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As a small business owner, you may find yourself in a bit of a pickle in today’s competitive market: you feel like you need to grow in order to increase profits, but you don’t feel like you currently have the funds to do so. The good news is that there are ways to grow your business even if you are working on a limited budget. Here are some tips.

Look for alternative sources of funding

There’s no rule that says the only way to increase your cash reserves is through your business’ profits. If you’re looking for capital to grow, you should consider other options. Forbes suggests looking to friends and family, small business loans, and angel investors. The former must be treated with caution. There’s always a risk to personal relationships when you throw business and money into the mix. You might also consider approaching your local Small Business Development Center or similar organizations to help you plan and pay for growth. Another option to consider is crowdfunding. Sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe present a new funding opportunity for small businesses. If you have a good business idea, people will want to support it.

Be smart about hiring

If you’re going to hire employees, make sure you hire ones to manage your current workload and tasks first, before hiring employees for tasks and strategies you want to implement in the future. Employees are a major drain on your bottom line, so be shrewd. For example, you wouldn’t want to hire a marketing specialist if you’re already drowning in active projects.

Look to lower-cost labor. Interns are a great option for some growing businesses. You don’t have to pay interns as much (either in salary or in benefits) and by using interns you’re building your employee pool for when you do want to hire full-time.

Of course, there’s always the concept of sweat equity. You can take on much of the work yourself, boosting the value of your company by the sheer effort you put into it, saving money on employee costs.

Let your existing customers do the heavy lifting

Leveraging your loyal clientele is a low-cost way to help your business grow. Many business owners only focus on new customer acquisition when they think about growth, but this is a mistake. Your current customers are the best marketing resource that you have. Ask your customers to refer your business to others. If you go above and beyond for them, they will gladly do this for you. The more you impress your customers, the more likely they are to sing your praises on social media. Keep them engaged through email newsletters, Facebook, digital blog content, and more. Offer special offers, services, or financial incentives for drumming up business for you.

Try low-cost marketing techniques

Social media is only one low-cost marketing technique – and there are plenty more to consider. Try teaming up with other local businesses for cross-promotional events. Join local business advocacy groups. Sponsor a local event. Hold contests to give away excess inventory. Offer your services to a local charity group. When it comes to getting your business name out there, you have to think outside the box.

It’s tempting to go the traditional route when it comes to growing your business – high-cost TV and print advertising, inventory expansion, hiring a bigger team, etc. – even if it puts you into debt. But if you’re truly cash-strapped, you should first consider these low-cost ways to promote and grow your business: look for alternative funding, be conservative in your hiring practices, explore all sorts of marketing pathways, and lean on your loyal customers for promotion, partnerships, and referrals.