The roller coaster ride of the global economy over the past few years has made people take a step back and evaluate the things that are most important to them: their families, health, retirement plans, and jobs. Over the years, it has become apparent that individuals no longer take a job right out of high school or college and spend their entire working career employed with that one company. Those days when our fathers and grandfathers worked for one entity for 30+ years, were treated like family instead of employees, and retired with a huge party and health benefits for life have gone the way of the dodo bird, the Edsel, and the MS-DOS operating system. That idea of long employment is now extinct.
Many people are now turning to the home-based business model, because it is convenient, startup costs are usually low, and there is limited overhead. There are various benefits to starting up a business from your home. You are the boss of yourself. You can use revenues from it to supplement your existing income at another job. You can set your own hours. You will offer a service or product that you know is needed in the marketplace.
What many new business owners fail to realize - and this comes with every sized business whether large or small - is that marketing your product or service is absolutely critical to your success. Sure, you can hand out business cards at a local Chamber of Commerce event, make phone calls to organizations to explain your business, send out press releases to the newspaper, and distribute fliers. All of these techniques are great, but a home-based business like every other organization out there needs something more. And that something is to use marketing and promotional items.
Who doesn't love to get handed a nice pen, a tote bag, or a new insulated coffee mug? These are all items that promote your business, yet don't require you to spend a lot of money. It's noteworthy to point out that old adage here: you must spend a buck to earn a buck.
I know a realtor who started her own business about 10 years ago. She started from scratch, but she marketed her business constantly. Her magnetic business cards were sent to clients and potential customers repeatedly. She had pens and other small office-type gadgets printed with her real estate company's name. Within a matter of a few years, she had grown this small, home-based business into a thriving company that now employs about 20 realtors and rakes in millions of dollars annually. Guess what? She hasn't stopped her marketing campaign. Even with consistent closings, she continues to actively market her business. Other realtors who are not employed by her complain that she has monopolized the real estate business. She hasn't. Every one of her closings is related to the hard work she does to promote her company, her name, and her services. Kudos to her! By the way, I receive several mailings with promotional products in them from her yearly. Even though I've never bought or sold property through her, I appreciate her thinking of me and I'm happy to refer her to other people who need her services.
Here's another story. Last spring, our washer abruptly stopped working. After his best attempts at trying to fix the issue, my husband gave up. It was 4:00 PM on a Saturday afternoon. I imagined I'd be hauling a bunch of dirty clothes and the sopping wet ones that were still in the washer to a local laundromat. After all, it was highly unlikely that anyone would be out to fix the machine before Monday morning. My husband called a local appliance company that turned out to be a mom-and-pop shop. The kindly gentleman told my husband he'd be at our house within 30 minutes to look at the washer. He arrived quickly, found that the washing machine only had a minor problem and fixed it within minutes. He even admitted that he hated to have to charge $50 for a service call since the issue was so minor. I was just relieved that the problem was fixable, it didn't cost us a fortune, and that the repair guy came within the hour. After he'd left, I noticed a magnet on the washing machine. The repair man had left his calling card, a magnetic business card on the washer. What a fantastic idea! Now, the next time either the washer or dryer isn't working up to par, not only do I know firsthand that this man is reliable, honest, and knowledgeable, but I also have all of the critical information (name, phone number, email address) right there - on my washer - in the spot where I need it most. No sifting through the phone book or going online to try and remember the name of the business or the repair man's name. It's all in one convenient place.
That repair man knew what he was doing, both in fixing appliances and in marketing his home-based business. I call it genius. He probably calls it making a customer for life.
These two stories demonstrate how YOU can be successful. Do you want your home business to survive, grow fruitful, be prosperous for years to come? Of course you do! You must promote your business consistently and often to make it happen. Consider promotion and marketing to be key insurance tools.
It doesn't matter what product or service you provide either. Homemade cookies, daycare services, CPA tax services, hand-painted glassware, car detailing, lawn care services, handyman services, plumbing. Each and every one of these businesses requires its owner - that's YOU - to regularly market it. Don't think that because you sent out a calendar for the upcoming new year in late December that you are off the hook. Follow up that promo item with another one at least quarterly. And once you have a steady stream of clients and paying customers, don't slack off. Keep up the marketing campaign. Promoting your business to potential clients ensures that you are hitting new revenue opportunities on a regular basis. Consistent marketing to ongoing or old customers keeps you in front of them, even when you aren't doing business with them at the moment. Trust me when I say, they will be back for your services.