When the job market is scarce, many people turn to self employment as a way to produce an income. Self employment means that you are your own boss in whatever area you choose whether it be cleaning, bookkeeping, child care, real estate, or handyman services.
One of the challenges in starting up a new business is finding customers that are interested in your product or services. Here’s some tried and true methods for how it can be done.
1. Spread the “buzz” through your friends . When I first went into sales some 30 years ago, one very wise piece of advice I learned was to let my friends do the selling. Friends, relatives, former co-workers and other acquaintances are both potential customers and your marketing team who will promote your business through word of mouth. To entice your friends and relatives in advertising your new business, offer up a freebie or discount in exchange for a referral. A freebie is a great motivator in getting friends and relatives to pass around your business cards.
2. Mail or hand deliver advertising brochures only to people you know. Plastering a neighborhood or parking lot with advertising fliers is a waste of both time and money, and is rarely effective. The best approach for distributing fliers is by mail or hand delivery to the network of friends you’ve called. This gets your advertising in the hands of people who know you personally and would save the brochure instead of chucking it in the trash.
3. Participate in a trade fair. Trade fairs and expositions are a great way of introducing your business to the public. For an up-and-coming business, a smaller trade fair (such as home & garden show or a pet expo) might be the perfect venue for promoting your business inexpensively. People attending these fairs are what we used to call a “captured audience” since they expect to be sold a product or service.
4. Be visible. You’re fooling yourself if you think potential customers would hire a handyman or housekeeper based on information found on a telephone pole or community board. A better strategy is to be a visible presence in your community which expands the “pool” of potential customers. Joining or participating in civic groups, the BBB, Chamber of Commerce or becoming more active in your school, church, or neighborhood association are easy ways of increasing your visibility.
The key to expanding your customer base really isn’t a huge secret. All it really takes is a willingness to meet new people and providing a quality product or service. Your customers will take it from there by spreading the word.