Last week, certified coach, Erin Baebler generously offered her services free to readers of The Work at Home Woman! Erin Baebler works with moms who want to pursue their ambitions, through one-on-one and email coaching, Erin helps moms clear the clutter of their life so they have the time and space to go after the life they want and deserve.
So without further delay, here are the answers to your commonly asked business questions:
I’m not a mother, but I am an entrepreneur and blogger trying to get a home business off the ground. My specialty is residential cleaning, and my blog gives cleaning advice, and humor to make you feel better about the state of your home! What is the most effective and cost-efficient way to start marketing a small business, if you don’t have a lot of start-up capital?
Hi Bonnie – There are many effective and cost-efficient ways to market your small business. I suggest checking out one or more of the great books in the Guerilla Marketing series if you haven’t already. I also really like Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid.
Pick the methods that fit your personality the best or that seem easiest to you. Marketing does not have to feel hard so if, for example, you resist going to networking events because you are a bit shy, get on Twitter and follow local prospects. If you provide value and present yourself in a way that is authentic, the right people will show up and be interested in what you have to offer. Whether you are talking to people in person or online, make sure you show them how you can solve a problem they have (in this case a dirty house).
Another great and free way to market yourself is to hook up with other service providers who work with your target market. Maybe you could create a regular get together with a group that includes a gardener, a house painter, a handyman and a window washer. That way, you could all trade ideas on how to get more business and give each other referrals, too.
Also, you are selling your service but what you are really selling is yourself. Think about how you can present yourself in a way that makes people trust you and want to work with you. Since you’re asking them to let you into their home, what can you do to set their minds at ease about you? Are you licensed, bonded, etc.? Do you have client testimonials on your site and/or are you willing to provide references in the form of current clients?
To answer your question, the most effective and cost-efficient ways to market your business are the ones that you will do gladly and consistently. It will take some time but if you keep at it, your efforts will pay off.
I have a full-time job because we are going through infertility treatments and need as much income as possible. But, my love and passions are writing, editing and crafting. I have my own business, plus I do another side-business. This all keeps me busy. My goal/dream/ideal situation would be to not work full-time so that I can focus on the two businesses. What would you suggest? Tips? How do I cope with this dilemma?
Hi Angela – A couple of things came up for me when I read your post. The first is that you know what your passions are. That makes you ahead of the curve in many ways. Plus, you have a business which means you are already on the path toward working only for yourself. I believe a big pat on the back is in order and I hope you take the time to acknowledge yourself for the work you’ve already done toward your dream.
I saw your site for Always B Designs. What is your other business? I’m wondering if you would consider picking one and focusing on it. Working full-time, having two businesses, and going through fertility treatments sounds like a lot and that’s before you even add in eating, sleeping, exercising and having some downtime both alone and with your husband.
As for coping with your dilemma, this calls for a bit of trust that the time will come for you to pursue your passions in a more substantial way. It sounds like you are committed to doing all you can to have a baby. If you can think of that dream as the reason you are temporarily putting off the other dream, perhaps that will help you deal with having to work full-time. It might take some getting used to, but what if you shift your thinking to a place where you know everything will unfold at the right time? What does that open up for you?
In the meantime, slow and steady wins the race. So, any time and effort you can put into your business will make you that much further ahead when the time is right to dive in fully. I wish you all the best!
Erin – I have a problem settling on an idea – likely because of fear of the unknown. I have a well-paying job and am the primary breadwinner for our family. Any suggestions?
Hi Kristin – Since you currently have a well-paying job and provide the primary income for your family, I think you are on to something with your “fear of the unknown” comment. Starting a business is a risky endeavor. If you dream of eventually having your own company, though, you really can start to put the pieces in place now. Write down all of the ideas you have and spend some time fleshing out the details that go along with each one. I’d suggest honing in on any that really answer a passion you have since that can go a long way in sustaining you down the road.
Then, make a plan. What is the first tiny step toward your goal? Do that and then decide on the next best step after that. Even if all you are doing is researching different possibilities, writing a business plan or getting to know a few people who do what you eventually want to do, that’s still something, and it puts you on your journey.
You might also want to set aside some time to get “dreamy” about the whole thing. What do you want your life to look like once you make the leap? Will you have more time? More money? More satisfaction? What is it you are yearning for? Once you know what you want, you can find other ways to meet those needs starting today. That might help make the wait a bit easier.
I would love some advice on settling on a business idea. My dream is to have my own business that allows me to have a flexible schedule so I can spend more time with my daughter. I’m not sure where to start, and I currently have a great income and am not in a financial position to just walk away from that in order to get a business up and running. I would love advice on how to transition. Thanks!
Hi Shelley – The good news is that you are in a secure place right now with good income. That’s a great way to start, actually, because there is not a lot of pressure to come up with something quickly. Spend some time jotting down potential business ideas and some of the details that go along with them. If you have several, write down what you know about each and then pick one or two to delve into deeper. Talk to someone who does something similar so you can find out what it’s really like. And then begin to make a plan.
Once you’ve decided on something, consider how you could begin the process with a baby step of some kind. If it’s a service-based business, could you begin to offer the service on the side? If it’s a product, what’s one small step toward creating it? If it’s a franchise, how could you learn more about them now even though you aren’t ready to officially begin?
The other thing to think about is that starting a business will often give you more flexibility, but it doesn’t mean you will necessarily work fewer hours—especially at first. You mentioned you want to pursue this so you can spend more time with your daughter. I’m wondering what you could do to accomplish that now? Or, if it’s not more time, what could you do to make the time you do with spend with her really meaningful? That’s something you can start today!
Erin – I would love some advice on establishing relationships online. My service (virtual bookkeeping & accounting) relies heavily on a relationship of trust, yet I never meet my clients face-to-face. How do I convey trust and reliability to my target market? Am I stuck continuing my reliance on referrals and word-of-mouth? Thanks!
Hi Deb – Because you do your work from afar, the world really is your oyster in terms of finding clients. There are no geographic boundaries which is great news. The tricky part is finding those clients in a huge pool out there in the virtual world. It seems counterintuitive, but I’m wondering if you might want to pick a smaller niche like mom business owners or fitness solopreneurs. That doesn’t mean you have to turn away clients that don’t fit your niche but it might help you establish yourself as the expert in a community that already exists. For instance, if you already work with a realtor, that person likely knows many other realtors who have the same needs. Having someone else vouch for your service is really effective. It’s like having your own sales and marketing team out there in the world.
I’m curious about the stuck feeling you have around referrals and word-of-mouth marketing. What is it about your reliance on that that doesn’t sit well with you? Maybe it’s the fact that it’s not in your control? Or that you aren’t getting enough business through referrals? What could you do to make it work better for you? Incentives and discounts are ways to motivate your existing fans to refer you, even more, business.
I recommend leaving the referral piece in place and adding to it with another method that is appealing to you. Since you are focusing on online relationships, I’d recommend the book Guerilla Marketing on the Internet or one of the Guerilla Marketing books aimed at small businesses. These provide so many ideas that you can choose the ones that are a fit for you.
Whichever method you decide on, make sure you keep at it for a while. If you decide you want to create a teleseminar, host several of them to gauge how they are working for you. If you decide Twitter is the way to go, really spend some time learning how to use it effectively. You have some great content both on your website and on your Twitter feed. That kind of free information is valuable to your potential clients and further establishes you as an expert so keep up the great work by making sure those future clients of yours knows it’s there.
A special thanks to Erin Baebler for generously offering her coaching services. To learn more about Erin and her services, please see Magnolia Workshop.
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