Archive of ‘Small Biz Tools & Resources’ category

5 Smart Ideas for Marketing in a Tough Economy

Marketing may be cut significantly when the economy is bad!  Here are some cost cutting ways to continue to market in bad times.

1.      Provide added-value for your clients.  If your clients are happy with your services, they may ask if you do: “this” or “that”.  If it’s within your budget, providing new services would be a great new marketing tool.

2.      Make sure you keep your service level very high.  Always provide a personal touch for your clients, be sure to let them know they can always contact you personally if they need assistance.

3.      Use just a bit of time to call old leads.  Keep a list of warm leads or persons who’ve expressed interest in your service in the past.  Give them a friendly call to keep your name front of them.

4.      Don’t be a snob when it comes to small clients.  Helping other small businesses may propel them to higher levels-don’t turn away the small clients.

5.      Last but not least keep your current clients in your bosom.  Be extra kind if they are not on time with a payment or two.  Let them know that they are valuable to you and you may want to offer discounts for their loyal service if you can afford to do so.

The Reality of Starting a Home-Based Business

The Reality of Starting a Home-Based Business
By Lesley Spencer Pyle, MSc.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Diving in
Many dream of starting their own business to gain flexibility with family and independence from the corporate structure and politics. Today, it also is a financial savings when not forking over a fortune to fill the gas tank, buy an expensive wardrobe and pay those high daycare expenses. However, before jumping headfirst into starting a business, it is important to take a reality check and answer a few questions – honestly.

Being your own boss takes a lot of discipline. Even though your goal may be to gain flexibility, it might not be a reality right off the bat. This is due to the number of hours required to get the business off the ground combined with the fact there may be insufficient income to outsource or bring on a staff.  So ask yourself, Are you able and willing to put in the countless hours it takes to get a business off the ground?

Also, can you afford to lose your current salary and put out extra money for the initial start-ups costs? It could be one to three years before you to start make a positive return and months before you start making any income at all. Also, if you had health benefits in your current position, do you have another means of obtaining insurance on your own or are you covered by your spouse?

One solution is that you may consider working full or part time while you start your business. Once you begin bringing in regular income, you can cut back or leave your job.

Here’s another question to ask yourself. Do you have a support network to help you get through the low times – because there will be many? This would include your immediate family and/or a group of other entreprenuers that have experience walking this same path.

Before getting too deep into the start of your business, it is important to check with your insurance agent to see if you are covered under your homeowner’s policy. It might exclude you having business traffic in your home. Another area to check is with your homeowners association, which may also exclude you operating a business out of your home.  These two factors could end your decision to start a home based business before you invest any more time or money.

If you need guidance selecting or starting your business, you may want to check out these additional resources:
•    http://www.myownbusiness.com
•    http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinessplanner/index.html
•    http://www.score.org

Working for oneself and having the ability to do it from home is a fabulous opportunity for the right person, but not everyone is cut out for it.  The most important question to ask yourself is whether or not you truly LOVE doing your business idea. If you are doing it because you think it is just a good business idea but you do not love what you are doing, it will end up being a miserable endeavor because it will be all consuming and you may struggle to make it successful.

Lesley Spencer Pyle is the founder and president of the HBWM.com, Inc. Network which includes Home-Based Working Moms (http://www.HBWM.com) and HireMyMom.com (http://www.HireMyMom.com). Pyle has been featured in numerous publications including Forbes, Entrepreneur, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Parenting, Dr. Laura’s Perspectives, Family PC and many others. She has 4 children ages 2 to 14 years and has been working from home since the first baby was born!

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