One of the most common obstacles many home-based working moms face is trying to start or run a new business on a limited budget. The first few years of a business are usually the hardest financially. Some moms leave full-time careers and substantial salaries to start a new business. Others start a home business as stay-at-home moms wanting additional income to support their family as well as a professional outlet to balance their diaper-changing days.
In either case, starting and running a home-based business takes money. How much money, will depend partly on you and the type of business you choose to run.
Below are our top 10 tips to save you and your home business money:
1. Do your own market research by talking to potential clients or customers.
Many new home business owners skip this step only to come back to it later (or wish they had). Those who start businesses without doing any type of research risk the possibility that their target market doesn’t need or want their particular product or service. The competition may be too fierce. There may not be enough potential customers to support the business. Or the product isn’t priced correctly. It is just as important not to price your product too low as it is not to price it too high. Talk to others in similar businesses as yours to see how much they charge and what they offer for that price.
2. Team up with other non-competitive businesses that target the same market to do some co-marketing.
For example, desktop publishers and print shops can do a direct mail campaign together advertising both of their services or buy an ad in a local publication and split the costs. Neither is in competition with the other. They also can hand out business cards or flyers for one another as well as give word-of-mouth referrals. It’s a great way to double one’s marketing efforts while splitting any advertising costs.
3. When you have a satisfied customer, don’t be afraid to ask for referrals.
People like to help others especially new businesses trying to succeed. Show pride in your work and people are sure to notice. And when they do, ask if they know any others you can send a brochure or sample to. Another great way to encourage referrals is to offer a discount or special offer for any customers who are referred to you.
4. Barter or trade your services for other products or services you need.
Associations and organizations are not only great places to network; they are also great for finding businesses that offer services and products you need. Look for businesses you could help with your product or service and offer to barter or trade for theirs. (Be sure to check with your tax professional for tax issues involving bartering and trading.). Diana Ennen of Virtual Word Publishing (http://www.virtualwordpublishing.com) has found bartering her virtual assisting coaching has allowed her to get web design work done, PR work out, proofing of assignments and much more. It’s a win/win for all.
5. Find another home-based working mom to swap babysitting with.
All home-based working moms need some dedicated time to work on their business tasks. By swapping with another mom, both can work on their businesses without adding to their childcare costs.
6. When buying new office equipment, go to a place that offers a low-price guarantee.
You can save time and money by shopping at places that will refund any difference in price if you find the product cheaper elsewhere.
7. If you are looking for computer equipment, consider buying used equipment.
Look in the classifieds and talk to others that may know someone looking to upgrade. Ask for warranty information and make sure the machine is in good working condition. Also take a look at the computer companies offering refurbished machines. Some are priced accordingly and usually come with some type of warranty.
8. Send postcards for direct mail solicitation.
They are cheaper to print and less expensive to mail. Another advantage is that they are more likely to be read since they take no effort to open.
9. If you hire sales help, pay by commission only so you only spend money if you make money.
A salesperson can increase your sales without adding any up-front fees or salaries.
10. Use pre-printed design papers for letterhead, brochures and business cards if you only need a small amount.
The papers can be found at most large office supply stores, and they are great for new businesses trying to get started on a small budget.
These money-saving ideas should help with your budget but new business owners also need plenty of drive and determination to succeed. It takes time to develop and grow a business so be patient and give it all you’ve got!
Lesley Spencer is founder and president of the HBWM.com, Inc. She has a Master’s Degree in Public Relations and has been featured in numerous media outlets including CBS News, Forbes, Business Week, Parents, Wall Street Journal and USA Today. She has been working from home for over 10 years and has two children whom she absolutely adores!
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