How to choose, start, and succeed in your own part-time business
By Dr.Kevin Nunley
This is a great time to start your own business, even if you have never thought of yourself as an entrepreneur. The economy is getting tighter, may companies are laying people off, and a paycheck doesn't go as far as it used to.
Meanwhile, Internet sales and mail order are booming. We're also seeing record numbers of new home-based businesses starting and succeeding. Getting in on this trend now could be the smartest thing you do in the year ahead.
Here are some common sense tips to help you pick the right business, get off on a good foot, and succeed over the long haul.
Choosing Your Business
One of the reasons a great many businesses fail is the owner jumped off into a field they didn't know much about. Your best bet is to choose a business you have worked in as an employee. Otherwise, plan to spend time researching the topic in libraries and in conversations with people who are already in your chosen industry.
Keep expenses down to a bare minimum in the beginning. More than a few new start-ups blow their cash on a big office, fine furnishings, and new computers. I started my business years ago from a spare bedroom. A writer friend realized her apartment was too small to house her business and rented an unused room in a nearby office.
Plan on running your business part-time for the first year while you keep a regular job. This may seem like the slow way to get your project going, but a regular paycheck will ensure you have plenty of time to give your business its best shot at succeeding. Nothing torpedoes a new business like expecting it to profit huge amounts of cash within the first six months.
The easiest and cheapest business to start is a service you can provide to other businesses. You may need little more than an email address and a telephone number to get the ball rolling.
If you worked in accounts receivable for several years, help businesses outsource their bookkeeping chores. A woman in my town turned her 20 years of office experience into a thriving home-based business by offering to help small businesses straighten out their books. She placed ads in the neighborhood newspaper and arranged to be interviewed for an article.
Internet referral programs and mail order are two industries that are booming, easy to get into, and, while they may not make you rich, are a good way to get started in your own business. Many networking and reseller firms have changed their strategy from "bug your friends" to "network on the Net." These can be great ways to get experience selling established products in an organization set up to encourage home-based business. Look for an opportunity that has been in business for at least three years.
Market in Many Ways
The key to your business success will likely be your ability to market your products and services. Without marketing, nothing sells. It helps if you set up your business from the beginning with marketing in mind.
Your business should give you the opportunity to promote in several ways:
1) Use a web component. The Internet lets you reach thousands of targeted prospects at the cheapest price in advertising history. Put up your own web site. Fill it with good information, answers to the kinds of questions your customers and prospects ask. Build your own opt-in email list to stay in touch with customers. Nothing works as well or as cheaply to build your reputation.
Work to get your site listed on the major search engines. The top 2% of businesses on search engines account for about 90% of the Net's money-making sites. Advertise your business in ezines that reach your best prospects. Some newsletters let you reach tends of thousands of potential customers for $30 to $40.
2) Your business should also take advantage of face-to-face marketing. When you talk to people in person, it is harder for them to walk away without buying. One man, an excellent sales person who closes more than 90% of all sales, simply strikes up a conversation with people. Near the end of the conversation he will mention his offer. People almost always buy.
3) For all that has been said about the Internet, the good old telephone is still the center of our business world. When you spend time talking with someone on the phone, you build a personal bond with them that often leads to a sale.
Before you get on the phone with a prospect or customer, quickly jot down what you hope to accomplish with the call. Don't let more than two or three minutes of conversation go by without making an effort to achieve your goal. This organized approach will help you stay away from long days on the phone without much to show for it.
It doesn't matter what business you are in, there will be days when you feel like you are spinning your wheels. Realize that for every up trend there will eventually be a down trend. When sales are slow or customers are difficult, remind yourself that a turnaround for the best is always just beyond the bend.
Much of business success has to do with simply showing up for work every day. When people see you or hear about you month after month, then year after year, your consistent presence builds customer confidence. Confidence turns into loyalty. Repeat customers and good word of mouth will insure you get repeat sales for as long as you own your business.
Kevin Nunley provides marketing advice and copy writing for businesses and organizations. Read all his money-saving marketing tips at http://DrNunley.com/. Reach him at email@example.com or (801)253-4536.
This article originally appeared in DEMC E-Magazine. See DrNunley's AlvinApple.com for more on starting your own business.
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