Well last night saw the return of Lord Alan Sugar and The Apprentice. This year, ask its focus has shifted firmly onto entrepreneurship and start-up businesses.

Instead of offering the winner a £100, prescription 000-a-year job in his company, Lord Sugar will offer this year’s victor £250,000 – to start their own business.

Sugar will provide the money in return for a 50% stake, although he has made clear he expects the recipient to do the majority of the work in setting up the business. There are 16 very hungry business people all vying to win, and already we, the public are deciding who we like and don’t like.

Each of those contestants, like every entrepreneur, knows that one of the most important steps toward success is getting your name out there. If you’re new to the start-up game and don’t have a reputation upon which to announce a new company, public relations (PR) is likely at the forefront of your mind. But, how else can you get the word out on a limited budget? Here are a few tips:

Word of Mouth

Turn your customers into grassroots advocates for your service. The advantage young companies have over larger ones is the ability to work with customers on a more personal level. Be personable and learn the names of your customers – it will reap rewards as nothing works better than recommendation.

Befriend the Bloggers

Well regarded and independent, bloggers are a great way of spreading the word about your company. Provide them with samples to review, follow their blogs and make personal relationships. 99% of bloggers are unpaid, they blog because it’s something that they personally enjoy doing. Get to know them and build individual, personalised relationships with the top 20 bloggers in your industry.

Create a Company Blog

Your blog should not just publish news about new features or products – make it an industry voice. Talk about issues and interesting topics that are relevant to your audience. And they don’t all have to be serious – have some fun with it too! It’ll get people wanting to read more….and don’t forget to tweet and facebook about it – let people know you’ve got something to say.

Tweet

Follow your competitors, journalists, customers and bloggers . Many people have an itchy ‘delete’ trigger finger when it comes to their in-box but tweeting is short and concise and in some cases more likely to be read. Get your friends and family to support you, follow you and suggest people for you to follow and vice versa. www.twitter.com

Awards

Awards are a great way to get third party recognition and position your company’s products or services above the competition. There is usually a small entry fee, put aside an annual budget and go for it. This is a useful list of business awards you can enter.

Invest in photography

Great images are essential in getting people interested. Invariably your customers are time poor and a good picture can tell the story of 1000 words. It draws a reader in. They’ve lots of uses too – press releases, marketing materials, sales material, website, facebook to name but a few.

Websites and SEO

Invest in your website. It’s often the first impression a potential customer will have of you and it says a lot. It should be built with search engine optimisation (SEO) in mind. SEO is the process of improving the visibility of a website via nonpaid methods. In other words, make your site appear on the first page of a Google search. UK Business Forums and Bitsy are two great places to find people who could help you in this area (and many others).

Childcare

With mumpreneurs taking a significant role in the start-up market, it’s usually the case that childcare decisions are left to mum. Take your time and get the right solution for you! To be productive you need to have the peace of mind that your little one(s) is safe and well cared for. Flexibility is a key component when starting a new business and that’s why we set up Third Door. Find out more about it on our website.