It is estimated that approximately 550,000 people become entrepreneurs every month. It’s no wonder considering that around 62 percent of Americans report that they want to own their own business and be their own boss. Although 51 percent of people agree that starting a business is the best way to learn about entrepreneurship, there are still many who want to start their own business who hold back because of fears and concerns about making the switch from employee to entrepreneur. 

Although there are a lot of benefits to business ownership, such as creative control and the ability to make executive decisions, there can be some big setbacks as well. For example, business ownership often requires a lot of work hours--even when you’re off the clock. It can also sometimes require that you do a lot of the work on your own if you don’t have the capacity or funds to hire employees. One of the biggest problems that entrepreneurs face, though,  is having enough money to start their business in the first place, then having enough money to keep it running.

It seems nearly impossible to start and run a business if you don’t have any money at all, but it can also be a big deterrent for would-be entrepreneurs if they need hundreds of thousands of dollars to get their company going. Luckily, there are ways that you can start a business, even without having hundreds of thousands of dollars available. Below are some tips that can help you start a business and become your own boss, even if you don’t have thousands of dollars in cash-on-hand. 

1. Start Online

Some businesses can’t be made into online businesses. For example, you may be able to manage and run a construction company online, but you can’t do any of the construction work on the Internet. Unless you’re planning to specifically start a business that can’t be done online, then starting your company exclusively online is a great way to get going with only a little cash. Online businesses generally have less overhead since you don’t need to purchase an office building, won’t need to pay all of the overhead, and may not even need inventory.

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Gamification is an excellent way to get new and old followers alike to engage with your business. Everyone who uses social media sees a consistent stream of content on their feeds, but not all of this content encourages interaction. Tasks can capture people’s attention as well—if not better—as text and visuals.

You may not have the budget to create elaborate online games and mobile apps, though, and that’s okay. Gamifying your marketing campaign does not always require you to produce something “new,” it’s simply about fostering engagement with your social media followers in a new way. Here are some ways you can gamify your marketing efforts on a budget.

Why use gamification?

First, let’s address why gamification works. Gamification adds an element of fun to your marketing campaign: instead of hoping that people find your content intriguing enough to do business with you, you give consumers a reason to be invested in your product. For instance, Dominos added a feature to their mobile ordering app that lets customers shake their phones for a random pizza if they did not know what they wanted. There is no shortage of pizza joints out there, but Domino's gave people a simple yet enjoyable way to avoid decision-making.

Some forms of gamification also create competition. When people engage in friendly competition, they form a community around the game itself. Putting your brand at the center of one can help cement loyalty to you. If you offer rewards in exchange for participation, people are also happy to accept discounts and privileges they feel like they have earned.

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You’ve scrolled through the photos. You’ve checked the hashtags. You’ve followed exciting people. Now it’s your turn: if you are jumping into the travel game, you probably want to have a shot at curating a top-quality Instagram account like your favorite influencers. Instagram is almost like a game in itself, though, and the rules are often changing. How are you supposed to gain followers and likes amidst a saturated #travelgram landscape? Before you can devise a coherent strategy, it’s necessary to address the mistakes you’re making. 

You’re doing it for the wrong reasons

Why do you want to broadcast your travels to the internet, other than showing off how cool the world is? Google exists, so it’s not like people do not know what the Sphinx or the Taj Mahal look like. To many people, Instagram is all about the numbers: likes, followers, comments, story views, and more. It’s okay to admit that those numbers are validating, but approaching your Instagram strategy this way is not going to be particularly effective. Travel blogger Christina from Happy to Wander notes:

“So, if you’re guilty of thinking Instagram is just a numbers game, here’s what you do to fix it: write down your Instagram purpose. If it’s traffic, you’re better off spending time elsewhere. If it’s relationship building, you should be working on making friends and engaging in meaningful interactions. If it’s branding, you should focus foremost on gorgeous content and killer captions, etc.” 

The reason (or reasons) behind your Instagram account will affect how you tackle the platform. If you are doing it for the wrong reasons, you are going to have a difficult time establishing a brand and attracting followers. 

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If you are an up-and-coming musician, you are probably well aware of the struggle to get noticed. You might have incredible music, a close support group, and a go-get-em’ attitude, but what do all of these successful bands and solo performers seem to have that you do not? Marketing. People cannot learn to love you if news of you never reaches them. You may not have the budget to hire a PR team, but there are a few ways you can promote your music through useful networks people use every day: social media.

Target your niche

The first thing you should do when launching a marketing campaign is to decide what audience you will address. You will spread yourself too thin if you attempt to appeal to everyone. Instead of wasting your efforts trying to convince the wrong crowd that your music is worth listening to (and not just listening, purchasing), focus your attention on people that are more likely to find you interesting.

Build a community

Once you have identified what kind of person you will focus on, try to build a community. Marketing obviously results in sales, but can you name what else it gives successful musicians? Fanbases. Regardless of size, devoted followers and advocates give your brand legitimacy, and legitimacy will help you grow. Talk to your social media followers, respond to comments, answer questions, give out free stuff—you are asking to be seen, so to win people’s loyalty, let them know that you see them as well.

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