(Wherever you see "typewriter", think "computer")
A new approach to serving one of the oldest and most
needs of even the smallest business community, a
home-based secretarial service can satisfy the
entrepreneurial needs of even the most ambitious
This is a kind of service business with a virtually
profit potential. Third year profits for businesses
of this type,
in metropolitan areas as small as 70,000 persons are
reported at $100,000 and more. It's a new idea for a
traditional job that's growing in popularity and
As for the future, there's no end in sight to the
varied kinds of work a secretary working at home can
business owners, managers and sales representatives.
Various surveys indicate that by the year 2,000 - at
least 60 percent of all the secretarial work, as we
know it today, will be handled by women working at
For most women, this is the most exciting news of
come since the equal rights amendment. Now is the
time to get yourself organized, start your own
home-based secretarial service and nurture it
through your start-up stages to total success in the
next couple of years.
In fact, there are two ways to go. You could be a
"sub-contractor" for an existing home based secretarial
the second (and much more profitable) avenue is to
start your own secretarial service. The second
approach is the one we will discuss in this report.
Our research indicates little or no risk involved,
secretarial services breaking even within 30 days,
and reports of some showing a profit after the first
week! Your cash investment can be as little as $10
to $25 if you already have a modern, electronic
typewriter. You can set up at your kitchen table,
make a few phone calls, and be in business tomorrow.
A typewriter would only be used for a "quick start".
you can't be competitive without a computer! But
don't let that
worry you. The prices for (and ways to finance)
equipment have become very competitive also. Great
deals for these purchases (or rentals) are very easy
to find. After a couple of additional hints, we will
leave this up to you and continue with the
discussion of the service itself.
In the beginning, the only "software" you will need
computer is a good word-processing program like
WordStar or Word- Perfect. Both of these programs
(and most others) have tutorials and, of great
importance, spell checkers. As you grow, you will
probably find a need for additional software in
order to be able to offer additional services.
A definite must is to also have a laser printer!
are available for less than $600. Again, financing
is easy and
it's one of the best investments you will ever make.
a couple of reasons why a little later on.) The
your finished product, the more clients you'll
attract and keep.
As mentioned earlier, you can start almost
your kitchen table if you've got the typewriter.
order to avoid fatigue and back problems, invest in
a computer table and secretary's standard typing
chair just as soon as you can afford them. Watch for
office equipment sales, especially among the office
equipment leasing firms. You should be able to pick
up a new, slightly damaged, or good used computer
stand or desk for around $20 to $25. A comparable
quality secretary's typing chair can be purchased
for $50 or less.
While you're shopping for things you'll need, be
sure to pick
up a chair mat. If you don't, you may suddenly find
carpet on the floor of the room where you do your
typing, needs replacing due to the worn spot where
the chair is located and maneuvered in front of the
typewriter. You'll also want a work stand with place
marker and a convenient box or storage shelf for
your immediate paper supply. If you plan to do a
great deal of work during the evening hours, be sure
to invest in an adjustable "long arm" office work
When buying paper, visit the various wholesale paper
suppliers in your area or in any nearby large city,
and buy at least a half carton - 6 reams - at a
time. Buying wholesale, and in quantity, will save
you quite a bit of money. The kind to buy is
ordinary 20 pound white bond. Open one ream for an
immediate supply at your typewriter, and store the
rest in a closet, under your bed, or on a shelf in
your garage or basement.
In the beginning, you'll be the business - typist,
advertising department, bookkeeper and janitor - so,
much will depend upon your overall business acumen.
Those areas in which you lack experience or feel
weak in, buy books or tapes and enhance your
knowledge. You don't have to enjoy typing, but you
should have better than average proficiency.
Your best bet in selling your services is to do it
yourself. Every business in your area should be
regarded as a
potential customer, so it's unlikely you'll have to
who to call on. Begin by making a few phone calls to
bosses or business associates - simply explain that
starting a typing service and would appreciate it if
you a call whenever they have extra work that you
can handle for
them. Before you end the conversation, ask them to
be sure to
keep you in mind and steer your way any overload
typing jobs that they might hear about.
The next step is "in-person" calls on prospective
This means dressing in an impressively professional
manner, and making sales calls on the business
people in your area. For this task, you should be
armed with business cards (brochures also help...),
and an order or schedule book of some sort. All of
these things take time to design and print, so while
you're waiting for delivery, use the time to
practice selling via the telephone. At this stage,
your telephone efforts will be more for the purpose
of indoctrinating you into the world of selling than
actually making sales.
Just be honest about starting a business, and
asking them to consider trying your services
whenever they have a need you can help them with.
Insurance companies, attorneys and distributors are
always needing help with their typing, so start with
these kinds of businesses first.
For your business cards, consider a free-lance
design a logo for you. Check, and/or pass the word
among the students in the art or design classes at
any nearby college, art or advertising school.
Hiring a regular commercial artist will cost you
quite a bit more, and generally won't satisfy your
needs any better than the work of a hungry beginner.
Be sure to browse through any Klip Art books that
available - at most print shops, newspaper offices,
agencies, libraries and book stores. The point
being, to come up with an idea that makes your
business card stand out; that can be used on all
your printed materials, and makes you - your company
- unique or different from all the others.
I might suggest something along the lines of a
pad in hand taking dictation; or perhaps a secretary
wearing a Dictaphone headset seated in front of a computer.
want something distinctive for the first letter of
name, or perhaps a scroll or flag as a background
for your company name.
At any rate, once you've got your logo or company
next step is your local print shop. Ask them to have
lettering you want to use, typeset in the style you
like best -
show them your layout and order at least a thousand
business cards printed up.
For your layout, go with something basic. Expert
services, in the top left hand corner... Dictation
by phone, in
the top right hand corner... Your company logo or
design centered on the card with something like,
complete secretarial services, under it... Your name
in the lower left hand corner, and your telephone
number in the lower right hand corner...
Everybody that you call on in person, be sure to
give them one
of your business cards. And now, you're ready to
those in-person business sales calls.
Your best method of making sales calls would be with
business telephone directory and a big supply of
notebook paper. Go through the business directory
and write down the company names, addresses and
telephone number. Group all of those within one
office building together, and those on the same
street in the same block. Be sure to leave a couple
of spaces between the listing of each company. And
of course, start a new page for those in a different
building or block. Now, simply start with the first
business in the block, or on the lowest floor in a
building and number them in consecutive order. This
will enable you to call on each business in order as
you proceed along
a street, down the block, or through a building
You'll be selling your capabilities - your talents -
charging for your time - the time it takes you to
get set up and
complete the assignment they give you. You should be
organized to take work with you on the spot, and
have it back at a promised time; arrange to pick up
any work they have, and deliver it back to them when
it's completed; and handle dictation or special work
assignments by phone. You should also emphasize your
abilities to handle everything by phone,
particularly when they have a rush job.
Establish your fees according to how long it takes
handle their work, plus your cost of supplies - work
equipment and paper - then fold in a $5 profit. In
for a half hour job that you pick up on a regular
delivery call you should charge $10...
Another angle to include would be copies. Establish
relationship with a local printer, preferably one
who also has a
high quality copy machine. When your clients need a
sales letter or whatever plus so many copies, you
can do it all for them.
Only make copies on the very best of dry paper
machines, and only for 50 copies or less. More than
50 copies, it'll be less expensive and you'll come
out with a better looking finished product by having
them printed on a printing press. When you furnish
copies, always fold in your copying or printing
costs plus at least a dollar or more for every 50
copies you supply.
By starting with former employers and/or business
associates, many businesses are able to line up 40
hours of work without even making sales call. If
you're lucky enough to do this, go with it, but...
Start lining up your friends to do the work for you
who work all day at a regular job, but need more
housewives with time on their hands. You tell them
what kind of equipment is needed, and the quality of
work you demand. You can arrange to pay them so much
per hour for each job they handle for you - judging
from the time you figure the job would take if you
were doing it; or on a percentage basis. I feel the
best arrangement is on an hourly basis according to
a specified amount of time each job normally takes.
Here is a good place to talk about a laser printer
of people you can line up will have computers at
home but few will have lasers. Don't tell them they
need one or how much more they could do for
themselves if they had one! Let them be dependent on
you. They can do the typing and spell checking and
then copy the file to a disk which you can then put
in your computer and print out on your laser
printer. This can keep your workers from going into
business for themselves and competing against you.
Whenever, and as soon as you've got a supply of
lined up, you turn all your current assignments over
to them, and get back to lining up more business. If
you're doing well selling by phone, and your area
seems to respond especially well to selling by
phone, then you should immediately hire commission
sales people. Train them according to your own best
methods and put them to work assisting you. Your
salespeople can work out of their own homes, using
their own telephones, provided you've got your
area's business community organized in a loose leaf
style. All you do is give them so many pages from
your notebook, from which they make sales calls each
Even so, you should still make those in-person sales
If for some reason you get bogged down, and can't or
don't want to, then hire commission sales people to
do it for you...
Generally, women selling this type of service bring
back the most sales... And for all your commission
sales people, the going rate should be 30 percent of
the total amount of the sale... Point to remember:
Sooner or later, you're going to want to hire a
full- time telephone sales person, plus another full
time person to make in-person sales calls for you -
Eventually, you want workers to handle all the work
for you, and sales people to do the selling for you
- So the sooner you can line up people for these
jobs, the faster your business is going to prosper.
Later on, you'll want a sales manager to direct your
people and keep them on track, so try to find a
manager" when you begin looking for salespeople.
Your basic advertising should be a regular quarter
page ad in
the yellow pages of both your home service telephone
directory and the business yellow pages. You'll find
that 50 percent of your first time clients will come
to you because they have an immediate need and saw
your ad in the yellow pages, so don't skimp on
either the size or the "eye-catching" graphics of
A regular one column by 3-inch ad in the Sunday
your area's largest newspaper would also be a good
idea. Any advertising you do via radio or television
will be quite expensive with generally very poor
results, so don't even give serious consideration to
that type of advertising.
By far, your largest advertising outlays will be for
mail efforts. You should have a regular mailing
piece that you
send out to your entire business community at least
once a month. This is handled by sending out 200 to
500 letters per day. For this, you should obtain a
third class postage permit or else these postage
costs will drive you out of business.
Your mailing piece should consist of a colorful
describes your business. It should explain the many
kinds of assignments you can handle - a notation
that no job is
too small or too large - and a statement of your
not quote prices in your brochure - simply ask the
call for a quotation or price estimate.
It's also a good idea to list the background and
the business owner, plus several business
compliments. You could also include a couple of
pictures showing your workers busy and actually
handling secretarial assignments. The most important
part of your brochure will be your closing statement
- an invitation, indeed - a demand that the
recipient call you for further information.
All of this can very easily be put together in a
Z-folded, 2-sided self-mailer. Again, look for a free-lance
artist to help you put it together. Once you've got
your "dummy" pretty well set the way you want it,
make copies of it, and either take it or send it to
several direct mail advertising agencies. Ask them
for their suggestions of how they would improve it,
and for a bid on the cost if you were to retain them
to handle it for you. Listen to their ideas and
incorporate them where - and if - you think they
would make your brochure better. And, if one of them
does come in with a cost estimate that's lower than
your independent, "do-it-yourself" costs, then think
seriously about assigning the job to them.
This is definitely the most important piece of work
ever come out of your office, so be sure it's the
very best, and
positively indicative of your business. This will be
image you project, so make sure it reflects the
quality, style and credibility of your business -
your thinking, and your success.
Your brochure should be on 60-pound coated paper, in
at least two colors and by a professional printer.
The end result is the Z-folded brochure - Z-folded
by the printer - with your third class mailing
permit indicia showing on the cover side. This cover
side should be flamboyant and eye-catching. You want
your mailing piece to stand out in the pile of 50 or
60 pieces of other mail received by the recipient.
When you're ready to mail, simply take a couple of
your brochures to an addressing shop, have them run
your brochures through their addressing machine,
loaded with your mailing list, bundle them and drop
them off at the post office for you. This takes us
back to the planning on how to compile your mailing
list. I suggest that you begin with Cheshire Cards
by Xerox. You type the name of your addressee on the
cards, maintain these cards in the order of your
choice, take your boxes of cards to the addressing
shop whenever you have a mailing, and there's no
further work on your part. The addressing shop loads
their machine with your cards, prints the address on
your cards directly onto your brochures, and gives
the cards back to you when the mailing is completed.
A mailing of 100,000 brochures, via this method -
generally could be completed and on its way in one
In essence, you'll want to solicit business with a
routine of telephone selling, in-person sales calls
prospective client's place of business, media
direct mail efforts. All of these efforts are
necessary to the total success of your business -
don't try to cut corners or spare the time or
expense needed to make sure you're operating at full
potential in these areas! In addition to these
specific areas, it would be wise for you to attend
chamber of commerce meetings, and join several of
your area civic clubs - you'll meet a great number
of business leaders at these meetings and through
their association, you will gain a great deal of new
business - and even help in many of your needs.
Once you're organized and rolling, you can easily
market nationwide with the installation of a toll
and advertising in business publications. Perhaps
you can add to your primary business with a "mailing
shop" of your own - the rental of mailing lists -
specialized temporary help services - telephone
answering services - and even survey work...
The "bottom line" thing to remember in order to
success, is planning. Plan your initial operation
start to finish before you even think about
soliciting your first
customer. Get your operational plan down on paper -
itemize your needs, estimate your costs, line up
your operating capital, and set forth milestones for
Set profit figures you want to be realizing 3
months... l year... 2 years... and 3 years from your
start-up date. Learn all you can about the "support
involved in operating a profitable business -
advertising, selling, bookkeeping, and banking - and
continue to update your knowledge with a program of
continuous learning. Do your homework properly, and
there's just no way you can fail with a Home-Based
End of Report.