How do the most successful home-based businesses get business? It’s not that much of a secret. They just do one or more of the five things that others usually don’t do.
Acquire a client base
It’s no secret that getting people to beat a path to your door right away is every self-employed person’s dream. Trouble is, it rarely happens that way (but it’s not impossible). There are some ways to make it happen for your business. You can:
• offer something special that people want so badly that they would do almost anything to get it,
• become so well known among the people who want your offer that enough of them know you’re offering it and/or
• do the things you do so well that everyone who uses you can’t wait to tell everyone else about you.
The better you are at what you do and the more your reputation grows, the more quickly and easily you’ll attract business.
Establishing a niche
The most successful home-based businesses are highly specialized, serving a particular segment or niche that’s not provided elsewhere or adequately. For example, a company may be operating a billing service for medical technicians (as opposed to simply a billing service), or they may do consulting for the nursing industry.
Specializing this way will make it easier for you to attract clients or customers. You might think that specializing will result in a smaller client base, but the opposite is true; as long as your chosen area has enough potential customers, people will recognize the benefit of what you’re offering. Finding a niche can give you job security, but it needs to be small enough so that you don’t have a lot of competition, yet large enough to provide enough customers to support your business.
Usually, finding your niche is based on matching your education and/or job experience to a particular industry, but it can also be based on your lifelong interests, hobbies or even a personal tragedy.
For example, Empyra, an Ohio-based company founded in 1999 by Shanthi Subramanyam, provides Web-based products that improve the operating systems of companies and agencies. Subramanyam holds a bachelor’s degree in computing and information systems from England and a master’s in software engineering from Carnegie-Mellon in Pittsburgh. Her company’s products eliminate paperwork, allowing forms to be completed online and be sent automatically to the next user.
The recent popular TV show America’s Most Wanted came about as the result of a personal tragedy (In the early 1980s: a young child, Adam Walsh, was abducted from a store and was finally found, brutally murdered. His father and the show’s host, John Walsh, channeled his grief and despair into becoming an expert activist and advocate of law enforcement, particularly in “missing” cases.
Everyone has their own unique skills; finding them is a matter of relating experiences from your personal history to people’s current needs and then building new experiences that make you even better qualified. Don’t try to be all things to all people!
Ask yourself these questions:
• What do I do best?
• Who needs that the most?
• Where can I provide that product or service that will give me a chance to expand what I want to do to utilize my other interests?
• What industries or types of companies do I already have experience in?
• What industries or companies do I have access to now?
• What do I already know?
• What jargon or industry-specific acronyms am I already familiar with?
Other ways to carve out a niche are by “market slices,” such as geographic areas. Do you want to serve the West Side? North area? Do you want to be local, regional, or national?
Another "slice” to consider is the size of client companies. Do you want Fortune 500 clients? Are you aiming for those businesses earning under $5,000,000 yearly? Or perhaps a small company of three to twenty employees?
Perhaps a demographic group is your “slice.” Do you want a customer base of those over 65? Maybe you want to focus on single females or strictly married folks. Or you may prefer to go for the Donald Trump crowd.
Gaining entrance through gatekeepers
A gatekeeper is an influential individual who is in a position to open the door to resources and contacts. Having access to these key business sources is another way that the most successful companies have achieved their particular success. Savvy entrepreneurs start with those contacts already in place, which makes getting business even quicker and easier.
Even if you don’t know a soul, here are a few of the many ways that you can go about meeting and establishing a network of your own gatekeepers—through attending professional and trade organizations, your regular business relationships and active networking. Remember that many of the most promising opportunities occur from just being in the right place at the right time when you encounter, purely by chance, someone in need of your product or service.
Becoming prominent in your field or specialty
The better you are known for being an expert—or at least mostly knowledgeable in your field—the easier it will be to attract business. But sometimes this just isn’t the case; many businesses became well known by positioning themselves to become leaders in their specialty by acquiring more knowledge in their field, assuming a leadership role in their area of expertise, or becoming pioneers in and of their particular specialty.
Anyone who is the first to offer a product or service in an area of need is a pioneer and therefore can also become a leader in that field. This can be a HUGE advantage because people will tend to think of you first. It’s also a three-in-one marketing strategy—it gives you access to gatekeepers, establishes you in a niche, and creates enough momentum to get people to beat a path to your door—all from the start.
The low cost of operations in the downtown location (there are a variety of local, county and state-based tax incentives, grants and low-interest financing—combined with enterprise-zone programs—to offer businesses the opportunity to reduce risks while encouraging investment in Ohio) and access to interns from the local state university helps Empyra attract businesses, including the U.S. federal government and Proctor & Gamble, that otherwise would be sent overseas.
"Most of my employees are located outside the city; my business pitch is that companies can outsource the work, but keep it in the U.S.," said Subramanyam.
Becoming a great marketer
By consistently using a variety of creative methods, some entrepreneurs are always able to attract and maintain a steady client base. They:
• promote with stand-out ads
• send out gifts or brochures with unique colors or designs
• speak before network groups or start their own
All that stands between a top marketer and other entrepreneurs are access to knowledge of how to use marketing tools in more personalized and specialized ways. With proper knowledge, anyone who’s willing to invest the time can become a great marketer.
So there you have it—five ways to position your venture for success. Where will these five “secrets” take you and your business? Find out by using them today!
Source: “Getting Business to Come to You” by Paul and Sarah Edwards and Laura Clampitt Douglas