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Feb, 04 2012

Easy to start, tough to Grow

Starting a home-based business is just half the battle won. The real test lies ahead. To ensure more customers/ traffic for your venture, you need to use many effective tools such as social networking or bulk discount.

RAJESH Pillai is excited at having started a home-based business and is equally anxious to see an upsurge in his new business. He is fortunate as he does not have to manage any office, but still finds something lacking in his work. What is that? It's the growth, which is crucial to any low-cost or home-based business. He is looking for ways to increase income, which will happen only when he publicises his business. Yours may be a similar story, so here are the ways by which you can supplement your business growth.

Create a website: A good corporate website is like the face of a company and plays an important role in marketing a company. It helps you to reach millions of customers around the world without paying for utilities or rent. It not only helps in advertising the company but also your products online.

“Today, a website with a dedicated domain name has become a “must have” for every start-up. It is something like a 24x7x365 available brochure of your start-up or franchise unit that a customer can access and get in touch with you from any part of the world. Few franchisors, like us, offer a dedicated website for franchisees that comes with the franchise kit, that is well connected to our central portals and is uploaded with all information and demos,” quips Rishi Mathur, Co-Founder and Technology Head of VyaparHub.

Social media networking: Social media networking like Twitter and blogging in the form of complete posts and micro blogging is a cost-effective way to publicise yourself. It's a good way to create links to your website, address or info. Mathur says, “Apart from your website, your business info can also get publicly accessible on all major search engines via blogging. Twitter, Facebook, Ning, Bebo can help your clients get every minute detail about your business updates.”

Classifieds: You can go for paid as well as free classified advertisements nationwide. The advertisements can be published in newspapers, magazines, brochures, etc, the average cost of which comes around to Rs 1,000. You can also highlight your business in free classifieds and yellow pages.

Tie up with a website for bulk discount: An easy way to capture the attention of customers is to tie up with websites like Snapdeal etc. These websites offer discount on products and services to the consumers, ensuring instant attention towards your business.

Turn to franchising: If you wish to expand to different locations, then franchising comes as a saviour. Even if it is low-cost or home-based business, it has a potential of touching skyrocket gains via franchising.

As per Pankaj Agrawal, Co-founder and CEO of Academy of Applied Languages, “For us, franchising is not about short-term revenue or profits but the backbone of a long-term relationship with the brand that we are determined to nurture and cultivate. Our brand is now two-year-old, and we are represented in 15 centres across India. At the moment, we follow a mixed strategy of organic growth through our own initiatives and market penetration as well as a limited set of franchisees, to whom we can offer value in our association.”

Get the franchisee attention: Find innovative ways to attract potential franchisees. According to Agrawal, “One should focus on the core objective of network. For instance, charge a nominal licence fee (preferably zero) and low royalties (say around 5%). We can forego short-term profits for long-term relationships.”

Find new ways to market your business: The home-based business does not require you to spend huge amount of money on advertising in television or newspapers. One can use grassroot techniques like e-mail newsletters and pamphlets that cost far less and are more effective. With the help of the internet, you can send out your newsletter via e-mail using online templates and automated delivery systems.

Mathur also stresses on email and SMS marketing, which according to him helps to send email updates about the business to clients. This doesn't mean to start bombing spams, but sending friendly mail messages, like updates on your business, new products and service launching, media coverage, wishes on festive seasons, offers and discounts. You can also use ecards to promote your services, which are absolutely free of cost.

Assess & prioritise

Home-based business comes with a baggage full of opportunities. By using above techniques, you can ensure enough customers/traffic for your business. Franchising can further help you in spreading your wings. But before put your hands together for this business, make a practical assessment for your project and prioritise.

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