Starting any kind of home-based business is a challenge and especially where you choose an under-the-radar niche like business finance consulting, where you will face several months of minimal income while you ramp up and develop new and necessary skills. There is some good news and satisfaction regarding competition in that you are entering an industry where the playing field is basically level from day one. Rest assured, there is no college education that offers any major or experience that completely prepares you for this unique career. In fact, not even close. This is a niche vocation where your passionate personal drive as an entrepreneur and your ability to recognize life’s exceptional opportunities is the true recipe of success.
Enjoying the freedom and flexibility offered by this lucrative home business niche is one that most can enter successfully and “It’s hip”, says Christy Hopkins at Chicago-based 4 Point Consulting, to tell people you’re an independent consultant. So if working as a factoring and business finance consultant and living life on your own time and terms is right for you, here’s 5 steps to actually take to get started in this exceptional industry.
1. Evaluate Your Marketing Strengths and Build On Them
You will need to learn, through product training, all about the various types of alternative commercial finance available to your potential business clients. Most of your prospective clients will be members of the group of borrowers that, for whatever reason, are non-bankable. You’ll need to help them find needed funding and that training is available with minimal cost through IACFB (The International Association of Commercial Finance Brokers). That’s half of your success picture. The other half is marketing. Because no matter how much your small business financing knowledge grows, it won’t pay the rent unless you can market that knowledge and tell others about it.
Examine your strengths and skills regarding marketing for your new business. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF. You’re going to need to learn some new skills and, most importantly, new habits. Great news for consultants in this industry is that both direct marketing and networking work to succeed. In fact, industry polls taken from the factoring and asset-based lending industry every year continually indicate that roughly 50% of all new client leads are sourced from direct marketing campaigns and 50% are referred through networking.
2. The CRM: Invest in This Management Tool of the Trade!
You may already be using a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) in your current / past business so you are familiar with this tool’s powerful capabilities to manage your sales functions, you’re good to go. But if you’re not, it’s essential you need to choose one and begin mastering it. When you begin business and open your doors, you will likely have prospect leads and potential referrers in a network that you can count in one hand. That will change quickly. If you work the business the right way, you will easily build your network of prospective clients and referrers from networking to many hundred very quickly. That will grow (easily) to around one thousand with in a year. You will NOT be able to marketing to and network with even a small fraction of that many people effectively. You need to subscribe to a CRM and learn how to navigate it quickly and effectively. At IACFB, we use Pipedrive, one of the most recognized CRMs in the industry and assist with setup and operation for all new consultants at the Campus training facility and, if fact, provide a FREE trial period with setup.
3. Develop a Simple “Elevator Pitch” Business Plan
We have seen many new consultants spend hours and hours developing elaborate business plans that would earn an A+ in any college level business course and make a PhD blush. You don’t need it. With the assistance of the management capabilities of your CRM (we told you), a very simple generic plan while be just fine. Once you have learned the financial tools of the asset-based finance industry, your business plan will revolve around marketing and in the first months,,,networking. You need to practice and master your “Elevator Pitch”.
Your elevator pitch should be a short and sweet explanation of what you do. It’s two or three quick lines about the financing solutions you offer to your target business owners and how you are different from your competition. Although you may be very passionate about your financing alternatives and the small business problems you can alleviate, it’s important to keep and practice and practice and practice your pitch to keep it around three sentences maximum. Look at your elevator pitch as your value proposition. Once you deliver the concise version of your value proposition, you’re done. If a potential client or referral resource wants to learn more, you can elaborate, answer their questions, and talk about your consulting services more in more detail.
4. Start Setting Up Early Lead Generation Opportunities
Many home-based finance consultants don’t focus with marketing until the after you are well beyond startup. After all, until your business is up and running, you don’t have anything to market, right? Wrong.
Once you go through your basic IACFB training (we have a great certification exam) the time is right to begin exploring some immediate opportunities for networking and testing the waters. But, you need some opportunities to throw your line in and this is where the building of “networks” begins. As you will find out, it is never too early to begin lining up sources of referral. To get started, you’ll need your elevator pitch honed and your CRM set up to keep track of all your leads and referrers and…
- some decent clothing to make a good, professional impression
- a dependable vehicle
- have an operational website with blogging capabilities
- order a supply of business cards
- research lots and lots of networking opportunities
You’ll likely have the first two points covered but your opportunities to network and attend meeting, etc. are likely to be very lacking and here is what you need to do.
- Join Social Media: All those serious about building a viable business in today’s world are active in social media. You should build a profile and get on at your earliest opportunity to join LinkedIn and start building a network.
- Join Clubs, Organizations, & Charites: Forget the Kardishians and Housewives of L.A. Instead, find local clubs and organizations that both interest you and include the kind of people that can refer business.
It is simply never too early to begin setting up opportunities to start meeting people and building networks. And, loaded with your elevator pitch and a little product training, the opportunities are endless.