WAHM: How to Bootstrap Your Business

When you decide to work from home, you're in charge. So, of course, you want to avoid paying someone else to tell you how to run your own business. Instead, you should take charge and bootstrap your business from the floor up.

This sounds more difficult than it actually has to be. With a little thought and a lot of hard work, you can ensure that your business succeeds. Let's look at some ways to accomplish this.

Identify Your Strengths

First, decide what you want to do by making a list of your strengths. For instance, are you good with kids? Are you a natural at training dogs? Maybe you can research case law like nobody's business. Great! Identify these strengths and write them all down.

Now write down the qualities you possess that make you good at each. For instance, are you patient? Are you detail-oriented? Are you consistent? Write down all of these fabulously marketable traits.

Complete Some Market Research

Once you have an idea of your strengths, jump on the Internet and search for the jobs in which your strengths and interests lie. Look up your competition. If there are a lot of people listed in your desired field, that’s good; there is a large market out there for your idea. On the other hand, if there aren’t many in your field, you will have to decide whether you’ll be willing and able to actively market your idea as worthy of purchase.

Market Yourself

With your new business idea in mind, take a day or two to set up a free website. Many webhosts offer great (free) websites as long as you keep the host's name in your domain. Once you are set up, you’ll want to add the following pages: Home, About, FAQ, Contact, and Terms and Conditions.

Next, set up a free blog or send out fliers. You can also advertise for free in your local classifieds. Then, to boost your free advertising potential, post a link to your website on your blog and in the classifieds.

Even if you’re business is not PC-based, you may wish to create a blog to take advantage of social media advertising. For example, let’s say you decide to start your own dog-walking business. You could post pictures and updates showcasing the dogs; both your customers and potential clients will enjoy the blog. And you could find more business.

Actively Find Clients

Even while you market yourself online and through free media, people still may not find you. So go out and find them! Post fliers. Knock on doors. Drop business cards off at complementary businesses. Offer free services for a short period of time. Essentially, do whatever you have to do to get a couple of clients.

Ask for References and Feedback

As you move forward with your first clients, treat them like gold. Since they will become your references, you must make your work shine. Go above and beyond, and don't worry about earning an ideal wage while working for your first clients. These references will be your best allies in obtaining new clients.

As soon as you’ve finished work for a client, ask them to critique you. If they aren't completely satisfied with your service, you will be able to improve upon it. However, if they were thrilled with your service, you could ask for a reference.

Remember to make your reference fit your business: off-line businesses should request a written and signed reference with a teleconference option whereas online businesses can post the best sentence or two offered on their website.

It will probably take a couple of months to get a good client base underfoot, so be patient. Keep marketing yourself, treating clients to golden services, and requesting feedback. Eventually, your business should grow, but keep that day job until you're sure your business has legs.

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Anonymous's picture

Spruce Up Your Finances wrote:

Thu, 05/05/2011 - 06:10 Comment #: 1

Great advice! Running a home business should also be treated as running a regular business. Understanding the SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) will be a good start.

I like the idea of treating the first client as a goldmine because people should not underestimate the power of referrals and making your first client (and of course all the clients) could really come along way!

Jessica Schmeidler's picture

Jessica Schmeidler wrote:

Thu, 05/05/2011 - 15:01 Comment #: 2

I had not heard it referred to as "SWOT" before, but I love that! I'm glad you agree with me about the the first clients. :D

Anonymous's picture

Ultimate Guide for How to Work at Home | MomVesting wrote:

Thu, 01/19/2012 - 21:48 Comment #: 3

[...] When you're starting up a new business, sometimes you have to bootstrap it at the beginning. Here are tips for how to manage your own business. [...]

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