The Solution To My Biggest Startup Challenge: Give Away Free Stuff!


Ashley Bodi is the co-founder of Business Beware, where businesses can tell their side of the story, warn each other about problem customers and collect from those who refuse to pay.

Ashley shared her experience as an entrepreneur.

The Challenge: I knew from the start that there was not really going to be an advertising budget of any kind to work with and get the word out about Business Beware.

I was not sure where to start or what would work best for a budget that was not even there. And being busy with work during the day was not going to help the situation either.

 The Solution: I immediately ordered t-shirts, cards and stickers with my logo on them and started putting them everywhere, literally.

I sent stuff to friends, put cards at local stores, left them in magazines at offices, left them with a tip at the restaurant and did a ton of t-shirt giveaways.

People love free stuff which is great because if they wear your shirt they become a walking billboard for your business everywhere they go. I put stickers in public places that I knew that even if only five people saw it then they might tell 5-10 others what they saw on that sticker.

The Aftermath: With not having a big budget for advertising things can tend to go slower since you are not reaching a large audience at once but word of mouth is the best thing that can happen for any type of advertising. With going about it the way I did, I quickly became the person people saw behind the brand and someone they could relate to.

It really gave me the chance to connect with everyone I met and talk with them about our site rather than just handing over a check to someone to market it for us. It helped me learn more about our audience, what we can do better and even things we could add to the site to help small business owners.

The Lesson: Do not let anything hold you back. If you have a small budget to work with then get in there and go for it.

Show others that you believe in what you do and be upfront with them from the beginning. The best person to spread the word about your business is YOU because nobody knows your business like you do.

Do not overlook or underestimate the simple things even if it’s passing out a business card, putting a sticker in public places or passing out t-shirts. Simple things can turn into big things quicker than you think.

Founded by Scott Gerber, the Young Entrepreneur Council is a nonprofit organisation that provides young entrepreneurs with access to tools, mentorship, community and educational resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. The Y.E.C promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment.