16 Simple Ways to Affordably Grow A Small Business

From the expert members of the Forbes Business Council come 16 tips on how to grow your small business without breaking the bank. The tips cover a wide variety of ideas and strategies. New marketing strategies, networking, customer referrals, and partnerships are all covered in addition to much more. Pick the one idea that is best for you, try a few at a time, or use them all. 

Contrary to popular belief, growing a small business can be done without costing a fortune. It comes down to the investments an entrepreneur makes in the business, being careful to ensure that each new effort is about building and maintaining relationships and providing value.

As business experts, the members of Forbes Business Council are familiar with the actions it takes to affordably grow a small business. Read their recommendations below to determine what low-cost methods may work best for your business.

1. Carry Out A Marketing Strategy

Grow a small business by implementing an intentional marketing strategy that includes three daily activities. First, a marketing activity whereby if you do it today, you get paid today. Second, an activity where if you do it today, you can get paid today or next week. Finally, an activity where if you do it today, you’ll get paid at some point in the future. These activities allow for immediate revenue and scalability. – Carson Porter, REV Agency Syndicate

2. Talk About Your Business

I believe that it is important that you actually talk about your business. You may be very good at what you do, and your product or service may be top tier, but if no one knows, you and your product or service don’t exist. Speak up. – Michael J. Polk, Polk Properties / Matrix Properties

3. Join Community Groups

Join a bunch of local community groups on Facebook and recommend your company. Invite your past customers there as well, letting them become brand ambassadors for your company. If you have a referral program in place, this will increase the likelihood that past customers will go out of their way to promote you! – Michael Stearns, Ascend Digital Agency

4. Nurture Your Current Client Base

Retention, referrals and reviews are keys to sustaining the growth of small businesses. Acquiring new clients is more expensive than retaining existing ones. Nurturing the existing clientele during all touchpoints is key to growing a small business in a low-cost way. – Marilisa Barbieri

5. Use Social Media

One low-cost way to grow a small business is to use social media to reach a wider audience. With social media, businesses can connect with potential customers for free and build relationships that can lead to sales. Additionally, businesses can use social media to create content that can help them rank higher in search engines, which can also lead to more website visitors and sales. – Matthew Ramirez, Rephrasely

6. Share Useful Content

Publish useful and interesting content on social media. You’ll build your brand while simultaneously establishing yourself as an expert on a subject. – Jo Stephens, Law Firm Sites, Inc

7. Leverage Customer Referrals

Look to leverage network effects. How can you create excitement among your early customers or adopters whereby they are telling friends and family? Hyper focus on these customers and ensure that they are 100% satisfied. They will go the distance for you in referrals and positive word-of-mouth. – Ed Beltran, Fierce Conversations

8. Automate Repetitive Tasks And Processes

Use technology to automate business systems and processes. Too many business owners are trying to do all the work themselves. Repetitive tasks in marketing, operations and sales processes can oftentimes be automated so that the business owner has more time to focus on prospecting, selling, relationship building and growing the customer base personally. – Amiee Ball, JAB Consulting Group

9. Amplify Your Brand Through Merch

Creating brand awareness is key to small business growth. One cost-effective way to get noticed and stay top of mind with prospective customers is to incorporate branded merchandise into marketing programs. Build merchandise into almost every campaign, from grand opening celebrations and outreach marketing programs to client referrals and even employee recruitment events to increase visibility and maximize ROI. – Valerie Hayman Sklar, Corporate Specialties LLC

10. Partner With Influencers

Collaborate with micro-influencers. Depending on your industry, you can barter with micro-influencers for a low-cost promotion in exchange for awareness and growth of your brand’s products or services. More often than not, word-of-mouth is one of the most effective ways of marketing and growing your small business. – Aidan Healy, Healy Consultants Group PLC

11. Leverage Public Speaking Opportunities

When someone invites you to speak at events or podcasts, say yes! Then, build relationships from there. People will be aware of what your expertise is and how valuable it is. At the same time, you can offer help if needed, like a fast consultation if they need one. It’s a great way to start building referrals as well. – Lane Kawaoka, SimplePassiveCashflow.com

12. Reach Out To Your Network

Look within your network for others who have successfully started and grown a small business. Reach out to them for advice and mentorship. It’s amazing what can come out of a focused conversation with someone who has done similar work, even if it’s only twenty minutes on the phone. – Andy Zhao, Ark7

13. Diversify Your Customer Base

Look for opportunities to diversify your customer or client base. Customers are not a homogenous group, and small businesses need to think of them as “market segments.” Is what you’re selling appealing to women and men? Is how you sell equally enticing for people of color and white people? How do you connect with an LGBTQ2+ audience? Not everyone has the same needs. – Michael Bach, CCDI Consulting

14. Be Customer-Centric

It all starts by serving one customer. If you focus on providing value to the humans that trust your product or service and do it consistently, your business will grow. Be customer-obsessed because if your customers get a “wow” factor and more value for their dollars, they will be your walking billboard. – Brandon Pena, 787 Coffee

15. Focus On The Customer Experience

Focus on delighting your customers. Referrals are the single best way to attract other talented employees and to find those who can benefit from using your product or service. – Aaron Painter, Nametag

16. Conduct Thorough Research Before Making Decisions

Low cost means using time well. Talk to people who’ve gone before you and use books, podcasts and articles about leadership, strategy, culture, alignment, operational excellence and customer care. Learn how to avoid costly blind spots and capitalize on opportunities by connecting with strategic allies to make the right decisions. The biggest cost is having to clean up unnecessary errors. – Jerry Cahn, Age Brilliantly


Expert Panel Forbes Council Member. “16 Simple Ways to Affordably Grow A Small Business,” Small Business, 2 June 2022, Forbes,