Launching a business out of your home is a great way to start a business. It’s also a great way to keep costs low. But, what do you do when you want to take your company to the next level?
Here are ten steps to grow your home based business.
1. Focus, focus, focus.
It’s easy to want to put all your ideas into action at once, but you’ll be most successful if you start by focusing on the things you do best. Put your energy into marketing one or two products or services that you do really well, and you’ll have the best chance of finding a niche in the market.
There are several ways to keep your focus and succeed in business:
- Focus on what is really important for you in business. Is spending more time with your family the most important to you, build your business to support that lifestyle. Do you want to double the size of your business every 12-months, no matter what it takes? Define your business goals and stay focused.
- Have a plan and stick to it. It is difficult to make a plan, and it is even more difficult to stick to it. It requires a lot of confidence.
- Focus on your customers. Who exactly is your customer? Once you define your customer, keep serving your target market. Don’t jump all over the place.
- Focus on your product or service. For example, if you are a web designer, don’t start offering new services immediately. Wait until you have a more mature business. Keep offering your core services to your core customers.
- Don’t get distracted by noise. A friend or customer might tell you to start offering a new service. Ignore them. Keep your focus on your core service offerings.
- Don’t confuse new possibilities with distractions. Many entrepreneurs find it hard to focus on their product or service. The best entrepreneurs are able to maintain focus for long periods of time.
- Seek out an accountability partner or a coach. Entrepreneurs are in charge. The only problem with that is they don’t always keep themselves accountable.
2. Branch out.
Once you’ve mastered step 1 and gotten a foothold in the market, you’re ready to expand your offerings. Your customers will appreciate having related products to choose from. What’s really important about branching out into new areas is to continue to provide a high-quality service across the board. Branching out could hurt your reputation if you drop the ball in other areas.
3. Use your customer base.
One of the easiest ways to grow your home based business is by increasing sales to existing customers. Consider offering volume discounts, like two-for-one sales or offer discounts when people sign up for multiple services at once.
There are several ways your customers can help you grow your business:
- Offer a reward for referrals. You could offer a percentage of the sale or a discount in a future service if someone brings you a referral. Also, keep in mind that most happy customers are OK with referring you just because they like what you do for them.
- Ask your customers to share their positive experience working with you through social media.
- Ask for customer testimonials, then share them on your social media accounts.
- Give your customers coupons to share with their friends.
4. Hire part-time help.
You might not have the need or the budget for a full-time employee, but consider a part-time employee, intern, or freelancer. Building a network of skilled people can benefit you in the future, and having another person’s perspective can help you make better business decisions.
5. Create a website.
Gone are the days when you needed a storefront to sell products. A website lets you sell to anyone, anywhere. Websites these days are cheap to maintain, on the order of $30-$50 per month. They’re easy, too: the internet is full of do-it-yourself websites that don’t require programming knowledge to build. If you want a website that is really special, you might want to consider hiring a professional web designer.
I recommend the WordPress platform for your website. It is a robust system. WordPress is easy to install, use, and update.
6. Partner with a related business.
Working with other companies is one of the easiest ways to market your products. Sell baked goods? Ask local coffee shops if they’ll carry them. Are you a graphic designer? Offer to do low-cost graphic design for other businesses in exchange for referrals to their clients. There’s always someone you can partner with in a way that will benefit you both.
How to find the right strategic partner:
- Clearly define your target market. Look for businesses who serve your target market but don’t compete with you.
- Find businesses that are, at least, a little larger than your business. Your business will benefit more if you partner with a more established business.
- Conduct due diligence. Only partner with a business if it has a good reputation.
7. Grow your clientele.
Think about customers you haven’t targeted yet. If most of your customers are 18-29 year-olds, you could start marketing to people in their 30s. Or if you market to new mothers, maybe there are related products or services that you could sell to parents of older children. You can also expand from retail to wholesale, or vice versa.
8. Try new marketing techniques.
If you’ve mostly been buying print ads, consider web-based ads. If you have tried Google Adwords, you might want to try to advertise on Bing or Facebook. Try sending out a newsletter by email, and don’t forget about social media. If you have a B2B target market, you could start your own business networking group. The key is to always try at least one new marketing technique. If it works, great, keep doing it. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Entrepreneurship is about experimenting with new ideas.
9. Grow your physical business.
These days, even a home-based business can afford to operate out of another space. Consider renting temporary office space to get benefits such as tech support and conference services, or to hold meetings with clients. Sharing office space with other small businesses can also be a great way to grow your network. A great way to get inexpensive office space is to offer free services to another business in exchange for office space.
10. Consider franchising or licensing.
You may be able to license your product or service to another company who can market and sell your product for you. Piggybacking off another company is a great way to grow your business without increasing your overhead.