This post on Secret Weapons for the Serious Business Builder is the last in the Working From Home and Loving It series.
I’ve identified five “secret weapons” for people building a business from home.They are not “secret” in the sense that nobody knows about them. They are however secret in the sense that many people I meet who are in business, from home or elsewhere, seem oblivious to the fact that these resources are available to help them.
My list is, in no particular order of priority:
- Organic search
- Social networking
In selecting my favorite “secret weapons” I have used as one criterion the consideration that many or most people with businesses from home do not have large marketing budgets and are always interested in what can be done effectively on a limited or zero budget.
Whether we want to sell our goods or services locally or globally – or both – gaining a basic understanding about search is both imperative and potentially very rewarding. Deciding not to know about search is not a good business decision.
My focus here is on organic search, because I believe the power of organic search is relatively secret. I find that people seem to feel they understand paid search: maybe they see that as a kind of new, web version of paying for a box in the printed yellow pages. People sometimes tell me what good results they are having from Google ads or other paid research. Sometimes they tell me what bad results they’ve had.
I find it a challenge to get either group interested in a conversation about organic search.
I don’t have any problem with people using paid search, as long as they know what they are doing and know how to manage the process, or have it managed, within a specified budget.
But if the home based business owner’s first real introduction to online search resources is from an individual or company offering to sell search or search engine optimization (seo) services or products, it’s really important to be able to establish from the outset how much of the service is about using paid search and how much about organic search.
And for a cash-strapped home business owner, there is a lot you can do with just organic search, without having to pay. Of course, if you do have a budget for the purpose, there are search engine optimization expert companies and individuals who can help you with organic as well as paid search: with the right expertise you can surely move faster and better than doing it the self-help way.
And whether you are hiring external expertise or going the diy route, it will be relevant for businesses wanting at least some business from a local market to build some understanding of the new realities and opportunities with local search. There is an excellent interview on local search by Michael Gray with my friend, top search wiz, Lee Odden.
In that interview, Lee provides some great advice, including how to interact with local media.
One tool in this area of search and media, global as well as local, and which in my not totally unbiased opinion is ideal for the home business owner, is Pitch Engine. There is a free level and then other levels still within the budget frame of most home based businesses. I posted here recently about Pitch Engine and small business (and declared there my interest as Australian manager).
In an earlier post in this series I wrote about what I called the myth of isolation for people in home based business. No prize for guessing that how I named the post showed that I am not on the side of those who think that working from home means you will necessarily feel isolated.
But here I am going to go a step further and say that working from home may well give you access to many more people, more communities, in more diverse parts of the world and walks of life, than your friends and colleagues in more traditional, “working for the Man” places of work, may have.
And with time zones being what they are, those of us who work from home have access to such communities around the clock, if we wish.
With resources such as the various groups we can join on Google Groups, Yahoo! Groups, or Ning and access to other social networking platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, most with no financial outlay involved, we have access 24/7 to a potentially amazing array of resources for collegial support, research, checking and feedback.
Not to mention that a number of these can and do also serve as virtual water coolers.
The free or low-cost VoIP or Internet phone service Skype has to be one of the best of all the secret weapons for the home based business owner.
Secret? With millions of people using Skype at any one time, you may well ask. And yet I continually find people with businesses from home who do not use Skype, although many indicate that they have “heard of it”. Skype enables me to have conference calls around the world, to coach clients in far-flung localities and all at no cost other than what I am already paying for Internet access, plus, with a very modest, one-off outlay for a third party application, Pamela, having the option to record any of those calls in a downloadable file, .
“”Skype: don’t work from home without it.” 🙂
Don’t believe the pundits who say blogging is dead. What they really mean is they are bored with it. A recent survey indicated that blogging in the business context has a bright future.
Blogging is potentially a very powerful weapon for the home based business owner. When I think that, ten years or so years ago, to even begin to have the kind of communication capability provided by a free or low cost blog, together with RSS/syndication (see next point) cost me and others thousands of dollars, I find it impossible to be blasé about blogging.
This is probably a good point at which to mention that my book for small business 7 Step Business Blog, is not only in its 2nd edition but is now available for downloading free of charge (see form, top of right sidebar).
Having sung the praises of Skype, I actually believe that, for the home based business owner, syndication, or RSS, is a bigger gift than Skype.
To use what is probably the more common term, RSS provides me as a home based business owner with a two way benefit:
- I can get up to date news and other information from selected sources delivered automatically to me on a continuous basis
- I can make information available to others who might not come on a regular basis to visit my blog but are happy to receive regular updates in their RSS reader
What’s not to love?
Are there other secret weapons for the home based business owner? Please share.
Picture “Working from Home” – by carlfish via Flickr, Creative Commons
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