity. I focused on creativity because with it I was able to move from a first year failure in University to graduating being named Most Outstanding Male with straight A’s. I changed a lot between how I did things in first year to my last year, and I credit a lot of it to learning something I had become very passionate about, creative thinking.

Even though I had decided that this is what I wanted to do, I had no idea about becoming a professional speaker, or if I could turn it into a profitable business.

The first thing I did was join the local chapter of CAPS, The Canadian Association for Professional Speakers.

It was at one of the local meetings were I asked a gentleman, who was doing very well with his speaking career, “What did I have to do to get to where he was?” He replied by saying, “I’ll give you three things to get started on. Once you finish those come back and I’ll give you some more.” He said it would be simple, so I said, “Okay.”

“The first thing you need to do is surround yourself with people who are in the same industry as yourself. Join CAPS, it will help your business grow.” I said, “Okay.”

So I shelled out the $200 to join the CAPS organization. It was a squeeze for me. In fact, I specifically remember asking if I could put it on payments, which I did. I joined the CAPS organization.

He continued saying, “The second thing you have to do is get to the CAPS National Conference” At this point I thought to myself, ‘How am I going to do that? The conference that year was being held on the other side of Canada. With the seminar being pretty expensive itself, plus traveling costs, it was really expensive. I had no money, so everything at that point was expensive for me

I needed to find a creative solution. Here’s what I did. I asked myself some creative questions. What I started to do was look at what I had that, perhaps, somebody might need and want.

One thing I that I had at that point was time itself. Because I had just started my speaking business I wasn’t speaking very often, so I knew I had some time I could offer.

I started to then rack my brain about how I could use that time to benefit someone else. By asking myself that question I came up with a campaign called, ‘Helt Stu Be Like You.’

This is how I used my creative thinking. The largest chapter of CAPS in my province consisted of about 75 people. I went to one of their meetings and asked if I could have 30 seconds in front of them.

This was something that nobody had ever asked for. While up there I said, “How many of you, at one point, started off as a speaker with no experience?” Of course everybody’s hands went up in the air.

“Awesome,” I said. “Keep your hand up if you have ever attended the CAPS national conference before.” Seventy-five percent of the group kept their hands up.

I continued, “Of those who have been able to attend the conference, how many of you believe it would be beneficial for a new speaker, with no experience to be able to go?” Everyone kept their hands up.

I said, “Great. Because I am somebody with zero speaking experience that you just said needs to get out to that CAPS national conference.”

Then I said, “But here’s the problem. I don’t have any money. But what I do have is time. Here’s the exchange I’m willing to make and hope that you are willing to make as well. I’ve created a campaign called Help Stu Be Like You.” And I handed out these little flyers, black and white. Basically what I did was I printed two 8×6 flyers on an 8-1/2 x 11 sheet to save costs, and I just cut it right down the middle and I gave everybody in the audience one.

I said, “Here’s what I’m willing to do. I’m willing to do all the dirty work that you speakers don’t like doing or don’t have time to do. I will make sales calls for you. I will write sales letters for you. I will lick stamps for you. I will cut your grass. I’ll even wipe your baby’s bottom, if that’s what you want me to do, for a financial contribution of your choice.”

I could see some of them in the audience were just licking their chops thinking, “Oh my goodness. This is awesome. I’m going to get cheap labor.”

I finished up by saying, “Whatever you don’t like doing I will do, in exchange for an financial contribution of your choice. Everything I make from this campaign will go directly towards getting me out to the CAPS national conference.”

I finished explaining my campaign and immediately a gentleman at the back of the room stood up. He said, “Stu, I will pay for your entrance fee to the seminar.” Just like that, half of my costs were taken care of!

Immediately following that, another gentleman stood up and he said, “Stu, and I will pay for the cost to get you out there.” Boom, boom. Eighty-five percent of all of my expenses were taken care of just like that.

That is what being creative can enable you to do.

That one creative solution got me out to that conference. It turned out to be a big story because all kinds of people heard about it there and I even had an article published in the national publication.

Always remember to explore your creativity and may ideas come to you when you need them the most.

Stay posted for more!

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