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If you’re like millions of Americans, you dream of starting your own business. But of course, there are dozens of obstacles that may keep you from actually doing that. You might not have enough motivation, for example, or time to actually see the work through; or you might not even have a solid idea to begin with -- yet

But where most people get stopped cold is their realization that it takes money to start a business -- money they don’t have. Still, consider: There are loans, grants, and other fundraising options, like crowdfunding, available to get you what you need; so money is not a good excuse not to start a business. And, beyond that, there are certain types of businesses you can start with almost no cash.

What it takes to start a business. Your first step is to explore what it takes to formally “start” a business, and which of those items cost money.

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Not every marketing plan is a good marketing plan. There are certain qualities it needs to meet to be able to do what it is supposed to do and be considered an effective plan that will convert customers and be successful. It is easy to tell a "potentially successful" marketing plan apart from a mediocre marketing plan. Generally, there is a framework that a killer marketing strategy would follow. This article will look a five qualities of such a plan. I’ll be using example of a fashion brand since it is easier to follow.

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Let’s be real. Marketing can get expensive. With such a strong emphasis on digital marketing, it can seem like the only way to be successful is through buying ads or paying for SEO. While both of those are very popular and useful ways to market a business, there are also many marketing strategies that come at a low cost, if not for free. These four low cost marketing strategies create organic traffic and exposure for your business, and they all place an emphasis on the most important factor of marketing: the people you’re targeting.

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If you own numerous online businesses like I do, and you want your business to grow, then you almost certainly need some form of marketing strategy. Marketing, in its most basic sense, is a method of getting people to know about your business products or services. While this definition holds true, you will be shooting yourself in the foot if you embark on a marketing journey armed only with this information.

I like to lump marketing failures into two broad categories -- “bad marketing” and “wrong marketing”. And they are as bad as each other. Imagine making a new product or developing a unique service, then spending time and resources on poorly executed marketing only to see little or nothing in return. Either of the two mentioned categories will do that to you.

You cannot paint all kinds of business with the same marketing brush and expect good conversion rates and market penetration. To choose the right marketing strategy, you need to keep in mind your product/service, your business model and your marketing strategy among other things.

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Informed consumers want more than the latest fashions, technologies and entertainment options: They are also concerned about environmental issues, fair trade and social equality. And they want to purchase their goods and services from companies responsive to these issues.

This connection between economic and social choices provides entrepreneurs with great marketing opportunities, and there are at least five reasons why adding a focus on sustainability or other social issues will help you expand your customer base.

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The best way to prepare mentally for marketing in 2017 is to start fresh, with a clean slate. For the moment, forget about what you accomplished and failed to accomplish with your marketing in 2016; set aside all the baggage of frustrations and disappointments you picked up along the way. Think as if you are starting from scratch and ask yourself: What is the one thing we must accomplish with marketing in 2017?

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Last year, 2016, is in our rearview mirror, so it’s time to look to the trends in 2017 that will change how we do business: For instance, in my travels around the country to conventions and keynote speech engagements, I've noticed that the faces of the audiences keep getting younger, regardless of the industry.

While it’s no secret that millennials have taken over the workforce -- according to Census Bureau data, they are now the largest living group -- how we groom them for leadership is a test many of us will face in 2017. Sure enough, a Bersin by Deloitte report has predicted that 2017 will be a disruptive year, during which more than three million company chiefs are set to retire, leaving those jobs wide open for up-and-coming young professionals.

So, here’s my advice: Plan ahead. Give your young employees the tools to be leaders now. Don’t wait until you have a void to fill to train them. That’s valuable time you'll be wasting; and, in business, wasted time is hardly a valued commodity. Here are five more trends that will be making a splash in 2017:

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It’s easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest marketing techniques as more and more come our way, but it’s always important to take a step back and make sure that you have a good foundation in place and none of your previous tactics are slipping. In local marketing, businesses put a lot of effort at the start and then let it fall by the wayside as the year moves on. 2016 is the perfect time to refresh some of these “must-have” local techniques. Check out these Local Marketing Tactics for Boosting the Growth of Your Small Business:

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Local businesses today are in a unique position. On the one hand, they are no longer the “only” shop in town, as customers have more options than ever before thanks to the ubiquity of e-commerce. On the other hand, local businesses can now compete with the big box retailers without having to match their budgets. New media has leveled the playing field in many ways. Still, I find that most local businesses struggle to understand and take advantage of this landscape.

Luckily, some smart manufacturers are stepping in to help educate local business owners. One such manufacturer, Shaw Floors, holds multiple events a year in order to do just that. As a leading manufacturer of flooring, they realize that their success is tied to that of the retailers who carry their products. I was recently invited to keynote at one of these events where I addressed online marketing for local businesses.

Here are some of the takeaways you must keep in mind if you are marketing your local business.

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As a business owner, you want your company to succeed. Investing in marketing is vital to that success, but many small businesses can't splurge on — or spare the time for — high-priced advertising campaigns. A report by Brandmuscle, local marketing software company, found that nearly half of the 860 small businesses surveyed spend $5,000 or less on marketing each year, and one-third spend less than 10 percent of their time on marketing activities. To make the most of your time and money, here are five effective local marketing tactics that are easy and affordable for your small business.

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