Soft Sell

Know Your Limits

Maria hartrich, 39, doesn't market her services through direct mail, sales calls, telemarketing or even the Web. "It's almost exclusively through word-of-mouth," says the president of Strategic Business Intelligence Inc., a Chicago competitive analysis and market research firm started in 1993.

Word-of-mouth fits her needs, Hartrich says, because she focuses on a small niche--financial information services. By limiting her marketing efforts, she avoids getting more business than her one-person company can handle.

"By growing, you take on the responsibility of managing employees, and you need to have more space," she says. "I want to work out of my home and be able to take off when I want to."

Hartrich's strategy is a common one, says Joyce Gioia, president of The Herman Group, a management and marketing consulting firm in Greensboro, North Carolina. "They limit growth because that's what they're comfortable with," Gioia says.

Hartrich agrees. "If I had employees, I would double my administrative time without doubling my income," she says. "I'm very happy with my income, and I don't want more money [if it means] less freedom."

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This article was originally published in the September 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Soft Sell.

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