6 Must-Haves You Can’t Ignore if You’re Starting a Business From Home

Are you starting a business from home? Then you’re in the right place! This is the blog for online entrepreneurs who want to build their income and their impact. And in this particular post, I’m going to reveal the secrets of good marketing and how to use them to sell services online. You’re going to love this if you want to become a better leader, salesperson or marketer. 

Today, I’m going to take you through a book called ‘’Influence: the Science of Persuasion’’ by Robert Cialdini to explain each of the 5 essential principles for online sales. If you haven’t read this book already then you 100% need to read it, because it’s really going to level up your marketing and your sales game. 

Now, in order to be able to understand the principles that we’re about to talk about, it’s important to understand the general premise of this book. All you need to understand is this: 

The way that people make decisions isn’t logical

There is an information overload, which means that when you and I make a decision, we don’t tend to assess all of the information that’s available to us. Instead what we do is we take shortcuts, or in other words, we have biases that influence our decision making. So it’s really understanding these biases and shortcuts that’s going to allow you to become a better leader, and to become more persuasive and have more influence. 

So what we’re going to do is we’re going to go through each one of these shortcuts, and then we’re going to look at how you can apply that psychological bias to your online marketing! Let’s jump right into the first principle of good marketing …

Principle 1: Reciprocity

The obligation to give when you receive something

Reciprocity is a fundamental trait that we all have, whether you recognize it or not. Think about when someone does a favour for you, and how obligated you feel to return that favour and to do something for them. This is exactly why at events such as charity balls, the donations will always be made when the food is being served because when that hospitality has been given to the guests, that’s when they will feel their most generous. This is exactly why if someone gives you a birthday present one year, unexpectedly, you then feel obliged to get them a present for their birthday when it comes around! 

Now, there’s two things that make this principle of reciprocity even more powerful. The first thing is being the one that goes first. So if you are the person that does the favour first, or gives the gift first, then you will have the advantage because the other person will feel indebted to you, and is more likely to concede. The second thing is making the gift or the favour personalised. Again, this makes the recipient feel special and obligated to return the kind gesture. 

How can we apply reciprocity to starting a business from home? 

Freebies & lead magnets

Well firstly, this is exactly why freebies or lead magnets are so, so effective. What’s even more effective is actually personalising that email that goes out when you send that freebie or that lead magnet to your email subscribers. It’s also why creating free valuable content is so powerful. Both of these involve you “giving” something for free before selling, and it will therefore make your audience more receptive to you eventually “asking” for something (i.e. selling). 

Giving clients bonuses

Another way you can utilise this principle online is by adding a bonus to an order. So when someone checks out, or as an incentive for investing in your product or service, you could offer a bonus product. Or let’s just say you’re doing an online course – you could offer a bonus module, really anything that’s free, that’s going to tap into this principle of you having done that person a favour and then wanting to repay you somehow. 

Ask for testimonials at the right moment

Yet another way you can tap into the principle of reciprocity is with testimonials. Particularly when you’re working with clients, don’t ask for that testimonial at the end of the engagement. When you finish, the buzz has worn off. Always ask for that testimonial while you’re working with clients and particularly when they’ve just made a breakthrough, or got a really good result. That way, they will likely give you a glowing testimonial because the transformation you helped them to achieve is still very fresh in their minds. 

Principle 2: Scarcity

When there is less of something, people tend to want it more

It’s like that cliche where we want what we can’t have. You know, when someone’s taken and they’re in a relationship, somehow that apparently makes them more attractive? This is exactly why limited edition items work so well. You know that there’s only a certain period of time that you can buy them, and then they’ll never exist again. It’s also why when you go to buy tickets or flights, you’ll always see things like “only 5 seats left at this price”. Another thing to remember here is that people are typically loss averse. This means that people will do more to avoid pain and something unpleasant than they would do to gain pleasure. 

So how can you use this if you’re starting a business from home and selling services online? Here are some ideas:

Limit the availability of your product or service

So you can make it available only for a specific time, or you can make a limited number of it available. This is why having launches for online courses and programs work so well; because there is a short window in which people can sign up. Similarly, if you sell 1-1 coaching or consulting, you can advertise the number of spots you have left available to create scarcity. It works exactly the same way with products as well. 

Highlight what’s at stake if they don’t buy

Another way you can use scarcity when starting a business is to highlight not only the benefits of your product or service, but also what people stand to lose if they don’t invest in it. Here you’re tapping into their FOMO (fear of missing out). You’re highlighting just how much they stand to lose, and: 

The pain that they can associate with not investing 


The pleasure they will gain if they make the purchase 

Principle 3: Authority

People tend to listen to experts and those who have credible knowledge

Now the key here is to establish that authority and that credibility before you essentially ask people to buy from you. So when they come to that buying decision, they already respect your knowledge and authority. But singing your own praises isn’t really that effective and it’s also a little bit weird. But what is really effective is having other people attest to how good or how knowledgeable you actually are. And this is exactly why referrals are so effective. So if someone goes to a potential client of yours, and literally sings your praises and talks about how great you are, then that’s really going to instil your credibility in the prospects eyes. Now, if you want to kind of get more of these referrals going, one thing you can do is tap into that previous principle of reciprocity. And you can actually start recommending people and then you would hope that they would start recommending you to their peers in turn. 

So how can we specifically use this principle when starting a business from home? 

  • We want to be creating high quality, shareable content that’s going to build you as an authority and an expert. 
  • Featuring in larger well known publications is going to increase your credibility, because it’s almost as if that publication or that brand has given you their stamp of approval. So it’s a bit like a referral. 
  • Finally, collaborating with other brands or influencers. Because the influencer’s audience already sees the influencer as an authority, and someone that they look up to and follow. So when they endorse you, you’ve kind of bypassed that whole “know, like and trust” process, because you’re piggybacking off of the influencer’s authority. 

Principle 4: Consistency

Humans have a deep, intrinsic need to be consistent with their own identity and how they view themselves

In other words, if I view myself as a wealthy person, then I am more likely to take actions that I consider a wealthy person would take. So what this means for you is that you want to get your audience or prospective clients to make these small commitments and associations with you before they then go and make that bigger purchase, or that big investment. 

Think of small, lower-ticket purchases as the gateway to higher-ticket offers. When someone buys something lower ticket from you or a freebie, they are essentially training themselves to do that again. So they’ve done it once, and then it’s in line with how they view themselves and their identity to then go and make that other purchase. It’s just a lot easier.

So how can you apply this principle when starting a business from home? 

  • Freebies are absolutely great because again, you are training that person to make that tiny micro commitment, before they then consider the next step up. 
  • Having low ticket offers like ebooks is going to ease people into then maybe purchasing something higher ticket from you.
  • Finally, encouraging your audience to share their association with you publicly e.g. sharing that they have worked with you on their social media, or that they have been inspired by you. Research has proven making these small commitments publicly will make them stronger internally. 

Principle 5: Likeability

People are more likely to buy from people that they like

Do you know there are essentially three things that determine whether we like someone or not? They are:

  • Similarity – they are similar to us
  • Compliments – they make us feel good
  • Common goal – we are cooperating with them

This is exactly why bonding or breaking the ice with someone is actually a really good idea before you get down to business. It’s because it’s going to make you cooperate better and increase the likelihood of you both coming to an agreement when you’re doing business together. How does this all apply to starting a business from home?  

Well, firstly, when you’re writing your sales pages, or your web pages, or any type of copy, you want to be using familiar language to your prospects. So you don’t want to be using industry jargon that they won’t understand, or even slang; you basically want to establish that similarity with your language. 

The second thing you want to do is to avoid pain point marketing too much, and to actually really hold your people high in your marketing. What I mean by that is, you want to, in a way, be complimenting your audience. You don’t want to be speaking down at them, or really like rubbing into those pain points too much. That’s just going to make your audience feel really crap! You want to empathise with your audience in your copy to show that you truly understand their challenges. 

Principle 6: Social Proof

People tend to look at the actions of others, to determine their own actions

Here is a really good quote to remember about this point:

95% of people are imitators, and only 5% are initiators

People are persuaded more by other people’s actions than they are by any proof that we can offer. This is exactly why when you go to a restaurant, you’ll sometimes see on the menu that they will highlight the most popular dishes. And it’s always the “most popular” dishes that end up making the most sales! If you want to deploy social proof, for example, then the easiest way to do it is to tell prospects that other people have done/purchased what you’re selling too. And to make it even more compelling, refer to other people who are similar to the people that you are selling to. 

Let’s look at social proof in action when you’re starting a business from home and marketing your services online: 

  • Firstly, you want to have testimonials yet again. And if you can get people in your testimonials to be similar to your clients, then that’s even better. 
  • Secondly, when you are talking to prospective customers, you can always highlight what other clients do. So when I used to work in sales, one thing we would always say is: “Typically, most customers go for X option” and this way, we would persuade buyers to go with the option that we wanted them to choose. 
  • The third and most effective way you can use social proof to sell online is to share screenshots of any praise that you’ve got from clients, or simply reviews. Reviews are so powerful,  but screenshots are even better because they appear more “authentic” and “in the moment”. 

If you’re a new coach, consultant or service provider and you’re just starting a business from home, then I hope you found this useful! I use these principles in my marketing every day, and I’m sure they will help you too. 



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