Make Your Work-from-Home Dreams Come True

Week 4: Getting Clients

For many people, one of the scariest parts of starting a new business is the fear of not having enough business. Many people feel they know little about how to put the word out. However, marketing a home-based business need not be complex or expensive.

The most important thing to remember is that a product or service, no matter how good it is, can't sell itself. Your job is to let those who need your product or service know about it, in a way that convinces them to buy it from you whenever they need it. Interestingly, one of the most important ways to do this is to avoid selling your business to everybody out there. Instead, you must market your product to a specific group of people.

Consider the following professional introductions: Which one helps you understand what this person does for a living? Which one would you be more likely to remember, use or refer to?

"I'm a facialist. Everyone has skin and everyone could look better if he or she took good care of it. So, anyone, man or woman, of any age, can benefit from having a facial."

"You know how as you age, you start to notice changes in your skin? With the proper care, much of this can be prevented. I'm a facialist and I specialize in working with people who are starting to notice changes in their skin and want to preserve a more youthful appearance."

If you're like most people, you're more likely to take note of the second introduction. Most of us want to work with a specialist, someone we believe really knows how to solve a particular problem or meet a need. Saying "I can work with anyone" not only makes us sound desperate, it does nothing to distinguish us from others. There are many ways to define your niche, as described in the categories here:

WHO you serve: A computer consultant could work only with women. A PR firm could specialize in environmentally conscious companies. A caterer could provide parties and weddings for the Polish community.

WHAT you offer: A computer consultant could work only with Macs. A PR firm could specialize in only doing publicity book tours for authors. A caterer could specialize in health food that tastes sinful.

WHERE you work: A computer consultant could service a certain neighborhood with pickups and delivery. A PR firm could specialize in getting publicity for its clients in foreign countries. A caterer could specialize in outdoor events.

WHEN you work: A computer consultant could specialize in after-hours calls when everyone else is closed. A PR firm could help retail companies promote their Websites during the holidays. A caterer could rescue clients facing last-minute dinner parties.

HOW you work: A computer consultant could concentrate on building and maintaining networks for mutual fund companies. A PR firm could feature special Website promotions and contests. A caterer could prepare meals at clients' houses.

Identify Your Niche

This week's exercise helps you find your specialty. Identify what you are best suited to provide, to whom, on the basis of your experience, interests, contacts and expertise. Go back to your list of qualities that you wrote for week two and imagine describing your particular talents or skills in one of the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE or HOW categories above. Draw up a pitch for your business that explains what you do and who you cater to, similar to the facialist's pitch above. Don't forget to describe the exact benefits clients will receive by coming to you. Once you have that, memorize it so that as you tell potential clients, friends, neighbors, church members and colleagues about your business you can easily rattle it off. You've found the way you can contribute to your community by providing a service or product, you're creating a new life for yourself, and you're using your skills to the utmost. Now's the time to toot your own horn. Good luck!

You've completed the course and are on your way. Share your successes, no matter how small, with the other women like you. Finally got your business cards printed? Decided on your niche? Let us know on the Working from Home: How Do I Start? message board.

© 1999 by Paul and Sarah Edwards. Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin Putnam Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

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