Tips on How to Start a Home Based Business by a Real World Entrepreneur

What I’m about to share in this short article is how to start a home based business — from my own experience. You do not necessarily want to follow my steps exactly in sequence, because, quite frankly, in the beginning, I didn’t know what I was doing.

But 7 years later, and a multiple six figure a year passive income means that I’ve achieved a fair degree of success, so you may learn something.

When I first started, I was looking for opportunities in the online classified business section of Yahoo! This was back in 2002 and believe me, it’s not a good place to start because there are a high degree of scams posted there.

Nowadays, you’re much more fortunate because web sites that list legitimate opportunities are widespread.

The one smart thing I did was decided that affiliate marketing was an business model with a lot of promise. Today, affiliate marketing is still the best home based business opportunity that I think exists for the individual entrepreneur who wants to strike out on his or her own.

When I decided on affiliate marketing, another smart move I made was in choosing to promote products in the health niches. I knew that health products, because of the baby boomers, were the future. I also have a strong passion myself for natural health related products and that lifestyle, so it was a natural fit.

Here’s what I didn’t do right and you might want to do this correctly from the start.

Legal Protection Fast

I think I waited a bit too long before I formed a business structure for my entrepreneurial activities. When you start a business you automatically default as a sole proprietor until you incorporate or form an LLC or some other business entity that provides a shield of legal protection.

None of this is legal advice, mind you. It’s just me talking to you on how to start a home based business if I were to start again today knowing what I know now.

I operated as a sole proprietor for many months before I decided to look into forming an LLC for my company. Once I formed the LLC I opened a separate business account with it at my bank.

In short, there was a while there were I was legally vulnerable because I hesitated in forming my LLC, and if I were to do it again I would form it sooner and move away from sole proprietor status pronto.

Once you form your business structure, literally all of your efforts should go into marketing. Learning how to be an effective marketer is what makes you money and a lot of it.

When it comes to affiliate marketing that translates into learning how to effectively build web sites, write compelling copy for your sites, how to position the products you want to sell to establish trust with your web site visitors, how to identify good keywords that people search for in Yahoo! or Google, and so on.

Once you start to get good at this, the money will follow. Seriously. But you have to have the patience to stick it out. There will be times when you want to quit, believe me.

My suggestion here for those who want to know how to start a home based business and grow it quickly is to seek out mentors. People who have come before you and did what you want to do.

Form a mastermind group, or barring that, I suggest finding a training service that other like-minded entrepreneurs join so you surround yourself with success-oriented folks.

Doing this will shave years off of your learning curve and is probably the single most intelligent move you can make if you’re serious about succeeding in a home based business.

Small Business Lead Generation: Know It to Grow It

The importance of small business lead generation just can’t be emphasized enough. An exponentially high number of startups are surfacing every day, and need the necessary impetus to make their mark in the industry. Needless to say, with the increasing numbers, the competition is also increasing. This basically means that companies need innovative means to market their products and services.

To satiate their need for fulfilling business objectives, businesses hire the services of small business lead generation agencies that specialize in the field. This is basically intended at getting more market exposure and grabbing eyeballs to get more business. However, the reason why so many enterprises still fail after paying exorbitant amounts is because they lack the understanding of which tactics work best in the market. Make no mistake about it – it’s important to have a basic understanding of lead generation techniques, so that one can judge the performance of a campaign. Of late, the best way to promote any business especially in its initial stages is via the internet. However, the details are very important.

Small business lead generation via the internet has relied heavily on online directories, and the trend continues even to this present day. Social media, a relatively new entrant in this domain, has slowly made its way towards being one of the top preferences for promoting a brand. Also, making an official website has been known to get a significantly high number of leads. So, the basic point is that the agency hired to execute the lead generation campaign should know the nitty-gritties of the online world to truly succeed in lead generation. Such campaigns need to have a holistic approach and can’t operate in water-tight compartments with regards to the business model. Only when this happens can the business be on the right track and achieve the kind of success it desires.

Knowing the business environment for small business lead generation entails getting an understanding of the audience, the competition that already exists and the recent deployments, among others. Getting a better understanding of these factors ensures that the business can devise aggressive as well as precautionary tactics to be employed in accordance with the demands of the prevailing situation. It also allows one to make better decisions and react appropriately in different scenarios. However, one also needs to ensure that leads automatically pour in, after a point in time, so that the business gets in auto mode.

Direct Response and Web Sites-Small Business Lead Generation

One of the most important elements to small business success is lead generation because without leads you can’t increase sales. So where do you concentrate your lead generation efforts?

Get Qualified Leads One at a Time with Direct Response

I’m going to make a bold statement: Direct response is the most effective and affordable ways to generate leads on a one-on-one basis. Let me qualify that statement. Direct response is the most effective and affordable way to reach clients one-to-one if you:

  • know your target market
  • attach benefits to your features
  • understand your competition
  • identify your competitive advantage
  • can write your direct response package in a clear and convincing way

Understanding all that means you can have an effective direct response campaign. No doubt, knowing a few tips about direct response copywriting will help by boosting your response rate. For instance, your heading makes or breaks your campaign. It’s the biggest predictor on whether your prospect ill read it or toss it in the garbage.

Forget about where you’re located or how many year’s you’ve been in business, or describing every detail about your product. Yes, your potential consumer clients want to know a little about the features, but for every feature your product or service has, they want to know far more about the benefit. They consistently and continuously ask themselves, “What’s in it for me?”

A specific call to action, and creating a sense of urgency helps too. It seems most of us are basic procrastinators. If you don’t tell us what to do, and you don’t make us believe we need to do it today (with specials, limited-time or quantity discounts, etc.) we probably won’t do anything at all.

And by the way, a P.S. increases response rates too. It’s the second most-read line in your direct response copy. It should restate your main benefits, call to action and special offer.

Generate Masses of Leads with a Small Business Web Site

But direct response isn’t the only effective way to reach clients affordably. It may be the best way to reach potential clients on a one-on-one basis, but did you know a small business web site is one of the best ways to reach masses of potential clients?

Affordable? That depends. Some small business owners I know personally have paid lots of $$ for their web site. It may be a mistake to pay big bucks for a small business web site when a simple 5 page static site will do. After all, it’s not the design that produces results but rather the copywriting.

Copy for your web site follows the same basic rules as direct response copywriting, but with a few important differences:

  • web site copy is shorter because internet readers are generally impatient
  • include lots of free information because readers are searching for information
  • avoid the hard sell–it doesn’t work online
  • write with your readers in mind, but take search engines into account as well
  • include a way to capture email addresses as lead generation

Effective? That depends too. A web site is only effective if it can be found. And to make sure it’s found you need to know a little about search engine marketing (SEM). A good discussion about SEM is beyond the scope of this short article. But, here’s a few tips:

  • write web site copy around keywords, including headings and titles
  • promote your web site online by publishing articles, joining forums, and listing in business directories
  • try Google AdWords
  • promote your web site offline
  • content, content and even more content
  • update content often

Increase Their Interest Level with Direct Response Pointing to Your Web Site

So, direct response generates leads one-to-one, and a web site reaches the masses. What if you combine them?

Direct response and web sites work very well together to generate leads and close sales. You could create your direct response with a call to action to visit your web site rather than asking directly for a purchase. Your web site includes copy that is different from, but related to your direct response package.

Your web site call to action could be any of a number of things. You could use it simply to generate more leads through capturing email addresses. Or you could be the “information guru” on some subject your direct mail recipients would be interested in. Or your web site call to action could be directly asking for sales.

The point is that the purpose of both is to generate leads and to have some way to convert those leads to sales. There are many different ways to close sales. Follow up brochures can be very effective for instance. But possibly using both direct response and your web site solely to generate leads is less effective than using one to supplement the other as a sales tool.