Founder of 3 companies, STR, which was bootstrapped, growing, and profitable. Mingle, a networking app to make connections strategic, and C&M Group, a strategy consulting firm made by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs. I love startups, marketing, sales, and growth in companies.
Interestingly, the problem you face is probably the #1 problem that many businesses face - how to grow a customer base through marketing.
For your specific business, the three channels that I would diligently try and TEST OUT are;
1. Word of mouth ( you're doing this)
2. Content Marketing
3. Traditional Banner, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
With my company, C&M Group, we are able to reach clientele outside our immediate network in the US just by using these 3 methods. The best part - the top 2 that I mentioned are absolutely free and just require immense time (which is why people don't do it).
Let me know if you would like to hop on a call and discuss this further.
There are no set rules on how to do this. Early on, many companies do this because they do not have the $$ to pay for services. I think doing this is smart, and is a true example of the Hustle.
Start with how much your service is per hour/gig/whatever metric you want to use. From there, be open to hearing what the similar business charges. Star there.
One of my favorite parts of bartering services is the potential to evaluate future partners with opposing skill sets. You get to evaluate many things from the timelines of the their work, quality, etc.
This is a broad question, so let me know if you would like to hop on a call to discuss this further. I would be happy to chat and tailor the answer more towards your specific business.
This is the life of an entrepreneur. When I started all of my companies, I did not know what it meant to manage a team, venture, finances, hiring, firing, and everything under the roof.
All it takes is to start. Try looking at some of the best CIO's or CTO's in your industry or other industries and try to understand what makes them successful. One of my favorites is Dharmesh Shah from HubSpot. There are millions of talks by him and other top CIO's.
You can always join a small startup and because of your background in IT, you may get to work with a CTO. Be sure that the team is passionate and the CTO is someone you resonate with.
Bottom line - realize that it is okay to not know what you are doing. Let me know if I can help in any other way via call.
I faced a similar issue with my company, C&M Group. Our speciality is business strategy. No matter who comes to us, we offer business strategy, and THAT is our speciality. In the beginning, we started doing everything under the moon to make our clients happy, including SEO, PPC, content marketing, web development, and Business strategy.
2 Lessons learned.
#1 - No differentiation. We were every other firm.
#2 - Lack of focus - we didn't know what we were doing, other than everything. This also meant we did not know how to improve.
Instead, we started over and decided to focus solely on business strategy. This helped us differentiate ourselves as the TOP individuals in the market, and also gave us opportunities to network with other award winning firms that did what our clients wanted. Referrals work in both directions, which brings in more $$$ as well.
I hope this helped. Let me know if you would like to chat further about this.
When I started C&M Group, I faced this problem head on. I started doing strategy consulting, product, SEO, business development, marketing, etc. to do everything "under the roof". Guess what? It didn't work. My suggestion would stick to what you do best, and try to leverage products or services around that. The last thing you want to do is have 10 different projects and services and trying to figure out how to add additional revenue. This will simply cause you burn out. Focus on something that has a need, validate it, and push it in the market.
I am usually the "biz dev" guy for many startups and founding teams. I have also hired people in this area. One thing that would be helpful to bring up would be to understand where biz dev guys hangout. Generally, the best places to find individuals are within your ecosystems network. The best biz dev guys/gals I have hired have been people that are tenacious and are willing to make strategic business decisions for the benefit of the company. I know your question is fairly large, so if you would like to chat about it, feel free to reach out!
Congrats on submerging yourself and beginning the entrepreneur journey. There are really four ways that you could proceed;
1. Hire freelance web developers
2. Offshore the work
3. Hire someone for sweat equity (in my opinion, the best equity)
4. Learn to code yourself
In my opinion, you seem like a young, passionate, entrepreneur, and even though you may have a great idea right now, you will continue to have great ideas. Take advantage of your age and learn to code. There are hundreds of websites out there where you can learn from, but my favorites are codeacademy, code.org, and Khan Academy. If the matter is truly urgent, then sweat equity would be the next best option. Good luck, and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.