I know that when I started out I had no clue about ‘how to’ or even ‘where to’ market my service. Coming out of a corporate environment ( where the accounts department was down the corridor and to the left and the marketing department was up the corridor and to the right and the art department was somewhere in between) and starting your own business is not as easy as you may think.

Having spent most of my working life just getting on with it in a corporate environment where the assistance that I needed was on tap, and having the disciplines that the company required me to meet very clearly defined, meant that it was a huge ‘wake up to reality’ check when I finally ventured out on my own. I learnt though – very quickly. Sure, if you are working from home like I do it’s great to be able to work in comfortable clothes, which for me in summer is shorts and a t-shirt and in winter, my favorite tracksuit; the reality though, is that irrespective of how you dress, the work still has to be done and you learn very quickly that you have to put proper structures in place in order to remain focused and disciplined.

The biggest thing of course is that on your own you do not have the resources at your fingertips that you perhaps had at the office. Let’s face it, in your corporate world you were plugged into everything, but remained only responsible for your particular job/position/field of expertise. On your own, you are in fact the whole shebang! There’s no-one else to do the marketing/finance/design etc, and then you will still also have to make the tea! The reality is that you are everything to your business, all rolled up in one.

Here’s the thing though: as frightening and as daunting as it may seem, with a little bit of research, a bit of planning (and yes you do have to do it) the whole thing may not be as scary and frightening as you think. Remember though – no planning and no research will undoubtedly result in a big disaster!

One of the first issues that needs research is the target market. Let’s face it, pitching your product/service to the wrong target marked will result in disaster, or more specifically – no sales. So it is imperative that you know exactly who you will be offering your services to. Once you get to the point that you can picture them in your mind as clearly as you can your own family and close friends, then you know that you are going in the right direction.

Second, it is of vital importance that you have a very clear picture of your product or service. If you are vague about what it is that you are selling, chances are that your communication about the product/service will also be somewhat vaguer and your passion about what it is that you want will also come across somewhat diluted.

The third issue that you need to deal with is your Marketing Message. Remember that this is how you will be engaging with and communicating with your target market. This, in essence, is how you explain in words (or sometimes pictures) what your product/service is. This is where you get them interested and hungry for more information, so your message must be very clear, exciting and engaging. There is nothing worse than trying to tell people what it is that you do or sell while they are struggling to stay awake because of absolute boredom. So make sure that your message is informative but also exciting and interesting.

That’s it for this week folks – next week we will look at the rest of the points.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Small Business Forum

The Small Business Forum is an independent network of entrpreneurs and small business owners established to encourage and support the creation, growth and development of small business in South Africa.

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