If you’re a small business owner, you know all too well that among the many challenges you face, what likely tops the list is how to advertise your business when you don’t have a substantive marketing budget. The likely scenario usually goes something like this: you want to grow but can’t afford to expand to a larger staff, a more prominent location, or more effective advertising. So, you do the best you can on a shoestring budget, running small ads in local publications and do some in-store promotions. You hired a local gal to create an inexpensive website for you and basically let it sit there, unaware if it’s doing anything for your business.

If this describes you, don’t be alarmed. You are not alone, by any means. Several years ago, I read a book called, The E-Myth, written by Michael E. Gerber, and it felt like a lightbulb went off in my head. The “E” in the title refers to the word, entrepreneur. The main theme of the book is the reason so many small businesses fail is because they are unable to be the entrepreneur (e.g. the one with the vision, able to see the business in the larger sense vs the day to day grinder who serves as more of a technician than entrepreneur). If you are like most small business owners, you are bogged down with the minutiae of the nuts and bolts of running the business and simply do not have the time or resources to become the entrepreneur the business desperately needs to grow.

Okay, take a deep breath. All is not lost. There is hope for small business owners to grow. First off, you will need to expand your knowledge in certain areas to save money. The key of how to advertise your business today usually starts with having an effective website. Hiring a web design agency without acknowledging the importance of SEO will likely result in a decent looking site that does very little for your business. While you likely will not want to learn coding skills, you can be involved in the all-important task of keyword analysis for your site. You’ve probably heard the expression about content is king. Search engines look for great matches between search terms and website content, among other factors. If your site has little matching content for what is being searched, it should come as no surprise that your site is generating little traffic.

Sign up for sites like www.lynda.com, or www.kwfinder.com, and learn a little about keyword analysis. You know your business to a degree unmatched by any vendor you would hire. So put that knowledge to work and develop a keyword game plan so that your website becomes another income generating source for the business. Learn a little bit about photography and maybe even Photoshop to help provide the proper imagery for your site and your ads. Join local networking groups to practice your pitch and find some non-competing business owners who might want to do some co-promotions with you.

Growing a small business is certainly challenging, but growing your own skill set is actually more fun and rewarding than you might think.