After the endless planning and 20-hour workdays, you have finally started your home business. Your business is now running, and you have finally realized your dream of becoming your own boss.
Alas, the work does not stop there. You need to immediately start thinking about ways to make your business grow in order to reach the goals that you have envisioned. Whether you want your business to become your tool to a worry-free retirement, a fat savings account and a comfortable lifestyle, you need to make sure that your business delivers good financial results.
Will Davis, in his book “Start Your Own Business for $1,000 or Less” offers these three tips for growing a home business (or what he calls a “mini-biz”):
1. Build up the business you have started.
This entails watching the company grow and become more complex. There are two ways you can build-up your home business:
a. Add products or services. As you find that a demand for your products or services exists, you can begin to grow your business by increasing your initial product offerings. You can expand your product line in three ways:
- Offer similar product lines. “Give your customers more choices. The customers can choose which products to buy from more than one line.”
- Complementary product lines. “Add different products from those you are now selling but choose ones that will appeal to the same customer – for example, jewelry and cosmetics. Customers may buy different products from more than one line.”
- Unrelated product lines. “Offer very different product from those you are now selling although they may or may not appeal to the same buyers – for example, jewelry and vitamins. In some situations, this may not make good use of your selling time and therefore you should give it careful thought before proceeding. But sometime this technique provides income from one set of products if others are not selling during the same period of time. For instance, certain jewelry might sell well before Christmas and Valentine’s Day but not sell well the rest of the year; vitamins may sell well all year.”
b. Hire help. When the workload gets heavy, consider seeking help. Davis outlines three reasons why you will hire employees:
- To do the same type of work you are doing (preparing resumes if you are a resume writer; taking pictures of another assignment shoot if you are a photographer, etc.)
- To do the routine chores, such as office work, while you concentrate on what you like and can do best Instead of doing the packing or shipping –tasks you could hire someone else to do for minimum wage– you could be picking up the phone and getting a new customer, or developing a new product.
- To add a skill or expertise your business needs. When you don’t have the valuable experience or knowledge you need, you should find good people who have what you lack and hire them.
However, try looking for help first from your family members before you hire outside employees. If it is a temporary overload of work as a result of seasonal demands, perhaps your kids can help out in their spare time. For others, they choose their husbands or wives as their first employees. Michelle Arpas hired her husband after GeniusBabies.com started showing a profit and enjoyed hefty order volumes.
Before hiring an outside full-time employee, consider outsourcing and subcontracting when the workload becomes heavy. You will be getting extra help, without the constant worry of whether there will be enough work to justify paying the person.
2. Stay relatively small, but get involved in other small businesses.
You may discover in the course of running your business that a simple retooling of your products or services can attract a new market. This new opportunity may later become a spin-off business that you can run side-by-side.
The process will entail doing the same start-up steps that you did when you started your first business. Once you have ideas for several product or service variations, the next step is to evaluate the market potential for them, looking at everything from the size of each market to the buying preferences and expectations of the target audience. Identify all your potential new competitors and review their marketing materials, including their ads, brochures and Web content. Where appropriate, mystery-shop the competition or make on-site observations to learn how competitors’ products are being used.
Despite the flurry of activity surrounding a new market launch, you need to be on top of your existing accounts. That way, you’ll build one successful profit center on another as you expand.
3. Use your home business to gain experience and funds to start or buy the business you always wanted.
You can always use your home business as your stepping stone to the kind of business that you really want, particularly if your dream business requires more capital and more expertise.
A friend of mine has always wanted a shop selling Asian handicrafts and antiques. However, she could not afford as yet the high cost of traveling to various Asian countries to buy inventories and establish relationships with suppliers. Hence, for the last year she worked as a home-based freelance writer. Now, with the earnings from her earlier business, she is now ready to launch her new business.
Recommended Books on How to Grow a Business:
- Grow to Greatness: Smart Growth for Entrepreneurial Businesses
- Growing a Business
- Free Marketing: 101 Low and No-Cost Ways to Grow Your Business, Online and Off
- 15 Ways to Grow Your Business in Every Economy
- The Answer: Grow Any Business, Achieve Financial Freedom, and Live an Extraordinary Life