Brother, can you spare $50 - to build your business?

Every business owner gets the calls and visits — well-intentioned salespeople that just want you to “invest in your business” through any number of opportunities. Certainly you’d like to, but all those $1,000 and $1,500 costs can quickly add up and put your budget in a pinch.

What if someone gave you an idea to build your business that cost $50 or less? Would you try it? Here are five different ideas that you can try for $50 or less (some are even free!) that can help build your business.

Claim Your Google Business Page

Formerly Google places, a Google Business Page is a free service from the world’s largest search engine that can really give you a boost. Claiming your business allows you to put in all sorts of information that will show up whenever someone looks for your business on Google. Your customers can see all your good reviews, and you can update the page as often as you like (think daily specials or weekly deals). Cost? This one is free! What are you waiting for?

Try Google AdWords

If people are searching for what you sell, but they don’t know your business name, Google AdWords can help get your business on high on the search engine results pages — and you only pay when someone clicks.

You set your budget on a per day basis, so even if you try just $50 — think $5 a day for 10 days — you won’t run out of money on the first day. If you put Google Analytics on your website (also free), you can see what those that click on your ad do when they get to your site. You might even consider building a splash page with a special offer just to welcome the Google AdWords visitors.

Print Some Coupons

Not everything has to be wired. Why not try printing (yes, printing!) some coupons and handing them out. Make sure you don’t simply reward your current users — come up with an offer that drives new business. Maybe you can give out coupons good only between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to your morning regulars, or try a “buy one, get one” offer to encourage folks to bring a friend in. Printing will be relatively inexpensive (save more by putting six or eight on each page, then cutting them apart), but be sure and calculate the cost of fulfilling the offer in your planning.

Flyer the Neighborhood

It probably won’t help much to put a small poster on a telephone pole, but depending on your business location, there might be some great opportunities. One coffee shop across from a major state university used to give employees a stack of flyers and an extra $10 to put a flyer (with a coupon, see above) on every seat in a 300-person lecture hall a few minutes before class started. If you’re in a strip mall, consider trading offers with your (non-competitive) neighbors. It’s a great way to reach people already shopping just outside your door.

Create Employee Ambassadors

People love to share a deal with friends, so make it easy for your employees. Give them cards with special discounts they can hand out. Make them special by limiting the number. Think about services like Gmail — you had to have an invite from a friend when it first launched in order to get an @gmail address. It felt good to let your friends in, and people appreciated getting the invite. Come up with an idea that doesn’t cost much (like the next size drink up for the same price) but makes everyone feel like an insider.