One way to reach your goal is to figure out which marketing avenues to leverage. Given the wealth of social-media possibilities, start with one or two social-media outlets where you know your audience is. In general, for new products the best channels are Facebook and Pinterest, says Widmer. For expertise and services, try LinkedIn.
Also, two effective and free marketing strategies are blogging on your own site and guest blogging on complementary sites. This strategy helps build content and a digital footprint for your brand, says Widmer. For guidance on what hot topics to blog about, Buzzsumo, a free web service, allows you to input any domain or topic and get a list of the 10 most popular related posts at the moment. It can also inform you of what popular sites to hit up for guest blogging.
Should you guest blog, use the opportunity to lead users back to your site and capture emails, says Widmer. One way to do so is to use a “call to action” — where you offer the reader something of value, such as a free how-to eBook or a must-have checklist — that the user can get or download by going back to your website and providing an email address.
Some other marketing tools? The free KingSumo app allows you to capture email subscribers through giveaways; Facebook Ads start at $1; and the e-newsletter tool MailChimp has a free option and is drag-and-drop easy.
Related: The 4 Basics of Making Money on the Internet
5. Do as much yourself as you can.
The DIY mentality will usually save you money if your budget is limited. Also, it allows you to control the process and brand, explains Callinan, who built his ecommerce site from scratch by talking to others who’d already done ecommerce sites successfully. Don’t farm out jobs you can do yourself, especially in the beginning.
If you need on-demand expertise from entrepreneurs with a track record, try Clarity, says Widmer. The service allows the user to get specific, consultant-level advice for a fee.
All startups are a gamble — but as Patel advises, whose company will hit $10 million in revenue this year, “Hone in on where your strengths are and double down.”