One of the easiest ways to go into business for yourself is to start a business you can run from your home. A home-based business is typically more convenient and cost-effective than a traditional business. However, it’s also important to remember that you can only take it so far without expanding in some way. There will come a time when your company will have to grow, if it’s going to be worth the time and energy it requires. Here are some tips you can use to grow your home based business.
1. Expand Your Product Line
The first thing you should consider is offering additional products or services. Complimentary offerings are something virtually all customers can appreciate, so if you’ve already hit on something they like, think about producing related items that can help you diversify. If you work with retailers, they will almost always jump at the chance to stock an entire line of your products, rather than just one or two.
Your customers will also appreciate having a wider selection to choose from. While it might seem like a good idea to focus heavily on one product, this will only take you so far. At some point, you’ll have to branch out, if you intend to increase your brand’s appeal. Just remember to time this correctly, so you won’t damage your company’s reputation by allowing the quality of your current products to drop, while you’re focusing on newer offerings.
2. Boost Your Sales
Another thing to consider is increasing sales to the customers you already have. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for new customers, but rather that you should explore every opportunity with the customers you already have. Even if you are unable to add products to your line, you can still sell them more of what you already have.
One way to accomplish this is by offering volume discounts. If your products don’t cost much to produce, two-for-one deals and other such offers give you a chance to add to your sales without carving too much out of your profits. You might also consider providing your customers with punch cards that entitle them to a free product or service for every so many purchases.
You can also offer a reward in the form of a discount for any referrals they bring. You’ll find that if the customer likes you and appreciates what you do for them, they will have no problem sending others your way. You might also consider offering them discounts in return for testimonials that you can share on your social media pages or even giving them coupons to hand out to their friends.
3. Hire Some Help
When you first start your home based business, you probably won’t be able to afford to pay anyone to work for you. This is understandable when you’re first getting started, but depending on the business you’re in, it may not be practical to continue in this manner for very long. You won’t be able to produce the kind of quality by yourself that could be produced by a team, especially if you’re stretched in too many different directions. Just remember that this is one type of expansion you should only attempt when you know that you can afford to do so.
If you can afford an employee, that would be great. But sometimes all you can afford is to hire freelancers or independent contractors. If you can’t even afford that, which may be the case, maybe you can get a family member or your kids to help you. Freelancers are a great idea because you don’t have to worry about payroll taxes, employer liability insurance or paying for their healthcare costs.
These are realities that you have to consider when you’re running a business. Remember that it’ll also help to have someone else around that you can bounce ideas off of and this will prevent you from feeling that you’re completely alone in your entrepreneurial endeavors. This added perspective can be very helpful and can go a long way toward improving the quality of your business decisions.
4. Create a Website
One thing every business can stand to benefit from is a company website. What you use this website for is entirely up to you. If your business model supports it, you might use it to help you sell products. But you might also use it to provide a location on the web where potential customers can find you, in the same way that people once used the business pages in phone books. Whatever the case, having a website provides you with a piece of Internet real estate that you can use as a storefront without expenses like rent and utilities.
Once upon a time, you needed either a lot of money or some serious skills to create your own website. This is no longer the case, unless you require something really fancy. It’s now possible to set up a simple website with virtually no technical knowledge. Most of the companies that can help you with this will provide you with templates you can use to build your site, while hosting it on their servers and using email addresses that they provide. For an additional charge, you can usually set up some type of e-commerce capability, if you plan to use the site to sell products.
Websites are fairly inexpensive to maintain, usually costing less than $50 a month. If you want something better than the simple templates you find on the cheaper platforms, you can learn how to build better ones, if you’re willing to invest some time in training. Wealthy Affiliate offers top-notch training for individuals who are interested in learning how to create their own websites. Whether you just need a site for a business you already have or you’re looking to create a site to generate passive income, learning how to put one together that will actually rank well in the search engines is a valuable skill to add to your entrepreneurial tool bag.
5. Build a Strategic Partnership
Another smart way to grow your business is to join forces with another company. This is often one of the easiest and cheapest ways to market your business. It also tends to be very effective, because the other company’s customers will likely trust them and take them at their word when they recommend you. One way to help set something like this up is to convince the other company to carry your products and offer them a discount for doing so.
Try to approach companies that would be easier to work with. If you’re in a related industry, sometimes this works best. But even if you’re not, depending on your business, there are some products and services that just about everyone can benefit from. For example, if you sell food or baked goods, reach out to your local coffee shops to see if they would be willing to carry them. That’s a good match, because coffee shop patrons might want something to snack on with their beverages and baked goods would hit the spot. If you’re a graphic designer, you might try offering discounts to these other businesses in exchange for referrals to their clients. If you look around, there’s always someone you can forge a mutually beneficial partnership with.
Note that it helps to find businesses that are larger than yours. They will have a lot of clients and enough of a reach that you’re likely to get quite a bit of business from them. The more established they are, the further their credibility will extend in their referrals. The best prospects would be businesses that serve the same target market, but are not your competitors. Remember to partner only with businesses that have solid reputations, for obvious reasons.
6. Expand Your Market
Don’t be afraid to expand your market, as well. If you’ve been targeting professionals, think about what your products or services might be able to do for college students. If stay-at-home moms are your target, you might find that some of what you have to offer could also benefit working moms. Another thing you can do is to take something intended as a retail product and sell it wholesale, instead.
Note that if you do this, you’ll make a bit less per product because of the markup your customers will have to pass on to their own customers, in order to make a profit of their own. But then you’ll be able to sell greater volume and generate more consistent cash flow. For example, take the baker in the previous example. If that baker has been selling their products out of the home, it might be a good idea to contact local bakeries to sell their pies and cakes on a wholesale basis.
Remember that when it comes to marketing, you don’t always have to spend a lot of money on it. Newspaper, TV and radio ads can cost quite a bit. Sometimes it’s better to focus on grassroots marketing techniques that can be just as effective. Community groups and chambers of commerce are usually more than happy to provide a forum for local entrepreneurs that are willing to share their expertise in certain areas for free.
Even a weekly newsletter can expose your name to lots of new clients. Email newsletters can be created with online templates and automated delivery systems can help you to get these out to potential clients everywhere. And yes, you can also advertise on social media, both through paid ads and for free. The key to all this is to always have a new technique up your sleeve. If something is working, keep it up. If it’s not, it may be time to ditch it and try something different.
Keep in mind that while maintaining a small and humble business might appeal to you, there’s a point of diminishing returns. It might be easy to make money at first with no employees and very little inventory, but there’s a chance you’ll become overwhelmed with the work and be unable to fill all those orders. The last thing you want is to become a victim of your own success, just because you failed to plan ahead for growth.
There’s no sense in allowing yourself to burn out by trying to tackle everything. But you also don’t have to spend so much time and money hiring help that you’re unable to make a profit. These tips are just some of the more sensible strategies you can employ to help take your business to new heights without sacrificing its profitability – or your sanity. Use whatever methods make sense for your type of business and as with all else in business, don’t be afraid to get creative. Remember that entrepreneurship is all about experimentation.