The traditional concept of a company that operates from an office with plenty of attractive furniture, conference rooms, and state-of-the-art equipment is still the dominant idea of an American business. However, changes in technology and evolving lifestyle choices have brought a new notion to the forefront, one that combines individuality, convenience, and ambition. Today, unprecedented numbers of Americans have opted to start businesses they operate from their own homes. If you’re entrepreneurial and have a service or product that fits well within a given market niche, you have the makings of a successful home-based business.
The best scenario for starting a business is to have a core group of prospective customers lined up, perhaps people you’ve worked with in the past who know you well. That’s great if you do, but you’ll need to adopt other measures to keep finding new sources of business. Networking and word-of-mouth are excellent ways to find customers. Consider calling on former clients and business colleagues to gauge their interest, and find out who they know. Use social media liberally to spread the word about your new venture.
Marketing and promotions is the traditional means of reaching potential customers, though many individuals starting out in business lack the resources for an intensive marketing campaign involving media outreach. Online content creation, public relations, and business-to-business communication outlets (i.e. print and online trade publications) can earn you considerable attention without costing a fortune and, best of all, they’re tactics you can do yourself. Your best-case scenario should be to transform clients into a kind of “silent” sales force that is willing and able to talk you up to others.
Becoming a Consultant
If you’re considering going into business for yourself, you probably have knowledge and experience that’s at least somewhat unique and can benefit others. Ideally, a consultant helps businesses make decisions that spur growth, find new sources of revenue, and avoid problems that could damage their position in the market. Consultants often go to work for people they knew in a previous employment situation or with whom they had a client-service provider relationship in the past. Consultancy can mean contracting with a client on a short-term basis or being retained for services on a more in-depth basis. It’s a business idea that’s conducive to working from home, which suits many people.
This is a good time to go into business for yourself because there’s an abundance of free or inexpensive tools that can help you manage and run things yourself. For example, LastPass is a password management system that stores all of your passwords in one place. No more scribbling down passwords or trying to memorize them. Canva is a website that lets you create free graphics for logos, banners, and printed materials without having to hire a professional graphic designer. Tracking what people are saying about you and your business can be a great help when it comes to marketing. Mention is a website that lets you know what’s going on in social media space and shows where you stand in relation to your competitors.
There are many ways to fill a business niche these days. For example, professional people who own dogs are looking for places their furry friends can socialize and be entertained during the week while they’re at work. If you love animals, being a pet sitter is a great opportunity to make money doing what you enjoy. Best of all, you can set your own schedule and prices and specify the size, age and other pet preferences that work for you.
Starting your own business puts you in charge of when and how you work, and with whom you do business. As long as clients are happy, you can work whatever hours you choose. Take advantage of the many free and cost-effective online tools that can help grow your business.
Thank you: Amy Collett who is the creator of Bizwell.org, a website that helps professionals and entrepreneurs build and strengthen their personal brand.