How To Create A Successful Small Town Home Based Business
by Tom Egelhoff
One of the best differences between large cities and small towns is the feeling you get while driving around a small town.
Tree lined streets, laughing children in the yards and white picket fences.
As I make those drives I often look at the homes and wonder what's happening behind those cottage doors.
Perhaps it's someone sewing a one of a kind design, maybe it's a beautiful doll created in regal finery, or raw wood taking shape as fine furniture or a sculpture at the artists hand.
It's the home based business. The human spirit expressing itself. Not that large cities don't have home based businesses too but they just seem to fit more comfortably in a serene small town setting.
Perhaps millions of small home based businesses are started each year. Most will fail or at best meet the Internal Revenue Services definition of a hobby not a business.
So what makes one business successful while others fail? That's the focus of this weeks article. Here are the tactics I believe a small business must embrace to be successful.
Are You Serious?
You may have already heard this from some of your so-called friends. "You?...In your own business?" "ARE YOU SERIOUS?"
For ways to combat this attitude see: "Small Business Failure: Three Reasons Why Your Business Will Fail And How To Avoid Them."
In order to be successful in any business that's the question you must ask yourself. If you aren't serious and ready to make the commitment you have a hobby. It really doesn't matter if you do it or not.
People who are serious about their business dream are passionate about it. They simply will not be denied. They will get up over and over and over again after being knocked down.
Don't Pick Just Anything
I used to subscribe to a magazine called "New Opportunities". It was a few articles and many pages of advertising about various business start-ups.
I'm sure you've seen these types of ads. "Earn Big Money In Upholstery", or "Start Your Own Vending Machine Business".
I'm sure most of these are perfectly legitimate business opportunities but where is the passion from above.
If you "buy into" their business methods without a wholehearted desire for success; convinced that this is the ideal business for you then I can confidently predict failure.
The secret of real business success is being passionate about your business idea. Find something you enjoy doing and find a way to make money doing it.
I have a passion for marketing and found a way to bring that passion to life. I started a marketing company that deals with small businesses in small towns.
Here are some ways to find your ideal business.
- If you have a favorite hobby or pastime can you make it pay? In Montana, where I live, many hunters have become "outfitters."
These are people who guide others on hunting or fishing trips. Doing what they love but also being paid to do it as a business.
- Have you learned or developed a skill from your day job that you could translate into a home based business. Many automobile mechanics start this way. They go through the apprenticeship at the expense of the car dealer and then open their own shop.
- For years Joe Carbo sold a book called, "The Lazy Man's Way To Riches." It was nothing more than a simple philosophy...Find a need and fill it.
Find a problem that people don't want to deal with and do it for them. Don't want to cook tonight? There's a restaurant on every corner who will be glad to do it for you.
Planing your wedding getting out of hand? A wedding planner will be happy to help you out.
- If you already have a computer or some other type of equipment or technology can you develop a business from that?
Remember, most people can't do what you can do.
Define Who You Are And What You Do
When I decided to write my first book it was a very intimidating experience.
I would look at my bookcases filled with over a hundred books on marketing and advertising by some of the most respected names in the profession.
How could I ever hope to compete with such immortals of the marketing world? Who was I?...a nobody.
What finally convinced me to under take the project was that the information was more valuable than the messenger.
There were not, and to my knowledge still aren't, any books that directly address the advertising and marketing challenges of the small town business owner.
Once I realized this my passion was ignited and nothing could stop me from writing the book.
So a nice commercial but what does it mean to you? If you're a landscaper, what sets you apart from other landscapers?
Do you specialize in large properties? Small properties? Special flowers, grasses or shrubs?
Who would you rather have work on your automobile brakes?
A guy making $10.00/hr or a guy making $25/hr? We all like expertise. If we like it well enough and can afford it we buy it. What sets you apart?
Charge What You're Worth
One of the biggest mistakes home based business owners make is not placing real value on their talents and/or products.
When I started doing computer design work back in the mid 1980's hardly anyone was doing it.
With the computer and clip art doing most of the work I felt guilty charging for it at all. It was so easy I thought that anyone could do it.
Of course I came to my senses and found that they couldn't. It was easy for me because I had spent many hours in front of a computer screen learning the programs and composition.
In the next paragraph you'll find a formula to help you determine your selling price for your goods and services.
Direct Costs+Overhead+Profit=Your Selling Price
Direct costs are items like materials you may need to do your job. If you are a carpenter it might be tools, wood, etc.
Overhead is are normally expenses not directly related to the production of the product. Insurance, rent, electric, water, phone and so on.
Profit is a realistic amount that you would like to have after all other expenses have been met.
In addition to the above formula you will also need to know how to do a break-even analysis.
This will show you the amount of product you must sell before your home-based business will begin to pay for itself.
For a formula on how to do a break-even analysis. See: "How To Do A Break-Even Analysis."
For more on how to grow your business to the break even level: See: "How To Grow Your Small Or Home-Based Business To The Break-Even Level."
Make Your Business Legal And Professional
If you think you can save some money by putting off certain startup costs...thinks again. If you are going to have a business then have one. Here is a short list of some of the things a legitimate business has.
- A business license - why wait until the city finds out about you (and they will in a small town) and threatens to shut you down. Also before getting your license make sure your home is zoned for the type of business you want to do.
- Open a separate bank account - the IRS will be very reluctant to recognize you as a business without one. Also it's much easier to figure your deductions.
- Get a separate phone line. If you are away from home making business calls then consider a cell phone. You can use voice mail after hours. Again the IRS will not let you deduct phone charges without a separate business line.
- Get as good a quality business card as you can afford. And Use Them. Everyone you meet should have your business card. A business card goes in every local bill you pay every time you pay it. Everyone within walking distance of your home should have your business card. Politicians go door to door to sell themselves why can't you?
If you skimp on these things customers will wonder if you also skimp on your service and dependability. Do you?
The Last Word on Successful Small Town Home-Based Businesses
Business success is based on the trust and confidence that customers place in you. That trust and confidence is generated by your passion for your business and your professionalism.
How you feel about your business says a lot about who you are. So does your professionalism. If you are a true professional...act like it. And the business will come your way.
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http://www.smalltownmarketing.com - (406) 585-0219
Based in Bozeman, MT, Tom Egelhoff is the author of How To Market, Advertise & Promote Your Business Or Service In A Small Town, and The Small Town Advertising Handbook: How To Say More And Spend Less. He is also a seminar and workshop presenter and trainer. He may be reached at 406-585-0219 or PO Box 271, Bozeman, MT 59771-0271
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