Business Development & Conflict Resolution

We assist individuals with starting their own businesses because small business is key to economic independence and community sustainability.

Archive for the month “December, 2013”

Marketing Your Business on a “Shoestring” Budget

Many small business owners believe that in order to successfully promote and advertise their business, they must spend a lot of money to do so. But, when you are first starting your business, a small business owner must learn to budget and manage the promoting and advertising of their business to get a regular flow of customers and clients. Many people do not realize that are many economical and inexpensive ways to promote their business to get a steady flow of customers and clients. There are many ways to promote your business without breaking your bank and it can be done on a “shoestring” budget. Here are some inexpensive and economical ways to market your business, especially when you are just starting out.

    First way to market your business, without breaking the bank, is networking by going to social events that are geared towards your field of business. By networking you can create strategic partnerships with other business owners who provide similar services or products as you do. With these strategic partnerships, you can establish a network of business owners who can become a great referral source for future clients. Also, creating a referral list of other business owners for your clients is a good way to ensure that you have a regular flow of clients or customers in the future. Whenever attend social events, ensure that you have plenty of business cards ready to hand out to other business owners and potential clients. Also, ensure that you have your “30 second” sales pitch ready to introduce yourself and your business to others. Networking is critical to promoting your business because it gives you the chance to hone your skills in selling your business to potential clients, it allows you meet other business owners, and it allows you to create business relationships that can last a lifetime.

    Second way to market your business is by joining business organizations, social organizations, and social groups in relation to your field of business. Joining business organizations, social organizations, and social groups is way to connect with other business owners and a positive way to promote your business. Also, many business organizations and social groups have yearly membership fees from $0 to $300 per year, but the fees are worth it. Many business organizations provide not just good events to attend, but also seminars and workshops that can provide you with valuable training and information to run your business more efficiently. Such groups or organizations even provide “retreat events” that you can attend to focus on relaxing and valuable training at the same time. Social groups and social organizations are a good and economical way to promote your business and connect with other business owners. These individuals can be a good resource and good support system to deal with the everyday “pains and headaches” that may come up with running your own business.

    Third way to market your business on a “shoestring budget” is by joining social media groups in Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, and many other social facets. With many of these social media tools, you can create a business page for your business, which can be a way for you to provide valuable information to the public about your business, keep your customers update on events you will have, providing valuable information to your audience that they can use in their everyday life, and keeping clients or customers up to date on sales or specials you may be promoting for your services or products. Social media groups allow you to connect with other business owners and share valuable information with each other. To be successful with social media tools, it is always good to check-in to your social media groups at least three times a week, respond to others blogs and articles as well, and do not be afraid to write articles or blog yourself. Also, with many social media groups, there are rules and regulations you must follow, so please familiarize yourself with each groups rules and regulations on posting.

    Fourth way to market your business cheaply, is by creating a blog page and internet radio station to promote your business, this normally depends on what services or products you are selling. Some blogs and internet radio stations are free and some cost, when first starting your business, it is best to go with the providers that are free. Once you start generating a regular cash flow for your business, then it is good to pay for the blog and internet radio services because you get more services with your subscription. Blogs are a way for you to promote your business as a form of “informational article”, this type of article gives your audience information that may be beneficial to them and lets them know you can provide such services if needed. Blogs also allow you to let the audience know that you are an expert in your business field and the audience gets a sense that you are not afraid to share viable information with them. Blogs are a good way to promote your business because it gives you an avenue to promote your business and allows you to have a broader audience to connect with potential clients and customers. WordPress provides free blogging services for individuals to promote their business and there are other blogging providers out there that are free or economically priced. Blog Talk Radio provides free internet radio services for individuals to promote their business on internet radio and there are other internet radio providers that provide such services free or at an economical rate. With internet radio you are allowed to discuss topics in your field of expertise and it is a way for you to interact with your potential customer base because with radio individuals are allowed to call in and ask questions. Also, with internet radio it is a way for you to assist other business owners with promoting their business by having them as guests on your radio show. Blogging and internet radio are good resources to promote your business in an efficient and economical way.

    The final way to promote your business on a “shoestring” budget is by developing and creating a website for your business. Sites like Vista Print and Go Daddy provide web development services for a reasonable monthly fee. Until you can afford a web developer who can create a “state of the art” website for your business, it is best to create a website page at a reasonable fee. Also, you can get assistance with creating your website from friends, family members, and your own children because you will be surprised who knows how to build a website at a reasonable price. You can use your website to keep your customers and clients up to date with new events, offer discounts for products or services, blog about your business, and testimonies from happy customers.

    The key to marketing your business on a “shoestring” budget is preparation, research, and good resources from family, friends, and other business owners. Also, it does not hurt to create a marketing plan before spending time and money on promoting your business. Always think cost effectiveness when planning on spending time and money marketing your business. Be careful not to fall for marketing scams, especially ones, “that guarantee certain results within a certain amount of time”. Do not pay for marketing tools that may not be useful for your business. When marketing your business just use your “sixth sense” and “common sense”, then you will see positive results from your marketing efforts.

    Donya Zimmerman is a business consultant, mediator, and legal professional with over ten years of experience. She is owner of Family & Community Mediation and Business Consulting based in Baltimore, Maryland and has been in business since 2013. Contact information:,, and


My journey as an entrepreneur

    When I passed the Bar (to become a licensed attorney) in 2000, I had no clue what I would do next or where I would work.  I had been sending my resume to various law firms for employment as an attorney, but to no success.  So, I attended a workshop entitled “Before You Hang-Out Your Shingle”, which teaches you how to start your law firm before taking cases.  The only thing about the workshop is that it did not properly prepare you for the “business” of running a law firm.  The workshop did teach you how to be a lawyer, but only advised you to get professional liability insurance to protect yourself against disgruntle clients who may decide to sue you.  I had my own law practice for approximately ten years, but had to let it go because I was unhappy as a litigating attorney and did not have the support I needed to run my law practice effectively.  I closed my law practice in June of 2012 and had to decide what I should do next with my career and life.  In the last few years of my law practice, I lost interest as an attorney and I lost interest in my life.  I really had to figure out what I should do next with my career and my life, but one thing for sure I knew I could not give up on myself. 

        In August of 2012, I decided to take an inventory of my career and life and I discovered that I was unhappy in the last few years of my law career.  I discovered that I had a lot to offer as a legal professional to the public and discovered that there was a lot I could do with my legal education.  I started to do research on other careers I could choose from with a law degree and narrowed it down to two: business consulting and mediation/conflict resolution.  I started to do research on what type of training I needed to become a business consultant and mediator.  I researched the field of business consulting and made a decision to assist individuals with setting up their businesses (business formation).  I discovered, through research, that there was a great need for assistance in setting up a business.  I discovered that many individuals wanted to become entrepreneurs or start their own business, but did not know how to start or where to turn.  Also, in the field of mediation/ conflict resolution, I discovered through research that many courts are starting to favor mediation/conflict resolution over litigation of cases.   The main reason for this is that it is more cost-effective and saves time to resolve a case in mediation then to litigate the case.

            Once I narrowed my new career path down to business consulting and mediation, I took training through Community Mediation of Prince George’s County, MD (CMPG) to become a certified mediator.  I began my apprenticeship with CMPG in February 2013 and completed it in November 2013.  I continue to volunteer with CMPG as a mediator and take continuing education courses with CMPG to stay up to date with the latest trends in conflict resolution.  I took my training to become a certified business consultant through Women Entrepreneurs of Baltimore, Inc. (WEB), took courses offered by Small Business and Technology Development Center of Central Maryland (SBTDC), and took courses offered by Small Business Administration (SBA).  I began my business consulting training in November 2012 and completed certification in May 2013.  I continue to take courses and training through SBDTC and SBA to stay up to date with the latest trends in business consulting.

            My second turn around as an entrepreneur is more exciting and more enjoyable because I am better prepared.  I have the best support system of family, friends, and fellow entrepreneurs to guide me through my new business.  I am better prepared this go around due to the following: 1. Completed a business plan; 2. Created a good networking system of fellow entrepreneurs; 3. Continue to take training on how to properly run a business; and 4. I am enjoying what I am doing as an entrepreneur and have learned how to balance my personal and professional life.

            One lesson I would like to pass on to potential entrepreneurs and current entrepreneurs is never give up on your dreams and preparation is key to being successful in life.

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