Author Pejman Ghadimi is the CEO of Secret Entourage and author of "Third Circle Theory," a book that explains how some of today's top visionaries are made.
I've been an entrepreneur for about six years. Having built two successful businesses, I implement the idea that being resourceful will have to be the primary method to grow whenever I start a new company. Remember that being resourceful doesn't always mean gaining equity for your company with every transaction; instead it's about understanding how to position your business to gain massive support from those around you.
While you may be inclined to disregard seemingly minor aspects of a business as an expense, those expenses eventually add up and can eat away at your new venture's financials, putting you in the red zone right from the beginning. Being resourceful means leveraging an idea as if no money or very little money were available, which forces you to consider partnerships instead of sponsorships and effectively pushes you to a whole new level of personal commitment to the idea or business. More importantly, it ensures that every idea you have doesn't end up costing you thousands if not tens of thousands right from the start.
Based on times when resourcefulness played a significant role in building my businesses, here are some tips to make your business go further without spending nearly as much.
Leverage Hidden Talent
Most are eager to hire top talent for their business; meanwhile I am the exact opposite. In the earlier phases of a business -- when you are still bootstrapping -- it's almost impossible to contract top talent. Great people are one of the most powerful resources, and they don't have to cost that much.
Hire people who have aptitude and creativity, but have never been given a chance. They will not only work for less, but will also typically work twice as hard to prove themselves. More importantly, they will grow under your leadership and within your company. I have found incredibly talented web designers in high school or college who barely made an income because they couldn't find work.
While it takes more effort to coach people on work ethic, and it may be difficult at times, in the long run it creates a systematic approach to scaling employees, salaries and the ability to cultivate mutually beneficial loyalty. This is how I built VIP Motoring, a business that today does well into an eight-figure revenue.
When we started, we could neither hire nor attract the best photographers, top automotive repair experts or most talented industry marketers. We were, however, able to find gifted photographers who lacked name recognition but whose style of photography showed potential -- people who took great photos without good equipment. We also found talented mechanics who were just exotic car enthusiasts but didn't have the track record to work on Ferraris, and we invested in training them. The idea wasn't to find the best, but rather to find capable people who had not yet been given a chance to succeed and give them the practice, training and equipment needed to grow with the business.
Use Partnerships to Pay for Advertisements
Having a marketing budget can be expensive and difficult to manage, which is why I recommend not having one at all to begin with. Social media is a great example: businesses buy advertisements on Facebook and Instagram to market their product and reach millions at a time, but I have taken a different route to benefit from it.
My social reach exceeds one million followers across multiple pages. While most would typically pay thousands to have partners promote their page or product, I instead chose to focus on creating an affiliate program that gives back to those who participate. By doing so, I can micro-target those who can plug and play on their pages. A regular campaign on Instagram can cost anywhere from $50 to $200, depending on how strong the outreach is. However, the same person can make $500 to $1000 per campaign by converting it into a sale, meaning for every $1000 they make, I make the same amount by creating a win-win platform (and not paying to advertise). The goal is to always lower expenses and grow revenue, and in this case, both were addressed with the solution. My online publication Secret Entourage leveraged this strategy to increase revenue by 25 percent and lower our marketing budget by 80 percent.
Become Informed; Don't Buy Ignorance
Starting a business, registering your corporation and maintaining your records can be costly. However, it's really a matter of using Google. When I wanted to start my digital branding agency Secret Consulting, I had just lost my 6-figure job and had to be very selective on where I spent money.
After spending $500 on a middleman service like Legal Zoom to incorporate my business, as well as a few hundred a month on an accountant, I realized that many of these services could have simply been eliminated with Google. A great example is doing your annual report for your corporation. Many businesses will send you a letter stating that "not filling your services can cost you penalties," and will make it seem like a long process in order to make their $300 sale. But in reality, numerous states allow you to log into their main site, fill out three quick lines about contact info and then allow you to pay $12 to finalize it in less than two minutes. There is no need to file these massive reports. Doing this on my own has allowed me to save thousands on insurance, registration and accounting. Leverage the power of self-education instead of paying your way to convenience.
As simple as these three steps are, all of them played a major role in my success. They follow the philosophy I continue to share, that most businesses will strive harder and reach further as long as they believe there is no alternative. Through resourcefulness, not resources, we will grow the furthest.