Part one of Small Steps for Big Work at Home Success listed the first eight steps you can take towards ensuring your business won’t end up in the “failure” category. While most of those steps focused on the overall vision you have for your company, these six concentrate on more specific areas you can zone in on to skyrocket your chance for success.
1. Who is your target consumer? If you sell Pampered Chef, your target consumer is women. If you sell tools, most of your sales will probably be to men. Maybe that sounds a bit sexist, but the proven fact is that women buy more kitchen products and men buy more tools. If you sell baby items, your target consumer probably isn’t seventy year old men. It will be new or expecting moms, as well as those needing to buy gifts for new and expecting moms. If your product is a health drink, your target consumer could be considered everyone, since every person – man, woman, college student, grandparent, etc. – should want to be healthy. However, if your health drink has specific benefits, such as weight loss elements, your target consumer may be slightly different. Knowing exactly who you’re targeting helps you focus your energies in that particular arena.
2. Come up with a marketing plan. What specific steps are you going to take to market your service or product? This could include price setting and offering discounts, plans to develop a new home show presentation, certain advertising aspects, or any number of things to either improve your business or stand out and from the rest and offer something new and different – and better. Ask yourself: what can I do to make my business more appealing to customers?
3. Manage your money wisely. Accounting may turn you off but it’s a necessary part of business. Poor money management has caused many companies to fold, even huge corporations that seem to be thriving. The truth is, no matter how much or how little you earn, the way you manage your finances will determine much of your success. Start by setting up a separate business account and keeping adequate records. If you aren’t an expert in tax laws, be sure to hire an accountant at tax time. He or she may also be able to provide you with some practical tips for financial management.
4. Advertise! Of course, customers aren’t going to come and pound on your door. Advertising is the number one way to let people know what you’ve got to offer. The newspaper, local restaurants, convenience stores, daycare centers, phone directories, the list goes on for places to post information about your company and your product or service. One of the best and most inexpensive ways to advertise is with business cards. Always have a few on hand to pass along to people you meet in the grocery store, at school, church or the park.
5. Utilize the Web. There has never been more potential for acquiring customers and spreading the word about your product than today. The Internet provides countless ways to network and advertise. Join message board forums and networking sites. Start a blog about your business. Create a website. Advertise on www.craigslist.com, a free local listing site. The possibilities are endless!
6. Customer Service. Perhaps the best way to keep customers coming back, therefore increasing your success, is through excellent customer service. When you say you’ll call someone, do it. Follow-up with customers and occasionally call past customers you haven’t heard from lately. Finally, handle problems and complaints (yes, you may get a few!) with grace, dignity, and, most of all, kindness. Nothing turns a customer away faster than rude or poor customer service. But when you excel in this area, you’ll create customers for life.
Starting an at-home business is definitely challenging and may be a little uncertain and scary. But by taking a few small steps, your chances for success increase in a big way!
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