Starting a Home-Based Financial and Credit Counseling Business

Consumer debt, including credit card debt, has exploded in the USA during recent decades. This trend has been responsible for many people ending up with more debt than they can manage – even before the Great Recession hit this country. Recent years have seen a significant increase in the number of consumers seeking assistance from financial and debt counselors.

Financial and credit counselors provide professional financial advice to consumers who are seeking to manage their finances, improve their credit rating, or reduce and eliminate debt. Some financial counselors may specialize in investment and portfolio advice while others may specialize in credit repair and debt consolidation.

The United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports in the occupational projections data that there were more than 208,000 personal financial advisors during 2008. This occupational field is expected to grow by more than 30 percent over the decade from 2008 – 2018. Median annual wages are reported to be “very high” at $69,050. 29.3 percent of personal financial advisers were self-employed in 2008.

Getting Started

Starting a home-based, financial or credit counseling business can vary in complexity based on the state where you live and the type of services that you plan to offer. Regulations governing the financial services industry vary between states and depending on the type of services that are to be offered. For example, some states may require licensing for financial counselors dealing with investments but not for counselors dealing with credit repair and debt elimination. These differences between state requirements can have a significant impact on the financial cost and paperwork that is required to start a home-based, financial or credit counseling business.

Home-based, financial or credit counseling businesses that will not attract frequent customer visits to the office may be easily set up in a back room or spare bedroom. Those businesses that expect to have customers visit the office regularly may consider setting up an office that has a separate entrance from outside, whether this office is in the home or in another building on the property, such as a converted garage.

Marketing

The marketing plan for a home-based, financial or credit counseling business should begin with a clear consideration of what services will be offered and who will be the target customers. This understanding will help in developing a marketing plan that delivers the best results.

Business websites are essential communication tools for many modern businesses. A home-based, financial or credit counseling business can also benefit from a well-designed and well-maintained website. This provides an inexpensive place to communicate with potential and existing customers, and provides a way for customers to find financial or credit counseling businesses in their local area. Perhaps the best part of using a website to market your home-based, financial or credit counseling business is that you can present an image that is just as professional as the image presented by the corporate competition in the same city. The Internet has helped to level the playing field between home-based businesses and their big-business competitors.

Business cards are an important marketing tool when combined with personal conversations, letters, or brochures. Business cards allow any business person, whether home-based or office-based, to share their name, business information, and contact information with anyone in an inexpensive, “take home” format.

Direct mailings, whether post cards or letters, can be effective marketing tools. Mailing lists can be purchased from Internet list brokers like Melissa Data. Mailing lists can be purchased based on a variety of demographic criteria allowing the marketer to build a list that is specific to the target customer demographic.

Advertisements placed in local community newspapers or classified publications can serve to keep your business in front of a large and diverse, local audience. These publications usually offer affordable advertising rates and will typically offer discounts for long-term advertising contracts.

Cautions

Regulations governing the financial and credit counseling business can vary between states, and depending on the type of services being offered. Consult with an attorney if you still have questions after looking into the regulatory and licensing requirements in your state.

Operating a home-based business is not a problem in most areas if the business does not involve frequent truck or customer traffic to the home. Zoning and land-use requirements vary considerably between locations, so be sure to check on applicable zoning laws before starting a home-based business that will bring a lot of customers to the home office.

Conclusion

Starting a home-based, financial or credit counseling business can be a profitable venture for the financially literate entrepreneur.

Investing on Brand Identity Development

Many business owners, especially the entrepreneurs think that they would invest on advertising and branding exercises, once the product has started rolling in the market. You will also come across some people who are not at all bothered about branding and advertising. Especially if you look at the small business sector, the owners are more concerned about developing the product and selling it in the market. Do they really bother about product branding?

Another interesting point to note is that, small business owners often look for a name or a certain kind of packaging or a certain color just because they love to see it. Sometimes the target market too falls in love with the story. However, in most of the cases, the target market fails to identify their “wants” with the product. The problem is that they are pulling the wrong end of the thread. If you need a sustainable and profitable business, you must recognize what your target market needs or wants to hear from you. They are list bothered about what you think. You must remember that they do not want to buy your product – they want a solution to their problem and they want it as they want.

If you are the only producer in your business category, you can plan your business strategy, as you want. However, if you are investing on an already established sector, you cannot wait for your product to get popular all by its own. You must develop a unique selling proposition to make the target market understand why they should invest in your product or service. In addition, in such situations, the ideal position is to start from the very beginning.

If you ask a seasoned branding expert about the most critical step of brand positioning, he or she would point towards the initial days of product development. Especially as almost every day a new product is launched for your target market, it is very tough to grab their attention in the initial days. Some people would say that there had been no new addition in their product category for last few months and thus the situation would be easier for them. You are making a great mistake here. Your target market also needs to buy other products from other categories for regular life. In the initial days, you must fight with everyone, especially to inform your target market that you belong to a specific category and you can solve one of his or her problems. There is no shortcut to this problem.

Now, many times, branding experts are assigned to re-launch a already established product in the same market segment. This happens when the producer did not pay enough attention to the branding of the product in the initial days of product development. There are both positive and negative sides to this problem. The positive side is that people already know about the product and you may have enough information to identify why the product is not doing as expected. At the same time you are bound to face some unique problems too. For example, if the product is not doing well, there are high chances that the target market has developed a negative impression about the product. It has developed a negative brand. Here you are assigned with another burden – you must erase the negative feelings about the product from your target market’s psyche before re-launching the old product.

So, what is the right time to develop a brand or a branding strategy?