It doesn’t really matter what ideas you come up with for working for yourself, you will have a product or a service to sell to other people and to do that there is no other way these days than to network, network and finally ... network. Perhaps one of the main problems with home based work is simply that; it is based in the home and sometimes mums and working don’t mix with getting out much. By the time the children are sorted and the home is being kept in reasonable order, there is not much time for networking clients, but however you manage it, you must get it done if you want to run a growing business.
If your business is a creative one, there are lots of outlets in most towns and even villages where you can get your product out there into the wider audience. WIs and village halls often hold fairs or bring-and-buys which are a great starter market. If you don’t make many sales you will certainly make lots of contacts and every contact you make is like another thread on the spider’s web that it your ultimate consumer base, so don’t ignore even a small chance to make the contact stronger. Part of your marketing strategy should include networking opportunities and you should never consider time wasted that is spent chatting to potential customers. It may seem sometimes as if you will never make a sale, but all it needs is for one of your creations to make it to an influential mantelpiece or wrist – depending on what it is, of course! – and for it to be seen by the right person, to set your business off into the stratosphere.
Small business marketing is really all about word of mouth. It is important to advertise, of course it is, but one well placed recommendation from the right person is sometimes all a business needs. Most people will listen to a friend or colleague rather than bother trawling through the yellow pages or online and this is how you can build a client base quickly. With networking, the sums are easy and they make sense. If you go to a dinner party where there are ten people, then at the end of the evening, that will be ten people who know about your business. Each time they go somewhere, they will tell other people, assuming you were convincing and interesting and didn’t put them to sleep over the soup, and so within a week or so it could be that literally hundreds of people know about you and what you are doing.
When you start out, money might be tight, but if you can manage to give away a few incentives, your networking will have more impact. If you have a stall at a farmers’ market, give away tasters, always mindful of course of food hygiene regulations. If you make handmade cards, send them to everyone you know. Use Facebook to find out birthdays, chat to people at the school gates, at the bus stop, in the supermarket and soon you will have a network to be proud of.