I’ve started up a home-based business, but am worried about it becoming a little isolated. Outside the contact I have with a few initial clients, I don’t feel I’m having much interaction with the business world, which makes me wonder if I’m lagging behind innovations or industry standards. What can I do about this?
Every start-up business is a combination of optimism and isolation. It is vital to have something special to offer the market and work hard to build up a business base.
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At the same time, it is essential to create customers and generate a network of friends and associates who can keep you in touch with trends and what competitors (or copiers of your product or service) are up to.
As I write in my book No Workplace Like Home, you need a staged plan that lists the people who are your keys to success. This means that you identify business leaders, distributors and potential customers who you plan to meet and greet.
By doing this you are proactively establishing what’s new and different and can overcome that sense of being cut off by your start-up activities. Pick up the phone, send them an email and invite their comment on what you are doing.
Here are a few tips to help as you get things onto a steady track.
First, make a list of your key customers so that you can ring them and ask how things are going. Ask who is buying from them, what else they are purchasing and what comments they have made about your product or service.
Next, make contact with shops or customers who may be on your list to expand your business, go to see them and ask the same questions. Concentrate on the ways that your product or service fits in with other market opportunities.
Third, find the small business networks in your neighbourhood, such as the local traders association or the chamber of commerce, and invest a little time in building business networks.
Fourth, use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to let people know what you are doing and to exchange ideas and information to keep you at the front line of start-up activity.
Finally, use StartupSmart.com.au and SmartCompany.com.au mentors as a source of support and challenge so that you stay in touch with their ways of adding value to your business and keep up with the latest in entrepreneurial endeavours.