Oh, Give Me a Home

Marketing and Operations Tips

11. Order business cards--and then get rid of them. They won't do you any good unless you hand them out. Who knows--a casual meeting could turn into your next big sale!

12. Send a press release. A well-written release can often get you more publicity than the most carefully crafted display ad. Read "A Press Release Primer" for some some simple pointers.

13. Network! If you don't tell people you're in business, how will they ever know? If you crave local business, get involved in your local chamber of commerce and leads groups. If networking online is more up your alley, look for active message boards and e-mail discussion lists.

14. Get a real domain name. Image counts on the Net, and your own domain name can mean the difference between looking like a strong dotcom or a newbie. Use your company name if possible.

15. Have a Web site and need a low-cost advertising alternative? Try advertising in e-mail newsletters. They get delivered directly to your prospect's e-mail box, and they cost pennies per reader. "Plus, there are no producing or mailing costs," adds Becky Barnett, whose Decatur, Georgia-based Dot-Dot.com specializes in Internet marketing. "[People] sign up for that [newsletter] because they are interested-it actually gets read."

16. Never stop marketing. Set aside a certain number of hours each week to spread the word--no matter how swamped you feel. Remember, business may be going gangbusters now, but if you don't keep your name in front of prospects, they may forget about you tomorrow. An airtight marketing plan will help you have a constant stream of publicity and will keep you focused. Read "Find Time for Marketing" for six ways to keep up with your marketing tasks.

Keep It Running Smoothly
17. Plan actual working hours--and stick to them. It's easy to get caught up in working 60-plus hours a week because you don't manage your time or, alternately, sleeping in every day because you can "get to it later." Besides, having office hours makes it easier for clients to reach you.

18. Keep good financial records--or hire someone if you don't have the time. Let's face it: Even with the miracles of accounting software, not everyone likes crunching numbers. If you haven't balanced your business checkbook in a couple months and couldn't find a financial report if your life depended on it, hire a professional.

19. Know when to say no. Just because you work from home doesn't mean you're the neighborhood babysitter, taxi driver or shoulder to cry on. Gently tell friends that when you're working, you're working--and you're not available for unscheduled chitchat.

20. Take time for renewal. Celebrate big accounts by giving yourself a special reward. Grab a short walk when the stress levels get unbearable. Take a humor break and read the latest fake headlines at www.theonion.com. Remember, taking care of business means taking care of the boss--you!

21. Have fun! Remember, owning your own business isn't about working endless hours for low wages; it's about living your passion! When it all gets too serious, sit back and remember why you went into business for yourself. Freedom. No bosses. Working in your jammies. Ah, isn't it worth it?

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This article was originally published in the October 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Oh, Give Me a Home.

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