Small business. Small Budget. Doesn't have to mean small results.
Step number One for any new business is to make a list of everyone you know or have had contact with ... Everyone.
Believe it or not, we all tend to know about 500 people, often more ... family, friends, old work mates, people we have bought from, sold to, helped out, spent time with etc etc etc. ... $ cost of this NIL.
Then Step 2 is to contact all of them, yes ALL of them and tell them about your business ... and ask them if they have any work for you, or know anyone who might, and/or if they would be kind enough to send your information onto others and/or post in on their work noticeboard or intranet. If you have email addresses use them, or call people, or send them some informnation in the mail. $$ cost = small
Whatever you do, you have to announce that your business has started and you are ready, willing and able to start helping people out. Lots of years ago, when someone started a business, they would hang a "shingle" outside their premises to tell passers by they were open.
You need to do the same ... tell the world, then once you've made some money you can invest some of it in another level of promotion ... just make sure that you always measure how much revenue you get for every dollar of marketing investment! Make it pay for itself many times over.
For online advertising ..... a website, Yelp, Citysearch, Yahoo, Google, Superpages, Merchantcircle, Manta, Facebook, LinkedIn, Talent,me, BranchOut, Twitter, Thumbtack, Yellowbook, USdirectories, Kudzu, Insiderpages, Switchboard, Localsearch. Those are all sites you can add a URL, profile, picture, logo, etc. for free. You just need the free time and there are lots more. It would get you started and as you go you can start adding keywords, enhance your profile, etc. Basically it could just be enough without spending a dime.
The short answer though is there is no "best way."
Social Media might be right for you or it might not. It depends on whether your customers are there or not.
Here's what you need to do: diversify. You must try multiple tactics and rigorously measure the results. The ability to rapidly grow a business stems from the discipline of testing and measuring.
Now, there are a bunch of low/no cost tactics you can try:
* Referral strategies... there are several.
* Cold calling
* Market survey (go ask people what they want, in person, then create the business they want, then go back and offer it to them. Hard work - big potential results)
* Host Beneficiary... align with someone who already serves your market and offer them an exclusive benefit for their customers only
* Free how to seminars/webinars/teleseminars (you have a ton of expertise that would be of interest to lots of people)
* Have a smart SEO strategy (that might cost a little, but could be worthwhile. I bet people search on google for your business)
* Build a quality fan page on Facebook with offers/discounts/coupons as well as continual high value information
* Videos on youtube and on your web site
* Door hangers or flyer drops if you have some budget and a clear area of town where your customer are.
* Start/join a referral group of non-competitive businesses with the same market
Sounds like a lot right? No one said business is easy. Start with a couple and then add. Measure the results. Keep those that work. Drop those that don't. And when I say measure the results, I mean measure whether you made profit on the program. If you pay $5000 on a campaign and it produces $2500 in gross profit, it was a bad investment even if it brought you 1000 leads.