Every business needs customers. Business is, after all, the transfer of goods, services or information from supplier to consumer. If you don’t have consumers – people who want and are prepared to pay for your goods, service or information – you don’t have a business. It’s that simple.

It naturally follows that finding customers is an essential component of business success. If you think it’s the most important, you might not be wrong. Big business, small business… makes no difference. So whatever your business does, whatever its size, wherever you are, you need to find customers.

Size doesn’t matter? You bet it does. A fair few people have told me that…but I digress. Big business has big branding and vast advertising budgets – the very things we don’t have when we’re a home business, or a small enterprise. They don’t need customers any more than we do, but for us, well, throwing money at the problem simply isn’t an option.

For the home business owner – the work-at-home entrepreneur – lead generation has always been a grind. Meetings in hotels, networking seminars, cold calling and, worst of all, pitching to family and friends. The most labour intensive, least fun part of self-sufficiency. And the single biggest reason most people decide not to start a business in the first place. Most people don’t like doing these things. What’s more, they know they don’t like doing them. And when you know you’re not enjoying yourself you also know you’re much less likely to succeed. So the reluctance to even start isn’t so hard to understand.

But ask yourself this. If you could generate increasing numbers of warm leads to a business doing whatever it is that you’re passionate about, without having to meet or pitch to anyone and without even having to get up from your desk, would you consider starting that business? It’s a two part question. Firstly, can I generate those leads without the aforementioned grind? And, can I build a business centred around something I’m passionate about and enjoy doing?

Yes, you can. And yes, you can. Anyone can. Whether you’re looking to grow an existing business or to start a new one. Whether your business sells a product, a service or information. The internet allows us to do things, and to achieve things, that were never before possible. Which is good, because as well as being a grind, the old-school methods don’t now work very well. Why? Because they’ve been overtaken by the new order.

The internet is populated by millions of people who are looking for absolutely everything. Whatever you’re offering there are huge numbers of people out there who want it. Open your shop on the internet and the world is your customer base. And reaching them is neither difficult nor expensive. In fact, you can reach that vast market completely free. Sure, it helps to have some strategic paid advertising (and that can be done at a manageable cost) but it’s not essential and that, particularly in the early days, is a bonus our entrepreneurial forebears could only have dreamed of.
The skill is in positioning. It’s about getting your message in front of the right sector of that vast audience. That, of itself, is no great departure from traditional practice. But the internet allows a degree of focus, as well as – and despite – its enormous reach, that enables your message to be placed in front of the best, most relevant and highest value prospects. Make the message compelling and you’re in business.

If you have a home business, or if you’re planning to start one, the hardest part of marketing is now routine. You have at your disposal a lead generation tool of such power, and yet such ease of use, that you really need to be using it, and using it now. Harnessing the internet will be the single greatest driver of your success.

Author's Bio: 

Evan Mitchell is a coach and mentor to new-start and early development entrepreneurs in the digital economy. A highly rated sales and negotiation trainer – with cross sector experience from major corporates to SME clients – he writes on the opportunities for career and personal development offered by the digital marketplace.