How a 14 Year Old Built a Profitable Information Business With No Money or Experience
I didn't realise it at the time, but when I began my first business teaching the confused & elderly how to use their computers, send emails and avoid viruses or being scammed online, I was selling an information product.
Since then I have obviously moved on to bigger and better things, but the fundamentals of selling information remain the same: Your goal is to help your customer achieve their desired outcome as quickly and easily as possible.
With that in mind, today I'm going to teach you a few ways you can begin marketing your business for under $100 including how I managed to build a profitable business from my bedroom at age 14, with no money and no prior experience, and not a lot of confidence!
As a new entrepreneur or startup founder you most likely have a limited budget and struggle to directly compete with international brands, but don't let that stop you from generating a ton of sales!
Teach: Hold Workshops, Classes or Events
No matter what industry you are in, there is always something you can teach! I began my business journey through teaching. I provided old people with classes on how to use the internet, send emails and keep their computer clean from viruses. I was 14 at the time, young and inexperienced, yet I understood how to use a computer and they didn't. Very simple stuff.
When I taught IT skills to confused retirees, they frequently told me how much they appreciated the fact I explained what was going on, rather than just turning up and fixing it. The thing is they never remembered (or perhaps were too lazy) to fix it themselves the next time it happened, so they'd just go straight to me and I'd happily jump on my bike knowing that would be another 50 bucks in the bank. (I billed 15 an hour, and oftentimes it would take me three hours to fix a virus-infected or broken computer). On top of that my profit margin on these sales was 100% because I hadn't spent a single penny on acquiring these customers. That might not seem like much, but definitely good pocket money for a 14-year-old to buy video games and pizza with!
I remember being terrified at first, I was nervous that people wouldn't take me seriously because I was just a kid, I was inexperienced, I'd never been a teacher before only a student. When I plucked up the courage to do it they not only took me seriously, but respected my advice AND were more than happy to pay me for my services! From this method I acquired some clients who would ring me up requesting a call out with a new issue every couple of weeks, and I would bill them for another few hours of my time. My customer lifetime value just kept growing and growing. I used teaching to create authority, build a local audience and make sales as a shy, quiet, 14 year old kid. If that kid can do it, you can too.
Whether you are selling information (software, services, coaching) or physical products you can start engaging with an audience simply by running a workshop or class and sharing some of the skills you have, and doing so will cost you little to nothing.
If you run a tech startup, holding monthly meet ups for tech entrepreneurs will cost you nothing. It doesn't need to be anything complex, offer a speech or some training, provide some value and give people an opportunity to network. That's all it takes. You will soon find valuable relationships beginning to grow and your business spreading through word of mouth.
If you run a business selling scented candles, you can very easily offer a class that teaches people how to make their simple candles own at home. You may think this would eat away at your customer base, but actually you are able to sell your products during and after the event. You will also be building a relationship with people who are already interested in buying and using scented candles—your ideal audience! The strategy is getting customers in the door. People are inherently lazy and they are more likely to simply buy your product than to actually go away and start making their own.
Cross Promote With Complementary Businesses
If you're not willing to teach, look into cross-promoting other businesses.
Cross promotion is where you find a business in the same or complementary niches, but are not competitors, so you can offer a value add to their audience in return for exposure.
Finding other businesses you can offer cross promotion to is enormously easy, in fact this whole strategy can be applied in just one day, and can benefit everyone from New Entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies.
Let's say you are running a business in the health niche and you sell diet plans, nutrition advice & health foods. You could apply the cross promotion strategy by approaching personal trainers in your area, it's logical to conclude that people who are willing to pay for Personal Training care about their health and would be willing to pay for advice on healthy eating.
You can then offer the customers of those personal prainers an offer for a discount on your services or a bonus product if they come to your business. For example offer a 50% discount, or a free bonus product. What you offer needs to be something actually compelling; people are numb to 20% discounts and weak offers)
Now you might be wondering why someone else would agree to do this?
If you create something that's actually a valuable offering, and suggest a complementary business provide it to their audience. They will be happy to do so because it adds value to their customers!
You can also offer to return the favor and advertise a discount or offer for the personal trainer to your own audience. You are not going to steal each other's customers as you are in complementary not competitive niches, and you both gain more exposure and a bigger customer base with virtually no work or costs involved. It's a win-win situation.
If affiliate marketing has taught us anything, it is that working together can make us all very, very rich, and that the future of business is collaboration, not competition.
The fact is that with the right marketing strategies you can actually achieve better engagement, and get more attention for your small business without having to spend millions on advertising.
In recent years there has been a lot of talk about how 'local businesses' are being squashed by large corporations. The problem with these businesses is they didn't have a strong enough relationship with their customers.
People to this day are still far more willing to buy from someone they like than a faceless brand. My favorite restaurant, which I attend frequently and often tip as much as 50% isn't a big chain or brand name, it doesn't have a Michelin star, but they offer fantastic food with even better service and have built a truly special relationship in my heart. Every time I visit I feel like I've stepped into my childhood home and my mother has just cooked me a loving dinner. It's an exquisite experience that I frequently look forward to.
What do you think their ROI on building that relationship with me is? Infinite, because maintaining that level of service costs them nothing. On the converse, the "best" restaurant in my neighborhood is a well known name, and never gets my money. Because the service is terrible, and no amount of fancy branding will ever outweigh the value of a strong relationship.