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Stretch Those StartUp Dollars

Practical Steps to Accomplish More with Less

By Gary Clipperton

You have a strong desire to experience the “American Dream” — owning your own successful business. You’ve developed business skills and have what it takes to get started. You’ve performed your due diligence and have legal and accounting systems in place. However, you lack one important ingredient — start-up capital.

How can you start and build a profitable business on a shoestring? After thirty-years of being self-employed and starting several different home businesses, let me offer a few suggestions. These ideas can help you stretch a small nest egg.

1. Utilize Free Materials from Libraries, the Small Business Administration, and from Internet Sites

Read all the books and articles you can find on your subject and subscribe to related trade journals. Become an expert in your field. Examine current supply and demand trends. Study the saturation numbers and venues currently promoted to market your product or service.

2. Network with Similar Business Owners in Neighboring Cities

Convince them you are far enough away not to become a competitor. Study their operations. Try to locate a mentor that will answer your questions and review your marketing plan and prices.

3. Conduct Telephone Market Research in Your Local Trade Area

Call potential prospects and tell them you are considering introducing a new product or service.  Discuss your specialty niche or unique service and ask if it has merit. Keep track of all positive responses so those prospects can become your initial customers. You’ll be surprised at the competitive trade information you can acquire to better position your service or product.

4. Convey a Professional Business Image

All of your customer contact points must portray that you are a top notch company. Phone manners and coverage is crucial. Even though your office is at home, represent yourself as a professional business at all times. Let your customers know you are elated they called and will go the extra mile to offer first class service.

5. Develop a List of References

Initially, approach friends that have business cards. Ask them to write a note of recommendation on the back of their card. Have them note your integrity, business skills, dependability, and willingness to help. Then, ask them to field any inquires. Hopefully, they will become a user of your product or service and can vouch for the excellent benefits they are receiving. Once you have active customers, approach them for letters of recommendation. Keep your list current and ask for permission to use their letters in future mail outs or on your web site.

6. Write a Dynamic Telephone Sales Script and Develop a “Knock Your Socks Off” Brochure

Call several prospects each day and ask if they would be kind enough to look over your literature. A week later, phone them back and ask for an appointment to present your product or service. Remember, people don’t do business with advertisements. They do business with people they have grown to respect and trust. Professional courtesy always pays off.

7. Design a Unique, Impressive, Eye Catching Presentation

Exceptional props and demonstrations draw and hold attention. A sales presentation booklet should be a visual knock out. After a short introduction of who you are and what you do, begin asking questions to see how your product or service could best fit the needs of the prospect. A wise doctor always diagnoses before he or she prescribes. A professional sales doctor will uncover, probe, and assess unmet needs.

8. Implement a Customer Service Program that Eliminates Customer Defections

“Never forget a customer and never let a customer forget you” is excellent advice. Perceived indifference is one of the leading causes of lost accounts. Develop strong business relationships with customers so you become invaluable and irreplaceable.

9. Over-Exaggerate Anticipated Expenses

Underestimate sales projections and develop a plan to hold on as long as necessary until you turn a profit. Become creative at using resources at hand. Scale back on luxuries until you experience a healthy cash flow.

10. Research and Pre-Plan Your Approach

Do you have contingency plans in place should your competitors play hard ball? Once you are ready, put wheels under your plans and get rolling. Associate with other shakers and movers. Join helpful trade organizations or clubs. Network online for maximum marketing penetration. Offer superior customer benefits and keep on getting better.

When you become successful, remember to give back to your community and help others who are less fortunate. A bumper crop of success, recognition, fulfillment, and growth will come to the gardener who is willing to plant new seeds. HBM

Gary Clipperton has helped establish over four hundred cleaning contractors in their own business. His company National Pro Clean Corp. in Colorado Springs, Colorado provides consulting, training, and start-up programs for cleaning contractors. Gary can be reached thru his web site www.nationalproclean.com or at (800) 796-4680.

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