It reminded me that the only thing I missed about employment apart from the regular salary 14 years ago was having an IT helpline to mop up my IT incompetence.
Giving the talk got me thinking afresh about self-employment and what advice to give people now. My marketing training was in the dark ages, otherwise known as the 1980’s so I thought I would ask via LinkedIn what members of the Chartered Institute of Marketing thought. The question I posed was:
“What advice would you give about marketing to someone becoming self-employed for the first time?”
In case you are thinking of jumping into the world of self-employment or perhaps being pushed, as after all, it is a young industry, here are their tips:
“Make sure you offer something that is different and be prepared to change and update what you offer as your market whatever you choose will evolve.”
“Draw up a business plan and keep within a budget. Network and build up your contacts carefully, targeting your chosen market carefully.”
“Business is about making money and protecting margin. Get your pricing, costings and overheads right, choose the customers you want in the location you want them, don’t be frightened to lose them and keep your promises. And most important – get some of your own money behind you to weather the downtimes.”
“Think niches. Think networks. Think partners. Think elevator pitch. Think about what the customers’ hurts/needs and wants are and how you can engage with the customers. Get some good books written by small business people for small business people.”
“Be concise and give a prospect a real reason to choose you.”
“Be prepared for the quiet periods and have a plan to identify opportunities in a downturn. It’s great to get a regular salary however when you are self employed income can be very irregular. Also, use your contacts to identify opportunities and network where your customers are likely to be. Have plans for worse the case scenarios.”
“Take your time. You don’t have to do everything straight away. It’s better to do it right than just to do it.”
“Have a plan in mind and listing it down on a paper is very important. You should be very clear about your Target Segment, narrow it as much as you can. Also, one more important step in marketing is to know the Opportunities and possible Threats. And not to forget depending on your business prepare the Marketing Plan!!”
“Prepare a simple marketing plan and revisit/update often. Do a SWOT on yourself, your business and your main competitors. Take a section of the plan at a time to work on, develop and understand more fully. Know your competition and identify how you stand out from them. Learn the marketing basics from webinars and meetings. Consider carefully your communications options and don’t rush into any major spend. Test and measure.”
“Build profitable relationships in the sector where you are a real “expert”. Hopefully you have some work/clients coming with you but you should also build your base. And don’t do work for free in the hope that one day it’ll come right – we all do it and it’ll suck up your time.”
“Rehearse an Elevator Test to ensure that you dont miss any points when talking to prospects. Use your track record/expertise to give credibility to your pitch. Attend any events where your target is likely to be – expect to build relationships first before a sale.”
“You are the whole company; you are the personal assistant, the secretary,the financial accountant, the driver, the messenge, .but best of all you are also the shareholder,all profits and proceeds come to you..Never ever ever underestimate the power of marketing.”
Source = Chartered Institute of Marketing LinkedIn group December 2011
If you are pondering becoming self-employed, you might find:
1) Our bulletins useful:
2) These client examples inspiring to make that leap, even in a downturn.
Wishing you a successful 2012 personally and professionally.