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Small Biz Lady Brings Business Expertise to The Root

About the Money With Melinda Emerson: How to run a successful home-based business.

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Know Your Market

Have you done extensive business research on the market and industry trends? Even if you are going to sell Mary Kay, you need to know how many other Mary Kay sellers are in your area or operate in your church. Is the market saturated? Is there already a lady with a pink Cadillac in your neighborhood who’s cornered the market?

Develop a Marketing Strategy

How will you attract business? Will you advertise? Will you strictly use the Internet? Will you blog and use article marketing to attract clients? Will you need a social media coach or virtual assistant to help manage your social media footprint? Whatever your strategy, you will have limited time and resources to make a big splash. Be willing to do what your competitors are not willing to do to get noticed in the marketplace.

Build Your Network

Your network is your net worth in business. People do business with people they like and know and trust. Are you now more internally at your company than externally? Do you have a complete LinkedIn profile? How many times per month do you attend networking functions? Everywhere you go, you need to talk up your new business. Try the hair salon, trade association, supermarket, your child’s daycare—even at your current job. Build the contacts you will need to build your business. Always be ready to promote your business.

Develop Strategic Alliances

Approaching a complementary business is a great strategy. You can help each other grow in business, and trade tips and resources. If you are a massage therapist, partnering with a chiropractor could be a good move and a great referral business. See what kind of referral agreement you can work out. You never know what kind of deal people might be willing to make with another local business. Now, not every business owner will be eager to partner with you, but networks are built one relationship at a time. You will never know until you ask. They might not be interested now, but maybe later ...

Having a home-based business is like opening any other business except that your business happens to be headquartered in your home. If you plan well, do your market research, build your network before you start, develop a comprehensive marketing strategy and build strategic alliances, your business will be far more likely to be successful.

Melinda Emerson, known to many as SmallBizLady, is CEO of Quintessence Multimedia. Emerson educates entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 companies on subjects including small business start-up, business development and social media marketing. She also publishes a resource blog and is the best-selling author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months. Follow her on Twitter.